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In 1985, Drew Richardson arrived at the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Today, he is known internationally as one of the most influential people in diving and diver education. He has directly trained and certified over 3,000 divers at all levels, and has logged over 5000 dives.
Richardson (Ed.D.'03) is President and Chief Operating Officer for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Worldwide. PADI is the world's largest recreational diver training and educational organization, with 7 offices internationally and over 450 employees globally. Approximately 16 million divers have been trained using standards, procedures and educational materials created under his leadership and direction throughout the world.
Utilizing his credentials in marine science, business and education, Richardson has significantly advanced PADI’s instructional system, overseeing the development of every course and course product introduced by PADI, Diving Science and Technology (DSAT) and the PADI International Resort and Retailer Association. Richardson credits Nova with preparing him for this task: “the research and work conducted in completing my dissertation set the course for our eLearning, webinar and distance learning programs at PADI.” As President of Current Publishing, Richardson is currently involved with developing a marine sciences curriculum for national use in high schools.
Under Richardson, PADI's educational system and collateral materials are used by diving educators in 175 countries and have been translated into 27 official languages. Richardson oversees a program for which 139,000 PADI professional instructor members and 6,000 stores and resorts members offer diving training, products, excursions and education to over 900,000 scuba divers annually. Additionally, he is Chairman of the Board for the Project AWARE Foundation, a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the underwater and aquatic world and supporting ecosystems with offices in 5 countries internationally.
Richardson is a proficient author and is Editor in Chief of the Undersea Sea Journal. He has published more than 500 articles and papers in the Journal and publications of organizations 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 Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA). He has also spoken at hundreds of conferences internationally on diving and other marine topics.
As a result of his work, in 2007, Richardson was inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame by the Cayman Islands Ministry of Tourism. In the future, Richardson hopes to accomplish at least two things. First, to “further the cause of preservation and protection for our underwater environments;" and second, “to bring the joy and transformation that comes from discovering the underwater world as a scuba diver to as many people as possible, including the furtherance of career opportunities for nationals in developing countries to work in the local tourism industry as a professional in the diving segment."
Recently, Richardson returned to South Florida as the Abraham S. Fischler School of Education's 2010 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year at Nova’s annual Celebration of Excellence. Richardson proudly states that "my practice as a leader and executive were enriched and enhanced by my Nova education."