Staff and Board of Directors
Ana Blanco, Executive Director, Board Member
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.
Chris Connors, President, Board of Directors
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.
Sebastian Nicholls, VIce-President, Board of Directors
Chair, Ocean Community Outreach
Sebastian joined the board in 2017 and currently works as a management consulting analyst at Accenture. He is also a founding member of the Sustainable Oceans Alliance, which seeks to empower and inspire youth to conserve and restore the ocean, and serves as chair of its Young Professionals Board. In addition, Sebastian serves on the board of Charge Across Town, a nonprofit that focuses on expanding infrastructure for electric vehicles. Colombian by birth, Sebastian has lived in seven countries and is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Arabic.
Edmond Farrell, Treasurer, Board of Directors
Chair - Festival Growth and Outreach Committee
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.
Mary Heeney, Secretary, 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.
Cyndi Devereaux, Chair - Volunteer Committee
Cyndi joined the board in 2017. For the last three years, she has been directly involved in the success of the IOFF Gala. In 2018, she was the gala chairperson, and she co-chaired the gala for the two previous years. Cyndi owns Cyndi Devereaux Design, an interior architecture and interior design firm serving clients around the Bay Area. She also sings in a nine-piece R&B/funk cover band, The Overcommitments, which has played at the IOFF Gala in years past. Cyndi deeply loves and respects the ocean and is committed to protecting our underwater world, where she enjoys kiteboarding, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing, and scuba diving. Cyndi lives in Marin County with her husband, son, daughter, and ragdoll cat.
Krist Jake, Founder
Krist established the Festival in 2003 and, with the help of many others, has overseen its growth. He is the founder of Redwood Capital, a service provider to early stage businesses, and co-founder and former Chairman of Denali Education Center, a nonprofit in Alaska. Krist, a Princeton and Stanford grad and former officer in the United States Navy, has swum thousands of miles in San Francisco Bay and is one of the "legends" of the Original Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon. His wife, Laurie, has also been a key festival volunteer.
Mary Jane Schramm
We are also looking for volunteers, sponsors, and donors! Learn more about how you can get involved in the festival with the links below: