Coral Vita was founded by two environmental entrepreneurs driven to solve one of our planet's greatest challenges, working with a team of business, policy and science leaders that share their passion for protecting coral reefs and reliant communities.
Gator and Sam met and became friends at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, where they both received Master of Environmental Management degrees. Together, they helped launch the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship Club and were awarded the university's first-ever Green Innovation Fellowship. Their graduate studies and love for oceans inspired them to launch a company to solve global coral reef degradation. Since founding Coral Vita, they’ve been recognized as Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs, Echoing Green and JMK Innovation Prize Fellows, and WeWork Creator Awards Global Finalists.
Sam Teicher | Chief Reef OfficeR
Developing a lifelong love for the ocean may not be the first thing that comes to mind when hearing someone was born and raised in Washington, DC, but it’s there that Sam got scuba certified when he was 13-years-old. After graduating from Yale College in 2012, he served as the Chief Operating Officer for ELI Africa, a Mauritius-based non-profit. There, he helped launch a coral-farming project in partnership with the Mauritius Oceanography Institute with funding from the United Nations Development Programme Global Environment Facility. During his time at ELI, he also created an endemic reforestation project, which was recognized with the 2013 Green Africa Awards' ‘Highly Commendable Award.' He interned for the White House Council on Environmental Quality's Climate Preparedness team, served as a fellow for the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), and was recognized as one of twenty two ‘Climate Trailblazers’ by the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit. Sam is an optimistic DC sports fan, an easy-going rugby player, and a PADI Search & Rescue scuba diver.
Gator Halpern | President
Always ready for the next adventure, Gator has dedicated his life to bringing about a better harmony between nature and society. He previously worked on international development projects in Peru, Brazil, and South Africa before pursuing his Master of Environmental Management degree at Yale. As a United Nations Young Champion of the Earth, he is passionate about developing projects that can help create a better harmony between society and nature. While an undergraduate at Pomona College, Gator helped organize a fish-farming project in the Peruvian Amazon. His work on the project helped distribute millions of fingerlings (baby fish) to villages on three rivers, and also assessed the socio-economic and environmental effects of fish farming in the local communities. He also previously served as a fellow for the World Wildlife Fund Global Marine Program. Gator is an avid Liverpool FC fan, continues to emulate Steven Gerrard on the soccer pitch, and proudly hails from San Diego, California.
Freeport Farm Manager
Hailing from Wilmington, North Carolina and being born in the middle of Hurricane Diana, it seems Joe was destined to become a marine biologist. From an early age a fascination with marine organisms and ecosystems drove Joe to pursue a career in marine science that has taken him across the globe. After obtaining his B.S. in Marine Biology from UNCW, Joe began applying his experience as a lifelong aquarist to the study and aquaculture of corals along with research systems and display aquariums at UNCW’s Center for Marine Science. This led him to take a position as the Head of Husbandry for the Curacao Sea Aquarium, where he spearheaded both a policy shift for the facility’s captive husbandry and a major emphasis on education alongside coral and mangrove restoration. After this, he served as the Head of Marine Operations and Live Coral Systems for Underwater World Guam, followed by as Marine Park Ranger for the Saba Conservation Foundation. There, he was charged with being a research boat captain, mechanic, tech diver, and fisheries specialist overseeing the 2200 square kilometer Saba Bank undersea platform. Although most of Joe’s activities revolve around water, he also has a lifelong love of cooking, jewelry making, gardening, and soccer (Vamo River Plate!), and rugby (Hurricanes and Ireland).
Coral Vita is advised by one of the world's leading coral restoration scientists: Dr. David Vaughan. Dave pioneered the microfragmenting farming method to accelerate coral growth 50x. He’s the President of Plant a Million Corals LLC and formerly the Director of the Mote Marine Laboratory's Coral Restoration Program.
The company is also being advised by business innovators Tom Chi, Andrew Perlman, and Will Hovey. Tom is formerly the Co-Founder and Head of Experience at GoogleX. Andrew is an investor and entrepreneur who co-founded nine venture-backed companies in the water, energy, telecom, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology industries, and is now a Partner at GreatPoint Ventures. Will is a Founder and Partner at GreyHawk Capital.
Prior to her tragic death from cancer in 2018, Dr. Ruth Gates served as an inspiration and advisor to Coral Vita. Dr. Gates was the President of the International Coral Reef Society, Principal Investigator at the Gates Coral Lab and pioneer of the assisted evolution method to enhance coral resiliency against climate change threats. Ruth’s passing is a loss for the entire coral community, yet as she did in life through her brilliance, warmth, and passion, her legacy continues to inspire countless scientists and practitioners to fight to keep reefs alive for future generations.
Gratitude for Former Staff and Interns
Stephen Ranson - Chief Science Officer (2017-2019)
Chelsea Pennekamp - Intern (2019)