Together We Accomplish Extraordinary Things 

2023 EcoSummit and Green Living Expo

the largest environmental event ever organized on the Suncoast!

Congratulations to our community!

Over 2000 people showed up for the environment


Our Mission

The Science and Environment Council works to increase science-based environmental understanding, conservation, and restoration through collaboration and public engagement in Southwest Florida.

Our Inspiration

Our natural environment is the foundation of our economy and quality of life. It cradles our health and safety, inspires outdoor sports and recreation, stirs our passions for art and culture, and renews and grounds us. Conserving and restoring our natural environment is foundational to safeguarding our home and our future.

Our Leadership

The Science and Environment Council is our community’s hub of environmental leadership. As a non-profit consortium of the 38 leading science-based environmental non-profit and government organizations in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, we are our community’s trusted environmental scientists, educators and natural resource managers.

Our Impact

Our network serves as a catalyst and multiplier creating powerful synergy and leverage among our member organizations and the community to initiate and accomplish impactful projects no one organization would pursue on its own.

Featured Project

Local Climate Stories

Climate stories as told by locals, developed by the Climate Council Education Outreach Working Group.

Download the free companion story cards.

Our Members

Thank you to our Founding Members for 23 years of support!

Conservancy of
North Port

Florida Rewilding

Susan Glickman

Energy Consultant

Named to Florida Trend’s Inaugural 500 Most Influential Business Leaders, Susan is a consultant to ReThink Energy Florida and Florida Clinicians for Climate Action - educating medical professionals on the health harms of climate change. She’s worked with Natural Resources Defense Council, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Our Children’s Trust and the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

Susan’s on the board of Solar & Energy Loan Fund (SELF) which provides affordable financing for weatherization and solar for low and moderate income families. She’s on the Steering Committee of East Central Florida Regional Resilience Collaborative and initiated the Tampa Bay Regional Resilience Coalition.

Bill Johnson

Brilliant Harvest

Bill is the Owner and President of Brilliant Harvest, LLC. He grew up in Sarasota with solar hot water and solar pool systems on his roof. Bill has a B.S. in physics from Emory University, a Masters in Physics from the University of South Florida, and an MBA from the University of Florida. He founded Brilliant Harvest, a state certified solar contractor, in 2009, to serve residential and commercial clients on the west coast of Florida. Bill is certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners as a Solar Photovoltaic installation professional and currently serves as Treasurer of the Florida Solar Energy Industry Association.

Lee Hayes Byron

UF/IFAS Extension & Sustainability

Lee Hayes is the Director for Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability which is a partnership between the University of Florida and Sarasota County to bring researched-based information to our community. From agriculture to wildlife and composting to solar, Sarasota County Extension provides classes, speakers, technical assistance, and programs to help residents and businesses build a better future. Previously she was the Sustainability Manager for Sarasota County, overseeing sustainability improvements within government operations and the efforts to create a sustainable community across Sarasota County.

Duanne Andrade

Executive Director
Solar & Energy Loan Fund (SELF)

Duanne is the Executive Director of the Solar and Energy Loan Fund, a CDFI/Green Bank based in Florida. Duanne is a passionate advocate for social, environmental, and economic equity and has spent the past 20+ years working on innovative financing models to unlock access to fair capital for populations in underserved communities in the United States and Latin America. She has worked extensively with nonprofit microfinance models focused on lifting vulnerable populations out of poverty as well as for-profit financing models to address financing gaps for small businesses and expanded energy efficiency and clean energy financing as a critical component of sustainable development.

Amber Whittle

Executive Director
Southface Sarasota

Amber is a Sarasota local and currently is the Executive Director of Southface Sarasota, a resilience nonprofit focused on energy efficiency, climate change, and social equity and health. She is also the Director of the Pritzker Marine Lab at New College. She received her BA in English and her BS in Zoology from the University of Florida and her PhD in Zoology/Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her conservation efforts have spanned climate change mitigation, corals, larval fish, sea turtles, watershed restoration, water quality, habitat restoration, microplastics, endangered species, MPAs, and policy work.

