Working Together
To Save Lives

Our Journey: From Advocacy to Impact

In 2008, amidst the challenges of an economic downturn and the looming threat of budget cuts, discussions sparked within our community about preserving a vital program—the San Diego Junior Lifeguard program. The possibility of losing city funding posed a significant risk, prompting local leaders to contemplate the formation of a nonprofit foundation.

san diego junior lifeguard foundation logo

The need was urgent, and the San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation (SDJGF) emerged from these discussions in 2009. In the face of financial pressures on the city, local beach lifeguard leaders passionately advocated for the continuation of the Junior Lifeguard program. The Foundation, through its dedicated Board of Directors, played a pivotal role in navigating the funding challenges.

The initial support provided by SDJGF proved instrumental. Funding enabled essential equipment purchases, including surfboards, kayaks and scholarships vital for the Junior Lifeguard program. In collaboration with the San Diego Unified School District, water safety lectures and swim lesson funding was provided for 125 students at Hage Elementary students. Simultaneously, the Bridge to Beach program incentivized completion of the learn-to-swim initiative, providing students with a safe and extended learning experience at the beach.

Community Fundraising Events

Over the years, SDJGF continued to support the SDJG program and fund swim lessons by hosting various community fundraising events. These events included Galas, Hawaii Day, Pancake Breakfast, Ocean Festival, Willie Calabrese Run Swim Run, Swim 24 Challenge, OB Pier Jump, T-shirt sales, along with generous grants and donations provided from the local community.

kids on the beach
girl on beach

Expansion and Evolution (2017): Embracing a Broader Mission

prevent drowning foundation of san diego round logo

In 2017, recognizing the broader impact and mission to save lives through swimming skills and water safety resources throughout San Diego County, the SDJGF leadership made a strategic decision. A transformation took place, leading to the rebranding of the foundation as the Prevent Drowning Foundation of San Diego.

Today: Making Waves for Safer Communities

As the Prevent Drowning Foundation of San Diego, we remain committed to our roots and the mission that sparked our inception. Through education, community engagement, and strategic partnerships, we continue to bring water safety resources and the life-saving skill of swimming to communities throughout San Diego County. Our journey is a testament to the power of community, determination, and the unwavering commitment to a safer, more connected, and resilient San Diego.

Thank you for being part of our story!

Recognizing our Founding Board Members

  • Corey McClelland – President and CEO
  • Bryan Chadwell
  • Barb Greenhalgh
  • Byron Wear
  • John Sandmeyer
  • Marianne Sommerville
  • Steve Walters
  • Tom Martinez
  • Buc Buchanan – City of San Diego Liaison
  • Cooley LLP – Providing legal services


  • 2009: San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation established.
  • 2009: First gala hosted at the Bahia Belle.
  • 2010: Pier Jump shirt sales initiated.
  • 2012: Whale Tail Grant received, funding the development of the Ocean Science Education Program, a combination of Junior Lifeguard and marine science courses running from 2013-2018.
  • 2012: La Patronas Grant received to purchase a van for SDJGF.
  • 2012: Grommets program for 7 and 8 year olds started by SDJGF; later taken over by the City of San Diego.
  • 2012: Barrio Station Pool lesson funding began.
  • 2013: First public OB Pier Jump fundraiser.
  • 2015: Swim 24 Challenge initiated (2015 & 2016 at UCSD, 2017 at BGC San Dieguito).
  • 2017: SDJGF undergoes a name change and rebrand to Prevent Drowning Foundation of San Diego.
  • 2022: County of San Diego Grant recipient.
  • 2022: SD Swim Safer launch PSA with County of San Diego and First 5 San Diego
  • 2022: SD Swims Grant program established.
  • 2023: Hosted California Water Safety Summit.
  • 2023: Live Well San Diego Partner.


Prevent Drowning Foundation Board of Directors

ronan gray

Ronan Gray


Ronan has been an active volunteer and member of the board of directors of the former San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation and the Drowning Prevention Foundation of San Diego since 2011.  He is the former CEO and chairman of the non-profit, grass-roots organization Save San Diego Neighborhoods which he founded in 2015 and served as president until July 2017.

He holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from University of California San Diego and a M.Sc. in Physical Oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  He is president of SubAqua Imaging Systems Inc, which he founded in 2006.  SAIS is a provider of underwater imaging devices to a diverse range of military, scientific and industrial users across the globe.  He has authored peer reviewed papers, a book chapter, and magazine articles related to underwater imaging and acoustics and is a named inventor on a US patent.

He was born in Ireland where his family has run a successful SCUBA dive business since 1974. He grew up working in the dive business as a technician, boat coxswain and SCUBA instructor before moving to the United States and ultimately becoming a US Citizen. He earned the highest rank of SCUBA instructor (Course Director / Instructor Trainer) possible with PADI, the largest diver certification organization in the world. He holds a United States Coast Guard 100 gross ton Merchant Mariner Masters License.

