Foundation Staff


Bonnie E. Barnes, Executive Director

Bonnie Barnes is the Executive Director of the Florida Keys History and Discovery Center. She has over 25 years of marketing and communications experience as well as over 20 years of non-profit leadership. Bonnie’s heart revolves around history, conservation, and preservation of special places. She can be found scuba diving, traipsing through the desert or a forest, or swooshing down a mountain. It’s obvious she loves and cares about our environment. Having started her first business at 17 in her hometown of Las Vegas, she eventually found her way to Florida. After earning her MBA in 2006, she jumped head-first into the nonprofit world.

Bonnie is a member of Key Largo Rotary, past chairperson of Key Largo Community Preservation Foundation, Inc. which produces the annual Light Up Key Largo event. She has been diving over 30 years, is a Master Diver, and while in Jacksonville, participated with the Jacksonville Reef Research Team, which assisted in the placement and monitoring of artificial reefs offshore forover 20 years.

History is one of her passions, as her father’s one-million images from his professional photography business of over 50 years have been donated to the Southern Nevada Museum. In addition, her grandmother’s town was purchased for preservation and restoration along Route 66. Amboy, CA is truly a historical wonder. These influences have guided her toward this new adventure with the History and Discovery Center and she looks forward to the challenge.

At the museum, she is actively seeking out local stories and capturing our history to share. The geographic emphasis is on the Upper Keys yet encompasses other areas to tell the stories in a way that preserves history in a meaningful, entertaining, and educational manner. If you haven’t yet visited the Discovery Center, it is located on the property of the Islander Resort in the Florida Keys. The Center’s permanent exhibits include First People/Indians, Pirates/Wreckers/Salvagers, Spanish Treasure Fleets, Legends of the Line, and a permanent model replica of Indian Key circa 1840.

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Megan Scallan, Curator/Historian

Megan Scallan is a doctoral candidate in Atlantic History at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. She specializes in late 18th and 19th century American material culture, gender, and nation building. Her dissertation, “Beyond the Surface: Columbia, Material Culture, and the Consumption of Early American Nationalism, 1800-1875,” analyzes the use of Columbia, America’s first national allegorical figure, across a range of mediums and groups of Americans throughout the course of the nineteenth century to understand how Americans conceived and transmitted ideals of citizenship and national identity.

Over the course of the past decade, Megan has worked in art museums and historical societies serving communities through exhibitions and education programing. As a curator and collections manager, she passionately believes museums have an important role to play in healing and building bridges in our communities. Engaging with the public through exhibitions, making collections and history accessible to everyone, and providing quality educational programming are critical to forming instrumental relationships between museums and the public they serve.

Megan received her Master’s degree in history from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a Graduate Certificate in Museum Collection Management and Preservation Care from George Washington University, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Florida in History and Art History.


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Julie Maris, Administrator and Membership Manager

Julie Maris comes from Galveston Island, Texas. She started her career in the Hospitality Industry where she moved up the ranks to a Regional Director ending this chapter in Austin, Texas.

She has been involved in Finance, Human Resources and Insurance in the Oil & Gas Sector, Finance and Entertainment industries. Her and her fiancé Joey Ponzio decided to make the move from Austin, Texas and now call the Florida Keys their home. When she is not working, she is involved in animal rescue, focusing on hard to place breeds. She is an animal lover and honest beach bum. 

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