Sarah Dearman

The Recycling Partnership

From corporate to government and nonprofit sustainability initiatives, Sarah has spent her career collaborating for good. Sarah is the Chief Innovation Officer for The Recycling Partnership, a national nonprofit organization advancing a circular economy by building a better recycling system. Sarah specializes in creating action-oriented collaborations to accelerate the circular economy. Having spent time leading sustainable packaging at Coca-Cola as well as managing sustainability initiatives for Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources, Sarah understands the power of public-private collaboration and is passionate about maximizing partnerships for positive change.

 Donn Githens

Goodwill Manasota

Donn is the President & CEO of Goodwill Industries-Manasota, Inc. (GIMI), a nonprofit dedicated to closing the skills gap and addressing inequities. With 17 years experience in the Goodwill network, he led GIMI's DGR, operations, and oversaw marketing, real estate, and more before his current role. He also held key roles at Goodwill of North Georgia and Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers. Githens holds an MBA from Ashford University, a Bachelor of Science from Florida State University, and has completed leadership programs with Goodwill Industries International and the University of Georgia-Fanning Institute.

Mike Kelcourse

Compost Jax

Mike is an experienced innovator in the waste management industry. He has intimate knowledge of how the waste industry works and over 20 years of formal recycling industry experience. In 2013, Michael started Kelco Recycling, a cardboard, paper and plastics recycler in the Jacksonville market. In 2019, he noticed a large opportunity in the industry for food waste and compost, which eventually led to him forming Sunshine Organics and Compost in 2020. The company collects food, agricultural, and forestry waste, processes it into organic compost and biochar, then returns it to the soil while making the environment and local communities healthier.

Emily Grant

Florida Program Manager
MEANS Database

Emily is the Senior Program Manager for the MEANS (Matching Excess And Needs for Stability) Database, an online platform connecting those with excess food, like grocery stores, co-ops, and restaurants, with nearby emergency food providers. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in Urban Studies and Spanish. She has over 6 years of experience program planning and over 4 years of professional work in the Florida food system. When she’s not coordinating the donation of excess food, you can find her taking care of 40+ plants, playing with her dog Ziggy, or being a cookie monster.

Zack Rasmussen

Gamble Creek Farms

Zack got his first taste of ecological farming in South India and has spent over 10 years studying permaculture design with an interest in Agroforestry, Korean natural farming,and syntropic farming systems. His journey with Chiles Hospitality began when he installed multiple self-sustaining gardens for its Sandbar restaurant. Now, as a farm manager at Gamble Creek Farms,Zack grows a unique variety of herbs, spices,vegetables, fruits and flowers through organic practices and permaculture principles that have become a staple for all ofChiles Hospitality’s restaurants.One of his current goals at the farm is to build cohesive plant relationships.

​Abbey Tyrna, PhD

Executive Director
Suncoast Waterkeeper
Case Study: PFAS in Water

Abbey joined Suncoast Waterkeeper as their Executive Director in 2022. Tyrna has a doctorate in geography from Pennsylvania State University, where her research examined the positional importance of wetland systems across watersheds. In 2015, she became an adjunct professor of Environmental Studies at State College of Florida and later the Water Resources Agent for UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability.  Tyrna is a founding member of the Healthy Pond Collaborative and a lead author of the Healthy Pond Guide.  At Suncoast Waterkeeper, Abbey works in pursuit of achieving the 1972 federal Clean Water Act goal of swimmable, fishable, and drinkable waters for all.

Sandy Gilbert

Solutions To Avoid Red Tide
Case Study: Healthy Ponds Collaborative

Sandy is a retired publishing executive from TIME and Smithsonian Magazines who is the Chairman of START (Solution To Avoid Red Tide). In his fifteen-year tenure at START, he has overseen the Shuck ‘N Save Oyster Program in Manatee County that has restored local oyster reefs.  He also helped sponsor the clam seeding program with the Sarasota Bay Watch that has seeded over 2 million clams in the Bay and administered the Healthy Pond Collaborative’s stormwater pond enhancement program that has planted over 15 miles of new pond shoreline in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.

