News-Press

October 14, 2016

Save Our Water: Meet the expert speakers and panelists

Mark Bickel

http://www.news-press.com/story/news/2016/10/11/save-our-water-meet-expert-speakers-and-panelists/91734920/

 

Meet the impressive line-up of expert speakers presenting at Save Our Water, Oct. 26 at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa.

The News-Press Media Group is hosting "Save Our Water"  on Wednesday, October 26th to put the spotlight on the water quality crisis in Southwest Florida. The mission of this event is to educate the public, through the voices of expert speakers from around the region and the state who will address key aspects of the crisis -- from the pollutants that are plaguing our waters to updates on restoration projects underway to restore the Caloosahatchee River and estuary and more.

 

THE SPEAKERS

 

Gary Goforth, Principal Engineer with Gary Goforth,

Gary Goforth, P.E., Ph.D. has more than 35 years of experience in water resources engineering, encompassing strategic planning, design, permitting, construction, operation and program management.  For the last 30 years, his focus has been on large-scale environmental restoration programs in the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades ecosystem.   Between 1994-2005, he was the Chief Consulting Engineer during the design, construction and operation of the $700 million initial phase of the Everglades Construction Project, containing over 41,000 acres of constructed wetlands.  Since 2005 he has been the Principal Engineer of his own water resources engineering consulting firm.

 

Rae Ann Wessel, Natural Resource Policy Director, Sanibel-Captiva

Rae Ann Wessel is a limnologist and marine scientist with over 35 years of experience working in corporate, government, private and nonprofit sectors in South Florida dealing with water, environmental and land use issues at the local, regional, state and federal levels. For the past 11 years she's served as the Natural Resource Policy Director for SCCF, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.

In 1994 Rae Ann assisted with a News-Press-sponsored community forum on issues related to the Caloosahatchee. Since that time, she has been researching and identifying critical Caloosahatchee issues and building support for sustainable solutions. She is involved in oxbow research, historical documentation and education projects and guides river tours on the Caloosahatchee and its estuary.

Rae Ann serves as a: Commission appointee to the Conservation 2020 Conservation Lands Acquisition and Stewardship Committee, member of the Everglades Coalition, representative of the Environmental Advisory Council for the Everglades Foundation, past appointee to Lee County's Local Planning Agency and a 1992 graduate of Leadership Lee County.

 

She has received numerous awards for her environmental work. In 2012 she was selected one of the Women Who Make Southwest Florida. In 2013 she received the Citizen of the Year award from the Sanibel Committee of the Islands (COTI) for her work as a “Tireless Scientist for the Environment”. In 2007 she received the Richard Coleman Aquatic Resources Award from the Florida Lake Management Society. In 2013 she received the inaugural Charles Edgar Foster Conservation Education Leadership Award and in 1998 the Conservationist of the Year from Audubon of Southwest Florida.

 

Edwin "Win" Everham, Professor and Program Leader of Environmental Studies, Florida Gulf Coast University

Dr. Win Everham is Professor of Marine and Ecological Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University.  He teaches courses at a variety of levels across the discipline, including: General Ecology and Environmental Biology; a graduate level course in Advanced Ecology, Simulation and Modeling, area studies courses, Caribbean Environments and African Environments: and our science methods courses, Scientific Process and Environmental Research Methodologies. His research interests center on the response of ecosystems to a variety of different disturbances. This work has included: modeling landscape climate patterns in the Adirondack Mountains; hurricane disturbance dynamics in the Caribbean; and old field and fire succession in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  In SWF his research has included: the impacts of exotic invasion and exotic removal in wetlands; fire ecology in exotic infested systems; ecological dynamics of stormwater ponds; freshwater lake restoration and recovery; changes in herpetafauna communities through time; impacts of mosquito control on non-target species; and the response of ecosystems in SWF to hurricane disturbance.

Since arriving in Florida in 1996, Dr. Everham has served in a variety of capacities on community organizations including:  Chairman of the Estero Bay Agency on Bay Management, member of the Fort Myers Beach Marine Resources Task Force, member of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Environmental Education Committee, Board Member for the Calusa Nature Center, member of the Big Cypress National Preserve Off Road Vehicle Advisory Committee, and member of the Institute for Food and Agriculture Immokalee Field Station Agroecology Advisory Board. 

