The mission of Friends of the Everglades is to preserve, protect, and restore the only Everglades in the world.
Board of Directors & Staffadmin2022-09-01T15:55:56-04:00
Board of Directors
The mission of Friends of the Everglades is to preserve, protect, and restore the only Everglades in the world.
Philip graduated from the University of Miami with a B.S. in Biology and Marine Science in 2008, from UM’s Biology department with a MS in 2011, and is currently a Maytag Fellow and a Ph.D. student at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on Virginia Key, studying coral resiliency under climate change scenarios. Philip grew up spending time in and advocating for conservation of the Everglades. He also serves on the board of the Miami Waterkeeper.
Peter UptonVice President
Born in Michigan, Peter received his undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill followed by a law degree at Temple University in Philadelphia, before moving to Miami in the early 1980s. He worked as staff attorney at American Friends Service Committee, representing imprisoned undocumented people at Krome Detention Center and undocumented farmworkers in rural areas throughout South Florida. In 1988, Peter moved to New York City then to Mozambique to work for Save the Children, where he assisted with war-traumatized children. From New York, he came to Indiantown to open a private immigration law practice. He eventually settled with his family in Stuart and became a member of several boards including Americans for Immigrant Justice in Miami and the Elliott Museum.
Alan FaragoConservation Chair
Alan has been an activist, writer, and observer of Florida environmental, Everglades, and political issues for about 30 years. His editorials have appeared in Florida newspapers, online publications such as Huffington Post, and his blog, Eye On Miami. He first engaged in these issues through his love of the Florida Keys and flats fishing. His work has been recognized by the Everglades Coalition and conservation groups.
Connie is a longtime South Florida resident and a career educator who taught in Miami-Dade County public schools for more than 40 years. While working as a teacher at Howard Drive Elementary School, Connie co-founded the Young Friends of the Everglades program with a fellow teacher. In 2020, she was a driving force behind resurrecting the Young Friends program as a virtual education portal at Everglades.org. Connie has served on the board of Friends of the Everglades since 1994 and was a personal friend of Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Richard was born in Miami in 1958, and his love affair with the Everglades started soon after. He has explored the Glades from its Shingle Creek headwaters to Sandy Key. Richard previously served as president of the Herman Lucerne Memorial Foundation, which has made Everglades National Park as its sole beneficiary. A financial adviser based in Palm Beach County, Richard devotes his spare time to focusing on helping the River of Grass flow as nature intended from the southern lip of Lake Okeechobee to the bights and bays of Florida Bay.
Dr. Jason Evans is the Executive Director of Stetson University’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience. Trained as a landscape ecologist, Jason is one of the nation’s leading researchers, practitioners, and teachers in the fields of coastal resilience and climate adaptation planning. He regularly conducts climate vulnerability assessments in collaboration with local, state, and federal authorities and specializes in identifying opportunities for integrating restoration of natural ecosystems in support of flood risk mitigation and water quality improvement. Over recent years Jason has worked extensively on climate resilience issues along the Atlantic coast of Florida and Georgia, including multiple projects implemented in the Florida Keys and the greater Indian River Lagoon watershed. Jason also serves as Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Environmental Management, a top-ranked international publication within the fields of environmental science, engineering, planning, and governance.
Ray Judah graduated from the California State University of Humboldt with a Master of Science in Natural Resources and Bachelor of Arts in Zoology. As a former environmental land planner with the Lee County Department of Community Development and Lee County Commissioner (1988-2012) he remains a strong advocate for providing a balance between management of growth and responsible stewardship of our precious natural resources.
During his tenure on the Board of Lee County Commission, Commissioner Judah assumed a leadership role in the efforts to protect the Caloosahatchee and coastal estuaries by advocating for restoration of the historic southern flow-way to the Everglades and responsible management of Lake Okeechobee. He also served as liaison with federal, state, and local agencies of officials on issues pertaining to natural resource issues and throughout his career he has written articles, commentaries, and spoke on behalf of land and water issues affecting Southwest Florida.
Nathaniel lives in Key West, Florida, where he and his wife Kat own and operate the Angling Company. He has served on the board of directors for the Lower Keys Guides Association and as president of Keys Alliance. Nathaniel has won the March Merkin Permit Tournament twice, and the Del Brown Permit Tournament once. He is 4-time Grand Champion in the fly division of the Cuda Bowl, and has won the SLAM Superfly three times. He developed the Cobranagle knot for tarpon fishing, and enjoys chasing light line world records with a fly rod. He is also an IGFA representative.
Robert Mitchell is a Community Activist from Belle Glade FL. He is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a Bachelor’s In Education (Theatre) and currently splits time between Belle Glade and Los Angeles where he owns and operates his own 5 Star Rated business, Country Boy Catering Inc. In addition to being a local campaign leader of the Stop The Burn/GO GREEN initiative, Robert is the c0-founder of the Muck City Black Lives Matter, co-founder of Muck City United, and recent candidate for Belle Glade City Commission seat D.
An avid fly fisherman and outdoorsman, Dave was born and raised in Miami and grew up in the 80s and 90s exploring the waters of Florida Bay, the Everglades, Biscayne Bay, and the Keys. He is a University of Florida alumni, and has worked across the state as a commercial real estate broker since graduating in 2003. He currently resides in Jupiter, but you can usually find him anywhere there are tarpon swimming in the spring and summer months.
Camila was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and moved to Miami in 1994, where she worked as a model and actress. She is now committed to protecting the environment through personal action and teamwork with local environmental groups. Camila is currently the Director of Business Development at Sharp Dentistry. She is the chair for the Biscayne Bay Marine Health Coalition, and the chair of logistics for the Biscayne Bay Marine Health Summit. She is also on the Environment Committee for the Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove. Camila is a mother who has a passion for holistic nutrition and environmental protection. She has a degree in Sustainability and the Environment from Florida International University, and a diploma as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.
