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  • Writer's pictureEmily Higgins

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Ocean: Reef Life's CEO and Co-Founder Melody Brenna

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

Melody Brenna on Necker Island. Reef Life was asked to present to Richard Branson in the Extreme Tech Challenge in 2017, where the first Roman Ruins Dive Reef was designed.

Our Water Woman for this Wednesday is our determined CEO and Co-Founder, Melody Brenna. How did a Texas girl who grew up on horseback, fall in love with the Ocean? Melody’s story is about business, nanotech science, and an unwavering determination to help mother nature:

"My father was an innovator in computers, coining the term “Risk Management” in the early 60’s. I watched him shake up the entire insurance industry by his creation of computer hardware, software, serious data analysis of global risk, and how insurance policies globally would respond to a data-driven understanding of the markets. I lived in a business-oriented household. I was the oldest girl, and was responsible for the household, our horses, and a myriad of daily ops from diapers to dinner. When you see an idea come to fruition and live within a bustling, innovative environment, it takes hold and does NOT let go. I began my first company at age 24, selling custom crystal and china to Saks 5th Ave and Neiman Marcus, opened in Washington DC in 1980. I was the youngest designer to sell to either company in that decade. Since then, I have never been outside the business sphere.

My grandfather, Guy Saunders founded the first Children’s Home in the Texas Panhandle, and my father, Guyon, founded the Guyon Saunders Resource Center, both still funded and doing the difficult work of helping our fellow human beings survive, get educated, and thrive. Embracing “Taking Care of Others” was instilled within me from an early age, and I wanted to focus on how best to build a foundation for Mother Nature to nurture the ocean, which in turn gives us humans: life, breath, food, and the future of the planet.

I was running the highly awarded stone casting operation, Milestone Architectural, when coral researchers came to Texas in 2004 and asked us to create an underwater substrate for delicate corals to be attracted to, settle, and thrive on. Thus began the arduous journey of scientific innovation for a non-invasive, environmentally proper, durable, and globally scalable,coral habitat system to protect, restore and revitalize global reef communities. Our advanced nanotechnology materials department was run by Dr. Konstantin Sobolev, who became the Nano Materials Director of the American Concrete Institute, and we went to Florida in 2006 to dive deeper into the demise of coral reefs, beginning the development of what has become IntelliReefs, the only scientifically proven, bio-mimicking ocean habitat system."

“I am determined to see this scientifically based bedrock of oceanic infrastructure bring life back to oceans; for the future of humanity--- and for ocean creatures to live in harmony, interact less destructively, building a more healthy environment for ALL of us, from the tiniest plankton, to the greatest whales, bringing back the brilliancy of healthy coral reefs!”

Melody Brenna at Sundance with Sophie Ansel when her latest film, Chasing Coral was released. The two were on Park City TV together discussing Dr. Ruth Gates, IntelliReefs' first Oceanite Ttests at HIMB, and the future of innovation within the critical timelines for coral restoration.

We began Reef Life Foundation in 2016, which conducts direct coral restoration projects and systems for island and coastal communities, creates educational tools about ocean conservation, and raises awareness and momentum for SDG 14 initiatives for the Decade of Ocean Science, launching 2021. Donate here to help deploy coral reef gardens, which feed fish every 15 seconds and foster wild coral settlement, building Homes for the Oceans Homeless.

When people ask me “How can I Help?” I send them to the Gift A Reef site to purchase the perfect Future Oceans Gift!

@reeflifefoundation @intellireefs #ruthgates #himb

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