Idee Belau mn ‘10 Bio

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Idee Belau

MN ‘10

Inspired by her maternal grandfather, Idee began exploring Florida’s wild areas by boat and horseback at the young age of six. Through a nurtured love for the environment and history, she eventually learned to SCUBA dive, which expanded her interest in underwater archaeology and photography and cemented her passion for exploration.

As a Technical Business Analyst, Idee’s acumen for building data-related processes evolved into critical field data collection skills. Regularly called upon to exercise her field skills, Idee undertakes expeditions with NASA’s Spaceward Bound program and the Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge (CWVC) Team. Through CWVC, she was among the first to document underwater occupational prostheses use and testing of altitude impacts on residual limbs and TBI patients during a 2013 Mt. Kilimanjaro summit. In February 2015, Idee carried Explorers Club Flag #208 on its maiden expedition with Advanced Diver Magazine’s Exploration Foundation to document uncharted cenote formations within Mexico’s Yucatan State. Her expedition content is regularly used by mainstream media covering the expeditions.

After a decade of working with the Department of State and Department of Defense, Idee entered private consultation and co-founded Novel Engineering, Inc in 2014. Initially pursuing an education in Political Science, Idee now studies Business Communications at Harvard University and is a trained technical diver, Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society member, a primitive survival school graduate, a Dive Emergency Specialist, and a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.

As a new Club member entering the reorganized Florida Chapter, Idee saw a need for chapter leadership and soon agreed to serve as its Communications Director. In early 2012, she was elected as the Florida Chapter Chair. During her tenure, the Chapter has experienced positive reengagement with its members, renewed its stewardship of the Arnold Haverlee Exploration Award Endowed Scholarship Fund, established an alliance with Orlando Science Center, and with Idee’s leadership hosted an exciting and unique Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner 2015 that raised significant funds for the Club’s mission.

Idee serves on the CWVC Advisory Board, is a Board of Directors member for Advanced Diver Magazine’s Exploration Foundation, and served as Board of Trustees Vice-President for the Brevard Museum.


The three most significant priorities for the Explorers Club at this time are:

1. Building value in the membership experience.

2. Expanding public awareness of our organization and the Explorers Club goals.

3. Fostering clear and transparent internal budgetary processes.
My two practical ideas to address each of the three priorities are:
1. Upon election to the Board, I will engage in collaboration with a network of marketing professionals and Explorers Club members to identify unique paths and associations that are aimed at bringing awareness of the Explorers Club to new and larger demographics.
2. By applying my skills as a Technical Business Analyst, I will engage in thorough review and analysis of released financial reports, consistently support clarity and transparency in financial reporting, and work with others to ensure that larger organizational events are supported with a planning budget.
My leadership roles within the Explorers Club and other non-profit boards and organizations, along with my professional acumen for data analysis and objective reasoning, provides me with the right balance of experience and understanding to make lasting positive impacts to our Club. Besides my personal time and financial contributions, I feel that one of my strongest attributes is the ability to inspire contribution in others.
My recent volunteer Explorers Club positions:

  • FL Chapter Chair (Current)

  • FL Chapter Director Communications

  • Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner 2015, Committee Chair

  • Nominating Committee 2015, Member

  • Chapter Relations Committee, Co-Chair (Current)

  • Chapter Relations Committee, Member

  • Technical Committee, Member

  • Flag Expedition 2015, Co-Lead (Flag #208)

  • Funded research of historic grants and scholarship awardees in 2014

Other recent non-profit service includes a term as Vice-President for Brevard Museum of History & Natural Science and current membership to the Advanced Diver Magazine’s Exploration Foundation. In addition, I’m one of a few non-veterans to serve on the Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge Advisory Board.

My approach to resolving serious disagreements and conflicts in a fair and transparent manner is:

  • to allow all opinions to be heard and given equal weight in order to fully understand the issue,

  • to identify points within an issue of potential compromise and earn agreement on those points, thus distilling the issue, and

  • placing to vote any unresolved points.

When resolving disagreements, reiterating the group’s overarching common goal is imperative to successful outcomes. Through focusing on areas where parties can work together early during the disagreement, more amicable solutions are formed and more organizational progress is achieved.

Bill Liss

MN ‘13
I am William “Bill” Liss, MN’13, a two term Special Director of The Explorers Club and a member of the Board of our Atlanta Chapter. I am privileged to serve as an active Board advocate, and I am eager to continue, with your support, as an elected member of the Board for a full three-year term.

As a nine time Emmy winner, I currently serve as the Board Chair of the Club’s Communications Committee and as Club Media and Public Relations Counsel, initiating the Club’s interface with all worldwide media, and review and approve the Club’s editorial materials.

I have established specific protocols and procedures that ensure tracking of the Club’s worldwide media involvement, and I devote considerable time as Public Relations Counsel to the Club’s senior executives and staff. In am in contact with our Club’s administration each time the Club interacts with media or is promoting one of our many great events, and I take particular joy in progressing our Club’s mission to those who are less familiar with the Club’s goals and objectives.
In 2013 and 2014, I was honored to serve as Master of Ceremonies for the Lowell Thomas Awards, and I have directed the Club’s editorial activity associated with our sponsors and Diageo (Johnny Walker). Additionally, I am the founding member of The Explorers Club Board team developing the World Exploration Summit and will be coordinating the Public Relations of this exciting world exploration event as well.
The Explorers Club is an extraordinarily special organization and I’m particularly proud of my accomplishments advancing the great work that we, as an organization, do. I am asking that you please consider me for a full term so that I can continue working for you as we press forward into the next three years. Thank you for your consideration.

