2018 Carolinas Regional Adaptation Leadership Awards

Regional Adaptation Leadership Awards

Congratulations to our 2018 Carolinas Regional Adaptation Leadership Award honorees Holly White, John Fear, and Steven Frank! Thank you for your contributions and leadership in the field of climate adaptation.


Holly White, Winner
Principal Planner, Town of Nags Head
Elizabeth City, NC

Twitter: @Townofnagshead
Web: https://www.nagsheadnc.gov/

Holly White is a dedicated climate adaptation leader in her community as well as for all of North Carolina. Her tenacity in action, vision, creativity, and sheer determination to engage with others and promote adaptation strategies and planning underscores her efficacy in putting dedication into practice. Through her strength and talent for engaging a diverse set of stakeholders, she has established the Town of Nags Head as a model for other communities to emulate in their adaptation efforts. Holly crafted a vision for a resilient Nags Head by learning about adaptation and engaging the public, both those supportive and skeptical of the need for sea level rise planning. To approach adaptation planning, Holly assembled a team across town departments that included planning, engineering, public works, and septic health. Her leadership has fostered integrated, interdisciplinary resilience. Grounding in shared values, her work has strengthened support and capacity for sea level rise planning.

Holly is ensuring that adaptation addresses complex hazards, centering the interactions between sea level rise, rainfall, and water use in driving groundwater table height and consequent flooding. The mainstreaming approach to adaptation Holly recommended will ensure that complex hazards are included across all implemented plans. Holly is now sharing lessons learned from Nags Head throughout northeastern North Carolina, initiating efforts to reach across the border with Virginia as well as rural northeastern NC counties. Through her dedication to public service, she is fulfilling her vision of a resilient rural North Carolina. We are very grateful for her service in the field, and honored to name her the Carolinas RALA Winner. Congratulations, Holly!


John Fear, Honorable Mention for Building Capacity and Fostering Connectivity
Deputy Director, North Carolina Sea Grant and N.C. Water Resources Research Institute
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Twitter: @SeaGrantNC and @NC_WRRI
Web: https://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu

John Fear’s vision is a key asset for North Carolina Sea Grant and the Water Resources Research Institute. John’s leadership as Deputy Director has shaped each program to meet crucial needs in the state. As part of National Sea Grant visioning efforts, John has helped set the stage for discussion on climate change and adaptation, integrating climate change into strategic plans and daily operations. John chairs the North Carolina Sentinel Site Cooperative, which focuses on climate change impacts along the state’s central coast. Utilizing local ecological knowledge, residents provide valuable historical context in research projects, participate in current citizen science efforts and offer input during planning sessions. A creative expression of this engagement is the innovative RISING project, which uses fine art photography and oral histories to stimulate discussions of environmental changes that include community members and scientists.

The North Carolina Community Collaborative Research Grant Program exemplifies John’s ability to identify needs, work with colleagues to develop solutions, and leverage partnerships to accomplish goals. John recognizes there is a significant training component needed to underpin adaptation practice and planning efforts. John is a mentor and facilitator for graduate studies, leading North Carolina Sea Grant, Water Resources Research Institute and Sentinel Sites programs to provide strong research experiences for students. John also coordinates recruitment and review of applications for national fellowships in marine policy, coastal management and fisheries management. Combined, these state and national fellowships offer graduate students critical opportunities to approach challenges such as climate change — and development of related adaptations — from real-world perspectives that demand interdisciplinary approaches. We are pleased to recognize John for his ability to build capacity and foster collaboration. Congratulations, John!


Steven Frank, Honorable Mention for Adaptation Integration
Associate Professor of Entomology, North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC

Twitter: @OrnaPests and @EcoIPM
Web: www.ecoipm.org

Steven Frank is an internationally recognized Entomologist known for his work to understand how urban heat islands affect tree health and pest populations, and whether the effects of urban warming can predict the effects of global warming and climate change. As trees are critical to mitigate urban heat islands, remove air pollutants, and benefit human health, Steven’s mission is to understand why urban tree health declines and develop ways to sustain urban trees and ecosystem services. A hands-on climate adaptation leader training arborists, municipal foresters, landscape architects, government regulators and others, he envisions an adaptive urban environment that supports health and conservation.

Steven leads by example on innovative public communication and integrating adaptation into his work. He is a founding member of the Southern Nursery Integrated Pest Management working group, a regional consortium of horticulturists, plant pathologists, and entomologists. In response to a member survey identifying ambrosia beetles as the most economically costly nursery pests, Steven developed a system to alert growers by Twitter when beetles are active, and created a targeted insecticide spray technique and tool to reduce insecticide use. These practices, along with his protocols for managing water stress, have transformed how growers manage ambrosia beetles throughout the US.

