Executive Director

Patrick Rose is Save the Manatee Club’s (SMC) Executive Director. Pat has over 40 years’ experience working with manatees and is an Aquatic Biologist and Certified Public Manager. He is considered to be one of the world’s leading experts on the Florida manatee. From 1996 to 2006, Pat was SMC’s Director of Government Relations in Tallahassee, Florida. In the state’s capitol, Pat advocated on the manatee’s behalf before the Florida Legislature and Governor and Cabinet. Before joining SMC’s staff, he was the first federal Manatee Recovery Activities Coordinator and Florida’s first Manatee and Marine Mammal Coordinator for the Florida Department of Natural Resources. He was also the Environmental Program Administrator for the Bureau of Protected Species Management, Division of Marine Resources, for the Department of Environmental Protection in Tallahassee. In addition, he provided overall policy guidance and direction for statewide recovery efforts for endangered and protected marine species. Pat has served as a member of every federal Manatee Recovery Team, presently serving on the Team’s Steering Committee, and is a former member of the I.U.C.N. World Conservation Union/Sirenia Specialist Group. His many professional awards include the prestigious “National Conservation Achievement Award” from the National Wildlife Federation and the “Award of Recognition” presented to him at the First International Manatee and Dugong Research Conference. Pat was also nominated for the esteemed Indianapolis Prize, which honors the world’s leading animal conservationists. Pat has a Master’s degree in aquatic biology from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. He is also an avid boater, pilot, and is a certified scuba instructor.

Program Staff

Cora Berchem is Save the Manatee Club’s Manatee Research and Multimedia Specialist. She oversees the Club’s live webcams, is involved in all sorts of video production work for the Club, and also maintains the Club’s social media sites. Cora was born and raised in Bonn, Germany, and moved to the United States in 2002. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the College of New Jersey and a Master’s Degree in Film and Media from the J.W. Goethe University of Frankfurt/Germany. Upon moving to Florida, Cora completed the Advanced Florida Master Naturalist Program through the University of Florida. Cora worked in film and television in New York City before becoming involved with manatees in 2013 when she made a feature-length documentary about Florida’s endangered gentle giants titled Before It’s Too Late. Cora did contract and volunteer work for Save the Manatee Club throughout 2014 before joining the staff in 2015. Apart from multimedia work, Cora also assists with the manatee research at Blue Spring State Park and oversees the Manatee Observer Volunteer Program in the summer to prevent manatee harassment. Outside of work, Cora enjoys traveling, photography, and scuba diving.

Wayne Hartley became a staff member in early 2010. Before joining us, he was a Park Ranger and then a Park Service Specialist with the Florida Park Service. For over three decades, he served as Principal Investigator for manatee research conducted at Blue Spring State Park. This has resulted in a very extensive body of knowledge on the manatee’s life history and one of the longest running databases in existence on manatees. Wayne’s expertise and personal knowledge of individual manatees has been the basis of Save the Manatee Club’s Adopt-A-Manatee program. Through the adoption program, Wayne’s scientific data has been very instrumental in helping the public understand the manatee’s needs, the threats to the manatee’s long-term survival, and what actions members of the public can take to help. Through the years, Wayne has been interviewed countless times by television and print media and has received many honors from his peers. He has a degree in history from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Between school and the Park Service, Wayne spent almost six years in the United States Army Infantry earning the Ranger Tab and being awarded the Combat Infantry Badge.

Anne Harvey-Holbrook is Staff Attorney for Save the Manatee Club. Anne grew up far away from her birthplace in Tampa, Florida, but her love of manatees has always been in her blood. She convinced her 3rd grade class in Germany to adopt a manatee as their mascot and organized a bake sale to raise the necessary funds. Later, after returning to the U.S., Anne attended the University of South Carolina Honors College, where she developed her own BA/BS degree in marine science and sustainability studies, and received a JD from Georgetown Law, where she studied environmental law and externed for nonprofit organizations such as the Sierra Club and the Environmental Integrity Project. After law school, Anne returned to Florida as an associate attorney with Earthjustice, where she worked on offshore oil litigation and springs protection cases. Seeking to deepen her scientific understanding of environmental issues, she then returned to school for her MS in Aquatic Environmental Sciences at Florida State University and served as a postdoctoral teaching fellow there before joining Save the Manatee Club in April of 2015. Anne is also an active conservation volunteer, and she serves as the secretary for the Sierra Club Big Bend Group and is a board member of Sustainable Tallahassee.

