SCCF enters a new era today as James Evans begins as Environmental Policy Director joined by Chad Gillis as Policy Advocate.

Both are well-known for their leadership in water quality in our region over the past two decades.

“We are excited to welcome them to our SCCF family and to take our policy work to a new level with this supercharged team,” said CEO Ryan Orgera.

Each of them brings more than 20 years of experience in water quality, environmental policy, and Everglades restoration issues to their new roles.

Evans comes to SCCF after serving as Director of Natural Resources with the City of Sanibel for eight years, the pinnacle of a career he began 20 years ago.

“I’ve been working closely with the team at SCCF since I started with the City in 2000 through our historical partnership,” he said. Before the City’s Natural Resources Department was established in 1992, SCCF filled that role and continues to do contracted research and monitoring projects to help maintain the environmental integrity of the island.

Lured by our region’s coastal waters and dreams of sailing, Chad comes aboard from the Naples Daily News and News-Press where he reported on the environment and his amazing experiences in it.

“After covering environmental issues for more than two decades at two different newspapers, it’s great to be an advocate for our wonderful wildlife and resources,” said Gillis. “I look forward to working with our staff and various partners to fight for cleaner waters.”

Evans and Gillis will work with Policy Assistants Leah Reidenbach, who has a strong background in water quality science and science communication, and Holly Schwartz, who worked in management with Lee County Government for 21 years and specializes in legislative and growth management issues.

The team is excited to carry forth the policy work established over the past 14 years by our legendary, founding Natural Resources Policy Director Rae Ann Wessel, who retired in May. And, they are eager to deepen and expand advocacy efforts needed to restore and protect our region’s waterways and natural systems.

SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed. Learn more at