Finney lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and lectures in the University of Hawaii system. She grew up in Rhode Island where she first began to explore the story of whaling. Since moving to Hawaii her focus has been research, study, and fieldwork in maritime archaeology. Finney has conducted fieldwork on 19th- and 20th-century sites throughout Hawaii and Micronesia, including a site where the CSS Shenandoah destroyed four whaling ships in April 1865. Her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Hawaii explores the methods New Bedford whaleship owners and whaling masters used to minimize their economic risk from whaling.