Bob Bunting

Climate Adaptation Center
Case Study: Climate Driven Flooding

 Bob is a scientist, serial entrepreneur and educator, moving easily between private enterprise, government and academic spheres, making him a true “bridge” person and uniquely qualified to lead the CAC. He is the CEO of Waterstone Strategies, a consulting firm that assists its early stage high technology clients to “plan and execute” their business and funding strategies.

Erica Gies

National Geographic Explorer

Erica is the author of Water Always Wins: Thriving in an age of drought and deluge, published in the U.S., the U.K., and China. An independent journalist and National Geographic Explorer, her reporting on water, climate change, plants and critters appears in Scientific American, Nature, The New York Times, bioGraphic, The Guardian, and other publications. Erica has received the Sierra Club’s Rachel Carson Award, Friends of the River’s California River Award, the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation’s Excellence in Journalism Award, and was a finalist for the Berlin-based Falling Walls Science Breakthrough of the Year Award.


Maya Burke

Assistant Director
Tampa Bay Estuary Program

Maya is the Assistant Director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. She is responsible for strategic planning, and implementation reporting for the benefit of a healthy bay; she distills  research for a broader audience; and facilitates working groups including the Tampa Bay Nitrogen Management Consortium and the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel. Maya is a native Floridian and has spent 20 years working in water resource management and environmental land use planning. Prior to working at the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, she worked for the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.


Amanda Boone, PE

Project Engineer
Woodard & Curran

Amanda is Project Manager with Woodard and Curran and a multi-disciplined engineer and project manager with over 20 years of experience influencing decision-makers and leading teams through end-to-end program execution. Amanda has a Bachelors and Masters degree in Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech. Her experience spans both private and public sectors in Florida and North Carolina. While her expertise is primarily focused on stormwater quantity and quality management, she also has experience with erosion control; stream and wetland restoration; and water and sewer utilities. She utilizes her diverse background to approach projects holistically and bring together the right team.


Jaclyn Lopez, JD

Assistant Professor
Stetson College of Law

Jaclyn is the director of the Jacobs Public Interest Law Clinic for Democracy and the Environment at Stetson University, College of Law, where she also teaches professional responsibility and advanced legal research and writing. She previously worked at the Center for Biological Diversity, where she served as the nonprofit’s Florida Director and senior attorney for over a decade. She holds a master of laws in environmental and land-use law from the University of Florida, a J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and a master’s of science in urban planning from the University of Arizona.


Joe Bonasia

Chair/SWFL Regional Director
Florida Rights of Nature Network
Story: Right to Clean Water

Joe is a Chair of Florida Rights of Nature Network and Communications Director of, the two organizations behind the campaign to amend our Florida Constitution with a fundamental “Right to Clean and Healthy Waters.” He also serves as Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s volunteer liaison to Senator Rick Scott’s office, is a founding board member of the SWFL RESET Center, and is co-leading efforts to prevent the destruction of critical wetlands in Cape Coral. He writes about the Right to Clean Water, Rights of Nature, and our climate crisis.

Rabbi Ed Rosenthal

Executive Director
Repair the Sea
Story: Water is Godly

Ed is the Executive Director and Campus Rabbi of the Suncoast Hillels, and brings with him a passion for Jewish life and spirituality, Israel and the Jewish People. Before coming to work for Hillel, Ed was a congregational rabbi in Auckland, New Zealand and Brownsville, Texas. He loves working with college students and came to Suncoast Hillels after serving as the executive director of Hillel at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York for eight years. Before that, he was the campus rabbi at Emory University in Atlanta for two years.

