The Foundation at this stage is overseen by an all volunteer Board of Directors and a Nonprofit consultant with special expertise in startups. As we expand and build our capacity we envision a day with professional staff guiding our operations. All that we do is guided by our Strategic Planning!

Board of Directors

Jeff Birch

Jeff Birch grew up on Andros from the age of four, after his father moved his family to the island from Canada to develop a small family nature resort.  He is now a Bahamian citizen.  After completing primary school within the community on the island, Jeff completed his secondary education in Nassau at the esteemed Government High School and furthered his education abroad before returning to Andros in 1980 to continue his father’s legacy of operating a small business within the context of both the natural environment and close-knit community of the island.  He has since served as the owner of the local batik factory, Androsia Ltd., and currently serves as the CEO of Small Hope Bay Lodge.  Jeff is a multi-engine commercial instrument pilot, PADI-certified SCUBA instructor, and cave diver who considers himself one of the most active non-institutional facilitators for non-institutional youth programs in diving and swimming on Andros.

Brian Birch

Brian Birch was born in the Bahamas and is a native of Andros island. Brian finished high school in Nassau before obtaining a double bachelor’s in business from schools in Canada and Germany. Brian later returned to Andros and became integrally involved in the management and environmental concerns of Small Hope Bay Lodge, where he presently serves as manager. He is a PADI-certified SCUBA instructor and cave diver with various technical diving certifications and is currently training to become a private pilot.

Emily Melvin

Emily Melvin holds a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Coastal Science from the University of Southern Mississippi, with a particular focus on human dimensions of coastal and ocean governance. Emily has expertise in various techniques utilized in marine management, as well as ocean and coastal law and policy. Before transitioning into an academic career, Emily worked as a U.S. lawyer. Emily is a PADI-registered SCUBA instructor, and she comes to the Small Hope Bay Foundation due to her interest in working in community-based management and finding conservation solutions that are economically sustainable at a local level.

Tarran Simms

Tarran Simms is a Coordinator in the Sustainable Tourism Unit at The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Tarran has a Bachelor of Science in Small Island Sustainability with a focus in Eco-tourism and Development from the College of the Bahamas and a Master of Science in Tourism Hospitality Management / Master of Arts in Research on Islands and Small States from the University of Malta. Tarran has received national recognition in the Bahamas. He received the 2016 Youth in the Environment award and was selected as a youth delegate to climate change negotiations. In his free time, he enjoys SCUBA diving and fishing.

Holly Ulrich

Holly Ulrich is a PADI certified Rescue Diver and spent years in the Caribbean on both dive boats as well as managing estates in St. Barths. Originally from Nashua, NH Holly has been a world traveler but finds herself most at home under the sea. Holly is known for her organizational skills, can-do attitude and making things happen. Her interest in the Small Hope Bay Foundation stems from her love and dedication to the ocean environment as well as creating opportunities and empowerment for women.

Isaac Collie

Isaac Collie is a career banker and attorney and has been a partner of Michael A. Dean & Co. since 1996. He is the founder of The Elco Group (est. 1978), a Financial and Corporate Service Provider headquartered in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, the Bahamas. The group comprises Elco Securities Ltd., Elco Corporate Services Ltd., and Elco Capital Partners Ltd. Through its office and global associates, Elco brings together a team of experts who can tailor structures suited to its private and corporate clients who are looking for one stop solutions. As director of Signet Ministries Inc., Isaac has been responsible for the provision of Adventist Christian Education in Abaco since 1997.

Richard Plotka

Richard Plotka is a Professor of Practice and the Director of the ITWS Program at RPI in New York, which has been rated the number-one Information Technology and Web Science program in the United States. In addition, Professor Plotka runs a consulting firm which facilitates Fortune 500 firms in hiring student interns to create application prototypes – preparing the students for the job market and providing the companies with skilled talent. Previously, Richard was the CEO of Appatura (formerly Data Communique Inc), an IT company that specializes in content management services and solutions. A senior leader in the IT field for more than two decades, prior to Appatura Richard worked as a top IT authority and innovator, developing and implementing solutions for the aerospace, retail, construction, property management, mortgage banking, and consumer industries. Professor Plotka has dedicated his career to focusing on how businesses can add efficiency and cost effectiveness by using technology in smart ways. Richard first started coming to Andros and Small Hope Bay Lodge since 1969 diving on wrecks, specialty, and deep dives. Richard received his BS in CS from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He lives in upstate New York with two dogs and enjoys carpentry, flying, photography, and scuba diving.

Advisory Board

Thomas W. Haas

Thomas W. Haas is a Pilot, Diver, and Philanthropist who has served on many Boards including the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. He is a Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy winner through the years of work of his family’s foundation. He comes to the Small Hope Bay Foundation to engage and participate first hand in education and conservation activities.


Edward Shippen “Ship” Bright

Edward Shippen “Ship” Bright is the Principal of BrightNGOsolutions, LLC (, a nonprofit consulting firm based in New Hampshire, that provides services throughout the U.S. as well as internationally. He is a two-time Fulbright Scholar who has taught Social Entrepreneurship at Charles University and University of Economics, Prague in the Czech Republic as well as the University of the Bahamas. He has been an adjunct lecturer at the University of Southern New Hampshire University’s Graduate School of Business where he has taught Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility. A graduate of Bates College (BA 1978), Southern New Hampshire University (MBA 1986), and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government (MC/MPA 1992). Ship is a Veteran Naval Officer, lives with his partner, Holly, in Exeter, New Hampshire and is the proud father of four children and three grandchildren.