Once on the pathway to becoming a marine biologist, Peter Hillenbrand took a detour from becoming a scientist by deciding to own and operate the Southern Cross Club, the famous diving and fishing resort in Little Cayman, in 1995. Not long after, in 2002, Peter become involved with CCMI in its seminal years, helping to launch the ocean literacy programme and the fundraising campaign that resulted in a state of the art marine research facility (with sustainable bathrooms, one of Pete’s legacies!). He served as Chairman of CCMI for many of those years until 2015, when he took a break to focus on his Indiana business Walhill Farm, a 250 acre farm with sustainable principles at its core, providing the backdrop to a successful events business and restaurant.
Pete was awarded the Lifetime achievement Award by the Cayman Islands Stingray Awards in 2016, for his contribution to tourism in the Cayman Islands. His passion and dedication to the environment has always been at the fore, via his own business endeavors, his unwavering support for important conservation and environmental projects in the Cayman Islands, like Grouper Moon and of course, his role at CCMI.
Chris has been with CCMI since 2004, when he helped set up the organisation as a Cayman Islands company. He joined the board of directors in 2010 and has held several positions in the organization, finally taking up the challenge of Chairman in 2015. Chris believes that education and awareness are a focal part of preserving the marine environment and that the Cayman Islands have one of the most spectacular reef systems in the world.
His real love is the research however – as this is the key to making a real difference and Chris has personally contributed to several pioneering research projects, including helping to establish the Coral Reef Early Warning System collaboration with NOAA. Chris is the managing director and partner of Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries (SWHH), the boutique law firm based in Grand Cayman. SWHH have also supported CCMI through extensive funding initiatives over the years. Chris has been a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in London for more than 20 years and is a keen diver and underwater photographer.
JS, originally from South Africa, moved to the Cayman Islands in 2007 and immediately fell in love with the Islands and the pristine oceans surrounding his “new” paradise home. JS joined the board of CCMI in November 2017 following the introduction though mutual personal and professional contacts. It was an easy decision for JS to take on the challenge and join the CCMI board considering his passion for conservation and his love of the Caribbean Islands and surrounding ocean waters, reefs and life.
Since JS’s move to the Cayman Islands JS has been involved in a range of on-island nonprofit organization through fundraising activities and active board level involvement. JS’s background in financial services and specifically in the accounting and investment field and his management of an extensive portfolio of financial industry clients including investment companies, financial management companies, captive insurance/reinsurance companies, non-profit organisations and general commercial activities puts him in a good position to add valuable in put to the financial controls and management of CCMI.
Dr. Steve Gittings has a broad range of experience in conservation science, characterizing and monitoring marine ecosystems, assessing damage and recovery following ship groundings and oil spills, and applying science to management. He has over 40 years of experience in scientific diving, ROV operations, and submersible use.
Dr. Gittings was inspired to become a marine scientist during a college field course in tropical ecology. He received a B.S. in Biology at Westminster College in 1979, then M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Oceanography at Texas A&M University. In graduate school, he studied the ecology of a natural brine seep, as well as biofouling ecology and the taxonomy and biogeography of barnacles. He investigated the effects of brine discharges of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, produced a field guide to the barnacles of the Gulf of Mexico, and conducted investigative work for the National Transportation Safety Board. He also helped characterize the reefs and banks of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, and studied deep reefs in the northeastern Gulf. His doctoral research was on the processes affecting recovery of coral reefs following extensive mechanical damage.
After graduate school, he established a monitoring program on two reefs in the Gulf of Mexico called the Flower Garden Banks that is still operating. In a series of saturation missions on the undersea habitat Aquarius, he monitored changes in deep reefs habitats in the Florida Keys. He became NOAA’s first manager of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in 1992. In 1998, he became Chief Scientist for the National Marine Sanctuary System, and now works with scientists to better understand the ecosystems of the nation’s marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments, track changing conditions, and reduce human impacts that diminish environmental quality.
Dr. Gittings works in the U.S. and internationally in the Caribbean and Mediterranean on invasive lionfish response planning. Recently, he has been developing traps designed to catch lionfish in waters beyond scuba depth. The traps minimize by-catch, eliminate ghost-fishing, and could help fishermen provide a steady supply of lionfish to seafood and other developing markets, supplementing their income while protecting native ecosystems.
Sydney qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1966 following his education in the United Kingdom. He has worked in the off-shore financial industry for over forty years, initially in the Bahamas and the Isle of Man before relocating to the Cayman Islands in 1973. Much of his career was spent as Chief Executive Officer of Paget Brown Trust Company Ltd, a position he retired from in 2013.
Throughout that period Sydney has been actively involved in the Cayman Islands business and accounting community. He is a Past President of the Cayman Islands Society of Professional Accountants and the Company Managers Association, Deputy Chairman of the Maritime Authority and has sat on many committees including the Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee, the Government Pension Steering Committee, the Shipping Sector Consultative Committee and the Financial Industry Consultative Committee. He served as a Notary Public for many years.
Outside of work, he is an avid sportsman and has represented the Cayman Islands in hockey and rugby. He played a role in the development of rugby on the island serving as team captain and later as President of the Cayman Islands Rugby Football Association. In 2003 he was elected President of the North America Caribbean Rugby Association, the governing body of the thirteen Unions in North America, Mexico and the Caribbean.
He is married to Claire and has four daughters Natalie, Danielle, Fleur and Hollie.
Tom is a Professor and Chief Scientist in the State of Florida, working primarily on climate change and pollution issues in the state. He was previously the Director of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Florida and served as the Acting Director of the UF Water Institute. Tom holds a Bachelor degree in Fisheries Biology from Humboldt State University and a Masters Degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences from the University of Florida. He earned his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research is, by nature, interdisciplinary, involves collaborators from disparate disciplines and is carried across broad space and time scales in an effort to effectively address contemporary and emerging environmental issues. Tom is particularly interested in anthropogenic impacts on aquatic systems and his current work is focused on eutrophication of fresh, estuarine, and coastal waters; invasive species; and the impacts of climate change on the health and integrity of marine ecosystems. During his tenure at the University of Florida, Tom has secured nearly three dozen multi-investigator and collaborative research grants totaling more than 13 million dollars. He has authored and/or co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed publications, technical reports, and book chapters. Tom currently serves as Chief Specialty Editor for the Coral Reef Research section of Frontiers in Marine Science and regularly serves as referee for other leading international journals and granting organizations. Tom and his team from UF have been working with CCMI for many years and this relationship has resulted in many seminal projects and publications.
Tim is a business professional with more than 30 years of experience in consulting and corporate operations (HR, Finance, IT) spanning multiple industries and companies including private, public, and non-profit organisations. He served as the VP of Finance and Administration for a Canadian-based energy company operating in Canada and the United States. Additional roles include Director of HR Operations, Global Director of HR, as well as the VP of HR in two India-based acquisitions.
Tim has volunteered on numerous non-profit boards and he has been involved with CCMI since 2007, when he first participated in the “Dive With a Researcher” programme. Tim has served as an advisor to CCMI for many years now, including developing several educational modules and is a volunteer instructor and counsellor for Sea Camp. Tim accepted the position as Treasurer in 2015 and continues to volunteer on education courses.