Dan was the first Executive Director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey, a free, ocean-going science and environment program for mostly low income elementary school students, from 1999 to 2019. Over 100,000 students were served during his tenure, where he also oversaw a fundraising campaign for and the renovation of the O’Neill building at the Santa Cruz Harbor, including OSO’s education center and the Surfrider Foundation’s water quality lab.
He served as District Chief of Staff for California Senator Henry J. Mello from 1993 until 1996; Executive Director of Save Our Shores – where he worked on local laws in California aimed at onshore facilities for offshore oil and designation of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary – from 1986 to 1993; and Community Affairs Officer for PG&E in the Monterey Bay from 1997 to 1999 where he led a wetland restoration in Moss Landing. Dan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
He serves on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, and the Board of Directors of Catamaran Literary Reader, Save Our Shores, and the Monterey Bay Chapter of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. He previously served as Chair of the Santa Cruz County Commission on the Environment, Co-Chair of the Dominican Hospital Community Advisors, on the Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitor’s Council Board of Directors, and from 2015 to 2017 was Chair of the Advisory Committee for the successful effort to gain national monument status for the Cotoni-Coast Dairies property north of Santa Cruz. He has also published two books: 50 Years of Safe Harbor in 2014, and 40 Years of Saving Our Shores in 2019.
From April 2008 until March 2019 he and UCSC Professor Gary Griggs published a weekly ocean column in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Dan received the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce Legacy Award and was named Man of the Year by the Aptos Chamber of Commerce in 2018, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party and from the Santa Cruz Nexties in 2019, and received the 2011 Ocean Hero Award from Save Our Shores. He is married to Rebecca Haifley and has two grown children, Aaron and Julia, and enjoys ocean kayaking, reading, and walking.