Though there is much to do, I have listed below, what I believe are four significant priorities most important to The Explorers Club:

  • Insure a balanced budget and financial stability to support diversified programs of exploration and discovery, and advance a major fund raising effort that will add significant sponsorships that will support grant and scholarship programs, lecture series, film presentations, artists programs, member expeditions and Club publications.

  • Advance discovery and preservation of the planet through exploration, flag expeditions and scientific research

  • Provide significant support for ECAD and Lowell Thomas, our two largest Club fundraisers.

  • Advance the Club Historical Archive into the digital age and improve the technology for “live web streaming” of major Club events worldwide.

Relevant experience:

  • My decades of professional experience in marketing, public relations, and journalism now directly serving the Club.

Practical ideas to address each priority:

  • As a marketing professional, may I respectfully suggest that no “buzz words” and “catch phrases” can be used as a catch-all. The Club must take each challenge individually and strategies must then be developed and executed to meet each selected priority.

My work for the Explorers Club over the past 2 years:

  • I serve as The Explorers Club Media and Public Relations Counsel and as Chair of the Board Communications Committee, directing the Club’s interface with worldwide media and preparation of its editorial materials.

  • We now monitor, through a specific media-tracking plan, all media requests that come through The Explorers Club.

  • We also now have full Public Relations and Media support for ECAD.

Marketing and Public Relations Experience:

  • Decades in public relations and marketing positions as a senior executive with major US corporations, such as TWA, American Broadcasting Companies, and RJR Nabisco; and more than two decades of major television journalism experience appearing on network television each week in the Atlanta area.

Other non-profit boards:

  • Rutgers University Board of Trustees

  • Rutgers University Board of Overseers

  • Emory University Board of Visitors

  • Board of Literacy Action

  • Atlanta Fire/Rescue Foundation

Resolving Issues

  • Mediation among the parties; Use of expertise among Board members to resolve disagreements; Seek compromise and consensus before reaching any decisions.

Milbry C. Polk

FR ‘95
Milbry C. Polk (BA, honors Anthropology) Radcliffe College, Harvard University, University of London (Medieval Studies), have lectured at over 150 schools, universities, tour groups and public organizations. Additionally, I co-founded and was executive director of Wings WorldQuest, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting women at the leading edge of science and discovery. I also founded and directed programs for the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of the American Indian and was Vice-Chair of the Conference on Affordable World Security (2012).
Included among my writings are:

  • Women of Discovery (Library Journal award Best Books 2001 and School Library Journal, Best Books 2002)

  • Egyptian Mummies (Margaret A. Edwards Award best books of 1998); editor

  • The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad

  • Contributor to a number of books; and Reviews

  • Contributing Editor of The Explorers Journal, 1998-present

  • Co-founded with Imagination Celebration, and wrote curriculum for The Art of Exploration, for the Public Schools of Ft. Worth, Texas.

I have led or participated in expeditions to:

  • Prince William Sound, Alaska

  • The Western Desert of Egypt (National Geographic)

  • Yemen; Southern Sudan; Saudi Arabia

  • Iran

  • Pakistan

  • John River, Alaska

  • Nepal

  • Brazilian coast

  • Greenland

  • Baffin Island

  • Devon Island

  • India (American Museum of Natural History)

  • Chinese Tibet

  • Coast of NW Greenland

  • The Andaman Sea

I was fortunate to have been honored with the following awards and honors:

  • The Capt. J-E Bernier Medal, Royal Canadian Geographical Society (2015)

  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh Award (2011)

  • Alumnae of the Year, Madeira School (2011)

  • Environmental Leadership Award, Unity College

  • Womens' ENews “Leader of the 21st Century”

  • Who's Who, Women of the Year Award

  • Honorary Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society

  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

  • Fellow of The Explorers Club

  • Fellow of Wings WorldQuest

I serve on Advisory Boards of several organizations including The William Mills Polar Prize, George Polk Journalism Awards Committee, Takster Foundation (Tibet) and served ten years on the Board of Governors of the National Arts Club and was the subject of a CBS Sunday Morning feature that won the Gracie Award. I hold British and American citizenship and row daily on the Hudson River.

I have been a member of the Explorers Club for over two decades but have been engaged in exploration since I was young. Being a member of, or the leader of numerous expeditions in the Middle East, Asia and the Arctic, I truly value camaraderie and working together with others towards a common goal. I feel confident that as a member of the Board of Directors, I can use my team-work experience to help our historic Club do extraordinary things.
My love for our Club has been the catalyst for my having been engaged in many Club activities. I’ve co-chaired ECAD and Lowell Thomas dinners, served on various committees including organizing over thirty programs - from lectures to film festivals, co-chaired the Polar Film Festivals, lectured on my own expeditions, and I also contribute by writing the book reviews for the Journal. I have raised over $1,200,000 for explorers generally, and over $320,000 for The Explorers Club and I would like to help raise money for the Club’s operating account, and also to create an endowment that will help finance member expeditions.  Currently I am working on the World Exploration Summit which I believe will be one of the most important things the Club has ever done and will cement our place in the pantheon of exploration history.
I have been able to bring in a number of new members to the Club (I’ve sponsored or cosponsored 107 members), have been actively involved in fund raising and representing the Club at various functions (over 150 different events). Subsequently, I am well familiar with the importance of member services and the significance of providing value to our membership. This is an area where I think we can do better and I look forward to working toward that goal.
I have dedicated a good portion of my life to The Explorers Club and enjoyed every moment of it.  I am at headquarters at least two to three times per week, in some voluntary capacity, either helping on a committee or organizing an exploration event for our Club.  If elected I will continue with efforts to broaden the awareness of our Club with the public, to promote educational activities and programs and especially champion the next generation of explorers.
Thank you for taking the time to read my candidate statement and for considering me as your representative on the Board of Directors.

