Three South Floridians were recipients of the recent Champion of the Everglades Awards. Former U.S. Senator & Florida Governor Bob Graham, Palm Beach County Commissioner Jess Santamaria & Family, and the Everglades Coalition will receive their awards from Nancy Marshall, president of the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation, which focuses on Everglades education, during the foundation’s upcoming JAZZ IT UP for the Everglades event in November.
“The Marshall Foundation is proud to spotlight individuals and organizations that have made an outstanding contribution toward Everglades restoration over many years,” said Marshall. “Individually, each of our three Champions of the Everglades continue to inspire us for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of the River of Grass. But collectively, they have been instrumental in forging both popular and governmental support for reviving, restoring and preserving one of America’s greatest natural treasures.”
Champion of the Everglades Award Winners 2009
Former U.S. Senator & Florida Governor Bob Graham
A longtime crusader for Everglades restoration, Bob Graham never lost an election prior to his bid for the White House in 2004. He served four years each in both the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida State Senate before being elected in 1978 to the first of two terms as Governor. In 1986 he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served until 2005. When he announced his retirement from the Senate, the president of the World Wildlife Fund declared, In his lifetime of leadership, Bob Graham has proven himself a true champion of the restoration of America’s Everglades. Were it not for Senator Graham, we would not be anywhere near the point we’ve reached in the campaign to save the Everglades for current and future generations. Certainly, he has a long track record of advocating for the restoration of the Everglades. The issue achieved state and then national prominence through the Save Our Everglades campaign led by Graham. His support for the work of the Governor’s Commission for a Sustainable South Florida brought a diverse array of interests together to craft a blueprint for the future of south Florida, and he authored the “Restoring the Everglades, An American Legacy Act,” which authorized the $7.8 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
Commissioner Jess Santamaria & Family
Jess Santamaria was elected to the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners in 2006 following over 30 years as a real estate developer and community activist in Palm Beach County. During those years, he built over 3,000 homes and currently is a co-owner and Chief Executive Officer of a 166-room hotel and several commercial centers in Royal Palm Beach and Wellington. Over the years he has been a Founder, Co-Founder, Chairman, President and strong supporter of numerous civic, charitable and environmental organizations, including the Marshall Foundation. He is married to the lovely Victoria Santamaria and has three adult children: Christopher (lawyer), Michelle (lawyer) and Vincent (computer specialist), and together have nine university degrees. Commissioner Santamaria has a Chemical Engineering degree and a Masters in Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
The Everglades Coalition
The Everglades Coalition is an alliance of 52 local, state and national conservation and environmental organizations dedicated to full restoration of the greater Everglades ecosystem, from the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes into Lake Okeechobee, through the River of Grass and Everglades National Park, out to Florida Bay and the Keys. For 25 years, the Coalition has worked in the public arena to inform decision-makers on the collective view of the conservation community regarding the greater Everglades ecosystem. Some of the tools used by the Coalition include policy papers, comparisons of proposed policy decisions focused on sound science, and public comments on critical aspects of restoration. On January 7-10, 2010, the 25th annual Everglades Coalition Conference will be held at the PGA Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, hosted by the Marshall Foundation.
The recipients of the Marshall Foundation’s Champion of the Everglades Awards last year were Governor Charlie Crist, environmental philanthropist Mary Barley and the Board of Governors of the South Florida Water Management District.