Board of Directors

Stephen P. Martin, President

A native of Florida, Steve Martin’s career in the hospitality industry spans over 4 decades.  He served as RVP of Operations for a major restaurant chain and most recently developed the west coast of Florida for Tijuana Flats as a joint venture partner.  He holds a business degree from the University of South Florida.  Steve’s appreciation of Sarasota Bay has has been passed on also to his two children who are active volunteers for Sarasota Bay Watch.

Morgan Watkins Tiefenthal D.V.M., Vice President

Dr. Morgan Watkins Tiefenthal is a local veterinarian and small business owner at the Animal Health Center.  She is a 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 husband Chris can often be found on the water kayaking, fishing, and boating. Morgan is also a current board member for the Southwest Veterinary Medical Association and member of the Junior League of Sarasota.

John Ryan, Secretary

John has been an environmental scientist and manager for Sarasota County Government for 30 years.  A perfect day is out on the water with family and friends. John was a founding member of Sarasota Bay Watch and still loves pitching in on restoration projects and cleanups.

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

Dr. Larry Stults has deep roots to Florida’s Gulf Coast dating back to 1944 when his grandparents established Cabbage Key, a sleepy island near Boca Grande.

From 1973 Larry spent his formative years in Sarasota and attended New College while interning at Mote Marine Laboratory working on early red tide studies in the late 1970’s.  He subsequently earned his Ph.D. in cellular biology from the Johns Hopkins University and then combined his scientific training with a law degree from the University of Georgia to specialize in biotechnology patent law.

Larry returned to Sarasota in 2006 and has been working to help restore and revitalize Sarasota Bay. In 2010 he became president of Sarasota Bay Watch, a role he held for 6 years.  Larry is an executive member of the boards of START (Solutions To Avoid Red Tide) and the Gulf Shellfish Institute. He has worked collaboratively with Mote Marine Laboratory, Reef Ball Foundation and Reef Innovations, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Selby Gardens, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, City of Sarasota, and the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast to help make our bay better and healthier.

Rusty Chinnis, Chairman Emeritus

Rusty Chinnis is a Co-Founder of Sarasota Bay Watch and is dedicated to protecting and enhancing Florida’s waters for future generations. He is a retired building contractor who has lived in the Longbeach Village on Longboat Key since 1982. Rusty is an avid fly fisherman, FFI Certified fly casting instructor, award-winning writer and photographer. He was a co-founder and the first president of the Manatee Chapter of the Florida Conservation Association (now CCA) and was a founder of the Sister Keys Conservancy. He has 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 and a Co-Founder of Kids For Clean Water.

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.

Reed Giasson

Al Jeffrey

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

Brian P Jung

Brian is the Regional Sales Manager for Aqua Lung America where he provides personal aquatic equipment for recreational and professional use within Florida.  Having moved to Sarasota in 1988 he has dedicated his entire career to providing opportunities for others to enjoy the splendors that Florida’s waters offer. As a National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) SCUBA instructor and USCG Captain he spends as much time as he can on Sarasota’s waterways. Jung lives in Sarasota with his wife Beth and son.

Brooke Langston

Growing up in Fort Myers, Brooke developed a love of all things marine, estuarine and aquatic in the Gulf and Caloosahatchee. She has a bachelor’s in Environmental Studies for the University of California at Santa Barbara with a focus on environmental education. Working for the National Audubon Society for 17 years allowed Brooke to work towards protecting some of the most beautiful ecosystems in America. Brooke served two separate deployments with the Peace Corps, in St Kitts in the mid 90s, and in Fiji more recently; some have claimed she was actually in the Beach Corps. Returning to Florida to enjoy her parents’ senior years, Brooke happily landed with Sarasota County’s Parks, stewarding our 53,000 acres of preserves and natural areas. Volunteering with Sarasota Bay Watch is icing on the cake.

Ernesto Lasso de la Vega Ed.D.

Ernesto has been working at the Lee County Hyacinth Control District in Fort Myers, Florida since 1991 as a biologist controlling aquatic weeds and monitoring water quality in Lee County. He earned a Master degree from Auburn University (1988) and a Doctorate degree from University of Central Florida (2004).  He also has been teaching environmental science, biology and microbiology at local universities in Southwest Florida for the last 25 years to the present. He presently serves as a member of the Florida Sea Grant Advisory Board, the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program Technical and Citizen Committee, and the Florida Lake Management Society. He loves working with the Sarasota Bay Watch members so much that he does not mind the traveling.

Devin Sanderson

Devin serves as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President at Churchill Stateside Group, a leading firm in the debt and equity finance industry, specializing in tax incentive investments.  He brings a wealth of experience in a fast paced investment banking environment providing financing solutions in the renewable energy capital markets, including project identification, evaluation, and structuring of tax advantaged transactions as well as managing the performance of staff and funds to maximize investor benefits and company profitability.  Devin graduated from the University of South Florida, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Finance. Whether he is fishing for snook and redfish along the mangroves or running 150 miles offshore in search of giant swordfish, his love for fishing and the outdoors started as far back as he can remember. Devin strives to keep that resource he loves so much sustainable for future generations with founding Coastal Impact Fund, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides thought provoking conservation programs which offer practical, real world solutions to preserve and restore the marine environment.

Brandon Taaffe

Brandon grew up on Siesta Key and developed a love for the water and bay at young age.  He was avid rower and spent countless hours training on the bay, his rowing took him to Trinity College in Connecticut, after which he was determined to make it back to Sarasota to spend time on the water.  To escape the cold Brandon attended the University of Florida for law school and moved back to Siesta Key after law school. Brandon is now an business litigation associate at Shumaker Loop and Kendrick LLP.  When he is not practicing law Brandon can be found on the water, surfing, boating, fly-flying or paddle-boarding.

Ross Windom

Ross Windom is a second generation Sarasotan who has been enjoying the bay since the 60’s. His interest continued in Marine Ecology class at SHS doing projects around the bay and planning the Carefree Learner(floating classroom).  His concerns for a healthy bay environment for generations to come are among his many goals with Sarasota Bay Watch.

Brooke Welch

Brooke, a native Floridian and current biology major at USFSM, is the founder of Sarasota Ocean Preservers – a program for youth and adults that combines beach, kayak, and underwater cleanups with an emphasis on marine life education. Brooke conducted her first environmental cleanup while living in Ecuador as a child. Since moving to Sarasota, Brooke has interned at Mote Marine Laboratory since 2013, volunteered with Save Our Seabirds during high school, and has been conducting population studies off Sarasota’s coast. Brooke is a PADI divemaster and enjoys spending time scuba diving.

Jeff Birnbach

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.  He has also served as a pas president of Sarasota Bay Watch.

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.”

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