Synnøve Marie Kvam Strømsvåg

MI ‘02
Synnøve Marie Kvam Strømsvåg, Chapter Chair of the EC Norway Chapter, and Co-chair of the Chapter Relations Committee.
It has been a pleasure to participate in reinvigorating the then dormant Norway Chapter in 2010. The chapter has grown into an active one, with many dedicated members and world-class explorers. 

I work as Guest Services Manager at the Kon-Tiki Museum, Thor Heyerdahl's research foundation and home to the Kon-Tiki raft and the Ra II reed boat. Primary responsibilities are all aspects of the guests' visit at the museum, as well as the museum's educational program for schools and businesses. I am also responsible for product design for the museum shop. 


Other organizational affiliations include Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Academic background include a Bachelors degree with honours in archaeology from University College London, specializing in South American Pre-Columbian archaeology, with fieldwork and an award-winning thesis on the Moche people of North Coast Peru. Scientific archaeological fieldwork has brought me to Peru, the Caribbean and Lamanai, Belize. I hold a Master of Arts degree with honours in Conflict Resolution from The University of Sydney, Australia, and worked as a civilian researcher at the Norwegian Defence Research Institute, with a group studying terrorism and asymmetric warfare. I find the combination of historical studies and understanding of current issues through international political studies and research, as well as my day-to-day work with the Kon-Tiki Museum educational program and Explorers Club work to complement each other well. Curious by nature, always looking for a solution to challenges. 

My passion for exploration and curious nature goes back as far as I can remember. Thor Heyerdahl was a major source of inspiration. Personal contact with him first connected me with The Explorers Club, and I became a student member and later Member International in 2002. I am happy to have sponsored and co-sponsored many new members into the EC.
Contributions to the EC include:

  1. Chapter Chair, Norway Chapter (2011-)

  2. Co-chair, Chapter Relations Committee - responsible for international chapters and chapter formation (2015-)

  3. Membership Development Committee, Committee Member

  4. Participated in Chapter logo project, developing template for chapters to design and use local logos.

  5. Attended ECAD 4 years

  6. 2016 ECAD Regional Co-chair.

  7. 2014 Lowell Thomas event - returned the Kon-Tiki flag (loaned to the Kon-Tiki Museum)

Challenges and priorities for the EC in the near future include:

1) Increasing knowledge about the EC worldwide. 

Too many great explorers, organizations and institutions have too little knowledge of the EC. Reaching out to these, recruit members and establish relations can strengthen the EC worldwide.  As part of a core group in the Norway Chapter that has rebuilt a chapter, my experience and understanding of local challenges, needs and opportunities can benefit the BOD. 


2) Empowering chapters and develop new chapters. 

Providing value for membership, attractive membership benefits, financial and practical support by HQ to chapters is important for members far away from HQ. The chapter logo project is a valuable step in the process to empower chapters. As co-chair of the Chapter Relations Committee and chapter chair of the Norway chapter, I have insights about what chapters want and need.


3) Fundraising, sponsorship, branding. 

While securing a healthy financial situation and appropriate sponsors, we need to protect the EC flag, name and logo. Through work on the Chapter logo project and with some EC merchandise, I have an understanding of what the Club should communicate through its use of the logo, name and merchandise, enabling members to show their affiliation with the Club on items and equipment useful in the field.
In case of serious disputes, conflict resolution mechanisms are already in place, and should be respected by all officers of the Club and members engaging in debate. The BOD and Club leadership have a duty to remain professional and adhere to bylaws. Disputes may not always have a solution which satisfies both parties, but a professional and respectful process may be as important as the outcome.


If elected to the Board of Directors, I promise to work relentlessly to uphold the great traditions of The Explorers Club, and make every effort to contribute to further develop the world center for exploration. 

Craig Cook

MN ‘01
I have been a member of The Explorers Club for 15 years. I am currently the immediate Past Chairman of the Explorers Club Washington Group (Washington, DC) chapter.
My expedition history has been ongoing for the last 15 years totaling 12 large scientific diving expeditions of which six were flag expeditions to some of the most remote locations in the world including various Islands groups in the pacific and Antarctica. My responsibilities consisted of acting as both diving safety and medical officers. In addition I also assumed roles as a member of the scientific team. Through these experiences I developed new protocols to ensure expedition safety and success. This past fall I returned from a 35 day scientific flag expedition with four academic institutions looking at coral reef health and climate change where we were the first to dive one of the most remote undersea seamounts in the Pacific Ocean.

I have also worked on site in the area of marine archaeology with NOAA during the raising of the Monitor and in other surveys involving the Battle of the Atlantic. I initiated and worked with NOAA, the Department of State and the German Embassy for the protection and preservation of the wreck of the U701 which was successfully instituted in 2007.

Professionally, for the last ten years I have been a professor in medical education involved with teaching Physician Assistants at the University of Maryland Graduate School and affiliated community college. I have been involved in diving medicine for over 20 years. Affiliations include 15 years as the Medical Editor for Sport Diver Magazine and as the Senior Medical Advisor for Conservation International. I have authored two books chapters in the expedition textbook Wilderness and Expedition Medicine and am a contributing author to the current edition of the NOAA Diving Manual. I have been a referral physician for Divers Alert Network for the last 15 years and hold multiple certifications with them in diving accident management. My diving history goes back almost fifty years with multiple certifications as a diving instructor and in technical diving.

