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Resilient Florida: Planning, Policy and Practice

Resilient Florida Workshop Agenda

View Agenda - Thursday, August 8 View Agenda - Friday, August 9


Sergio Alvarez, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Rosen School of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida

Sergio Alvarez, Ph.D., is a natural resource economist researching how natural resources and the environment contribute to human well-being through the provision of ecosystem services such as food, recreation and protection from natural and man-made hazards. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences, and master’s and doctorate degrees in food and resource economics, all from the University of Florida. Alvarez has published articles on a range of topics, including economics of marine resources, costs and management of biological invasions, and value of ecosystem services such as clean water and outdoor recreation. Alvarez has experience with econometrics, statistics, optimization and survey research. Between 2013 and 2018, he served as the chief economist at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, where he gained practical experience in state government and policy analysis.  Alvarez joined the faculty at the University of Central Florida in 2018.

Workshop Presentation

Beth Alvi

Director of Policy, Audubon Florida

Beth Alvi has more than two decades of experience in policy development and implementation, conservation and resource management. She has been with Audubon since November 2018 and leads Audubon’s policy development and legislative efforts in the areas of water, wildlife, habitat and climate. Prior to that, Beth was at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection with the Ecosystem Restoration Programs for almost 10 years. She holds a master’s degree in ecology from Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Kerala University.

Workshop Presentation

Thomas T. Ankersen

Legal Skills Professor and Director, Conservation Clinic, University of Florida College of Law, Florida Sea Grant, Statewide Legal Specialist

Thomas T. Ankersen directs the Conservation Clinic at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, the experiential learning arm of the College’s Environmental and Land Use Law Program. Ankersen also serves as Florida Sea Grant’s Statewide Legal Specialist. In those capacities, he and his students provide law and policy-planning support across a range of marine and coastal issues to state agencies, local governments and nongovernmental organizations. In 2017, Ankersen was appointed to a two-year term as the Florida Climate Institute’s Distinguished Faculty Fellow.

Savanna Barry, Ph.D.

Regional Specialized Agent – Coastal Ecosystems, University of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences

Savanna Barry grew up on a small farm in central Virginia and discovered her interest in marine ecology during family vacations to small fishing towns along the Chesapeake Bay. After earning her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Virginia, Savanna split her time between Gainesville, FL and Little Cayman Island to earn her master’s degree in fisheries and aquatic sciences through the University of Florida. Her master’s research focused on interactions between seagrasses and calcifying algae, but she was also involved in youth education and public outreach on the island. After completing her master’s degree, Savanna moved back to Gainesville full time to continue into a doctorate program at the University of Florida. She did her dissertation work in the beautiful seagrass meadows of the southern Nature Coast where she investigated the morphology, resilience, invertebrate community composition, and carbon storage of seagrass meadows growing under different rates of nutrient input. Savanna began serving the Nature Coast as a Regional Specialized Agent with Sea Grant and UF/IFAS Extension in February 2016 and graduated with her doctorate in April 2016. She lives in Cedar Key and is stationed full time at the Nature Coast Biological Station.

Workshop Presentation

Stephen Boehning

President, Coastal Waterways

Stephen Boehning is a coastal engineer and floodplain manager in private practice since 1990. He earned his master’s degree in ocean engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. He is licensed as a professional engineer in the state of Florida and is a nationally certified floodplain manager. Mr. Boehning is president of Coastal Waterways, a coastal engineering consulting firm specializing in coastal-resiliency solutions that provides engineering, planning, disaster management and regulatory compliance services to municipalities and private entities. He is an active member of the Florida Floodplain Managers Association and serves as the Coastal Issues Committee chair for this nearly 1,000-member organization. He recently has been appointed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s CRS Coastal Task Force, which is responsible for providing updates to the newest edition of the CRS Manual. Mr. Boehning resides at elevation 23.9 feet NAVD in Vero Beach, FL, on the mainland. Today, he will present an overview of the CRS program and provide insights on the challenges and opportunities for Florida communities to receive credit under this FEMA program.

