Meet the Team


Mark Patterson

Artist of Surfing Madonna

(President Emeritus)

Mark moved to Encinitas in 1983 from Northern California to start a job with a software start-up company called Data Trek.  After gaining years of experience in the software industry, Mark took the position as Business Development Manager for Microsoft.  The daily grind can only keep an artist satisfied for so long. Mark resigned and nine months later, the Surfing Madonna mosaic was born. His determination to help clean up our local coastline began when a good friend became sick due to toxins in the ocean.  As an artist and retiree, he sees no better way than to spend his time using art as a way to spread the message of “Save the Ocean”.  Mark is a graduate of UC-Davis and is a co-founder of the organization.

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Mike Redman

Aquatics Director

As a life long north county resident, my love of the ocean started long ago, so I am really excited to be President of Surfing Madonna Oceans Project!

One of my favorite activities with SMOP is helping out with our summer surf camp for special needs kiddos. I recently retired from a great career working with special needs students and now I can continue to give back to the community.

I've always had a love of the arts. I'm the guitarist in the Bucket Ruckus band, you might of heard us play around town for the past many years! I also enjoy film making, painting and wood working projects. This past year I made the Little Free Library at Surfing Madonna park. Stop by and check out the books! 

Meanwhile, as the Aquatics Advisor for Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, I can tell you there are some amazing things right out there in our local Ocean, so I encourage all of you to get on out there and have a look around!

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Cathy Carey

Executive Director
(Former Secretary)

Cathy Carey is originally from Alexandria, VA, where she attended the Corcoran School of Art, in Washington, D.C. and received a BFA in Painting from Virginia Commonwealth University. In 1987 she came to Encinitas to be the Art Director at the Coast Dispatch newspaper group and in a funny twist went on to have a gallery in that building years later. She operated a graphic design business for 25 years as well as being a professional artist. Her paintings are represented by six galleries across the country, in Santa Fe and Taos NM, Scottsdale and Tucson AZ, Richmond, VA and La Jolla CA. She has a local studio gallery in Cardiff, CA.

“My passion is to help other artists. Through Surfing Madonna I hope to help career artists find recognition through financial awards, promoting local arts through art shows and media recognition. Surfing Madonna is also devoted to promoting young artists and art patrons by bringing all forms of art to a wider audience and cultivating appreciation for the amazing creative community we live in.”

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Patti McDaniel Walsh

Board Secretary

Patti is a long time volunteer with Surfing Madonna and has been a great asset to the organization. From being in the ocean helping our special needs surfers to staffing our booth at fundraisers, and everything in between! We are excited to welcome Patti to our Board of Directors!


Danny Salzhandler

Art Director

Danny is a transplanted Texan who has called Cardiff by-the-Sea his home since 1994. After serving in Vietnam, Danny moved from Houston to Dallas and in 1978 started his own company designing and installing conveyor systems. Once he and his wife moved to California he devoted full time to his passion for metal sculpting and welding, creating Biosculptures. Danny is on the board of the Encinitas Art, Culture and Ecology Alliance. He is also the President of the 101 Artists’ Colony, and helped make the Arts Alive public art exhibit one of the largest art events in Encinitas. He founded Full Moon Poets in 2000, producing annual poetry slams at the La Paloma Theater and the fun zone at Safe Trick or Treat in downtown Encinitas. He has received numerous art and civic awards, including “Citizen of the Year” bestowed by the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce in 2010. Danny has worked in zoos as an employee and a volunteer, as well as for cultural and civic organizations in Encinitas. He is proud to serve on the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project board and appreciates the opportunity to help preserve and share our beautiful coastline and marine life.


Eric Franklin

Director of Surfing
Board Member

Eric is a long time volunteer with Surfing Madonna Oceans Project helping with our Special Needs Surf Camps and assistance with fundraising. We welcome him to the Board of Directors as the Director of Surfing.

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Max Wittenberg

Board Member

Max joined our Board as Treasurer in 2022 and has a background in accounting from his experience at Wittenberg Financial. He has long time experience surfing with special needs veterans.


Bob Nichols

Former Board Member

(former President)

As a Southern California native and lifelong surfer and waterman, Bob calls the ocean his “second home”.  In addition to 20+ years of friendship, Bob helped Mark Patterson with the layout, creation and installation of the Surfing Madonna mosaic. In the years prior to the non-profit, Bob served in the U.S. Navy, worked as a Financial Planner and Options Strategist for UBS, and was a contract Commercial Pilot in Central America, South America and Indonesia.  Bob also represented the USA in the 2011 ITU Triathlon World Championships in the 35-40 age division finishing 213th in the world.  His passion for educating our youth on ocean conservation, marine mammal safety and rescue, protecting our local coastline and brightening the lives of children with special needs is his drive to continue to serve full time building and expanding the organization.


Megan Nichols

Former Board Member

(former Secretary and Treasurer)

Originally from Vero Beach, Florida, Megan joined the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project in July of 2013 after spending two years falling in love with the coastline of Encinitas, California.  As an avid traveler to the south pacific, Megan started taking notice of the degradation of the coral reefs and volunteered her time to help with ocean conservation efforts in Hawaii.  Professionally, she elected a life of an entrepreneur successfully owning and operating a personal training business for 5 years and a restaurant in Central America.  Additionally, she spent 3 years in Hawaii teaching endurance training to the United States Army.  She earned her BSBA from the University of Florida and currently serves full time as Secretary, Event Planner and overall operations assistant for the organization.


Surfing Madonna

Get in touch with Surfing Madonna Oceans Project to learn more about our Arts Programming, Surf Camps, Ocean Preservation, and Challenge Events.

(760) 917-5291

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