Board Of Directors


Board of Directors

Investing In Tomorrow” through innovative learning opportunities that advance scientific and environmental awareness.


Vipe Desai
CEO and Co-Founder of HDX Mix

Vipe is a seasoned entrepreneur and philanthropist, holding positions on the board of directors for other non-profits and for-profits over the past 15 years that include: Ocean Champions, Surfrider Foundation, 5 Gyres Institute, Lonely Whale Foundation, SIMA Humanitarian Fund, Rob Dyrdek Foundation and In addition, he is the CEO and Co-Founder of HDX Mix, an environmentally friendly sports drink mix.

Learn more about Vipe.  


Lee Gottlieb
Financial Advisor, Prudential

Lee Gottlieb has over 25 years of consultative services and business development experience—within large corporations and high growth companies.  Lee has been responsible for securing new business and maintaining and expanding client relationships within the financial services, culinary and food, health and fitness, oil and gas, and the public sector industries.

Executive Committee Board Chairman

Michael Torcaso
Vice President, CIO and CFO; Toshiba America Business Solutions

As vice president, CIO and CFO, Michael Torcaso leads the financial planning and accounting functions at TABS, including all U.S. and Latin America subsidiary operations, as well as applications development and IT infrastructure.  He also oversees leasing internal and external audit coordination, treasury functions and Japan’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Law (J-Sox).   

Executive Committee

Steve Harris
CIC President; Robert E. Harris Insurance Agency, Inc.

Steve Harris is a career insurance professional that is dedicated to delivering the highest expertise in risk management for client counsel. He has served as President of Robert E. Harris Insurance Agency since 1998 and leads the agency with the same guiding principles that it was founded upon in 1955: integrity, relationships and service.Steve joined the agency in 1991 and successfully diversified the agency’s book of business beyond the real estate sector. Prior to that, he handled one of the largest audit territories in the U.S.

Board Director

Ken Petersen
Senior Vice President and Business Development Officer, First American Trust, FSB

An attorney by trade, Ken has been with First American Trust for the past eighteen years, where he specializes in advising high-net-worth individuals and families on estate planning matters and crafting customized plans in the areas of investment management and wealth advisory/trust planning.

Executive Committee Chair of Board Governance

Bill Steel
Partner; Samuels, Green & Steel, LLP

Bill Steel is a founding partner of Samuels, Green & Steel, LLP. Working with his law partner Herb Samuels since 1986, Bill and Herb have developed and grown a successful real estate, business and transactional practice with clients that own real estate and that have business interests throughout California.

Executive Committee Chair of Education Committee

Susan Paish
Director & Chief Project Engineer; Boeing

Sue Paish is the Chief Project Engineer for all heritage Boeing and McDonnell Douglas out-of-production airplanes and is responsible for their safety and product integrity. Named to this role in 2015, Sue also oversees product compliance to the regulatory standards and requirements of Boeing and the U.S. Federal Government, and acts as the primary technical interface for the post production fleets with the Federal Aviation Administration and with customers. She also assists in addressing in-service issues with Boeing fleet support chiefs.

Board Director

Ty G. Rogers, CRPC, CRPS
Senior Vice President, Investments & Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor; Rogers Group of Raymond James

Ty began his career in the financial services industry in 1990.  Driven with an entrepreneurial spirit, Ty has seen many changes in the business and has successfully adapted his process to meet them.  In 1992, Ty co-founded Amerstock Corporation, a full service brokerage, where he supervised retail operations until its successful merger with Daehan Securities.  In 1999, Ty and his team successfully created and launched E*Trade’s online distribution platform of IPOs with an emphasis on directed shares.

Board Director

Charlie Steinmetz
President; JCA Associates, Inc

Charles W Steinmetz is a real estate investor. Previously he worked for the family company, Tiernay Metals until he sold the Company to Transtar Metals in 1999. Tiernay was the largest distributor of aircraft quality aluminum extrusions in the world. The Company is now owned by Castle Metals.

Mr. Steinmetz is also President of the Steinmetz Foundation that makes grants to literacy and curiosity building educational non-profits in Southern California.

Current Non Profit Boards:

Board Director

David A. Jochim
Managing Director Professional Services Group; MUFG Union Bank, N.A.

David Jochim is a managing director in Union Bank’s Wealth Management Group.  His team is responsible for delivering custom banking solutions to professional service businesses, including credit facilities, cash management services, investment advisory and investment management products, trust and estate services.    

Board Director

Jill A Tracy
Director of Emergency Services; Southern California Gas Company

As the Director of Emergency Services for SoCalGas, the nation’s largest natural gas distribution company, Jill is responsible for leading emergency planning, training and response efforts for SoCalGas’ natural gas transmission, storage and distribution operations throughout Southern California. Jill has over 20 years of experience in various disciplines in the energy industry.

Governmental Representative

Lisa Bartlett
OC Board of Supervisors, 5th District

Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett currently serves as the Fifth District Supervisor for the County of Orange and Chair of the Board of Supervisors. She is proud to serve the 650,000 residents in south Orange County through her role on the Board, in addition to the twenty-two other boards and committees she participates in, including the Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors, Transportation Corridor Agencies Board of Directors, CalOptima, Orange County Fire Authority, and the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission.

Governmental Representative

Paul N. Wyatt
Mayor Pro Tem; City of Dana Point

Paul was elected to the Dana Point City Council on November 8, 2016. Paul is a retired engineering executive. During his 40-year career in computer engineering and robotics he helped launch several successful companies. Most recently he served as Vice President of Software Engineering for a company that designed, built and deployed ocean-going robots to monitor the world’s oceans.


Jim Swenson Tribute

It is with great sadness but warm and rich memories that the Ocean Institute honors the passing of Jim Swenson, a wonderful and caring friend and an enduring example of leadership at its best.

There is little that the Ocean Institute accomplished over the 29 years of Jim’s remarkable tenure on the Board of Directors that does not bear his and his wife Sue’s imprint.  Over 100,000 people a year, young and old, find inspiration in the waterfront campus and modern marine science learning centers nurtured by Jim and Sue. 

Their vision and generosity brought the Pilgrim to Dana Point in the 1980s to create an unparalleled floating maritime classroom and, not long after, the Spirit of Dana Point, which with the Pilgrim, forms the nucleus of the campus we know today.

But the Swensons knew that a beautiful educational facility full of dedicated people was of little value unless children had the means to use it, and yet again Jim and Sue became the driving force behind the growth of the Adopt-A-Class program.  Countless children were introduced to marine life such as hermit crabs, and many of them to their ocean for the first time.

And like a warm southerly breeze over Dana Point Harbor, Jim would delight us with his surprise visits from time to time bringing sweet grapefruit from his garden or his best-in-show peanut brittle.  The holiday season will never be the same without that peanut brittle!

In the words of Mel Chambers, a fellow board member and good friend, “Those of us who knew Jim, along with the children he helped us serve, will never be the same again, not because Jim has left us, but because Jim’s caring presence was such a constant in the life and success of the Ocean Institute.”