We had the good fortune of connecting with Susana Ramirez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Susana, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
The shark science and shark conservation worlds are overwhelmingly populated with white males. Rarely do you see women, and even fewer than that will you see Latinx. When I went to school during my undergrad, I wasn’t always privy to that because South Florida tends to trick you into thinking you’re a part of the majority, but in the “real world” it was nowhere close to what the South Florida populations looked like. In fact, looking back on it, most of my college professors and mentors were white males. Things are definitely beginning to change for the better, but we still have a long way to go.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
To start, we’re one of only a few nonprofits in shark conservation that are led by a Latina. That’s HUGE in the shark conservation sector, and I am extremely proud of that because I see it as a way to open doors for other Latinas, so they can go and do the same if they choose! It took me a long time to get to where I am today, and I honestly feel like I’m just getting started. The conservation world – as I mentioned earlier – was overly saturated with white males over 10 years ago, and it was difficult to get any respect or any opportunities as a result. I had to work three times as hard as most, and while it was extremely difficult, I’m thankful for that adversity because it’s made me the hard worker I am today. Running a successful nonprofit in a country that sometimes feels like it hates me for being a woman and for being a Latina is hard. Also, knowing that we help underserved and underprivileged communities is the goal Save The Sharks. For the most part, shark conservation and shark diving are not just white male lead, but they can also be classist. Shark diving is not cheap. So what usually ends up happening is that the populations that always tend to get pushed towards the lower spectrum of income miss out on all of these wonderful opportunities – and that’s NOT RIGHT. Enter Save The Sharks. We have several program specifically geared towards lower income communities, individuals, and handicapped communities. Our overall goal is to allow everyone – not just the well off or wealthy– to experience sharks.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Definitely check out Robert is Here for the history, food, and photos. They also have delicious shakes! John Pennekamp State park is fantastic for outdoors; kayaking, beach, snorkeling
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to appreciate everyone who believed in me and always supported my work – especially in the beginning when Save The Sharks was just a Facebook page. If it wasn’t because of their support, Save The Sharks wouldn’t have grown to the beautiful international nonprofit that it is today. I also want to thank my insanely supportive parents and sisters. You guys were there for me from when I was first starting to study marine biology, all the way to when former President Barack Obama followed me on social media (WOW!). If it wasn’t for your constant love and support, I’m not sure if I would be where I am today. And finally, the most important support of all comes from my husband. You are my partner in this life, and every life I’ve ever lived. I am thankful that we found our way to each other, and I thank you for showing me what unconditional love and support is supposed to look and feel like. My husband believes in me blindly, and he is always there by my side pushing me to do what I love. Thank you.
All images by Executive Director of Save The Sharks