For over 20 years, Wess Long has worked in numerous capacities throughout the aquatics industry driving safety standards and consistently innovating to evolve aquatic operations. Wess has been a leader at various levels for many of the world's top waterparks, including Aquaventure at Atlantis the Palm Dubai, Walt Disney World, and Palace Entertainment's Raging Waters Sacramento & Raging Waters San Jose. In 2014, Wess joined Innovative Attraction Management and has worked with clients & projects worldwide from initial conception and construction to consulting for various operations & training. In 2016, Wess began his role as a key member of the of the StarGuard ELITE Aquatic Risk Prevention program where he applied his operational & training expertise to the evolution of the program.
Wess has extensive experience throughout aquatic operations and staff training, particularly the areas of Aquatics, Maintenance, F&B, Human Resources, and Revenue Management. Additionally, he provides expertise with facility design, developing new operations, and regulatory compliance. Since becoming a Lifeguard instructor in 1998, Wess has trained thousands of lifeguards & lifeguard instructors for waterparks, resorts, pools, and beaches around the world. Since 2014 Wess has served as Secretary of the World Waterpark Association's Safety Committee.
Jason has been an innovator and leader in the information technology field since 1996. His creative, professional, and educational experience has been an invaluable asset to various organizations throughout his career. As part of the instructional team, Jason helped build what became the Digital Media program at the University of Central Florida. Through this experience, Jason moved into digital research for the Institute for Simulation and Training, early conceptual digital development for Universal's Islands of Adventure, and creative work for Walt Disney World.
Jason is a customer experience expert with a strong background in enterprise development for organizations such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Amertron, NCR, and Bonnier. He brings his agile leadership, ability to adapt to technological trends, and drive for quality to Innovative Attraction Management, LLC and StarGuard ELITE. Since 2016, Jason has been a member of the World Waterpark Association's Technology Committee, and a contributing author for World Waterpark Magazine.
Mike Friscia is a results-oriented Executive with extensive experience which includes the development and implementation of successful operating plans focused on driving revenue and profits; realizing efficiencies while maintaining a high level of service; in a safe and secure environment.
A focused leader, Mike utilizes management skills, experience and education to motivate employees to not only meet but exceed the goals and mission of the business. At Innovative Attraction Management, Mike leads a diverse organization focused on “Turn-Key” Attraction Management, Amusement Industry Operations Consulting, and Aquatic Risk Management.
His experience with Palace Entertainment included responsibilities as Vice President of the Water Park division, and providing vision, direction, and leadership to 11 senior level Park General Managers. Additionally, Mike led the Water Park and Theme Park divisions for PARC Management and spent 10+ years at Walt Disney World in various roles.
James Harhi is an entrepreneur at heart. He started his aquatics career as a lifeguard at Disney's Contemporary Resort. He quickly worked his way through Disney's management development program working at Disney's Blizzard Beach, Disney's Wilderness Lodge, and Disney's Winter Summerland Mini Golf. James settled into a Business Development Manager role overseeing Disney's recreation related businesses, arcades, and contracts.
In 2002, James left Walt Disney World to purchase his first company, Amertron. Amertron developed from just 15 employees and $1M in revenue to 70 employees and over $6M in revenue. He sold part of Amertron in 2011 and re-branded his Arcade Service company to JFH Technologies.
James is an operations and process expert. He introduces technology to streamline processes which improves the employee and customer experience.
Jill has been honored as one of the Top 100 Leaders in the aquatic profession for 2003 and 2004, as featured in Aquatics International magazine, and consistently honored as one of the “25 most powerful people in the world of aquatics”. Along with this recognition comes responsibility, and she has been called on as an expert to testify in drowning or aquatic related injury cases. Jill also serves on the writing committee for the Model Aquatic Health Code sponsored by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and is the writing committee chair for the APSP-12 Standard for Risk Management and Operational Safety at Public Swimming Pools. Jill was entered the World Waterpark Hall of Fame.
Lifeguarding has been a large part of Dr. Justin Sempsrott's life since the mid-1990s, when he started as a beach lifeguard in Jacksonville, Fla. That experience led, in part, not only to his career as an emergency physician, but also his role as executive director of Lifeguards Without Borders. The organization is dedicated to lessening the global burden of drowning through training, research and lifeguarding themselves, even. “We've done advocacy work in other countries to try and spread the word or expand existing drowning prevention programs,” Sempsrott says. Sempsrott and co-founder Dr. Andrew Schmidt worked together as lifeguards in Jacksonville, and each had several experiences of rescuing people while vacationing around the world before founding Lifeguards Without Borders. They've written journal articles and presented drowning prevention information to the health-care community as well as being active in training guards in other countries.
Robert has been in the hospitality and recreation industry for 15 years, starting in the United Kingdom where he worked his way up to head of department for leisure for Alton Towers. Alton Towers had the largest indoor waterpark in the UK at the time, and Robert gained theme park experience, high wire rescue and industrial rope access certification, and hotel and conference experience. He then moved on to open the LEGOLAND Malaysia waterpark; the largest for Merlin Entertainment when it was completed. He implemented all safety and operational standards while assisting with park operations for the attractions and the hotel.
In 2015 Rob moved to the United States to oversee the LEGOLAND Florida water park operations before joining the StarGuard ELITE team in 2018. Rob brings well balanced experience in aquatic risk management and operations to SGE through his years of experience as a certified instructor for multiple organizations in the UK and the USA, and presenting at the European WWA conference discussing water quality and daily operation standards. He also brings a wealth of international and leisure experience to the team, experienced in health and safety standards within the UK and USA through I.O.S.H and O.S.H.A training.
