Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition

BIRLC Board Group Photo
Right to Left: Olivia Escandell, Bo Platt, Paul Ruben, Vince Lamb, Dave Carbone, Craig Wallace, Chris Edwards, Vince, McDermott, Lew Kontnik, New not pictured: Tony Sasso, Kelsey Mack, Danny Smith

Craig Wallace, Chairman

Craig is a Retired Electrical Engineer and Marketing Manager who worked in the Communications Industry in Florida for 40 years. In the early 70's he lived in Melbourne and had such fond memories of fishing, clamming and sailing in the Lagoon that he always wanted to retire here, which he did in 2016, just in time to experience the massive Brown tide induced fish kill. In search of a solution to the Lagoon's failing health, Craig began volunteering and learning from the Brevard Zoo's Restore Our Shores program, the Marine Resource Council, Keep Brevard Beautiful, Brevard County SOIRL Citizens Oversight Committee, UF/IFAS, and Florida Tech, gaining knowledge and working to restore the Lagoon's health. These experiences eventually lead him to join The Brevard IRL Coalition in 2020 serving as Liason to the Coalition Partners. In 2022 he was elected to Chairman of the Board.

Bo Platt, Vice Chairman

Bo was a founding member of the Brevard IRL Coalition and has served as Vice Chair since 2020. He grew up near Ballard Park in what was Eau Gallie in the 1950s and 1960s. During those years he was known by neighbors and friends as either a "river rat" or a "surf bum" because of his love of Brevard's beaches and the Indian River. Bo moved away in 1970 while vowing to return to the lagoon, but when he returned in 2013, his first words were unprintable. He then decided to become involved in addressing the lagoon's problems becoming a founding member of the Brevard IRL Coalition, working to pass the 1/2 cent lagoon sales tax to clean up the Lagoon. Bo and his wife Catherine are involved in a number of local environmental and political organizations and live on the Eau Gallie harbor, about a half mile from his childhood home.

Dave Carbone, Treasurer

Dave Carbone is a seasoned financial executive with over 40 years of experience in leadership roles in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Dave has served as Board Chair for Community Gatepath, the largest non-profit in San Mateo County, California, dedicated to enabling individuals with disabilities.

Dave relocated to Florida in 2004. He is a passionate fly fisherman on the sand flats of the Indian River Lagoon. He joined the Brevard IRL Coalition Board in 2020, where he has been Treasurer. He is dedicated to restoring the status of this pristine nature sanctuary to once again support the abundance of native species and quality of life for surrounding residents and visitors. Dave practices as a financial consultant and is a CPA in the state of NY.

Vince McDermott, Secretary

Vince joined the Brevard IRL Coalition in 2020 and now serves as Secretary for the Board. For over 50 years, Vince has created aesthetically pleasing places to live recognizing the need for community interaction by applying principles that create livable communities while sustaining environmental quality. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut Greenway Commission for his pioneering work in the greenway movement in Connecticut. Throughout his career, he has served on boards of non-profit organizations dedicated to research, education, and advocacy for the conservation of land and water resources. A resident of Indialantic, he recently became a Certified Florida Master Naturalist.

Lew Kontnik, Communications Chair

Lew joined the BIRLC Board in 2017 and has been active in leading the organization’s communications efforts and in organizing community Straight Talk and Lagoon and Lager events to stimulate direct resident engagement. He is now driving the formation of our Lagoon Voices advocacy program. Lew has focused on the improving the environment most of his life. Early in his career, he earned a MS in Environmental Engineering, and a J.D. practicing Environmental Law in Washington, DC. Later in his path, he became a world recognized expert in anti-counterfeiting through a series of newsletters and conferences and co-authored the book Counterfeiting Exposed, published in 2003 by Wiley.

Vince Lamb, Environmental Policy Chair

Vince Lamb is a Florida Native who has lived on the Southern tip of Merritt Island for 46 years.  After a long career in computer technology, Vince became increasingly active in environmental matters when he approached retirement in 2007.  His time has been divided between hands-on conservation activities like nesting sea turtle walks, Florida scrub jay and red-cockaded woodpecker recovery projects and paddling Florida’s waters, as well as environmental advocacy activities such as leading the Political Action Committee to promote passage of the half-cent sales tax to protects and restore the Indian River Lagoon.

