Tom Elliott, Chad Makela, and Don Barthelmess Join Santa Barbara Maritime Museum Board

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is pleased to announce the appointment of three new board members – Don Barthelmess, Tom Elliott, and Chad Makela. Additionally, Chuck Wilson assumes the position of board president, taking the reins from outgoing President Sigrid Toye. The 21-member Board of Directors provides oversight in the stewardship of the organization.

“We are excited to have Tom and Chad join our board and to have Don return,” said SBMM Executive Director Greg Gorga. “They each bring unique skills and experience that will greatly benefit SBMM.”

Don Barthelmess has been involved in the marine technology industry for more than 45 years. Throughout his underwater career, he has worked in the commercial diving industry as a diver, submarine pilot, and ROV technician. Barthelmess is an emeritus professor of the highly acclaimed Marine Diving Technology Program at Santa Barbara City College where he trained local divers and marine technicians for more than 30 years. He received degrees from Florida Institute of Technology in underwater technology as well as a degree in occupational studies from California State University. He holds a graduate degree in educational technology from Pepperdine University.

Always ready to give back to his community, Barthelmess is a past president of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and the Historical Diving Society. In 2011, he spearheaded the efforts to fundraise, restore, and return the world’s first commercial lockout diving bell Purisima (now located at SBMM) back to Santa Barbara Harbor where it was built in 1964. He is part of the local volunteer team that has designed and is developing the Deepwater Diving Monument Project public art statue for the Santa Barbara Harbor. The bronze sculpture will educate the general public while honoring Santa Barbara as the birthplace of deepwater diving and technology infrastructure. Proud to be rejoining the SBMM Board of Directors, Barthelmess is looking forward to seeing this project through to completion. Learn more about the monument and make a donation.

Tom Elliott has lived in Santa Barbara for more than 50 years. A former marine and Vietnam veteran, Elliott completed commercial diving school in 1968. He also holds a designation in business management from UCLA. Working for two companies based in Santa Barbara, Elliott participated in many projects around the world as a diver and program logistics manager. He is the author of the book Two Years to Serve.

Elliott began volunteering at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum in 2012, working with Bob Kirby to put on hardhat diving demonstrations in front of the museum. In 2015, he became involved with SBMM’s yacht Ranger to prepare it for the 2017 one-hundredth birthday celebration. Since then, Elliott remains involved with the boat’s maintenance and restoration. He is also a member of the museum’s exhibition installation team and the incoming chair of the Collections and Exhibits Committee.

Chad Makela is a highly accomplished professional with experience driving successful marketing strategies for large organizations as well as managing sales to the nation’s largest retailers. He is the COO for Oleavicin, LLC, providing products that unlock the natural healing power of the olive leaf to deliver lasting relief for several ailments. Makela is also the CMO for California Coast Naturals and a former president of Olivos Del Mar. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in ethnomusicology from UC Santa Barbara.

Makela has a deep connection to his community and the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. He is a ninth generation Santa Barbarian with a lifetime of ocean experience including lifeguarding, competitive swimming, paddling, and surfing. In 2002, he was selected as a local Argonaut for the Jason Project, a science expedition to the Santa Barbara Channel Islands to bring awareness to environmental issues affecting the islands. SBMM was Makela’s museum sponsor. He was internationally sponsored in 2004, traveling to Louisiana to bring awareness to the disappearing wetlands at the time. The Makela family has long been involved with SBMM, and Chad Makela is thrilled to be joining the SBMM board at this time also serving as the chair of the museum’s Marketing Committee.

Chuck Wilson grew up in Santa Barbara and graduated high school from Laguna Blanca. He received a bachelor of science degree in public administration and planning from the University of Southern California and later received from the same university a dual master’s degree in public administration and planning. Wilson is a retired city planner with 28 years of planning experience. He worked for the City of Mission Viejo for 25 years, serving the last 13 years as the director of community development. Wilson also spent several years as a planner for the City of Hawthorne. He served for three years on the Board of Directors of the Planning Directors Association of Orange County and was president in 2006.

Wilson has been married to his wife Mary since 1989 and has two children, Ashley and Andrew. He joined the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s Board of Directors in 2014.  His interest in the museum began through his parents, Ed and Helen Wilson, who were one of the four Keystone founding donors when the museum opened in July 2000.

“We are excited to have Chuck take over the helm as board chair,” said SBMM Executive Director Greg Gorga. “His family has a rich history here in Santa Barbara and at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.”

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