1-Effective governance. Communication remain essential to effective governance. In the past poor communication has promoted issues that were not significant and on other occasions, legitimate grievances were ignored and not dealt with in a timely manner. I have successfully dealt with similar issues in my professional career and feel confident that I am able to bring this same experience to the BOD. As a board member I would make sure that any potential issues would be dealt with quickly and with full transparency and consideration.
2-Financial. Membership and events can only reach so far in generating revenue. Corporate sponsors will provide us with the largest potential for revenue growth and should be aggressively pursued on a larger scale. Working relationships need to be established and can be grown into long term sponsorships.
3-Membership. Our most important area consists of gaining new members, and just as importantly, retaining members. Of these two, measures to retain members have been the least explored. I believe that through media, databases and mentoring at both the national and chapter levels we can retain a significant number of members that traditionally become non-active.
Past Experience:
I am currently the immediate Past Chairman of the Washington chapter and have been on the BOD for the ECWG for the four years prior to that. During this period I have been involved with various chapter duties notably hosting the Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner in 2013 and serving as Honorary Chair. I am presently working on a cost - effective upgrade to our media presence and speaker archives. I also currently serve on the Explorers Club Medical Committee.
On several of my past expeditions I have secured funding through both private and corporate donors and have been able to secure media exposure and believe that as a BOD member I can extend these successes to the national level.
Conflict Resolution:
Serious disagreements are best handled making sure both sides are clearly understood.

Explain to me your position and reasons why, what your understanding is of the opposing position and what your objections are and why. This process (mirroring) ensues that misunderstandings do not occur and both positions understood. These are the first steps in achieving a compromise or resolution. I consider myself to be objective and independent. I believe these qualities are essential to all board members and reduce the potential for serious disagreements to begin with.

Benjamin Hulsey

MN ‘07
Club Service: Chapter Chair – St. Louis – responsible for increased membership and regular Chapter meetings; Legal Committee – Co-Chair; President’s Medal for Meritorious Service – 2012; Currently working on the World Explorers Forum, a consortium of The Explorers Club, National Geographic Society, Canadian Royal Geographical Society and Scottish Royal Geographical Society – Spring 2017 at the UN; Explorers Club Annual Dinner Committee; Chapter host of Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner held in St. Louis 2011 (first such dinner held outside New York City); In 2015, worked closely with the President on various financial, tax, and not-for-profit matters.
Professional Background: Attorney (partner) – Thompson Coburn LLP - General corporate law, corporate counseling, transactions (mergers and acquisitions and technology transfers), and non profit law. Listed in Best Lawyers of America for Corporate Law and Technology Information Law, Missouri/Kansas Super Lawyers, and Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel Edition.
Exploration and Conservation Interests: Mountaineering (climbs in Africa, Scotland and US); Climbing (various locations); Caving (various locations); Diving (various locations); Archeology (Cahokia Mounds and Kampsville, Illinois [Middle Mississippians] sites); Science literacy and education with specific emphasis on Middle and High School Students through various programs of Academy of Science St. Louis); Biodiversity – founded and assisted in organizing six BioBlitz’s (survey of plant and animal diversity – 150 scientists/450 citizen volunteers) in St. Louis area; Wetland and prairie restoration (Northeast Missouri).
Member: American, Missouri and Illinois Bar Associations; American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; Missouri Society of CPA’s; American Association of Attorney CPA’s (co-founder of Missouri Chapter); Society of Petroleum Engineers; National Speleological Society; Missouri Wildflower Society; St. Louis Letterpress Society; Rotary Club 11.
Boards: Academy of Science of St. Louis – President (founded 1856); Missouri Botanical Garden (founded 1859) – Board Member, Executive Committee, Audit Committee (Chair), Conservation Committee; St. Louis Science Center Board Member; Jewish Federation, Budget and Finance Committee; American Jewish Committee – past President – St. Louis Region, national board member (furthering pluralism and human rights); International Business Institute Leadership Council - University of Missouri St. Louis; Missouri Athletic Club, Finance, Pension and Bylaws (Chair), Past Governor, First Vice President.
Currently, the three most significant Club priorities are: (1) Stabilize the Club’s financial condition; (2) continue to recruit high-level, well-known corporate sponsors whose brands complement the mission of The Explorers Club; and (3) improve Board communication to the Club membership to promote greater transparency.
In stabilization of the Club’s finances, a realistic budget should be prepared and followed that relies on spending current income and not endowment assets. Recruiting new high-level sponsors who are willing to pay adequate sponsorship fees (which could be used and accounted for in the budget) would greatly assist the Club’s financial position. I would assist the sponsorship efforts by negotiation and preparation of reasonable and favorable sponsorship agreements between the Club and the new sponsors. (I am the principal author and one of the chief negotiators of the current Rolex sponsorship agreement as well as the earlier sponsorship agreements with Eddie Bauer and the Shackleton Whisky Brand). Board communication and transparency is a simple matter to accomplish (with the proper backing of the Board) and can include many sorts of open communications and disclosure to the members including the actual state of affairs of the Club.
If elected, I would continue to use my knowledge of the Club’s operations and my experience as a corporate lawyer to work for the betterment of the Club to ensure it will continue to prosper for the next generation of Explorers. My past and current service to the Club and service on several not-for-profit boards, including some with world and nationwide recognition, provides a substantial base of knowledge. My corporate counseling practice, including attendance at numerous client board and committee meetings, of both public and privately held companies, will provide a high level of proficiency for service to The Explorers Club. I would be honored to work for you on the Board of The Explorers Club.