Scott has over 30 years experience in the aquatics industry ranging from lifeguard instructor to director of a park district. He was the aquatic director of several Pacific Northwest facilities as well as managed the first full summer of operations at Oregon's first indoor wave pool.
His expertise is in aquatic risk management and lifeguard instruction. He has over twenty years of investigative experience in civil and criminal matters.
Shawn Kidd brings 23 years of aquatic safety experience to the IAM SGE team. Shawn was a 5-year Instructor Trainer, Auditor, Training Manager, and Aquatic Safety Consultant. Combined with his experience as an Instructor and Aquatic Examiner, brings a total of 18 years of Instructor experience to the team.
Shawn also serves on the World Waterpark Association's Government Relations Committee. He has spent 15 years of his career in a variety of Recreation leadership roles at the Walt Disney Company and currently resides with his two children in Apopka, Florida.
Joel Riker's experience in the Aquatic industry is vast. Since 2000, where he began his career as a lifeguard at Walt Disney World's Blizzard Beach, Joel's expertise in auditing and lifeguard training has given him the opportunity to travel the world. Joel has held roles as Aquatics Director at both Water Country in New Hampshire and the Brentwood YMCA in Tennessee. He has also been a part of two grand opening resorts at the Double JJ Ranch and Golf Resort in Michigan and has consulted for Atlantis-The Palm in Dubai. Joel has extensive experience managing aquatic facility operations and conducting both lifeguard classes and lifeguard instructor training classes. As a Senior Support Specialist with StarFish Aquatics Institute, he conducted StarReviews and scheduled random, unannounced aquatic safety audits.
Currently, Joel serves as a Client Partner for SGE, where his focus is continued training for their facilities to ensure proper procedures are met and most importantly, both guest and staff safety are the number one priority.
Leah Tallerico discovered her passion for aquatics, water, and the sea after five wonderful years proudly serving in the United States Navy. Upon transitioning to civilian life, her drive and leadership enabled Leah to become the Aquatics Manager for Myrtle Waves Water Park. Her passion, attention to detail, and fortitude helped propel Myrtle Waves' lifeguarding program and operations team to achieve new standards of performance.
As one of SGE's Cruise Line Specialists, Leah spends much of her time sailing on client-partners' amazing ships or training at one of their private island destinations. Whether conducting audits, facilitating courses, or assisting with instructor development courses, Leah's passion, professionalism, and strong presence help lead programs to success. Always up for a challenge or adventure, Leah is excited to share her knowledge, experience, and talents in helping SGE continue to advance and evolve Aquatic Risk Prevention.
As a Client Partner, Micah brings over 25 years in hospitality and recreation management experience to StarGuard ELITE.
Starting his career with the Walt Disney Company, Micah served on the opening team and in management positions of Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon waterparks. Leading recruiting, training and labor management efforts, Micah also served on several special assignments including rebuilding Disney Cruise Line's private island Castaway Cay after hurricane devastation.
Following Disney, Micah moved to Las Vegas where he managed high-volume aquatic and recreation facilities for MGM Resorts International. Leveraging his collective experience from Disney and MGM, Micah served as General Manager for a large eco-tourism company where he oversaw the development and daily management of zip line operations in North America.
A certified project manager and ASTM F24 committee member, Micah possesses diverse recreation and attractions experience that allows him to support clients to meet their business potentials.
Josh Henderson serves in the capacity of Instructor Trainer and auditor for the IAM StarGuard ELITE program.
Josh is a veteran of over 20 years in the aquatics industry and has worked at nearly all types of aquatic environments. He started at a flat water municipal pool in 1990 and moved into private water park operations in 1999. He holds a BSBA from the University of Arkansas and is married with 2 kids.
As he has progressed through his career, he has had the opportunity to work for several well known private water park operators such as Palace Entertainment, Six Flags, and Great Wolf Resorts.
Chris Norman is an Instructor Trainer for IAM StarGuard ELITE, and the Aquatics Manager at Cowabunga Bay in Las Vegas, NV. Innovative Attraction Management, LLC manages the Aquatics for Cowabunga Bay. He began his career in Aquatics in 2008 as a Lifeguard at The Wave Waterpark in Vista, CA. He continued life guarding and moving up through leadership at both The Wave Waterpark and Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor while he completed his Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Purdue University. Upon graduation Chris worked as a National Staff Auditor where he audited over 100 different facilities both in the US and abroad. Looking for a more permanent home, Chris spent 2 years at Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach Water Park in Athol, ID where he served as the Manager of Aquatics and Safety Programs. In 2016 Chris accepted a position as the IAM Aquatics manager at Cowabunga Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, and currently resides there.
The ability to train and mentor Lifeguards, many of whom it is their first job, keeps Chris excited to come to work each and every day.
Josh Seymour has worked in the aquatic industry for over 18 years. Josh began his career as a lifeguard at Wild Waters where he eventually became the Waterpark Manager. He has also had the opportunity to work as the Operations Manager for Six Flags White Water and the Operations Director for Daytona Lagoon.
During his time in aquatics, Josh has built experience in all aspects of safety including being an OSHA Authorized Outreach Trainer, designing and implementing large scale safety inspection programs, and writing park and company-wide policies and procedures. Josh looks forward to combining his experience and natural problem-solving skills to help others keep their facilities safe and successful.