Environmentalists Optimistic About First Chief Resilience Officer

By Capitol News Service
July 31, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CapNews) -- The state is about to have its first Chief Resilience Officer.

The new position will be tasked with preparing Florida for the impacts of climate change.

Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to announce his pick in the coming days.

Florida is facing a climate crisis and Governor Ron DeSantis recognized it from the moment he took office, announcing he’d appoint the state’s first-ever Chief Resilience Officer just two days into his term.

"You know if you have water in the streets you have to find a way to combat that,” said DeSantis in January.

The new position comes as a welcome opportunity for environmental groups like Audubon Florida.

“We really need somebody who has substantial policy acumen, who knows how to move things through politics. Climate is a huge threat to Florida. We need action now and there's great opportunity. So someone who can take advantage of that opportunity is the most important thing I believe,” said Audubon Florida Executive Director Julie Wraithmell.

The job qualifications call for 5 years experience in resilience and sustainability and a Master's Degree in an Environmental Science related field.

26 candidates applied for the position.

The likely pick, Julia Nesheiwat, lacks an extensive background in resilience, but she has filled leadership roles in intelligence, foreign relations and energy policy.

Aliki Moncrief with the Florida Conservation Voters said energy should be a key focus for the new position.

“This person absolutely can't close their eyes to the potential that we have in Florida to fuel our economy and light our homes with clean renewable energy,” said Moncrief.

It’s not entirely clear what the scope of the Chief Resilience Officer’s responsibilities will be.

Environmentalists hope the job will not only involve responding to climate change, but also working to prevent it.

We reached out to the Governor’s Office asking for more specifics on what the Chief Resilience Officer will be tasked with, but did not receive a response in time for this story.