 

Rick Bartleson, research scientist, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, Marine Lab.

Bartleson earned a B.A. in biology from the University of South Florida, an M.S. in the Systems Ecology program in the Environmental Engineering Sciences Department of the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. from the Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Studies program at University of Maryland, College Park. His thesis, dissertation and post-doctoral work involved seagrasses (effects of flow and nutrients), ecosystem dynamics and modeling. His past projects included a Chesapeake Bay ecosystem simulation model, microcosm research on the effects of submersed plants on nutrients, a simulation model of submersed plants on nutrients, and effects of seagrass beds on water flow. He has worked for Mote Marine Lab, Florida DEP, Rookery Bay Marine Lab, Florida Audubon Society, the University of Florida, the University of Maryland, and the South Florida Water Management District, and is currently a research scientist at Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Marine Lab.

Bartleson‘s main interests are the effects of water quality on seagrass ecosystems and the ecosystem services of seagrass communities. At SCCF he has been working on research, monitoring and restoration projects in collaboration with government agencies, non-profits, and universities and he is a Courtesy Faculty at Florida Gulf Coast University. His projects at SCCF Marine Lab include tape grass restoration, phytoplankton, cyanobacteria and red tide monitoring, monitoring fish for man-made toxins, nutrient removal with submersed plants, nutrient source tracking with stable isotopes, hypoxia monitoring and ecosystem modeling. He provides input into a weekly Caloosahatchee conditions report which documents effects of water management practices on water quality in the Caloosahatchee and Estuary.

 

Brian LaPointe, scientific researcher/expert from the Harbor Branch Research Center

Dr. Brian Lapointe obtained a B.A. in Biology from Boston University, a M.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of South Florida. Brian has worked at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Skidaway Insitute of Oceanography, and is currently a Research Professor at Florida Atlantic University - Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Ft. Pierce, FL. Dr. Lapointe has extensive experience in assessing water quality and marine ecosystem health in Florida and the Caribbean region. He was the first researcher to develop a “ridge-to-reef” water quality monitoring program in the wider Caribbean region. He also

pioneered the use of stable nitrogen isotopes to identify nitrogen sources supporting algal blooms, and has worked on the ecology of phytoplankton and macro algae blooms throughout South Florida. Although his current work focuses on the Indian River Lagoon, he continues his long-term (1984-present) water quality monitoring at

Looe Key reef in the lower Florida Keys. Dr. Lapointe has published over 90 scientific papers and was a contributing author of the book Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing Nutrient Pollution published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Sigma Xi Outstanding Research Award, inclusion in Who’s Who in Scuba Diving and Underwater Research and Who’s Who in America, Science and Engineering, the Millennium Edition. Brian is a member of the editorial board of the journal Harmful Algae.

 

Cris Costello, senior organizer on Red Tide Campaign, Sierra Club

Cris has been organizing the grassroots for the Sierra Club since May 2007.  She is the lead organizer for the Sierra Club Our Wild Florida Campaign, which encompasses the Everglades Restoration, Red Tide, and Stop Sugar Field Burning campaigns.

 

She coordinates the Sierra Club’s water quality campaign to prevent harmful algal blooms in both coastal and inland waters in Florida by eliminating point and non-point sources of fertilizer, sewage and animal manure pollution.  Cris works with partner environmental organizations, local government staff and officials, homeowner associations, and landscape maintenance professionals around the following issues:  Everglades restoration, springs protection, local and state-level urban fertilizer management policy, and water quality standards for Florida’s fresh and estuarine waters.

In November 2013 Cris organized the Citizens’ Clean Water Summit in Orlando, where 253 activists from 121 organizations gathered to make plans for a higher level of collaboration among the state’s water quality and water quantity advocacy community.  Cris coordinates the result of the Summit, the 156-partner Floridians’ Clean Water Declaration (FCWD) Campaign Coalition.

Prior to joining the Sierra Club, Cris was a rural and urban grassroots community organizer, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, an organizer and negotiation/arbitration specialist in a seventeen year career in the labor movement, and a consultant to the Gulf Coast Community Foundation in Venice, Florida.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.