Gray is an active member of the community in Pacific Beach where he lives with his family and has coached a number school sports teams, including the Pacific Beach Middle School Surf Team.

john sandmeyer

John Sandmeyer

Vice President

John Sandmeyer worked for the San Diego Lifeguard Service for 38 years and retired as the Marine Safety Captain. He is currently employed with the City of San Diego Office of Emergency Services as an Emergency Manager. As a Lifeguard, John oversaw all Lifeguard and Mission Bay Harbor Patrol training including the San Diego County Lifeguard Regional Training Academy. He was the Swiftwater/Flood Rescue Team Leader for San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and directed the San Diego Junior Lifeguard program. He was a founding member of the SD Junior Lifeguard Foundation and currently leads the Water Emergency Preparedness workgroup for the California Water Safety Coalition.

John has coordinated training with Baja California lifeguards for over 20 years and is an instructor for the Surf Lifesaving del Sur Team in Cabo San Lucas. He spends his recreational time surfing, swimming and playing beach volleyball and enjoying free time with his family.  John works on improving his Spanish and travels whenever he can to increase his experience in and out of the water.

ron anderson

Ron Anderson


Ron Anderson is the President of Anderson Capital Corporation specializing in real estate financing and fund raising for the past 29 years in San Diego California. A graduate of SDSU, Ron has been an influencer in several companies bringing products to market in the sales cycle. His company was recognized by The San Diego Daily Transcript as a top 100 small businesses inSan Diego. Ron volunteers his time at many local and national nonprofit organizations as well as environmental groups. Ron was nominated by the Mayor of San Diego to the Mission Bay Parks Board of Directors.

Ron is committed to save our Beaches, Bays and Parks for others in the future. Ron spends his free time training as a top age group triathlete, on the water fishing, and playing hockey.

frank carson

Frank Carson

Board Member

Frank Carson currently serves as the Director of Parks & Recreation for the City of El Cajon and  Past President on the state board for the California Park & Recreation Society (CPRS). He completed a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of California San Diego, a teaching credential in social studies and a post baccalaureate certificate in instructional technology from San Diego State University, and a masters in Recreation & Tourism Management from the California State University East Bay (Hayward).

He served as a Regent for National Recreation & Park Association’s (NRPA) Reitz Marketing & Revenue Sources Management School and most recently served as the Co-Chair for Park Access with the NRPA. Mr. Carson also serves as a professor at San Diego State University teaching upper division hospitality, recreation and tourism courses. He has worked in management capacities for the cities of San Diego and Chula Vista and has over 30 years serving in the parks and recreation profession.

mary ann downing

Mary Ann Downing


Mary Ann Downing Fey is a Board Member and the 2024 volunteer Secretary of the Prevent Drowning Foundation of San Diego.

Board Participation: She is also a Board Member of the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation and former National Drowning Prevention Alliance Board Member. Mary helped host the 2012 National Drowning Prevention Alliance Conference in San Diego. Mary presents a session to New Attendees (as the NDPA Historian) each year at the National Water Safety Conference.

Aquatics Background: She is an Indiana University of PA alumni with background training and certifications in Aquatics that led to decades of volunteer work in water safety. Mary was a YMCA Aquatic Director and later developed a small business called Pool Safety Solutions in 2003. She met with hundreds of pool owning parents to review available safety products, necessary training and best practices to protect their families.  A very wise child called her “Pool Safety MOM”.

Mary moved to San Diego in 2006, joining the Safe Kids Drowning Prevention Task Force and SD County Aquatics Council bringing “April Pools Day” events to the area. She continues to connect at community events as the “Pool Safety Mom” educating on dry land or in the water.  

She is part of the California Water Safety Coalition and volunteers as a committee chair. Awards: Mary is a National Drowning Prevention Alliance Ripple Award Recipient, Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation Water Safety Advocate of the Year, and San Diego County Parks and Rec Aquatics Volunteer of the year.

corey mcclelland

Corey McClelland

Chairman Emeritus

Corey McClelland – Chairman Emeritus PDFSD and Chief Revenue Officer, Qubitekk – Mr. McClelland was the founder and original President and CEO of the Prevent Drowning Foundation of San Diego, formerly the San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation for twelve years. He has worked in a variety of executive, operations, technology, research and development, and business roles in the energy, defense, healthcare, cybersecurity, quantum and computer science industries.

Over 35 years of industry experience, he worked at Science Applications International Corporation, SAIC, for over 23 years and Sempra Energy for SDG&E for eight years. Currently, working with Qubitekk a quantum networking company using quantum entanglement as a service. Mr. McClelland worked as a San Diego City Lifeguard as an in-surf rescue boat operator, cliff and river rescue technician, with over 1000 rescues in his career. Avid traveler, SCUBA diver, desert hiker and loves spending time with his two grandsons. He holds a BA from San Diego State University in Psychology, a MS in Computer Science from West Coast University.