MELISSA SATHE, M.S. (Board President)
Melissa Sathe is a South Florida native and grew up in Ocean Ridge. She received her B.S. from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Master of Science in Marine Biology from Nova Southeastern University where she was a graduate researcher for the Coral Reef Restoration, Assessment and Monitoring Lab. After completing her degree, Melissa worked at Miami-Dade County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management where she managed coral reef monitoring field work and then onto the Florida DEP Coral Reef Conservation Program as the Reef Injury Prevention and Response Technician. Melissa currently works for Coastal Eco-Group, a private environmental consulting business, as a Senior Marine Biologist.
BARET BARRY (Board Vice-President)
Baret Barry has spent most of her life exploring the reefs off South Florida and The Bahamas. She has a B.A. in Economics from Vanderbilt University and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering Sciences from the University of Florida. After college, Baret spent three years living and working for the Cape Eleuthera Foundation at both The Island School and the Deep Creek Middle School, which she co-founded. Upon returning to Florida, she continued both teaching, at Juno Beach Prep School, and conducting environmental work for Martin County. Currently, Baret is a Realtor, environmental consultant, and the owner of H2Overboard, a South Florida-based retail company.
David Vance is a retired pharmaceutical industry attorney whose role was understanding the drug development science to help develop educational materials about diseases or conditions and their treatment. He retired in Broward County after 11 years of working for South Florida companies. Originally an archaeology major with a continuing interest in history and preservation, Dave was an Eagle Scout passionate about all aspects of nature and the environment. His interest in Florida Reefs includes doing the Islamorada Scout Sea Base Scuba Adventure with his son and daughter. He is a long time supporter of the Sierra Club and of the Arthur R. Marshal Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, as well as a more recent active participant in the Audubon Society. With scientific and ecological interests, Dave is committed to helping protect our Florida reefs for us, our children, and generations to come.
SCOTT SHECKMAN (Co-Founder, Board Treasurer)
FOFR's First Board President April 2015 - April 2020
Born and raised in Philadelphia PA, Scott was introduced to the wonders of the world's oceans and reefs via a large aquarium store where he worked part-time, and family vacations to the Jersey shore and Florida. Scott is a nonprofit development professional, nature lover, and creative person based in South Florida since 2010, after over 20 years living & working in California. Upon joining the on-going SE Florida Coral Reef Initiative in 2013 and further participating in the Our Florida Reefs community working groups, Scott saw a need for a classic nonprofit “Friends” group to assist the Florida DEP Coral Program in their various state agency activities to conserve & protect the vital natural coral reef ecosystems along the SE Florida Coast. After about a year of development, Scott and the founding board were able to officially launch FOFR in April 2015. Scott has also served as staff or consultant for a variety of natural resource conservation organizations including Sea Shepherd, Reef Check, Center for Resource Solutions and several notable groups, and has dived & snorkeled off the coasts of Florida, California, Australia and popular reef locations around the world. Prior to focusing on civil service, Scott worked in the world-wide Film & TV industry for several years, helping to produce world-wide hit shows such as "Baywatch" and working at majors such as NBC. Scott and his family live in Ft. Lauderdale, FL after several years residing in Hallandale Beach. More about Scott
PEOPLE are at the heart of any organization, and Friends of Our Florida Reefs (FOFR) is fortunate to be able to host a diverse Board of Directors, Advisers, and Volunteers who are able to help keep FOFR running consistently and smoothly year round since our start in April 2015. Board Directors help with the core mission of building a sound financial base for immediate needs, activities and programs, as well as increasing reserves for rapid response to unknown reef emergencies and Florida DEP Coral Program budget gaps as they arise. If you are interested in joining the FOFR Board of Directors and Advisers, or simply volunteering for outreach/education and in-water programs such as BleachWatch and Reef Clean-ups, please Contact FOFR at your earliest convenience. Thanks!
Friends of Our Florida Reefs - Board of Directors (alphabetical):
BARET BARRY (Board VP) Environmental Consultant & Principal at H2Overboard
PENNY CUTT - Director at Cummins Cederberg
ANGELA DELANEY-ROLES - Senior Marine Scientist at Coastal Eco-Group
KIRK DOTSON, PhD (Board Secretary) - Aerospace Engineer, Retired
MARILU CHRISTINA FLORES - Florida Regional Coordinator, the Surfrider Foundation
LEO GRACHOW - Professional Mediator & Arbitrator
MELISSA SATHE (Board President) - Senior Marine Scientist at Coastal Eco-Group
CAITI WAKS, Esq. - Co-Founder & President at Debris Free Oceans
IM MEMORY OF KEVIN SENECAL (May 1969 - March 2021)
Kevin Senecal was a Co-Founder of Friends of Our Florida Reefs (FOFR) in early 2015, and served as the Board's first Vice President (2015-2020), remaining on the FOFR board until his sudden passing in early March 2021 at 51 years young. Kevin was widely known as the friendly and caring CEO & President of Divers Direct (aka Holiday Diver) since 1994, a world-renowned company serving the dive community since the 1980’s. Kevin generously helped to launch FOFR in early 2015, and kindly provided his Ft. Lauderdale Divers Direct HQ as FOFR’s address and a convenient location for the FOFR Board to routinely meet. The Board and our partners mourn the loss of Kevin who was always ready to help with expert guidance & support as a founding Director. More about Kevin’s life, family, passions and causes can be found at Kevin's formal obituary.. More in memory of Kevin Senecal towards the bottom of this page.
