Biography’s of our Founding Board Members, Current Board Members and Committee Members
Founding President- Kari-Ann Melendez
Kari-Ann served in the US Navy and retired from Civil Service with the Federal Aviation Administration in an Air Traffic Control Executive management position in 2014. During her career, while raising her family, she earned her BS from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Professional Aeronautics and her Private Pilot License. Utilizing her management skills she co-founded an Aviation Explorer Post for youth age 14-20; helped to create and teach an Aviation Science Course for the local Lakota Sioux Reservation, and served as a mentor to youth in several Inner City Science/Technology Career Development Programs throughout the central US.
After her retirement, Kari-Ann had a chance to live out a childhood dream of learning to Scuba dive. She earned her first certification in 2017, and is now a Master Scuba Diver and Divemaster. Her continued desire to serve led her to pursue advanced training in Adaptive Scuba and start assisting others to experience the wonders of Scuba and the excitement of doing what they might not ever had thought possible! She earned her Diveheart Advanced Adaptive Dive Buddy, Handicapped Scuba Association Professional Buddy, and PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty to support her desire to serve others.
Kari-Ann’s 25 years of management experience, focus on service, as well as, her sense of adventure and curiosity has put her in a unique position to serve as President and co-founder of Adapt-Able Foundation.
Founding Vice President – Dale Davis
Dale is a disabled Navy veteran and retired Air Traffic Controller with 31 years government service. He is an Eagle Scout so he was raised on goal setting, helping others, community service, and love of country. He earned a degree in International Business- Asian Studies from the University of Maryland.
Dale became a PADI Scuba Instructor in May 2013 and continues his Instructor training to this day.
Dale always loved the ocean. Living on the Panama Canal as a kid and watching the waves, tides, and ocean bound ships set the course for Dale’s life. That and Jimmy Buffett! He first became a Scuba diver in college and continued diving in California and Japan while in the Navy. He had to take a fourteen year hiatus while raising two sons, but was able to share his love of Scuba with them when they became eligible to go to the Florida Sea Base, the Boy Scouts of Americas High Adventure base.
As a Scuba Instructor, Dale encountered more and more students on the Autism spectrum or with other cognitive issues. It was one such student at Florida Sea Base that gave Dale the final “push” to become a better teacher and learn more about people with disabilities. Also, as a disabled Navy veteran, Dale felt the need to give back. Enter Adaptive Scuba training. Dale earned his first Adaptive Scuba Instructor certification in Dec 2017 and continues to expand his adaptive knowledge. In January 2018, he and Kari-Ann Melendez met with like minded Scuba divers and started building a team of qualified divers to help get people with disabilities into the water and provide life changing experiences. A year and half later, Adapt-Able Foundation was formed.
Founding Member at Large – Laura Jeanne
Laura is a U.S. Army Aviator veteran. Starting her Army career as a crew chief in1982, she set her sights on becoming a helicopter pilot. In 1983 Laura got accepted to the U.S. Army Rotary Wing Flight School receiving her Aviator wings in August 1984. As one of the U.S. Army’s pioneer female Army Aviators, Laura went on in 1990 to serve in the Desert Storm conflict. As a combat EH-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot Laura piloted many missions in both Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Laura served her country with distinction for 10 years as an accomplished rotary wing aviator rising to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 3. She never stopped studying and by the end of her Army Aviation career she earned a BS Degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Aeronautics.
2009 was a life changing year, as she became a paraplegic following a horse accident. She was a scuba diver prior to her injury, but following her injury she thought it to be a thing of the past. Then, in 2018 she was introduced to Kari-Ann and Dale, and life changed once again. In the following three years, she re-certified her scuba card, dove in Cozumel, and participated in a once-in-a-lifetime weeklong adventure with the national park service diving the USS Arizona over Pearl Harbor week.
She is a founding board member of Adapt-Able Scuba and recently became the leader of our media committee.
Secretary – Lisa Dubroc Selmer
Lisa began volunteering with Adapt-Able Foundation in 2019, initially as surface support at Adapt-Able Scuba experiences (ASE). She progressed to in-water interaction with ASE participants after completing her Adaptive Buddy training in June 2020. Lisa has furthered her involvement with the Foundation by joining the Board of Directors as Secretary effective February 1, 2021. When asked why she likes scuba, her answer generally always includes “It’s the single best thing I’ve done for myself in my adult life. It’s great for my mental health”. Lisa wanted to share the benefit of scuba with others, and that’s how she found the Adapt-Able Foundation family. On a personal note, Lisa is the proud mother of two college-aged children, Emily and Nathan, as well as two fur babies. She works as a physical therapist at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport, LA where she has been proudly serving Veterans for just over twenty-six years. Becoming involved with the Adapt-Able Foundation feels like a natural extension of her chosen profession, particularly being able to share the many benefits of Adapt-Able Scuba with our Veteran population.
Committee Member – Roger Catlin
Diving since 1994, Roger is a NAUI Master Diver, Diveheart Advanced Adaptive Buddy, and is currently training to become a NAUI Dive Master. After a 48 year career of military, commercial, and EMS piloting, Roger retired from flying in 2016.
Sharing his love of diving with adaptive divers has changed his life in ways he never had imagined. Witnessing the absolute joy, liberation, and feeling of accomplishment expressed by the men, women, and children he has helped introduce to diving has immeasurably enriched his life.
Committee Member- Danielle Moore
Danielle Moore is a member of our Events Committee. She brings a unique perspective with her diverse experience in volunteering and being a participant in an event. She is an above knee amputee that has found a passion for scuba diving through this organization. She has done event planning with a variety of organizations for 11 years some of those organizations include American Cancer Society and her HOA. She is also a part of the Dallas Amputee Network and an alumni with Adaptive Training Foundation. She’s a creative thinker and will help us create bigger and better events for all of you to enjoy. She wants everyone that has physical or mental disabilities to experience what it is like to breath under water and feel like a mermaid or merman. This was a very freeing experience for her and she wants to help us get our information out there so we can do more events for all of you to enjoy.
Committee Member- Billie Compton and sweet Abigail
Billie Compton has worked with special needs since starting at an Alzheimer’s facility while she was in high school. She continued Working as a caregiver for adults and children with different ranges of physical and mental challenges throughout her adult life. After having her daughter Abigail she made life changes so she could focus on motherhood of a child with special needs. Abigail was born blind with midline brain abnormalities. Billie was introduced to Adapt-Able by her long time friend Carl. After getting involved with Adapt-Able and attending her first Adapt-Able Scuba Event, she saw how amazing diving is for the kids and adults. Billie decided to continue as a volunteer. She is hoping to one day get Abigail involved.