The Ocean Institute recently introduced four new members to its board as the nonprofit approaches its 50th anniversary.
Joining the marine education nonprofit’s growing board are Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel General Manager Kelly Steward; Citizens Business Bank Vice President Brian Skelton; Todd Larson, director at Stout, a global investment bank and advisory firm; and Chief Academic Officer at the Orange County Department of Education Tom Turner.
In addition to the new members, the Ocean Institute announced its newest board of directors chairperson, community member Collie James.
James has deep ties to the Ocean Institute, with its Seaside Learning Center bearing his daughter’s name. Maddie James died in 2011 after a brief battle with brain cancer.
In a media release, the Ocean Institute noted that the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center “has left a lasting impact on numerous children who visit, sharing Maddie’s passion for marine life and nurturing a love for the ocean in the hearts of the young learners.”
James noted that as the chair of the nonprofit’s board of directors, “I feel fortunate that I get to stand here on the shoulders of past successors and help move the Ocean Institute into the future.”
“Ocean Institute has been blessed over the years with wonderful leaders, donors, sponsors, and supporters, and I’m incredibly proud that my daughter is, and will always be, a part of that story,” James said.
In the release, the Ocean Institute said the new members will “contribute to the creativity and strength of the board,” with Ocean Institute President and CEO Dr. Wendy Leavell adding that “the importance of a top-notch board of directors cannot be stressed too strongly.”
Leavell noted that she was confident in James’ appointment.
“As we embark on the next chapters of the institute, we are certain that Collie is the perfect fit for this role,” Leavell said. “Since joining the board in January 2021, he has seamlessly integrated into the organizational culture of the Ocean Institute.”
“The staff holds Collie in high regard for his approachability, his willingness to offer assistance whenever needed, his deliberate networking approach, and his unwavering dedication to our mission,” Leavell continued.