 

Jennifer Carpenter Assistant Director with Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Jennifer is the Assistant Director of the South District office of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection where she oversees the Compliance Assurance Program.  She is responsible for environmental compliance in a 9 county area.  Her career with DEP has included managing the surface water quality sampling program of the South District, involvement in water quality assessment and improvement projects including Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs), as well as work on large-scale environmental restoration including Everglades Restoration projects and other regional restoration efforts.

Jennifer holds a B.S. degree from Florida State University in Biological Sciences and a M.S. degree in Environmental Science from Florida Gulf Coast University.  Her graduate work focused on estuarine ecology and her thesis research investigated the influence of freshwater inflow on estuarine crustacean larvae.  Jennifer is a native of southwest Florida who loves to spend time on the water with her husband and sons.

 

Roland Ottolini, Director, Lee County Division of Natural Resources

Roland Ottolini attended the University of Delaware and received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1984. He is a registered professional engineer in Florida and Maryland.

 

He began his civil engineering career in 1984 with Williams and Broome, Inc. of Exton, Pennsylvania, where he served as design engineer for water resource projects including dam, water supply and hydropower projects.

Ottolini continued his career with McCrone, Inc. of Easton, Maryland, in 1987 where he was a project manager for residential, commercial, and marine development. This included design and construction of water management facilities in compliance with the new Chesapeake Bay water quality initiatives.

He came to Lee County government in 1989 to head up the stormwater management program. He became the Director of the Division of Natural Resources in 1996 where his responsibilities expanded to overseeing programs in flood protection, water pollution control, water conservation, underground storage tank monitoring and clean-up, environmental laboratory, beach renourishment, inlet management planning, artificial reef development, and manatee protection. The division has a staff of 52, including biologists, engineers, environmental specialists, hydrogeologists, lab professionals, and technicians.

Ottolini has served on the Board of Directors for the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association. He was also appointed and served on the Lake Okeechobee Water Resource Advisory Committee and currently serves on the Working Group of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. He provided testimony at the Florida Senate Select Committee on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin and United States Congressional Briefing on the State of St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Waterways on related water management issues.

 

Peter Antonacci, executive director, South Florida Water Management District

Peter Antonacci became Executive Director of the South Florida Water Management District in October 2015. He brings more than three decades of extensive experience in Florida state government, finance and law to this leadership role. He served as General Counsel to Governor Rick Scott from 2013 to 2015 and previously as State Attorney for the 15th Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County. He served as a Governing Board member at the Northwest Florida Water Management District from 2006 to 2012. From 1991 to 1997, he was Bob Butterworth's Deputy Attorney General where he managed major litigation involving a variety of issues, including state lands. Raised in Hialeah, he attended Hialeah High School and Miami Dade College. He also attended Florida State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts as well as a master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the Florida State University College of Law. As executive director of the state's largest water management agency. Antonacci leads the District in carrying out its mission to balance and improve flood control, water supply, water quality and natural systems across the region. Under his direction, the agency provides flood protection to South Florida through one of the largest water management systems in the world; works with utilities and stakeholders to develop long-­term water supply plans; and is implementing landmark restoration strategies to improve water quality, expand water storage and restore more natural flows to America's Everglades.

 

Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer A. Reynolds, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Deputy District Commander for South Florida

Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer A. Reynolds has served since June 2015 as the Deputy District Commander for South Florida in the Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In her role, she represents the Jacksonville District Commander in coordinating, collaborating, and educating on the district's water management operations and ecosystem restoration efforts.

She was previously the Chief of the USACE Operations Center at the Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from April 2014 to May 2015. In that role, she was responsible for managing current and future operations that provide situational awareness and advice to the leadership on national disasters and contingency operations world-wide. She also served in the Headquarters as the Assistant Director, Civil Works from 2011 to 2014.

She earned her commission from the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Western Illinois University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management. She earned a Master of Military Arts and Science Degree from the Command and General Staff College in 2009 and a Master of Arts from Webster University in Procurement and Acquisitions in 2008.

As a result of her graduation from the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) in 2009, Lt. Col. Reynolds holds a secondary specialty as a strategic and operational planner. She was selected to serve the ISAF and USFOR-A Commander as the ISAF Interagency Strategic Planner from July 2009 to July 2010. In this position, she reported to both the ISAF Operations Officer and the Political Military Counselor at the U.S. Embassy.

