Freedom Boat Club franchisee named to diversity task force

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Lisa Almeida, dubbed “The Boatanista” in northeast Florida, has been chosen to serve on the recently formed Recreational Boating Leadership Council Diversity Task Force.

Almeida, the owner of Freedom Boat Club franchises in Jacksonville, Fla., and St. Augustine, Fla., was chosen for the group formed to increase boating participation among women and members of minority groups.

“We cannot continue to rely on our traditional methods of promoting the marine industry,” Almeida said in a statement. “We know that 2013 will be the first year in history that more white males passed away in the U.S. than were born. And the large majority of recreational boaters are white males.”

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Almeida is particularly interested in encouraging more women to become boaters.

“I am thrilled to be able to be able to promote Jacksonville’s waterways, the marine industry in general and to encourage women to be more active in boating,” Almeida said. “Women’s role models shouldn’t be limited to Ginger or Mary Ann. If a woman wants to, there is no reason she can’t be the captain.”

Almeida and her partner, Kevin Seelig, recently won awards for boating safety and membership growth at their Freedom Boat Clubs. The Jacksonville-St. Augustine club franchise enjoyed the highest percentage of membership increase among the 73 locations across the nation.

Almeida and Seelig, who purchased the local franchise in 2011, are participating in the BoatUS Foundation’s “Life Jacket Loaner Program for Kids.”

The program allows boaters to borrow a child’s life jacket for a day at no charge. Freedom Boat Club Jacksonville, based at Julington Creek, is one of more than 500 locations across the country that are participating in the program, which began in 1997.

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