Workshop Presentation

Janet Bowman

Senior Policy Advisor, Florida Chapter of the Nature Conservancy

Janet Bowman is Senior Policy Advisor for the Florida Chapter of the Nature Conservancy where she focuses on state governmental affairs, Gulf of Mexico restoration and climate policy. She also has served as Legal Director of 1000 Friends of Florida, attorney for the Senate Community Affairs Committee and the Legislative Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, and Senior Attorney for the Department of Environmental Protection. She is a past Chair of the Environmental and Land Use Law Section of the Florida Bar and a frequent speaker on conservation policy topics. In 2018, she served as an adjunct professor at Florida State College of Law teaching environmental law. She received her juris doctor degree from the Florida State University College of Law and her bachelor’s degree from New College of Florida.

Workshop Presentation - Financing it all

Workshop Presentation-Building Resilience into Gulf Restoration

Jessica Koelsch Bibza

Florida & Alabama Policy Specialist, National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf of Mexico Program

Jessica Koelsch Bibza has served as the Florida and Alabama Policy Specialist for National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf of Mexico Program since 2013. Jessica promotes science-based ecological restoration projects with funds available in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Her efforts focus on addressing ecological stressors to restore Gulf estuaries, such as Pensacola Bay, Apalachicola area, Tampa Bay, Mobile Bay and the Everglades. To facilitate coordination and communications across jurisdictions and funding streams, she convened RESTORE Coordination Workshops with local, state, federal, NGO, academic and scientific participants. In Northwest Florida, she has been promoting the establishment of new estuary programs, as is the current chair of the Pensacola and Perdido Bay Estuary Program Technical Committee. She also is participating in the Tampa Bay Estuary Program Technical Advisory Committee. Prior to joining NWF, Jessica conducted manatee and sea turtle conservation, research and advocacy, and currently is helping NWF develop a marine wildlife program.

Workshop Presentation

Rod Braun

Manager, Climate & Coastal Resilience Program, The Nature Conservancy

Rod Braun is manager of the Climate and Coastal Resilience Program at The Nature Conservancy. He is responsible for developing policies and strategies around various climate actions, including mitigation and adaptation, as well as implementing in Florida the organization’s 50-State Climate Initiative. Braun leads the effort on coastal resiliency strategies for the Florida Chapter and chairs the Resilience Committee for the Greater Miami & the Beaches Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the steering committees for the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact and the East Central Florida Resilience Collaborative. Previously, Braun served as section lead and bureau chief at the South Florida Water Management District, where he managed several programs, including working with local governments on climate impacts. At the district, he managed the West Coast Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan with a total project cost of $1.1 billion, as well as the Cooperative Funding Program for local restoration and stormwater initiatives he developed, with a $4.2 million budget for 16 counties in South Florida. He has served many years on the Broward County Climate Task Force, Palm Beach County Water Resources Task Force and as a board member of the Florida Stormwater Association. Additionally, Braun has hands-on experience with the successful design and implementation of estuarine restoration projects with Palm Beach County.

Jennifer Z. Carver, AICP

Statewide Community Planning Coordinator, Florida Transportation

Jennifer Z. Carver, AICP, serves as the statewide community planning coordinator for the Florida Department of Transportation Office of Policy Planning. Jennifer coordinates FDOT’s community/comprehensive planning and resiliency planning efforts and is part of the Florida Transportation Plan team. She has more than 20 years of experience in planning and public engagement, including land use/transportation planning, bicycle and pedestrian planning, hazard mitigation, coastal/environmental management, and parks and recreation. Jennifer has a master’s degree in land-use planning/coastal management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Workshop Presentation

Kevin Claridge

Director, Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection

Kevin Claridge is director of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection, which oversees DEP’s 41 aquatic preserves and three national estuarine research reserves, Clean Boating Programs/Clean Vessel Act, Coral Reef Conservation Program, Florida Coastal Management Program, Florida Resilient Coastlines Program, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Outer Continental Shelf Program and State Buffer Preserve Program. During his almost 20-year tenure with the state of Florida, Claridge has led resource management, restoration and regulatory efforts across the state and represented Florida in many state, regional and national partnerships. He has administered coastal management, air, waste, water facility, environmental resource and mine reclamation programs.

