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.

Staff

Kerry Azzarello is the Bookkeeper for Save the Manatee Club. Kerry was born and raised in New Jersey and lived in California and Singapore before settling in Florida over 20 years ago. A former CPA, she has been working in accounting and bookkeeping for over 35 years. She is passionate about nature and protecting the environment. All friends and family who visit her in Florida are “required” to go Blue Spring State Park and see manatees in their natural environment. She is very excited to be working in an organization that protects such amazing creatures. Kerry is also an avid gardener, exercise enthusiast, and a volunteer at the local animal shelter. She lives in Apopka with her husband of 30 years and six rescue cats.

Cora Berchem is Save the Manatee Club’s Director of Multimedia and Manatee Research Associate. 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.

Judy Bower manages the mail room at Save the Manatee Club. Her first experience encountering a manatee was at SeaWorld Orlando while vacationing, and it was “love at first sight!” Judy grew up in Michigan on one of the many lakes in Oakland County and would vacation at her grandparents in New Port Richey, Florida. They lived across the street from the bayou, but she saw only dolphins and gators there. After moving to Lake Mary, Florida in 2005,  Judy joined Save the Manatee Club. She enjoys learning new things about the amazing manatees. She is very proud and feels lucky to be a part of this team that is trying to keep the manatee around for many generations to come!

Cheyenne Canon is Save the Manatee Club’s Database Coordinator and Editor of The Manatee Zone, the Club’s membership newsletter. Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, she attended the University of Central Florida where she received a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Environmental Studies. As an undergrad, Cheyenne became involved in environmental research and environmental education. Cheyenne began working for SMC as a temporary employee in November 2015, during the holiday-season rush, and a conversion to a new database. She was quickly added as a full-time staff member and is now tasked with maintaining the integrity of the Club’s constituent database, upkeep of the technology in our administrative office, producing many of the Club’s printed materials, and providing research support to the Science and Conservation staff.

Kimberleigh Dinkins is the Senior Conservation Associate for Save the Manatee Club. Kim is a Florida native and attended the University of Florida where she received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with a special focus on Environmental Policy and a Master of Science in Soil and Water Science. She has over 20 years of experience working with stakeholders to improve water quality around the state and is passionate about protecting Florida’s waterways for manatees and humans, alike. She lives in Ocala with her husband and two sons. On weekends, they can usually be found on a boat, fishing or diving, in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tiare Fridrich (pronounced Tea-ahr-ray) is Save the Manatee Club’s Manatee Biologist. Tiare grew up on Long Island, New York and knew from an early age that she wanted to be a marine biologist. During high school, she conducted research on seal photo-identification techniques, worked at the local aquarium as an educator, and volunteered with the New York Marine Rescue Center as a member of the Rescue Team. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of Rhode Island with a concentration in tropical marine science. Tiare’s first experience with manatees was when she moved to Miami to pursue her M.P.S. in Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management at the Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science. She had the opportunity to participate in manatee photo-ID research as well as the yearly USGS manatee health assessments at Crystal River. She was inspired to focus her master’s project on manatees. For her master’s project, Tiare interned with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute to analyze the movements and behaviors of satellite-tracked manatees moving into Georgia via GIS software. As SMC’s Manatee Biologist, Tiare will utilize current research to work with agencies to develop and implement effective Manatee Protection Plans.

Ally Greco is Save the Manatee Club’s Director of Communications & Outreach. She focuses on crafting communications, education, and outreach materials, as well as managing the Club’s volunteer program. Ally grew up in Pennsylvania and fell in love with manatees during a visit to Crystal River in 2015. She then went on to complete a master’s degree in parks, recreation, and tourism from the University of Florida. Prior to joining the team, she worked as a park services specialist with the Florida State Parks, a travel coordinator, and most recently, a sea kayak guide in Alaska. She also served as a Club volunteer and was part of the Manatee Observer Program. Ally loves helping people connect with wildlife and nature and is proud to support the Club’s mission.

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 four decades he has 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.

Lisa Hauk (pronounced How-k) is the Membership and e-Commerce Specialist for Save the Manatee Club. Born and raised a Wolverine in the Mitten State, she grew up in Michigan in a little town called Hartland. Being from the north, she had never heard of a manatee. In 1990, Lisa moved to Florida and after many years of working in the tax and accounting world, she found her way to Save the Manatee Club. She lives in Orlando with her husband and two fur babies. In her off hours she enjoys swimming and spending time with family. Manatees have become Lisa’s new obsession, and she has “adopted” Merlin and Illusion and could not be more happy knowing she is helping such a wonderful and gentle creature.

Tonya Higgins is Save the Manatee Club’s Director of Development and 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 family and friends. Tonya loves hearing from our supporters; you can reach her at thiggins@savethemanatee.org.

Alex Jays is Save the Manatee Club’s Development and Operations Manager. Originally from the Puget Sound area of Washington, she grew up seeing much of Washington’s beautiful wildlife and learning as much about them as possible. After relocating to Florida as a teenager, she developed the same appreciation for Florida’s marine and aquatic life. Alex joined Save the Manatee Club’s staff in 2017 as a membership representative, and she now uses her abilities with technology to assist with the Club’s online communications, fundraising, and database maintenance.

Carol Reiss is the Administrative Support Representative at Save the Manatee Club. She is a Florida native and grew up in Miami enjoying the pristine beaches and waterways. Carol attended the University of Florida for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees and witnessed the rapid development of much of the state. She is particularly fond of Lily the manatee and has adopted her. Carol lives in Orlando with her husband and likes to travel and play tennis.

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 coordinates and edits Paddle Tales, SMC’s bi-monthly e-newsletter, and creates action alerts and other email communications for the Club. She also works on outreach and education efforts.

Kiana Sotolongo is Save the Manatee Club’s Data Integrity Specialist. She manages the Club’s electronical data to secure accurate and accessible information. Kiana grew up in Broward County, Florida, where she experienced and grew fond of the native Floridian animals. Living on the border of where the Everglades and human development meet, Kiana realized there needs to be better ways that we all co-exist with the animals in our environment. This is where she found her passion. In high school Kiana created clubs that focused on animal conservation and environmental protection. She has volunteered her time assisting local animal sanctuaries with any help they needed, ranging from grooming horses to feeding injured pelicans. She is now an undergrad at the University of Central Florida studying Environmental Engineering and plans to use her education to better the living conditions of wildlife. She is happy to be a part of the dedicated team at SMC to help the process of how we can all get involved with manatees.

Amy Wieck is the Club’s Development Coordinator, and she maintains correspondence with donors, assists with dissemination of material for public awareness of manatees, and researches grant opportunities. She is a native Floridian who has been fascinated with nature and animals ever since she can remember. Summers were spent on South Florida beaches and her yard was her Amazon jungle where she made her own tepees and bows and arrows. After high school, she traded in her bow and arrows for a paintbrush and sculpting tools and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Studio Art from Florida State University. Since 1992, she has worn many different hats always for the sake of animals and art. She worked with nonprofit arts/cultural organizations, owned an art and scenic company that supplied museums with exhibits, and founded the Florida Sculptors Guild in 2007. Continuing in her goal of helping animals and the environment, she began working for Save the Manatee Club in 2014.