Blue Planet Team

In the shop…

Jonas FurbergJonas Furberg Jeff PetersonJeff Peterson Emily SesnoEmily Sesno
Heather TallentHeather Tallent Andrea WilliamsAndrea Williams

Instructors

Kat BlackwoodKat Blackwood Jonas FurbergJonas Furberg Evan at RawlingsEvan Hollenshade
Annessa KaufmanAnnessa Kaufman Matt KavanaghMatt Kavanagh Jeff PetersonJeff Peterson
Allison RandallAllison Randall Cesar SanchezCesar Sanchez Emily SesnoEmily Sesno
Catherine StewartCatherine Stewart Heather TallentHeather Tallent Kim WalkerKim Walker
Paul WashingtonPaul Washington Andrea Williams Valerie and EverettValerie & Everett

Assistant Instructors/Divemasters

Alberto BegueAlberto Begue John BuchananJohn Buchanan Shane LewisShane Lewis
Sean O'DonnellSean O’Donnell Bill SchulzWilliam Schulz
Jesse Hanson Jep Johnson Mickey MacIntyre
Mandy Tharpe Robin Watkins Adam Watkins


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AlbertoAlberto Begue

Assistant Instructor

In 2008 Alberto began diving in Spain. He continued diving in the Mediterranean and Canary Islands where he received his PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Certification in 2009. With diving experience in the Caribbean (Belize, Bonaire, Cozumel and Roatan), he received his Divemaster Certification from Blue Planet in December 2014. He enjoys being a divemaster as much as diving among sharks! With over 20 years of experience in international development, Alberto is an expert in the field of education. He has worked in education programs in more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A sociologist, Alberto has a Ph.D. in International Economics and Development. He is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.

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Kat BlackwoodKat Blackwood

Open Water Scuba Instructor

A Virginia native, Kat owes her whole career to diving. After getting certified at age 19, she decided to pursue undergraduate studies in wildlife biology and ecology, and has enjoyed working both in the field and for several environmental nonprofits. When she isn’t teaching at Blue Planet, Kat manages grants and donor partnerships for IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Her favorite underwater sights have included bull sharks (Fiji), whale sharks (Honduras), and Vikings (Iceland).

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John BuchananJohn Buchanan

Divemaster

John first got certified in 2002 with the Underwater Adventure Seekers (UAS), the founding club of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS). Over the last decade John has been diving throughout the Caribbean and as far west as Hawaii, Mexico and Costa Rica. He is a recently-retired educator with DC Public Schools with 35 years of experience teaching science, computer technology and instrumental music. John holds the rating of PADI Divemaster and is a Blue-carded diver with the National Park Service with a concentration in underwater archaeology. He also has a Masters in Educational Technology Leadership from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Notre Dame. When he’s not diving, he is a performing musician and recording artist.

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Jonas FurbergJonas Furberg

Equipment & Service Director | IDC Staff Instructor

Jonas first got a taste for diving on a Discover Scuba Diving trip with his brother in Puerto Rico. He took to it immediately. Shortly after meeting Heather, they both trained in Washington, DC and completed their Open Water Diver certifications in New Zealand. Needless to say, this sealed the deal and he’s been diving and traveling ever since. On dives, Jonas can usually be found with an underwater camera attached to his face, hovering over the reef. He holds a Bachelors in Fine Art and a Masters in Industrial Design with a focus on Design Engineering, hence, Jonas is the go-to guy for equipment maintenance and servicing. Before starting Blue Planet, Jonas managed high-end residential remodeling projects in the DC Metro area, focusing on green building practices.

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Evan HollenshadeEvan Hollenshade

Open Water Scuba Instructor

Evan grew up on the water near the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland and always enjoyed water sports and spending time on the water. After taking his first scuba diving class in the Spring of 2011, Evan found a passion for diving in the scuba parks of the east coast. Evan continued his exploration with diving trips off the coast of Ocean City, MD and North Carolina leading to his adventures with Blue Planet to Cozumel, and Bonaire. Evan currently is an Open Water Scuba Instructor and is looking forward to sharing his passion of traveling and diving with others all over the world. Outside of diving, Evan has completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree at Villanova University in Electrical Engineering and works as a systems engineer developing products for various applications.

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Annessa KaufmanAnnessa Kaufman

Master Scuba Diver Trainer

Annessa first fell in love with diving during a family vacation in St. Martin. After a few years of fabulous, but too-short diving trips, she took the plunge and became a professional diver in Roatan, Honduras. A growing interest in marine conservation and a strong case of wanderlust led her to Southeast Asia where she worked as an instructor in both Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, and with the conservation organization, Operation Wallacea in Wakatobi, Indonesia. Now back in DC, Annessa spends her days working for a non-profit focused on international economic development. She has a Masters in Sustainable Destination Management from George Washington University and is passionate about the intersection of tourism and biodiversity conservation. She also gets positively giddy whenever she spots a juvenile trunk fish!