Workshop Presentation

Renee Collini

Coordinator, Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative

Renee Collini is the program coordinator for the Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative and is a Climate Extension Associate. Focused on sea-level rise, Collini works throughout the northern Gulf to facilitate the flow of information between researchers and decision-makers to improve science application. She integrates a multi-state network of stakeholders, researchers, nongovernmental organizations and state and federal agencies to build tools, programs and projects to address gaps in sea-level rise observing, research and decision-making in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Collini also works on standardizing and coordinating monitoring and observations across the Gulf and encourages use of these data in management and policy decision-making. Collini also serves on the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Community Resilience and Habitat Teams, is an elected director to the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Board of Directors and is a leader in the Gulf of Mexico Climate and Resilience Community of Practice. She has lead projects and efforts that have improved coastal community and environmental resilience to sea-level rise across the northern Gulf and has led the development of tools that have been applied throughout the Gulf and across the United States. Collini splits time between Dauphin Island, AL, and Vancleave, MS, with her husband and three dogs. She enjoys spearfishing, paddle boarding and beach-going. She holds a master’s degree in marine science from the University of South Alabama and a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Workshop Presentation

Callie DeHaven

Director, Division of State Lands, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Callie DeHaven is a fifth-generation Floridian whose passion for conserving Florida’s historic and natural landscapes led to her dedicating more than two decades to conservation planning, land acquisition and land stewardship. DeHaven’s experience in the public, nonprofit and private sectors and commitment to strong partnerships complements DEP’s Division of State Lands team as they work to acquire, protect and preserve lands that will greatly benefit outdoor recreation and the state’s natural and water resources. DeHaven graduated from Marymount University, earning a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with a focus in legal studies.

Workshop Presentation

Eric Draper

Director, Division of Recreation and Parks, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Eric Draper is director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Recreation and Parks. The division’s 175 state parks and trails, 1,000 employees and nearly 15,000 volunteers protect 800,000 acres of Florida’s best-managed conservation land and has a $3 billion annual economic impact. Division biologists and land managers use prescribed fire, hydrologic restoration and invasive-species control to keep park ecosystems resilient. State parks provide more than 30 million visitors a year with memorable experiences of the Real Florida. Before becoming director of the Florida Park Service, Draper was president of the Florida Audubon Society and served in senior management roles for other national conservation organizations. He was a leading advocate for water and land conservation and Everglades restoration, was credited with helping secure billions in conservation spending, and played a leadership role in most state environmental policy decisions over the past three decades. In addition to his service in Florida, he spent five years in Washington, D.C., leading environmental policy campaigns.

Michael Foster Jr., P.E.

Bureau Chief, Florida State Parks, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Michael Foster Jr., P.E., is the bureau chief for DEP’s Bureau of Design and Construction, within the Division of Recreation and Parks (Florida State Parks). Foster graduated from Georgia Tech in civil engineering in 2002 and has been with DEP for nine years. Prior to his time at DEP, Foster worked as a consulting engineer in Tallahassee and in his hometown of Atlanta. He enjoys the challenge of incorporating resiliency when it relates to the Florida Park Service mission to provide resource-based recreation while preserving, interpreting and restoring Florida’s natural and cultural resources.

Workshop Presentation

Thomas K. Frazer, Ph.D.

Chief Science Officer, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Thomas K. Frazer, Ph.D., serves as chief science officer for the state of Florida. He also is a professor at the University of Florida. Frazer holds a bachelor’s degree in fisheries biology from Humboldt State University and a master’s degree in fisheries and aquatic sciences from the University of Florida. He earned his doctorate in biological sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research addresses contemporary and emerging environmental issues and it is, by nature, interdisciplinary. His work involves collaborators from disparate disciplines, and it includes sampling and experiments conducted across a range of spatial and temporal scales. During his tenure at the University of Florida, Frazer has garnered substantial research funding to address topics pertaining to water quantity and quality, nutrient dynamics, biogeochemical processes, fish population dynamics, food web interactions and ecological restoration of degraded ecosystems. He has conducted field research in both freshwater and marine systems around the globe and he is intimately familiar with a broad suite of environmental and natural resource issues; for example, eutrophication of fresh, estuarine and coastal waters, invasive species, and the ecological impacts of contemporary environmental change, including coral bleaching, ocean acidification and sea level rise. Frazer has authored and/or co-authored more than 175 peer-reviewed publications, technical reports and book chapters. He serves as chief specialty editor for the Coral Reef Research section of Frontiers in Marine Science, currently holds an at-large seat on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and is a member of APLU’s Board on Oceans, Atmosphere and Climate.

