Rusty Day, PhD – Chairman
Rusty Day is the founding Chair of the Board of Directors and has served as the Executive Director of the organization since its inception in 2007. Dr. Day has a unique and diverse combination of qualifications and experience to serve MANTA’s mission of education and research and provide a vision for the organization. He was raised in a seafaring family from the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. Growing up on boats, with a love of the ocean and an inquisitive nature made the decision to pursue marine biology quite natural. He earned his BS in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, MSc in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston, and PhD in Environmental Chemistry from the University of Pau, France. Dr. Day has worked as a marine scientist at several state and federal government and university labs, including the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He has a wide diversity of expertise including marine ecology, fisheries biology, marine pollution and toxicology, and environmental and analytical chemistry. Dr. Day’s research has also spanned a broad taxonomic range, from sea turtles to corals, using tools ranging from commercial fishing gear, to SCUBA, to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). He was a Research Biologist with NIST at the Hollings Marine Laboratory until 2018, where he led their coral research and monitoring project (Archive of Coral Ecosystem Specimens – ACES) and the multi-collector ICP-MS Environmental Isotope Research Facility. Dr. Day holds an appointment as Adjunct Professor at the College of Charleston Grice Marine Laboratory where he has taught and mentored undergraduate and graduate students for nearly ten years. He has authored or coauthored nearly twenty scientific publications in top journals as well as a book chapter. In addition to Dr. Day’s scientific accomplishments, he also holds a Master Captains License and Sailing Endorsement from the U.S. Coast Guard, has logged 1000s of miles under sail, and is certified as a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. If you can’t find him working or playing on the water, then chances are he is off traveling.
Piper Hardin – USO Senior Director of Development
Piper Hardin joined MANTA’s Board of Directors in 2007 and is a visionary development leader with over 18 years of experience in the non-profit sector. Whether Piper is developing a strategy for her team or implementing the strategy, she does so with passion and dedication to the process! As a high performing, enthusiastic leader she has a strong focus on establishing and achieving goals, honing the organizational development process, and leading her team. Before coming to the USO, she was a development consultant for Convergent Nonprofit Solutions where she led and conducted feasibility studies and capital campaigns for non-profit organizations nationally. Piper brings an infectious and refreshing combination of passion, experience, knowledge, and energy to every engagement. In Fall-2010 she got the opportunity to move to Doha, Qatar as the Center Director at USO Qatar and continued keeping our deployed service members connected to family, home and country as the Center Director of USO LSA in Kuwait until Fall-2012 when she transitioned back to the United States as a Senior Director of Development. Piper brought to the USO experience and expertise in managing teams, building strategic relationships, and leading fundraising efforts for both local and national nonprofit organizations.
Piper earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management/Specialization in Leadership from Ashford University. In her free time Piper enjoys traveling, running, hiking, being on the water, and at the beach! Piper is a native of Charleston, S.C. and looks forward to frequent visits home to spend time with her family and friends in her beloved city with five beaches.
Matt West – Founder of SMI and DBNA
Matt West joined MANTA’s Board of Directors in 2010 and is the founder of Strategic Marketing International, LLC (SMI) and Dock Blocks of North America, LLC (DBNA). Specializing in business turnarounds, SMI is a strategic resource of SC Launch!, the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP), and the North Carolina Industrial Extension Services (NC IES) and together have helped over 125 manufacturers to expand their businesses. With its corporate headquarters located in Charleston, SC, DBNA is the licensed manufacturer of the patented Dock Blocks floating docking system which is sold in all 50 states and Canada. With over 20 years of experience in sales and marketing, Matt’s expertise lies in both B2B and consumer marketing and sales. He has worked with brands as large as Michelin and Florida Marlins Baseball Club and as small as business start-ups. Matt has a BS from the University of Georgia, an MBA in International Business from South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, and is a certified Innovation Engineering Blackbelt.
Jenny Fowler – College of Charleston Regional Director of Development
Jenny Fowler joined MANTA’s Board of Directors in 2016 and is a Charleston-based nonprofit development professional and strategist specializing in higher education fundraising. Since 2006, she has been a member of the major gifts team at the College of Charleston, serving a variety of constituencies along the eastern seaboard. In 2013, Jenny was named Director of Development and travels the Southeastern United States extensively, working to garner philanthropic support for scholarships, student programs, capital projects, and athletics at the College.