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Shane LewisShane Lewis

Divemaster

Shane first got acquainted with diving at an early age while riding on dive charters, watching his father dive the numerous historic shipwrecks in the St. Lawrence River. Fascinated by the stories the divers would share after returning to the surface, he wanted to see and experience what lied below. Since receiving his dive certification in 1995, he has dived up and down the East Coast from Canada to Key West, the Caribbean, and the Red Sea. He is also a DAN Diving Emergency Specialist and is always looking to be challenged and keep learning by adding more specialties to his already extensive collection. Shane has a Bachelors and Masters in Computer Engineering from the University of Central Florida and an MBA from the University of Florida. Currently working as an IT consultant, he’s always looking for an excuse to step away from the computer. 

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Sean - PoolSean O’Donnell

Divemaster

Sean got the diving bug when the Air Force sent him to Guam for 4 months in 2009. Having spent an equal amount of time diving as he did at work, he left without a tan but was able to see some amazing things which continue to bring him back to the ocean. Since then, he has continued to travel the world and get in a few dives as well, becoming a Divemaster in 2014 through Blue Planet. To fund his diving habit, Sean is a Project Manager for a large consulting firm and continues to serve in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. He and his dive-buddy/wife, Tasha, live in Falls Church with their dog, Morgan, and cat, Animal.

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Jeff PetersonJeff Peterson

Master Scuba Diver Trainer

Having fallen in love with diving in his last semester as a Biology student at the University of Delaware, Jeff decided to continue his training up through PADI Specialty Instructor in Thailand. Learning in an exotic environment with people from all over the world was an experience that, as an instructor, he can always draw from and that he will never forget. He is excited to be part of Blue Planet as he shares the same passion for travel, adventure, and ocean conservation. This was highlighted when he was able to participate in an Ocean Research Expedition on the R/V Lone Ranger with the Schmidt Ocean Institute in the Sargasso Sea. Now, back in the States, being able to teach people in the DC Metro area about the ocean and how to safely explore it underwater, has only brought him more enjoyment from sport. Jeff is always looking forward to his next dive trip, and to continue his dive training in more advanced courses.

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Allison RandallAllison Randall

IDC Staff Instructor

Allison has been a dive addict since her certification in 2006 in Grand Cayman. The bliss of being underwater has prompted her to travel around the world in search of warm water and friendly fish. Allison loves working with students and being part of a team that’s dedicated to environmental protection. Allison’s favorite dives have been in the Red Sea but she looks forward to discovering new favorites on Blue Planet trips. When Allison isn’t underwater, she is at the Department of Justice working to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

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Cesar SanchezCesar Sanchez

IDC Staff Instructor

Cesar is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico and has always loved the ocean. What started as a SCUBA vacation to Cozumel, Mexico led to an addiction and affinity for diving. Cesar’s passion for diving and new-found awareness for our aquatic environment motivated him to become a SCUBA instructor in order to teach others about the importance of our oceans and aquatic life for ours and future generations. Cesar is also addicted to learning, having earned multiple SCUBA specialties with no end on site. When not diving Cesar is a Fiber Channel Architect, bringing all data communications together for The Boeing Company. You can also find him deciphering encryption algorithms here and there.

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Bill SchulzBill Schulz

Divemaster

Bill Schulz received his open water diver certification in 2010 and vowed, after his first ocean dive in Belize, “to take this scuba thing as far as I can go.” He became a PADI Divemaster in January 2015 and is also a Master Scuba Diver with many other diving specialties under his belt. Bill has been diving all over the world and his adventure continues. To support his passion for scuba diving, he is a science journalist/news editor for Chemical & Engineering News magazine in Washington, DC.

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Emily Sesno

Open Water Scuba Instructor

Emily (aka Sesno) knew from the ripe age of 16 that she wanted to immerse herself in the sea. Based on a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands, it was then that she began her pursuit of diving and underwater exploration. She continued the trend from there and received a degree in Marine Biology from Eckerd College and eventually became a divemaster in 2012 and then only a year later, an instructor. Throughout college and beyond, Sesno explored, adventured and went diving in many lands such as Indonesia, Roatan, Utila, New Zealand and Fiji. She set up home base for nearly three years on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, working as a sailing and diving instructor. Hoping to eventually head back for grad school in marine conservation, she returned to DC and joined the Blue Planet team in January 2016. 

