Southeast Florida - Miami RegionStakeholder Advisory Committee
Jacob Coker-Dukowitz began work in social justice through student organizing at the University of Miami where he organized with students and workers for a living wage and the right to organize for over 900 campus workers, and has been involved with numerous racial and economic justice projects in the South Florida region since. As New Florida Majority Leadership Development & Political Education Coordinator in 2013, and before that as Catalyst Miami’s Advocacy Director he gained experience developing and conducting hundreds of community dialogues, popular education, and leadership development series touching thousands of people.
Nichole L. Hefty is the Sustainability Manager in Miami-Dade’s Office of Resilience, within the Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources. Ms. Hefty earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from the University of Miami, Florida, and has worked for Miami-Dade County since 1989. She managed the County’s Pollution Prevention Program for eleven years, and has led the County’s climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts since 2002. Ms. Hefty was a core team member responsible for developing Miami-Dade County’s community-wide Sustainability Plan, “GreenPrint; Our Design for a Sustainable Future”. She is an original member of the Steering Committee of the SE Florida Regional Climate Compact, which is a groundbreaking regional collaboration of four SE Florida counties (Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, & Palm Beach) on climate change issues, policies, and strategies for the SE Florida region.
Morgan Hopkins, MS, is a water reuse and conservation expert currently serving as Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Agent for the University of Florida/Institute for Food and Agriculture Extension Service in Miami-Dade County. Ms Hopkins attended Oklahoma State University where her undergraduate work focused on Environmental Science Policy. She specialized on water conservation during her master’s program in Horticulture, working with Oklahoma City to create and promote a water conservation program. Her role was to provide public education while also conducting research on reclaimed water use in golf course irrigation and willingness to pay for reclaimed water use.
Dr Jennifer Jurado is the Director of Broward County’s Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division where she oversees the County’s regional climate resiliency initiatives, county-wide water resource policy and planning, shoreline protection and marine resources programs. Since joining the County in 2002, Jennifer has led development of Broward County’s climate action plan, active integration of sea level rise in adaptation planning, the convening of regional water and climate change task forces, and has been a key figure in the advancement of multi-jurisdictional initiatives focused on water conservation, alternative water supply planning, and climate change. In 2013, she was recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for her leadership in climate resilience. She is an original member of the Staff Steering Committee to the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. Dr Jurado earned her PhD in Marine Biology and Fisheries from the University of Miami.
Amy Knowles MBA is Deputy Resiliency Officer for the City of Miami Beach. Her primary area of focus is in developing and implementing strategic and sustainability plans. With over 18 years of experience in large complex government organizations, her specialties include establishing shared goals, targets, initiatives, and analysis through performance management and process improvement fundamentals. She previously served as Structural Innovation Manager for the City of Fort Lauderdale, where she directed the strategic planning, performance management, process improvement, and ISO 9001 quality management system implementation. Prior to that she was Organizational Development Administrator/ Special Projects Administrator for Miami-Dade County where she led organizational development efforts, including business plans, balanced scorecards, and employee and customer surveys. Special assignments included being the plan coordinator for the development of GreenPrint, the County’s first sustainability plan. She holds Master of Business Administration from the University of Miami and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Binghamton University. She received an Executive Education Certificate from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2015.
Dr Jayantha Obeysekera is the Chief Modeler at the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). He served as a member of the federal advisory committee which directed the development of the most recent National Climate Assessment in 2014. He was also a co-author of the sea level rise projections report published by NOAA for the National Climate Assessment and a lead author for the Southeast Chapter of the National Climate Assessment. Dr Obeysekera was a member of three panels of the National Research Council dealing with water resources issues of (a) Klamath River in California and Oregon; (b) California Bay Delta; and (c) Edwards Aquifer system in Texas (serving currently). He is also serving as a member of the Coastal Assessment Regional Scenario Working Group associated with the Department of Defense. Dr Obeysekera holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from University of Sri Lanka, M. Eng. from University of Roorkee, India, and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University with specialization in water resources. Dr Obeysekera is the recipient of the 2015 Norman Medal of the American Society of Civil Engineers for a technical paper that makes a definitive contribution in engineering.
Christopher Pettit JD is the Policy and Legislation Manager for the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department. He is responsible for handling a myriad of water and environmental issues involving water quality, water quantity, restoration projects, clean air/emissions, climate change, land use, and flood control. His previous experience includes positions in the Offices of Counsel at the South Florida Water Management District and Southwest Florida Water Management District. Christopher has significant experience working with all levels of government, from local to international. Christopher’s educational background includes a JD from the University of Florida, a Master of Law from the University of Cape Town, and doctoral studies at the University of London. During his time overseas, Christopher was part of teams involved in the institutional and administrative implementation of environmental and water laws in several regions of Africa and Southeast Asia. Christopher is passionate about bringing different academic, regional and cultural approaches together to find the most optimal and cost efficient solutions to our pressing water and environmental challenges.
Dr Virginia Walsh is a registered Professional Geologist and has served as Chief of the Hydrogeology Section at Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (MDWASD), Miami-Dade County, Florida for the past 7 years. Dr. Walsh has over 18 years experience in hydrologic, geologic, and environmental investigations. Dr Walsh received her PhD in Geology from Florida International University in 2012. Dr Walsh and her staff are responsible for all hydrogeologic investigations for MDWASD, and are involved in the design, operation and maintenance of water production wells and the deep injection well systems at MDWASD. Dr Walsh is also an adjunct professor of Chemistry and Geology at Miami-Dade College.
Douglas Yoder is Deputy Director of Miami-Dade’s Water and Sewer Department, the largest utility in the state of Florida and one of the 10 largest utilities in the United States. Prior to moving to the Water and Sewer Department, he worked for more than 30 years with the County’s Environmental Resources Management Department with responsibilities for oversight of utility operations, water resource management, and water quality protection. He has served two terms on the National Drinking Water Advisory Council, served on the Climate Ready Utilities Working Group, is past chair of the association of Florida Local Environmental Resource Agencies, past president of the South Florida Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration, and past chair of the Sustainability Council of the Public Technology Institute. He currently serves on the Water Resources Advisory Council, advising the South Florida Water Management District on Everglades restoration and other water management issues and serves on the Water Research Foundation’s Tailored Collaboration Review Committee. He holds a bachelor’s degree in government from Cornell University and master’s and doctoral degrees in public administration from Nova Southeastern University and has lived in south Florida for more than 40 years.