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Geos Institute helps communities build resilience in the face of climate change

Author: Christina Mills

Helene Wetherington

Helene Wetherington

Helene has 30 years of experience building disaster resilience in local and state governmental leadership positions within the State of Florida.  She has also served as a consultant to a range of local, state, and federal public sector clients and internationally as an advisor in the Caribbean. Her professional career has focused on building community capacity and resilience through whole community preparedness and long-term redevelopment in over twenty federally declared disasters. She holds Master’s Degrees from Florida State University (MSP) and Florida Atlantic University (MPA) and has received executive leadership training from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.  She is certified by the International Association of Emergency Managers, served on numerous professional boards, academic advisory council for FAU, and speaker within a range of venues.

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Adelaide Bates

Adelaide Bates

Adelaide Bates is the Climate Resilience Manager at the Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities at Furman University. Prior to joining the Shi Institute, Bates served as founder and director of the McClellanville Land and Sea Market, now in its seventh season. She also held roles with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project and the College of Charleston. She previously served on the City of Charleston Climate Action Planning Waste Subcommittee and earned her bachelor’s degree in urban studies from the College of Charleston.

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Monét Murphy

Monét Murphy

Monét Murphy from Leesburg, Georgia graduated from Savannah State University with a bachelor’s in marine science and environmental science. As part of her undergrad, she studied benthic foraminifera in the Savannah River Estuary, which are tiny, single-celled organisms that serve as bioindicators of environmental conditions in marine environments. Murphy is currently pursuing her master’s in marine science with a focus on paleoclimatology and environmental anthropology at Savannah State University.

As a fellow with the Georgia Conservancy, Murphy will work with partners and regional stakeholders to advance Climate Ready America and the Southeast Navigator Network. Through Monét, Georgia Conservancy will serve as trusted partners to CDRZ communities and help them take advantage of funding sources, identify capacity building opportunities, and secure the technical support necessary to create tangible resilience benefits. The Navigators will also network and support each other, fostering collaboration between communities and across the four states.

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Dr. Monica Wilson

Dr. Monica Wilson

Dr. Monica Wilson is the Coastal Debris Project Coordinator for Operation TRAP (Trash Reduction for Aquatic Preserves). She has a background in physical oceanography and computer science. In her current role, she manages all aspects of Operation TRAP. Her responsibilities include cooperation and coordination with county staff regarding placement, deployment, maintenance of litter interception technology, as well as, data collection and planning and executing community outreach events. Prior to this she was the Florida representative of the Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Oil Spill Science Outreach Team for nearly a decade. During this time, she built trusted relationships with many different stakeholder groups in the state of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico region. She synthesized and shared peer-reviewed findings about oil spill impacts with stakeholders around the region. Her skill sets include scientific expertise, hosting workshops and webinars, presenting science, writing publications for a diverse group of audiences, and outreach and communication skills.

Dr. Wilson is part of the Southeast Navigator Network

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Armando J. Ubeda

Armando J. Ubeda

I have been living in the Florida Gulf of Mexico region since 2005, and I am familiar with the CDRZ communities and with the challenges they face climate change, population growth, and biodiversity loss. I am interested in assisting Florida communities at risk to become resilient, especially disadvantaged communities. To this project, I bring my academic foundations and experience in marine resource management, environmental impact assessment, conservation, climate change, partnership development and outreach, and inclusion. Some of my past and current projects involve climate change adaptations, building resilient communities, legal recognition of indigenous people’s land, and conservation area planning. From my regional work as part of the Climate and Resilience Community of Practice for the Gulf of Mexico Region leadership team to my local and statewide work on climate change adaptations, I am committed to supporting Florida communities to become more sustainable, I feel that being part of this project is a great opportunity to expand and accelerate my efforts.