Michael Knight

FN ‘07
Dr. Mike Knight FN’07 is a professional conservation biologist and educator with over 25 years experience in his field. Mike is a proven leader, having honed his skills early in life as an Eagle Scout, and maintains a track record of providing innovative solutions, inspiring others, and working in challenging situations to achieve mission goals. A regional director of the Florida Chapter since its inception, Mike has been instrumental in developing educational programs and promoting Explorers Club activities though news media. His notable achievements in The Explorers Club include rescuing an historic expedition flag from an eBay auctioneer, leading flag expeditions into the Florida Everglades, helping plan the 2015 Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner, and serving on the national committee overseeing student research grants. As a biologist, Mike has studied geckos from Afghanistan, invasive species throughout Florida, and was the first to scientifically document the legendary “luminous lizard” of Trinidad. As an educator, he has developed and taught several extended expedition-style field ecology courses for college students. Mike shares his passion for conservation and exploration through his award winning and published photography, as well as through numerous public presentations and news articles. He also promotes wildlife conservation awareness through television media that has included an Emmy nominated NBC news feature, the PBS “Wild Florida” series, and a recent episode with The Travel Channel. Dr. Mike Knight is resolved to advance The Explorers Club as the preeminent world center of exploration by applying his scientific, educational, and leadership expertise as a member of the Board of Directors.
What are the three most significant priorities for The Explorers Club at this time?

1. Improve Club demographics by culturing/recruiting younger professionals

2. Increase exposure through greater publicity of member activities

3. Enhance transparency and communication between membership and Club officials

Based on your answer, what relevant experience have you had that could be applied to the three priorities you have identified?

1. Worked with Florida Chapter to foster new explorers through student research grants, increased recruitment of early-career professionals, helped launch partnership between chapter and Orlando Science Center

2. Promoted science and exploration resulting in printed news articles plus syndicated coverage, journal articles, and several social media pieces

3. Worked with chapter members in open meeting to review proposed Bylaws changes, then provided unified feedback to Club officials

Please list two practical ideas you have to address each of these priorities.

1. Forge partnerships with charitable organizations and philanthropists to increase budget for research grants

1. Assist chapter chairs in developing partnerships with universities, museums, etc. for recruitment and promotion of mutually beneficial interests

2. Communicate with chapter chairs to obtain timely updates on member activities; work with Club officials to better publicize those activities

2. Expand Club from assemblage of explorers into an educational institution offering endorsed training (e.g. expedition logistics, navigation, etc.). Workshops have added value of generating revenue for grants and helping explorers acquire new skills

3. Ensure membership is kept abreast of board discussions; also encourage chapter chairs to discuss meeting minutes at each chapter meeting.

3. Improve website interface
Please describe your work on behalf of The Explorers Club at the Chapter, National, International or Committee level in the past two years.

• Florida Chapter board of directors since 2009, serving as southwestern Florida regional director and programs coordinator

• Assisting Vice President for Research reviewing science grant proposals
Please tell us about other ways you have contributed to the Club, such as supporting Club functions and events.

• Served on 2015 Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner planning team, consulted on invasive species menu, provided educational material to attendees, served as hospitality host for emcee

• Currently assisting 2016 ECAD planning (invasive species menu consultation)

How would your position on the Board positively impact our fundraising or revenue stream?

• Career-proven record planning and implementing fundraising events, writing and acquiring grants, and cultivating donors (over $500,000 combined). Attention to detail ensures no revenue gets wasted. Ability to effectively convey mission goals to prospective donors. Dedication to streamlining for efficient use of revenue.
What marketing and public relations experience have you had?

• Served as the public information official for Florida Invasive Species Partnership

• Conducted news interviews for recent flag expedition

• Media liaison while employed by Audubon Society (credits include The Travel Channel, NBC news, PBS, and local newspapers/magazines)

• Coordinated first World Wetlands Day festival (Audubon); procured services and coordinated travel for Jim Fowler (TEC Honorary Chairman) for 60th anniversary fundraiser

• Interviewed for newspaper and magazine articles pertaining to 2015 Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner

How have you served on other not-for-profit Boards?

• Blue Ridge Community College budget committee

• Florida Invasive Species Partnership steering committee
In the event of a serious disagreement, please describe your approach and advice to the BOD to evaluate and resolve those differences of opinion in a fair and transparent manner?

• Attempt to remain impartial and hear all opposing views.

Robert Maroney

MR ‘07
I grew up in upstate New York and studied Electrical Engineering at Cornell and earned an MBA at Harvard Business School. I served as Treasurer of the Club for three years from 2012 to April 2015. Prior to that I was a member of the Finance Committee. I work in global asset management and focus on a variety of alternative investments. Outside of my daily professional work, my current institutional affiliations include service of the Investment Committee of the ATRF, a pension fund with over $12.5 billion in assets, and serve in a similar capacity at the Chief Executives Organization in Washington, DC. I am a Director Emeritus of Cornell’s Engineering Alumni Association, and served as President and Conference Chair. In addition I served on the Administrative Board of the Cornell University Council of which I am still a member. In the past I have served on the Board of Adelphic Cornell Educational Fund. In addition to not-for-profits, I have served on a number of corporate boards and as a lead Trustee.
My exploration activities include an extended journey up the Orinoco River, exploring caves in New York, Puerto Rico and Gibraltar. I also spend time exploring the limestone pinnacles and caves of the Li River Valley in China. In 2013 I was on a TEC Flag Expedition that documented plant life along a portion of the Missouri River visited by Lewis and Clark in 1804. I also was part of the Club’s delegation to the Tan Tan celebration in Morocco. Clearly my exploration credentials don’t come close to those of many of the Club’s distinguished members and directors, but I hope to go on more expeditions as the extreme time demands of being Treasurer are behind me. I have visited over 65 countries and many opportunities beckon.
Regarding the attribute of supporting the Club financially, the Administration kept records of director and officer contributions for fund raisers, auctions, etc. and while Treasurer I ranked in the top quartile; and am a member of the Legacy Society. While Treasurer, I attended every Board meeting.
Serving as Treasurer of the Club for three years demonstrated my continuing commitment to its mission, and gives me the perspective for my most significant priorities for the Club:
Establish a Sustainable Financial Future
At the January 2015 Board Meeting, I presented why the Club’s current financial model is not sustainable. Simply put, the Club needs to make close to $300,000 on events, collect 90% of dues, raise $300,000 from contributions and generate over $150,000 from event rental to break-even and provide some contingency. Despite best efforts, the Club has not met some of these “minimum conditions.” Moreover, without additional funds the Club cannot seriously expand its mission. As a Board member, I would use my in-depth knowledge of Club finances work with colleagues to develop and monitor solutions.
Recently the Board increased dues by about 15%. In addition, the Administration accelerated collection of dues so that members pay eighteen months of dues during calendar 2016. This accelerated collection might not be in accordance with the Bylaws, so a Membership vote might be needed. But far more important, as a Director, I would explain in detail why the double-barreled action to shore up finances is necessary.
My record as Treasurer, which included cost-saving efforts that netted over $100,000, customized member financial communications and a role in negotiating an auditable definition of Johnnie Walker liquor sales demonstrates innovative thinking.
Enhance the Membership Proposition

