Our Team


Ken profile2 Our Team

Ken Nedimyer


Ken Nedimyer of the Coral Restoration Foundation Inc., owns and operates Sea Life Inc., a marine life wholesale and on line Retail Company that has been in business since 1984. Ken has collected marine specimens since 1969, and has been an aquarist since 1966. Ken has been an active scuba diver since 1970, and has logged over 20,000 hours in the water over the last 39 years.

In 1994 Ken received permits to start the first offshore live rock aquaculture farm in the Florida Keys, and has operated it successfully since the first harvests began in 1996. In 2000, using corals that had settled on his live rock, Ken and one of his daughters began testing techniques for re-attaching branches of staghorn coral that had been broken off the rocks by sharks, turtles, and storms. Their work eventually led to a pilot coral restoration project using their reattached corals, which has since led to a large-scale coral nursery and restoration program. In 2007, Ken formed the Coral Restoration Foundation Inc, a non profit company focused on developing simple, effective, and inexpensive coral nursery and coral restoration techniques that could be duplicated anywhere. Their offshore coral nursery has grown from five corals that settled on his rock in 1996, to over 4,000 corals in March of 2009, and expected to grow to over 7,000 corals by spring of 2010. In 2008 they planted over 200 corals back onto the reef, and are expected to plant over 500 in 2009. In 2009, Ken received permits to start two offshore elkhorn coral nurseries, the first of their kind in the U.S., and he and volunteer divers were busy setting it up this past year. 2010 will bring new and exciting challenges for CRF along with plenty of reef restoration, outreach, and volunteer programs. Ken’s efforts and vision have led to a growing coastal conservation movement in the Florida Keys and is inspiring neighboring countries to evaluate their own marine and coastal conservation issues and challenges. Ken welcomes his two new staff to CRF, which will help expand the overall CRF goal of protecting and restoring coral reefs in the Florida Keys.

Wayne Bell2 150x150 Our Team

Wayne Bell

Chief Operations Officer

When it came time to retire from the Air Force, Wayne wanted to pursue a career in ocean conservation, and it didn’t take long for him to discover that CRF is unique in what it does restoring coral reefs. He believes the global reef situation is worse than it has ever been. Billions of people rely on fish as their primary source of protein. If the coral reefs die, there would be a significant decline in the world’s fisheries. He supports the restoration techniques that Ken has developed and is excited to be a part of a project that will help reverse the potential complete loss of the world’s coral reef habitats.

Wayne was raised an Army brat in Kentucky and Germany. He went to Baylor University in Waco, Texas with an Air Force ROTC scholarship in electrical engineering where he met his lovely wife Donna. At his first Air Force assignment in Dayton, Ohio, he received a Masters in Electrical Engineering. His jobs in the Air Force were primarily space related. He has built, launched, flown, and used the data from several military satellite constellations. Getting stationed in LA is where he learned to dive, and he has loved it ever since. His job at CRF is to organize, train, and equip everyone else to go out and more effectively execute the mission. And because financial support for the CRF mission is really taking off, the organization is in a significant growth phase. To keep that growth momentum going, he will bring systems engineering and management to the back office processes of CRF so we can increase our bandwidth restoring coral reefs. Oh, and Ken said somewhere in there he gets to dive too!

Pam Hughes

Reluctantly, Pam began her diving career seven years ago. But after 10 minutes in the pool, she knew she would dive for the rest of her life. She is a PADI Instructor and her husband, Charlie, son, Travis are both PADI Professionals. Her daughter, Rebecca, is an Educator at the Florida Aquarium. Ocean Conservation is a family affair for the Hughes’.

Pam came to the Keys in August of 2012 from the Florida Aquarium. As a Senior Dive Master, Pam helped maintain exhibits, lead guest programs, worked with the Education Department and helped train new staff and volunteers. She brings her experiences with the Florida Aquarium and as a PADI Instructor to build a strong Science Diving Program. Growing up watching Jaucques Cousteau, Pam never imagined being part of something so incredible. To be able to make a tangible difference in the health of coral reefs with Coral Restoration Foundation is a dream-come-true.

Jess pic for website Our Team

Jessica Levy

Jessica hails from North Carolina and is a self-named coral geek passionate about tropical coral reef conservation. While pursuing a BS in Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, her interest in tropical coral reef ecosystems began in 2008 while studying abroad at James Cook University (JCU) in Australia. JCU is situated only a stone’s throw away from the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and from her first dive on the GBR she was hooked on corals! Since then she has spent her time traveling to destinations like Curacao, Bermuda, and California following her interest in reef conservation.

In 2011 she found herself back at JCU pursuing a Masters degree in Marine Conservation with a special focus on incorporating climate change modeling into Marine Protected Area design. Jessica has a passion for working in the non-profit sector of Marine Conservation. She was first introduced to non-profit work through an internship with the Marine Conservation Institute and has since interned with several organizations such as the Reef Environmental Education Foundation as an Our-World Underwater scholar and then with CRF. Through these experiences Jess’s passion for coral reef conservation only grew stronger as she learned the value in public education and community outreach as tools to meet conservation goals.  Jessica started her time with CRF as a volunteer, and then worked her way up to team leader, intern, and now employee. She couldn’t be more excited about this new position and getting the opportunity to be apart of an organization with a mission as powerful as the Coral Restoration Foundations’.

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Kayla Ripple

Kayla recently graduated from the University of Tampa in May 2012 where she received her B.S. in Marine Sciences and Biology with a minor in Environmental Science. While at UT, Kayla focused her studies on coral reefs and fell in love with the wonderful world of coral. She completed independent projects on reef ecosystems and traveled to Roatan, Honduras where her love of the reefs only grew. She has volunteered with other marine conservation organizations including the Florida Aquarium, Georgia Aquarium, and the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St Petersburg, Florida.

Kayla came to Key Largo for a REEF internship in September 2012. While interning at REEF, she was able to volunteer with CRF and became a CRF intern following the end of her REEF internship.  She now works for CRF as the Outreach Coordinator and Programs Assistant. She is so happy to be in Key Largo today working to restore these precious ecosystems with CRF and its amazing staff and volunteers!

Board of Directors

Ken Nedimyer

Coral Restoration Foundation


Adam Spector



Kevin Gaines

Piscine Energetics


David Makepeace


Morris L. “Tripp” Funderburk


Mike Echevarria

New House Holdings


Steven Miller

Nova Southeastern University


Jeffrey Turner

Boyd Enterprises


Audra Santoro


Mike Zimmer




David Splitt

Xerox Corporation


Amy Slate

Amoray Dive Resort


Denise Nedimyer



Patti Kirk Gross



James “Doc” Boilini