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Board Directors of Ocean Champions

  • David Wilmot, Co-Founder and President

    David Wilmot brings over thirty years of experience in ocean science, environmental policy, non-profit governance and fundraising, and political advocacy to Ocean Champions. David received his MS and BS from the University of Georgia where he also Co-Founded Students for Environmental Awareness. David traveled to the west coast to study the recently discovered deep-sea hydrothermal vents and received his PhD in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.

    David continued his environmental work while at Scripps (worked with 2 fellow graduate students to ban Styrofoam on campus and local beaches) and it became clear his passion was advocacy. A National Sea Grant Marine Policy Fellowship at the National Research Council’s Ocean Studies Board helped David better understand ocean policy and the workings of Washington, DC. Next came the jump to advocacy with service as the Executive Director of the Ocean Wildlife Campaign (OWC) where for eight years he worked to build this coalition of six national and international organizations into the leading voice for the conservation of large ocean fishes.

    David has authored or co-authored numerous ocean science and conservation articles. David lives with his wife and two boys in the Santa Cruz area where they spend lots of time on and in the ocean. When he is not enjoying the ocean, or remodeling his house, David trains in the martial arts and has earned the rank of black belt in Shorinji-Ryu Karate-Do.

  • Fred Keeley, Chair

    Fred Keeley is a long-time coast and ocean advocate, based in California.  During his service in the California Assembly, Mr. Keeley authored the Marine Life Management Act, jointly authored the Marine Life Protection Act, and authored the California Ocean Science Trust Act.  Mr. Keeley also authored the two largest voter-approved park and environmental protection bonds in the nation’s history ($4.2 billion). Mr. Keeley served on the board of directors of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, based in Washington DC, as well as the board of Save Our Shores in California.   Mr. Keeley teaches in the graduate program of public administration at San Jose State University, and is the Ethics and Democracy consultant for the City of Santa Clara, California.

  • Rob Moir, Founding Chairman

    Dr. Moir, Executive Director of the Ocean River Institute, is an educator, scientist and activist with a proven history of institutional management and marine policy success.  Dr. Moir has been a leader of citizen science and efforts to clean up Salem Sound and Boston Harbor, as president of the advocacy organizations Salem Sound Harbor Monitors, Salem Sound 2000 and later Save the Harbor/Save the Bary (Boston), and through his appointment by the Secretary of Interior to the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership.  He was formerly Curator of Natural History at the Peabody Essex Museum, Curator of Education at the New England Aquarium and Executive Director of the Discovery Museums in Acton, Massachusetts.

    Dr. Moir was awarded a Switzer Environmental Fellowship from the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation and the James Centorino Award for Distinguished Performance in Marine Education, by the National Marine Educators Association, which he also served as president.  He was Sea Education Association’s first assistant scientist to work consecutive voyages of the R.V. Westward in 1979 and 1980, a major gifts officer for his alma mater, Hampshire College and serves today on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, the Cambridge School of Weston.

    Dr. Moir has a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies and a Masters of Science and Teaching from Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire, and certificate of studies from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. Dr. Moir played an important and significant role in the founding of Ocean Champions, he has been with the organization since its inception in 2003.

  • Jennifer Bender, Board Director

    A Professor and Research Fellow at the School for the Environment at Umass Boston,  Dr. Jennifer Bender is the academic lead in developing curriculum (degree and non-degree) for a new marine aquaculture  education program.  She is also the lead Professor for  Environmental Innovation Clinic. Jennifer is a Boston-based environmental scientist actively involved in bridging gaps between scientists, policy makers, the public and other stakeholders when it comes to issues relating to the marine environment and our coastal zones. She serves as the executive director of the Marine Studies Consortium.  She consults to a variety of organizations including the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Stellwagen Alive a Foundation for Our National Marine Sanctuary, EDGI – Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, Fablevision and writes occasionally for Edible Vineyard and most recently for To Market Magazine.  Jennifer is also a member of Pleiades, and serves on the Micheli Center Board of Directors.

  • Georgienne Bradley, Board Director

    Georgienne Bradley is the Founder and Executive Director of Sea Save Foundation, a non-profit ocean conservation organization. She is also co-owner of Bradley Ireland Productions, one of the world’s largest underwater still photography and video stock houses. A tireless conservationist, Ms. Bradley is a scientist, underwater photographer, videographer, writer and producer who has been focused on raising awareness of the plight of the world’s oceans for more than two decades.  In 2006 she was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame. This past year, Discovery enlisted her as a “Finbassador” for Shark Week, affording her the ability to discuss the importance of public policy to a widespread audience.

  • Vipe Desai, Board Director

    The majority of Vipe’s life could be described as a 30 year personal case study in action sports, giving him a unique insight into this dynamic subset of youth culture. A passionate surfer since the age of 14, Vipe operated one of the most influential action sports retail businesses in Southern California, founded and managed the daily operations of a youth brand consultancy and most recently held a senior marketing role at Monster Energy, one of the most globally recognizable brands in the beverage industry where he was responsible for athlete relations, event sponsorships and brand partnerships on a global level.

