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

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.

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!

Nancy Cameron is the Club’s e-Commerce Specialist. Nancy was educated in Virginia and holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science cum laude from Old Dominion University. This degree was accomplished while representing her Division I University in aquatic sports, which she still enjoys today. After working as a computer programmer for USAir and IBM, she took time off to raise her three children and multiple competition golden retrievers. She has coached high school and taught dog obedience classes in her spare time. Nancy was first exposed to manatees in the Florida Keys as a child and was mesmerized viewing them off the seawall of her mother’s home. She joined Save the Manatee Club staff in 2015. Nancy is happy to assist you with your order or any inquiries you may have in the catalog or membership department.

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.

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 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. 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.

Alex Jays is Save the Manatee Club’s Online Communications and Database Coordinator. 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.

Diana Ngai
is Save the Manatee Club’s Communication and Outreach Manager. She focuses on crafting communications, education, and outreach materials, as well as managing the Club’s volunteer program. Diana holds an associate’s degree from Suffolk Community College Honors Program in New York and a bachelor’s degree cum laude in Environmental Studies from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. At Mount Holyoke, her love of sharing knowledge combined with a deep appreciation for nature led Diana to the field of environmental education and conservation. Her work focused primarily on the intersections of science, nature, culture, and history with an unofficial minor in Creative Writing. Prior to joining SMC, Diana was a program coordinator with Audubon New York where she focused on nature education and outreach. Her work with social marketing campaigns and education programming for the endangered piping plover earned her two “Conservationist of the Year” team awards. Diana hopes to continue to strengthen the work of environmental and educational nonprofits from the inside out. She is originally from the New York metro area and relocated to sunny Florida in 2017. She enjoys international travel, camping, hiking, volunteering remotely with the Long Island Rabbit Rescue, and puns.

Jennifer O’Connor is Save the Manatee Club’s Full Charge Bookkeeper. She attended the University of Central Florida with a major in Event Management and a double minor in Nonprofit Management and Hospitality Management. She has since gone on to receive numerous accounting certificates, including an Accounting Operations Technical Certificate from Seminole State College. Her passion for the nonprofit sector began when she started volunteering at 11 years old. Working for an organization like Save the Manatee Club is very rewarding and combines many of her passions (giving back, animals, and the environment), making it the perfect fit. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her dog, Toco, going to the beach, building pottery, and making beeswax candles.

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 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

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.

Lisa Willis is Save The Manatee Club’s Director of Operations. Originally from Seattle, WA, Lisa graduated from Seattle University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications. She began her career as a journalist in Washington State, where she covered numerous environmental and land-use topics, including Shoreline Master Plan designations, aquaculture public hearings, and endangered mammal rescues. Later, Lisa worked in public relations and marketing for both profit and non-profit organizations. In 2009, Lisa and her son relocated to Florida. Upon visiting Blue Spring State Park, she fell in love with the tranquil and playful manatees amassing for warmth. Not long after, she learned about Save the Manatee Club when assisting with the Manatee Webcam project at Blue Spring State Park through CenturyLink. When not working, Lisa enjoys spending time at the beaches and in the many wild places around Florida.