Robert is an attorney with Rennert Vogel Mandler & Rodriguez, a Miami-based business and real estate law firm, who has experience representing clients in Florida state courts, federal courts around the country, and in private and FINRA arbitrations. He has expertise in commercial transactions and securities and is licensed to practice in all Florida state and federal courts, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Louisiana State Courts, and the Eastern District of Louisiana. Robert works with Friends of the Everglades’ Litigation Committee to pursue select actions in state and Federal courts and administrative proceedings.
Sylmarie is a Miami-based attorney practicing international commercial litigation and arbitration with experience representing clients in Florida state and federal courts. She first became involved with Friends as a student volunteer through the FIU College of Law Environmental Clinic, where she worked on several water quality standard research and compliance projects. Sylmarie has also previously served as a board member on the Commission for Women Miami-Dade County Advisory Board. She is a Puerto Rico native and a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
Milda is the owner of Soiree Celebrations, an events-planning business, and has lived in Naples since 1984. She has planned well-known Naples events including the Naples Philharmonic’s “Festival of Trees,” the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s “Music and Magic Under the Mangroves,” Collier YMCA’s “Partners with Youth” and many others. She also serves on the board of Friends of Rookery Bay.
Elizabeth Wheaton is Director, Partnerships and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) with Corvias Infrastructure Solutions. Corvias Infrastructure Solutions implements Community-Based Partnership projects to help cities become more resilient to the impacts of climate change through upgrading and maintaining green and sustainable stormwater infrastructure. Prior to this position, Elizabeth spent 13 years with the City of Miami Beach leading the Environment & Sustainability Department, which focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation through the lens of sustainability, environmental resources management and urban forestry.
Elizabeth graduated from University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science with a Master’s in Marine Affairs and Policy. Elizabeth also has an Executive MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
As publisher of Florida Sportsman magazine, Blair Wickstrom oversees all related media and products associated with the brand, including: television, Reel Time Florida Sportsman, Florida Sportsman Best Boat and Florida Sportsman Project Dreamboat, online, website, social media and video, expos, Florida Sportsman Expos, radio, Florida Sportsman Radio Live, and Florida Sportsman books, charts and products. He has hosted television shows; written magazine features and regularly contributes photography. He has been a board member for both the American Sportfishing Association and Coastal Conservation Association.
Eve SamplesExecutive Director
After two decades as a journalist, Eve Samples joined Friends of the Everglades in early 2020, recognizing an opportunity to meld her passion for environmental reporting with Friends’ legacy of grassroots advocacy and education. Eve previously worked as opinion editor for the USA TODAY Network-Florida, as a columnist and editor for TCPalm and Treasure Coast Newspapers, and as a reporter for The Palm Beach Post and Pittsburgh-Post Gazette. She is a native of Miami and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Gil SmartPolicy Director
With more than three decades of experience as a high-profile newspaper columnist and investigative reporter, Gil Smart is adept at taking a deep dive on complex issues in search of solutions. A Pennsylvania native, father of three, sometimes musician and long-time champion of environmental causes, Gil fell in love with wild Florida and can conceive of no greater moral cause than fighting for better water quality and protecting the “River of Grass.”
Allie HartmannCommunications Director
Native ties and deep-rooted appreciation go a long way towards inspiring action. After graduating from St. Augustine’s Flagler College, Allie Preston returned to find her home waters of Stuart, FL in disrepair. Working as Director of Communications alongside a small team of like-minded, impassioned individuals, Allie has aided content development, research and digital channel engagement that has generated an upwelling of grassroots involvement and statewide recognition for the mismanagement of South Florida’s water resources and the preservation efforts of the greater Everglades ecosystem.
Naomi NixonSenior Philanthropic Advisor
Naomi Nixon’s commitment to Everglades protection stems from early childhood memories of trips to the Everglades. After graduating Tufts University, Naomi landed positions on Capitol Hill. She earned her Juris Doctorate at the George Washington University National Law Center. Upon returning home to South Florida she continued her work in government at the state and local level. Most recently, Naomi honed her philanthropic acumen as a senior member of the University of Miami’s development team. During this time, she spearheaded efforts that raised over $3 billion. She later founded NDN Advisors to help non-profit organizations achieve their next level of success. Naomi feels fortunate to be partnering with Friends of the Everglades to grow its philanthropic support through the design and implementation of innovative programs and strategies as well as the cultivation and stewardship of key supporters.
Kym HurchallaDevelopment Coordinator
Passion for civic engagement and environmental conservation runs in the blood for Kym Hurchalla. With a former Attorney General and a County Commissioner in the family, Kym carried on the tradition by graduating from Guilford College with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and an Environmental Studies Minor. Now, as Development Coordinator, Kym drives organizational development by connecting with community supporters, planning and hosting events, and strategic fundraising efforts – all with the aim of protecting the precious Everglades ecosystems she grew up with. When Kym isn’t hard at work advocating for clean water, she’s enjoying it, by scuba diving, paddleboarding, boating – you name it.
Leah VossMultimedia Producer
Exploring nature preserves in Ohio full of lush green forests, rushing waterfalls and weathered gorges are among Leah’s first memories. When she moved to Stuart, FL in 2015 to be a photojournalist at TCPalm and Treasure Coast Newspapers, she was able to make a career using her lifelong love for photography and a strong desire for justice. After meeting some of Florida’s iconic environmentalists like Maggy Hurchalla and Nathaniel Reed and interviewing many other local naturalists, Leah knew she wanted to join their efforts in impacting Florida for the better. Becoming a Friend of the Everglades provides that opportunity every single day.