Patrick Rose is Save the Manatee Club’s (SMC) Executive Director. Pat has over 45 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.
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. Cora was born and raised in Bonn, Germany, and moved to the United States in 2002. She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from the College of New Jersey, an M.A. in Film and Media from the J.W. Goethe University of Frankfurt, Germany, and completed a graduate certificate in Aquatic Animal Health and Conservation at the University of Florida in 2021. Cora worked in film and television in New York City before becoming involved with manatees in 2013 when she made a documentary about manatees. Cora oversees the club’s live webcams, social media, and all sorts of video production projects, and assists Wayne Hartley with the research at Blue Spring State Park. Along with other agencies, she also oversees the Blue Spring Manatee Volunteer observer program during the summer months. Outside of work for SMC, Cora volunteers with the FWC manatee team and enjoys traveling, running, 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 Program Project Coordinator. 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. While an undergrad, Cheyenne became involved in environmental research and environmental education. She came to work for SMC in 2015 as a seasonal employee and was offered the opportunity to stay on full time. As a project coordinator she is tasked with supporting all aspects of the Club, including conservation research, designing many of our printed educational materials, and maintaining the integrity of our constituent database. She also coordinates several large projects including the Wishlist and the quarterly newsletter. Her favorite hobbies include watching television and searching for a new hobby.
Cherrie Chavez is Save the Manatee Club’s Seasonal/Temporary Employee. She is originally from California with an undergrad in Environmental Science. She has been a teacher for 10 years, but with the stress of teaching during the pandemic, she decided to take this school year off and dedicate her time to saving manatees. She is a new Florida transplant and is enjoying the extensive bike trails and taking weekend trips exploring Florida’s natural beauty.
Meghan Cohorst is Save the Manatee Club’s Communications and Outreach Manager. She was born and raised in “The Region” (Northwest Indiana) and first encountered manatees at the age of 14, in Homosassa Springs. Looking to be closer to her favorite marine mammal, Meghan attended Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, and graduated with a dual degree in International Studies and Spanish. In addition to the conservation of manatees and their habitats, Meghan is committed to environmental and social justice and has nearly 20 years of experience as an organizer and communications/media specialist with workers’ rights and labor organizations. Meghan lives in St. Pete, where she is an aspiring Florida native gardener. She also enjoys reading, bicycling, paddleboarding, graphic design, and the Chicago Bears.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Alex Naldrett-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 it 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 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Shortly after, she made the decision to further her education and graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, 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 and is currently chair of the Education and Outreach Working Group for the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership. 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.
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.