Our President & Founders

Richard & Stephanie Hackett

Richard & Stephanie Hackett, President & Founders of the Sea Mercy program have spent the last 30+ years of their lives preparing to launch this important and much needed program.

Mr. Hackett graduated from Oregon State University in 1984, with a B.S. in International Business & Marketing and a minor in History and an active member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He is very experienced in building major for-profit and non-profit organizations from scratch. He is also a published writer/author (Everything, The Eyes of the Heart and The Black Dragons). Stephanie Hackett graduated from University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1982 with a B.S. in Business & Marketing and an active member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. Sea Mercy is a non-profit Charity (not religious charity, nor are volunteers required to be of a certain faith to participate), although both are very active and involved Christians and their motives for building this program originated from their love for God and the compassion for those created in his image.

For Profit Corporate Experience:

After successfully working 5-7 years in the corporate world (Xerox, DEC and Dupont) following their graduation, in 1989 Mr. & Mrs. Hackett purchased a legal staffing franchise (Legalstaff) for the San Diego market and built it into a multi-million dollar franchise that ultimately purchased the Franchisor in 1995, allowing the company to work outside the San Diego market. In 1999, they started a legal job and resume board called Legalstaff.com that ultimately partnered with over 70 state and local bar and paralegal associations across the nation, quickly growing it into the largest legal specific job and resume board in the US. In 2006, they merged Legalstaff.com with Affiniscape, Inc., the largest member management software company for associations, with over 1,200 associations (nursing, dental, pharmacy, medical, hospital, legal, etc.) serving over a million members.

Non-Profit Organization Experience:

In 1997, Mr. & Mrs. Hackett helped start the San Diego chapter of HOPE Worldwide. As the Associate Director of the 2,500 local member benevolent charity (over 100,000 members worldwide), the first three years of its creation, the organization worked directly with the local government health agencies and clinics in helping raise the immunization rates of the inner city children. The organization was initially self funded until major corporations began to support the efforts of the organization. The organization was launched and operated within their San Diego staffing agency office until office space was secured 2 years later.

Sea Mercy

In 2002, Mr. & Mrs. Hackett began laying the groundwork for the idea, structure and mission for the Sea Mercy program after traveling and sailing in the South Pacific. As business obligations and responsibilities were carefully positioned for success through 2007, they postponed the planned implementation of the program until they felt the economy and their resources could better support the initial launch of the program. With recent events and desires in the Pacific region gaining interest, in 2012 Mr. & Mrs. Hackett felt the right time had come to successfully put the program into motion.

Eye Care Program Directors

Dr. Royce & Loriana Fonken M.D.

Dr. Royce Fonken (Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Advanced Cataract Surgery) and his lovely wife Loriana have taken on the design, implementation and leadership role for the Sea Mercy Eye Care Program in the South Pacific. With their deep knowledge and experience in the field of Ophthalmology, they have developed a program that will help meet the unique and comprehensive needs of the remote islanders that Sea Mercy visits. Evaluation and treatment services that includes:

    Cataract Surgery
    Corneal Disease
    Pediatric Ophthalmology
    Retinal Disease
    Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery

Royce and Loriana have been around water all their lives. They currently live on a houseboat in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Fonken, a board certified ophthalmologist, has dedicated his career to bringing surgical eye care to those who have no access to quality care, especially those who are geographically isolated. Their surgical trips have carried them from the Amazon to the Himalayas, but there is probably no place on earth farther from eye care facilities than the tiny islands on the fringes of the island nations of the South Pacific. Looking for a way to combine their love of sailing and their lifelong mission of bringing eye care to remote areas, Royce and Loriana discovered Sea Mercy. “We were so excited!”, says Loriana. “The years of work to develop all of things that are necessary for such an adventure, like coordinating with Ministries of Health and developing a team of sea captains, were already done! All we had to do was show up with surgical instruments and our boat!”

Cataract blindness is all too common around the world, especially in areas far from medical care. It causes a lifetime of incredible misery to those affected and their loved ones. Fortunately, complete and permanent restoration of vision is possible with a 15 minute surgery which can be performed anywhere in the world. “Nothing is more satisfying to me than introducing a father to her daughter he has never seen; to see the smile on his face and the tears streaming down his cheek when he can see the face he has only felt with his fingers. This drives me”, Dr. Fonken says. “We are honored to be included in this fine organization. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected to find an organization so tailor-made for us.”

Dental Care Program Directors

Scott & Sarah Levison

Sarah Levison is a native Oregonian and graduated in 1990 from the University of Oregon where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Biology and a Chemistry minor. Oregon Health Sciences University School of Dentistry was next on the list where she graduated in the Top 10 of her class with Honors and received two top faculty awards: Top Female Dentist of the Year and Top Pediatric Dentist of the Year. Dr. Sarah had been an avid volunteer with Medical Teams International and has traveled to Honduras, Indonesia, and Cambodia to help sever the world’s poorest communities. In addition to her work with Sea Mercy, she has also volunteered with the Give a Kids a Smile program, the Oregon Mission of Mercy, and was voted Top Dentist in Oregon as decided by peer review in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. She is fluent in Spanish.

Scott grew up in San Luis Obispo California and attended California Polytechnic State University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. He also received his California Teaching Credential and taught high school science class before entering Oregon Health Sciences University School of Dentistry. There he met Dr. Sarah and the two have been practicing dentistry together ever since. Dr. Scott has volunteered internationally with Medical Team International in Mexico and Honduras and he has volunteered locally with the Oregon Mission of Mercy. Dr. Scott is an avid athlete and has completed three Ironman triathlons. They have four beautiful children and live locally in Lake Oswego. 

