Our Board of Directors comprises a passionate and supportive group of professionals from many sectors. Each member plays an integral role in supporting our mission to save coral reefs and expanding our work in years to come.

Board of Directors

Kirby Ryan


Kirby Ryan joined CORAL’s board in 2018 after volunteering in several efforts with CORAL’s program and strategy teams. Kirby is a Director of Strategy at Salesforce.  Previously, he was the Chief Operating Officer of SWS Venture Capital, where he focused on empowering entrepreneurs in the consumer products and technology space to rapidly disrupt markets and industries.  Before entering venture capital, Kirby spent seven years with Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy and Operations practice, helping organizations develop long-term customer and operating strategies, improve efficiencies and performance, and launch new businesses. Kirby holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, as well as a master’s degree in international business and a bachelor’s in marketing from the University of Florida. Kirby enjoys all water-based activities and has been a passionate snorkeler and diver since childhood.

Mike Bennett

Vice Chair

Throughout a career in software development, Mike felt a calling to focus his efforts on the environment. After spending a year in Australia doubling the entries in his 15-year-old scuba dive log, he came to believe that coral reefs, in particular, need critical conservation attention. Since discovering CORAL in 2007, Mike has volunteered database and other technical expertise to the organization. Joining the board in 2013, where he serves on the Audit and Executive Committees, has reinvigorated Mike’s commitment to winning the struggle to preserve the world’s reefs. Mike holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from U.C. Berkeley.

Rob Watt


Rob was elected to CORAL’s board in 2019. For over 20 years he worked in a number of nonprofit and for-profit organizations as a technology leader. Most recently he worked at Hudson River Trading, a quantitative trading firm in NYC where he helped the partners grow the company from a single employee to a global firm trading in almost every market around the world. Rob did his check out dives in Bonaire in 1998 while attending a conservation-focused dive conference. Meeting Brian Huse, CORAL’s executive director at the time, and doing activities like reef cleaning, fish counting, and coral mapping helped solidify for him the connection between human activity and its impact on the delicate ecosystems that are integrated into our world’s reefs. He’s remained passionate about conserving reefs ever since. Rob’s other main interests include cooking, playing guitar and synthesizers, and hanging out with his family.

Judy McNary


Judy was elected to CORAL’s board in 2023 after several years’ involvement as a member of the Advisory Council. An avid scuba diver and PADI instructor, she has volunteered with numerous marine nonprofits, including over 15 years on the dive team at the Downtown Aquarium in Denver.

Judy has over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, launching companies in the software and financial services industries. After selling her financial advisory firm to Mercer Advisors, she became its first Director of Corporate Responsibility. In this role, she established the firm’s award-winning program for sustainable growth and development based on the UN SDGs, and led its effective ESG/Sustainable investing programs.  She published numerous articles on ESG reporting requirements, governance and risk, and how the effective integration of these issues across an organization can enhance company performance. Currently she is involved in research on companies leading their industries in transitioning to more sustainable business practices. She has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal and has contributed to the WSJ, Kiplinger’s, Money Magazine, and U.S. News & World Report.

Judy is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business and serves on numerous industry advisory boards.  She received MBA and BA degrees in economics and geography from the University of Colorado/Boulder and an MS in Personal Financial Planning from the College of Financial Planning. She and her husband, Scott, have been married over forty years and have three adult children, all of whom enjoy scuba and skiing.

Lauretta Burke

Lauretta is a geographer within the Sustainable Ocean Initiative at World Resources Institute (WRI), where she leads WRI’s efforts on coral reefs. Lauretta focuses on spatial analysis of local and global threats to coral reefs, economic valuation of the goods and services that coastal ecosystems provide to people, and improving access to data for decision making relevant to coral reefs. Lauretta led the Reefs at Risk project series – a broad collaboration to model local and climate-related threats to the world’s coral reefs. Lauretta also works on climate resilience – helping coastal areas prepare for future climate. Her work on economic valuation includes national and regional valuations of the tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection services provided by coral reefs and mangroves in the Caribbean. Lauretta grew up in a coastal city – Brooklyn, NY and has always been drawn to the sea. She has an M.A. in Geography from UC Santa Barbara and currently lives in Washington, DC. Lauretta began diving in 1998, doing her checkout dives on the Great Barrier Reef. Lauretta joined the CORAL Board in 2021.

Jeff Chanin

Jeff retired as a trial lawyer at Keker, Van Nest & Peters but continues to take on environmental cases pro bono. He has been diving for over 50 years, since age 10. He helped certify over 200 of his classmates at Brown University (before the advent of pressure gauges and inflatable BCDs), then turned his attention to dive travel and underwater photography on reefs throughout the Caribbean and Coral Triangle. Jeff enjoys spending his leisure time with the amazing inhabitants of these far-flung places, both above and below the surface. Two decades past, Jeff started to notice that many of the coral reefs he had previously visited were beginning to decline. In contrast, he witnessed the continued vitality and diversity of the corals and marine life within two areas managed by CORAL and its partners—the Namena Marine Reserve in Fiji, and the Roatan Marine Park in Honduras. So in 2012, Jeff sought out CORAL to offer his support. During 2013-14, Jeff served on CORAL’s International Council, where he helped launch the CORAL Conservation Prize. He joined the Board in 2015, chairing the Development Committee and serving on the Marketing and Program Committees. Jeff hopes to help CORAL champion the cause of its most deserving clients—the world’s coral reefs.

