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.
Unanimously chosen by the CMA Board of Directors to replace former CEO, David Yates, Frank Dame became CEO of Clearwater Marine Aquarium in 2020. Involved with Clearwater Marine Aquarium since 2006, Dame was Chairman of the Board in 2007-2008 and was then hired as Chief Operating Officer in 2008 by Yates. Dame has extensive executive experience, including previous positions with GE Capital, President of GTE Leasing Corporation, Vice President and General Manager of Verizon Credit, and Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Progress Telecom. Committed to the betterment of the City of Clearwater, Dame has also held various leadership positions within the community; most notably as Chairman of the Clearwater Jolley Trolley, Chairman of the Board of the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce, Past President of the Island Estates Civic Association, and Chairman of the City of Clearwater Community Development Board.
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 includes overseeing CMA’s $15 million dollar capital campaign for its $71 million dollar expansion that will allow 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 has over 14 years of professional Business Development experience. 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.
As Chief Financial Officer, Dick Regan is responsible for all financial aspects of CMA’s business operations. Reporting directly to the CEO and working closely with CMA’s senior leadership team and Board of Directors, he oversees and directs accounting and finance functions, including the organization’s budgeting and long-range financial planning, contract negotiation and management, treasury and relations with financial partners.
Regan, a CPA, began his career at Arthur Andersen & Co and left after nine years to join the New England Patriots as Vice President of Finance. He stayed with the Patriots until the sale of the team to Victor Kiam. He went on to take responsibility for the licensing of Michael Jackson merchandise on broad categories of merchandise, primarily in Europe. When the NFL founded the World league of American football (name later changed to NFL Europe) he was brought back by the NFL to help launch the European teams and serve as CFO. Regan worked in the New York office for almost one year before moving to London where he established the London office. He remained in London for seven years before leaving to return to his alma mater, College of the Holy Cross, as Director of Athletics where he worked for over 15 years. Subsequently he served as Executive Vice President of Pine Manor College in Brookline, MA and as Interim CFO at Bethel University in Mishawaka, IN. Regan and his wife of 42 years, Judi, have three adult daughters and six grandchildren. The Regans currently maintain homes in Belleair, FL, Shrewsbury MA and Oak Bluffs, MA.
In 1984, Mike started a career with SeaWorld Orlando. Starting in the engineering department as a full-time helper, he worked in all aspects of engineering and polished his skill sets taught to him by his dad. In a few months Mike was offered a third shift job as a water quality technician. Mike accepted this position and learned the new trade of life support operations for marine life environments. Mike continued his education through this time and became a state certified water treatment operator, certified diver and a private pilot. During his 18-year career at SeaWorld, he continued to gain responsibility and helped to oversee all maintenance diving operations, new construction projects as well as all daily operations within the Water Quality Department.
After 18 years with SeaWorld, Mike was offered a position on a groundbreaking opportunity to build Georgia Aquarium, the world’s largest aquarium in Atlanta. Mike was the fourth employee to be hired by the Aquarium and was initially responsible for assisting with the design and overseeing the construction project. This was a 240-million-dollar project that was built in 24 months. In 2009, Mike left Georgia Aquarium as the VP of Engineering and Operations to start his own consulting firm.
While Mike was running his consulting firm, Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) reached out to Mike for assistance in resolving water quality issues with their dolphin habitat. In 2010, CMA offered Mike a position as the Director of Animal Care. Today, as VP of Operations & Zoological Care, Mike is responsible for overseeing Dive Operations, Water Quality, Marine Vessel Operations, Facility Operations and Animal Care including Rescue Operations. He is also overseeing all construction and expansion projects for CMA.
Dawn De Santis has more than 25 years of guest operations and human resources experience in the attractions and hospitality industries. Before joining the team at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Dawn spent 9 years with Brunswick, a family entertainment center, 10 years with Carnival Airlines, Pan Am and Continental, and another three years running her own successful restaurant. A New York native, Dawn fell in love with the Clearwater area and decided to move down with her family in 2004. She got her first taste of Clearwater Marine Aquarium after coming across a sea turtle nest on the beach with a sign that said it was protected by CMA. Fascinated, as there were no sea turtles in the Bronx, Dawn signed on as a volunteer for the nesting team and never looked back.