There is definitely a need for help on the remote islands of the South Pacific, and Sea Mercy has created a Preventive Dentistry Program for these High-Risk Underserved Populations to establish and/or enhance dental care where population exhibit substantial risk for oral health problems because of lack of access.


    To enhance oral health promotion and disease prevention activities
    To provide remote populations with a point of entry into the dental health care system, and
    To identify effective interventions to suit the community needs, mobilize resources to implement the activities, and evaluate the outcome of these activities including methods to monitor progress toward a healthy remote island population

By focusing on preventative care techniques and education, we can gradually reduce the need for dental treatments, such as extractions or fillings and the costs associated.

Medical & Residency Program Directors

Peyton and Carter Hassinger

Peyton and Carter became Sea Mercy’s medical directors in 2014 after returning from their volunteer rotation in Tonga. Recognizing Sea Mercy’s need for physician and nurse leadership, Peyton and Carter were excited to help fill this role.

Carter is originally from Clemson, SC where she lived until she started nursing school at the University of South Carolina. After graduating from nursing school in 2010, Carter began working in the Palmetto Health Richland Emergency Department, where she continues to work as a staff nurse. Carter is a peer coach and part of the team that trains new nurses to work in the emergency department. Carter hopes to go back to school to become a nurse practitioner. Her goal is to improve access to primary care where she currently resides in Columbia, SC as well as through future volunteer rotations with Sea Mercy in the South Pacific.

Peyton grew up in Raleigh, NC where he studied Biochemistry and Chemistry at North Carolina State University. After college, Peyton attended medical school at Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN. After completing medical school in 2011, he moved to Columbia, SC to train in Emergency Medicine at Palmetto Health Richland. He completed his residency training in June of 2014, and continues to work for Carolina Care in Columbia, SC in the emergency departments of Palmetto Health and Providence Hospitals as an attending physician. He also co-directs an annual wilderness medicine course for medical students and residents at Palmetto Health and the University Of South Carolina School of Medicine.

Peyton and Carter met at work in 2012 and were married in April of 2014. They have previously volunteered in rural Guatemala providing free medical care to the indigenous Mayan living in Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlan. Peyton has been sailing and racing sailboats since his childhood, and he lived on his small sailboat on Lake Murray during his first year of residency in Columbia, SC. Peyton and Carter both continue to enjoy sailing and spending time on the water.

Disaster Response Director

John Ivey

JJohn Ivey is responsible for the development and implementation of Sea Mercy's Disaster Response Program. He plans and coordinates the response of SM vessels to natural disasters in theater and deals directly with the affected nation's governmental agencies and responding international NGOs. John has an incredibly diverse skill set that includes leadership and disaster management, personnel management, logistics, computers and communication, building, solar power and catchment water collection and sterilization systems.

John came to Sea Mercy in May 2012, stating that "Rich’s vision for the people of the South Pacific is nothing short of inspiring. That is what brought me to Sea Mercy, but experience in the aftermath of the disasters that these wonderful people have to regularly endure has kept me here.”

John is well equipped to coordinate large projects. John has taken the lead on the face-lifts of three inner city elementary schools in Long Beach, California as acting as the representative for Hope Worldwide to the city and held the role of volunteer coordinator, organizing nearly 1500 volunteers. John was a member of Rotary in Hilo, Hawaii and volunteered on projects throughout the Hawaiian Islands. A former paragliding competition pilot, John has been the safety director for the US Paragliding National paragliding competition and the West Coast Paragliding Championships where he was charge of the coordinated safety of over 2000 flights and maintained a perfect safety record. John and his family lived on an off grid ranch in Hawaii where he built multiple solar power systems and catchment water collection systems through out the Big Island.

Currently, John is a team leader for Jackson County Search and Rescue and currently holds a seat on the board of directors. John also instructs wilderness survival and emergency preparedness for the Boy Scouts of America. He holds a FCC HAM radio technician's license and his current training certifications include: Wilderness Emergency Medical First Aid, First Aid, AED,CPR, Haz-Mat, ICS-100,200,700, DDC, BBP, Firearms, Earthquake and Emergency Response, COPE Leadership Training, OSSA certification, JCSAR Team Leader training and an Oregon General Building Contractor's License.

Australasian Director


Dr. Peckler received his BA from Tulane University in 1992 and his MD from St. George’s University School of Medicine in 1996. After finishing his training and chief resident year in 1999 at Beth Israel Medical Center, he became a core faculty member of the Cornell University Emergency Medicine Residency at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx, New York. While there he did extensive training and teaching of trauma care. He was part of a team that had developed a trauma course for primary care providers in Spanish that was given in many different countries. In 2002 he went to a rural regional trauma center in Florence, South Carolina. While there he continued his academic pursuits in New York and continued his research. In 2004 he moved to Florida to become a core faculty member in the Emergency Medicine Residency at the University of South Florida at Tampa General Hospital. He was the director of simulation and worked extensively with the medical school simulation program. He has been working in New Zealand part time since 2009 and has been a full time consultant since 2013 at Wellington Hospital and runs the simulation program. Dr. Peckler is an author of over 30 scientific publications and book chapters. Simulation and educational process has been his main focus of teaching and research and has traveled the globe presenting and giving courses in trauma, simulation, and ultrasound. He has worked as a physician in more than a dozen countries and has a strong interest in international emergency medicine. He became involved with Sea Mercy in 2014 and believes that it can play a large role in providing the necessary care to the remote areas of the South Pacific.

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