Sara Rankin brings a wealth of experience with over 25 years in nonprofit management and development in Florida and nationally with organizations including leadership roles with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, National Development Director for Autism Speaks, the United Way and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Sara leads efforts in the Keys and across Florida to expand private support for the protection and restoration of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and conduct education and outreach programs that promote stewardship of our ocean and strengthen conservation.
Board of Trustees
Tom Davidson Jr. is currently CEO and majority shareholder of Nisim International, a manufacturer of hair and skin care products distributed on a worldwide basis. Tom is also managing partner of Quarry Hill Partners a holding company for a diversified group of manufacturing companies.
Tom has been the principal owner and operator of several other companies including Speedy Printing Centers, Quarry Hill Foundry Supplies, Optiplas films and Eco II plastics, Nutech Precision Metals, and Steelcraft Industries.
Tom has served on several boards including Synergex (member of the audit committee) previously a TSE listed company, TearLab (member audit committee) previously listed on NASDAQ, Brandimensions, Balmshell inc, Steelcraft, Nutech Precision Metals (chairman), YPO Ontario Chapter (chapter chair), Canadian Franchise Association (chairman), Canadian Association of Family Enterprise, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Ocean Reef Rod and Gun (chairman), The Goodwood Club, Caledon Mountain Trout Club (chairman), Fishing Forever Foundation, and Angel Hair for Kids (chairman).
Tom is an avid outdoorsman enjoying fishing and wingshooting.
Tom has a BS from Michigan State University in Geological Engineering.
Stephen Frink is among the world’s most frequently published underwater photographers, with a career spanning four decades. He arrived in Key Largo in 1978 to open a small studio dedicated to underwater photo services, primarily renting cameras and processing E-6 slide film, and soon began to receive assignments to photograph and write articles for consumer dive publications. He worked as a photojournalist for Skin Diver magazine for 17-years, covering much of the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Florida Keys for the publication. Subsequently, he worked as the Director of Photography for Scuba Diving magazine. For the past 12 years, Stephen has been the publisher of Alert Diver Magazine, a beautiful coffee-table collectible magazine for the members of the Divers Alert Network.
Stephen teaches Masters-level courses at Stephen Frink School of Underwater Digital Imaging in his home waters of Key Largo, Florida. Clients over the past 40 years have included Scubapro, Victoria’s Secret, Aqualung, Oceanic, Canon, Nikon, Subgear, Mercury Marine, Jantzen, Alcan Aluminum, R.J. Reynolds, Seaquest, Henderson Aquatics, American Express, Hanes, Club Med; as well as scores of resorts and live-aboard dive boats throughout the world. Rolex Watch Company has also engaged Frink for both endorsement campaign and product photography. He sits on the Coral Restoration Foundation board, as well as the Florida Keys chapter of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and is active with various ocean conservation initiatives.
Other Frink enterprises include a dive travel company specializing in underwater photo expeditions, Waterhouse Tours
Stephen divides his time between Key Largo and his country home in Rougemont, NC. (www.stephenfrink.com)
Russell Post owns Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty with offices in Islamorada, Marathon and Key West. Russ came to Ocean Reef in 1973, and served as director and president of the Ocean Reef Community Association from 1977-1985 and president and director of the Ocean Reef Club from 1980-1992. A year later, Russ established his own brokerage firm to assist the Ocean Reef community with all its real estate needs. Since then, Russ’s firm has accounted for more than 50 percent of all real estate sales at Ocean Reef. Today, Russ and his family reside at Ocean Reef.
As an active civic leader and member of the Angel group of donors at Ocean Reef, Russ is proud to support a number of community causes, including the Medical Center at Ocean Reef, Ocean Reef Community Foundation, Ocean Reef Cultural Center, the Academy at Ocean Reef, Art League, ORCAT, Ocean Reef Chamber of Commerce and the Ocean Reef Historical Society. He is also president of the board of trustees at the Academy at Ocean Reef, where all three of his children attended school. Russ went to college at the University of Evansville in Indiana, served in the U.S. Army, and is a Vietnam Veteran. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, boating, and trying to improve his golf game.
Les Burke has been diving since 1980. Les was the eighth African American to complete the Navy’s school for Deep Sea Diving and Salvage in Little Creek, VA. Famed US Navy Master Diver Carl Brashear mentored Les in the early years. As one of the Navy’s elite Salvage divers, Les spent 33 years in the Navy. As a Navy Diver, he took part in several high-profile salvage operations. In addition to submerged aircraft, sunken ships, and personnel recovery, Les was involved in the Space Shuttle Columbia salvage. In the twilight of his career, he was asked to go to Iraq. He spent 18 months with the U.S. Army Special Forces, including a 50-week tour in Iraq.
