Updated May 2016
1000 Friends of Florida maintains an experienced, professional staff to monitor ongoing local, regional and state growth management activities and recommend actions to 1000 Friends’ Board of Directors. The staff also coordinates with other public and private organizations involved in growth management issues.
Ryan Smart, President (Joined 1000 Friends in December 2014)
Ryan works with the Board of Directors to implement the policies and programs of the organization. For two-and-a-half years, Ryan managed the Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC), bringing much-needed attention to some of the most critical issues facing our state, from springs protection to water conservation. By the end of his tenure, Ryan Smart had encouraged more than 50 organizations around the state to join the coalition, and organized events including Speak Up Wekiva, a day-long call to action that attracted thousands of people supporting efforts to protect and restore this impaired river. Prior to his time at FCC, Ryan was a Program and Special Project Director with the Consumer Credit Housing Services of Delray Beach where he assisted with securing and administering a HUD grant for a housing counseling program. This 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization provides a variety of housing services to the local community. Ryan received his Masters of Public Affairs with an emphasis on Florida environmental policy from the University of Florida.
Thomas Hawkins, Policy and Planning Director (Joined 1000 Friends in May 2016)
Thomas addresses land use and transportation policy at the local and statewide level for 1000 Friends of Florida. With a focus on plan analysis, advocacy and litigation, Thomas supports 1000 Friends’ work to help Florida build better communities. Thomas also teaches land use law at the Levin College of Law and College of Design Construction and Planning at the University of Florida. Previously, Thomas practiced law in Gainesville and served two terms as a Gainesville City Commissioner. Thomas has also served as a member of a metropolitan planning organization, a regional planning council and a community redevelopment agency. Thomas has a law degree from Emory University School of Law, has a Master of Science in Real Estate from the Hough Graduate School of Business at the University of Florida and is a fifth generation Floridian.
Toni Russell, Operations and Development Director (Joined 1000 Friends in January 2015)
Toni assists with development efforts and financial and office management. She also provides administrative support to the President and serves as the liaison to the Board of Directors. She previously served for seven years as Deputy Director of Philanthropy for The Nature Conservancy, where she was responsible for the management of office support for a major gifts fundraising team. She also managed the annual membership renewal process, miscellaneous donor mailings, budgeting, allocation of donor funds and tracking finances. Prior to that she was TNC’s major gifts manager for two years. Earlier, she coordinated membership and development for the Orange County Regional History Center where she assisted in organizing fundraising campaigns and managed special events. She has her B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Florida.
Vivian Young, AICP, Communications Director (Joined 1000 Friends in April 1996)
Vivian handles the communications activities of 1000 Friends. She manages and updates 1000 Friends’ website, administers e-mail alerts, and oversees the monthly Dr. John M. DeGrove webinar series. She coordinates publication of the newsletter, Foresight, and annual reports. She works with the media, preparing news releases and op eds, and also assists with fundraising and development activities. Additionally, she coordinates special reports and publications, and undertakes other projects on behalf of the organization. From 1987 until 1996, Young was the planner for the Historic Tallahassee Preservation Board, working with the City and County on the development and implementation of the Historic Preservation Plan, ordinance, and economic incentive program, and staffing the Architectural Review Board. From 1984 until 1987 she served as Florida’s first Main Street Coordinator. In 2005 she received an individual achievement award from the Florida Heritage Foundation and Tallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation for her two decades of contributions in historic preservation. She received her Master of Urban Planning degree with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Robert N. Hartsell, P.A. (Of Counsel to 1000 Friends since October 2014)
Recognizing the pressure on Palm Beach County to approve several extremely large developments through the approval process, 1000 Friends has moved into this legal arena be selecting Robert N. Hartsell, P.A. to represent its legal interest there. Mr. Hartsell is the principal in the Law Firm of Robert Hartsell, P.A., a private public interest law firm providing exceptional representation to the environmental community in south Florida. The firm’s primary focus is environmental, land use, zoning, permits, Fair Housing Act and everglades restoration law in South Florida. Click here to find out more.