Dues account for half of Club revenue, so Membership is critical; much progress has been made over the past four years in this area, with Global Rescue one example. “Live Streaming” of events vastly expanded the audience to reach far more members. Membership needs more enhancement tools, but funding is required.

Preserve, Promote and Profit from Club Assets
The Club has unique and precious assets, including many books that are deteriorating because they are not properly preserved. It was disappointing that after so much effort to raise funds by selling some volumes to preserve the remainder no consensus was reached. As a Director I would first recognize every participant as having different approaches to solving the problem, but admonish them that endless debate has not resulted in a solution; a strong Board would share its deliberations and come to a conclusion. Beyond that the Club should work to exploit its precious assets and brand to help ensure a sustainable financial future.

Richard Elkus

LM ‘ 11
I am currently a Life Fellow Member National and joined the Club in 2011. I live in San Diego and am a member of the San Diego Chapter. I am an owner and Chief Financial Officer for Extrameasures, a marketing services firm located in La Jolla, California. Prior to that, I was a founder and Chief Financial Officer for Phogenix, a joint venture between Hewlett Packard and Kodak. My business background is in management, finance, operations and I.T.

I am very active in the non-profit community. I have been a member of the Birch Aquarium (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) Board for the past 12 years, where I helped in program development, fund raising and business strategy. As a member of the Honorary Deputy Sheriffs Association for 8 years, I am currently serving as President and serve on the Executive Advisory Committee. I am a 11-99 Foundation Life Member. I am also a member of The American Polar Society, The International Seakeepers Society (Founder) and Friends of La Jolla Shores.

I am an active Advanced Openwater SCUBA Instructor and regularly train members of the military. I have and continue to participate in various research expeditions both on my own and as part of various institutions. I just completed a 4 year research project in cooperation with the Birch Aquarium at Scripps focused on Sea Horses (H. abdominalis) and Sea Dragons (P. taeniolatus). I also led a research project focused on Golden Trout (O. aquabonita) that lasted 3 years, demonstrating the first successful maintenance of animals in captivity. I have led one Flag Expedition (Flag#221) to research the jumping behavior of rays (M. munkiana) in Cabo Pulmo, Mexico, and a second (Flag#216) to document bio-fluorescence in the reef systems of Indonesia. I have also recently participated in several projects focused on marine bio-fluorescence and using innovative photographic techniques in the deep marine trenches off the coast of Scripps Institution of Oceanography .
My Experience, Priorities and Practical Ideas:

  1. Exploration

Strong personal experience in leading expeditions, extensive contacts in the current world of UAV’s, diving technology and the emerging field of underwater fluorescence photography and research.

  1. Continue the excellent work underway in support of exploration (it is not broken!).

  1. Focus on the physical collections – preserve what we have, actively expand collection with more current and innovative materials.

  1. Governance

Extensive experience creating, modifying and enforcing By-Laws for large non-profits, extensive experience in running large complex organizations; proven ability to rationally deal with controversial issues productively.

  1. Focus on a republic style organization with Board members being representatives of membership – not representatives of leadership. Remind Board Members of their fiduciary and other obligations under the Bylaws and New York law. With those common sense restrictions in mind, encourage Board members to discuss issues of the Club with the membership, build support for positive ideas, then represent these ideas to the Board as implementable actions.

  1. Focus on the intent of the Bylaws as the primary guidance for Club governance and dispute resolution. Revisit the current committee structure charged with these duties, review the current leadership and membership of these committees and make changes as necessary, including a simplified mission statement focused on a republic style organization.

  1. Fundraising

Extensive business experience in running large organizations, involvement in fundraising campaigns for numerous non-profits, proven ability to generate significant funds for TEC (6 high level tables at ECAD, numerous Life Memberships).

  1. List all fundraising efforts for the past 4 years and rank them by efficiency ($’s and time spent vs. $’s generated). Focus 80% of efforts on the top 20% of initiatives.

  1. Identify the fundraising needs of the organization (annual spending and perpetual endowment). Determine gap between what we currently plan to generate and what is needed. Form committee (5 or fewer) to create plan to close the gap within 2 years.

Other Club support: Current member, Finance Committee. Contributions to numerous fundraising campaigns, donations to auctions, addition of highly qualified members (at all levels), donation of time and materials for Marine Archeology Forum.

Resolving Disputes: My proven process - Listen to all sides. Prioritize the issues. Follow an agreed upon published process. Communicate who is the decision maker, what the decision is and the rational for making it. All objections must follow the agreed appeals process.

