As an artist and activist, Director Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary’s gifts are legendary. He has written some of the most moving songs that Peter, Paul & Mary have recorded, including “Puff, The Magic Dragon,” “Day Is Done,” and “Light One Candle.” This musical creativity has always gone hand-in-hand with Yarrow’s commitment to positive social change dedicating his time and talent over the years to equal rights, peace-building, education, preservation of the environment, and more. Just as Peter Paul & Mary used their music as a platform for advocacy, Peter has harnessed music to unite hearts in common purpose, knowing that when music brings people together, it has a unique ability to catalyze and hasten positive change.
Currently, Yarrow devotes most of his energies to Operation Respect (OR), an educational non-profit he co-founded over 20 years ago that took its inspiration from a song, “Don’t Laugh At Me”, written by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin. Peter brought the song to his trio partners who, like himself, were brought to tears by its powerful message. The DLAM program focuses on creating safe, caring, bully-free environments for children and is currently utilized in over 20,000 schools in the US and other countries such as Ukraine, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Hong Kong, Croatia, Canada and Japan. Says Peter, “We need to educate the hearts of our youth, not just their intellects. Our children deserve to be given the tools to become good citizens who care about, and participate in, efforts to make their country, and the world, a better place.”
Brian Skerry, Director, is an award winning National Geographic underwater photographer, lecturer, and author who uses his international platform to draw attention to the many environmental problems plaguing the sea and offer hope through stories of the ocean’s resilience. Unique within the field of underwater photography is Skerry’s ability to pursue subjects of great diversity. His nearly year-round assignment schedule frequently finds him in environments of extreme contrast from tropical coral reefs to diving beneath polar ice. While on assignment he has lived on the bottom of the sea, spent months aboard fishing boats, and traveled in everything from snowmobiles to canoes to the Goodyear blimp to get the picture. He has spent more than 10,000 hours underwater over the last 30 years. Skerry frequently lectures on photography and conservation issues, having presented at venues such as TED Talks, Harvard University, the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and the Royal Geographical Society in London. He is also a regular guest on programs such as NBC’s Today, CBS’s Sunday Morning, and ABC’s Good Morning America and devotes countless hours to marine conservation.
Betsey Brewer Bethel, Director, is an executive at Southwicks Zoo in Mendon, MA and executive director and founder of the nonprofit EARTH (Environmental Awareness of Resources and Threatened Habitats), promoting animal conservation and education. Dedicated and educated in animal behavior and wildlife conservation, she has given thousands of lectures to audiences of all age groups. She has made numerous television and radio program appearances including her work on “Growing Up Camel” for Animal Planet. Future plans include spearheading the “Trips to the Tropics” to bring educators and students to Central America where biodiversity and a variety of eco-systems are celebrated and protected. She holds a B.A. degree from Wheaton College and a master of arts degree in Wildlife Conservation Education from Vermont College of Norwich University.
Laura Parker Roerden, Executive Director and Founder, has over twenty years of experience in environmental education. She has a masters of education degree from Harvard University and a B.A. from Boston College and is a lecturer and author of many books, curricula and articles on young people’s social, emotional, and ethical development. Laura has designed educational outreach projects for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Basketball Association, Pokemon USA, Olympians at Athletes for Character Education, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, AT&T, Operation Respect, and the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program, as well as for various film, music and video projects including the Grammy-nominated children’s recording “Changing Channels.” She is the former publisher and managing editor at Educators for Social Responsibility and former managing editor of the magazine New Designs for Youth Development. She has keynoted at BlueMind 3 along with Celine Cousteau and Dr. Helen Reiss and at Mote Aquarium’s Tea for the Sea. Laura has served on the board of directors of both Women Working for Oceans (W20), a fiscal partner of the New England Aquarium, as well as Earth, Ltd. of Southwicks Zoo and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women in Sustainability. Laura has taught marine education in a myriad of settings including traditional classrooms, on decks of science-at-sea programs, and 100-feet beneath the sea on scuba in ecosystems ranging from the rocky intertidal to the coral reef.