Steven’s passion for his work creates enthusiasm among his stakeholders about tree care and research based adaptation to climate change. He has built trust with stakeholders, municipal leaders and the general public because of his innate curiosity and willingness to listen to others, learn from them, and develop tools and techniques to help solve their problems. We are pleased to recognize Steven for his innovative integration of adaptation into his field. Congratulations, Steven!

Read more about our 2018 RALA Winners in California, the Great Lakes and Northeast. We’d like to thank everyone who has helped to make this a successful effort to recognize the adaptation champions in the field. Congratulations to everyone, and thank you for all that you do in the field of adaptation!

Mentorship Spotlight: Resilience in the Field

A Coastal Resilience Specialist with North Carolina’s Division of Coastal Management in Morehead City, Christian Kamrath works with local governments and partner organizations to facilitate coastal adaptation and resilience planning in the state’s twenty coastal counties. Previously, he worked on climate adaptation, disaster recovery and emergency preparedness planning with North Carolina Sea Grant, the Hurricane Matthew Disaster Recovery and Resilience Initiative and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A self-proclaimed weather-nerd, Christian is a former forecaster at the University of Florida (WRUF-TV6), and now a recent graduate (’18) of the Masters of City and Regional Planning program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Christian is also the owner of CK Resilience Planning, an independent consulting firm.

Making the “Miami Forever Bond” a Model for Equitable Climate Adaptation

Making the “Miami Forever Bond” a Model for Equitable Climate Adaptation

By Zelalem Adefris, Resilience Director at Catalyst Miami

You could say that Miami, Florida, is ground zero for climate change. As the American city most vulnerable to sea-level rise, Miami faces existential threats from flooding, storm surge and saltwater intrusion in the city’s drinking water. And growing inequity places Miami’s low-income and marginalized communities at extraordinary risk from climate impacts.

But—thanks to the Miami Climate Alliance, a coalition of citizens’ groups–this coastal city could also be at the forefront of equitable climate adaptation.

Last year, under the leadership of its outgoing Republican Mayor, Tomás Regalado, Miami’s voters passed a $400 million “Miami Forever Bond.” The measure authorized the city government to borrow money on the municipal bond market to address sea-level rise and the city’s affordable housing crisis, levying a new property tax to repay the debt. The Miami Climate Alliance is working to ensure that the bond benefits those who need it most.

How did a famously tax-averse city with a conservative Republican mayor find itself in the vanguard of climate adaptation? The answer lies, in part, with Regalado’s conversion from climate skepticism. When he was elected in 2009, Regalado thought that sea level rise was “a very distant future possibility,” he later told The New York Times. But, during a series of 4:30 am chats over Cuban coffee, Regalado’s son, Jose, convinced him of the urgency of the problem.

That urgency has become increasingly difficult to ignore. Over the last 10 years, the Miami region has seen floods increase in frequency by 400 percent; fish now swim the flooded streets even on rainless, sunny days. The ocean that laps at the region’s famed beaches has risen nearly a foot since preindustrial times, and could swell by six feet or more by the end of this century. Rising seas will combine with supercharged storms to inundate the Miami region, which is home to nearly three million people.

Of course, not all people are affected equally by climate threats. That was evident when Hurricane Andrew tore through Miami in 1992; the hardest-hit areas included the impoverished municipality of Florida City, south of downtown Miami. While neighboring areas quickly bounced back after the storm, Florida City suffered from plummeting property values and rising poverty.

And, despite the city’s booming tourist trade and glittering seaside real estate, many City of Miami residents are struggling to get by. Nearly 60 percent of Miami-Dade County households are considered financially unstable; one in five live in poverty. Poverty is most prevalent among African-American and Hispanic communities, which together make up 85 percent of Miami-Dade’s population.

As climate impacts became a daily reality for the people of the City of Miami, Mayor Regalado gathered support for the bond initiative. He got an assist from the First Street Foundation, whose Seawall Coalition (a 501 (c) (4) organization) spent $350,000 to educate the city’s  voters about sea-level rise. Ultimately, about 55 percent of Miami’s electorate voted in favor of the Miami Forever Bond.

Miami is not the first U.S. city to raise money to gird against climate change. In 2012, Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved a $290 million debt measure to rebuild a seawall that protects the downtown waterfront. And in 2016, San Francisco Bay area residents approved a tax to fund a $500 million restoration of tidal marshes, which act as a buffer against storm surges.

