Staff and Board of Directors
Ana Blanco, Executive Director,
Member, Board of Directors
Ana joined IOFF as executive director in 2011. Ana brings a passion for the ocean and more than 10 years of experience in executive nonprofit management at various organizations in the Bay Area. Most recently she served as vice president and development director at BizWorld.org, an educational entrepreneurship curriculum for young students, and as donor relations officer for the San Francisco Foundation. Ana also volunteers with Blue Water Foundation, dedicated to introducing at-risk youth to the joys and challenges of sailing on the San Francisco Bay.
Ana has served as a jury member for several film festivals including: Jackson Wild, Cinemare International Ocean Film Festival (Kiel, Germany), San Diego Underwater Film Expo, and the FICMA Film Festival in Barcelona, Spain.
Sebastian Nicholls, President, Board of Directors
Chair, Ocean Community Outreach
Sebastian joined the board in 2017 and currently works as an Associate at CEA Consulting supporting large foundations and NGOs working to protect our oceans. He has spoken on oceans issues at The Economist’s World Ocean Summit, and in other forums including Our Ocean conferences and the United Nations Ocean Conference. He previously worked at Accenture helping large tech companies transform their businesses and supporting projects focused on improving ocean finance and technology for better stewardship. While studying at Georgetown University, he worked to establish and grow an organization focused on engaging young people in ocean conservation, through which he worked with the State Department and many other organizations, and supported young leaders implementing impact initiatives in 50 countries. Sebastian also currently serves on the board of Marine Conservation Institute. Colombian by birth, Sebastian has lived in seven countries and is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Arabic.
Mary Heeney, Vice-President, Board of Directors
Chair, Education Program
Mary joined the board in 2017 but has been a volunteer with the International Ocean Film Festival for over 8 years, volunteering specifically with the Education Outreach. Mary is a Human Resources Consultant with over 25 years of specializing in guiding and advising emerging technology companies. From 2003 to 2006, Mary, her husband, and their two children lived on a 42 foot sailboat and "cruised" from San Francisco to New Zealand. Their sailing log can be found at www.malindi.com. This adventure cemented Mary's commitment to conservation and the protection of the ocean.
Brett Loveman, Secretary, Board of Directors
Chair, Student Film Competition
Brett joined the board in 2018 and comes with a background in filmmaking and ocean conservation communication. He is the founder and principal of Cut Canvas Creative, a Bay Area video production and online communications company. Brett is also the Director of Communications for Mission Blue, an ocean conservation non-profit that seeks to inspire marine protected areas across the planet. Brett directs corporate and documentary film, as well as produces online outreach campaigns for global brands. Brett loves to scuba dive and sail.
Brian Baird, Board of Directors
Brian joined the board in 2019 and currently serves as the President of the Coastal States Stewardship Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting the comprehensive and coordinated management, conservation, and enhancement of our nation’s coast and ocean resources. Brian was formerly California Assistant Secretary for Ocean Policy advising Governors Wilson, Davis, Schwarzenegger, and Brown. Among other things he served as chair of the national Coastal States Organization, chair of the federal Marine Protected Areas Advisory Committee, Director of the Bay Institute’s Ocean Program, and as a Commissioner on both the California Coastal Commission and San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Brian has had a life-long passion for the ocean and grew up surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, cycling, and running along the California coast.
Chris Connors, Board of Directors
Chair, Fundraising Committee
Chris joined the board in 2017 and currently serves as vice president of operations for the San Francisco Zoo. He brings over 25 years of management experience in the visitor attraction, zoo and aquarium, design/construction, retail, and food and beverage industries. Chris is no stranger to the festival — he filled in as IOFF's executive director in 2010 when the festival relocated to the Bay Theater for a short time. Chris’s passion for conservation and the environment transcend his career, as he is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys surfing, backpacking, and climbing. He has also served on other nonprofit boards, including the Seaman’s Memorial Chapel in San Francisco.
Edmond Farrell, Board of Directors
Ed joined the board in 2017 and is currently the in-house global real estate attorney for Oracle. Previously Ed worked as a health care and corporate attorney for a hospital system, and he has served on several nonprofit boards. Originally from New York, Ed grew up on the Atlantic, spending as much time as possible on the beach year-round — including taking the annual Long Beach (Long Island) Polar Bear Club plunge into the ocean on Super Bowl Sunday. Ed discovered the IOFF after moving to the Bay Area with his wife and three children in 2015, and he is excited about the festival's mission to educate people and save the ocean through film.
We are also looking for volunteers, sponsors, and donors! Learn more about how you can get involved in the festival with the links below: