Know the SFWMD Board of Governors!
A shout out to our Governor Ron Desantis and his wife Casey. You stood here during the primary and you told us you would do this and not only did you get rid of the entire old board but you gave us an amazing new board. Kimberly Mitchell, from the Everglades Trust, in her remarks with the new board said this was the finest board to be assembled. I agree. I have listened to their remarks. They are smart and most of all they are thoughtful. Now that we have them it is our job to support them.
We don’t know the rest very well so I thought I’d take a moment to write a little about them. Then afterwards if we have any questions we can email them.
The South Florida Water Management District is directed by nine Governing Board members who set policy for the agency. They reside within the agency’s 16-county region and represent a cross section of interests, including the environment, agriculture, local government, recreation and business. Governing Board members are unpaid citizen volunteers appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Florida Senate. They generally serve four-year terms.
The South Florida Water Management District encompasses two major watershed basins, the Okeechobee Basin and the Big Cypress Basin. The Big Cypress Basin also has a Basin Board, with appointed members setting policy. One Governing Board member also serves as the chair of the Big Cypress Basin Board.
Chauncey Goss is the Chairman of the Board of Governors.
Chauncey Goss is the founder and managing partner of Goss Practical Solutions – a firm that provides federal fiscal policy analysis and budget forecasting. Prior to starting the firm, Goss served as Deputy Staff Director and Director of Budget Review for the House Budget Committee under Paul Ryan.
Before working on Capitol Hill, Goss worked for the Executive Office of the President in the Office of Management and Budget’s National Security Division where he was instrumental in ensuring the Department of Defense and intelligence community were properly resourced. Prior to that, he worked as a strategic planner under contract to the Air Force, Navy and intelligence community.
As a long-time resident of Southwest Florida, Goss first became involved with water quality issues when he worked as the Executive Director of the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association on Boca Grande in the early 1990s.
Goss grew up on Sanibel Island and currently lives there with his wife and three sons. He is active in his community and serves as an elected member of the Sanibel City Council. He is past Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Canterbury School in Fort Myers. He serves on the boards of Captains for Clean Water (Treasurer); the Southwest Florida Community Foundation (Executive Committee); the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation; and the United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee counties. He has served as an appointed member of the Lee County Coastal Advisory Council and as an appointed member to the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program’s Management Committee.
He received a B.A. (Area Studies – Political Science, Environmental Studies, English) from Rollins College and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University.
Areas Represented: Lee, Collier, Hendry and Charlotte counties
Scott Wagner, of Miami Beach, is president and owner of Wagner Legal. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Yale University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami. As a practicing maritime lawyer, Wagner brings “a unique perspective and expertise of Florida’s waterways” to the South Florida Water Management District. A lifelong South Floridian, Wagner’s involvement in the local community includes membership on the Orange Bowl Committee.
Term: 2/2019 – 3/2022
At-large member for an area that includes St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties
Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a former high school teacher who taught English and German. For the past 18 years, she has practiced real estate and is currently a referral agent with the Life Style Realty Group. Thurlow-Lippisch is a longtime advocate for the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, who publishes a blog sharing commentary about the impacts to the health of those waterways.
A former commissioner of the Town of Sewall’s Point, Thurlow-Lippisch also served as the town’s mayor. She is very active in environmental and community issues on the local, county and state level. She was appointed by Senate President Joe Negron to serve as commissioner for Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission. In 2018, she sponsored the bill to Prohibit Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling in Florida’s Territorial Seas that became part of Ballot Amendment 9 and overwhelmingly passed with over 68% of the voters.
Other key leadership positions include Chairing the Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments and the Florida League of Cities Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Legislative Committee. She also served as Vice-Chair of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council and as an SFWMD Water Resource Advisory Commission alternate.
Thurlow-Lippisch grew up in Stuart and lives in Sewall’s Point with her husband, Dr. Ed Lippisch. She holds leadership roles in various organizations to bring awareness to preserving and protecting the environment. She currently serves as Board Member-at-large for the Florida Wildlife Federation, member of the Guardians of Martin County and the Rivers Coalition Inc. and as Volunteer Administrator of the River Kidz Organization.
