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Board Members


Michael Karcher
Luxury Law Group

Michael R. Karcher is a member of the Luxury Law Group, practicing in the area of admiralty law, and concentrating in maritime litigation, yacht, commercial vessel and insurance issues.  His undergraduate degree was from the University of Miami majoring in marine affairs and economics and is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Law.  He is a member of the Florida Bar, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the U. S. District Court for the Northern, Middle and the Southern Districts of Florida.  He has been designated as a Proctor in Admiralty by the Maritime Law Association of the United States.  He is a member of the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute, and is the past President, and Program Chairman of the Marine Council of Greater Miami and is the acting Chairman of the Miami Maritime Arbitration Council.  He has been the General Counsel for the United States Super Yacht Association.  He has served as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the Florida Department of Natural Resources.  He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law teaching Admiralty Law, and Marine Ecology and the Law.

Vice Chair:
Frank Sioli
Sioli Alexander Pino

Frank Sioli has been practicing in the Admiralty/Maritime, Insurance, and Commercial Transactions-Litigation fields for over 20 years. Mr. Sioli has also earned the distinction of being Board Certified in Admiralty & Maritime Law. Throughout his career, he has successfully mentored scores of attorneys, and is thrilled to be practicing with the best.
Mr. Sioli honed his legal skills at a young age, debating coverage and other insurance related issues at the dinner table with his insurance broker father. As fate would have it, Mr. Sioli later found himself smack in the middle of such issues as his experience and practice areas expanded. While in law school, Mr. Sioli participated in jury trials as an intern for the Miami-Dade County Public Defender's Office, and taught "Street Law" to high school students, helping students learn about the legal system and ultimately participate in a county-wide trial competition. Because litigation is basically about educating the Judge or Jury on various subjects, Mr. Sioli believes in keeping his teaching skills sharp, having presented topics at various national and local seminars as well as on an in-house basis. Mr. Sioli is also one of the few lawyers in Florida who has tried cases to verdict in the Criminal, State Workers' Compensation, Longshore Workers' Compensation, and Civil Litigation venues. This versatility allows him to employ successful litigation strategies from one litigation forum to another.
Mr. Sioli received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1991, and his Juris Doctor from Nova Southeastern University in 1994. He is admitted to practice in the State of Florida, United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the United States District Courts for the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida.

John Thomas
Thomas Marine Systems

Past Chair:
Ed Swakon
EAS Engineering

Ed Swakon did his undergraduate studies at Purdue University where he received his BS in Engineering in 1975. He received his MS in OceanEngineering in 1977 from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marineand Atmospheric Science (RSMAS). He has been a Florida Registered Professional Engineer since 1981.
Upon graduation from the Rosenstiel School, he took a position with DadeCounty Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM). During his last two years with DERM, Ed was the Chief of the Water Management Division and responsible for all coastal and freshwater wetland permitting programs, Dade County's canal systems, local and federal flood criteria programs, Dade County Artificial Reef program and the efforts to restore and enhance the water quality and biological quality of Biscayne Bay.

In June of 1987 he established EAS Engineering, Inc.  EAS Engineering, Inc. an environmental engineering firm located in South Florida specializing in Wetland Permitting (Marine and Freshwater), GIS (Geographic Information Systems), and Image
Processing. We also provide helicopter aerial photography services.

Mike Black
Cassidy and Black

MICHAEL C. BLACK is an attorney with his own law firm, Michael C. Black, P.A., in Miami where he specializes in all aspects of maritime and transportation law.  Mr. Black graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1990; and received his law degree from the University of Miami in 1995.  In addition to serving on the Board of Directors with The Marine Council, Mr. Black is a member of The Florida Bar, the Dade County Bar Association, the Maritime Law Association, the American Association for Justice, and the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute.  Mr. Black is board certified in Admiralty & Maritime Law by the Florida Bar. 

Phil Everingham
Marine Advisory Group

Joe Kolisch
Kolisch Marine Insurance

With over 30 years of experience as a Yacht Insurance Broker in Miami, Joe has become one of the most recognized Marine Insurance professionals in the industry. He started his career in 1979 with the family business founded by his father. After merging with USI Insurance Services in Coral Gables, he then spent 12 years with USI as Vice President of Marine Insurance Products. Joe wanted to give his yacht insurance clients the personal touch and attention that a large corporation is unable to provide, so in 2010 he founded Kolisch Marine Insurance, headquartered in Coral Gables. As word spread among yacht and boat owners alike, Kolisch Marine Insurance grew quickly and soon a branch office in Ft. Lauderdale was opened.

Aaron Leatherwood
RMK Merrill-Stevens

Aaron Leatherwood has been the RMK Merrill-Stevens’ CEO since 2016. He also serves as President of Merrill-Stevens Yachts, recently the re-established iconic sales, and brokerage business. Aaron holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering from Texas A&M University & Texas Maritime Academy. Aaron completed graduate studies with the Maersk executive MBA program and holds a Master’s of Business Administration Degree in Project Management. His work experience has been entirely in the maritime industry.
Aaron previously worked as a shipboard engineer, and holds a U.S. Coast Guard Unlimited Chief Engineer’s license. Aaron also holds a Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification from the internationally recognized Project Management Institute. Since transitioning to shore-side employment he has worked with APM Terminals as a project engineer building a world-class container facility. He supported as Maersk Line as a vessel/fleet manager, technical superintendent and General Manager of a ship repair yard. Aaron previously supported Rybovich overseeing signature refit projects. Aaron has more than 20 years’ experience as a reservist with the United State Coast Guard in Marine Safety/Port State Control and Incident Management. Today Aaron is engaged in the re-emergence of the Merrill-Stevens brand and complete re-construction of the RMK Merrill-Stevens facility in Miami, Fl.

Jerry McGinley
Admiral Oil

Marieke Van Peer
Peer Consulting and Management

Marieke van Peer is the owner of Peer Consulting and Management, LLC.  Prior to starting her own company Marieke had overseen some of the most prestigious marinas in the country, including the Miami Beach Marina, Bahia Mar Yachting Center and Island Gardens Deep Harbour. Marieke managed all facets of the new construction of Island Gardens from installation of the Med-Moor system to implementation of the marina regulations and procedures. As the East Coast Florida Regional Manager for Suntex Marinas she oversaw 7 marinas in their Florida portfolio. Responsible for the operation of the marina assets and businesses to ensure efficient and profitable operations while maximizing the potential of each facility.

Awarded the Marina Manager Certification by the Association of Marina Industries in 2014. Marieke has also engaged in studies of Practical Leadership, Communications, Customer Sales and Business to Business Marketing.


Marieke is on the Board of Directors for the Marine Industry Association of South Florida (MIASF), the Association of Marina Industries (AMI) as well as a member of the Advisory Board for the Global Marina Institute (GMI).