Wild Dolphin Foundation Announces Shayna Dubbin-Harris as CEO

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It is with great pleasure the Wild Dolphin Foundation announces the appointment of Shayna Dubbin-Harris to Chief Executive Officer. From air traffic controller, pilot, and certified aviation litigation expert to ocean advocate, the life of newly appointed CEO Shayna Dubbin-Harris has been as varied and global as the species of dolphin in the oceans.

It is with great pleasure we announce the appointment of Shayna Dubbin Harris as Chief Executive Officer of The Wild Dolphin Foundation.

Shayna Dubbin Harris has lived a life filled with diverse and unique experiences. Although born and raised in Palm Beach, she has always gone her own way. The few who know her best would describe her as a creature of the sea. She spent most of her childhood diving the reef off the Palm Beach Breakers Hotel, alone, save her two favorite companions, a pair of dolphins who were always present when she was in the water. Eventually she named the pair Merlin and Nimoue. The sea has always been Shayna's Camelot.

The reef fish, turtles, sharks, and barracuda never bothered her. Constantly chastised for “diving alone,” and “being truant,” the only place she ever felt she belonged was the sea. Although she never took a thing from the reef, and never touched the dolphins, she learned a great deal about the effects of human behaviors on her beloved Mother Ocean as she watched visitors take coral from the reef and leave behind their trash, not to mention a great deal of illicit material. Combined with the effects of natural erosion, by the time she was 21, the reef no longer provided the refuge it once had.

Her dream was to become a veterinarian, but Fate had other plans for her. By the time she was 19 years old, she was an active duty Air Force airman. It was the eighties, the Cold War, a time of turmoil in the skies as a result of the FAA PATCO strike and subsequent firing of the air traffic controllers. Harris was the youngest licensed female air traffic controller in the world. At 22, she was assigned to Miami International, both the first and youngest female watch supervisor ever assigned to that facility. As the years passed, she obtained expert certifications in nearly all areas of aerospace engineering and aviation, with specialty certifications in aerospace and aviation litigation. A multi-engine instrument rated instructor pilot, once during an in-flight emergency, she was nearly forced to dump fuel into the ocean or on to non-agricultural land belonging to "an old friend.” She chose to continue flying to burn off the fuel, thereby avoiding the evacuation of excess fuel into the land or the sea. She does not panic easily.

A leader in all of her endeavours Harris has worked with some of the most respected attorneys and diplomats in the world. In 2005, she and her late-husband Ron Harris, retired to raise their young daughter Isabel. She had hoped to return to her beloved island, but again Fate stepped in and she wound up in a sprawling Flushing, Michigan home and turned her attentions to caring for her young daughter and husband. She did what she could to help in her community by starting and funding a CHAPS therapeutic riding program for neurologically impaired youngsters. Still, she knew that someday she would return to the sea and call it home once more.

She did indeed return to Mother Ocean as a result of the devastating loss of her husband, Ron in 2012, a highly decorated Air Force veteran who served in both Gulf Wars. After going on an open ocean dive in Hawaii with Captain Tori Cullins, Founder and President of the Wild Dolphin Foundation, and owner of Wild Side Specialty Tours, she knew she would not remain in Flushing for the rest of her life. “We swam with three pods of wild spinner dolphins and their babies. The experience was magical and the sea called loudly that day. She hasn’t stopped calling.” Within 10 months of that adventure, Harris purchased her retirement home, just north of Palm Beach and was appalled by the amount of erosion of the beaches, combined with the effects of human behaviors. “Education, research and advocacy are the only ways of stopping, or at least somewhat curtailing, the negative effects of human behaviors that are turning the ocean into something akin to a war zone of devastation, pollution and a complete loss of the natural environment. When I went home for the first time in 20 years, ‘home,’ as I knew it, was no longer there.”

“During this time of transition, there is no better person to lead the Wild Dolphin Foundation than Shayna,” said Wild Dolphin Foundation President and Founder, Capt. Tori Cullins. As well as her personal ties and commitment to ocean health for all species, “Shayna is a proven leader with over two decades of commitment and dedication, which are key to the Wild Dolphin Foundation's mission. Her zeal, vision and resourcefulness are exactly what we need as the organization enters its next chapter of expanded service, innovation and growth.”

Concludes Harris, “We possess a deep commitment to bring nobility and honor to non-profit management, conscious of cost effectiveness, program effectiveness, internal accountability for each program, and to use the material support dollars we are given responsibly and well."

About The Wild Dolphin Foundation - http://www.wilddolphin.org

The Wild Dolphin Foundation is a Hawaii-based grassroots non-profit organization, whose mission is protecting wild dolphins and their environment through research, advocacy, public education and conservation, and to create culturally-sustainable change in human behaviors which continue to threaten the well-being of dolphins and their host communities worldwide.

Life on small islands, both in Hawaii on the Pacific Coast, and in Florida on the Atlantic, including those of Palm Beach, Jupiter Island, and others located on Florida’s Treasure Coast, provides a microcosm for understanding how we can live in balance with our environment and each other with local livelihoods, food security and natural resources sustained. A balance of enhancement, use and preservation of habitats is desirable.

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Tori Cullins

Shayna Dubbin-Harris
since: 04/2009
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Wild Dolphin Foundation
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