Citizens Advisory Committee
The Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) provides citizen input to SBEP and assists the Program in sharing information with the public. The CAC also develops action plans to support SBEP programs and projects in an effort to influence public policies that impact on the Bay and its resources.
Citizen Advisory Committee Members
(List presented in alphabetical order)
Alison's career has spanned more than 35 years in the environmental field working in private industry, non-profit research, and city and county governments. Her experience includes wastewater treatment and environmental laboratory management, energy and water conservation, and sustainability. She has a degree in Chemical Technology and a degree in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of South Florida.
Alison has lived in the Sarasota area for more than 35 years and she enjoys sailing, kayaking, diving and fishing. She has been an active member of the Longboat Key Turtle Watch for more than 15 years. She is the President of the Sarasota Bay Foundation and sits on the board of the Suncoast Waterkeeper.
Justin is Executive Director of Suncoast Waterkeeper, a local environmental organization dedicated to protecting and restoring local waterways. He also has a solo law practice, is the owner of Osprey Motorcar Company, and serves as a partner for SUP Sarasota Watersports. Justin is on the board of the Florida West Coast Resource Conservation and Development Council. Justin graduated from New College of Florida in 1991 with a BA Degree in Environmental Studies. He completed his law degree at Tulane University in 1996. His interests include sailing, boating, swimming, paddle sports, snorkeling, and diving.
Dick is a former City Commissioner for Sarasota from 2007 to 2011 who served as mayor of the City of Sarasota in 2009. He moved to Sarasota in 2001 from St. Charles, Illinois with his wife Marti. The couple visited the area many times beginning in the early 1970’s after Marti’s grandparents bought a house in Sarasota in 1952. Dick had a prior career in the paper industry in the areas of manufacturing management, product development and new business development. He spent many years in Wisconsin and is originally from Michigan. Dick has volunteered extensively in neighborhood associations and business organizations.
Briana is a Planner for the City of Sarasota. She moved to Florida in 2013 after graduating from the University of Virginia with a degree in Architecture and minor in Urban and Environmental Planning. Briana finished her Master’s in Sustainable Design from the University of Florida in 2016. Her thesis work focused on investigating alternatives to seawalls throughout the coasts of Sarasota County and calculating the suitability of living shoreline and hybrid solutions. Briana also holds her LEED Green Associate where she enjoys finding the balance between the natural and built environment. In her free time, you can find Briana kayaking, paddle boarding and practicing yoga on the beach. Briana has served on the CAC since 2017.
Wayne Douchkoff: CAC Vice Chair
Wayne's passion is the outdoors whether exploring, learning, or teaching others. As a kayak guide and environmental educator, his joy comes from helping others have an 'aha' moment. Besides being an ACA/BCU Certified Kayak Instructor/Coach, Certified Interpretive Guide (NAI), Advanced Florida Master Naturalist (U of FL) he is also an instructor in the University of Florida Master Naturalist Program. The Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism recognizes WayneAdventures as a Certified Gold Ecotour Provider. Best described as a lifelong learner, he isn't leaving this world until he learns everything!
Lesley has a strong affinity for human interactions with nature both in her personal and professional life. She is a registered horticultural therapist, Florida master gardener, and volunteer at Anna Maria Elementary School’s edible garden. Author of multiple publications on people-plant interactions including the ebook Therapeutic Horticulture: A Practitioner’s Perspective, she has been active in educational outreach, professional training, and public speaking efforts to share the philosophy of biophilia—humans having an intrinsic need to connect with nature. Her experience includes public policy and planning at local, state and federal levels, board member for several horticultural therapy professional associations, and reviewer for the Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture. Lesley has two degrees in Political Science.
Marion Kuster: CAC Chair
Always a lover of the natural world, Marion is an advocate for protecting the environment. Most recently, she was president of the Green Lake Conservancy Foundation in Wisconsin, which has preserved and protected numerous acres of environmentally-sensitive lands. In addition to protecting and restoring Green Lake, the Foundation helps educate the public about environmental stewardship and sustainable land management. A former educator, she’s working on her French to enhance communication with her grandsons who lived previously in Paris. She volunteers as a Lakes Committee member in her neighborhood, and at the Anna Maria Island Elementary School’s edible garden.
