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About the Everglades Coalition

Two Co-Chairs lead the Everglades Coalition, are authorized to speak on its behalf and are elected by Coalition members on an annual basis. A Board of Directors serves the Coalition and is responsible for the general management of the business affairs and property of the Coalition. Members of the Board of Directors are elected for a term of two years.

Everglades Coalition Board of Directors

CARA CAPP is the Everglades Restoration Program Manager at the National Parks Conservation Association and was elected to serve as the national co-chair of the Everglades Coalition in 2013. Her professional focus is on furthering restoration initiatives and protecting natural resources in and around Everglades National Park. Cara previously worked at Clean Water Action, where she worked to facilitate outreach and educational events to garner community support and appreciation for America's Everglades. 

Having lived on Florida’s east and west coasts over the course of 13 years, Cara has firsthand experience with many of Florida’s native ecosystems and a deep affection for the state’s incredible natural resources and national parks. 

Cara is a double alumna of Florida Atlantic University, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences with a concentration in Environmental Studies and a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning. Cara’s published graduate work focused on the link between pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and environmentally sustainable communities.

 

MICHAEL J. (MIKE) BALDWIN is the state co-chair of the Everglades Coalition, elected in 2016. He currently serves as Vice-President and Advocacy Chairman of the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society. He also serves as volunteer at the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce Information Center and as Assistant Music Director of St. Isabel Catholic Church, Sanibel.

Mike retired in 1999 as Vice-President, Technology from Millennium Petrochemical after a 31-year career in the chemical industry. During that time he served as a member of the executive staffs of Millennium and, in prior years, of Dow Chemical Canada and Dow Chemical Latin America. He subsequently, and until year-end 2013, acted as a management consultant on improving safety and environmental performance.

Mike was a member of the Boy Scouts of America for over 20 years serving as Council Commissioner for the Dan Beard Council in Greater Cincinnati and for the SW Florida Council in Fort Myers. Mike and his wife of 50 years, Terry, have been year-round residents of Sanibel Island for 17 years. They have three married children and five grandchildren. Mike holds a BS in Chemistry from the University of Sheffield (England) and a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Alberta (Canada).

 

JENNIFER HECKER is the Director of Natural Resource Policy for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and was elected to serve as the state-co-chair of the Everglades Coalition for 2012-2014 term. Her professional focus is on water resources, listed species, everglades, environmental lands and natural resources policy and legislation. Her educational background includes a Bachelors in Environmental Studies from Prescott College, a graduate degree in Tropical Biology and Conservation from University of Missouri-St. Louis, as well as studying environmental law at the North Carolina Central University School of Law.

Prior to joining the Conservancy eight years ago, Jennifer was a Project Ecologist for WilsonMiller and had worked for Hillsborough County, FL as an Environmental Specialist in their Environmental Lands Acquisition and Management Program. She currently serves as board member of the Everglades Coalition, on the boards of the national Great Waters Coalition and Florida Coastal and Oceans Coalition as well as other environmental organizational boards. Having worked for government, for-profit, and the non-profit sectors, Jennifer embraces an approach of involving a diverse stakeholder group to improve natural resource policy and preserve our quality of life in Southwest Florida.

 

DAWN SHIRREFFS has been on the board of the Everglades Coalition since 2008. Dawn, a native of New York, graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Rollins College with a focus on Environmental Studies and Growth Management.  She also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Florida International University. 

Dawn has a long history in environmental advocacy from her work in Clean Water Action, to her current employment as the Everglades Restoration Program Manager with the National Parks Conservation Association.  She has been involved with a number of non-profit environmental organizations and dedicated several years at a non-releasable wildlife sanctuary where she coordinated public education on Florida panthers and cared for large exotic animals including predatory cats and reptiles.  Dawn has served on the Board of Directors of the Tropical Audubon Society and has served as Everglades Coalition’s Treasurer and National Co-chair.

 

MARK PERRY has been the Executive Director of the Florida Oceanographic Society since 1978, and has served in a variety of capacities on the Board of Directors of the everglades Coaltiion, including State Co-Chair. Mark attended Tulane University, University of Miami and Florida Institute of Technology, graduating with degrees in Marine Science and Applied Oceanography. He served 4 years in the U.S. Merchant Marine, Oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico and conducted ocean research with the University of Miami in the Atlantic., Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Mark is a member of Federal, State and Regional committees on the planning and management of Florida’s coastal environment including the Water Resource Advisory Commission. He has testified before U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry explaining the impacts of sugar cane agriculture to the Everglades, Lake Okechobee and Florida’s coastal estuaries. Mark has authored and coauthored numerous scientific and technical publications and articles for magazines, newspapers and journals. In addition to his service to the Everglades Coalition, Mark also serves as a member and Vice Chair of the Rivers Coalition and is a frequent speaker to groups, schools and civic organizations.

