Board of Directors

Larry Stults, Ph.D., J.D., President

Larry’s family founded Cabbage Key in Boca Grande in 1944, where he discovered the joy of island living and a lifelong love for our waterways. He received his B.A. from New College, Sarasota, FL, where he studied the effects of red tide toxin on sea urchin embryo development. He subsequently earned a Ph.D. in cellular biology from The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, studying symbiotic relationships between crop plants and soil bacteria. After post-graduate research at the University of Georgia, Athens, GA, Larry coupled his science training with a law degree, specializing in biotechnology patent law.

Jeff Birnbach, Immediate Past President

A USCG licensed captain, Jeff has been active in several marine-related entities and nonprofit organizations. In 2011, he was Commodore of the Sarasota Yacht Club and has served as a board member of SYC; the Sarasota Youth Sailing Program; and Sailing Alternatives (paralympic sailing). Community involvement includes serving on Sarasota County’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Jeff is also a frequent speaker on emergency preparedness for coastal interests, disaster recovery and boater’s education. In addition to his volunteer role at SBW, Jeff is Managing Director of the Sylint Group, a nationally recognized leader in cyber security, digital data forensics and investigations. His background includes over 25 years in senior leadership of emerging technology and software companies, with extensive emphasis in analytics, complex project management and incident response. Jeff has held several roles as corporate officer and director of innovative companies including LoCast and Robrady Capital. Prior to joining Sylint, he served as interim-CEO of Vertetrak, a pioneer in forensic death investigation software; and was founder and CEO of Physitel, a developer of software for use by NASA. Earlier affiliations included Sony Electronics and Scientific Vision Systems.

Rusty Chinnis, Chairman Emeritus

Rusty Chinnis has been living and working on Longboat Key for the past 34 years. Chinnis is an avid photographer and angler who is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the Bay for future generations. He is a writer and was Co-Chairmen of the Sister Keys Conservancy. He served as President and Chairman of the Board of The Florida Outdoor Writers Association and is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Rusty is the Outdoors Editor of the Anna Maria Island Sun.

Ed Chiles

Ed is the owner and CEO of the Chiles Group, operating three waterfront restaurants, The Sandbar, The Beach House and The Mar Vista Dockside on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key and Gamble Creek Farm that supply’s much of the produce his restaurants use. As a passionate supporter of all things local, Ed is beating the drum, in our area, for the Localvore Movement, which he sees as the most important movement in his 35 years in the restaurant business. What started out as a local effort is now having a global reach. His continuing passion and unwavering commitment have led to collaborations with other like-minded individuals and industry leaders resulting in partnerships with businesses and organizations such as the Pine Avenue Restoration project in the City of Anna Maria , Gamble Creek Farm, Mote Marine, Anna Maria Fish Company, START, the Heritage Seafood Project, Three Sun¹s Ranch and Poppo’s Taqueria as well as offering support to important contributors such as ECHO (Educational Change in Hunger Organization), The Patel College of Sustainability and even the United Nations.

Ed lends his expertise and resources through his involvement in several community organizations. He has two daughters, Ashley and Christin and resides in Anna Maria. He is an avid fly-fisherman and hunter who also enjoys skiing and kayaking.

Ed states, “If we are going to solve the serious health care issues we face today while lowering our carbon footprint and increasing economic development in our local community then it is important that we reconnect with our food. We need to know where our food comes from and even better yet, how it is grown.”

Michael P. Crosby, Ph.D.

Dr. Crosby is President & CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, an independent research institution that has been a leader in marine research for nearly 60 years. Dr. Crosby previously served for three years as Mote’s Senior Vice President for Research. Dr. Crosby has over 30 years of diverse research, teaching, science management and leadership endeavors. During a great deal of his career, he played an active role in directly leading national and international multi-disciplinary research programs, as well as developing national policy and administrative aspects for our country’s science programs. He serves as a reviewer and panelist for numerous scientific journals and national and international science panels and advisory committees and has published over 40 articles and edited several books and manuals dealing with marine protected areas and coral reefs. He obtained an M.S. in Biology, with honors, from Old Dominion University and a Ph.D. in Marine-Estuarine-Environmental Sciences at the University of Maryland. He has developed successful research grants of more than $30M from NSF, NOAA, EPA, DOD, USAID, and others.