Thurlow-Lippisch received a B.A. degree in Journalism and Communications and a B.A. degree in German from the University of Florida. She also earned a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Development from the College of Education, University of West Florida.
Charlie Martinez is president of CEM Investments LLC, an investor in a variety of real estate projects. Martinez is also a partner in the Grove Bay Group, a food and beverage company that owns and operates various restaurants in Miami-Dade County. Some of Grove Bay’s establishments include Shulas 347, Glass & Vine, Grove Bay Grill (Old Scottys), Stiltsville Fish Bar, Stubborn Seed and Root & Bone.
In his prior professional work, Martinez and his father co-founded Caribe Homes (1986-2010), one of the largest private homebuilders in Miami-Dade County. Beginning with a modest 10-acre tract, under Martinez’s guidance, Caribe built over 5,500 homes. In 2005, Martinez spearheaded a sales record that surpassed $140 million in home sales, the largest one-year sales total ever recorded by a privately held home builder in Miami-Dade County at that time.
Martinez grew up in Miami and currently lives in Pinecrest with his wife and three daughters. He is active in his community and served as past president of the Latin Builders’ Association and as an officer since 1991. Martinez was a key contributor to the enforcement of building codes throughout South Florida, serving on numerous construction industry oversight boards. He also currently serves on the boards of Baptist Hospital of Miami, Our Lady of Lourdes Academy High School and Cat Cay Yacht Club.
He has been a member of the Everglades Foundation for the last eight years.
At-large member for an area that includes St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties
Cheryl Meads is a dedicated water quality advocate who believes protecting this precious resource is key to positively impacting the lives of all that call South Florida home. She has served on the Islamorada Village Council since 2016, spending most of her time championing efforts to restore and save the seagrasses that are essential to Florida Bay.
She is a scientist who holds a degree in chemistry with education, training and experience in biology, microbiology, water analysis, development and implementation of quality systems, technical investigations, corporate compliance, contract negotiations, and contract management.
She previously worked as a contractor for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and as a Manager of Global Quality Assurance for the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Her responsibilities covered factories worldwide. Upon discovering defects associated with medications GSK was selling to the U.S. market manufactured at its Puerto Rico plant, Meads brought forward a whistleblower lawsuit. This led to a felony guilty plea in 2010 to distributing adulterated drugs with the intent to mislead and to defraud.
Cheryl and her husband Mike are part-time Christian Missionaries; who joyfully serve in the Philippines. They look forward to their next trip.
Charlette Roman is a retired U. S. Army officer with 26 years of military service who enlisted in the Army in 1973 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1976. She served as Commander of an Airborne Signal Battalion at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, a Garrison Commander in Georgia and rose to the rank of Colonel before retiring in 2001. During her military service, Roman also worked as a U.S. Army Inspector General and was one of the first U.S. military personnel present to witness East Germans crossing the Freedom Bridge in Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
After retirement, Roman moved to Marco Island in Collier County and became involved in public service locally, including serving on the Collier Citizens Council, Collier County Planning Commission, Marco Island Planning Board and Marco Island Civic Association Board of Directors. She was elected to the Marco Island City Council in 2016. Her public service also includes work safeguarding the tax dollars of citizens while serving on the Marco Island Taxpayers Association Board of Directors.
Roman has a passion for conservation causes and volunteered more than 1,000 hours with Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. She also served as the President of The Friends of Tigertail Beach, a nonprofit conservation organization and was a founding Board Member of the Gulf Coast Orchid Alliance. She is a certified Florida Master Naturalist and in recognition of her educational and stewardship efforts, Roman received the prestigious Collier County Audubon Society Fellowship in 2009, now Audubon of the Western Everglades.
Roman grew up in Akron, Ohio and currently lives on Marco Island.
Roman received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from Loyola University in New Orleans and a Master of Arts Degree in Business Management from Webster University. She is also a U.S. Army War College Graduate.
Jay Steinle, of West Palm Beach, has served as Managing Director of Lighthouse Investment Partners since 2005. Lighthouse is a global investment management firm offering hedge fund solutions to investors looking to diversify their asset mix and realize returns with a lower correlation to traditional equity and fixed income allocations.
