Following a nationwide search, the board of directors of the Florida Keys History & Discovery Foundation selected Bonnie Barnes, of Key Largo, as the new executive director for the Florida Keys History & Discovery Center. Barnes has 25 years of marketing and communications background as well as 20 years of non-profit leadership experience.
Barnes started her first business at 17 in her hometown of Las Vegas, and moved to Florida in 1988, working careers that demonstrate her passion for history, conservation and preservation. Barnes earned an MBA in leadership and business development from Jacksonville University in 2006, launching a career as a leader of Florida-based non-profit organizations.
She moved to Key Largo in 2017 as the director of development for Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) and recently worked as executive director of the Deering Estate in Cutler Bay and Turtles Fly Too (TF2), which transports endangered species for rehabilitation and release. Marathon’s Turtle Hospital and Mote Marine Sanctuary have cared for and released numerous sea turtles transported by Turtles Fly Too.
Barnes is an active member of the Ocean Reef, Islamorada and Key Largo chambers of commerce, and is involved in the Business and Professional Women of the Upper Keys. She volunteers with local nonprofits, including serving as chairperson of the Key Largo Community Preservation Foundation, which organizes the annual “Light Up Key Largo” event during the Christmas season.
“We are excited that Bonnie has accepted this position as her skills and experience check every box,” said board chairman Richard Russell. “Frankly, I can’t imagine a better leader to take us to the next levels of growth. In her short time with us, Bonnie has embraced our foundation’s vision to have residents and visitors alike have a thorough understanding and strong appreciation of the unique history and environment of the Florida Keys.”
Among her first goals as the museum’s new executive director, Barnes said, is “opening the museum six to seven days a week so the community and tourists can enjoy the exhibits. A new art exhibit opens in January titled ‘Where the Sea Retires,’ by Cuban painter Carlos Guzmán, curated by Alaen Ledesma Fernández. Expect new programs and new exhibits as we continue to provide the community a world-class museum.”The museum welcomes volunteers with a special interest in the Upper Keys community and its history and ecology. Volunteer shifts are available Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more about volunteering, submit the volunteer interest form (https://www.keysdiscovery.com/volunteer-opportunities) or e-mail [email protected]. For general or volunteer information, call 305-922-2237 or visit www.keysdiscovery.com.