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Catherine StewartCatherine Stewart

Open Water Scuba Instructor

Catherine is the daughter of two PADI dive instructors and is fittingly an Aquarius. She first started diving in high school when her dad offered a free trip to the Cayman Islands for her open water certification dives. After diving many islands in the Caribbean with her father, Catherine began diving around the world—including Asia, Europe, Australia, and even in her hometown in East Tennessee! In 2013, Catherine earned her PADI Divemaster certification in Lipari, Italy, where she served as a translator for the Italian staff and lived “la dolce vita.” Catherine has an MBA and Masters of Public Policy from Duke University and is an avid Blue Devils fan. In addition to diving, she enjoys volunteering with her church and spoiling her golden retriever rescue, Roscoe.

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Heather TallentHeather Tallent

Outreach & Marketing Director | IDC Staff Instructor

Heather started her dive adventure right here in Washington, DC. After completing her Open Water certification dives in New Zealand’s amazing Poor Knights Islands with Jonas, she knew she had found her next calling. She and Jonas have been diving all over the world and love sharing their love of diving as instructors. Besides exploring the underwater world and driving her friends crazy with dive stories, Heather is passionate about conserving our natural environment and the critters who call it home. She has worked with a number of local, national, and international nonprofit organizations over the years dedicated to animal protection and environmental sustainability. She holds a Masters in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts University and most recently managed online communications, advocacy and fundraising for an international NGO.

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Kim Profile PicKim Walker

IDC Staff Instructor

Kim Walker first became interested in scuba diving in 1997 while stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. He subsequently became a certified diver and his passion in diving took off in the years that followed. He pursued several dive opportunities that included joining a local scuba club, sought advanced certifications, and most importantly, became an avid diver with over 1000 logged dives. Kim strongly felt the need to give back to the sport and share his experiences with others by becoming a scuba instructor. From teaching introduction & advanced classes, to specialty skills and marine education, Kim takes personal pride in making everyone the best possible diver. In addition, Kim is a National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientific diver focusing on underwater archeology and a life member of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS). Domestically, Kim has been diving in Virginia, North & South Carolina, Florida, Georgia,and Nevada. He also has extensive experience throughout the Caribbean, Central America, Red Sea, Great Lakes, Mexico, as well as Galapagos, Guam, Hawaii, Philippines, Palau, Yap, Malaysia, Indonesia, Maldives, and Papua New Guinea. Kim holds a Masters in International Relations from Troy State University and Bachelors in Physical Education from Howard University. He retired from the US Air Force and worked for DC government for 10 yrs. Kim’s goal is to dive in all of the world’s top diving destinations at least once.

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Paul WashingtonPaul Washington

IDC Staff Instructor

Paul is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and a NOAA Scientific Diver and volunteer diver for Biscayne National Park.He is a DAN Diver Emergency Specialist, member of the Reef Environmental Education Fund (REEF) and is experienced in adult and adolescent education and training. A U.S. Army veteran, Paul has over 25 years of diving experience.  In addition to underwater photography, his diving-related interests include Underwater Archaeological Survey, Coral Monitoring and Restoration and Fish Identification. Paul holds a Masters of Science in Systems Management from Golden Gate University and a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from the United States Military Academy. His job as a Program Manager at Raytheon’s Intelligence and Information Systems funds is ever growing SCUBA habit. Additionally, Paul is looking for ways to apply the Doctor of Science in Computer Security from George Washington University that he is pursing towards a diving career.

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Robin & Adam Watkins

Divemasters

Adam began diving in 2009, completing his Open Water Certification in the Cayman Islands. Robin was inspired to start diving in 2010 after hearing Adam rave about the underwater world. They are both now addicted to diving and love sharing their adventures and passion for diving as part of the Blue Planet DC team. In 2015, Robin and Adam became Divemasters through Blue Planet. Robin and Adam love getting away for the quick weekend adventures and dive trips. When they are not diving, you are likely to find Robin and Adam running in the mountains, riding their bikes around town, or watching the Nationals!

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Andrea Williams

Master scuba diver trainer

Andrea needed a course to complete her hours in graduate school and was first introduced to diving then. That was twenty + years ago! Her certifications include: OWSI Instructor, DEMP Instructor, CPR, Rescue, Enriched Air, Dry Suit, Equipment Specialist, AWARE Coral Reef Conservation, Digital Photography, Archaeology Survey Diver and Coral Restoration Team Leader. As a volunteer with the Coral Restoration Foundation, Andrea enjoys helping others learn to repair the damage done to the ocean’s coral reefs. Andrea’s love of teaching and scuba has led her to Blue Planet.

An avid traveler, Andrea has dived all over the US, Caribbean, Dubai, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Belize and the Philippines. She looks forward to adding new and exciting places to her dive log.

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Blue Planet Scuba
1755 S Street NW
Washington, DC 20009

(202) 527-9419
info@blueplanetdc.com

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