John McCarthy

Vice President for Regional History
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Story: I am the Estuary

John is the Vice President for Regional History for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and passionate about Florida ecology and history.   A skilled storyteller, John is well known for his encyclopedic knowledge of the Sarasota area, which he shares through presentations, tours and publications.  John received his BS from Goshen College and worked with Sarasota County Government for 32 years as an Environmental Specialist, County Historian, and Director of Parks and Recreation.  An avid cyclist and kayaker, John enjoys exploring natural lands and waterways throughout the region.

​Ronda Ryan

Executive Director
Sarasota Bay Watch
Case Study: Marine Debris

 As Executive Director of Sarasota Bay Watch, Ronda developed the marine debris program and partnered with other organizations, municipalities, scientific groups, and friends to assist in debris collection efforts and methods. She’s a member of NOAA’s Marine Debris Reduction and NOAA’s Derelict Fishing Gear workgroups. Ronda revels working with the community and mentors students in the SBW Youth Leadership Program. She’s made indelible friendships with hard working, purpose driven individuals who share her passion. She is a wife to one, a mother to two, and a critical care nurse to many.

Howard Hochhalter

Suncoast Stargazers
Case Study: Dark Skies

Howard is the Director of the Planetarium in Venice. He never anticipated becoming a self-taught man of science. As a young Marine proudly serving his country, he was more inclined to travel than ponder complex cosmological questions. However, a chance visit to a local planetarium changed the course of his life and led to a career working at the premier astronomy education facility on Florida's west coast. Howard’s engaging and entertaining style of teaching peels away the intimidating veil of science and makes astronomy accessible to all.

Kylie Wilson

Shorebird Coordinator
Florida Audubon (seasonal)
Case Study: Beach Nesting Birds and Turtles

Kylie was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida. From a young age, she was interested in the environment and wildlife and always knew she wanted to pursue a career as a biologist. She attended Pine View School for high school and Florida State University for her bachelor’s degree. After college, she interned for various wildlife organizations mainly involved in work with birds and sea turtles. In 2018, she started working as the local Shorebird Coordinator for Audubon Florida where her main duties were to protect beach-nesting birds and coordinate the stewardship program in Sarasota.

Nate Brennan, PhD

Staff Scientist
Mote Marine Laboratory
Case Study: Fisheries Restoration

Nate is a Staff Scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory in the Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Florida. With a primary research focus on snook stock enhancement, he conducts release experiments to evaluate post-release growth, survival, diet, habitat use, and movement and dispersal in tidal creeks and estuaries. Dr. Brennan's foundational work began in Hawaii working on striped mullet aquaculture and stock enhancement.  Recently he is coupling his experience of integrated aquaculture systems and juvenile snook ecology towards fish habitat restoration and ecosystem conservation.


Damon Moore

Oyster Reef Ecology
Case Study: Oyster and Clam Restoration

Damon is a habitat restoration practitioner with 20 years of experience developing and implementing large-scale habitat restoration projects and is a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (CERP) through the Society for Ecological Restoration.  He recently founded a project-implementation focused environmental nonprofit organization called Oyster River Ecology, Inc. (ORE) and serves as President of the Manatee Fish & Game Association.  In his free time, Damon enjoys spending time with his family, fishing, kayaking, hiking, uploading plant and insect observations in iNaturalist, leading nature tours, and volunteering on habitat restoration projects.


Katie McHugh, PhD

Staff Scientist
Sarasota Bay Dolphin Research Program
Case Study: Sarasota Bay Listening Network

 Katie is a Senior Scientist and Deputy Program Director at the Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP), based at Mote Marine Laboratory. Katie

first began studying wild dolphins with the SDRP as a Mote intern in 2000. She returned as a graduate student researcher focused on juvenile dolphin behavior and the effects of harmful algal blooms on dolphins. Katie’s current research focuses on understanding and mitigating adverse human-dolphin interactions, and she is also responsible for overseeing the Sarasota Bay Listening Network and the SDRP’s conservation training programs.