In 2006, Dawn accepted a position as the aquarium’s Volunteer Coordinator, but continued volunteering on the Nesting and Rescue Teams for over 10 years. As a member of the Rescue Team, Dawn was involved with Winter and Hope’s rescue and rehabilitation. Additionally, Dawn served as a Talent Coordinator for both Dolphin Tale films.
During her 13-year tenure with Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Dawn has taken on many roles including Volunteer and Intern Coordinator, Director of HR, Assistant VP of Guest Relations and HR, and her current position as Vice President of Guest Operations & Human Resources. Dawn lives near the beach where she saw her first sea turtle nest with her husband, son and dog.
Lisa Oliver joined the Clearwater Marine Aquarium team in June 2012, and serves as the Vice President of Education. She oversees the development and facilitation of all educational programming, summer and seasonal camps, eco-boat tours, coastal clean-ups, and the wild dolphin dorsal fin identification program. She comes from a background of various experiences in the biological field, including environmental consulting, sea turtle nesting, wildlife rehabilitation, and traditional education. As a native to Florida, Lisa enjoys spreading her passion for environmental conservation and awareness to help foster the next generation of environmental stewards. Lisa also enjoys, traveling, spending time on the water, reading, and snuggling with her fur babies. Lisa holds both a M.S. degree in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Marine Biology, and a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from Florida Atlantic University.
Billy grew up with a passion for the environment; hiking, surfing and diving in California. He started his professional career in Los Angeles as a graduate of the prestigious Art Center College of Design. While his design talent was geared towards entertainment, working with Disney and other studios, he was soon pulled into the product and fashion design industry, designing and managing major entertainment licenses. Billy earned notoriety for his design work with celebrities in sports and music industries. He was recognized for his bold graphic design and innovating collaborations and cross licenses between sports and entertainment properties like Warner Bros. and NBA. While in California, in his spare time, Billy always remained involved with environmental and conservation causes. Volunteering at Marineland of the Pacific and working with Los Angeles Zoo in Animal Care, Education and Marketing as well as Sierra Club California, the environment is his true love.
In 1991 Billy was recruited By Vanity Fair Corp. to head up Merchandising / Design in their new License division in Florida. He jumped at the opportunity to work for the world’s largest apparel corporation and the adventure of exploring Florida’s amazing environment, a childhood dream. Billy spent the next ten years heading up merchandising, marketing and licensing projects with every major sports and entertainment license as well as VF’s many brands. In 2001 Billy went on to accept a position with David & Goliath Inc. as Executive Vice President heading up Operations & Creative Development, which included Marketing, IP Licensing, Entertainment, Publishing, and International Retail Franchising. Billy continued to work in the environmental arena on the side working with the Busch Conservation fund, Nature Conservancy, starting a Florida based conservation organization with his daughters, and began his relationship with Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
In 2012 Billy began developing and merchandising product for CMA and the Dolphin Tale 2 release as a side project. This relationship developed into an opportunity to join the CMA leadership team and Billy was finally able to merge his passion for the environment and all his career experience in one place. Since 2016 Billy has been VP of Brand Merchandising and most recently became VP of Conservation Marketing.
Trisha Blake serves as Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Previously, she was responsible for ZooTampa’s brand efforts as their Chief Marketing Officer. At Minus Ego, an independent marketing and advertising firm, Trisha served as Chief Connection Officer executing strategic initiatives for hospitality and tourism brands like M Resorts and Encore & Wynn Resorts.
With a client portfolio including the Los Angeles Zoo, Reid Park Zoo, Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden, Las Vegas Convention & Visitor Authority, Caesars Entertainment and LAX, Trisha has extensive experience in developing and implementing revenue-growth plans for global experiential super-brands. After launching Las Vegas’ cultural phenomenon campaign of “What Happens Here, Stays Here” in 2003 and opening the $8 billion City Center project, Trisha spent 5 years as the managing partner for a marketing firm focused on social change and cause marketing efforts.
Trisha is a graduate of San Diego State University, and holds an MS in Hospitality and Tourism. A nature and animal enthusiast, in her free time you can find Trisha biking, walking her miniature Aussie, or taking her niece to the beach. She is also an avid reader and aims to read one book a week.