Who we are

We are a group of volunteers that believes in supporting our community with our passion of scuba diving through the Dive Pirates Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity

The Dive Pirates Foundation 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity is dedicated to bringing scuba diving to persons with mobility disabilities. What began in 2003 as a social club for divers is now a non-profit foundation that teaches, equips and takes disabled people on life changing scuba diving adventures.

While the program is open to all medically qualified physically disabled people, Dive Pirates focuses on disabled military, law enforcement and first responder veterans who have sustained injuries in the line of duty. Some of these men and women have lost a part of their youth in combat; we aim to help restore a sense of adventure, community and hope for these wounded warriors.

So if it’s the pirate life for you then there are numerous ways in which you can Get Involved, to pledge your allegiance to a great cause!

What we do

Dive Pirates supports, trains, equips and provides dive travel to individuals with disabilities through Adaptive Scuba Diving:-

  • Raising funds through annual fundraisers, memberships, sponsors, crowdfunding websites, grants and dive chapters.
  • Recruiting injured veterans and others who are medically qualified and physically disabled, helping to change lives
  • Training and equipping them to scuba dive as well as their classified buddy (i.e. spouse, sibling, friend, parent)
  • Taking them on a trip of a lifetime
  • Encouraging and supporting them to continue diving as part of their lifestyle and well as rehabilitation.

 

Organization

Susan DeVore - Dive Pirates PortraitSusan DeVore

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Susan joined the Dive Pirates Foundation in 2014 with more than 20 years of dive industry experience including marketing, sales, and management. Susan handles the day-to-day operations of the foundation. Susan graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing.

Dive Pirates Staff Theresa CortezTheresa Cortez

DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS

Theresa started her own public relations consulting business in 2010, TBarC Communications and handles all internal and external communications for the Dive Pirates Foundation.

Theresa graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and spent 10 years as a broadcast journalist before branching into public relations in 2001.

Hellen_Armstrong_DP_headshotHellen Armstrong

MARKETING AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Hellen is an active British-trained diving instructor and boat captain, who left the UK after a few years of working to see the world; diving in places like Thailand and Egypt and working in Cyprus, Seychelles, United Arab Emirates, Cayman Brac, Texas and currently east coast of Florida.  Hellen is a PADI Master Instructor, SSI Master Instructor/Classified Diver Instructor, RAID Instructor /RAIDaptive Instructor and SDI Instructor/Scubility Instructor and is happy to share with the Dive Pirates her unique mix of skills and experience both from within and outside of the dive industry through her own company Stretch Business Solutions LLC.

Officers

Sophie Wimberley - Dive Pirates PortraitSophie Wimberley

PRESIDENT

Sophie is Co-founder of Dive Pirates and an adaptive instructor trainer as well as a DAN instructor trainer. Teaching scuba diving and traveling the world to dive is her passion and above water, she is the National Director in Oncology for Alkermes, Inc.

Gardiner Henderson

PRESIDENT ELECT

A long-time pirate, Gardiner was a board member from 2006-2010 and secured much needed matching funds from his employer at the time, while also leveraging contacts in the industry for support and awareness. He currently works for Flotek as Senior Vice President, Operations.

Dive Pirates Officer Bailey Pitts HeadshotBailey Pitts

SECRETARY

Bailey started diving at 13 years old, attending her first Dive Pirates trip in 2007. Over the years, she has attended several more Dive Pirates trips and has achieved SSI Dive Control Specialist and Classified Dive Buddy.  She is now working toward her RAID Dive Master, RAIDaptive Buddy, and RAID Open Water Instructor. She recently graduated from Ross University Veterinary School and is a Veterinarian at VCA Lake Jackson Animal Hospital.

Gillian Tilbury - Dive Pirates PortraitGillian Tilbury

TREASURER

has served as treasurer for the past year and will continue keeping the books for the crew. She has been diving since the mid-’80s and is an SSI OWI and SSI Classified Instructor. Known to her fellow pirates as Gangplank Gilly, she has been a supporter of Dive Pirates for many years and is now coordinating efforts for our Fundraising Committee. When not plundering the seas, Gillian is a Managing Director for The Carnrite Group.