Craig Pittman

Environmental Journalist
Florida Phoenix

Craig is a Florida native and award-winning investigative journalist and author. In 30 years at the Tampa Bay Times, he won numerous awards for his environmental reporting, including the Waldo Proffitt Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism and the top investigative reporting award from the Society of Environmental Journalists. He is the author of six books documenting the wild and weird of Florida, including Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species, Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther, and the New York Times Bestseller Oh Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country. In 2020 the Florida Heritage Book Festival named him a Florida Literary Legend.

Ed Sherwood

Tampa Bay Estuary Program

Ed became Tampa Bay Estuary Program’s Executive Director in 2018 after serving as the Program Scientist since 2008. Ed is responsible for maintaining TBEP’s strong interlocal partnership and continuing the bay’s science-based restoration and recovery strategies. He directs TBEP’s technical and public outreach initiatives and serves as the primary policy liaison between its many public and private partners. Ed holds a B.S. degree in Marine Biology from the University of West Florida, and a M.S. degree in Marine Fisheries and Ecology from the University of Florida.

Dave Tomasko, PhD

Sarasota Bay Estuary Program

Dave has more than 30 years of experience in water quality assessments and the development of science-based natural resource plans in the Gulf of Mexico and international locations. He holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of South Florida, a Master of Science in marine biology from the Florida Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Science in biology from Old Dominion University. Dave was also the first-ever SBEP Program Scientist.

Jennifer Hecker

Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership

 Jennifer is the Executive Director of the Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership (US EPA National Estuary Program), responsible the past 7 years for working with non-profits and local, state, and federal govts. to restore and protect natural resources in Central and Southwest Florida. She serves as a Science Advisory Committee member to Everglades Restoration, as well as on the Environmental Advisory Committee for the Southwest Florida Water Management District.  Prior, Jennifer was the Director of Natural Resource Policy for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida for 13 years, and an environmental scientist for private and local governmental organizations.

Craig Pittman

Author & Journalist

Craig Pittman is a native Floridian. Born in Pensacola, he graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him "the most destructive force on campus." Since then, he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Craig Pittman is an award-winning investigative journalist with 30 years covering environmental issues for Florida's largest newspaper, the Tampa Bay Timas and now Florida Phoenix. He has won the Waldo Proffitt Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism in Florida four times, and twice won the top investigative reporting award from the Society of Environmental Journalists. Stories he has written for Sarasota magazine have won three first-place awards from the Florida Magazine Association. He's the author of six books documenting the wild and weird of Florida, most recently The State You're In: Florida Men, Florida Women, and Other Wildlife.

Randy Wells, PhD

Co-Founder - Sarasota Dolphin Research Program

Randall is a co-founder and directs the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, the world’s longest-running dolphin conservation research program.  He began studying dolphins as a high school volunteer at Mote Marine Laboratory in 1970. Wells received his PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a post-doctoral fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, before joining the Chicago Zoological Society in 1989. He has worked internationally on whale, dolphin, and manatee conservation. Wells has mentored 77 graduate students, led/co-authored 323 publications, been lead/co-author of 786 presentations, and serves on the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission’s Committee of Scientific Advisors.

Carl Hiaasen

Author & Journalist

A Florida native, Carl Hiaasen has been writing about the Sunshine State since his father gave him a typewriter at age six. From 1985 until 2021, Hiaasen wrote a column for The Miami Herald, covering everything from local issues like polluted rivers, the criminal justice system, and animal welfare, to national stories like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Trayvon Martin case, Bernie Madoff’s trial, and Florida’s presidential election woes. His sharp observations and eye-opening reporting have earned him three Pulitzer Prize nominations. Hiaasen turned to writing novels in the 1980s. To date, Carl Hiaasen has published 13 novels for adults, among them nine national bestsellers – Strip Tease, Stormy Weather, Lucky You, Sick Puppy, Basket Case, Skinny Dip, Nature Girl, Star Island, and Bad Monkey. Carl Hiaasen has also taken his humor and irreverence to the pages of kids’ books, publishing several popular novels for young readers, most recently Wrecker.