Cassandra Bergeron, Director, has been in the water her entire professional career. She is a PADI Divemaster, WSI (Water Safety Instructor) Instructor, CPR Instructor, and was awarded the American Red Cross National Certificate of Merit, the highest certificate of merit for lifesaving, awarded by the President of the Red Cross in 2011. A little known fact about Cassie is that she was formerly a performance mermaid at the Silverton Casino in Las Vegas, where she was also a safety diver. She’s passionate about all animals and has been involved in animal rescue her entire life. She is originally from Texas and holds a bachelors degree in biology from New Mexico State University.
Laura McCallion, Board President and Director of Dive Education, is a PADI Course Director, the highest level of professional dive certification available. Laura has a passion for the ocean and the underwater world that began at a very early age. She was certified in the very cold waters off of Gloucester, Massachusetts over twenty years ago and despite the near freezing temperature and the fact that it was snowing, she has been addicted to scuba diving since. Since starting to teach diving in 2000, Laura has introduced hundreds of students of all ages to the amazing and wonderful underwater world of diving both in cold and warm water environments. Watching the expression on a new diver’s face when he breathes underwater for the first time or achieves something he wasn’t sure he could really do or when he encounters a marine creature he’s never seen before always reminds her of why she became an instructor in the first place and why she will continue to teach as long as possible. She has a special passion and talent for teaching diving to young people.
Peter G. Lewandowski, Assistant Director of Dive Education, is a PADI Staff Instructor with specialties in Deep, Dry Suit, Peak Performance Buoyancy and Wreck Diving specialties, to name a few. Peter started his career in the cold waters of New England and found a passion and love for being in the water and exploring the oceans that lead him on the path to becoming a Divemaster and eventually a Staff Instructor. He has traveled extensively from the Pacific to the Indian Oceans exploring remote locations, which has created a deep love for the ocean and the environment and for preservation of our water world. He enjoys teaching students and seeing the reaction on their faces when they take that first breath underwater and later as they continue to explore their possibilities. He hopes to create future ambassadors for the ocean environment. “I feel being in the ocean is like being an early explorer. The location you are in at that moment on that dive has never been seen by another person. You are the first explorer to view it,” Peter explains. “That speaks to vastness of the oceans and the potential we still have for its exploration, which I wish to instill in people so they have the same passion and love for the ocean that I do.” When asked where the best place is that he has have dove, he always responds: “find me a puddle deep enough and I will dive it.” The ability to explore is the drive that I want to instill in people to expand their view of this vast water world, and to connect them to the wonders that it holds and the need to protect it for all of us.
Ariana Liuzzi, Marketing Manager, is originally from Long Beach, CA and has always been an ocean enthusiast. After moving to the Las Vegas desert, Ari joined the local synchronized swimming team as a way to cope with living so far from water. As a synchronized swimming, Ari travelled all over the country competing and became nationally ranked. At the age of 18 she started working as an aquatic performer at the Silverton Casino’s aquarium in Las Vegas, NV. In addition to being a performer and safety diver, she became a full time biologist and aquarist at the 117,000 gallon saltwater aquarium where she is responsible for the different marine animals ranging from tropical fish, stingrays and even sharks! Ari has always had a passion for writing and she earned her bachelors degree in Journalism. She feels fortunate to be working with Ocean Matters, tying in her degree with her true passion of Marine Biology. Ari is PADI dive master certified.
Arcadia Davies, Youth Advocate Leader, is currently studying for a Masters of Environmental Management at the Yale School of Environment. She is interested in understanding the complex relationships between people and environments through analyzing historic and contemporary traditions. Arcadia is passionate about connecting communities, especially youth, in ocean conservation projects. As an elementary school teacher and consultant with several non profits, she has worked to integrate community and environmental healing. During college she practiced communicating science to the public through serving as the communication intern at The Island School in The Bahamas. Her studies have included marine ecology, creative writing, anthropology, journalism, photography and community engagement. Arcadia has loved the ocean since a young age and strives to share that love with others.
Ocean Matters is 501(3)c nonprofit corporation and donations are tax-deductible as outlined by law.
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