María José González

María José González is a biologist from the Del Valle University of Guatemala with a Master’s degree in Wildlife Management. She served as an advisor to the National Council for Protected Areas (CONAP) where she worked on several wildlife regulations, including the first Red Lists for vertebrates in Guatemala. After CONAP, she worked as Executive Director of the Fundación Interamericana de Investigación Tropical (FIIT), while also serving as a research fellow for the Wildlife Conservation Society Vertebrate Ecology Project in Tikal National Park, Guatemala. María José served as Executive Director of the Fundación para la Conservación de los Recursos Naturales y Ambiente en Guatemala (FCG) from 1996-2004. She participated in the design and establishment of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Environmental Funds (RedLAC), and served on the RedLAC Executive Committee twice. Since 2005, María José has been the Executive Director of the Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund). MAR Fund is a regional environmental fund established to support conservation, restoration and sustainable use of resources in the Mesoamerican Reef ecoregion, shared by Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. She has contributed to the capitalization of its $30.5M endowment fund and to mobilizing over $28M for projects in the region. María José joined CORAL’s Board of Directors in 2021.

James E. Minarik

Jim joined Coral’s Board in July of 2022 after being involved on CORAL’s Council for about a year. He is an Investor, Active Board Member and CEO Coach, with a passion for people and business. He currently serves on a half dozen corporate boards, as well as several not for profits. More at J.E.Minark, LLC. Prior to his current role, Jim had an exceptional 25-year record as a CEO of growing, managing and ultimately realizing value from U.S. and foreign public, private and private equity owned consumer technology businesses. This included Directed Electronics which he and the team he put in place built from a modest automotive aftermarket business to Sound United, the world’s leading consumer audio business with $1 Billion+ of annual revenue. Committed to “paying it forward,” Jim is the Founder and Chairman of the Forte for Children Charitable Foundation, and he serves on several charitable organization boards including The Boys and Girls Club of Vista, CA Foundation. An avid scuba diver, he has a passion for the work of the Coral Reef Alliance and also works with the Wyland Foundation and The MAR Alliance. Having already visited nearly 90 countries, he and his wife Megan enjoy spending time exploring the world and its oceans on The World where they have a Residence.

James R. Tolonen

Jim was elected to CORAL’s Board in 2009. Since 1972, he has been involved in the Silicon Valley high-tech industry and has held CFO, COO, president and other executive and board of directors positions in both public and private companies. His accomplishments include taking two companies from start-up through becoming public and growing two other global public companies from several hundred million dollars to several billion dollars in revenue. Jim retired in 2008 but is currently a member of the NewRelic board of directors and chairs their audit committee. He’s also the Board Treasurer of the Santa Cruz Fly Fishermen, a board member for BlackSky, and a volunteer with the Coastal Watershed Council. He previously served as a board member for Blue Coat Systems, Inc., Imperva, and MobileIron. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Ginger, scuba diving, motorcycling, and fishing. Jim has been an avid scuba and skin diver since 1962, and was NITROX certified; he is also an amateur photographer, both above and underwater. He is passionate about habitat preservation in general, and the marine environment and sustainable practices in particular. Jim received both BSME and MBA degrees from the University of Michigan and then earned his CPA in 1974.

C. Elizabeth Wagner, Esq

Elizabeth was elected to CORAL’s board in 2007. She is the Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business and International Business Division in Washington D.C. Before joining the IRS, Elizabeth served as director of governmental affairs for the National Association of Bond Lawyers (NABL), where she managed the interaction of NABL with the federal government. Elizabeth has also worked in the national tax offices of KPMG, LLP, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, LLP, and for the Department of the Treasury and law firm Latham & Watkins. She earned a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas, a master’s degree in accountancy/taxation from the University of Houston, and a law degree from The University of Texas. A certified scuba diver for almost two decades, Elizabeth volunteers as a diver and underwater presenter at the National Aquarium (NA), has participated in NA fish exploration and collection trips and has conducted REEF field surveys. She serves on the Board of Directors of the NA.  She currently resides in Washington, D.C.

Shannon Williams

Shannon joined the CORAL Board in 2023, after serving as a member of the Coral Advisory Council. He developed a deep fascination with coral ecosystems during his first snorkeling experience on his honeymoon in Hawaii. As a father of three, he is passionately dedicated to preserving and restoring healthy ecosystems for future generations. Shannon has spent the past two decades building technology companies with a focus on enhancing and simplifying access to computing. He is the co-founder and President of Acorn Labs, a cloud computing company that offers free development sandboxes to anyone exploring cloud computing. Prior to founding Acorn, Shannon co-founded Rancher Labs, a software company that provides a free and open-source computing platform used by numerous institutions, non-profits and organizations to develop and run applications. He also served as a board member of the non-profit Cloud Native Computing Foundation for four years.

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