In Miami, city officials have set broad outlines for how the bond funds will be spent: they have earmarked $192 million for storm drain upgrades, flood pumps and seawalls to curb flooding; $100 million for affordable housing and economic development; $78 million for parks and cultural facilities; $23 million for road improvements; and $7 million for public safety.

But the devil, as always, is in the details. Which neighborhoods will see the greatest benefit from bond funding? And who decides how the money will be spent? The stakes are high: if spending bypasses Miami’s most vulnerable communities, current inequities will only deepen in the decades to come.

That’s why the Miami Climate Alliance is working to make sure the Miami Forever Bond benefits all the city’s people—especially those in underserved communities.

The Alliance was convened in 2015 by a diverse group of some 100 Miami-area residents (including community leaders, students, over 80 community organizations, social justice advocates, environmentalists, scientists, teachers, and climate activists) to organize the Miami People’s Climate March. While organizing the March, Alliance members were surprised to learn that there was no mention of climate change—or funding for climate action—in Miami-Dade County’s $6.8 million FY 2015-16 budget. So the Alliance mobilized residents to speak up during the budget hearings, which led to the creation of the County’s Office of Resilience and its first-ever Chief Resilience Officer.

Since then, the Alliance and its member organizations have pushed Miami to take the lead on equitable climate action. For example, after the Trump administration withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, the Alliance won commitments from several local municipalities to support the Accord targets on renewable energy. And, when the City appointed a new Sea Level Rise Committee, the Alliance fought hard to make sure that Committee reflects the city’s diversity.

“If you include black and brown people, people from the community, you’ll change the dynamic,” Trenise Bryant, an Alliance activist, told the Miami Herald earlier this year.

Now the Alliance is working to make sure that communities have a real say in how the Miami Forever Bond funds are spent. To that end, the Miami Climate Alliance and Catalyst Miami organized a series of town halls, which drew dozens of community members. There, residents agreed on a set of criteria to apply to Bond-funded projects. The Alliance will work to make sure those criteria are used by a citizen oversight board that makes recommendations on Bond spending to the City Commission.

The Alliance also helped shape the citizen oversight board, making sure it reflects the City’s racial, gender and age diversity—while excluding those with overt conflicts of interest.  And the Alliance helped ensure that the board includes not only those with expertise in hydrology, architecture, and engineering, but also those with knowledge of community leadership and an equity perspective. All of these asks were incorporated into the oversight board ordinance by the City Commission and Mayor Francis Suarez.

It’s a slow-moving process: nearly a year after the bond’s approval, the city’s oversight board has still not met.  However, the Miami Climate Alliance will be there every step of the way, amplifying the voices of those at greatest risk from climate impacts.  If this effort succeeds, Miami could be a model of climate adaptation that is both farsighted and just.

The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit will take place next week on October 24-25 in Miami Beach. Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami Beach are hosting the 10th Annual Climate Leadership Summit on behalf of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. Registration closes on October 19th. A waitlist is available for the first 50 people who are interested in attending.

Mentorship Program Spotlight: Innovating on Adaptation

Mentorship Program Spotlight: Innovating on Adaptation

Miles Gordon is a Research Intern at the Cadmus Group’s Strategy and Policy Group in Boston, MA, where he works on a variety of projects focused on urban resilience and sustainability policy. Originally from Portland, Miles received his Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Oregon in 2016. Now a recent graduate from Ohio University with a master’s degree in Environmental Studies, his graduate work focused on climate adaptation planning methods for native tribes in the United States.

Seeking to advance his expertise with mentorship from a seasoned adaptation practitioner, Miles was happy to meet Sascha Petersen. Sascha has been working in the climate change field for more than twelve years. He founded Adaptation International in 2010 and was the first managing director of the American Society of Adaptation Professionals (hey, that’s us!). Also a lead author on the National Climate Assessment, Sascha has worked with climate scientists and municipal governments and focuses on bridging the gaps between climate change science, policy and action. Originally from Alaska, Sascha earned his Bachelor’s in Physics from Pomona in California and has been unstoppable since—he’s even trained astronauts at the Johnson Space Center!

A topic that Miles and Sascha have been actively exploring is how to successfully cultivate a career in adaptation. Since climate adaptation is a relatively nascent field, formal certification structures do not yet exist. The path towards carving out a career in the adaptation space is not as linear as it is in other fields (e.g., accounting or city planning).