Board of Directors

Dive Pirates Board Sean Barr HeadshotSean Barr

Retired USMC Corporal Sean Barr is a SURF Solutions Manager at Subsea7 in Houston, Texas. While serving in the  Marine Corps, in 1995, Sean suffered an injury that resulted in quadriplegia. After rehabilitation, Sean attended Texas A&M. Sean was a 2007 recipient of the Dive Pirates Foundation and has since returned on many trips as well as being an ongoing contributor to the growth of the foundation and a role model for veterans with recent mobility injuries.

Tyler Brandes - Dive Pirates PortraitTyler Brandes

Tyler has been diving since 1992, he has been a PADI Divemaster, SSI Dive Control Specialist, Platinum Pro 5000 Diver and is currently a RAID and DAN Instructor. Tyler lives in Tennessee, where he is the Chief of his community’s Fire Department and also works with the county Rescue Squad as a member of their dive team. In his time off he enjoys snorkeling and diving with his wife and three sons.

Dive Pirates Board Freddy HeadshotCaptain John “Freddy” Frederick

Is currently the COO of Stone Creek Group, a Registered Investment Advisory firm, as well as founder, president, and owner of Epic Divers Grand Cayman. Involved in the diving industry since 2006, Freddy was instrumental in working with non-profit assisting wheelchair-bound teenagers to dive as well as develop leadership skills. A graduate of West Point, he served 5 years active duty at Fr. Bragg, NC including 3rd Special Forces Group, 18th Airborne Corps, and company commander. Freddy holds an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, a post-graduate degree in finance, and has taught both finance and marketing at the college level.

Lisa_Jaster_HeadshotArmy Major Lisa Jaster

Is a soldier, an engineer, a wife and mother, and a trailblazer. One of only three women to graduate from the first integrated United States Army Ranger program—one of the most difficult combat training courses in the world—Lisa was the first female Army Reserve officer to become a Ranger. Lisa served seven years in active duty including tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Prior to receiving her Ranger tab, Lisa worked as an engineer with Shell Oil in Houston and an Army Reserve individual mobilization augmentee with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She was introduced to the Dive Pirates Foundation as she delivered the keynote address at the 2019 Dive Pirates Ball in Houston, Texas.

Janeen Judah - Dive Pirates PortraitJaneen Judah

Janeen Judah is a recognized upstream industry leader and a member of the Board of Directors of Patterson-UTI Energy and Crestwood Equity Partners.  Janeen retired from Chevron in April 2018 after serving in several executive positions and was also the 2017 President of the Society of Petroleum Engineers International. Janeen is a PADI Open Water Instructor and an expert level fish surveyor for REEF.org. She has BS and MS degrees from Texas A&M University in petroleum engineering and MBA from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and a JD from the University of Houston.

Clay McCollor - Dive Pirates PortraitClay McCollor

Clay is a business attorney, he served four years active duty in the U.S. Army Field Artillery achieving the rank of Captain.  He was the fourth generation in his family to serve on active duty. Clay is also a proud Aggie and still attends A&M football games each season. He is a devoted family man and loves spending time with his wife and five children. They enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, bicycling, fishing, and swimming.

Dive Pirates Board Chris Pulley HeadshotChris Pulley

Chris joined the Dive Pirates in 2006 as a recipient of the Foundation. A person with spinal muscular atrophy, he slowly lost his ability to walk during his college years, and now uses a wheelchair for his mobility. After finishing our program, Chris continued to dive with his father and returned to celebrate his 100th dive during a Dive Pirates trip in 2016. Successful in the finance industry, he is currently the Vice President – Manager of Finance Business Support for Bank of America in Richmond, Texas. He brings a wealth of business knowledge to the board, as well as his continued desire to explore new dive sites and evaluate them for future recipients to continue their journey as divers.

Barbara Thompson - Dive Pirates PortraitBarbara Thompson

Barbara is a RAID Instructor Trainer as well as a RAIDaptive Dive Instructor Trainer and co-founder of Dive Pirates. Barbara oversees fundraising efforts, liaises with the dive industry, maintains foundation records and recruits new students. In the land world, Barbara is the Early Engagement Manager for Baker Hughes GE Subsea Products for the Americas.