Lt. Col Reynolds has deployed to Bosnia (1996-1997), Kosovo (2000 and 2002-2003), Iraq (2006-2007) and Afghanistan (2009-2010). Her awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Meritorious Service Medal (with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Commendation Medal (with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Achievement Medal (with two Oak Leaf Clusters), Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge, and the Army Recruiter Badge.

 

Jennifer Hecker, Director of Natural Resource Policy, Conservancy of Southwest Florida

As the Director of Natural Resources Policy of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Environmental Policy Division, Jennifer Hecker oversees the natural resource policy work for a five-county area and specializes in water resource policy, listed species policy, everglades restoration, natural resource extraction, environmental lands acquisition and natural resources legislation.

Hecker holds an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from Prescott College and a graduate degree in Tropical Biology and Conservation from the University of Missouri. Prior to joining the Conservancy twelve years ago, Hecker was a project ecologist for WilsonMiller, Inc. and worked for Hillsborough County, Fla. as an environmental specialist in the Environmental Lands Acquisition and Management Program.

Jennifer Hecker was selected by the Florida Weekly as a Southwest Florida “Power Woman” in 2011, is an alumnus of Leadership Collier, was appointed and served on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Stormwater Technical Advisory Committee, and serves on several boards including the national Great Waters Coalition, Southwest Florida Watershed Council, Everglades Coalition, and Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed Trust.

 

James Evans, Director of Natural Resources, City of Sanibel

James Evans is the Director of Natural Resources for the City of Sanibel, where he has worked as a biologist and resource manager for the past 16+ years. Prior to working with the City of Sanibel, James was employed by the Center for Environmental Studies where he monitored seagrass, oysters, and water quality in the Caloosahatchee as part of the South Florida Water Management District’s Valued Ecosystem Component Study. He has a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a M.S. in Environmental Science. He completed his graduate work at Florida Gulf Coast University, where he investigated the influence of freshwater inflow on larval fishes and gelatinous predators in Estero Bay. James is a board member and past Chairman of the Southwest Florida Watershed Council and has been working on water resource issues in Southwest Florida for more than 18 years. He was also the primary author of the Caloosahatchee Watershed Regional Water Management Issues white paper.

 

Daniel Andrews, founder of Captains for Clean Water

Daniel Andrews is a full-time inshore fishing guide, born and raised in Southwest Florida. He fishes out of a flats boat for tarpon, snook, and redfish from Sanibel Island to Boca Grande. Daniel has witnessed the decline of the Caloosahatchee estuary growing up fishing these waters. He has spent tens of thousands of hours fishing and hunting across South Florida, in the Everglades, and in the Florida Keys. Passion for the outdoors is his driving force which keeps him fighting hard to protect the Everglades and estuaries that shape his way of life. Daniel founded Captains for Clean water to bring people together on an issue that has plagued South Florida for his entire life.

 

Colleen DePasquale, executive director for the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce

Colleen DePasquale is the current Executive Director of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce.  Colleen worked in Hospitality industry for over 30 years before making the career change for the Chamber position. As is typical in the industry, her hotel career that ascended from the entry to executive level position in many different locations. The most notable opportunity was being on the opening staff and becoming the Director of Rooms Operations for the Moscow Marriott Grand hotel, the first Marriott product in Moscow in the 1999. From there, Colleen moved to Southwest Florida, working with McKibbon Hotel Management group for 12 years. Over time, Colleen was the General Manager of 3 hotels in the portfolio and responsible for the sales efforts for all 4 hotels.

Colleen is active in the community, sitting on the following boards: United Way, Lee County Hotel Association, Edison Ford Winter Estates, Lee County Sports Organizing committee, SWFL Alliance of Chambers, FGCU Hospitality & Resort board and the South Fort Myers High School Athletic Boosters. Colleen is also an appointee by the Board of County Commissioners for the Tourist Development Council, RESTORE advisory council and the Coastal Advisory Council.

 

Gene McAvoy, Hendry County Extension Director, Regional Vegetable/Horticulture, Extension Agent VI, UF/IFAS.

Gene McAvoy is the County Extension Director for the Hendry County Extension Office and has served with the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Service for the past 19 years as a Regional Specialized Vegetable Agent with the commercial vegetable industry in southwest Florida.

McAvoy holds a BS and MS in Horticulture from Rutgers University and has over 40 years’ experience in the vegetable industry.  After leaving Rutgers, he spent nearly 14 years working with and training vegetable famers in West Africa, South Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.  He moved north to Florida after 6 years in Jamaica in 1989.

