Join Our Community Support the Historical Diving Society

Tom Ingram

Board of Directors

Tom Ingram has more than 45 years of experience working in the recreational diving industry, including dive leadership, retail and retail management, education, business, and marketing, and has served as the President and CEO of the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) since September 2002. 

Ingram began his career in the recreational diving industry working as a divemaster with a small dive store and six-pack boating operation in West Palm Beach, Florida, and as an equipment repair technician with Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) in Jensen Beach.  After becoming an instructor in 1976, Ingram went on to teach at FIT and with several different local dive operators.    

After a two-year absence from FIT, Ingram returned to the university as a full-time faculty member in 1980, and in 1985 became the Department Head of the Sport Diving Operations Program there.  While at FIT Ingram became an Instructor Trainer with NAUI and volunteered as an Instructor Examiner at numerous NAUI ITCs as well as speaker for various NAUI IQs, NAUI’s US-based national educational conventions.  In addition, Ingram worked as a trainer, teaching in-water and scuba-related operational techniques for the US Army Corps of Engineers.

At FIT, while teaching full-time during the academic year, Ingram worked during the summers as the Manager of the East Coast Shipwreck Project, working the Treasure Salvors company, coordinating the efforts of treasure hunters, the State of Florida, and Marine Archaeologists employed to recover and catalog treasure from the 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet, as well as recovery of artifacts from other shipwrecks off the Florida coast; the Spring of Whitby wreck, Kaiser Wilhelm’s sunken yacht and another Spanish vessel that sank off the coast in 1618.  In the summer of 1985, Ingram participated with the Mel Fisher operation in the recovery of artifacts from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha off Key West, Florida.

In 1987 the satellite campus of FIT was closed, and later that year Ingram established the first four-year degree program in Recreational Diving Management (RDM) at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida.  The RDM program incorporated a business minor, management of diving businesses, and diving leadership education, with successful students receiving a diving instructor certification and baccalaureate degree in Recreational Diving Management; everything needed to begin a career as a recreational diving professional.

While at Barry, and after becoming a PADI Course Director, Ingram volunteered as an Instructor Examiner with PADI, and provided assistance and educational support for the development of Dade County’s Inner-City Marine-related-science and business program for high school students, the Maritime Science and Technology (MAST) Program.  Ingram also worked to gain additional exposure for recreational diving as a writer and photographer for various publications, including the local Biscayne Bay/New River Times magazine, Diving Industry News, PADI Undersea Journal, NAUI News, Florida SCUBA News and others.

In 1992 Ingram became the Coordinator of Business Curriculum at John Wood Community College and later, the Coordinator of the Small Business Development Center for the U.S. Small Business Administration housed in central Florida.  In this position he was responsible for counseling small business owners on all aspects of starting and running their business, conducting SBA-sponsored business seminars, writing funding grants for the SBDC, compliance with federal and state regulations, and serving as a liaison to the local Chambers of Commerce and local and state government officials.  As a Certified Business Analyst for the Florida Small Business Development Center Network, Ingram assisted with the successful startup of over 200 businesses annually, increasing the number of small businesses in his region by more than 100 percent.

In 1995 Ingram joined Scubapro as Manager of Education and Retail Development, and later became Product Manager and Director of Technical Marketing.  In 2000 Ingram joined Aqua Lung, first as Manager of Sales and Marketing for Sporting Goods/Swim Products and later as Marketing Manager for Professional Diving Equipment.  Ingram joined DEMA as President and CEO in September of 2002, and is responsible for DEMA’s trade show, industry-wide research, education programs, public policy and government advocacy, marketing, and other trade association functions.

Ingram was recognized by Scuba Schools International (SSI) as a Platinum Pro 5000 Diver in 2008, received the Wyland Foundation Diving Icon Award in 2011, and was recognized as Diver of the Year for Education in 2015 by Beneath the Sea.  He was honored with the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences NOGI Award for Distinguished Service in 2017 and was inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame in 2020.  He is a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) where he has served on the ASAE Public Policy Committee, and the Certified Association Executive (CAE) Education Commission. He has written articles for ASAE’s Associations Now magazine.  Since 2003 he has been a member of the International Associations of Exhibits and Events (IAEE) and the California Association of Association Executives (CalSAE), the second largest Society of Association Executives in the United States.  Ingram was the Statewide Board Chair of CalSAE in 2010 and 2011 and served as the Chair of the CalSAE San Diego Regional Council.  He has written various articles for CalSAE’s Executive Magazine and served as the 2015 Co-Chair of CalSAE’s ELEVATE Conference.  In 2008-2009 Ingram was recognized as the California Association Executive of the Year by CalSAE.  He served on the Board of Directors for the Cayman Islands-based International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame from 2005 until 2019.

Ingram is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) – one of fewer than 5,000 such individuals worldwide – and holds master’s degrees in marketing and management.  He has been published and cited in business and marketing related texts and periodicals, and has presented at professional conferences for CalSAE, ASAE, DEMA, and the Professional Convention Managers Association (PCMA).  Ingram remains active in the recreational diving community as a diving instructor and diving advocate.

Join Our Community Support the Historical Diving Society