Armando Ubeda is part of the Southeast Navigator Network

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Carrie Stevenson

Carrie Stevenson

As a Coastal Sustainability Agent, I have over 20 years’ experience in stormwater management and wetlands ecology. I use this expertise to assist clientele with small-scale Florida-friendly landscaping and larger scale water quality management projects. I served on the City of Pensacola’s Climate Task Force, which has led to significant changes in city policy and made them pioneers in climate work in northwest Florida. As part of the Extension Climate Work Action Group, I am the regional go-to person in northwest Florida for issues related to flood mitigation and climate science. I have also co-taught two “Climate Smart Floridians” courses to residents around the state. I am experienced with meeting facilitation, project development, communication, and education/outreach. As the recent leader of our Extension natural resource agents’ group, I have long-term relationships with colleagues working in the counties within my assigned CRDZ areas and will be able to partner easily with them to make local connections.

Carrie Stevenson is part of the Southeast Navigator Network

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Ramona Madhosingh-Hector

Ramona Madhosingh-Hector

Since 2010, I have lived and worked in the Tampa Bay region which includes the CDRZ communities identified above. I am very familiar with the opportunities and challenges facing communities given increasing vulnerability from storms and sea level rise, and population pressure on natural resources. My academic foundations in sustainability, environmental science, and urban and regional planning allows me to bring my skillsets and knowledge to assist communities and agencies working in this area. Some of my past projects have dealt specifically with convening conversations on climate change and sea level rise and using the NOAA Coastal Resilience Index with communities. My work locally, regionally, and statewide has used a collaborative, systems-level approach and recognizes the need for “communities of practice” that are focused on knowledge, skills, and tools to support outcomes that represent shared interests and values. I have been deeply invested in supporting communities and individuals to meet sustainability and climate action goals and believe that this project can further support those goals.

Ramona Madhosingh-Hector is part of the Southeast Navigator Network

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Scott Jackson

Scott Jackson

I have a background in marine science and community development, which makes me a good fit for the work I love. I live in Bay County and work as the County Extension Director. This means I’m deeply connected to our local community, and I understand the challenges we face, like keeping our coastline strong and using our resources wisely. My job as a Regional Specialized Agent for Florida Sea Grant has helped me learn a lot about marine life, water quality, and coastal resilience.

I’m excited about this work because it lets me use my knowledge to help our communities grow in a smart way. I’m not just interested in my own county but also in helping Washington County, which is right next door. I’ve already made connections in both places. I want to make sure our communities become stronger and more resilient. I believe that understanding our environment and feeling proud of where we live will help us take care of our natural world and our local economy. This will make our neighborhoods, which we all call home, better places to live.

Scott Jackson is part of the Southeast Navigator Network

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Victoria Hart

Victoria Hart

Ms. Hart is completing a master’s degree in Sustainable Policy through the University of South Florida, Patel College of Global Sustainability. She is working as a semester intern with the University of Florida, Monroe County Extension under Director, Alicia Betancourt. She hopes to help the CDRZ communities reduce risk by enacting policies, connecting with funding, and communicating vulnerabilities.

Victoria Hart is part of the Southeast Navigator Network

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Alicia Betancourt

Alicia Betancourt

Mrs. Betancourt works with local governments on climate, energy, and sustainability. She works to address critical climate risks through the UF/IFAS Extension Climate Resiliency Program, to reduce insurance costs and vulnerability for communities and individuals. Over the past 16 years, she has authored/co-authored 27 climate planning documents. Her program has promoted the increase of climate-resilient actions by individuals and governments through education, outreach, and tools to reduce risk. Alicia provides training and direct assistance to local governments, allowing Florida cities to develop local solutions specific to their shocks and climate trends. She serves on the technical advisory committee of the Southeast Florida Climate Compact, helping to draft the regional climate action plan and greenhouse gas inventories. All of the CDRZ communities are in the Southeast Florida Climate Compact region and she has many county and municipal contacts through the Compact.

Alicia Betancourt is part of the Southeast Navigator Network

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