Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed the person who will be responsible for preparing Florida for the environmental, physical and economic impacts of sea level rise. Thursday, DeSantis announced the appointment of Dr. Julia Nesheiwat as Florida’s first Chief Resilience Officer (CRO).

“Developing resilience goals for the state will help to protect our coastal communities and fortify Florida’s pathway to continued prosperity,” said   DeSantis. “Today, we take the step of appointing Florida’s first Chief Resilience Officer to coordinate a statewide response to prepare for the environmental, physical and economic challenges facing our state.”

The CRO’s responsibility will be to report directly to governor. The CRO  will also work in partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in addition to local communities.

“Dr. Nesheiwat’s more than 20 years’ experience operating at the highest levels of government and academia focusing on renewable energy, environmental and critical infrastructure issues make her an excellent choice for this position,” DeSantis added, “She has a proven track record of public, private and military service that will serve Florida well.”

Nesheiwat, a Florida native, has more than 20 years of renewable energy and environmental experience focused on water and natural resources as a senior executive in federal cabinet-level agencies and academia.

A U.S. Army combat veteran, Nesheiwat previously worked as the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources implementing policies in energy, water and critical infrastructure protection.

“As a Floridian from Lake County, I know how important this issue is for the people of Florida,” said Nesheiwat.  “With 1,350 miles of largely low-lying coastline, the impacts from climate change and sea level rise present a significant challenge; but with Governor DeSantis’ leadership and vision, Florida will be a leader for the entire country on how best to confront these issues.” 

The selection of Nesheiwat was praised by DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein, Chief Science Officer Tom Frazer, as from environmental  groups such as the Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg.

“With this appointment of Dr. Julia Nesheiwat as Florida’s first Chief Resilience Officer, Governor DeSantis stands above all other governors in his leadership and commitment to ensure the Everglades and Florida’s water resources are protected,”  Eikenberg said. “Governor DeSantis made a wise choice. Dr. Nesheiwat is a proven resiliency leader in critical areas where the public, private and academic sectors intersect. Her years of environmental experience, with an emphasis on water and natural resources, will serve the people of Florida well.”

Nesheiwat’s appointment also won the praises of Ygrene Energy Fund, Florida’s leading provider of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing.

“The growing threats facing Florida due to climate change demand strong leadership, and this week Governor DeSantis showed once again his unwavering commitment to protecting Florida’s families and environment for generations to come. Ygrene commends Governor DeSantis for his appointment of a proven leader and bold environmental advocate in Dr. Julia Nesheiwat as Florida’s first Chief Resilience Officer,” said Mike Lemyre, Ygrene Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.