Les founded Jr Scientists in the Sea – while living in Tallahassee – to provide exposure to any student who wanted to learn about our aquatic world. He brought youth from up north to meet, learn and dive with youth from Florida. After five years in the cold, Les moved back to Florida, where he focused on the Florida Reef Tract and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Les has been honored by the State of Florida for his youth-oriented prevention programming. He was a two-term Chair of the Jefferson County Juvenile Justice Council and was the Jefferson County Teen Summit founder. Also, Les serves on the Board of Directors for the Caribbean Center for Boys & Girls of the Virgin Islands.
Les holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Operations Management and a Juris Doctorate, both from Florida State University. He has completed all coursework for his Master’s in Public Administration. He is a Department of State ICASS Executive, a certified mediator and curriculum developer, a State Certified Law Enforcement Officer in Florida, and a certified Master SCUBA Instructor.
Jodi Zifferer is a longtime advocate for eco-friendly marine & boating practices. Having spent her whole life around the water, she is an avid angler, boater, and diver. A Wisconsin native, she & her husband, Scott, fled the cold waters of Lake Michigan and moved to the Florida Keys in 1996 to raise their family. Jodi & her family feel grateful to call the beautiful waters of the Keys their backyard.
When she’s not on the water, you may find her trekking somewhere in the world, off-roading, or working in her garden. As someone who is always up for an adventure, she couldn’t say no to the opportunity to spend 5 months sailing through the Mediterranean Sea and across the Atlantic on a 43ft. Sailboat.
Members of the Ocean Reef Angels and Founders Society of the Ocean Reef Medical Center. A long time supporter of the Coral Reef Restoration Project, a disaster services volunteer with the Red Cross. Past activities include The Academy at Ocean Reef board member, chairperson for multiple Academy auctions & golf tournaments. Currently, Jodi serves on the Bonefish Bonnies board, a group of women anglers that promote interest and participation in the sport of fishing while educating respectful fishing, boating, and marine habits. She chairs the tournament committee, which hosts 3 annual tournaments.
Karen Thurman is a long term resident of the Florida Keys and served on the Sanctuary Advisory Council for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Rob Bleser was born and raised in Miami and lived in Gainesville for four years while attending the University of Florida.
Bleser is the founder and owner of the dive charter business, Quiescence, in Key Largo since 1977. Quiescence has continued for over 44 years, as one of the most respected operators in the Florida Keys. Additionally, Bleser founded Breathing Air Concepts, a high-pressure breathing air compressor division, in 1989.
Additionally, Bleser has served as Fire Chief and Ambulance chief of the Tavernier Volunteer Fire Department, Captain of the Key Largo Volunteer Fire Department Water Emergencies Team, Co-owner of Fire-Tech Repair Service, Inc., and Reserve Deputy, Aviation – Monroe Co. Sheriff’s Office.
Bleser also had the pleasure of being the Manager of the Speigel Grove Reefing project.
Bleser’s credentials include USCG Master’s License, 500 Ton, Certified SSI Scuba instructor, DAN 02 Instructor, Professional Scuba Inspector Instructor, Certified State of Florida Emergency Medical Technician, multiple other Fire and EMS certifications, and is a Certified high Pressure Breathing Airs Systems technician.
Bleser has served on the Sanctuary Advisory Council for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, as well as served as a board member for the Marine and Port Advisory Committee for Monroe County, Key Largo Chamber of Commerce, and both the Key Largo and Tavernier Volunteer Fire Departments. Bleser is also a Private Rotorcraft pilot.
Nick Davies is an Operating Partner for the insurance vertical at Agman, an investment management firm with interests in a wide variety of assets and thousands of employees. He serves as CEO of Aurenity, a specialty managing general agent, Chairman of Virtus, a brokerage and consulting business and a board member of Omaha National, a leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance. Nick was formerly President of Brit Global Specialty Americas and Chairman of Brit USA, Brit Bermuda and Commonwealth Insurance. He began his career at Lloyd’s of London and is ACII (Chartered Insurance) qualified. Nick is a graduate of King’s College London and holds dual UK/US nationality.
He is a member of the Young President’s Organization (Chicago and Ocean Reef) and the Economic Club of Chicago. He serves on the board of City of Hope’s National Insurance Council and Co-Chair of their Midwest Committee, supporting cancer and diabetes research and treatment. He is a former Treasurer of the Auxiliary Board of the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Passionate about ocean conversation, Nick is a keen boater and certified Divemaster. He volunteers for Coral Restoration Foundation and Dive Against Debris through Goal Clean Seas. He has assisted a local school with their Ocean Guardian program, dived with the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center and organized beach clean ups. A resident of Ocean Reef, he and his wife have two young children and split their time between Key Largo and Chicago.