Originally from Connecticut, Steinle has lived in West Palm Beach with his wife and three children since 2005. His interest in water quality and Everglades restoration evolved as a result of his passion for outdoor sports that depend on these resources. As an avid fisherman in the Everglades region, and elsewhere, he understands the importance of water quality improvement and ecosystem restoration – both key missions of the District. With an extensive background in finance and investment, he is also keenly aware how quality, supply and control of water plays an integral role in Florida’s economy and believes all decisions must be made using science to benefit the diverse array of interested parties and constituents of the District’s 16 counties.
Steinle earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont.
Term: 3/2019 – 3/2023
Palm Beach County
Alligator Ron Bergeron
Term: 4/2019 – 3/2022
Ron Bergeron was raised in Davie, Florida, a small town with a population of about 500. His mother and father owned a small grocery store. From a young age, his parents instilled the importance of being kind, earning respect and having strong work ethic. The most important lesson of all was giving to charity no matter the size of the contribution.
Bergeron’s grandfather was a game warden in the Florida Everglades and taught him the importance of conservation and protecting the environment. Bergeron was raised to appreciate, celebrate and preserve the local culture and history. His family, along with other pioneer families, were instrumental in building a local rodeo arena, later named the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds in recognition of his family’s contributions to preserving Davie’s roots, culture and heritage. A cowboy at heart, Ron competed professionally in rodeo for over 20 years – qualifying for the Southeastern Circuit Finals 3 times and competing in the top 15 cowboys at the International Rodeo Association World Finals in 1984.
Education and Early Career: : In 1962, Ron graduated from Stranahan High School and left home with a few hundred dollars in his pocket. He got a job at a local gas station where he earned $.50 an hour. Soon after, he began maintaining a coconut plantation and saved up enough money to buy his first tractor, a 1943 Ford Ferguson. A neighbor asked him to mow his pasture and tend to his orange grove. Bergeron mowed pastures, baled hay, and harvested fruit. He never turned down a job and worked many 18-hour days, sometimes sleeping under his tractor.
At the age of 21, Bergeron noticed that the most successful people he knew were landowners, so he began buying real estate. In 1965, he incorporated Bergeron Land Development and began building driveways. He also began buying tracts of land that were in the path of development. His company would eventually build entire cities and major road systems and state highway interchanges. In order to succeed in the highly competitive world of highway construction, in 1969, Bergeron entered into the mining and quarry business and supplied all his companies with highway construction material. By the age of 25, Ron had become a very successful businessman and entrepreneur, yet he lived in a house trailer until he was 40.
Career: Bergeron Land Development grew to be one of the most highly respected and largest site-development and roadway construction companies in Florida. The company has completed projects in the private and public sectors, including site preparation for residential subdivisions, commercial buildings, industrial and other facilities as well as the construction of roads, highways, airports and wetland mitigation areas.
The company has been named among Florida’s Top 100 Contractors in Southeast Construction magazine for the past several years and has been recognized worldwide by the American Civil Engineering Society for its Everglades Restoration project. In 1989, Bergeron incorporated a real estate company, Bergeron Properties and Investments Corporation, which owns and manages a broad real estate portfolio of commercial and industrial properties throughout the U.S. and continues developing properties purchased by Bergeron over 40 years ago. One of many current projects includes the development of the Bergeron Park of Commerce South with 2.3 million square feet of industrial space.
Civic Affairs and Philanthropy: Appointed by two Governors, Bergeron served two terms as a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commissioner and was the point commissioner over the Florida Everglades. Bergeron has been a tireless champion for the restoration and protection of the Everglades, one of the natural wonders of the world. He also founded the Bergeron Everglades Museum and Wildlife Foundation with the central focus of saving the environment and educating the public on the importance of preserving Florida’s natural resources. In 2018 Bergeron received the Horatio Alger Award. Over the past 25 years Bergeron has raised millions of dollars at his private ranch, which includes a saloon of the 1800s and rodeo arena.