Our Team

The SDOF Board of Directors and Executive Leadership Team are committed to accomplishing projects that will make a difference in the sustainable use and enhancement of our coastal waters. The upcoming year brings an extraordinary opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the past, bask in the limelight of the achievements of today and dream of the opportunities for tomorrow.

SDOF Executive Leadership Team

Executive Director: Samantha Harrod

Director of Outreach: Joseph Pollock

Board of Directors

President: Shad Catarius

Shad began diving and surfing in San Diego as a child. He has lived his life with a respect for the ocean and coast. After fishing and diving recreationally for most of his life, Shad began fishing commercially in 2007, focusing on lobsters. Shad became involved in the San Diego Oceans Foundation through the lobster tagging project and discovered the importance of collaboration between scientists and fishermen. That, along with the San Diego Oceans Foundation’s goal of being a neutral arbitrator, motivated Shad to be further involved with the organization. In 2015, he took on the role as President.

Vice President: Dave Rudie

Dave began diving southern California in 1972 as a sport diver and later as a commercial sea urchin diver. Dave owns a sea urchin processing company called Catalina Offshore Products. Dave has been involved in fishery management of sea urchins for the last 25 years as a member of the Directors Sea Urchin Advisory Committee, the Sea Urchin Fishery Advisory Committee, and the Sea Urchin Commission. He was involved in managing the sea urchin fishery with size limits, limited entry and limited days. Dave was also a member of the Regional Stakeholders of the MLPA (marine life protection act) as a fishery representative. In his free time, Dave enjoys digital underwater photography and being a member of the San Diego Underwater Photographic Society, since 2007.

Treasurer: Gayle Van Leer

A native Californian growing up in the Santa Barbara area, horses and the ocean were a passion from an early age for Gayle who was playing in the surf and exploring tide pools when she was not riding horses. She recalls the disastrous oil spill in Santa Barbara as cementing her desire to help protect our oceans. That passion for horses evolved into a lifelong career in the thoroughbred horse racing industry where she currently operates Gayle Van Leer Thoroughbred Services, a full service bloodstock agency that consults with an internationally based clientele in selecting as well as managing horses and horse racing related projects. Her background includes racing manager for a nationally leading owner and Eclipse Award winning breeder as well as training and managing farms. Gayle activity promotes ownership of thoroughbreds by volunteering her time and speaking to new and existing owners through various seminars. She is also active with non-profit groups promoting equine health and welfare. A scuba diver for over 20 years, quickly closing in on 1200 dives, she has traveled the world extensively to dive some of the world’s well known, and not so well know, dive areas and seen the steady decline in the health of our oceans over time. Gayle believes that organizations like the SDOF can make a difference.

Secretary: Paula Silvia

Kacy Lafferty

A Gloucester, MA native, Kacy has her Masters in Education, Teaching Credential and has taught both Elementary and Middle school. She is the Executive Director of Discovery Adventures which operates a summer camp and kayak excursions. She has taught Marine Science to children on Catalina Island, and San Diego, California. She has worked in Outdoor Education for the past 15 years and is a trained guide with CPR, EMT, Emergency Dive Accident Management and Lifesaving Certification. She was recently certified by the Coast Guard as a licensed Captain.

Wendy Pacofsky

Wendy is a co-owner of an adventure travel company in San Diego – Outdoor Travel Adventures (OTA). For the past 7 years, she has sent travelers all over the world for both land and sea adventures, and experienced a few herself. Since becoming a dive instructor for Ocean Enterprises in 2003, she has spent a great deal of time in the San Diego waters, and organized a number of group dive adventures to the warm waters of the world. Wendy has a degree in Business Administration from the University of San Diego and also worked in London for the State of California. Prior to owning OTA, she spent 4 years at BCT Scenic Walking, dedicating herself to the sales & marketing of European hiking holidays, and exploring much of Europe by foot.

Board Advisors

Andrew Abouna
Jim Antrim
Daniel Beintema
Ann Belus
Frank Birdsong
Charlie Bishop
Roger Box
Malin Burnham
Paul Dayton, PhD
Arthur DeFever
Harold Dorr
William Evans
Phil Gay
Scody Hage
Fred Hallet
Shaun Halvax
Kevin Hardy
Tom Hawthorne
Carl Mayhugh
Gale Mead
David Merk
Ed Parnell, PhD
Frank Powell
H.P. “Sandy” Purdon
Heidi Roddenberry
Peter Seligman
Marty Snyderman
Greg Stone
Jan Svejkovsky, PhD
John Valencia
Lee Wilson
Richard Wright, PhD

If you are interested in becoming a Board Member or Advisor, please download and complete our Board Member Interest Form and email it here.