Biographies of our Founding Board Members, Current Board Members
Current 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.
Current Vice President- Dale Davis
Founding Vice President
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.
Current Member at Large – Laura Jeanne
Founding Member at Large
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.
Treasurer – Bjorn Loftis
Bjorn has been a SCUBA instructor since 2014 and an SDI Scubility instructor since 2019 – teaching disabled divers for several organizations in the Midwest and Southwest. Bjorn finds the work with this community to be some of the most inspiring instruction that he does andassumed the role of Treasurer for Adapt-Able Scuba in 2021.
Bjorn runs a TDI training facility in Dallas and is a multi-agency instructor with TDI/SDI, PADI and RAID actively teaching technical diving throughout the US and Caribbean including TDI Full Cave, Side mount, and Extended Range. He volunteers as a member with the IUCRR (International Underwater Cave Rescue and Recovery) as a support diver. He enjoys rebreather, wreck, and cave diving in the US, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.Professionally, Bjorn has worked as a software engineer for 25 years in finance and telecommunications and currently leads a team of software developers as a Senior Engineering Manager at ABC Fitness Solutions developing solutions for Revenue Cycle Management.
Founding Secretary – Pamela J. Dowers
Pamela J. Dowers is the Vice-President of an independent oil and gas company where she has worked since 1986. She has several years experience with service to others through volunteering. She started in middle school, volunteering for what would later become Junior Olympics and continued with Special Olympics, Susan Komen events, the Avon 3 Day Walk and the American Cancer Society’s program, Reach to Recovery, where she helped women rehabilitate, both physically and emotionally after breast cancer surgery. She has also volunteered with the Dallas Margarita Ball and the Black Tie Dinner, both of which give assistance to local charities and causes. She has also assisted her local church for Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine event, whose mission is to “bring Faith, Hope and Love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.”
Pamela was taught throughout her life to honor and respect all of the men and women who have served our country through military service. Many family members served in the military, from her grandfather, who served in the Spanish American War, to her niece and nephews who have served and/or are currently serving. It is this deep respect that fuels her involvement with Adapt-Able Scuba.
In each of the situations, Pamela has found that the biggest gift she has been given is knowing she has made a positive difference in someone’s life, along with the smiles on the faces of those with whom she has served. She has been scuba diving since 1994 and holds several certifications that include Master Diver and Adaptive Dive Buddy. She also enjoys sky diving. These previous experiences have provided a platform on which she now aspires to combine her love of diving with her desire to help those individuals affected by mental, emotional and/or physical barriers.
Founding Treasurer -Dan Blohowiak
Dan has been an avid diver since 1984 with over 2000 logged dives all over the world. He is a SSI/PADI Master Diver, a Diveheart Adaptive Dive Buddy and is currently in training to be a Diveheart Advanced Adaptive Buddy.
Dan’s love of scuba and underwater photography has led him to becoming involved with adaptive divers.
Witnessing the sense of accomplishment expressed by the adaptive diver has been the most rewarding experience of his diving career.