Jack retired after serving as the Environmental Manager for Sarasota County. He worked for the organization for 12 years and his background in resource management includes stints with the St. Johns River Water Management District, Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, Florida Department of Natural Resources, Florida House of Representatives, and Hillsborough County. Jack completed his graduate and undergraduate degrees at the USF College of Natural Sciences. He’s been involved with SBEP as a member of the Management Board and previously served as Chair of the CAC. Jack was honored with a SBEP Blue Dolphin Award in 2012. Jack enjoys fly fishing, kayaking, sailing, bird watching, and sunset views.
Lou has degrees in veterinary medicine from Cornell University and veterinary pathology from Michigan State University. His early years were spent as a large animal cowboy vet and rancher in Montana; his later years as director of veterinary diagnostic laboratories at the University of Kentucky and the University of Georgia. In addition to teaching on cruise ships following retirement, Lou has served as a volunteer veterinarian at Mote Marine Laboratory, Pelican Man Bird Sanctuary and in Great Britain during the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak. Lou is best known locally for his wildlife and bird photography.
Ken is a resident in both Sarasota and Manhattan. He is active with the San Remo Homeowners Association and Friends of Roberts Bay. He retired following a career as a consultant for the publishing industry. After serving as editor of the Columbia Journalism Review and as a writer and editor for Time Magazine, he worked for several years as a consulting editor for National and International Wildlife Magazines published by the National Wildlife Federation. He also served as a consulting publisher for other magazines focused on finance, mutual funds and cruise resort travel. Ken earned a MA Degree in General Studies in the Humanities and a BA Degree in Tutorial Studies from the University of Chicago.
Shawn Glen Pierson
Shawn joined the CAC in 2016. Shawn served on several other boards in the city, including the Sarasota County Tree Advisory Council and the City of Sarasota Parks, Recreation, and Environmental Protection Advisory Board. Shawn has lived in several places tied closely to large expanses of nature and water and the issues of human interaction with nature. His education and career are fundamentally concerned with how humans create interventions in and utilize the natural environment over a wide range of exclusive or mutual benefit. Shawn received his undergraduate education in Architecture and Planning at The Catholic University of America School of Engineering and Architecture, continued his education at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and is the founder of the nonprofit Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club, Inc.
Thomas and his wife moved to Sarasota from Cleveland in 1972 after serving in the Army in Vietnam and Korea. As a barber by profession, he’s had many opportunities to listen to the concerns of the community. His interest has always been in the quality of life, so he joined the environmental groups; the Audubon Society, Control Growth Now and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program as a CAC member.
Kendra has a background in biology with a Master's of Science degree in Biology and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology. She is co-owner of Sarasota Boating adventures, a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor with Florida Underwater Sports, operates her own blog site, divemomma.com, and is mom to her spunky and amazing daughter and wife to her outstanding husband. She is a fierce environmentalist and is passionate about creating a sustainable and healthy environment for all to enjoy. She is best known for being outspoken and unafraid of tackling challenges. On her off time you will find her on the water, under the water or eating at one of Sarasota's many restaurants.
Cyndi joined the CAC in 2008 at the request of the Town of Longboat Key. She has served as an officer of her condo board since 2007. She is also an officer with Longboat Key Turtle Watch and does volunteer work for Mote Marine Laboratory and Keep Manatee Beautiful. Cyndi earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award from Mote in 2010 for contributing 4,000 volunteer hours. She moved here from Minnesota in 2002. Cyndi grew up in Iowa and Wisconsin where she enjoyed fun times on various lakes and rivers. She moved to Minneapolis after graduating from UW-Eau Claire. Her hobbies include sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
Sean Sellers has lived in Sarasota since 2011, where he and his wife are raising a family in the Indian Beach-Sapphire Shores neighborhood. Previously, he lived for three years in Immokalee, on the western edge of the Everglades. Sean is originally from Texas, where he enjoys hiking and paddling in the Hill Country and Chihuahuan Desert. He holds a BS in Communication Studies and MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and is pursuing an MS in Ecological Restoration from the University of Florida. He also serves on the Stormwater Environmental Utility Advisory Committee of Sarasota County and volunteers with neighborhood shoreline and tidal creek restoration efforts.