 

TOM BAUSCH began representing the Martin County Conservation Alliance to the Coalition in 2008. He was first elected to the Board of Directors in 2011and was then elected Coalition Treasurer also. He holds a BS degree in Economics from St. Peter’s University in New Jersey. After serving in the US Navy for 4 years, he entered the financial world in New York and became a member of the American Stock Exchange in 1969. In 1975, he joined the family business of plastics manufacturing and remained there until retirement in 1995. During that span, he garnered vast experience in corporate finance and international trade.

The family moved to Florida from New Jersey in 1997, locating in Sewalls Point in Martin County. In 2000, he was elected to the Town Commission and served there as Mayor/ Commissioner until 2014. As their elected official, he represented the Town on various County and State Boards dealing with growth management, transportation, tourism and water issues in South Florida.

 

CRIS COSTELLO has been an Organizing Representative for the Sierra Club since May 2007.  In her current position she coordinates the Slime Crimes Campaign to prevent harmful algal blooms in both coastal and inland waters in Florida by eliminating point and non-point sources of fertilizer, sewage and animal manure pollution. She works with local government staff and officials, homeowner associations, fertilizer and landscape maintenance businesses and partner environmental organizations around the following issues:  Everglades restoration, local and state-level urban fertilizer management policy, numeric nutrient criteria for Florida’s fresh and estuarine waters, and volunteer water quality monitoring.

In November 2013 Cris organized the Citizens’ Clean Water Summit in Orlando, where over 250 activists from over 120 organizations gathered to make plans for a higher level of collaboration among the state’s water quality and water quantity advocacy community. Cris coordinates the result of the Summit, the Floridians’ Clean Water Declaration (FCWD) Campaign, which was launched statewide in January 2014 with simultaneous “Commit to Clean Water” events involving over 100 different organizations in sixteen cities across Florida. In February 2014, over 250 Floridians’ Clean Water Declaration Campaign activists gathered in Tallahassee for the first annual “We Want Clean Water Rally.” The second annual rally in Tallahassee, “Floridians for Clean Water & Amendment 1”, in February 2015 was attended by over 400 activists.

Prior to joining the Sierra Club, Cris was a rural and urban grassroots community organizer, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, an organizer and negotiation/arbitration specialist in a seventeen year career in the labor movement, and a consultant to the Gulf Coast Community Foundation in Venice, Florida. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.

 

JACLYN LOPEZ is the Florida Director and a staff Attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. She is a Florida native and holds a master of laws degree in environmental and land-use law from the University of Florida, a J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and a master's degree in urban planning from the University of Arizona. Jacki coordinates campaigns in the Southeast and Caribbean, focusing on protecting imperiled species and ecosystems. She has presented and written on numerous Endangered Species Act issues and taught courses on environmental law.

 

CELESTE DE PALMA is the Everglades Policy Associate at Audubon Florida, the oldest conservation organization in the state. In her role at Audubon Florida, Celeste leads grasstops and grassroots outreach efforts on important Everglades policy issues. She focuses on building a more diverse constituency of Everglades champions who can be mobilized to support Everglades priorities before the Florida legislature, Congress, local governments and state and federal agencies.

Prior to her current role Celeste was the Conservation Outreach Coordinator for Tropical Audubon Society, the local Audubon grassroots chapter in Miami-Dade County. During her time at Tropical Audubon, Celeste specialized in land-use issues and led the revitalization campaign of the Hold the Line Coalition that focused on stopping urban sprawl into the Everglades.

Celeste’s dedication to the protection of natural resources and habitats blossomed out of her direct experience with social issues related to the exploitation of natural resources. During her undergraduate studies, Celeste spent one month in the Peruvian Amazon on a research-based study abroad program, where she saw firsthand how dramatic are the effects of poor resource management and how critical it is for people to be informed and aware of the environmental impacts of human activity.

Born in Argentina, Celeste has made Miami her adopted city. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Florida International University. Celeste is a 2013 New Leaders Council Miami Alumna and a 2013 Toyota TogetherGreen Fellow.