Foundation Staff

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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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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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