A person’s journey often leads them down exciting and unexpected paths. It is their choices, their passion, and their determination that forge the road ahead. In the realm of underwater exploration and diving, Anthony Ford’s journey is nothing short of inspiring. A distinguished member of NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors), Ford has made a substantial impact on the world of diving, medicine, and leadership.
Early Life: Building a Foundation
Born in Charlotte, NC , Ford’s upbringing was filled with a strong and supportive family who saw him through many transitions. After moving to Michigan and then Texas, he finished high school as a summa cum laude graduate. He chose Morehouse College because of their outstanding science program. Upon graduating cum laude with a degree in Biology and Mathematics, he chose to move to Los Angeles to attend medical school at UCLA. A residency in emergency medicine followed, and at 28, he decided to move back to Atlanta to be closer to his family. Anthony taught at Emory University as an assistant professor in the department of Emergency Medicine for eight years. While there, he mentored medical students, physician assistants, and medical residents. He is a board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician with a private group based in Winston, Georgia.
Discovering the Ocean’s Depths
Ford’s passion for diving began on a summer vacation in Jamaica in 1999, when he reluctantly enrolled in a discover scuba class. A 6 am swim test was hardly appealing, but what he found in the shallow reefs of Jamaica changed his life. He returned to Atlanta and enrolled in an open water scuba class within the next 2 months. After completing his advanced and nitrox certifications, he embarked on a journey into cave diving, honing his abilities to a level that would rival his medical training.
After four years of cave diving and a break from the underwater world, his old instructor lured him back. His mentor, who was a cave diver and now a dive shop owner, had converted from PADI to NAUI. His dedication grew, leading to his earning professional licenses under NAUI as an Instructor, Instructor Trainer, Course Director, and eventually Course Director Trainer. The joy of teaching and learning from candidates to instruct more effectively became a fulfilling part of his life.
NABS: Leadership, Diversity, and Change
Ford attended his first National Association of Black Divers (NABS) summit in 1992 in the Florida Keys. This had a profound impact on him as he was amazed to meet and interact with African American Dive Instructors from all over the country. His passion for organization and effecting change propelled him to leadership roles within the organization. Ford is the current NABS president elected in 2019, driven by encouragement from others and an unwavering belief in his vision.
His passion for NABS is evident in his commitment to mentoring the next generation of divers, implementing pathways to allow others to become instructors, and focusing on reciprocal mentorship between generations. The creation of a “next generation” committee and an emphasis on bringing younger voices to the leadership table have become integral parts of his vision for the future of NABS and diving as a whole.
Diversity: A Vision for the Future
“Diversity is important because it is the ability to see the potential of folks without a filter,” Ford states.
His experiences as a person of color in diving have shaped his vision for a more inclusive and accepting future, where people are seen for their abilities and competencies rather than preconceived notions or biases.
Ford has also been part of NAUI’s diversity sub-committee since its inception, focusing on scholarships and efforts to increase diversity within the diving community. His work continues to evolve, aiming to make NAUI and the world of diving more accessible and inclusive. Ford’s efforts were recognized in 2022 when he received the NAUI Outstanding Service Award.
Conclusion: Legacy of a Trailblazer
Anthony Ford’s journey from reluctant vacationer to accomplished diver, NAUI dive leader, and medical professional, is a testament to the transformative power of passion, perseverance, and mentorship. His legacy, embodied in his dedication to next-generation leadership, diversity, and mentorship, will continue to shape the future of NAUI and the world of diving.
Whether it’s in emergency medicine or the depths of the ocean, Ford’s impact resonates with an intensity that inspires others to explore, learn, and grow. His story reminds us that the path to success is often winding, but with a strong sense of purpose, a supportive village, and a willingness to embrace the unexpected, the possibilities are limitless.