Lt. Col. Allen West - Dive Pirates PortraitLt. Col. Allen West

Allen B. West is the former Executive Director for the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas, Texas.  During his 22-year career in the United States Army, West served in several combat zones and received many honors including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals and a Valorous Unit Award. In November of 2010, Allen was elected to the United States Congress, representing Florida’s 22nd District. West is an avid distance runner, a Master scuba diver, a motorcyclist, and in his spare time he enjoys cheering his beloved Tennessee Volunteers.

Advisory Council

D’Artagnan Bebel

D’Artagnan Bebel - Dive Pirates PortraitD’Artagnan is an assistant scuba instructor continuing his education in scuba while bringing a wealth of knowledge in change management to the board. He is currently the Vice President and General Manager of Fox 26 KRIV-TV in Houston, Texas and is very active in giving back to the community.

Lou Brown

Lou_Brown_Advisory Council 2018Lou is a West Texas rancher, political advisor, critter keeper, and organist for the local monastery. She has lots of divers in the family, but much prefers to sit on the beach and listen to the surf. She brings terrific experience in organization and fund raising. Since the beginning of Dive Pirates, she has been involved in creating the organization and has continued to support the foundation with her talent and treasure!

Sue Chen

Sue_Chen__Advisory Council 2018Sue was born in Taiwan and has been a Los Angeles resident for more than 20 years. Feeling deeply connected to the ocean, Sue received her open water certification in 2005 and since has been involved with ocean conservation and sharing the joy of diving. Sue shares the passion of sharing mobility with others, as she is the CEO of NOVA Medical Products. Being involved with Dive Pirates is a perfect fit combining her passions for human empowerment and diving.

Martin Cortez 

Martin is a seasoned videographer that got his start on local Television in his hometown of Midland, TX and worked his way to the Fox affiliate in San Antonio, specializing in sports and action videography.  He is now a free-lance outdoor sports videographer and part time rancher in West Texas.  He has been involved in both videography and video editing for Dive Pirates since its beginning in 2005.  His diving career started with Dive Pirates and continues today!

Charles “Mackie” Davis

Headshot of Charles Davis in the poolA true lover of life. Mackie was a student at Rice aviation and an avid motorcyclist until his spinal cord injury in 1990.  In the spring of 2016, a member of the Dive Pirates introduced me to what I now describe as “the life changing world of SCUBA.” Since then, he has worked towards becoming an advanced open water diver, and is looking forward to being a part of the “pay it forward” team with the Dive Pirates.  I enjoy reaching out to other disabled individuals to help introduce them to the world of SCUBA and look forward to my next underwater adventure.

Janette “Nettie” Evans

Nettie_Evans_Advisory_Council 2018‘Nettie the Red’ as the crew affectionately calls her, Nettie is one of the three founders of Dive Pirates who continues to be a great source of ideas and direction.  With more than 50 years of business experience in the hardware industry, she also enjoys her dogs, fast cars, crocheting and diving with her diving friends.

Bob Evans

Bob_Evans__Advisory Council 2018“Overboard” Bob is a retired Navy (civilian) Mechanical Engineer who has been diving since 1994. As a PADI Divemaster & SSI Classified Dive Buddy from Indiana, Bob works to promote the Foundation and encourages all prospective adaptive divers to come and join the Pirate crew.

Dr. Mark Fredrickson

Dr. Mark Fredrickson - Dive Pirates PortraitMark is a practicing physician with quadriplegia, specializing in rehabilitation medicine for those with spinal cord injuries. When Dr. Fred isn’t diving, he’s the medical director for Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospital in San Antonio as well as an adjunct professor of rehabilitation medicine at the Long School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center. He was instrumental in creating standards for divers with spinal cord injuries.

Jose Griñan

Jose, a SSi Classified Dive Buddy, has been an enthusiastic supporter of Dive Pirates since he first heard of us and began Emceeing our annual Dive Pirates Ball in 2006. He has been the morning anchor on Fox 26 Houston since 1998 and is a prolific communist supporter. He has diving since 1985 and is a veteran of the US Army.

