Why solar power and energy efficiency for local businesses? A panel of three local leaders in the field will lead a discussion addressing that question during the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce March 15 business luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Marriott Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa in Fort Myers. SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) sponsors the luncheon business meeting.


Panelists include SCCF Coastal Resilience Manager Carrie Schuman, Ph.D; founder and Chief Creative Officer of Community Development Reimagined Diana Giraldo; and Florida’s Gulf Coast Program Coordinator for Solar United Neighbors Julia Herbst, M.L.A.


Schuman, who will serve as the program moderator, assists Sanibel and Captiva in achieving coastal resilience as the communities plan for future stressors of climate change including warming temperatures, sea level rise, and increased precipitation and storm intensity. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marine and freshwater biology from the University of New Hampshire, a master’s in marine science and technology from the University of Massachusetts, and a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary ecology with a focus on fisheries and aquatic sciences from the University of Florida.


Community Development Reimagined is a minority, women-owned consulting firm dedicated to sustainable development solutions. Founder Giraldo holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and urban design and master’s in management. She has more than 20 years of experience in community development in the public, non-profit, and private sectors. Giraldo also serves the community as founder and president of Streets Alive of SWFL and a mentor for local young professionals. She is a member of the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity of Lee & Hendry Counties, board of trustees at Hodges University, Lee County Horizon Council, City of Fort Myers Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Board, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Extension Advisory Board, and Florida Coalition of Affordable Housing Providers.


The local liaison with Solar United Neighbors, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people go solar and secure energy democracy, Herbst has a master’s of landscape architecture degree from Rhode Island School of Design. She has completed Frostburg State University’s (Maryland) Wind and Solar Energy (WISE) Education Program, Pinellas County (Florida) Water Stewards Program, and Florida Master Naturalist courses. Her experience in architecture, community service, and education includes energy and resource stewardship. Herbst is currently leading the Solar United Neighbors SWFL Solar Co-op, which is open to businesses and homeowners interested in benefiting from free, unbiased information and the potential costs savings of a group solar purchase.


“The aggregation of expertise and practical, applicable knowledge from these three women promises to make for a dynamic and informative presentation of solutions our community needs today,” said John Lai, chamber president and CEO. “Now is the time, as we face post-hurricane build-back and quickly changing environmental pressures on our communities, to take a hard look at our business model and how it will stand up to the future.”


The chamber business lunch is a monthly networking opportunity held at various member locations. The chamber strives to provide speakers to discuss relevant business topics for the membership. Sanibel-Captiva chamber members receive meeting invitations by email. Cost for luncheon attendance is $35 for chamber members only. Advanced registration is required to attend; walk-ins are not accepted. Register by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 10, at sanibel-captiva.org or by contacting Aaron Walton at [email protected] or 239-472-8759. Payment is due at time of registration.



The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to promoting the prosperity of its members and preserving the quality of life of our community. The Chamber plays a key role in facilitating communication and cooperation between business, residents and government to enhance the economic health of the islands. The Chamber website receives more than 1.3 million website visits per year. For more information about the chamber, visit sanibel-captiva.org or contact John Lai, president and CEO, at 239-472-2348 or [email protected].