Crystal Goodison

Associate Scholar and Associate Director, University of Florida GeoPlan Center

Crystal Goodison is an associate scholar and associate director of the University of Florida GeoPlan Center, a research and teaching center specializing in geospatial systems and technologies. Crystal’s expertise is in developing decision-support tools that organize geospatial information, analysis and visualization for integration into decision-making processes. Her work aims to facilitate adaptation planning and coastal resiliency through the delivery and training of geospatial tools for identifying areas vulnerable to sea level rise and future flooding.

Workshop Presentation

Sekita Grant, J.D.

Legal Fellow, Florida Sea Grant/University of Florida Law Conservation Clinic

Sekita Grant is an environmental policy and social justice strategist and consultant. She works as a Climate Justice Fellow with the Emerson Collective, a program advisor for the Institute for Climate and Peace and recently completed a fellowship with the Florida Sea Grant and University of Florida Law Conservation Clinic. Most recently, Grant worked as the Policy and Impact Strategy manager for Emerson Elemental. In that capacity, she helped to catalyze new approaches to scaling environmental and social good through climate and environment policies and project. Prior to Emerson Elemental, Grant worked at the Greenlining Institute as legal counsel for their Environmental Equity team. In that role, she worked to make energy and climate policies in California equitable and beneficial to communities of color. She came to Greenlining from Business for Social Responsibility, a California nonprofit where she worked as a climate and energy sustainability consultant to large corporations. Prior to that, Grant worked as a policy advisor at the California Energy Commission in Sacramento. There she served as lead advisor to the chair on climate, transportation and legal matters.

Workshop Presentation

Whitney Gray

Administrator, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Resilient Coastlines Program

Whitney Gray has served as the Florida Resilient Coastlines Program administrator with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection since 2017. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees are from the University of Florida where she studied zoology and systems ecology. Gray first worked on climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning with the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council. From 2012 to 2015, Gray served as sea level rise coordinator for both the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Sea Grant, specializing in the effects of sea level rise on coastal ecosystems. She coordinated an internal climate change seminar series, “Florida Adapts,” and served as a subject matter expert on Species Action Plans during the Imperiled Species Management Planning process. Originally from Florida’s Gulf coast, Whitney has seen first-hand how sea level rise has changed the state, from critical erosion to “ghost forests.” Her task now is to bring sea level rise resilience planning to the forefront of DEP activity for the long-term benefit of the people and ecosystems of Florida.

Workshop Presentation

Joy Hazell

State Specialized Agent, University of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences

Joy Hazell is a UF/IFAS Extension faculty member and is the state specialized agent in Facilitation and Conflict Management. Hazell plans, develops, facilitates and evaluates comprehensive needs-based collaborative, decision-making processes around natural resources in Florida and beyond. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marine and freshwater biology from the University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, and a master’s degree in marine affairs and policy from the University of Miami, Miami. Hazell started her career as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central African Republic teaching high school biology. She is pursuing her doctorate degree in fisheries and aquatic sciences, where she received a Fulbright Student Scholarship to conduct her research on the Caribbean island nation of Dominica.

David Hulse

Director and Professor, Florida Institute for Built Environment Resilience (FIBER), University of Florida

David Hulse began January 2019 as director of the Florida Institute for Built Environment Resilience and professor in landscape architecture at the University of Florida, Gainesville. His expertise is in geographic information systems and the use of computer-based tools for facilitating land- and water-use planning and natural resource decision-making. He has worked extensively as a landscape planner in the United States and abroad. Hulse is a graduate of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, a Fulbright Scholar, a recipient of the U.S. Chapter of the International Association for Landscape Ecology’s Distinguished Landscape Practitioner Award, a co-recipient of a group award of the 2012 International RiverPrize for work in the Willamette Basin, and in 2012, was named by Design Intelligence as one of the 25 Most Admired Teachers nationally in environmental design. David and his wife Lauren have two grown children.