Considering this, many of Miles and Sascha’s conversations have been around how to navigate the evolving field of climate adaptation to build a fulfilling career path. Something Miles has learned is that an ‘adaptation-only’ setting isn’t necessary to carve out space as an adaptation professional. As his internship at Cadmus has progressed, he has found that projects that aren’t strictly focused on adaptation planning still bring meaningful experiences that add to an adaptation skill set and knowledge base, as well as an adaptation resume.

“Miles has a great sense of how to advocate for himself in a professional setting. My role has been less of a guide and mostly to serve as a ‘gut check’ and help reinforce and support his feelings and approach to creating a career in adaptation.”

Sascha notes that Miles is also sort of a tri-coastal chameleon. Since he grew up in Oregon, went to school in Ohio, and now works in Boston, being able to blend in from the West Coast to the Northeast will prove to be a great asset in his resilience work. With such a dynamic adaptation future on the horizon, we hope Miles will bring his field experience, knowledge and wisdom back to ASAP’s Mentorship Program!

Click here for more information on ASAP’s Mentorship Program.

2018 Great Lakes Regional Adaptation Leadership Awards

Regional Adaptation Leadership Awards

Congratulations to 2018 Great Lakes Regional Adaptation Leadership Award honorees Chris Swanston, Matthew Gray, Jessica Hellmann and Heather Stirratt! Thank you for your contributions and leadership in the field of climate adaptation.


Winner

Chris Swanston

Director, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science and the USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub

Houghton, MI

Twitter: @USDAClimateHubs

Chris Swanston is a leader among Great Lakes adaptation professionals, directing both the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) and USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub. Through his leadership, he has transformed the way many people approach climate adaptation in land management and forestry. His vision is clear: there is a need in the field to bridge the gap between science and action communities. Chris created the Climate Change Response Framework (CCRF) as an integrated approach for responding to climate change through partnerships, vulnerability assessments, adaptation resources, and real-world demonstrations.

As a strong communicator, he has built his team of one to a team of twenty. Vibrant with expertise in climate impacts modeling, ecosystem adaptation, and forest carbon management, the efficacy of the NIACS team has culminated into a high-performing, collaborative, and trusted organization dedicated to serving the needs of land owners and managers across the region. Thousands of natural resource professionals have learned about climate change adaptation through CCRF presentations, trainings, field tours, and more than 250 real-world demonstration projects that use the Adaptation Workbook. Prioritizing respect for local knowledge and individual landowners’ perspectives on managing risks, NIACS team members are coaches for smart adaptation decision-making. Chris’s ideas are central to the adaptation work done at NIACS, and these ideas have ensured success for many. We are honored to honor Chris Swanston as the Winner of the Great Lakes Regional Adaptation Leadership Award. Congratulations, Chris!

 


Special Recognition

Matthew Gray

Chief of Sustainability, City of Cleveland

Cleveland, OH

Twitter: @sustainableCLE

Since returning from a Fulbright in Mauritius and joining the staff of the City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Matthew Gray has been working to both reduce greenhouse gases and increase resilience of the City of Cleveland. As a positive role model for other cities in the region, Matt has led efforts through the Urban Sustainability Directors’ Network to create a template for climate change vulnerability assessments to help other cities move forward on climate adaptation. Matt has revamped the Cleveland Carbon Fund to include adaptation work, and co-leads an effort to develop a regional network of cities working on climate adaptation to streamline adaptation efforts.

Matt has worked tirelessly to promote equitable adaptation in Cleveland’s Climate Action Plan and has reached out to numerous city departments to encourage climate change mitigation and adaptation in internal planning efforts. As a city liaison forging strong relationships among organizations in Cleveland to support and carry the work forward, he organizes learning events with partners and an annual Sustainability Summit that brings together leaders from across the city to discuss priorities. We are happy to recognize this work that is so beneficial not only to the people of Cleveland, but to the entire region. Congratulations, Matt!

 


Special Recognition

Jessica Hellmann

Director, University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment (IonE)

Minneapolis, MN

Twitter: @JessicaHellmann

 

Jessica Hellmann is an Ecologist studying the effects of climate and other global changes on ecosystems and the people who depend on them. She is dedicated to finding solutions to environmental threats that improve human livelihoods and ecosystem health. A civic leader dedicated to integrating climate adaptation into other fields, she regularly advises organizations such as the Great Plains Institute, Climate Generation and other nonprofits about often-overlooked strategies for adapting to climate change. Jessica envisions a network of change agents for climate adaptation with broad reach within and outside academia. Through her leadership of IonE and the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative, she asserts that powerful networks informed by research and education are what is needed to create a hopeful, climate adaptive future. Jessica has taken the Urban Adaptation Assessment to the next level of impact and effectiveness by expanding it to 240 cities in the U.S., integrating a novel approach to measuring social equity.

