Leadership - Officers & Directors
Ian G. Koblick
President & Chairman of the Board
Ian Koblick pioneered undersea living in the 1970s as an Aquanaut in the Tektite I undersea living project in the Virgin Islands. At the conclusion of Tektite, Ian pressed for a continuation of the program and succeeded in becoming a project manager of Tektite II, while serving as a special Assistant to the Governor of the VI. In that role he helped manage the science missions, including the first all-female crew in an undersea living project.
Buoyed by the success of Tektite, Ian established the Marine Resources Development Foundation (MRDF) in 1970 and persuaded the governor of Puerto Rico to fund an undersea living program dubbed PRINUL (Puerto Rico International Undersea Laboratory). Ian designed the sophisticated undersea lab of PRINUL, called La Chalupa, and managed the program from 1971 to 1976.
In 1976, Ian moved MRDF to Florida and began working with the US Department of Commerce on the creation of a national ocean program. He was the consulting editor of the NOAA Diving Manual. He also provided environmental consultation for the Port Everglades Authority in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and served on the NOVA University Ocean Science Center advisory board. In 1981, MRDF acquired The Golden Venture, a 147-foot research vessel equipped for undersea exploration and used it to locate and uncover artifacts from the sunken Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha.
In 1984 Ian collaborated with Jim Miller to publish the definitive book, “Living and Working in the Sea.” Ian and his partner Dr. Neil Monney found and re-acquired the La Chalupa habitat used in PRINUL and converted it into the world’s first undersea hotel, Jules Undersea Lodge. Since its opening in 1986 Jules has hosted over 10,000 guests including astronauts, marine scientists, celebrities and heads of state. Ian and Neil donated the habitat back to MRDF, and Jules served as a research platform for a NASA sponsored mission in 1992, “La Chalupa-30.” In 1996, Ian joined up with his old friend and Mercury astronaut, Scott Carpenter and they developed the “Scott Carpenter Man In The Sea Program,” which ran until 1999.
In cooperation with MRDF Director Craig Mullen, Ian formed the Aurora Trust Foundation to conduct archeological research in the Mediterranean.
Executive Vice President & Director
Bob Russell is a part time member of our executive staff as well as being a member of our Board of Directors. He graduated from Kent State University with a degree in management. Mr. Russell worked for a small CPA firm in Shaker Heights for a short time before leaving to start his own businesses. Always an advocate of small business, Mr. Russell is currently an owner and Chief Financial Officer for several small to medium sized companies, the largest of which is a specialized transportation company serving the US and Canada. The other businesses include mining operations, real estate development, real estate rental, transportation and mining equipment rental, logistics, two restaurants, a specialty coffee roasting operation, and an EPA permitted composting facility.
Tonya A. Koblick
Secretary & Director
Mrs. Koblick holds a BA and an MA in Biology from California State University. Her background includes: biological research in the field of entomology; ten years teaching science; environmental data coordinator for the Puerto Rico firm Laboratorio Analisis Ambiental; member of the Governor's Committee for "Virgin Islands and the Sea" Study; and staff member and program coordinator for the Discovery Center, a children's museum in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Senior Vice President
Ms. Hughes has been with the Foundation since 1986 and was instrumental in designing the marketing and coordination of the MarineLab program. Currently, she is responsible for coordinating the day to day activities of the Foundation, including computer resources, human resources, and marketing/public relations, in addition to supervising the program development, planning, and coordination for all programs. She is also responsible for long range program planning for the Foundation, including financial forecasts and budgets. She attended Ohio Wesleyan University as a National Merit Scholar before earning her Bachelor's of Business Administration degree from Florida International University. Ginette is a 2005 graduate of Leadership Monroe County and has served on the boards of several organizations in the community.
Ms. Smenda joined the Foundation in 1989, after a succesful 16-year tenure with AT&T in Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio. Currently Treasurer and Business Manager, her past job functions at the Foundation have included Assistant to the President as well as Coordinator of the TEEC facility in South Carolina. Currently, she is responsible for all accounting and payroll functions, expense control, employee benefits, donations, and is instrumental in the overall day to day business operations of the Foundation. JoAnn earned her AA in Business Administration from the University of Cincinnati. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she is an avid Indians and Browns fan.
Neil T. Monney
Dr. Monney was professor and director of ocean engineering at the US Naval Academy for 11 years. He has served the Secretary of Commerce as Senior Policy Advisor for Ocean Science & Engineering. He has consulted for the US Congress, the US State Department, the National Academy of Engineering and the US/Japan Committee of Natural Resources. Dr. Monney was Editor of Marcel Decker, Inc. publications on ocean science and engineering with over thirty papers published. He received his BS from the US Naval Academy, his MS in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington, and his PhD from the University of Washington.
A life long entrepreneur, Mr. Mullen has over 30 years experience in starting, growing and managing high technology businesses. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Illinois University in microbiology in 1966 and undertook graduate studies prior to becoming a Naval Officer during the Vietnam era.
In 1974 he joined Alcoa Marine, Inc., a subsidiary of the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), as Vice President of Operations. In 1980, he was part of a management team that purchased the subsidiary from ALCOA. Its name was changed to Eastport International, and Mr. Mullen served as its President from 1980 to 1993. Eastport International specialized in pioneering the use of robotic technology for undersea and land applications. Eastport also directed deep ocean operations for the US Government and numerous commercial clients and was adept in prototype product development. Mr. Mullen also co-founded Pressure Technologies, Inc. in 1989 and served as a Director until its acquisition by Carlton Technologies in 1998. Pressure Technologies specialized in the production of lightweight composite pressure vessels for aerospace, medical and defense applications.
In 1993, he negotiated the merger of Eastport with Oceaneering International. Asked to remain after the merger and grow its non-oil and gas business units, Mr. Mullen helped create the Advanced Technologies Group and served as its President until 1997, creating theme park robotics, undersea telecommunications and marine construction enterprise groups. The Advanced Technologies Group undertook client paid R&D, field operations, product development and manufacturing for NASA, AT&T, DARPA, US Navy, Universal Studios, Walt Disney, General Construction and many more. Mr. Mullen left Oceaneering in 1997 to form Sconset Ventures, Inc., a consulting and venture capital firm based on Nantucket Island, and joined Wastech International in 1999 as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. In 2003, he and Ian Koblick created an European non-profit, the Aurora Trust, to carry out marine archeology projects for foreign governments
Kathleen F. McCue, DNP, FNP-BC, IBCLC, is a doctorally prepared nurse practitioner in private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Her background includes work with pharmaceutical corporations, is currently on the faculty of George Washington University and has over thirty years of teaching experience and led research in the healthcare field. Dr. McCue is the owner of several businesses in the Washington, DC, area, including Metropolitan Breastfeeding, Metropolitan Doulas, and Littlebeam.
Dr. McCue is the author of three books and a co-founder of the Mon Reve Foundation, a non-profit foundation supporting education and healthcare in rural Haiti, where she also maintains a board position. She is chairperson of the Resource Committee for the International LC Association and active on the state and national level in enacting changes to healthcare and insurance laws.
Dr. McCue has traveled widely, is a avid, open ocean qualified SCUBA diver, an advocate for the health of the worlds oceans and educating the public regarding the importance of maintaining a healthy ocean environment.