Where were you the week of June 11-15th? Many of us in the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) family were in St. Petersburg, Florida, at the annual GOMA All Hands meeting. Attended by more than 400 people, we celebrated the rotation of the Alliance Management Team chair to Florida; we heard first-hand hurricane experiences; we hosted more than 24 tools at our annual Tools Café bingo; we kayaked a mangrove swamp; we learned about communicating our stories over coffee with Kitty; and we conducted six priority issue team meetings and three cross-team meetings.
Our keynote address was from Florida Department of Environmental Management Secretary Noah Valenstein and he noted, “Whether it’s helping our communities prepare for sea level rise, or hurricanes, it’s imperative that we are connected with our Gulf of Mexico Partners and that’s what GOMA is all about.”
Wow! How did we do all that? Well, I’ll tell you how: there was an army of people that volunteered their time to plan, organize, and facilitate all the details required for such a successful meeting. Volunteers expertly organized every meeting, workshop, and excursion. The team Chairs, Coordinators, and steering committees spent countless hours developing agendas for the three-day event. It is no easy task and planning begins more than six months in advance. The new GOMA Ambassadors helped us with registration, the plenary panel, team meetings, and with crowd favorites like the “rate your restaurant” featured at the GOMA registration table. All of these people have other jobs that they are paid to do, so their time spent on GOMA activities is invaluable!
Specifically, I’d like to publicly acknowledge the following Team Chairs, Coordinators, and Facilitators for their extra effort in making 2018 All Hands a success. We cannot thank you enough:
- Coastal Resilience – Rhonda Price, Kristen Kapiotis, Daphne Viverette
- Data & Monitoring – Dave Reed, Stephanie Erikson, Katie Wallace, Julie Bosch, Jeanne Allen
- Education & Engagement – Angela Underwood, Lee Yokel, Amy Clark, LaKeshia Robertson, Nadine Siak, Jamie Letendre
- Habitat Resources – Jim Pahl, Ray Newby, Mike Miner, Deb Devore, Rene Baumstark, George Ramseur
- Water Resources – Kim Caviness-Reardon, Lael Butler
- Wildlife & Fisheries – Robin Riechers, Mark Lingo, Mike Smith, Chris Pease
- Marine Debris – Caitlin Wessel
- Ecosystem Services Assessment – Becky Allee, Dave Yoskowitz
- Conservation, Restoration, & Resilience Planning – Marian Hanisko, Heidi Stiller
It’s hard to capture how it feels to watch 400 or so people working together for the good of the Gulf the way GOMA people do. So, thank you – all of you are what makes GOMA work!
– Laura Bowie, Executive Director