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Calusa Waterkeeper Program Staff

John Cassani

John Cassani

Calusa Waterkeeper

Member since 1995 (founding member) 
Director/officer/committee chair since 1997 
John’s professional career as an ecologist started here in Lee County in 1978 after receiving degrees in Biology and Fish and Wildlife. From 1978 to 2014 he worked as a resource manager for local government, managing waterways of Southwest Florida. He has authored both peer-reviewed scientific publications and popular media sources on resource management, history, water policy and conservation issues. John is a courtesy faculty member at FGCU in the Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences with research interests in the areas of exotic species and biodiversity. His service on advisory boards, his commitment to community and involvement with land and water conservation has led to recognition from various civic groups, Including the Florida Audubon Society, Estero Bay Agency on Bay Management, Lee County Government, the Everglades Coalition, the American Fisheries Society, and the Alberta provincial government. Due to John’s expertise as a fisheries scientist and water manager, he has been sought out as a consultant to private industry, government and academia. In December 2016, John accepted the position of Calusa Waterkeeper, a member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance.

K.C. Schulberg

K.C. Schulberg

Executive Director

Executive Director since 2018
Noted community organizer and international media specialist, K.C. Schulberg was appointed Calusa Waterkeeper’s Executive Director effective July 1, 2018. Schulberg’s background merges film, television, marketing and fundraising with hands on civic engagement and community organizing, allowing him to bring a new global set of administrative tools to Calusa Waterkeeper’s mission. In a sense, this appointment brings Schulberg full circle as his first exposure to the SWFL ecosystem came when, at the age of five, his father and uncle produced the first studio-financed environmental-themed feature film, Warner Brothers’ “WIND ACROSS THE EVERGLADES” starring Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer in 1957.

Cindy Swisher

Cindy Swisher

Administrative Coordinator

Originally from Ohio, Cindy spent most of her life in Michigan. In 2007 she left the Great Lakes for Florida’s Gulf coast. Cindy and her husband, Keith, have seven adult children and nine grandchildren. In 2019, after a 40-year hiatus, Cindy graduated from the University of South Florida. She is committed to the support and defense of our waterways and the guarantee of clean water for all.

Sub-Contractors

Nonnel Galaviz-Johnson

Nonnel Galaviz-Johnson

Billy's Creek Outreach Coordinator

FGCU graduate in Environmental Studies, Nonnel’s passion for environmental justice has led to her involvement in grassroots organizing and her participation in a civic design program focused on urban studies. She is an intersectional thinker interested in how art & culture can invoke greater synergy between people and the environment.

2020-2021 Officers

Ruth Watkins

Ruth Watkins

President

Ruth Watkins has over 30 years experience working for water quality-focused environmental organizations in the Pacific Northwest. Much of that time was spent coordinating with agencies, local governments and diverse groups to undertake multifaceted projects to protect vulnerable water resources.

Jason Pim

Jason Pim

Vice President

Jason is a Southwest Florida native, business owner and boater. With roots in Cape Coral since 1972, the Pim family enjoys regularly sailing and fishing throughout Florida and the Bahamas. Over the years, Jason has become increasingly active in working to conserve local waterways and lands. He hopes to ensure future generations enjoy the unique natural resources he experienced while growing up in the SWFL outdoors.

Jim Watkins

Jim Watkins

Treasurer

Jim has been visiting Florida since the 1950’s and went to the University of Miami in the 60’s. He’s been a waterfront property owner here since 2004. He has served as President of numerous Boards of water quality watch dog groups, such as the Clark Fork Coalition and the Rock Creek Alliance as well as founding the Kaniksu Land Trust. He is an avid boater and fisherman and attended the first class for Waterkeeper Rangers.

Kathy J. Cookman

Kathy J. Cookman

Secretary

BS, CSTR, CAISS, EMT-P, FMNP, CWKR
Born in 1959, Kathy grew up in central Ohio and has a passion for manatees. For several years, she was a Docent and “Manatee Coast” Region Leader at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium. She is a Florida Master Naturalist, Calusa Waterkeeper Ranger, a volunteer of CROW and co-owner of Manatee & Eco River Tours.

2019-2020 Board of Directors

Chuck Avery

Chuck Avery

Director

As a construction executive, Chuck lived and worked where great rivers, the Colorado, Mississippi, and the Nile, had major impacts on peoples lives. Now retired, he kayaks the Estero Bay, Spring Creek, and the Gulf. A member of numerous environmental organizations, he co-founded his community Eco Club in order to get residents aware and involved in local issues.

John C. Cookman

John C. Cookman

Director

USCG Master Captain PS, FMNP, CWKR
Born in 1954, John grew up on the Ohio and Scioto Rivers where he began boating at the age of 8 years old. Aside from being an avid USCG Master Captain, he is also a design engineer, professional surveyor, Florida Master Naturalist, Calusa Waterkeeper Ranger, and co-owner of Manatee & Eco River Tours.

Solemi Hernandez

Solemi Hernandez

Director

Mother to two wonderful young boys, who motivate her ongoing environmental justice work, she is enrolled as a Political Science student at FGCU and has been a grassroots activist and community organizer for years. She volunteers for organizations advocating for the environment and Everglades restoration, and is inspired to create the political will for climate solutions.

Louise Kowitch

Louise Kowitch

Director

Louise Kowitch holds degrees in History and Education. She taught at Farmington High School for 27 years. A Certified Florida Master Naturalist, Louise leads interpretive beach walks, serves as Education Coordinator for Friends of Lovers Key, and monitors water quality in Estero Bay. She is an avid snorkeler, triathlete and world traveler.

Corey McCloskey

Corey McCloskey

Director

Corey is a Naples, Florida native who grew up swimming and living the lifestyle everyone in Southwest Florida enjoys.

Once she moved to the banks of the Caloosahatchee River to raise her children she realized just how impaired the waters of this area are. She joined Calusa Waterkeeper to help preserve and protect our most precious natural resource. 
John Paul

John Paul

Director

John R. Paul, III is a fourth-generation citrus farmer and owner of Car Two Citeu Brokerage and Paulopolis Natural Products. He also manages properties for various uses such as agriculture and industrial. John Paul is a maverick, determined to be both an agriculturalist and an environmentalist. John Paul served as the president of CRCA/Calusa Waterkeeper from April 2015 to April 2017.

Linda Penniman

Linda Penniman

Director

Linda has been a Florida resident for over 20 years and an advocate for clean water and sound planning that entire time. She is a former elected official and member of many organizations in Collier County. She is currently on numerous boards and organizations addressing growth, water and infrastructure in Southwest Florida.

Howard Simon

Howard Simon

Director

Howard Simon retired after serving in Michigan and Florida as the American Civil Liberties Union’s most senior state Director. He organized Clean Up Okeechobee Waters, a project with doctors and scientists to address the public health threat of Harmful Blue-Green Algae. Simon received a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Committees

  • Board Advisory Committee

  • Executive Committee

  • Finance and Fundraising Committee

  • Nominating Committee

  • Legal, Regulatory and Policy Advocacy Committee

  • Membership, Volunteers and Interns Committee

  • Program and Events Committee

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