Leo Grachow has been active in social and environmental causes from his teenage through later adult years. Following graduation from Queens College, CUNY with an MS Ed, he taught elementary school, was an administrator with a City Community College, and then served with the US Customs Service as an Inspector for 10 years in the NY metro area and Montreal pre-Clearance. He then turned to entrepreneurship in founding several of the first cable-centric graphics design and advertising space sales publishing entertainment guides in the nascent industry. He returned to the Federal work force after a decade in business in order to protect the nation as a Customs and Border Protection officer in the Department of Homeland Security. Upon retirement, he currently is and has served in various volunteer endeavors, including chairing several boards and committees at the leadership level in his community, and as a volunteer with the city Fire-Rescue and Police departments, and CERT; he was appointed and served as a Commissioner for the City of Hallandale Beach. Leo was engaged in an as-needed capacity with the ADL “A World of Difference” anti-bullying-anti-bias program for at-risk youth as a Facilitator & Trainer. He is currently under contract to the State of Florida as a Supreme Court Certified Mediator, is the President of the local Kiwanis Club, and was asked to join the Board of FOFR in its formative phase. He views his involvement with FOFR as just one more way in which he has been dedicated to caring for our earth and its inhabitants, through protecting our environment.
KIRK DOTSON, PhD (Board Secretary)
Kirk is a retired aerospace engineer, with degrees from Texas A&M (BS) and Rice University (MS, PhD). He worked for 27 years at The Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California, specializing in the prediction of rocket vibrations induced by aerodynamic and propulsion excitation. He is the author of 41 peer-reviewed publications in these fields. Kirk's interest in sea life began in elementary school, where he took summer classes in marine biology and learned how to seine the Gulf Coast to collect specimens for his salt water aquariums. He serves as a board director and the secretary for Friends of Our Florida Reefs, and is a member of the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI). Kirk is an active participant in SEFCRI Technical Advisory Committee meetings and enjoys following scientific research into Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, which has infected Florida’s coral reef tract since 2014. Kirk also serves as a board director for the Rice Engineering Alumni Association and for the Friends of North Beach Village. In 2020, he established a graduate fellowship in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Rice University, to support coral research there. More about Kirk at Linked-In
FOFR's BOARD OF ADVISORS & MAJOR DONORS - Check Back Soon!
CAITI WAKS, Esq.
A born and raised southeast Floridian, Caiti Waks received a degree in Eco-system Science and Policy from the University of Miami before obtaining her law degree from the University of Florida. At UF, Caiti helped establish the Long Island Marine Managed Area, a marine protected area in Long Island, Bahamas, and she also worked with Audubon Florida and the Surfrider Foundation to help them achieve their water and ocean conservation goals. During a summer in law school, Caiti co-founded Debris Free Oceans - a Miami-based nonprofit dedicated to eradicating marine debris. As the Program and Outreach Director for the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation, Caiti currently curates and oversees a portfolio of education, community, environment, and science projects spanning from Miami, Florida to Stark County, Ohio. Caiti is also a Board Member of the City of Miami Beach Marine and Waterfront Protection Authority and the Ohio Ocean Foundation, an ocean conservation nonprofit located in Canton, Ohio. With prior experience working with the FDEP Coral Reef Conservation Program (FDEP CRCP). Caiti enthusiastically joins the FOFR Board of Directors where she can help support healthy Florida coral reefs.
MARILU CHRISTINA FLORES
Born and raised in Miami, Marilu is a veteran of the Film and Television industry, having had the opportunity to work in near all aspects of Entertainment production from marketing and finance to physical production. In 2014, she shifted her energies to focus on marine conservation work fulltime. Marilu is incredibly passionate about our oceans, wildlife, conservation and surfing and has held various roles as a professional marine conservationist, working with sharks and rays in Baja, California, as well as a marine biology instructor and naturalist on a wildlife preserve in South Florida. She is currently the Regional Coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation in Florida.
Angela Delaney has spent the majority of her adult life in and around coastal and marine ecosystems. Her professional career has afforded her the opportunity to study the marine environment in various locations in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. She attained her Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Science at Coastal Carolina University and her Master of Science degree in Marine Environmental Science at NOVA Southeastern University. She has lived and worked in South Florida for over 18 years, assessing coral reef habitat and evaluating the reef’s condition in relation to coastal zone management practices and regulations. She is a Pompano Beach resident and takes every opportunity of free time to dive on the local reefs, paddleboard, or volunteer for beach, pier, and reef cleanups. She currently works as a senior marine scientist and field operations supervisorfor Coastal Eco-Group, Inc., a local environmental consulting firm.
Having lived in South Florida since she was an infant and grown up diving and fishing our South Florida reefs, Penny is passionate about protecting the marine resources in her own backyard. She is an appointed member of the Broward County Marine Advisory Committee, Vice-Chair of the Pompano Beach Marine Advisory Board, and an appointed member of the Pompano Beach Zoning Board of Appeals, in addition to her role as a Board Director of Friends of Our Florida Reefs (FOFR) Penny’s undergraduate degree is in Bioprocess Management from the University of Florida and her graduate work was in Marine Biology and Coastal Zone Management at Nova Southeastern University. With two and a half decades of experience as a marine ecologist in the public and private sectors, she easily navigates the complex web of environmental regulations that dictate aquatic and coastal ecosystems for her clients at Cummins Cederberg where she is a Director in their Ft. Lauderdale office.
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