Tonya Higgins is SMC’s Director of Development & Operations. Born in the red rocks of Arizona, raised in the industrial/agricultural environment of NE Ohio, and a frequent visiting resident of northeast Florida’s coast, swamplands, and enchanted springs, her intrigue with the vast diversity of life began at an early age. Tonya received her Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Ecology, Accounting, & Professional Ethics from Kent State University. There, she became heavily involved in an environmental filmmaking class sponsored by a local foundation, which provided her the opportunity to co-produce an award winning green film short. She also co-headed a popular student organization focused on bringing attention to social and environmental issues while simultaneously acting as the project manager of an unprecedented collaborative water quality-testing project. After graduation she relocated back to Florida and joined the Club as our Development Coordinator in 2014. For Tonya, manatees epitomize the peace and tranquility she wishes to see more of in the world. The dedication of the people she works beside and the warmth and passion of the Club’s supporters drive Tonya’s fierce commitment to the Club’s mission. Outside of work, you will most often find her spending time with her husband and their companion Great Dane. Tonya loves hearing from our supporters; you can reach her at thiggins@savethemanatee.org.

Janice Nearing is SMC’s Director of Public Relations. She started volunteering for SMC in 1996 and continues to volunteer on weekends staffing education booths at events and festivals. Janice was nominated for the JC Penney Golden Rule award and received a letter of recognition from President Clinton. She worked in radio and television major market stations for twelve years. She received writing awards from the Radio Bureau of Canada Annual Soundcraft Awards, and was honored by the Canada Safety Council for excellence in broadcasting, winning first place for a public service message. She has a degree in communications and over 25 years experience in the field. As an SMC staff member since 2002, Janice is an informational source for the media, disseminating press releases, advisories, and public service announcements, assisting in areas of promotion, publicity, and education. She also coordinates the Club’s volunteer department and its 2,000+ volunteers.

Nancy Sadusky is SMC’s Director of Online Communications and has worked for Save the Manatee Club since 1991. She has been a communications specialist for nonprofit organizations for over 30 years and was previously SMC’s Communications and Outreach Director. She has served as education representative on the federal Manatee Recovery Team as well as on several state advisory groups. Nancy received a master’s degree in English/Technical Communication from the University of Central Florida where her focus was online communications. She created Save the Manatee Club’s first website and is currently webmaster for the Club. She edits Paddle Tales, SMC’s bi-monthly e-newsletter, and is in charge of all email communications for the Club. She also oversees SMC’s social media efforts.

Dr. Katie Tripp is Save the Manatee Club’s Director of Science and Conservation. She received her bachelor’s degree with honors from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL, where she majored in Marine Science and received minors in both Chemistry and Environmental Policy. Dr. Tripp earned a Master’s Certificate in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Florida’s College of Engineering and also received her Ph.D. in Veterinary Medical Sciences from UF. Before joining SMC, she worked as a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory and as a manatee consultant for one of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Projects. She has authored and co-authored multiple papers related to the conservation of manatees and their habitat. At the 2008 Marine Mammal Health Conference, Dr. Tripp received the Reep-Bonde Florida Manatee Biology and Conservation Award for her research that furthered the basic knowledge of fundamental manatee biology. Following appointment by Florida’s Governor, she served on the State’s Boating Advisory Council and is currently a Supervisor with the Volusia County Soil and Water Conservation District. She completed a term as Chair of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership and served on the Executive Committee of the Florida Springs Council and the Steering Committees of the Blue Spring Alliance and Floridians’ Clean Water Declaration. More recently, she was appointed to the newly formed Indian River Lagoon Citizens’ Advisory Committee and serves on the Steering Committee of Volusia County’s Project H2O. Curriculum Vitae