Meet the Reef Renewal Staff
Francesca’s journey into the ocean began in a family of avid divers, instilling a passion that led her to earn her scuba certification early on. With a Master’s degree in Marine and Environmental Science from the University of Bologna, Italy, she initially worked as an environmental consultant. In 2008, motivated by a commitment to marine conservation, Francesca made a decisive move to Bonaire, seeking opportunities to contribute to the preservation of the ocean. In 2010 Francesca was invited to assist in the development of a coral restoration program on the island. Taking on the leadership of Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire thereafter, she strategically directs the organization’s overall coordination and guides the team for successful implementation.
Francesca’s love for the ocean and her commitment to reef restoration has become a driving force for change. Her leadership has not only inspired divers and volunteers but has also cultivated a community eager to actively contribute to the future health of our reefs.
Sanne has been visiting the Netherlands Antilles since she was 12 when she got her scuba certification in Curaçao. From a young age, she knew she wanted to become a marine biologist. When she found out that the Dutch University system did not offer a marine biology bachelor program, she moved to the UK to study Marine Biology at the University of Southampton. There she focused on subjects related to tropical ecosystems and coral reef ecology. She became president of the Student Dive Club and got used to diving in the cold and murky waters of the North Sea.
After receiving her Msc in 2020 she joined Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire, eager to put her scientific knowledge to use for protecting and restoring coral reefs. She is “a fish in the water”, as one says in Dutch, and enjoys everyday preserving Bonaire’s reefs.
Outreach & Training Program Officer
Ernst started his career as a webdeveloper, but after a couple of years sitting behind a computer, realized this wasn’t the life for him. So, after getting his PADI certification, and falling in love with diving and the underwater world, he knew he was onto something. Wanting to dive with a purpose and to give something back, he started volunteering and doing internships with marine conservation organizations, which propelled him into this new career path. Since then, he became a dive instructor and has worked for marine conservation organizations in the Philippines and Madagascar. Here he taught monitoring techniques and fish and invertebrate species identification to volunteers and local staff.
Joining Reef Renewal Foundation in 2021, he looks to expand his knowledge about coral restoration and ecology. Ernst enjoys diving as much as he can, helping out wherever he can and learning new things every day.
Communication & Development Officer
Originally from Southern California, Caitie grew up fascinated by the creatures and places she saw in nature documentaries and magazines. After studying Zoology at Michigan State University, Caitie relocated to Guam to study an invasive snake species and its impact on the island’s native flora and fauna. Here, she quickly learned that science communication and community outreach are integral to conservation, all while falling in love with island life. In 2020, she returned to California to pursue her Master’s at UC Santa Barbara, where she focused on marine resource management and environmental communication.
Caitie couldn’t be more excited to combine reef restoration and strategic communication at Reef Renewal. Every day, she’s inspired by Bonaire’s people and creatures, both above and below water.
Reef Restoration Technician
Marnik’s interest for the marine world ignited at age 6 after encountering the vibrant coral reefs of the Maldives. While interest quickly turned into a passion for anything aquatic, he moved to the Netherlands and pursued a bachelor’s degree in Coastal and Marine Management. This gave him the opportunity to focus his efforts on tropical ecosystems and particularly on coral reef ecology. Marnik’s studies led him to the UK, Thailand, and the small island of Saba where he was able to gain hands-on experience in marine ecology research, conservation and restoration.
Being able to join Reef Renewal Bonaire’s efforts to restore and preserve coral reefs has been a dream come true for Marnik and he is excited to dedicate his time to the benefit of Bonaire’s reefs.
Administrative & Finance Coordinator
Eighteen years ago, Netta visited the tiny island of Bonaire for the first time, and fell in love with its natural beauty both above and below the water. In September 2023, she was able to recognize her dream to move to Bonaire with her husband and their senior dog Jackson. As fate would have it, the perfect opportunity presented itself when Reef Renewal posted an opening for a Administrative and Finance Coordinator. With this position, Netta is able to combine her love for the underwater world with her background working with nonprofits back in the United States. Netta brings with her more than 15 years of experience as Chief Financial Officer for various nonprofit and governmental organizations, as well as a Masters degree in Business Administration, and she holds her certificate as a Certified Public Accountant in Missouri.
It is her hope that she can lighten the load for staff at Reef Renewal to allow them to focus on their mission and vision for healthy and resilient coral communities around the island.
Education and Intern Program Officer
Born on Maui, surrounded by the ocean, it was hard for Lola not to love the water. Growing up in the Netherlands, far from the coast, there weren’t many opportunities to explore all that the ocean had to offer. When she learned to scuba dive at 16 years old, she knew right away she wanted to work in marine conservation. Lola completed 2 internships here in Bonaire during her Bachelor’s in Environmental Science, before enrolling in a Master of Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management at Wageningen University and Research. After completing her thesis in French Polynesia, she missed Bonaire so much that she decided to do an internship at RRFB.
Using her own experience as an intern and her skills as a dive instructor, Lola is beyond excited to help the next generation of ocean lovers discover what they can do to protect Bonaire’s beautiful reefs.
Meet the Board of Directors
David J. Fishman
Augusto A. Montbrun
Paulus P. Coolen
Meet the Advisory Board
Ken Nedimyer is the founder of Reef Renewal International and the founder and former president of the Coral Restoration Foundation. Ken has designed and set up coral nursery and reef restoration programs in over 12 different countries, has a degree in Marine Biology and has a life time of experience diving on coral reefs. Ken played an important role in establishing the nursery and restoration program on Bonaire, and continues to work with the program managers at Reef Renewal Bonaire to share lessons learned in Bonaire and around the world.