Arnella Trent

MN ‘10
I have been active with the Explorers Club Washington Group (ECWG) since joining TEC in 2010. Within a year of joining I was elected to the ECWG board of directors, and have since completed a three-year term and was reelected for a second three-year term in 2014. I managed the monthly dinner lectures, served as assistant treasurer, and oversaw the 2013 Lowell Thomas Saturday Symposium at the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C.
My scientific and exploration background is in ornithological research. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala, I banded birds in the lowlands near Honduras and the Petén, and implemented the first hawk monitoring program in Guatemala. These efforts provided wildlife managers and researchers with previously unknown information on the migratory patterns of ospreys and broad-winged hawks in the region. I went on to train Guatemalan biologists and students to identify and count in-flight raptors for the country’s first official raptor census. In my current capacity, I have mapped tundra swan distribution on the eastern shore of Maryland in cooperation with Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources and Cornell University, and contributed to a study of the historical distribution of trumpeter swans in North America on behalf of the Trumpeter Swan Association. I am an active volunteer at Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, where I assist rangers with the refuge’s wildlife management responsibilities. I rehabilitate wildlife following oil spills on behalf of Tri-State Bird Rescue, and am a member of the Delaware Shorebird monitoring team. I have been honored by the Nature Conservancy for research on the interior least tern, and by the Tulsa Audubon Society for organizing and managing a state-wide fundraiser about environmental education for elementary and middle-school students.
As an agricultural economist in USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, I forecast international crop production and global trade of agricultural commodities. I have led agricultural assessment efforts around the world, including multiple field research trips to China and Haiti. I have an M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Oklahoma State University, and a research background in ecology, wildlife biology, and ornithology. I am also a Fellow in the Royal Geographical Society.
The Explorers Club is unrivaled in its record of cutting-edge scientific exploration on all fronts. Therefore the most important priorities are as follows:

  1. Recruiting and retaining student and early-career scientists to the Club, while specifically addressing increased diversity in the organization; and

  2. Increasing funding sources for our Grants Program.

While maintaining strong core institutional relationships, we can expand our outreach to other organizations (such as Girl Scouts) to bring our message of science and exploration to a new generation, and to bring new skill sets into our organization. This represents an opportunity for The Explorers Club to influence the scope of scientific inquiry currently underway around the world, and lead directly to more effective Club outreach. Finally, a system geared towards tracking our grantees and maintaining communication with them throughout their careers would expand our reach. I envision this system would also pair seasoned explorers with student members and grantees as a tool for attracting and retaining new members.

As ECWG Board member, I have participated in numerous projects, and am well versed in the logistics and funding. I have led fundraising projects for multiple non-profit organizations addressing environmental education and humanitarian services. I have served as a Special Emphasis Program Manager for the U.S. Government, recruiting undergraduate and graduate students for STEM positions, and have spoken at numerous universities regarding my experiences in international agriculture. I am skilled at networking and recruiting the right people, and fostering those relationships. For example, I have engaged senior government officials to address current issues and policies for an ongoing seminar series. Negotiations inside and outside of TEC are central to our continued success. My skills as a negotiator are critical to my profession, which requires consensus-building on sensitive topics such as the international commodity trade. I have extensive experience in communication and outreach. I have trained people around the world in wildlife management, and have mentored inner-city youth who had previously never spent time in natural surroundings. I am proud to say that many of them are now working as naturalists and wildlife rangers.
I am dedicated to the principles that The Explorers Club embodies, and would be honored to apply my skills to our mission as a member of the Board.

Dan Kobal

FE ‘89
Prior & Current Club Service: Past Director and Vice President, Membership – instituted mandatory five member review panel; Executive Committee; Club Secretary; created and continue to organize and fund the Exploration Seminars program to teach fellow Members exploration and field skills; Other Committees: ECAD (Operations, Exhibits, Auctions); Public Lectures; Regalia (created gold pin drive to fund Youth Activities); Centennial (led new membership card effort, provided design work); Corporate Relations (Chair, doubled sponsorship in 1990s); started Library acquisition funding project; since 2005, organized seven field trips for Members; Contributing Editor, Explorers Journal. Dues paying and supportive Member: Explorers Club Washington Group, New England, St. Louis and Philadelphia Chapters. Currently serve on Membership Committee.
Exploration Interests: Archaeology and geography of Central and South Asia (on dig - 8th Century Buddhist monastery, East Bengal); invented ‘Locus Pocus’ game to teach geography at secondary/undergraduate levels (entered in the Rolex Enterprise Awards competition); Member, German Alpine Club (climbs in Austria, Bavaria, Switzerland) and American Alpine Club; Member, NY Mineralogical Club (perform laboratory studies of gem and mineral specimens). Fellow, Royal Society of Asian Affairs; Royal Geographical Society; American Geographical Society; Member, Circumnavigators Club (overland travel, and on the P&O shipping line and freighter sailings).
Professional Experience: NYSE, Market Surveillance (12 years, detecting insider trading); Business International Corporation, (3 years, Manager, Country Assessment Service; BI editor covering Africa & Middle East); CIA (20 years, Operations Officer, served in Europe, cited for “resourcefulness in collection of foreign intelligence of national importance”); AIG (2 years, underwrote foreign political risk); US Army Intelligence Corps (3 years, Vietnam, advisor with local forces). Foreign residences: Bulgaria, Italy, Japan, India, Germany, and extensive overland travel in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East (Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Yemen). Other memberships: The OSS Society, Hudson Union Society; 3/4 Morgan Sports Car Club, Riverdale Garden Club (past treasurer), Christ Church Riverdale (served on Finance Committee),DACOR, National Eagle Scout Association.
Education: American University, School of International Service, M.A., Ph.D. (International Studies); Rutgers University, B.A.; Secondary, Woodstock (boarding school, northern India).
Three key areas currently need our focused attention: (1) rational management of Club funds and having good cash flow to ensure the Club ‘lives within its means’, (2) Member retention and membership growth by systematically targeting qualified applicants, and (3) effective communication to promote inclusiveness and overall Member cohesion and unity of purpose. Several practical measures based on common interests and shared responsibilities will advance these goals.
We need prudent use of Club assets to keep membership affordable and make our scientific contribution and field research more widely known. Covering operating costs, servicing Members’ needs and headquarters maintenance can be met by greater corporate support. I am confident we can effectively pursue and gain support from this quarter. We can also increase our cash flow through certain internal cost savings. Our Public Lectures program, for instance, should offer a subscription voucher service for our growing non-Member audiences. A subscription offering would bring in ‘up-front funding’, and I will submit a plan to implement it.
We must promote Member retention and recruit qualified younger applicants, especially from the teaching and scientific fields so essential to our mission as a 501(c)(3) organization. We need to cultivate the media to promote the Club by posting on third-party websites the programs of our Public Lectures and other public service events. We should include web links informing applicants who read NatGeo, Outside Magazine, and other such publications.
In regard to all-important Member unity, should grievances or disputes arise, an effective way to resolve them is to use dual Ombudsmen elected on the annual ballot. The two should have a minimum of five years membership, be advanced by their Chapter, and tasked with including their deliberations in the Board’s Minutes. Election and functioning independently of the Board and Executive Committee will promote impartiality, and foster civility and decorum in matters of conflict resolution.
If elected, I will promote these measures and all key fiduciary duties of stewardship to provide services responsive to the needs of our Members. I trust you will find my skill set, track record, commitment and dedication to the Club will benefit all and give essential continuity to the Board.

