BOB NICHOLS – President
As a Southern California native and lifelong surfer and waterman, Bob calls the ocean his “second home”. In addition to 17 years of friendship, Bob helped Mark Patterson with the layout, creation and installation of the Surfing Madonna mosaic. In the years prior to the non-profit, Bob served in the U.S. Navy, worked as a Financial Planner and Options Strategist for UBS, and was a contract Commercial Pilot in Central America, South America and Indonesia. Bob also represented the USA in the 2011 ITU Triathlon World Championships in the 35-40 age division finishing 213th in the world. His passion for educating our youth on ocean conservation, marine mammal safety and rescue, protecting our local coastline and brightening the lives of children with special needs is his drive to continue to serve full time building and expanding the organization.
Mark Patterson – Vice President
Mark moved to Encinitas in 1983 from Northern California to start a job with a software start-up company called Data Trek. After gaining years of experience in the software industry, Mark took the position as Business Development Manager for Microsoft. The daily grind can only keep an artist satisfied for so long. Mark resigned and nine months later, the Surfing Madonna mosaic was born. His determination to help clean up our local coastline began when a good friend became sick due to toxins in the ocean. As an artist and retiree, he sees no better way than to spend his time using art as a way to spread the message of “Save the Ocean”. Mark is a graduate of UC-Davis and is a co-founder of the organization.
Megan Nichols – Treasurer
Originally from Vero Beach, Florida, Megan joined the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project in July of 2013 after spending two years falling in love with the coastline of Encinitas, California. As an avid traveler to the south pacific, Megan started taking notice of the degradation of the coral reefs and volunteered her time to help with ocean conservation efforts in Hawaii. Professionally, she elected a life of an entrepreneur successfully owning and operating a personal training business for 5 years and a restaurant in Central America. Additionally, she spent 3 years in Hawaii teaching endurance training to the United States Army. She earned her BSBA from the University of Florida and currently serves full time as Treasurer, Event Planner and overall operations assistant for the organization.
MIRA KANTER – Secretary
Mira is passionate about the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, intrigued from the first day she discovered the magnificent installment under the train overpass. She is driven to make a positive impact on our community and natural habitat. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she was drawn here by the mesmerizing sunsets and quintessential beach towns. She has made Encinitas her home for over four years. Mira is a Registered Dietitian, currently working as a Corporate Wellness Strategist with Cerner Corporation. Her mission is to help others derive optimal health and balanced, mindful, nourishing lives.
JOHN GJATA – OFFICER
John Gjata has lived near the beach and has been an environmentalist his entire life. From local causes to global ones, he has maintained involvement. He was one of the founders of, and driving forces behind, Encinitas Environment Day (now EcoFest) with creator Bob Nanninga, and has served on various community volunteer positions such as the Encinitas Park & Recreation Commission (previous vice chair). Whether supporting local environmental causes or community issues, he is a tireless champion. At the Surfing Madonna Save the Oceans Project, he is hoping to increase environmental awareness and improve overall quality of life and environment in Encinitas.
Brad Hanson – OFFICER
Brad Hanson is a Southern California native who has lived near the beach his entire life. Brad has been a volunteer with the Foundation at every Surfing Madonna event and joined our Board in January 2017. He has a passion for the beach and ocean including advocating sand replenishment projects. This passion attracted him to the Foundation to help further our cause. Brad is currently a real estate professional following approximately 40 year career as a CPA consulting or employed by large public companies including Intuit, LPL Financial, Entropic Communications (Initial Public Offering) and WebSideStory, among others. His specialization was public company compliance with the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Brad has two children – Ryan, a 36 year old who has also contributed a lot of his time to the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project and, a 33 year old daughter, Caitlin who is also an active volunteer serving as a foster home for dogs looking for permanent homes. Brad also volunteers for many other events including local MS Society events, local community events, beach cleanups and other events.
James Wang – ADVISOR
Jim moved to Encinitas after riding the coastline almost daily with the UCSD Bike Team – no other city offered the same eclectic combination of people, culture, and environment. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering and geoscience from MIT and UC/Berkeley. Jim is Vice-Chair of Encinitas Environmental Commission. Through the Commission he initiated the city’s Styrofoam ban and Environmental Award Program. He advocated for a stringent update to the city’s Climate Action Plan, which will be CEQA-qualified. He also started the city’s venture into Community Choice Energy. He has solar panels on his house, rides his bike for almost all local trips, is a water miser, recycles, and composts – in other words, he doesn’t just talk the talk but walks the walk too.