Panel: Embrace The Gulf

Embrace The Gulf Special Panel

Tuesday, October 6

The Gulf of Mexico provides food, shelter, protection, security, energy, habitat, recreation, transportation, and navigation – playing an important role in our communities, states, region, and nation. To highlight the value and the vitality of the Gulf of Mexico region, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance is implementing a Gulf- wide awareness campaign called “Embrace the Gulf” for the entire year of 2020. The awareness campaign will culminate in a multi-stakeholder, cross-sector celebration of the importance of the Gulf of Mexico. This campaign includes 365 Positive Gulf Messages posted daily through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The campaign is also being supported through proclamations declaring 2020 as the year to Embrace The Gulf.

Panelist: Laura Bowie
Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) (MS)

Laura Bowie serves as the Executive Director for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, a partnership of the five Gulf States with the goal to significantly increase regional collaboration to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico.

Laura began her career in Houston, Texas, at Texas Eastern Pipeline Company and served Continental Airlines as a Senior Manager in the Environmental Affairs Department. Since moving to Mississippi, Laura has supported local non-profits spear-heading watershed and grant programs.

In 2010, Laura was the first employee hired by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance to take the loose network of partners into a formal not-for-profit organization. Since taking the helm in 2013, Laura has led the organization through significant accomplishments, including:

  1. building the participation in the organization to over 1000 people actively involved in various committees and working groups;
  2. the development of an organizational Action Plan supported and signed off on by all five Gulf State governors;
  3. the administration of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, a $500M research program focused on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; and
  4. the launch of Gulf Star, a new grant program supported by Gulf industries and public agencies alike.

Laura holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in environmental management from the University of Houston. Laura is active in local civic and charitable organizations. She and her husband John have been married 20 years and have two sons, Andrew and Mitchell.

Panelist: Joseph Bauer
Government Operations Consultant I
Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection

Joseph Bauer has worked for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for more than six years in the areas of coastal resilience, federal consistency, outreach to local governments, and coordination with state agency representatives and federal partners. As part of the team of the Florida Coastal Management Program, Joseph has worked on a variety of coastal resilience projects. Most notably, Bauer developed the Coastal Adaptation & Resilience Tools Initiative in which he demonstrates how to use coastal resilience tools to local-government planners and staff throughout Florida.

Joseph graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2009 and a Master of Science degree in Meteorology in 2012.

Panelist: Natalie Bell

Natalie Bell is the Manager of the Beach Access & Dune Protection Program at the Texas General Land Office. In her 7 years at the GLO, Ms. Bell has worked to protect public access to the Gulf-facing beaches through the Open Beaches Act, and ensure the preservation and restoration of coastal sand dunes under the Dune Protection Act. In her 13-year career, Ms. Bell also worked at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in surface water quality monitoring and federal water pollution reduction programs.

Panelist: Josh Oyer

Josh Oyer is a Coastal Planner with the Texas General Land Office focused on the ongoing coordination of the Texas Coastal Resiliency Master Plan. Before joining the Land Office, he served in various outreach roles with the Texas Water Development Board, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University – San Marcos.

Panelist: James Wesley Pahl, Ph.D.
Coastal Resources Scientist, Senior
Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

Dr. James Pahl joined the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Restoration Division in 2006 and was part of the State’s 2008 restructuring of its coastal program into the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA). He is now a staff senior scientist in the CPRA Planning and Research Division, where his primary duties are data and tool development and other technical support to agency programmatic and project-specific planning and implementation. Since 2008, he has also represented the State on and has chaired what is now the Gulf of Mexico Alliance’s Habitat Resources Priority Issue Team, which focuses on Gulf-wide issues of habitat assessment, living shorelines, and regional sediment management. As well, he contributes to the Alliance’s Comprehensive Planning Cross-team Initiative, intended to better integrate planning and implementation of natural habitat and fish & wildlife conservation and restoration, and human community resilience.