Since 1976, PADI Worldwide President and CEO Dr. Drew Richardson has dedicated his life to water safety and diver education. Internationally, Richardson is known as one of the most influential people in diving with a diverse diving portfolio of more than 5000 dives in a variety of environmental conditions and continents including Antarctica. Recognizing his longstanding service and extensive dive industry contributions, the Beneath the Sea show has named Richardson the 2016 Diver of the Year.
“I’m honored and humbled to receive this recognition as there are so many other more worthy recipients out in the world,” says Richardson. “I’m passionate about diving and I’ve dedicated most of my life to it – to improving dive training to help make divers confident, competent and comfortable underwater. I never get tired of seeing the PADI family change lives with diving, and it happens every day. While this is reward enough, I deeply appreciate this recognition of my contributions to the industry and sport. It’s a great honor.”
The Diver of the Year Award honors individuals whose presence in the industry have made significant and lasting contributions to the past, present and future of diving. As PADI Worldwide President and Chief Executive Officer, Richardson has led the organization’s strategic direction and leadership team for many years, overseeing its expansion to the largest and most successful dive training organization in the world. Richardson holds undergraduate degrees in Oceanographic Technology and Environmental Science, (with an emphasis in the marine sciences), a graduate degree in Business Administration and a doctorate in Adult Education. His extensive credentials has helped significantly advance PADI’s instructional systems as he oversees the development of every course developed. Today, with Richardson at the helm, PADI’s educational system and training materials are available in 28 languages and used by more than 136,000 diving educators in 175 countries.
A proficient author, Richardson is Editor in Chief of The Undersea Journal. Passionate about diver education and safety, Richardson has published more than 500 articles and papers for the Journal and other organization’s publications including the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS), South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society (SPUMS), Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC), World RSTC, Divers Alert Network (DAN) and the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA). As President of Current Publishing, he helped develop a marine sciences curriculum for national use in high schools. Richardson has also spoken at hundreds of conferences internationally on diving and other marine topics.
Close to Richardson’s heart is the critical need for aquatic protection and preservation. In 1989, he helped found and create the Project AWARE Foundation, a 501c (3) non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the aquatic world and supporting ecosystems. Richardson’s hope is to unite the millions of voices of the global diver family and stand together against the destructive practices threatening our ocean and waterways.
“There’s no group better positioned to defend our ocean than divers,” says Richardson. “We free marine animals from nets and lines. We petition and influence government and corporations to protect and preserve the seas. We clean up debris, assist with research and choose only sustainable seafood. We help and we defend, because we can . . . and because we care.”
The Diver of the Year ceremony will be held at the 2016 Beneath the Sea Show, America’s largest consumer scuba and dive travel show, 1-3 April 2016 at the Meadowland Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. The show provides attendees with opportunities to connect face-to-face with a variety of industry stakeholders, including dive centers, dive professionals, equipment manufacturers, ocean experts, and new and veteran divers. Visit beneaththesea.org for details.