Additionally, Jessica has led research showing changing climate conditions can influence both species distribution and the rate of evolution by examining modern day and museum butterfly species. Emphasizing her ability to learn and teach on the fly as a skilled science communicator, Jessica is routinely called upon by leading media outlets around the world such as CNN, NPR, Fox News, The Telegraph and the Chicago Tribune to provide expert input on topics related to adaptation and ways to minimize adverse impacts to people and nature. We are very grateful for her contributions to the field of adaptation and her presence in the Great Lakes region. Congratulations, Jessica!

Tune in to hear Director Jessica Hellmann present her vision for the future of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota.

 


Special Recognition

Heather Stirratt

Great Lakes Lead for NOAA’s National Ocean Service at NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management

Twin Cities, MN

Twitter: @noaaocean

Heather Stirratt’s work on climate change adaptation motivates communities across the Great Lakes Region. From her NOAA National Ocean Service office in Twin Cities, MN, she has worked with researchers, municipalities, and students to ensure communities receive the support that they need to advance climate-informed decisions at multiple scales. Heather sees the need for broad capacity building. She has acted on this vision through the development of the Great Lakes Climate Training toolkit and of city and neighborhood specific resources in collaboration with the Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative.  Heather has a demonstrable ability to think holistically about climate change and its related impacts. She is remarkably capable at bringing together the branches of federal government to serve the needs of the whole region.

A natural engagement specialist, Heather brings people together for a common cause, routinely communicates complex challenges, and truly meets people where they are. Her ability to build and work within teams from across a range of federal agencies — as well as coordinate numerous regional NOAA activities — highlight her power of persuasion and tenacity. When she brings together this potent combination it leads to successfully implemented projects, groundbreaking reports, and successful, engaging events. Her ability to summon resources makes her a terrific ally on a project and one of the most effective adaptation professionals in the Great Lakes region. We are very happy to award her with this Special Recognition for her contributions to the field of adaptation. Congratulations, Heather!

 


 

Mentorship Spotlight: Creative Thinking for DEI Solutions

In the latest episode of our ASAP Mentorship Program, we learn that a common theme that has come out of this mentorship pair’s discussions is the need for creative, out of the box thinking for solving complex problems. Vidya Balasubramanyam (Mentee) is a NOAA Coastal Management Fellow working in New Hampshire’s coastal communities. She leads the Smart Shorelines project to inform the siting and socialization of living shorelines in New Hampshire. Josh Foster (Mentor) is an adaptation consultant and active ASAP Board Member who has over 25 years of experience working on climate change science, policy, and adaptation in the federal and non-profit sectors.

ASAP California

ASAP at the California Adaptation Forum

Are you coming to the California Adaptation ForumASAP is blanketing the forum with member presentations, daily newsletter coverage (via the Daily Digests), and plenty of opportunities to meet and network with other ASAP members. Below are a few sessions that you can meet-up with other ASAP members and stay up to date on ASAP activities:

Join us for an ASAP-hosted Accelerator Workshop and In-person ASAP Member Meeting on August 29 (RSVP). The Accelerator Workshop, From National to Global: ASAP Members Lead the Transfer of Adaptation Best Practices to the Global Climate Action Summit, will provide members an opportunity to generate a white paper on the best practices and needs identified during the California adaptation forum to share at the Global Climate Action Summit in September. Workshop participants will draw on the ASAP Daily Digests and their own experiences, to synthesize the knowledge, experiences, and skills shared during the conference. The second half of the workshop will serve as an ASAP In-Person Meeting and will feature brief presentations on the organization’s growth and accomplishments over the past year and current member activities. Working in small groups, members will provide recommendations for how ASAP can continue to support member needs and grow the organization.

Are you a Resilience Dialogue Alum or just want to learn more about the program? Join us for breakfast on Wednesday, August 29. ASAP will host a Resilience Dialogues Community Meeting where participants will hear updates from the program’s alumni communities and engage in a facilitated, online and in-person conversation about enhancing local community capacity for building climate resilience.

We are also thrilled to be honoring recipients of the 2018 California Regional Adaptation Leadership Award (RALA) during Wednesday’s Forum plenary.

For ASAP members who can’t attend, be sure to watch for the CAF Daily Digests! We will be sending out a special daily edition of the ASAP Member News that will include a list of ASAP member presentations at CAF and summaries of the day’s events. Follow us at @adaptpros with hashtag #CAadapts on Twitter to learn more about what is happening on the ground!

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