 Jono Miller

Author and Natural Historian
Story: Adventures on the Myakka River

Jono is a natural historian, environmental educator, and activist who has worked for over a half century to understand and protect the wild places in Southwest Florida. Jono is both a graduate and former Director of the Environmental Studies Program at New College of Florida. He is also a graduate of the Florida Studies Program of USF St. Pete, and the Florida Natural Resource Leadership Institute. In addition to his work on environmental lands, Jono is known for his leadership on the Myakka River, cabbage palms, tree protection, barrier island issues, water management, and backyard chickens.

Emily Hall, PhD

Senior Scientist
Mote Marine Laboratory
Story: Diving the Green Banana Blue Hole

Emily is a Senior Scientist and Program Manager at Mote Marine Laboratory where she manages the Chemical and Physical Ecology Program and the Ocean Acidification Program. Her research focuses on nutrient patterns related to harmful algal blooms and the effects of acidification on estuarine and coastal ecosystems. Dr. Hall developed ocean acidification and climate change experimental systems in the Florida Keys and Sarasota to study global and local stressors on estuarine and coastal ecosystems. She also focuses on unique coastal and marine habitats that could withstand or alleviate the effects of global changes on organisms like seagrass beds and offshore deep holes.

Randy Wells, PhD

Sarasota Dolphin Research Program
Story: A Dolphin's Tale 

Randall is a co-founder and directs the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, the world’s longest-running dolphin conservation research program.  He began studying dolphins as a high school volunteer at Mote Marine Laboratory in 1970. Wells received his PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a post-doctoral fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, before joining the Chicago Zoological Society in 1989. He has worked internationally on whale, dolphin, and manatee conservation. Wells has mentored 77 graduate students, led/co-authored 323 publications, been lead/co-author of 786 presentations, and serves on the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission’s Committee of Scientific Advisors.

Mark Hostetler, PhD

University of Florida

Mark is a professor and Extension specialist at the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. His work focuses on design and management of "green" communities, especially how biodiversity is affected by urban landscape design and management strategies. The Green Leap is his practical guide for conserving biodiversity in subdivision development.

John Keifer, PhD

Principal Engineer
Black and Veach

 John is a Principal Engineer at Black and Veach and an award-winning ecosystem restoration designer, specializing in the improvement of flowing waters for flood hazard mitigation, water quality, sediment management, fisheries, biodiversity, recreation, quality of life and economic stimulus. He is a wetland scientist, fluvial geomorphologist, and environmental engineer who develops actionable science into resilient design. John has co-authored wellreceived technical reports including peer-review journal articles, a stream classification and design manual, and a book chapter on tropical wetland mitigation. He has special training and experience in mutual gains negotiations, furthering his ability to work with the public.

Jeanne Dubi

Sarasota Audubon Society

Jeanne is the President of the Sarasota Audubon Society and has played a key role in turning the Celery Fields, a regional stormwater treatment facility, into the wildlife habitat it is today. That effort included fundraising and overseeing the construction of a new Audubon nature center. In 2021, she received the Charles H. Callison Award from the National Audubon Society for her commitment to birds and habitat conservation.

Aedan Stockdale

Education and Volunteer Division Manager
Manatee County Natural Resources

Aedan Stokdale is the Education and Volunteer Division Manager for Manatee County Natural Resources. While pursuing a B. A. in Marine Biology from New College of Florida, Aedan worked at Mote Marine honing his passion and skills for teaching others about coastal environments. Aedan came to work for Manatee County full-time after graduating, where he now develops educational programs, creates exhibits, teaches archery, and takes people kayaking. A rare Florida-born native, Aedan grew up hiking through palmettos, tromping across mangrove swamps, and swimming in the Gulf – experiences he now uses to help others foster their own connections to the outdoors.

Hillary Van Dyke

Invincible Summer Enterprises
Story: Everybody Needs Nature

Hillary is the President of Invincible Summer Enterprises and works with museums, nonprofits, and educational companies to help students, faculty, and the community to see their inherent brilliance.  She is also a project manager for Impact Florida. From 2008 to 2021, she served in roles from middle school ELA teacher to high school staff developer to district administrator over DEI initiatives. Hillary is currently pursuing a doctorate in social sciences curriculum and instruction at the University of South Florida.

