Gov. DeSantis appoints new Florida chief resilience officer

Wesley Brooks takes over vacant position

FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, file photo, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis arrives at a news conference, near the Shark Valley Visitor Center in Miami. On Sunday, Sept. 12, three Republican presidential prospects, including DeSantis, sharply condemned President Joe Bidens handling of the end of the war in Afghanistan, rebuking the administrations conduct of the U.S. withdrawal as weak and as emboldening its adversaries. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File) (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed Florida’s third chief resilience officer, a position aimed at tackling climate change that has been vacant for months.

The Republican governor announced Friday that Wesley Brooks would take over the resilience job first created in 2019 in a state highly vulnerable to sea level rise and other climate change impacts.

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Brooks has worked since early 2020 as federal affairs director for the state Department of Environmental Protection. Before that, the Miami-Dade County native worked for GOP Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Florida's first resilience officer, Julia Nesheiwat, left after six months for a homeland security advisor job with former President Donald Trump's administration. Before she left, Nesheiwat said Florida lacked a coherent statewide strategy to deal with climate change.

DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein took over the post in a dual role after Nesheiwat left, but Valenstein resigned from government in May.

Brooks holds degrees in political science and biology from Duke University and earned a doctorate in ecological science from Rutgers University, according to the governor's office.

Other appointments announced Friday by DeSantis are:

  • Ricky Dixon as secretary of the Department of Corrections. Dixon is a former corrections officer with 25 years in the department, most recently as deputy secretary since 2015.
  • Michelle Branham as Department of Elder Affairs Secretary. Branham most recently served as vice president for public policy at the Florida Alzheimer’s Association and has 28 years’ experience in public health and related fields.
  • Eric Hall as secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice. Hall most recently has worked as a chancellor in the education department overseeing several public school and college programs.