Jean Jones

Jean Jones headshotJean has been diving since 1983 and since her retirement from IT and the “Dive Shop”, she has volunteered as an instructor for Dive Pirates. Jean is a RAIDaptive Instructor and a Master Instructor with SSI and this has been some of the most rewarding and challenging teaching that she has ever done. She learns new things every time she teaches. She loves sharing her love and knowledge for the underwater with new students.  When she is not off on dive trips or teaching, she spends her spare time working on her crafting.

Todd Kemery

Todd Kemery Headshot sat in lobby at Cayman Brac Reef ResortAs my life has been enhanced by the vision and mission of the Dive Pirates organization. My goal is to be an ambassador for the sport here in Minnesota. I am honored to work with Dive Pirates, especially as I have a unique insight having been in a wheel chair for the past 36+ years and all that represents. As a peer mentor at the VA, I have had the opportunity to hone my skills at relating and increasing my effectiveness in counseling others, that are just starting out in a wheel chair.

Capt Marlene Krpata

Marlene_Krpata__Advisory Council 2018Marlene was a leg limb salvage after suffering a mortar attack while serving in Iraq.  In 2011 she decided to amputate her leg below the knee.  Since her amputation she has been back playing softball and running around with her nieces and nephew.  Swimming in the ocean has had a calming effect on Marlene since  she returned to the states and she is excited about her scuba certification and becoming a Dive Pirate.

Nigel Lakey

Nigel_Lakey Advisory_Council 2018With a pirate’s soul as long as he can remember, and diving since 1985, Nigel is an SSI AOWI and SSI Classified Instructor. Since becoming involved with Dive Pirates in 2004, Nigel has been on a mission to work less and dive more and has made the first step by retiring from the Oil & Gas business and starting his own hedge fund. Nigel will assist in the essential elements of all things Pirate: Education, Training and Pillaging…Sorry, meant to say Fundraising…..

Anne Larboullet

Anne_Larboullet Advisory Council 2018Born and raised in Paris, Anne moved to Houston for her oil & gas work in June 2012. Anne connected with DPF for two reasons: she always wanted to scuba dive, and she wanted to give something back to American veterans who bravely fought in France during WWII. Anne was certified in 2014, is now a master diver and a classified dive buddy, looking forward to furthering her diving education. When not diving or volunteering for DPF, Anne is working hard on setting up her online jewelry store (Pink Chiffon Jewelry). She also loves cooking, yoga, spending time with her family in Paris and organizing pirate parties for our Houston recipients

Cassandra MacDowell

Cassie MacDowell Headshot on beach in Cayman BracCassie has been with the foundation since 2015 as our Cayman Brac events and now underwater photographer. By being born on Cayman Brac to two dive instructor parents, Cassie is very in tune with her inner island girl. Aspiring to be an environmental researcher she is an avid diver and conservationist on the island. 

Linda Maune

Linda Maune Advisory Council 2018Linda is a retired public school teacher who can’t stop teaching!  She started diving in 2000 – became a SCUBA instructor in 2009 and has been teaching each summer in the Florida Keys ever since!

That grew into tour directing in 2015, so has been showing folks our wonderful WORLD above and below the water! In her spare time she officiates volleyball and basketball, Linda just loves helping others get out there and have fun.

Mark Parker

Mark_Parker Advisory_Council 2018Mark began his diving career in 1999 and today, he is a SSI Instructor Trainer as well as a SSI Classified Dive Instructor Trainer. His vision for the Dive Pirates Foundation is to spread the opportunity of diving to everyone interested in learning how to dive.

Chris Pulliam

Chris_Pulliam Advisory_Council 2018Chris has been diving since 1996 and is currently a SSI Advanced Open Water Instructor and SSI Classified Dive Instructor. She is a physical therapist at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. Her vision for the foundation is to support our military wounded through scuba diving, and she is actively involved in the training and instruction of students in the San Antonio, TX.

Ginny Pulliam

Ginny_Pulliam Advisory_Council 2018Ginny has been diving since 1997 and she is an advance open water diver, as well as a SSI Classified Dive Buddy. Ginny is a retired Army operating room nurse, and presently, is enjoying her RV, traveling throughout the US. She has been active in the Dive Pirates since the beginning, and she continues to support our divers by attending our annual trip.