Uzi Baram, PhD

Director of Public Archaeology
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Story: Ancient Landscapes

Uzi is the Director of Public Archaeology for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and has decades of experience in community-based public archaeology to facilitate connecting people and organizations to the robust heritage of the Florida Gulf Coast. Dr. Baram taught for 25 years at New College of Florida and founded its Public Archaeology Lab. Uzi raised his three children in Sarasota, taking them to seemingly every museum, beach, park, and preserve across the region. Dr. Baram's efforts focus on addressing the landscape of rising sea levels, recovering histories of freedom-seeking peoples, and emphasizing the significance of heritage for community and individual health.

Tony Clements

Division Manager
Sarasota County Natural Areas and Trails
Story: Fire Management: A Day in the Life of a Burn Captain

Tony started his career with the Florida Park Service in 1993 and worked at Oscar Scherer State Park for 20 years, five as a Park Ranger, six as the Assistant Manager and ten as the Park Manager with a four-year break in the middle working for King County Parks at Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park in Washington State doing wildland restoration and trail construction. He is currently working for Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources as the Division Manager for Natural Areas and Trails.

Aliki Moncrief, JD

Executive Director
Florida Conservation Voters

Aliki works to build political power to protect our environment and democracy and create a healthy, sustainable future. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and B.A. from Emory University. She has experience in the government and non-profit sectors providing legal assistance to communities harmed by hazardous waste sites, lobbying the Florida state legislature on environmental and public health issues, and protecting natural areas and species. In 2011, she played a pivotal role leading a statewide coalition that changed Florida’s constitution to dedicate $20 billion for protecting public lands, waters, and critical ecosystems.

Christine Johnson, MBA

Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast

Christine is the President of the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast where she works to save land, ensure good land conservation, public policy, and that all have access to natural places. She has worked in management and consulted with Fortune 500 companies in fields ranging from manufacturing to media. She has also worked in the Sarasota region’s nonprofit sector since 2004, successfully overseeing multi-million dollar campaigns for the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast and Ringling College of Art and Design.

Charlie Hunsicker

Manatee County Natural Resources

Charlie is the Director of the Parks and Natural Resources for Manatee County. He holds a B.S. in Agriculture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Master's Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida State University. He oversees three divisions responsible for over 30,000 acres of preserve lands, coastal resources, and boating facilities; the County’s surface and groundwater resources, air quality, and phosphate mining and mineral extraction permits; and outreach and volunteer programs. Mr. Hunsicker also directs the beach renourishment program for Anna Maria Island, develops environmental grants for the county, and serves as the County Commission’s congressional liaison.

Jim Strickland

Strickland Ranch

Jim is a multi-generational Florida Rancher with a passion for cattle and land conservation. He is the owner of Strickland Ranch and managing partner of Big Red Cattle Company and Blackbeard’s Ranch. Jim is currently the Vice Chairman of the Florida Conservation Group, which advocates for funding for conservation programs statewide and assists landowners on conservation easements and environmental issues. Jim is co-chairman of the Florida Smart Agriculture Work Group, and has been a board member of Manatee County Farm  Bureau for 28 years. He has won several awards for land stewardship and sustainable ranching.

​Jennifer Rominiecki

CEO and President
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Case Study: Selby Gardens Master Plan

Jennifer has been at Selby since 2015 and has over twenty years of varied and senior-level management experience at major, audience-driven, and complex cultural institutions with educational missions and historic preservation aspects including The New York Botanical Garden, The Metropolitan Opera and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History and English from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with Honors in Art History.