Vince is a founding member of the Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition and served as Chairman in 2020 & 2021. He is also served as Chairman of Florida Wildflower Foundation and was a founding board member of the Friends of the Carr Refuge. Vince also serves on the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program Management Board, and is a Director of the St Johns Riverkeeper and the Headwaters Advisory Council, and is on the board of the Brevard Zoo and the Aquarium Task Force.

Wayne Mills, Government Relations

Wayne is a native of Washington DC, currently living on North Hutchinson Island, Florida. Wayne had a 38 year career with Washington Gas serving in sales and marketing, engineering, corporate planning and diversification. His interests include environmental preservation and conservation, educational reform.

Wayne was a founding member of Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition in 2015. Additionally, he was a founder of the Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County and currently serves as advisor to the board. Currently Chair of Ocean Research and Conservation Assn. and former Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation where he remains an honorary board member.

Dr. Chris Edwards

Dr. Chris Edwards is a Biological Dentist with a degree in Naturopathy, he practices in Viera. His interest is in toxicity and its effect on the microbiome of the mouth and body. He supports the initiative for clean water and a healthy non-toxic lagoon biome in the IRL, where he sails and kayaks regularly. Chris joined the Brevard IRL Coalition in 2022.

Paul Ruben

Paul Ruben is an Ecologist and Project Manager at Atlantic Environmental of Florida, LLC with 7 years of professional experience. Paul received a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Central Florida in 2013. He is a certified Wetland Professional, Completed ACOE Wetland Training, FWC Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent, SDI Open Water Diver, and FAA UAS Remote Pilot.

Paul is a passionate naturalist and wildlife photographer and has volunteered hundreds of hours locally with the Brevard Zoo, Marine Resources Council, City of Melbourne ECO Division, Space Coast Audubon, Space Coast Surfrider Foundation, and Archbold Biological Station. Paul Joined the Brevard IRL Coalition in 2022.

Olivia Escandell

Olivia is a Brevard county native where she developed a fascination with marine life. This led her to study Marine Affairs at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science where she learned about the importance of conserving our natural resources for future generations.

Olivia Joined the Board of the Brevard IRL Coalition in 2022. She is a Conservation Manager for the Brevard Zoo, Restore Our Shores program, serves as Chair of the Citizen’s Advisory Board, City of Satellite Beach Sustainability, and the Brevard Zoo Sustainability Committee.

Tony Sasso

Tony is a Licensed Marine Engineer and was a Merchant Marine Officer.  Since 2001 he has been very active in local and state government and non-profit organizations. He was Vice Mayor of Cocoa Beach from 2001-2007 and Florida State Representative 2007-2008 and has been Executive Director of Keep Brevard Beautiful since 2011 and is involved in many other local marine, surfing and public service organizations.

Tony joined the Coalition Board in 2022 bring his many years of public service and legislative experience to help develop the Lagoon Voices advocacy program.

Kelsey Mack

Kelsey is an Environmental Specialist managing the Cocoa Beach Sustainability program. She joined the Coalition in 2022.

Danny Smith

Danny is owner/manager of Paddling Paradise in Palm Bay. He joined the Coalition Board in 2022.

Advisory Committee Members

Wayne Mills

Founding member of Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition and the Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County. Former Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Marilyn Waters

Former member of the Board 2016-2021

Leslie Maloney

Former member of the Board 2016-2021

Communications Committee Members

Fred Mays, News Media Liaison
Lisa Ruckman, Communications Editor

Skyler Klingshirn: Program Administrator

The Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition is a leading, independent, unifying voice connecting community partners to restore the Indian River Lagoon.

Our vision is an Indian River Lagoon of clear waters, alive with lush sea grass beds, thriving fish, birds, manatees and dolphins – a healthy place where our families can play.