Stephanie Scuderi is President, Monroe County of Centennial Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of Home Bancshares. Prior to her career with Centennial, Scuderi was most recently with Alliance Data and Colloquy Consulting Group as a Senior Consultant and Program Manager.
Scuderi is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the College of the Florida Keys, appointed by Florida’s Governor in 2015. She serves on the Florida Keys Tourist Development Council, Monroe County Affordably Housing Committee, Darden School of Business Alumni Board, the Historic Preservation Commission of the Florida Keys, the Early Learning Coalition of Miami Dade and Monroe Counties, and the Upper Keys Rotary.
Previously, Scuderi served as a Board member for the Good Health Clinic of Monroe County, was a Board Member with the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce, Morada Way Arts and Cultural District, as well as a Board Member with Take Stock in Children.
Scuderi has been awarded the Monroe County School District “GEMS” recognition and led Centennial Bank to receive The Marathon/Middle Keys Chamber of Commerce Award for Community Contribution, Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year, Monroe County Sheriffs Office Appreciation Award, and Monroe County School Board Business Partner of the Year.
A graduate of Cornell University, Scuderi Received a Master of Science from Northwestern University, as well as Master of Business Administration from University of Virginia, Darden School of business.
Piper Smith is a lifelong resident of Key West and is Vice President of Historic Tours of America. She currently serves on the Monroe County Tourist Development Council District Advisory Committee and the board of directors of the Florida Keys Lodging Association, and Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden. She was a mentor as part of Take Stock in Children. She is a two-term past president of the Key West Attractions Association and Big Brothers/Big Sisters where she was a Big Sister for six years.
Steven Smith worked with his family business, Smith Oil Company. He assumed ownership of the company in 1981 and executed its sale in 1999. From that point until present day, Mr. Smith has been very active as a commercial developer, including multiple self-storage facilities.
Through the years, Mr. Smith has served on numerous community boards, including twenty years on a hospital board and thirty years with a community college foundation board where he still serves as its Chairman since 1998. Mr. Smith also was a founding director of a bank and continues over twenty-three years of service on the Board of Directors to this institution.
Mr. Smith was Chairman of the Shell Oil Company National Jobbers Council, representing 40% of Shell’s Domestic Gasoline Volume.
Mr. Smith has resided in Ocean Reef as a property owner and member of Ocean Reef Club since 1997, and tremendously enjoys boating and fishing in the surrounding waters.
Admiral Kurt Tidd retired after a forty-year Navy career, settling in the Florida Keys and is pursuing new interests and adventures. During his military career, he proudly served with the talented and professional women and men of all branches of the Armed Forces, the Foreign Service, Federal Law Enforcement officers, and the Intelligence Community.
Currently Admiral Tidd supports a variety of benevolent organizations and interests, most recently joining the board of directors of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. He is the Chairman of the Board at the Olmsted Foundation, a private non-profit organization that provides two years of postgraduate studies at foreign universities in a foreign language for a select number of future military leaders. He is also a Senior Fellow at National Defense University’s CAPSTONE/KEYSTONE/PINNACLE program, mentoring Flag and General Officers and Senior Enlisted Leaders. He belongs to the Advisory Board of the Spirit of America Foundation. Admiral Tidd volunteers his time to support a number of worthwhile causes, including the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Islamorada Conservation and Restoration Education (I.CARE) foundation engaged in coral reef preservation and restoration, and Key Dives of Islamorada, Florida’s Reef Clean Up activities. Since retirement he was certified as a Dive Master by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. He preserves adequate time to indulge passions including scuba diving, road cycling, and saltwater fishing.
His final active duty assignment was to command U.S. Southern Command, headquartered in Doral, Florida. It is responsible for all Department of Defense operations in the 45 nations and territories of Central and South America and the Caribbean Sea, an area of 16 million square miles.
Before that, Admiral Tidd was the 35th Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. In this capacity, he was the Chairman’s direct representative to the Secretary of State. Prior to that, he was the Director for Operations (J3), Joint Staff, responsible for coordinating all military operations around the globe.
At sea, Tidd commanded U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet. He also commanded Carrier Strike Group 8 aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), during a combat deployment supporting coalition forces in Operation Enduring Freedom. From 2004 to 2005, Tidd commanded Persian Gulf maritime operations as Commander, Middle East Force and Commander Task Force 55. Previous sea duty assignments include: Commander, Destroyer Squadron 50; and Commanding Officer, USS Arthur W. Radford (DD 968).
Assignments ashore included three years on the National Security Council Staff as Director for Strategic Capabilities Policy, and as a Director for Combating Terrorism. He was the founding Deputy for Operations on the Chief of Naval Operations’ War on Terrorism Operations Planning Group “Deep Blue” established following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Tidd was serving in the Pentagon during the 9/11 attack. He was also serving at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium from 1989 to 1991 when the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended.
