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Q&A: Climate resiliency team talks leadership summit

About 800 people attended the summit at the Broward County Convention Center Dec. 8-9, 2022. (Courtesy photo)

The Seminole Tribe’s three-person climate resiliency team attended the annual Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit December 8-9, 2022, at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale. The team staffed an information booth and the tribe was one of the event sponsors. About 800 people attended.

The climate resiliency team includes Jill Horwitz, climate resiliency officer; Krystle Bowers, climate resiliency policy coordinator; and Cody Motlow, climate resiliency coordinator. The trio work under the tribe’s Heritage and Environment Resources Office umbrella.

The summit features several speakers and panels and serves as a meet-up for the partners of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact – a collaboration between Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties. Through the compact, the partners work to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions and implement climate adaptation strategies across the region. The compact has been in existence since 2009.

The next summit is scheduled to take place in Miami Beach November 16-17, 2023.

The Tribune caught up with Bowers and Horwitz and asked about their experience at the summit. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

What is the most pressing climate change issue for the tribe?

Bowers: Flooding and fresh drinking water. With the ever-increasing population of South Florida, the canals cannot handle the amount of development, and our aquifer drains much quicker. These two issues compound with climate change as seawater encroaches into our aquifer and further into our streets when high tides or hurricanes appear.

Horwitz: Sea level rise and saltwater intrusion into the drinking water supply and natural areas. Also very important are extreme heat, food sovereignty and the advances in Indigenous science.

Was there a panel you sought out?

Bowers: There was a panel called “Acting as a Region: How County Administrators Make It Work” that piqued my interest as the county administrators from the tri-county area were speaking. Everyone gave praise to Monroe County for how many steps ahead they are compared to other counties in regards to climate change action.

Horwitz: I’ve attended or helped organize almost all the summits over the last 14 years, so I most enjoyed connecting with folks I’ve worked with in the past and introducing them to our amazing resilience team.

What did you learn that you didn’t know?

Bowers: Many citizens want more aggressive policy changes to address climate change, but the politicians don’t want to implement those things just yet.

Horwitz: The agenda this year covered all the basics in climate resilience planning. It was likely useful to someone starting out and learning about the science, politics, and advocacy. There was nothing very edgy on the agenda this year. Our team brought new perspectives to anyone who came to visit our booth. In the future, we hope to be on the agenda with equal access and respect as the other federal agencies.

Will you incorporate anything from the summit into your work?

Bowers: A high school student asked how to talk to her parents about climate change and the advice she got was to keep talking about it as much as possible, and that each conversation will get them closer to fully understanding. That’s what we all need to do, talk to people as much as possible without trying to totally convince with one conversation, because that’s unrealistic. It will take many conversations to change someone’s mind.

Horwitz: I learned about a new regional collaborative that is tribal-led. This has the potential to blend the strength of the municipal-level sustainability efforts with those in Indian Country and is something I plan to learn more about and possibly bring to the southeast.

What can tribal members look forward to from the team in 2023?

Bowers: We plan on having these conversations about climate change with tribal members to create policy changes.

Horwitz: We plan to have more specific conversations about climate change and resilience this year, leading to policy changes and project designs. We hope to move from virtual learning to in-person and experiential learning with the community that leads to advocacy and community-led change.

More is at

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at