Damien Leloup

FI ‘10
French explorer, maritime archaeologist, and museum director, affiliated with both the South East Asia & the San Diego Chapters. I was born in Saint-Pierre-les-Nemours in 1973 and developed a passion for nature and the aquatic environment. At seventeen, a chance encounter with Jacques Cousteau opened the doors to more ambitious conservation pursuits. As a volunteer for his foundation, and later as a professional member of the Cousteau team aboard the Calypso and Alcyone, I began my career as a diver and field logistician in Vietnam, South Africa and Namibia. I was then sent to Madagascar for the WWF to help transform the Reserve d’Ambre Forest into a National Park, ensuring its protection from illegal logging and burning. Afterwards, I joined the French Navy, on Reunion Island, where I helped supervise maritime activities. These diverse experiences have led to a life-long passion for multidisciplinary sciences and environmental protection.

In 2006, I was asked to envision, build and direct a dinosaur museum in China, which was also to become its first green museum. By 2008, the Liaoning Fossil & Geology Park opened its doors. Scientists and paleontological experts came for research to our fossil quarry, and our museum made waves in the global academic community. Always eager to explore uncharted territory, I also led in 2013 an Explorers Club Flag Expedition to a river site outside of Jingdezhen, where thousands of ancient porcelain specimens lay untouched below the water for a thousand years. The Flag Expedition Report was then described by the Flag & Honors Committee to be “impressive and a modal of an ideal Explorers Club report”. As of 2015, I became the Director of the Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology in La Jolla, California, leading underwater archaeological expeditions to Vietnam, Yucatan, Greece and Turkey.

My personal achievements include: helping plant 14,000 trees in China & USA, meeting the Dalai Lama, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, helping discover a rare medicinal plant in the Amazon, retrieving artifacts from an early 20th century shipwreck in Australia, and being an Explorers Club member!


  1. Bring protective measures and awareness of the environment we explore and live in.

  2. Fundraising, fundraising and fundraising.

  3. To preserve The Club’s unity and camaraderie.

My experience in exploration and environmental knowledge will bring value. On the financial side, I have raised in the past 2 months over $400,000 to successfully start our new Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology. Being part of the University of California, I am in direct contact with some of the best scientists in the world. This immediate knowledge can be invaluable and instantly applied to the Club’s priorities.

  1. a) Carbon neutral Flag Expeditions should be encouraged, and creating an ECAD Award for the greenest expeditions b) better develop our forums to publically reach out to other members for assistance in their upcoming expeditions.

  2. a) Identify some of our richest donors and make them feel unique b) encourage each Chapter Chair to be more experienced on how to ask for donations.

  3. a) Leverage the talents of our members and give more support to our Chapters Head b) embrace technology and take better advantage of social media while following our founder’s historical guidelines.

I have worked 2 weeks every year, for the past 5 years, in NYC for ECAD preparations - assisting with logistics and the Protocol Committee. Since 2014, I have served as a jury member for the Rolex Artist in Exploration Committee.

I have published three Explorers Club Journal articles and one Flag Report, have volunteered at every ECAD for the past 5 years, and represented The Club in Morocco. My European origin and diverse international background will be an asset in attracting additional members.

While in China I had an $8 million budget, attended as a speaker many conferences, and successfully served as a voice for our Museum. All of these scientific, financial and diplomatic experiences will prove invaluable to The Club.

In 1995, I was advisor to the Madagascar Ministry of Research on sustainable development. I also have advised several organizations over the years in paleontology, underwater archaeology and carbon neutral guidance.

Patience and perseverance can go a long way. It is important to make everyone feel like they are being heard. Everyone on the BOD wants to improve The Club, although strategies may differ. One successful teambuilding way is to encourage us to anonymously propose concerns and have the group collectively come up with solutions.

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