He is active in a number of areas including pest and disease management publishing the highly acclaimed biweekly South Florida Vegetable Pest and Disease Hotline.  He also works closely with growers in areas of WPS compliance, worker safety training, food safety, fertilizer and irrigation Best Management Practices, water quality and quantity and other areas of concern to the vegetable industry.

Gene was president of the Florida Association of County Agriculture Agents in 2004 and served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of County Agricultural Agents from 2010-2014.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Hendry Glades Farm Bureau, Hendry County Cattlemen’s Association, and the Florida Farm Bureau Vegetable Advisory Committee.

Gene has earned numerous regional and national recognition and awards in his field. In 2008, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents which highest honor a County Agent can receive.

 

Sanibel Island Realtor, VIP Group

David L Schuldenfrei has been selling Sanibel & Captiva Islands real estate for 40 years and is the longest practicing Realtor on the Island. He was President of the Sanibel & Captiva Association of Realtors in 2014, 2004, & 1995 as well as Realtor of the Year in 2014; 2007; 2004 & 1995.  David is a graduate from the University of Miami Business School and has earned the prestigious Real Estate designations of GRI; CRS; SCIS.  In addition David is the General Manager of VIP Vacation Rentals a 150 unit vacation rental company on Sanibel Island.

David has been heavily involved in the fight for clean water for over 20 years and has recently participated in the 2015 development of the “Impact of Water Quality on Florida Home Values” report compiled by Florida Realtors Association’s Brad O'Connor (economist for Florida Realtors based in Orlando) and the Everglades Foundation. 

Malcolm S. Wade, Jr. is Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Business Development of U.S. Sugar. He has been employed by the company for more than 33 years and has been a member of the senior management team for over 25 years. Wade, a Certified Public Accountant, joined the company as Director of Internal Audit in 1982 and subsequently was named Director, Vice President and Senior Vice President of the Administrative Service Group and Senior Vice President of Sugar Operations.

 

Bubba Wade, Senior Vice-President Corporate Strategy/Business Development, U.S. Sugar

For more than 25 years, Wade has been involved in developing and overseeing the company’s environmental responsibilities. Through his appointments by two governors and the South Florida Water Management District to working on groups on South Florida environmental issues, Wade has helped shape public policy regarding Everglades restoration.

In March 2005, then-Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Wade to a four-year term on the South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board, a position he resigned from in 2008 due to the state’s proposed acquisition of U.S. Sugar. Previously, Wade was a member of the team representing South Florida farmers that spent more than a year negotiating with the Interior and Justice Departments, the state of Florida and the South Florida Water Management District to resolve legal disputes over Everglades restoration. He represented farmers on the technical mediation committee that crafted the Technical

Mediate Plan for Everglades Restoration, which was adopted by the Florida Legislature in the spring of 1994.

Wade was appointed by then-Gov. Lawton Chiles to the Governor’s Commission for a Sustainable South Florida, which worked for four years to establish a consensus plan for Everglades restoration. The work of the commission became the framework for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) approved by Congress that is currently being implemented throughout South Florida.

Wade’s work on restoration issues continued with his appointment by then-Gov. Jeb Bush to the Governor’s Commission for the Everglades. He is a past member and Co-Chair of the South Florida Water Management District Water Resource Advisory Commission (WRAC) as well as a past member of the district’s Lower East Coast Water Supply Planning Committee and the Budget Review commission. In addition, Wade served on the South Florida Agricultural Council Water Commission and the Caloosahatchee Water Management Advisory Committee and is currently the Chairman of the Everglades Agricultural Area Environmental Protection District.

A native of Long Island, N.Y., wade grew up in Miami and is a graduate of Christopher Columbus Catholic High School. He received his B.S. in accounting from Florida State University in 1976, and became a Certified Public Accountant in 1979 and a Certified Internal Auditor in 1984.

Wade is a member of the Leadership Florida XII (1993-94). He and his wife, Jennifer Matthews Wade, live in Clewiston, Fla., and have one grown daughter, Morgan Christine Lang, and two grandchildren.

More speakers and segments to be determined

Read more water crisis coverage from The News-Press: http://newspr.es/SaveOurWater