BOB NICHOLS – CHAIRMAN AND FOUNDER
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 CHAIR AND ARTIST
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. He serves full time as Vice Chair and is currently completing the Boogie Boarding Buddha mosaic in his garage.
MEGAN McCARTHY – TREASURER AND PROGRAMS DIRECTOR
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.
JOHN GJATA – PROJECT ADVISOR – Not Pictured
John Gjata has lived near the beach and has been an environmentalist his entire life. From local causes to global ones, he has maintained at least some 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 (currently 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.
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.
JAMES WANG – PROJECT ADVISOR
Jim moved to Encinitas after riding the coastline almost daily with the UCSD Bike Team – hands down, Encinitas was the most attractive. No other city seemed to offer the same eclectic combination of people, culture, and environment.
He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering and geoscience from MIT and UC/Berkeley. In a previous life he was a seismologist for Science Applications, but now for a day job he is an embedded design engineer.
He is a member of Citizens Climate Lobby, Surfrider, Bike/Walk Encinitas and the Encinitas Environmental Commission. On the Commission, he has worked for EEDay, the plastic bag ban, the pending EPS ban, and most recently, the Environmental Award Program.
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 tries to not just talk the talk but to walk the walk as well.
PEGGY SUE FLORIO ZEPEDA – ART ADVISOR
I can’t remember a time that I was not creating some kind of art. I vacationed in Leucadia from the 60’s to the 70’s and moved here in the 90’s. I am very fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world! Living in LA, I created personalized paintings on wood and also designed art for Gene Bliley Stationery. In 1993, I owned Sincerely Yours, a stationery store in Del Mar Plaza, where I sold my wooden art pieces and paintings. I was also a pre-school teacher in Solana Beach for 16 years. During that time, I dived into creating greeting cards and illustrating a children’s book, “The Friendship Fairy”. When I met the Surfing Madonna team, it was instant love. I helped Mark with a few art ideas and I knew I was on a rainbow of New Beginnings! My paintings are of local areas and whimsical scenes. Between my husband, Bob, and I, we turn my paintings into greeting cards suitable for framing. My cards and paintings are available through Peggy Sue Designs. I am honored to be a part of the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project!