Sherri Swanson: CAC Secretary
Sherri is an Environmental Project Manager at HDR Engineering. She received a BS in Environmental, Soil and Water Science and a Master’s in Global Sustainability, which was an interdisciplinary degree focused on water including topics ranging from coastal tourism to water scarcity. Sherri is a Professional Wetland Scientist and she holds her EnvisionTM sustainability credentials. Sherri was honored in 2015 with a SBEP Blue Dolphin Award. Her personal interests include travel, camping, cycling, sailing, and backyard beekeeping.
Brad is the expert guide for SBEP’s Bay Wise Kayak Tours Program. He’s also the Manager of School Programs for Mote Marine Laboratory. Brad was born in New Jersey and lived in North Carolina prior to moving to Sarasota in 2004. He has a B.A. in Environmental Science and a Master's Certificate in Informal Science Education. Brad has led hundreds of kayak tours to expand awareness of coastal habitats and marine life. His interests include scuba diving, hiking, boating, skiing, jogging, international travel, and most recently, leading meditation classes for Kadampa Meditation Center. He has completed two marathons, four half marathons, and a handful of triathlons.
Mark joined the CAC in 2018 after attending the 2018 Environmental Summit in Sarasota and meeting Jay Leverone, Ph.D., Program Scientist for the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program. When Mark explained to Jay that he cared deeply about the environment, and was also a Real Estate Broker, Mark was asked to fill a need on the CAC. Mark grew up in Sarasota and has always loved the outdoors, especially activities on (and in) the coastal waters. Mark was also a Boy Scout leader for many years, teaching scouts to have a love and respect for the environment, and encouraging two of his sons achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Professionally, Mark earned his bachelor’s degree in Real Estate and Urban Land Studies from the University of Florida in 1975. Over the course of his varied experience in real estate and construction, Mark has notably accumulated over 25 years experience as a Professional Real Estate Appraiser and is also a Real Estate Broker. He now enjoys helping sellers and buyers of real estate. When he is not working in real estate, he takes an active role in learning more about environmental issues as well as being a liaison between the local real estate business community and the Estuary program. He has also joined other environmental groups since joining the Estuary Program. Mark enjoys social activities and a variety of outdoor activities, including tennis, golf, working out, and enjoys swimming along the beach for exercise – which fuels his passion for working for clean water with SBEP.
Rob retired from a long career as the Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team (NEST) Coordinator for Sarasota County and now serves as the Conservation Chair for Sarasota Audubon. He has a B.A. Degree in Geography/Coastal Zone Management from Florida Atlantic University and has been involved in the administration and implementation of environmental management programs in the public and private sector for over 30 years. He grew up in Nokomis and is a lifelong Florida resident with extensive experience in developing and providing environmental education and outreach programs dealing with water resource issues.
Honorary CAC Members
Steve was born and raised by the world’s greatest parents in Martinsville, Indiana on a small farm in the country where he spent as much time as possible exploring nature. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves to hike, camp, hunt and fish. Steve was the Science Department Chair at Southeast High School in Bradenton where he taught a biology honors course, marine science, and a marine science honors course.
In memory of Charles Edwards
Charles moved to Sarasota in 1993 after a career of teaching, research and administration in biology. His interest in the environment led to him joining the CAC in 1994. His daughter’s interest in sustainable development has helped him in thinking about some of our problems. He lived in Maryland, Utah, Minnesota, New York, worked and traveled abroad, and resided in Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay until his passing in late 2016. The SBEP awarded Charles a Blue Dolphin Award in 2012.
In memory of Virginia Sanders
Virginia was an artist, photographer and avid environmentalist who helped organize the Longboat Key Turtle Watch Program and the Sister Keys Conservancy, which contributed to the Sister Keys being protected as a community resource. Virginia was a three-term president of both the Longboat Key Garden Club and the Sun Coast Camera Club in Bradenton. She also served as a volunteer at Mote Marine Laboratory for more than 25 years. This dedicated citizen raised her family in the Chicago area before relocating to Florida. Virginia passed away in 2016.