Our Board and Advisors
Diane Tomecek, President, Founder & Secretary
Diane began her non-profit career with The Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, CO. Diane’s problem-solving and attention to fine detail skills combined with her big-picture outlook and go-getter attitude make her an asset to nonprofit organizations.
Diane has spent the last twenty-plus years working and volunteering for many nonprofits including The Butterfly Pavilion, Family Tree, Inc., The Colorado Mountain Club, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Downtown Aquarium, The Community Resource Center, The River Otter Alliance, and most recently, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado. Via these nonprofit organizations, Diane has gained valuable experience regarding the nonprofit industry giving her the skills to succeed in a leadership position with the Sea Otter Foundation & Trust.
In her free time, Diane enjoys educating others about otters and wildlife, long-distance walking and running, animal and landscape photography, traveling to new locales, reading the latest mystery novel, and spending time with her husband and their cat.
Lillian Tomecek, Treasurer
Lillian has been involved with nonprofit organizations most of her life. Growing up in Baltimore, MD, she was part of the band and orchestra, where she met her husband. She began her many leadership roles at Hawthorne Elementary, where her three children attended. She loves to be involved with outreach that enhances people’s understanding and support of our world especially its ocean environments.
Lillian has been part of the financial support system of a number of organizations including various community organizations, and the finance committee of the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the ELCA. For a number of years, she has served as Treasurer for her church congregation and condo association and is excited to be involved with the Sea Otter Foundation & Trust.
David Tomecek, Grant Chair & Board Member
David has a history of supporting nonprofits and helping them move forward with his organizational, logistical, and analytical skills. In 1990, he began a long association with the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE), assisting the Chapter at the University of Maryland and then the Rocky Mountain Chapter, serving on its Board of Directors as a Committee Chair, Member at Large, Vice President, President, and Past-President. He is also active with the technical committee program for the National Fire Protection Association, sitting on two committees responsible for three separate technical standards.
Additionally, David volunteers with Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum (Denver, CO), participating as a leader in the Restorations Department, coordinating and executing the ongoing projects assigned to the group. As well, he contributed to other museum projects, such as exhibit construction, events support and safety management. For that work, he earned multiple Volunteer of the Year nominations and a Volunteer of the Year award in 2019. At various times, he has lent his skills to the River Otter Alliance (Denver, CO), St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church (Baltimore, MD) and the Butterfly Pavilion (Westminster, CO).
Kathy Sullivan, Board Member
Kathy attended Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, CA. While attending school she managed the Campus Store at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Living in Morro Bay for many years she became quite enamored at the antics of the otters in the Bay.
Kathy moved to Boulder in 1997 but did not leave her interest in otters behind. After doing some research about these protected mammals, she decided she wanted to volunteer in some capacity to aid research into this threatened species.
James Bodkin, Grant Team Science Advisor
Jim was a research biologist and the leader for Department of Interior sea otter and coastal marine ecosystems research in Alaska until his retirement in 2013 and remains a scientist emeritus with the US Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center. He received degrees in biological science from Long Beach State University and California Polytechnic University (San Luis Obispo, CA). Jim has been studying sea otters and coastal marine ecosystems since 1977 and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts.
Jim served on the federal recovery team for the Threatened Southwest Alaska sea otter population, served on the graduate committees of students at the MSc and PhD levels, and served on boards and committees of regional and national science and conservation organizations. Jim currently operates a biological consulting firm and conducts long-term monitoring of coastal marine food webs in the Gulf of Alaska and serves as a Science Advisor to the Sea Otter Foundation and Trust.
Jen DeGroot, Grant Team Science Advisor
Jen received her B.S. Degree in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University. She has been working in animal husbandry in AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums since 2000. Her first experience with sea otters began as an intern at Shedd Aquarium over 20 years ago, and she subsequently spent over 15 years working with sea otters at several facilities both in marine mammal rescue and as an animal keeper. Jen is now an Associate Animal Curator at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, where she supervises zookeepers with a wide range of species and manages the Enrichment and Training program for the zoo. Jen is happy to stay involved with sea otters since moving to the Midwest by joining SOFT’s Grant Committee. In her free time, Jen volunteers for a local animal shelter, and enjoys dedicating her time to her own 2 rescue dogs.
Elizabeth Micallef, Grant Team Science Advisor
In the 1990s, my husband and I had been newlyweds in Monterey for four gorgeous years and spent hours poking around tide pools watching otters and sea life. Our precious “extravagance” in those lean years was a membership to the Monterey Aquarium where my husband asked so many questions that he ended up deep in conversation with the backroom scientists.
I was raised on Jacques Cousteau and always felt more comfortable at the ocean than in the mountains, where I now live. Decades ago, my parents got diving certified in a quarry in Minnesota and more recently my son got certified in a manmade lagoon in Utah. We keep trying to get as close to the ocean as we can! I am a strong animal rights advocate, recognize the interconnectivity of ecology, life, and our future, and feel that participating on the SOFT grant committee is a way to stay connected with the rehabilitation of the kelp forest community by focusing on the key species, the most endearing of them being sea otters.
Past board member, Andrew Johnson
SOFT extends its sincere appreciation to Andrew for his past service on our board. He assisted in the launch of SOFT and was an invaluable asset to us from 2012 through mid-2014. We could not have launched this organization without his insights, knowledge of the sea otter community and his expertise in the sea otter world.
Since 1997, Andrew has managed the Sea Otter Research and Conservation (SORAC) program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Through the years, he has served on the Southern Sea Otter Recovery Implementation Team, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of The Otter Project, and the Board of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (San Diego Chapter), and he has edited feature and research articles as a member of the International Marine Animal Trainers Association’s Editorial Advisory Board. Additionally, Andrew belongs to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Society for Marine Mammalogy, and the International Marine Animal Trainers Association.
We extend appreciation to our other past Board members; especially Treasurer Cathy McGuire (2014-2017).