CMA’s Vision is to become the global leader in connecting people to marine life and the environment. CMA’s Values include Integrity, Inspiration, Passion, Excellence, Collaboration, Leadership and Compassion.
Joe Handy is the Chief Executive Officer of Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA). With a strong enthusiasm for community partnership, Handy brings more than 20 years of experience in leading cultural institutions.
Handy joined CMA in 2022 from the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA)® where he served as President and CEO. He is an accomplished leader with an impeccable track record, strong business acumen, vision, and an entrepreneurial mindset.
In 2005, Handy joined the Georgia Aquarium’s founding team as Director of Visitor Services and went on to serve as the Aquarium’s President and Chief Operating Officer in 2017. Grounded in his passion for the Aquarium’s mission, he rose through the ranks of Vice President of Guest Experience, Senior Vice President of Guest Experience, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, President and Chief Operating Officer, and as President of the Georgia Aquarium Foundation.
Handy is a dedicated member of his community and has served on several committees including the Kennesaw State University (KSU) Foundation Board of Trustees and the Strategic Planning Committee, the Advisory Boards of KSU Business School, the Morehouse Leadership Honor Society, and the Board of Directors for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
He has also received numerous accolades including the Atlanta Business League 2018 Men of Influence Award, the Georgia Senate Remarkable and Distinguished Georgian Resolution in March 2019, ICABA – Atlanta’s Leading Influencers Award in May 2019, and Secretary of State’s Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award in July 2019. He served as Executive in Residence at Kennesaw State’s College of Business for the Fall 2019 semester, is a member of the Leadership Atlanta 2019 Class, and Chairman of the Board for Atlanta Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA).
Born and raised in New York, Handy graduated with honors from The College of New Rochelle with a Liberal Arts Degree and a concentration in Political Science. He later went on to earn his Executive MBA from KSU. While in New York, Handy spent nine years at the American Museum of Natural History and helped launch the Rose Center for Earth and Space.
Our Chief Operating Officer, Anthony Rivera, started with Clearwater Marine Aquarium in March of 2023. Anthony worked in the tourism and attraction industry for the past 25 years. His most recent position before arriving at Clearwater Marine Aquarium was as Georgia Aquarium’s Senior Vice President of Operations and Hospitality, where he oversaw the daily operations and visitor experience for the aquarium. Before moving to Atlanta to join the Georgia Aquarium, he was the Director of Operations for the popular Rockefeller Center observation deck in New York for over 10 years. He was responsible for designing and implementing strategy, policies, and operations of the observation deck, as well as developing and maintaining the guest experience for the 3 million plus guests that visited the observation deck.
Anthony also served as the Operations and Entertainment Manager at Madame Tussauds New York, where he supervised and managed the daily operations while implementing all the interactive experiences. Prior to Madame Tussauds New York, he worked as the Visitor Services Manager at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where he was responsible for maintaining the daily operations for more than 3.5 million guests, along with the IMAX Theater, planetarium and special exhibitions at the museum. He was also part of the opening team for the Rose Center for Earth and Space planetarium. Anthony is currently an active member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums serving on their trends committee. He is also a member of International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA).
For more than 40 years, Dr. James “Buddy” Powell has worked to conserve manatees and other endangered species around the world through science and education. With an integrated approach to unlock solutions for conservation issues, his efforts have resulted in coastal protected areas in Florida, West Africa, Central America and Cuba.
As native Floridian in the 1970s, Buddy’s work began with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a biologist and manatee specialist. In 1986, he moved to West Africa where he studied manatees and forest elephants for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). After a cultural adjustment and gaining experience in managing people and changing human behavior, he was pivotal in establishing several coastal protected areas. He moved to Belize in the 1990s to manage WCS’s Glover’s Reef Marine Research Station. Upon his return to Florida, Buddy administered the state’s research program on marine mammals and sea turtles for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In 2001, he became a Vice President at Wildlife Trust where he oversaw the Aquatic and National Divisions.
In 2008, Dr. Powell co-founded Sea to Shore Alliance. The organization was created to improve the health and productivity of coastal environments for the endangered species and human livelihoods that depend on them through research, education and conservation. Buddy joined CMA as VP of Research & Conservation when Sea to Shore Alliance merged with Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Dr. Powell received his BSc. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Florida, his Masters in Marine Affairs from the University of Washington, and his PhD in Zoology from the University of Cambridge in England. He was the recipient of the prestigious Pew Award in Marine Conservation in 2000, has been featured on “Champions of the Wild” and National Geographic’s “Wild Chronicles” documentaries, and has been honored with multiple awards and certificates. Dr. Powell has authored two books, numerous scientific publications and popular articles.
Kelly Jordan joined Clearwater Marine Aquarium in February 2016 as the Chief Development Officer. In this position, Kelly provides leadership, direction and coordination of fundraising strategies and activities that enable CMA to make critical investments to ensure our institution remains a leader in marine life education, research, rescue, rehabilitation, and release. This included overseeing CMA’s $15 million dollar capital campaign for its $71 million dollar expansion that has allowed us to rescue and release more marine life, create an enhanced living habitat for our resident non-releasable animals, and provide more space for our guests.
Kelly began her career in business development and fundraising in 2002. A graduate of Tampa’s own University of South Florida, Kelly holds a degree in International Business. She also studied Business and Museum Studies at King’s College in London, England and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Prior to moving back to Florida, Kelly served as the Development Officer in Washington D.C. at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for over 8 years. At the Holocaust Museum she was part of a hugely successful $200 million dollar comprehensive campaign. Kelly also worked with the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
An accomplished industry expert with a career spanning over 26 years, Ruth brings a wealth of knowledge and invaluable experience to her new role. Ruth was a key member of the opening team for Georgia Aquarium in 2005, where she dedicated 17 years to shaping and developing the overall guest experience. Prior to that, she honed her expertise during her decade-long tenure at the American Museum of Natural History. As the Vice President of Guest Experience and Engagement, Ruth will spearhead the organization’s focus on “Edutainment” – a fusion of education and entertainment. Under her leadership, the Engagement team will devise innovative and enjoyable ways to educate guests about the vital work undertaken at CMA. Through captivating talks, interactive presentations, and immersive animal rescue demonstrations, guests will gain a deeper understanding of the organization’s mission and the actionable steps they can take to contribute. With Ruth’s extensive experience and her passion for delivering exceptional guest experiences, CMA will continue to educate and engage visitors.
Kathleen has been promoted to VP of Finance after serving more than 2 years as Director. She is a seasoned finance and accounting professional with over 30 years of experience in corporate, nonprofit, and international finance. Prior to joining CMA in 2020, Kathleen spent seven years as a controller for Pinellas Education Foundation and 10 years with Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) as the Senior Director of Finance and Administration. Kathleen started her career as an auditor for a CPA firm and has since gained a wealth of experience in finance, non-profit, and international accounting. Kathleen will play an integral role in ensuring the financial wellbeing of the organization and will be instrumental in setting the stage for a positive economic future.
As Vice President of Marketing at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Dorree Gurdak brings over 25 years of strategic global marketing experience to her new role. Her area of expertise is developing breakthrough integrated marketing campaigns which she plans to do for CMA. In her previous role at Weber Shandwick, she worked with well-known brands, non-profits and commodities to create brand narratives, oversee development of creative digital, video and print campaigns, as well as large branded consumer and media activations. She had the opportunity to work with scientists, farmers, and the fishing industry working on behalf of organizations such as the Maine Marketing Lobster Collaborative and Ocean Spray Cranberries.
Under her marketing leadership, Dorree and the talented CMA marketing team are ready to create a new narrative and creative that will capture new visitors, as well as attracting returning visitors. With Dorree’s wealth of experience and her enthusiasm for delivering exceptional marketing campaigns, CMA will be well-positioned for its growth and expansion.
Kelly Martin is the Vice President of Zoological Care for Clearwater Marine Aquarium bringing over 24 years of marine mammal industry knowledge and leadership experience to the team.
Kelly grew up visiting marine mammal parks and aquariums from a very young age, with her passion for water and animals, it was no surprise Kelly decided on a career in the marine mammal field. In 1999, Kelly moved to Las Vegas, Nevada to work for the Mirage Dolphin Habitat where a foundation in education, marine mammals, guest experience, SCUBA, and water quality were solidified. Her career continued as she moved across the country joining SeaWorld Orlando’s Discovery Cove. A strong knowledge of marine mammal social groups, the effects of seasonal changes in the population, experience with cetacean births and calf rearing, practice and implementation of in-water guest interaction and programming, along with an understanding in leadership added to Kelly’s capacity. In 2015, Kelly was offered a position to lead a local team of Bahamians while opening Atlantis, Paradise Island’s Dolphin Cay. Kelly’s repertoire grew to include pinniped and various bird species, establishment of a marine mammal species after hours show, marine mammal transport, marketing and PR efforts with VIP guests, and course completion in Atlantis’ HR training for professionals through the Atlantis University.
As life would have it, Kelly married and started her family. Moving closer to friends and family for support, Kelly’s journey began at Clearwater Marine Aquarium where she oversees the Animal Care Program, Aquatic Biology Program, Dive Program, and Marine Mammal Rescue efforts. Throughout her tenure, Kelly has created educational revenue programs, assisted with capital construction projects from idea through to implementation, and has recently worked with the team to accomplish CMA’s first accreditation with the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. Kelly is supported by a talented and passionate group of individuals with the primary goal to expand knowledge and efforts to conserve marine life and the environment.
Dr. Kelly McAdams has worked in post-secondary education for over 20 years. She possesses a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Jacksonville University, a Master of Science in Nursing Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Education from Capella University. Prior to beginning her career as an educator, Kelly worked in the clinical medical environment and is an experienced trauma and open-heart nurse. She has served as a faculty member, a program director, and associate dean in several institutions of higher learning in Pennsylvania and Florida.
Kelly has nurtured a lifelong love of marine life and when she finally relocated to Florida in 2017, she began volunteering at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. She is passionate about the conservation of our environment and precious marine life. Kelly believes strongly that educating and inspiring guests from around the globe is the key to empowering individuals to take meaningful action in their communities to protect our oceans, conserve our natural resources, and prevent further species extinction. She will be working closely with many local school districts, colleges, universities, and conservation organizations to encourage our youth to develop a passion for our marine environment. Kelly is especially interested in the impacts microplastics are imposing on our local estuaries.