Bill Waddill

The Bay
Case Study: The Bay Park Redevelopment

Bill is a designer and developer of parks and public spaces across the nation. He is a certified planner and landscape architect with over 32 years of experience managing the design, public engagement, and implementation process for both public and private projects, including the Bradenton Riverwalk, Siesta Beach Park, Perry Harvey Park in Tampa, Babcock Ranch Town Center in Ft. Myers, and Baker Park in Naples. He is a member of the AICP, PLA, and ASLA.

Timothee Sallin

Co-CEO, President
IMG Enterprises, Cherry Lake
Case Study: Sunbridge Sustainable Landscape Design

Tim serves as the Co-CEO of Cherrylake, an environmentally conscious horticulture and landscaping company. Tim is also president of The OUTSIDE Sustainable Landscape Collaborative, a non-profit dedicated to increasing the adoption of sustainable landscape practices in Florida. Tim believes in creating broad based collaborations to pursue purposeful goals that promote our connection to Nature and one another. Tim is a graduate from New College of Florida where he earned a degree in Economics and International Studies.

​Paul Owens

1000 Friends of Florida

Paul is president of 1000 Friends of Florida, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to planning for sustainable communities amid our state’s rapid growth. Prior to joining 1000 Friends in 2018, Paul was an editorial writer and ultimately the opinions editor for the Orlando Sentinel. In that position, he wrote extensively on the environment, the economy, growth and development in Florida. Earlier in his career, Paul worked for the Associated Press, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Department of Energy. He earned his graduate degree in journalism from Stanford University.

Van Linkous, PhD

Associate Professor
University of South Florida

Van studies the fiscal and legal instruments used to manage land in areas of growth and change. Her research has been published in journals including the Journal of the American Planning Association and Urban Affairs Review. She has a Ph.D. and Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA from New College of Florida. She is a recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award and the USF Outstanding Community-Engaged Teaching Award.

Steve Cover

Planning Director
City of Sarasota

Steve was instrumental in securing approval of “The Bay” Master Plan, implementing the City’s Bay Runner Trolley and bike/scooter share program, initiating the City’s Public Art and Historic Preservation Programs and The City’s Downtown Attainable Housing Program. Prior to Steve arriving in Sarasota, he was Planning Director for Atlanta where he laid the groundwork for the Beltline Project and helped design and implement Serenbe, an award-winning sustainable community that utilizes green building technology, preserved 70% of the land for green space, and farms produce and meat products serving both restaurants and residents as well.

Juliette Desfeux

Sustainability Advisor
Spinnaker Group

Juliette possesses three LEED AP credentials, including Neighborhood Development, is an Ecodistricts AP, and FGBC DP. She has a Master’s degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from the university of Torino in Italy. Until the end of 2019, she worked as a sustainable consultant in Tahiti, French Polynesia, helping the government and local architects promote and develop green construction in a remote-island context; as well as Lima, Peru, as a LEED consultant while working on LEED certifications from corporate to education buildings projects. Juliette has lived in several European countries while studying and working as an urban planner.

Jon Thaxton

Vice-President of Community Investment
Gulf Coast Community Foundation

Jon is a leading advocate for protecting the natural environment. A fifth-generation Sarasotan, he was raised on a family farm near Osprey and began working at his family’s real estate company at 14. Jon began his environmental advocacy at Venice High School in 1974 as a founding member of the Ecology Club, and in 1996 he was featured in National Geographic for his efforts to protect endangered species. He served 12 years on the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners.

Damon Gameau

Writer, Producer, Director

Damon’s first feature length film as a director (That Sugar Film) won Best Documentary at the Australian AACTA awards in 2016 and became the highest grossing Australian documentary of all time at the cinema. Damon’s second film, 2040, is an innovative feature documentary that explores what the future would look like by the year 2040 if we embraced the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet. It was released in April 2019 and now sits in the top 4 highest grossing documentaries of all time in Australia cinema. Gameau was nominated for New South Wales Australian of the Year in 2020 for his work in creating 'the Regeneration' movement which is associated with his film 2040. His short film Regenerate Australia 2030 was released in 2022 and is a vision for Australia in 2030 based on interviews with a variety of Australians from differing backgrounds.