Shark TEAm Leaders
Founder and President
Born and raised in Maine, Jillian’s love for the ocean started at an early age and has continued to play an integral role in her adult life. She has spent thousands of hours in the field working and diving with sharks across the globe. She is a marine biologist, shark conservationist, scuba instructor and educator. She has filmed for numerous television shows and networks, has appeared on Shark Week and is a PADI Ambassadiver. She was named Scuba Diving Magazine's July 2016 Sea Hero , awarded the inaugural Shark Con Shark Hero Award in 2017 and was the Go Blue Awards 2020 Blue Ambassador of the Year. She is the author of Norman the Nurse Shark and Shark Super Powers and a member of the prestigious Ocean Artists Society.
Dr. Derek Burkholder
VP and Science Director
Derek grew up in Michigan spending a lot of his childhood exploring the woods and spending time on the water (though slightly less salty water than he deals with now). His love for the outdoors and the water started early and on a family vacation to Florida when he was 8. Derek completed his PhD work at Florida International University and is currently a research scientist for the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University. Derek also the PI of the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program. He is also the director of the Marine Environmental Education Center in Hollywood, Florida.
Co-VP and Media Director
Duncan studied marina biology at University of Stirling before heading to South Georgia and Antarctica to work as an observer and junior scientist. A volunteer stint at the Bimini Sharklab ignited his passion for underwater filming. After he returned to be their media manager, Duncan pursued a full time career as a videographer. Duncan is an Emmy nominated and BAFTA Award winning cinematographer who has shot for BBC, Shark Week, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic and numerous other channels.
CFO and Media Team Member
Dennis is Managing Director of Canada at Checkmate Capital. Mr. Zaidi is also seasoned entrepreneur and currently advises a diverse portfolio on matters related to corporate finance and capital structure. He also acts as an advising CFO, assisting with value creation and finance to several startups in Toronto. Prior to joining Checkmate, Mr. Zaidi was the architect of three successful exits including his work as managing partner of Balsam Lake Green Energy, a 6MW solar energy facility in Ontario, Canada that was developed then sold to Panasonic sponsored private equity firm Coronal Group. Mr. Zaidi is a passionate live long learner with executive education at Harvard Business School (Negotiation Mastery), Oxford’s Saïd Business School (Fintech) as well as recently completing an Executive Master’s degree (MSc) from HEC Paris in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.