Gov. DeSantis defends resume of Florida's first resilience officer

Governor Ron DeSantis announced Thursday the appointment of Florida's first Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), whose responsibility it will be to prepare the state for the environmental, physical and economic impacts of sea level rise. 

Dr. Julia Nesheiwat will report directly to the governor on matters regarding environmental protection, transportation, emergency management, agriculture, wildlife, and the economy.

Responding to questions regarding the new CRO's experience, DeSantis pointed to Nesheiwat's resume.

"She wrote her dissertation in resiliency by looking at things like Hurricane Katrina, which, to me, that is what we want, someone who can look at what we need to do to protect coastal communities," DeSantis said. "It involves things like rising seas. It involves coastal erosion. It also involves things like being more resilient when you do have hurricanes."

The governor’s office said Nesheiwat has more than 20 years of experience in federal cabinet-level agencies, including in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. Department of State. 

Nesheiwat also has experience as a combat veteran.

Several state-level officials applauded the appointment, including the head of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, Noah Valenstein who pointed out a state surrounded by water will be ground-zero for the impacts of the rising ocean.

“As a Floridian from Lake County, I know how important this issue is for the people of Florida,” Nesheiwat 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 governor added, “Developing resilience goals for the state will help to protect our coastal communities and fortify Florida’s pathway to continued prosperity.”