Delainey Dietz

Delainey Dietz attends Riverview High School, where she is a part of the International Baccalaureate Program. She is historian of Papillion club, a service club designed to acclimate freshman girls to the school by pairing them with upperclassmen to “mentor” the freshman throughout the year. She is also helping to expand Papillion to other schools, such as Venice High School, Sarasota Military Academy, and Booker High School. Delainey is an active member in Key Club and a regular volunteer at Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s Courtyard Tower desk. Delainey is a certified diver and is interested in keeping the bay in good condition.

Pepper Dietz

Pepper Dietz is a graduate of Riverview High School. He later graduated from University of Florida in 1988. He was a lifeguard for many years prior to joining the fire department in 1992, where he has worked for the past 23 years as a Lieutenant in Sarasota County. Pepper is also a retired NAUI Scuba instructor but still enjoys Scuba diving with his family. Pepper currently holds a United States Coast Guard Masters license as a Captain and enjoys cruising the Sarasota Bay. His concern for the waters of our area is what drives his interest in Sarasota Bay Watch.

Al Jeffrey

Al Jeffrey is a lifelong Sarasota native (diving/fishing area waters since 1957) and graduated from Sarasota High School in 1975. Jeffrey graduated from the University of Florida in 1980 and has been a National Association Underwater Instructors (NAUI) certified SCUBA instructor since 1986. Jeffrey is the owner of Scuba Quest and has been involved with the Sarasota County Artificial Reef Program since 1986. Jeffrey is happily married with two wonderful daughters in Sarasota County public schools…all of which are divers! He has been a Board member of Sarasota Bay Watch since 2012.

Stephen P. Martin

A native of Florida, Steve Martin’s hospitality career spans over 4 decades. Drawing on his executive level operations experience, Steve joined Tijuana Flats as a Joint Venture Partner in 2001 to help develop the West coast of Florida. He currently owns and operates 10 restaurants with plans for continued development. Prior to joining Tijuana Flats, Steve was Regional Vice President Operations, for Metromedia Restaurant Group, parent company of Steak and Ale, Bennigan’s and Ponderosa. Steve serves on the Board of Directors for Riverview High Foundation, and has supported several other charities and local fundraising events through his company’s “Just in Queso Foundation”. He holds a Business degree from University of South Florida and lives in Sarasota with his wife, Laura and two children aged 13 and 14.

David Putnam, CPA, Treasurer

Putnam is an active Certified Pubic Accountant. Putnam has worked for 40 years in Financial Management for-profit, not-for-profit and government with an emphasis on working with organizations with troubled finances and generational transfers. Additionally have extensive management experience in Human Resources, Legal, Purchasing, Warehouse Management, Manufacturing Operations, Sales Management and Ranch Management. He is an education volunteer at Mote Marine and Habitat for Humanity and his hobbies include Sailing (Sarasota Sailing Squadron) and wine making. Dave has been married for 48 years, has 2 children and 1 grandchild. Putnam has a BS in Accounting from Bentley University in Waltham, MA and did graduate work at Babson College in Wellsley Hills, MA

John Ryan

John has been an environmental scientist, regulator and manager for Sarasota County Government for 25 years. He is an avid boater and outdoorsman. He and his family are revitalized by the natural beauty of our area and take vacations to places like Cabbage Key, Ginnie Springs, and Big Pine Key. John was a founding member of Sarasota Bay Watch and kick-started their scallop restoration efforts.

Morgan Watkins D.V.M

Dr. Morgan Watkins is a local veterinarian at the Animal Health Center as well as Sarasota native, attending The Out of Door Academy and Riverview High School.  She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Florida and then continued to Auburn University for her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine.  During that time she returned to Sarasota and completed an internship with Mote Marine’s dolphin and sea turtle rehabilitation program.  Growing up on Sarasota Bay fostered a love for exploring Sarasota waters as well as protecting our beautiful coast.  She and her fiancé Chris can often be found on the water kayaking, fishing, and boating.

Ross Windom

Ellie Martin