Robin Reynolds

Robin Reynolds - headshotRobin started diving in 2002 reaching the certifications of Classified Dive Buddy and SSI Dive Control Specialist. In 2018, she celebrated her 450th dive. She usually dives with her daughters, Carly and Paige, who have been Dive Pirate volunteers for the last decade. Robin works at ExxonMobil in Houston. Go Dores!

Lea Ann Robertson

Lea Ann Robertson Advisory Council 2018Lea Ann has been diving since the late 1970s but nowadays snorkel’s more than dives.  When in clear water environments, she spends her time encouraging numerous young grandchildren the joys and wonders of the underwater world.  Lea Ann is a Managing Director at The Carnrite Group (with Gangplank Gilly) and looks forward to supporting DPF in strategy and business operation improvements so the Pirate leaders can focus on providing great experiences for adaptive divers

Ed Shearer

Ed Shearer headshotEd is principal navel architect at The Shearer Group, Inc. in Houston, Texas specializing in inland marine equpment moving commerce along rivers and the Gulf Coast. His favorite boat to be on is a dive boat, and he donates much of his time and energy ensuring people with disabilities, especially injured  military veterans, have the opportunity to enjoy the freedom of adaptive scuba diving.  Ed became a certified diver in 1995 and his classified buddy certfication in 2016.

Rhonda Sizemore

Headshot of photo of Rhonda Sizemore Advisory Council memberRhonda has been diving since 1990 with both PADI and RAID Rescue Diver and RAIDaptive buddy plus is working on her divemaster certification. While on a trip to Cayman Brac she and her husband, Harvey, were intrigued by how the organization it helped so many. Rhonda is a retired Cardiovascular Interventional Specialist. Diving was given a new meaning when she began to dive with Dive Pirates. “I know when you gift one person with the ability to dive free from restrictions on land you realize, one is NOT enough.” There is “no disabilities only possibilities”

Stace Swearingen

Dive Pirates Advisory Stace SStace supports the Dive Pirates through Tom’s Dive and Swim from Austin, Texas.  Also assisting on dive trips, he has been diving since 1999, became an instructor in 2016 and an SSI classified instructor in 2017.  A veteran with the US Navy, he enjoys giving back and sharing the underwater experience with people of all abilities.

Trudy Viers

Trudy_Viers Advisory_Council 2018Trudy has been diving since 1978, SSI certified, advanced open water diver. She has been supportive of Dive Pirates since the beginning of the foundation.  As manager or the Cayman Brac Reef Beach Resort Trudy has helped facilitate dive trips, helping create many of the traditions carried out today.

Gregg Wentworth

Dive Pirates Advisory Gregg Wentworth

Gregg began diving in 2009 with his son Travis and soon after became affiliated with the Dive Pirates attending as many events and trips as he can. He currently is an open water and adaptive open water instructor for SSI and RAID as well as a DAN instructor.  Gregg and his wife Rhonda reside in San Antonio, TX where is the Chief of Optometry at the Audie L Murphy Veterans Hospital and is a Colonel in the US Air Force Reserves as the Commander of the 433rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron. 

Rhonda Wentworth

Dive Pirates Advisory Rhonda Wentworth

Born and raised in Houston, TX, Rhonda moved all around the state before settling in San Antonio in 2004 with her husband and son. She has been lovingly dubbed “Scuba Mom” around the dive shop, as she is often helping out during classes and learning as much about scuba diving as she can. Her first official Dive Pirates trip was in 2011 to Cayman Brac where she fell in love with the island life.

Travis Wentworth

Dive Pirate Advisory Council Travis Wentworth

Travis received his first dive certification in 2009, his instructor status in 2012 and his DAN instructor certification in 2019. Known affectionally as “The Cub” among the pirate crew, Travis continues to support the Dive Pirates through its San Antonio Chapter DiveMasters, while volunteering as an adaptive instructor on Dive Pirate trips.

Emma Willhoite

Dive Pirates Advisory Emma Willhoite HeadshotEmma has three great loves in her life: teaching, being a dog mom, and scuba diving. By day she’s an elementary school teacher, and she always brings her love of diving to the classroom by teaching her students about underwater habitats and conservation. Emma has been certified since 2015 and has been diving throughout the Caribbean and in the Mediterranean. She’s currently working toward becoming a Dive Master and looks forward to leading many dive trips to some of her favorite places.