David and Maria Schwedel, the founders and inaugural Co-Chairs of Miami Waterkeeper’s Board of Trustees, will hand over the leadership role to Gregory Frankel on February 1st.
Having served the board since 2016, the Schwedels helped Miami Waterkeeper through significant periods of growth, bringing the organization from a one-person operation to one with a $1M+ budget that employs a team of 11 full-time and three part-time staff.
When David first met Dr. Rachel Silverstein - the organization’s sole staff member at the time - he saw the potential for what we could become and helped cast a vision of broad-reaching and meaningful impact. Part of this vision included founding the Board of Trustees, which he and Maria fostered into a group of 14 engaged and thoughtful environmental stewards.
The Schwedels spearheaded early organizational growth not just by forming the Board of Trustees, but also by sharing a vision for the current Junior Ambassador program. One of the 90+ high school students educated through the program over seven years, the Schwedels’ daughter, Simone, grew into a leadership role in the program and continues to serve as an advocate for clean water years after graduating from the program. The Schwedels also donated a boat to the organization, helping to get Miami Waterkeeper on the water.
"David and Maria have been valuable members of our board and have been instrumental in our organization's growth over the past six years," said Dr. Rachel Silverstein, Executive Director of Miami Waterkeeper. "From the earliest days, they have been generously sharing their advice, resources, and ideas for everything from programs to board goals to branding. We are deeply grateful to the Schwedels for working to protect the water that means so much to our community and to their family.”
David and Maria Schwedel will remain members of the Board of Trustees, serving as Immediate Past Chairs.
“Rachel has built an exceptional organization in a short period of time,” said the Schwedels. “We remain grateful for being a small part of that growth and for the opportunity to continue our support in the future.”
Gregory Frankel, a Miami native who spent most of his childhood on the water, will step up to the role of Chair of the Board of Trustees.
“We have been close friends with Gregory and his family for nearly a decade,” said the Schwedels. “We are certain that his leadership will help to deliver positive growth for the organization in the years ahead.”
An avid boater, Gregory has seen firsthand the change in Biscayne Bay. He is deeply committed to preserving our waterways for the future and has already demonstrated his dedication to the Miami Waterkeeper mission through his service on the organization’s Waves of Change host committee, the Development & Marketing Committee, and the Finance Committee. Gregory joined the Board of Trustees in 2020, leveraging his combined experience in law, government, environmental policy, and business to further Miami Waterkeeper’s mission. His enthusiasm and commitment have propelled the organization forward with concrete plans for long-term success.
“There is no resource more important to Miami than its waterways,” said Gregory. “Miami Waterkeeper, with Dr. Silverstein at the helm, is at the forefront of their protection. I humbly look forward to building upon the incredible foundation laid by the Schwedels. Our community should be immensely grateful to them for their incredible work over the years.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Gregory to a leading role for this new phase with our Trustees,” said Dr. Silverstein. “Gregory has already shown a deep dedication to the organization, and we are looking forward to working with him to implement new ideas to accomplish our shared goals.”