Workshop Presentation

Fara Ilami

Coastal Wildlife Conservation Initiative Coordinator, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Fara Ilami plans and manages projects that benefit coastal wildlife statewide and coordinates among several organizations working with coastal wildlife issues. Her work focuses on wildlife and habitat needs as well as socio-economic issues pertaining to Florida’s coastal areas. She recently has been addressing the issues of sea level rise and climate change by leading a study comparing the impacts of seawalls and other shoreline stabilization methods on multiple estuarine and coastal species. Other coastal issues Ilami addresses include wildlife entanglement, marine debris, beach wrack and mechanical beach cleaning, and wildlife disturbance. Ilami serves on the Green Infrastructure Working Group for the Gulf of Mexico, Florida’s Estuarine Restoration Teams and Tampa Bay’s Bird Protection Committee. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s degree in oceanography.

Workshop Presentation

Jennifer Jurado, Ph.D.,

Chief Resilience Officer and Division Director, Broward County

Jennifer Jurado, Ph.D., is Broward County’s chief resilience officer and director of the Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division where she oversees countywide climate resiliency initiatives, water resource policy and planning, environmental monitoring, shoreline protection and marine resources programs. She has been a key figure in the advancement of multi-jurisdictional initiatives with a focus on sustainable water resource management, sea level rise adaptation planning, and progressive policy initiatives. Jurado’s efforts today are focused on holistic adaptation through planning, regulation and infrastructure retrofit, incorporating risk and economics in scenario-based decision-making. Jurado has played a lead role in the organization and advancement of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, a four-county collaboration focused on regional climate mitigation and adaptation strategies and co-leads the compact’s water resources and economic resilience work groups. She serves on the board of directors for the American Society of Adaptation Professionals and the American Geophysical Union’s Thriving Earth Exchange. Jurado is a graduate of the University of Miami.

Joan F. LeBeau, AICP

Urban Design Manager, City of Punta Gorda

Joan F. LeBeau graduated from Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA, with a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture. After 18 years working for Charlotte County, FL, as a biologist, environmental specialist and comprehensive planner, LeBeau became chief planner for the City of Punta Gorda. Thirteen years later, she is urban design manager for Punta Gorda, where she oversees several departments. LeBeau is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners and a certified arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture. LeBeau believes in forming partnerships to complete many of Punta Gorda’s projects. These partnerships include with the University of Florida’s Law School, which focused on new requirements for waterfront communities; the Nature Conservancy for oyster reef restoration and coastal resilience in Punta Gorda and the Charlotte Harbor area; and the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program and Regional Planning Council for vulnerability studies and the city’s first climate adaptation plan. LeBeau has completed two comprehensive plans for Punta Gorda, written a management plan for the Punta Gorda Nature Park and managed a variety of planning studies and projects. She recently implemented a grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Resilient Coastlines Program, which included the completion of Punta Gorda’s second climate adaptation plan and a living shoreline element.

Workshop Presentation

Barbara Lenczewski, Ph.D., AICP

Community Resiliency Planner, Department of Economic Opportunity

Barbara Lenczewski, Ph.D., is a certified planner who has been engaged in comprehensive and environmental land-use planning, rural economic and community development programs in Florida for more than 20 years. Her current responsibilities include providing guidance on comprehensive planning requirements for Peril of Flood (sec. 163.3178(2)(f)) and optional adaptation action areas (sec. 163.3177(6)(g)10). She also serves as a management board member for the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) Council, assisting the IRL communities with water quality and planning issues. Lenczewski was born and raised in New Haven, CT, but has made Florida her home since relocating to work in the Everglades National Park. She holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in biology and behavioral ecology from the Universities of Connecticut, Florida State University and the University of Florida.