He is the son of a destroyerman, brown water sailor, and career Surface Warfare Officer Vice Admiral Emmett H. Tidd and Margaret P. “Muggs” Tidd, proud Texans of the Greatest Generation; brother of the 25th Naval Chief of Chaplains, Rear Admiral Mark L. Tidd, CHC, USN (Ret.); husband of career military physician Eileen S. Tidd, MD, MPH, FACP; and proud father of two strong and talented daughters. He is a 1974 graduate of Porter Gaud School, Charleston, South Carolina; a 1978 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in Foreign Area Studies; and has a master’s in political science from the University of Bordeaux as a 1984 Olmsted Foundation Scholar.
In addition to various campaign and service medals, Admiral Tidd has received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (3 awards), the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit (4 awards), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards), and the Navy Commendation Medal (4 awards).
Tidd has been awarded the Legion of Honor (grade of Chevalier) and the Order of Maritime Merit (grade of Officer) by the government of France; the Grand Cross of the Order of Military Merit, the Air Force Cross, and the Grand Cross of the Order of Naval Merit by the government of Colombia; the Distinguished Service Order by the government of Argentina, and the Order of Naval Merit by the government of Brazil. He is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and was a Federal Executive Fellow at the Atlantic Council of the United States.
Sarah Fangman (Superintendant)
As superintendent of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Sarah Fangman is responsible for leadership, vision, and strategic direction, overseeing a staff of more than 30 employees and affiliates. Fangman came to the Florida Keys in 2017 with 19 years of experience working for the National Marine Sanctuary System, most recently as superintendent of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary from 2014-2017. She was the Southeast, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Region program coordinator from 2005-2014 and served as the research coordinator for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary from 1998-2005. Through her work with the sanctuary system, Fangman has conducted more than 600 scuba dives in the Florida Keys, obtained a USCG 100 Ton Master’s Captain’s license, and became a certified submersible pilot. Fangman first came to NOAA in 1996 as a Presidential Management Fellow, where she was the special assistant to the deputy director of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. She holds a Master’s degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Washington.
Maddie Cholnoky (Community Stewardship Coordinator)
From a young age, Maddie always found herself drawn to the ocean. She grew up in Saratoga Springs, NY, and started SCUBA diving at the age of 12. That experience opened a new world for her and she knew she wanted a life that revolved around marine environments and helping others to experience them. She began to travel immersing herself in different marine environments and connecting to people who were also compelled by marine environments in Australia, Belize, Hawaii, The Bahamas, The British Virgin Island, Fiji, and more.
She achieved a BA in Environmental Studies from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. While there, she continued her diving education and worked as an assistant with the SCUBA diving program at the college. After spending a short time in Chicago post-graduation, she returned to the ocean, moving to Key Largo, Florida to further her career in diving and pursue her passions. She gained her PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer certification worked at Rainbow Reef Dive Center for three years, interacting with and certifying hundreds of divers during that time. In addition, Maddie oversaw their conservation programs, growing them tremendously. Through this work, she managed both recreational and professional coral rehabilitation dives, countless marine debris removal dives, and created a variety of other marine conservation-oriented events to engage the community.
She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy Making from Johns Hopkins University.
Maddie joined the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation in April of 2021. The majority of her work involves developing and implementing volunteer programs for Mission: Iconic Reefs, Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys, and identifying, recruiting, and supporting Blue Star operators.
Kris Sarri (Ex Officio, President and CEO)
Kris joined the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation as President and CEO in October 2016. A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Kris formed an early, life-long connection to environmental stewardship growing up surrounded by the Great Lakes. Her interest in marine conservation began when, at nine years old, Kris’ family moved to Australia and she spent endless hours exploring the life in tide pools. Kris’ lifelong passion is finding innovative ways to promote environmental stewardship through community engagement in conservation.
Kris’ career spans over 19 years working on ocean, land and climate policy. Kris most recently worked at the Department of the Interior, where she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget from 2014 to 2016. Prior to joining the Department of the Interior, Kris was the Associate Director for Legislative Affairs for the Office of Management and Budget. She also served as Deputy Director of Policy and Strategic Planning for the US Department of Commerce, acting as the Secretary’s principal advisor on the ocean, fisheries, climate, and energy issues. Kris also spent eight years in the US Senate where she was on the Professional Staff of the Senate Commerce Committee with responsibility for the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee; she was Senior Policy Advisor of the Office of Senator Jack Reed; and the Legislative Director of the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition.
Kris received a B.A. in Biology from Washington University, St. Louis and an M.S. and M.P.H. from the University of Michigan. She is an avid SCUBA diver.