The Team

Meet the Reef Renewal Staff

Chief Operating Officer

Francesca Virdis

Raised into a family of avid divers, Francesca received her scuba certification at early age. Her passion for the underwater world sparked a constant interest which led her to become a dive professional and receive a MSc. in Marine and Environmental Science from the University of Bologna, in Italy in 2004. After a few years of working as an environmental consultant, on June 2008, she decided it was time for a lifestyle change and closely connected to the ocean, so she took a career risk and moved to Bonaire.

Seeking new opportunities, in 2010, she was asked to get involved in the development of a coral restoration program on the island and since then she has been dedicating herself to the Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire overall coordination. Francesca’s love for the ocean and her dedication to reef restoration is a wonderful combination that leaves divers and volunteers happy to help, inspired to continue and excited to be part of the future of our reefs.

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Operations Coordinator

Sanne Tuijten

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 Noyons

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.


Reef Restoration Technician

Nina Le Trocquer

Nina’s love for the sea and its wonders started very early in her life. Growing up on a Caribbean island and learning how to swim before she could walk it is naturally that diving became a passion. Her studies in marine biology brought her across Europe and around the Caribbean Sea. Hopping from island to island, she eventually dropped her suitcases on Curacao for two coral spawning seasons where she discovered the world of coral spawning work and research. Among the Secore team in Curacao, she learned the ins and outs of coral reef restoration work and larval propagation techniques. It’s also where she met Francesca and learned about Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire.

Through her experiences and encounters, she decided that putting her passion and knowledge at the service of the reefs was what she was aspiring to do and that’s why she joined the Reef Renewal Bonaire’s team.

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Communication & Development Officer

Caitie Reza

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 Lehwald

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.

Alex van der Last

Research and Engineering Technician

Alex van der Last

He might have been born and raised in the Netherlands, but it was not until young Alex got to visit his family in Florida when that love translated into a passion for tropical waters and their inhabitants. After working as a lighting technician and cinematographer in his other field of passion, he decided to take up the next challenge by studying coastal and marine management and focus on marine ecology. Soon, adventures abroad followed in Scotland, as well as new opportunities on the island of Saba, where he got to work in researching and restoring long-spined sea urchins in the lab and on natural and artificial reefs.

Alex was hired in conjunction with our partner SECORE International, Inc. to intensify our efforts in coral larval propagation on Bonaire. He is thrilled to be part of two teams and bridging the science, skills and technology to successfully diversify the corals of Bonaire.


Administrative & Finance Coordinator

Netta Murphy

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.

Meet the Board of Directors

David Fishman

David J. Fishman



Augusto A. Montbrun



Paulus P. Coolen


Bridget Hickey



Christine Nicolaas


Meet the Advisory Board


Ken Nedimyer

Technical Advisor

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.