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- Jenny Miller Garmendia
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Born in New York, I happily spent thirty years living in Southeast Asia and three in West Africa. All my life has been in, on or by the Ocean. In fact, I learned to dive and became an Instructor while still in high school in the Philippines. What an incredible experience to be underwater as a school of large tuna swam (can that describe the speed?) through - like multiple express trains going past all around me!
Protecting the environment was always a passion. It began with collecting samples for the National Museum of the Philippines in 1969 of one of the early Crown-of-Thorns outbreaks and organizing a signature campaign in the early 1970s in Singapore to support the call for an international ban on whaling. One of the most powerful influences on my life was watching the collapse of a local tuna fishery in Balayan Bay in those early diving years in the Philippines.
I became a PADI Course Director in 1977 and co-owned and managed a PADI Dive Center in Singapore for 14 years. I returned to the US and worked for PADI as Assistant Training Manager and International Operations Manager.
To pursue my passion for the environment I went back to school and completed a Masters in International Policy Studies. While studying I worked as an intern at the Monterey Bay Aquarium doing research to help start the Seafood Watch program. That was followed by research as a Degree Fellow at the East-West Center in conjunction with graduate work at the University of Hawaii focused on international fisheries and ocean governance. That early experience watching the tuna fishery collapse really fueled my interest in migratory fish and the whole challenge with how we manage ocean space - particularly on the high seas (beyond national boundaries).
Coming to AWARE in 2005 was a dream come true combining my passions for diving, policy and the environmental with the joy of working with divers to make a real difference in protecting our ocean planet. I am so excited about the possibilities ahead with this new way of working with all of you - so many passionate diving advocates!