Suncoast Waterkeeper is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We are a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a global network of over 300 grassroots leaders in six continents protecting everyone’s right to clean water.
The mission of Suncoast Waterkeeper is to protect and restore the Florida Suncoast’s waterways through enforcement, fieldwork, advocacy and environmental education for the benefit of the communities that rely upon these precious coastal resources.
Our first priority is to ensure that appropriate laws are being followed, and to take corrective action when they are not. Our work is supported by science, the appropriate statutes and environmental ethics. We will always seek to prevent environmental damage wherever possible.
MEET OUR BOARD
Justin Bloom - Founder and board member
Suncoast Waterkeeper’s founder Justin Bloom got his JD at Tulane Law School and has been a practicing environmental attorney specializing in prosecuting pollution cases and representing communities for over 18 years. His experience includes investigation, enforcement and litigation of Clean Water Act violations and “Toxic Tort” cases. He has successfully represented many plaintiffs affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and other oil spills in the US. Prior to returning to the Suncoast, he worked in New York City as Waterkeeper Alliance’s Eastern Regional Director. Justin’s family first came to the area in the ‘70s. He attended New College, where he graduated with a concentration in environmental studies in 1991.
Rusty Chinnis - Chairman
Rusty has been a resident of the Longbeach Village on the north end of Longboat Key for four decades. Rusty is an avid angler, photographer, writer, fly casting instructor and has been a clean water advocate for over thirty years. He was a founding member of the Sister Keys Conservancy, Sarasota Bay Watch and served as President of the Florida Outdoor Writer’s Association. Rusty joined Suncoast Waterkeeper because in his words, “they are doing the critical work to hold municipalities and elected officials accountable under the Clean Water Act”.
Orion Morton - Secretary
Orion Morton is a kayak guide on Sarasota Bay and the founder of Florida Rewilding Collective, LLC, an ecological/native/edible landscaping and consultancy business.
A Florida native, Orion’s childhood was defined by those magical ecosystems where land meets water in our state, and he remains strongly motivated to work towards ensuring their conservation and restoration. After graduating from the New College of Florida in 2017, he remained in the area to work with, and advocate for, the health of the habitats leading to the Bay.
Merrie Llynn Parker - Treasurer
Merrie is a retired Manatee School District administrator. She is a board member of the Manatee Fish & Game Association and a certified Master Naturalist. She enjoys painting water colors of wildlife and its natural habitat and kayaking the local tributaries and water bodies.
Alison Albee - Member
Alison's career has spanned more than 30 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 30 years and she enjoys sailing, kayaking, diving and fishing. She has been an active volunteer with the Longboat Key Turtle Watch for more than 15 years and is a member of the Citizen's Advisory Committee of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.
Richard Moore - Member
Richard is a retired civil/environmental engineer with over 40 years of experience in the planning, design, and construction of major water and wastewater projects. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University, and a M.S. in Civil/Environmental Engineering from University of Massachusetts (Lowell). He was employed by a major international consulting firm for most of his career; and more recently he worked as a self-employed consultant. His project experience includes many Florida municipal and county clients. He has been a resident of Sarasota since 1988. Richard maintains an active lifestyle and enjoys tennis, cycling, hiking, boating, kayaking, and woodworking. His recent volunteer work has included Mote Marine Laboratories, Sarasota Bay Explorers, food pantries, and various environmental organizations.
Jose Uranga - Member
Jose is a retired 30 year environmental attorney with both government enforcement and corporate practice experience. He earned a JD from Georgetown University and a MA in Environmental Management from the University of Texas, San Antonio. Originally from New Mexico, he has lived in Sarasota for over 20 years since retiring and stays active playing tennis, golf, and kayaking. Jose has volunteered as an Art Docent at the three Ringling museums, served on several non-profit boards and as a Guardian Ad Litem representing abused children in state courts. Jose chairs a city- wide book club and has authored three books detailing the Hispanic experience in the United States.
Tom Walker - Member
Tom is co-founder of Watson & Walker, a computer consultancy he created with his wife Cheryl. In addition to serving on the SCWK Board, Tom chairs two nonprofits – the Florida Consumer Action Network, and WSLR, a community FM radio station, and helps run two informal groups, one devoted to current affairs and one to reading great books.
Meet our executive director, Abbey Tyrna
Experienced educator and scientist Dr. Abbey Tyrna joined Suncoast Waterkeeper in 2022. She grew up in Cape Coral and has focused her education on learning about wetlands and protecting Florida waters. Tyrna has a doctorate in geography from Pennsylvania State University, where her research focused on measuring the effects of development on wetlands. Before joining SCWK, she worked with Sarasota County government and the University of Florida to help bring scientific knowledge and expertise to the public as the Water Resources Agent for UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability. Before receiving her doctorate in 2015, Tyrna earned a Master’s in Environmental Science from LSU in 2008, concentrating on wetland science and management, and a Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from Florida State University in 2001.