Board of Directors

Captain Dan Peretz

Dan Peretz, President

Captain Dan Peretz is a native Floridian, originally from Tampa, who relocated to St. Pete Beach in 1971. Dan truly loved the unspoiled beauty of St Pete Beach, and in 1972 he began chartering sailboats off the beach near the Don Cesar Resort. As the area grew so did Dan’s sailing charters. In 1986, he opened Dolphin Landings Charter Boat Center, centrally located on St. Pete Beach, providing over 50 charter vessels in the Tampa Bay Area. Dan has sailed extensively throughout his life. One of Dan’s most memorable highlights was when he skippered his yacht in the 1992 America 500, a seven-month cruise with ports of call in the Bahamas, Bermuda, Azores islands, Gibraltar, Africa, and Spain. Dan is actively involved with multiple community, state, and national associations. He is a past president of the Tall Ship Society and of Skal International Tampa Bay, where he currently serves on the board of directors. In 2017 he created the 501 (c) (3) non-profit S.O.S., catering to seriously health-challenged individuals and their families, taking them sailing on the calm waters of our bays.

Nina Nicholson

Nina Nicholson, Vice-President

Nina is a retired Pinellas County educator and a 40-year resident of St. Pete Beach. Nina travels the world, immersing herself in other cultures. She is also an avid native plant gardener. Nina’s husband Art was a lifelong sailor who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2010. Captain Dan and Nina began taking Art and his family and friends sailing after Art’s surgery. They discovered, when Art was at the helm, that he relished this chance to feel like himself again, enjoying sailing and life as he had before. Nina and Art had enjoyed a 40-year friendship with Captain Dan. That friendship and these initial trips are what led to the idea of S.O.S., inspiring Captain Dan to offer this opportunity to others and inspiring Nina to serve on the board.

DebbieDarrah

Deborah Darrah, Treasurer

Debbie was born in St. Petersburg and raised on St. Pete Beach where she currently resides in her childhood home. She previously owned and managed a technology training company which she sold. Prior to owning the business, she was a Senior Technical Instructor at Tech Data.  Debbie and Captain Dan have known each other for years as he and her brother, Butch, sailed together. Debbie is grateful to serve and help others experience the gift of sailing as part of the S.O.S. board.

Terry Porter 2

Terry Porter, Director

From western Pennsylvania, Terry earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a major in Accounting from Cleveland State University. After graduation, he worked for General Motors. When the Army drafted him, he was stationed at Arlington National Cemetery. Terry moved to St. Pete Beach in early 1970 where he learned how to sail and become a “transplant with sand in his flip-flops.” He has owned and refurbished commercial properties and several businesses since 1978. Terry’s expertise and resourcefulness in business development make him a key asset to the S.O.S. Board of Directors.

Rick Bradley

Rick Bradley, Director

Rick enjoyed growing up in different areas of the country, but it was his move to Florida in 1989 that presented him with unforgettable surroundings he had not yet experienced–the gulf waters and subtropical environment. Life took Rick in many directions and eventually drew him back to the Tampa Bay area, where a friend invited him to be a guest of S.O.S. Rick was hooked on sailing. He signed up for classes and learned to sail small boats on the coastal waters. Sailing led him back to Dolphin Landings Charter, where he began volunteer crewing with S.O.S. Rick’s passion for sailing and his caring personality make working with S.O.S. an obvious choice. Serving as a board member presents a welcome challenge and a worthy cause that allows Rick to continue to help more people and fulfill his newfound passion for sailing. Rick brings a lengthy and versatile technical and mechanical background, which is a welcome addition to S.O.S.

Helen Johnson

Helen Johnson, Director

Helen may be a new resident of St. Pete Beach, but she’s no stranger, as her family moved here over 40 years ago. A native New Yorker, Helen recently retired from a 40-year career in sales management in the media and communications industry, where she focused on network, cable television, and digital advertising sales. Helen began her career at Benton & Bowles in advertising media and quickly moved on to developing and positioning cable networks, such as Lifetime Television and the Food Network. She was on the forefront of the digital sales industry, paving the way with 247 Real Media and Xaxis Communication. Helen is an avid reader and loves to cook. She has made St. Pete Beach her home and is looking forward to planting new roots in Florida.
Helen’s sister Teddi was one of the first friends taken sailing as a reprieve from her illness. These special trips are what inspired Helen to serve on the board years later when S.O.S. was formed.

Bill O'Connell

Bill O'Connell, Director

A resident of Gulfport, Bill was born and raised on a New England farm in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts. Bill attended Boston University & Siena College. He lived and worked in the Rocky Mountains of Vail, Colorado for over 35 years. Bill has enjoyed an active career built around the snow sports industry, where he began as a ski school director in New England. Later, he directed the Colorado Rocky Mountain Resort’s marketing and sales efforts, both domestically and internationally. Bill then formed a company, Mountain Hospitality, which offered inbound international travelers lodging and activities at Colorado’s finest resorts. Over the years, St. Pete Beach became Bill’s offseason escape to the tropics. During those early times a dear and much cherished sailing relationship developed with Capt. Dan, the Nicholson family, and others, which led him to the board of directors for S.O.S.

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Tom McDaniel, Director

Tom has been an avid sailor and captain in the St. Petersburg area for the last 45 years.  He has combined his passion for sailing with his career in safety and environmental science. “Joining the board of Soothe Our Souls has been a natural evolution where I can now focus on the health and safety of the community, not just the workers from the industries where I have been employed.”

Tom has traveled through much of the world over the last 38 years and has seen how diverse people live.  “We all share common concerns and we all deal with life issues no matter where we live or how much or little money we have.”

“Soothe Our Souls” provides opportunities for all of us, whether to support healing of ourselves or the healing of others.  Spending a few hours sailing may not solve all of your problems or those of your loved one, but experiencing the water, the silence of sailing, and the occasional visit of a dolphin or manatee, can give a few minutes of relaxation, laughter, and hope.

Tom and his life partner Lauren have their own sailboat and always love sharing the sailing experiences with others.  Friends acquired from their global travels continue to make Tom and Lauren’s house and boat a vacation hot spot.

Marjorie Drake

Marjorie Drake, Director/Admin

Marji is a retired Chemical Engineer, native Floridian, and a long-time sailor. While working with PepsiCo, at Tropicana Orange Juice in Bradenton Florida, she supervised Environmental Operations and worked with employee groups dedicated to supporting people with different abilities/disabilities. Marji was on the Board of Directors of Keep Manatee Beautiful for 4 years, where she served as secretary for one year, and Chairman of Community Awareness Committee for one year. She joined the Board of Directors of Soothe Our Souls in 2019, and is currently serving as Admin/Secretary.

Gilliam McDaniel

Gillian McDaniel, Technical Advisor

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, Gillian grew a lifelong fascination with sailing. After earning her Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering from the University of South Florida, she relocated to Orlando, Florida to work in wind power. In her current role, she has traveled to Denmark, Germany, Canada, and the U.K., climbed wind turbines to perform service, and managed meaningful projects as part of a global team. She is an advocate for STEM education, having served on her company’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and as the Communications Chair on their STEM Committee. She has organized a variety of volunteer events, including interactive booths for STEM events at local schools, engineering design challenges for the Boy Scouts of America, and Great American Teach In demonstrations. She is honored to support S.O.S.’s mission to bring the joy of sailing to people with serious health challenges and their families.

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