    Prior to his role with Monster, Vipe was the Founder and Brand Strategist for the youth marketing consultancy, Propaganda Headquarters. Before launching Propaganda in 2000, Vipe owned the H2O Surf and Snowboard Shop in Orange County, CA, for nearly eight years. He considers H2O his masters degree in action sports and an experience he still draws upon when creating brand building campaigns. Outside of his professional career, Vipe is the founder and director of the project BLUE ( initiative, a partnership between leading brands in the multi-billion surf industry, that produce a complementary line of premium and co-branded products, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Surfrider Foundation and the SIMA Environmental Fund.

    In addition to project BLUE, Vipe is a former Vice-Chairman of the Surfrider Foundation’s Board of Directors, former board member of the SIMA Humanitarian Fund, and a former board member of the Life Rolls on Foundation and currently serving as Chairman of the Board for the Rob Dyrdek Foundation. In recent years Vipe has been called upon to speak at numerous marketing focused events, including group Y’s Action Sports Conference, Motorsports Marketing Conference, Board Retailers Association Retail Summit and Street and Smith’s Action Sports Conference.

  • Mike Dunmyer, Board Director

    Mike Dunmyer is a surfer and ocean environmentalist with a deep business background. Before joining Ocean Champions in 2009, Mike was a serial entrepreneur, creating, developing and leading strategy, finance, marketing and operations organizations as a Vice President in the Fortune 50 world.

    Mike has served on the Ocean Champions Board of Directors since 2006, and was responsible for a successful strategic planning and implementation effort while managing the Board’s Executive Committee. He has an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and a BA in Economics from Washington and Lee University.

    Mike has a great love for the ocean that comes from growing up in California, Hawaii, and the Delaware shore. He serves on the Board of Directors for the National Aquarium, Chairs the Board’s Conservation Committee, and serves on the National Aquarium Institute’s Executive Board. He is a grassroots activist for the Surfrider Foundation. Mike, his wife and their two daughters live in Lewes, Delaware where the Atlantic Ocean is a big part of their daily lives.

  • Anna-Marie Laura, Board Director

    Anna-Marie Laura is the Senior Manager of Policy Engagement at Rare, an international conservation organization that empowers local communities to become stewards of their natural resources so that both people and nature thrive. She previously worked as Ocean and Coastal Policy Advisor for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).  Anna-Marie transitioned to full time staff for the Senator after serving as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in 2010.

    Anna-Marie earned a B.S. in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Environmental Management (MEM) from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.  She also serves on the Executive Board for the Women’s Aquatic Network (WAN), an organization that brings together professionals with interests in marine, coastal and aquatic affairs and promotes the roles of women in these fields.  Anna-Marie is an avid SCUBA diver and enjoys getting outdoors as much as possible.

  • Randy Repass, Board Director

    Mr. Repass founded West Coast Ropes, which later became West Marine in 1968 as a mail order purveyor of quality three-strand rope. The first retail store was opened in Palo Alto, CA in 1975, and West Marine has since grown to become one of the leading retailers in the boating supplies industry.

    Mr. Repass also has served as commodore of the Santa Cruz Yacht Club, as a director and President of Sail America, the US sailing industry association, as a director of the National Marine Manufacturers Association and currently serves on the Government Relations Committee of the American Sportfishing Association. As Co-chair of Action Pajaro Valley he was active in collaborative planning for the area. His boating background includes sail and power boat cruising and fishing in New England, the Northwest, Mexico, the South Pacific, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean.

    For many years he has been and remains active in marine conservation as an activist and philanthropist for the benefit of the marine environment and fishers.

  • Heike Schmitz, Board Director

    Heike Schmitz works as a software engineer, marine biologist, and project manager at Jupiter Research Foundation, where she currently focuses on the development of an autonomous marine microscope system. Her first and lifelong love of the ocean and interest in ocean conservation also drives her support for organizations that further the protection and sustainable enjoyment of the marine environment.

    Growing up in Switzerland, Heike studied Computer Science at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Her first career in Software Engineering ultimately led to Silicon Valley and Google, where she built the first software testing services team, an organization that under her leadership grew to over 300 people. She also participated in the preparation and execution of the tech giant’s IPO. Following her old passion for the environment and the call of the ocean, Heike then returned to college and earned a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Marine Biology, from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

    Heike is a certified SCUBA diver, sailor, and loves to travel.

  • Elizabeth Sullivan, Board Director

    As Executive Director of the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund for seven years, Ms. Sullivan managed its massive and rapid growth from an organization of 5 staff with a budget of $800,000 in 1996 to one of 40 staff with a $12 million budget by 2001.

    For the ten years preceding her tenure at LCV Education Fund, she was the Chief Executive Officer of the Campaign Design Group, a Washington, D.C. political consulting firm that designed the winning campaigns for two long-shot candidates in 1992: Senator Barbara Boxer of California and Senator Patty Murray of Washington State. In addition to her work at the Campaign Design Group, Ms. Sullivan has staffed numerous campaigns, having helped elect 4 members of Congress, 75 state legislators, four mayors, and six city council members.

    She is currently an independent campaign consultant. Ms. Sullivan holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Dickinson College and a MURP from George Washington University.


Past Founding Board Directors of Ocean Champions

Samantha Campbell, Chair Emeritus
Carol Davis
David Festa
Kim Haddow
Roger Rufe
Jack Sterne
Michael Sutton