Julia Nesheiwat will serve as the state’s first Chief Resilience Officer, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday evening.
As CRO, Nesheiwat will be responsible for preparing Florida for the environmental, physical and economic impacts of sea level rise.
Nesheiwat is a U.S. Army combat veteran with 20 years of environment, energy and national security experience.
She has previously worked as the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources implementing policies in energy, water and critical infrastructure protection.
Nesheiwat’s resume also includes leading interagency initiatives at the federal level, developing public-private partnerships to promote U.S. investment opportunities and advancing national security and environmental interests.
In her new role she will be synergizing the efforts of several state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation, Division of Emergency Management, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Department of Economic Opportunity.
“Developing resilience goals for the state will help to protect our coastal communities and fortify Florida’s pathway to continued prosperity,” DeSantis said in a news release. “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.
“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. She has a proven track record of public, private and military service that will serve Florida well,” he concluded.
Nesheiwat thanked DeSantis and said it was an honor to be selected for the job.
“As a Floridian from Lake County, I know how important this issue is for the people of Florida,” she said.
“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 pick was praised by DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein, Chief Science Officer Tom Frazer, Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg and American Flood Coalition Chair Jay Faison.
“Surrounded by water, our state is ground zero for sea-level rise and is leading the country in resiliency efforts with the leadership of Governor DeSantis. This appointment of Dr. Nesheiwat is the first of its kind,” Valenstein said.
“She is an exemplary representation of public service with more than twenty years of experience leading our country’s environmental policies at the highest level.”
Nesheiwat is an alumna of Stetson University, Georgetown University and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, where she earned her doctorate in 2014.
In addition to her work in government, she has been a visiting professor at the Naval Post Graduate School on Energy & Environmental Security and a lecturer at University of California San Diego and Stanford University.
Included in the hiring announcement were a pair of endorsements from Richard Morningstar, the former United States Ambassador to the European Union and to Azerbaijan.
“I worked closely with Dr. Nesheiwat for several years when I was an energy envoy at the State Department and can tell you firsthand that she is passionately committed to climate issues,” he said.
“Her doctoral work relating to resilience following the Fukushima accident is exemplary, and she is nothing short of an administrative and organizational genius, which will be critical in any crisis.”
Added Mike Lemyre, Ygrene Energy Fund’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs: “The growing threats facing Florida due to climate change demand strong leadership, and this week Gov. DeSantis showed once again his unwavering commitment to protecting Florida’s families and environment for generations to come with Dr. Nesheiwat’s appointment.”
Ygrene specializes in “residential and commercial clean energy financing.”