Workshop Presentation

Brenda Leonard

Program Administrator, Clean Boating Programs, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection

Brenda Leonard represents the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection Clean Boating Programs. She has been managing Florida’s Clean Marina Program, Clean Vessel Act Program, Clean Boater Program and Clean Boating Partnership for almost 15 years. The Clean and Resilient Marina component was added about five years ago to encourage marinas to implement a set of standards that help prepare the facility for hurricanes and other disasters. These voluntary, nonregulatory, designation programs are partnership-driven, criteria- and incentive-based pollution prevention programs for marinas, boatyards, retailers and boaters. Clean facilities are good environmental stewards and leaders in their communities in protecting the environment. Resilient facilities strive to return to business quickly, which has a direct impact on Florida’s boating economy. Brenda is a native of Florida and has lived most of her life in Tampa. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and policy and has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of West Florida. In her free time, Brenda enjoys gardening, rock collecting, jigsaw puzzles, spending time with family, and spending time outdoors, especially in and around the water. 

Workshop Presentation

Kelli Hammer Levy, M.S., CPM, ENVSP

Division Director, Pinellas County Environmental Management

Kelli Hammer Levy received her bachelor’s degree in marine science from Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL, her master’s degree in marine science from the University of South Florida, and her master’s in public administration from Florida International University. Levy is the division director for Pinellas County Environmental Management, where her responsibilities include oversight of environmental monitoring and assessment, air quality, coastal management and environmental compliance and education programs. Levy represents the county on the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel, is president of the Florida Stormwater Association, serves as vice-chair of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) Management Board and serves as co-chair for the TBEP Technical Advisory Committee and Suncoast Sea Level Rise Collaborative at St. Petersburg College. Levy has worked in the Tampa Bay area for more than 20 years.

Workshop Presentation

John Macomber

Finance Faculty, Harvard Business School, Harvard University

John Macomber is a member of the finance faculty at Harvard Business School (HBS). His research focuses on urbanization and, particularly, the opportunity for private finance of public infrastructure in the United States, Latin America and Africa. His primary master’s of business administration course at HBS is “Sustainable Cities and Resilient Infrastructure.” Assessment of when and how to fund sea rise and flood adaptation is an area of concentration. His writings on real estate, construction, urbanization and finance have appeared in Harvard Business Review, The Boston Globe, The Economist, Urban Land, the Asian Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. Before joining the HBS faculty, Macomber spent several decades as a principal in the real estate and construction industry. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, and Harvard Business School, Cambridge, MA.

Workshop Presentation

Gary Mitchum, Ph.D.

Associate Dean and Professor, College of Marine Science, University of South Florida

Gary Mitchum, Ph.D., is a professor of physical oceanography and the associate dean in the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida, Tampa. After receiving his doctorate in 1984 from the Department of Oceanography at the Florida State University, he spent 11 years in the Department of Oceanography at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, first as a postdoctoral researcher and then as a research faculty member and as director of the University of Hawaii Sea Level Center. Mitchum came to the University of South Florida in 1996. His research interests emphasize short-term climate changes, ranging from interannual variations such as El Niño-Southern Oscillation, to decadal processes, to the long-term sea level rise problem. He also has done work on continental shelf dynamics, mesoscale eddy interactions with mean flows, internal tide generation and propagation, physical controls on fisheries variables and storminess changes in the southeastern United States. Although he has used many types of data in his research, he especially is interested in analyses of tide gauge and satellite altimetric data, and notably proposed and developed the currently accepted method of estimating errors in altimeters via comparisons with the global tide gauge network.

James F. Murley

Chief Resilience Officer, Miami-Dade County

James F. Murley was appointed chief resilience officer for Miami-Dade County in November 2015 by Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. Miami-Dade County, in partnership with the cities of Miami Beach and Miami, joined the international 100 Resilient Cities network in May 2016. Murley previously served as secretary of the Department of Community Affairs under Gov. Lawton Chiles and was appointed chair of the Florida Energy and Climate Commission by Gov. Charlie Crist. Additionally, Murley served as executive director of 1000 Friends of Florida, spent more than 10 years with Florida Atlantic University overseeing research on urban and environmental issues, and served as executive director of the South Florida Regional Planning Council. Murley is a founding member of the American Society for Adaptation Professionals and Resiliency Florida, and a board member of The Florida Ocean Alliance and Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association. Murley also is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

