Updated: Sep 7, 2021
Our donors offer Coral Restoration Foundation™ the resources needed to restore coral reefs, and they support our mission through a variety of different avenues. Our second
REEFeature shines light on an avid diver, mother, engineer, and proud CRF™ supporter, Michele Chan.
Michele’s passion for coral reefs sky-rocketed after returning to diving from a 16-year hiatus raising her son. Now, taking a giant stride off a new dive boat at every chance she gets, Michele enjoys traveling the globe with her friends from the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame. Patti Kirk Gross, CRF’s Vice Chairman of the Board and Women Diver’s Hall of Famer herself, introduced Michele to CRF’s work.
Michele got a first-hand look at our restoration efforts on Florida’s Coral Reef while on a Dive Program and was surprised to learn the United States has a coral reef in its very own backyard. An engineer by trade, she is interested in the practicality of our coral propagation, restoration techniques, and genotype tracking process.
Diving around the world
Michele began her diving journey videotaping nudibranch in cold waters. Since then, her passion has led her to travel to extraordinary places like the Coral Triangle – including the Philippines, Thailand, and Indian Ocean – the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, which is home to breathtaking volcanic formations, and even to Antarctica where she photographed leopard seals with a National Geographic expedition.
Michele loves filming marine animal behavior, especially their interactions with the environment. To get the best shots without disturbing the habitat around her, she has refined her dive skills like finning techniques and buoyancy control. In fact, having dove in the waters of all seven continents, Michele is enthralled by the vibrant and unknown world under the water. Out of the water, her travels have helped her discover her passion for learning about new cultures and connecting with people around the globe.
Michele Chan dives with sharks in deep blue waters.
Maximizing her impact
Michele is a savvy philanthropist and uses an innovative way to make sure her donations have the greatest impact – she makes her donations to CRF™ in the form of a stock. With financial advice from her accountant, Michele learned about the many tax advantages that accompany a charitable donation of stock. Donating stock to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization like Coral Restoration Foundation™ allows her to make significant savings on her taxes and a bigger impact for coral reefs.
"That's how I can actually take what is effectively my money and donate, making that money more effective and more valuable."
Michele’s employer provides matching programs, as do many companies, to promote philanthropy. They match employee donations up to a certain amount, doubling their impact. Michele also utilizes another tool, an app called Benevity, to help her make effective and smart donations. Michele can easily discover and navigate various 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations such as Coral Restoration Foundation™ that have been vetted to meet rigorous transparency standards. An incredibly effective and clever way to donate!
Using our voices for change
The future of our oceans depends on each one of us. Michele has seen how climate change impacts our lives, witnessing the devastating California wildfires the past few years. But the pristine nature she has observed, like the coral reefs in the Garden of the Queens in Cuba,
have left her with hope for the future of these precious ecosystems. “It’s a circle, if you break something like all the coral reefs or if a certain predator becomes extinct or an event where all the urchins disappear...that’ll impact the environment and I think that we need to understand our actions, and really work on protecting the environment.”
“Coral reefs are so important – they are a barrier when you have storms and hurricanes.”
Michele believes educating others on how to properly take care of coral reefs and having a strong legislative and enforcement support will help protect our environment for future generations. Michele looks to the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary for inspiration. “…It is very strict when it comes to protection, they do not allow fishing or taking any of the creatures out of the sanctuary.”
“It’s more than just individuals being able to do that or even organizations. You have to have the buy-in at every level to create sanctuaries and protect [coral reefs].”
She believes the future of coral reefs relies upon so many efforts, including the restoration work that CRF™ conducts. She has hope that in the generations to come, progress will continue, and our environment will recover from human impact.
©Alex Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation™
Due to Covid-19, Michele has taken a temporary pause on her traveling. With hope for the future, Michele is eager to get into the water again. We here at CRF™ sincerely appreciate having such a passionate advocate for our underwater environment supporting our restoration work in Florida and beyond.
Resources For You
There's an easy way to support coral restoration like Michele — and save on your taxes at the same time. Do you have appreciated assets? If so, you transferring stocks directly to Coral Restoration Foundation™ can help you avoid paying the capital gains tax while making your gift go further. So many of our supporters have started transferring stocks as a mutually beneficial way of giving.
To get started, use our online tool to help you make your gift in just a few minutes.
Madalen Howard is CRF's Marketing Associate. Madalen comes to CRF™ via a winding road from the Tennessee hills, to the South Carolina low country, ending here in Florida’s Coral Reef. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Marine Biology and a Minor in Environmental Studies from the College of Charleston in 2016. Her experience ranges from field research to education, and communications.
Madalen spent the last 4 years as a Field Instructor and Social Media Strategist for MarineLab Environmental Education Center. Here she was able to study and teach marine ecology, while snorkeling through mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs every day. While at MarineLab she combined her education and research background, entered the world of communications, and developed MarineLab’s social media department from the ground up.
Throughout her life Madalen has had a skill connecting people with nature. With CRF™, she is excited to bring people into the world of coral restoration, creating inclusive pathways to scientific discovery.
"REEFeature" Editorial Intern
Katie Hall graduated in 2019 from Towson University where she earned a B.S. in Psychology and Animal Behavior. Her love for the water and wildlife began at an early age boating in the waters of her home city, Baltimore, Maryland. Throughout her college career, Katie volunteered at the National Aquarium and Maryland Zoo in Baltimore sharing her passion for conservation. She also maintained a critically endangered colony of cotton-top tamarins, which solidified her dream to make a difference.
Katie has had the amazing opportunity to travel abroad to 16 different countries where she discovered the current conditions our reefs are facing which ignited her curiosity. She became scuba certified through an Operation Wallacea expedition to South Africa in 2017, and she is now PADI Rescue certified. Her time participating in the Disney College Program led her to sunny Florida. Katie is excited to gain hands-on experience in coral restoration and to make a positive impact on the ecosystem which is home to 25% of marine life.