Michelle Perkins and Scott Leonard

Michelle and Scott have spent their lives living near the sea. Scott, grew up in Northern
California. He lifeguarded for 21 years, gained swimming scholarships to several
Universities and attended Humboldt State University as an oceanography major. In 1985
Scott immigrated to New Zealand in pursuit of a running career, eventually wearing the
Athletics NZ Silver Fern while representing NZ internationally. Michelle was born in
Nigeria, spent early years in Singapore and was raised in New Zealand. She is trained
as a teacher — always striving to engender in her students (child and adult), with a
respect and love for the natural wonders of Life around us and now is Operations
Manager at the Nantucket Safe Harbor for Animals. Both have travelled extensively and lived in several countries.

When they ended up on Nantucket in the 1998, they chose to embrace life on an island
27 miles out to sea. Amongst other things they volunteered with a small island
education program called The Nantucket Marine Mammal Conservation Program.
Begun in the 1978 by Jean Rioux (a leading figure in the anthology; Little Gray Island,
Life stories from Nantucket), NMMCP continues to bring scientists, speakers and
personalities to Nantucket to foster education about the world Ocean and its charismatic

Jean Rioux

Ms. Rioux is the founder of both the Nantucket Marine Mammal Conservation Program and the Nantucket Marine Mammal Stranding Team. 

A chance experience with a captive dolphin in St. Thomas in the mid sixties, led Jean to begin a lifetime of research and advocacy on behalf of dolphins and whales.

Strongly connected to the island of Nantucket as a summer visitor over many years, she saw the potential to educate people about whales and dolphins, right here where Nantucket's heritage as the one-time whaling capital of the world was still being traded upon.

NMMCP was born in the late seventies and took the form of a series of lectures throughout the summer by eminent speakers on the theme of whale and dolphin conservation and science.

Valerie Leonard


Valerie Leonard was a New York based actress for over 20 years, appearing on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in National Tours and across the United States in Regional Theatres.

Since making the Washington, DC area her artistic home, Ms. Leonard has continued to establish her reputation as one of the area's foremost leading ladies.

Ms. Leonard is also an accomplished narrator of books on tape.

Valerie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lewis and Clark College in Music and Theatre, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting from Rutgers University. She is a member of Actors' Equity Association, and SAG - AFTRA.

Valerie is a committed vegetarian, has always had a strong connection to and empathy for animals and has worked as an advocate for animals rights alongside The Humane Society of the US's Maryland State Director, Tami Santelli.

Header image courtesy of Ocean Aerials/Wayne Davis.