Jayantha Obeysekera (Obey), Ph.D., P.E, F.EWRI

Director, Sea Level Solutions Center, Florida International University / Statewide Lead, Florida Climate Institute

Jayantha Obeysekera, Ph.D., served as a member of the federal advisory committee that directed the development of the National Climate Assessment in 2014. He also was a co-author of the sea level rise projections report published by National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the National Climate Assessment and lead author for the Southeast Chapter of the National Climate Assessment. Obeysekera served as a member of the Coastal Assessment Regional Scenario Working Group associated with the U.S. Department of Defense. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from University of Sri Lanka, a master’s degree in engineering from University of Roorkee, India, and a doctorate in civil engineering from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, with specialization in water resources. Obeysekera has published more than 55 research articles in many peer-reviewed journals. He received the 2015 Norman Medal of the American Society of Civil Engineers for a technical paper that makes a definitive contribution in engineering.

Workshop Presentation

Colin Polsky, Ph.D.

Director and Professor, Center for Environmental Studies, Florida Atlantic University

Colin Polsky, Ph.D., is an environmental social scientist whose research and teaching examine how people create, perceive and respond to environmental challenges. His interdisciplinary training is in mathematics, humanities, French, geography, science and international affairs (from University of Texas, Penn State University and Harvard University). As the Florida Atlantic University Center for Environmental Studies director and professor, Polsky helps build and lead teams to advance knowledge of U.S. climate vulnerabilities, in both methodological and applied terms. His responsibilities include program building, both within and across university departments; fundraising from public and private foundations; staffing diverse and multi-generational teams; and communicating with varied audiences for both persuasive and reporting purposes.

Workshop Presentations

Alex Reed

Director, Division of Water Resource Management, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Alex Reed has worked in the Division of Water Resource Management since 2009 and was appointed its director in April 2018. Reed also has served as the division’s deputy director and as administrator of the department’s Beaches and Mines Funding Assistance Program. Alex earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from Florida State University.

Workshop Presentation

C.J. Reynolds

Director of Resilience and Engagement, Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council

C.J. Reynolds is the staff lead for the Tampa Bay Regional Resilience Coalition, which currently includes 28 local governments. CJ has more than 25 years of experience developing multi-sectoral initiatives and programs to address emerging risks through innovative research, strategic planning and education partnerships. From 2011 to 2018, CJ was a research associate at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, where she worked on grants involving local governments to assess attitudes related to climate risk, adaptation planning, policies and public finance. Prior to moving to Florida, Reynolds worked in the food and agriculture sectors, where she focused on risk management, technical training, organizational processes and outreach. Reynolds has a bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL.

Jenifer Rupert

Regional Disaster Resilience Coordinator, East Central Florida Regional Planning Council

Jenifer Rupert has spent majority of her career building collaborative programs. Rupert worked with the planning council for almost 10 years as the creator and program manager for the Regional Greenway and Trail Workgroup; technical director for (Orlando Economic Partnership); trainer for the Department of Homeland Security; and assisted in implementing legislature-enacted mandates. Rupert enjoyed consulting and was managing partner of her own company. Most recently, she returned to the Regional Planning Council to develop and implement a project focused on resilience. She created and ushered the resolution for the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council to develop a framework for a Resilience Collaborative and continues to lead the effort to unite the local governments and formalize partnerships with the collaborative. Rupert continues establishing and maintaining partnerships to further create a collaborative ecosystem and develop regional initiatives for the collaborative in East Central Florida.

Michael Savarese, Ph.D.

Professor of Marine Science, Florida Gulf Coast University

Michael Savarese, Ph.D., is a professor of Marine Science and Environmental Studies within the Department of Marine & Ecological Sciences and the Coastal Watershed Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers. He has been a faculty member there since the university’s opening in the 1997. Savarese’s teaching and research interests concern the history of environmental change in coastal settings, particularly in response to human development, climate change and sea level rise. Throughout his years at FGCU, Savarese has served as a liaison between scientists and managers/decision-makers, serving in the past as chairperson of the Big Cypress and Southwest Florida Restoration Coordination Teams. More recently, he has served as a community liaison to foster coastal resilience efforts throughout Southwest Florida.

Workshop Presentation

Carlton D. Spirio, Jr. P.E.

State Drainage Engineer, Florida Department of Transportation

Carlton Spirio currently serves as the state drainage engineer for the Florida Department of Transportation. He has 31 years of overall work experience — 17 years with FDOT and 14 years in private industry. Additionally, Spirio serves on the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) Technical Committee on Hydrology and Hydraulics, which consists of 24 states and representatives from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and AASHTO. This committee identifies research needs and develops design guidance to improve the current practices within the drainage industry.

Workshop Presentation

Philip Stone

Pre-Construction Section Leader, Bureau of Design and Construction, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Philip Stone is the pre-construction section leader with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Design and Construction, within the Division of Recreation and Parks. Philip has been with the Department for three years overseeing the design and permitting team. Before joining DEP, Stone served as construction projects manager with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, overseeing public shooting-range design and construction. In addition, Stone has worked for many years in real estate development and construction in the private sector. Philip holds a master’s degree in economics from Florida State University, Tallahassee.

Workshop Presentation

Beth Stys

Research Administrator, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Beth Stys is a research administrator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). She has worked for the FWC for more than 27 years. Her work has focused on landscape level; statewide conservation planning; imperiled species protection; terrestrial and freshwater aquatic conservation area identification and prioritization; species habitat modeling; land cover mapping; and climate change. Stys is an instructor for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and the Climate Smart Conservation classes.

Workshop Presentation

Gus Zambrano, AICP

Assistant City Manager, City of Hollywood

Gus Zambrano joined the City of Hollywood as its assistant city manager for Sustainable development in March 2015. In his role, he provides oversight and guidance for the city’s four development and operational services departments and communications, marketing and economic development. He also guides the planning, development, coordination and implementation of resilience efforts geared toward effectively and proactively managing an array of community risks with potential impacts to the city’s economic, cultural and environmental health. Among Zambrano’s many sustainable achievements since joining the City of Hollywood, Zambrano has overseen the implementation of a plastic and foam ban on the barrier island; the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in all city-operated parking garages and City Hall; and the transition to a flex-fuel vehicle fleet and biofuel filling station. Before joining the City of Hollywood, Zambrano served as the director of community and economic development in the City of Miramar where he played a key role in the areas of economic development, redevelopment, planning and development, and housing and marketing. Zambrano oversaw the city’s economic development incentive program that created 7,200 high-valued jobs and brought in $254 million in capital investment during his tenure. Early in his career, Zambrano was a real estate, planning and development consultant in the private sector in Toronto and Miami. Zambrano has a bachelor’s degree with honors in urban-economic geography and a master’s degree in urban planning from McGill University in Canada. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Zambrano lives in Hollywood with his wife and four children. He is trilingual and an avid runner.

Workshop Presentation

David Zierden

State Climatologist, Associate in Research, Florida State University Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies

David Zierden serves as Florida’s state climatologist and associate in research at the Florida Climate Center. He is the leading authority on climate variability in Florida, particularly as related to El Niño-Southern Oscillation. The climate center is involved with the Southeast Climate Consortium, one of the Regional Integrated Science and Assessment (RISA) teams funded by NOAA’s Office of Global Programs. Through this involvement, Zierden’s team conducts research into downscaled and localized climate forecasts and their application to the sectors of agriculture, forestry and water resources. Recent expansion of the consortium now includes the state climate offices of Georgia and Alabama, as well as agriculturist, hydrologists and social scientists from the University of Florida, University of Miami, University of Georgia, University of Alabama Huntsville, and Auburn University. An example of the climate information products developed by Florida Climate Center is a method of forecasting wildfire threat based on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI). The experimental forecast expresses wildfire threat in probabilistic terms and is used by the Florida Division of Forestry for planning management strategies and allocation of resources. This year, the wildfire threat forecast was expanded to include the states of Georgia and Alabama. These results were presented at the National Seasonal Assessment Workshop, Eastern and Southern States in January 2006.

Workshop Presentation 

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July 1, 2022 - 12:39pm

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