How We're Organized
The Governing Board appoints the agency's Executive Director (subject to approval by the Governor, and confirmation by the Florida Senate). The Executive Director carries out the Board's directives.
Drew Bartlett, Executive Director
Contact: Mary Hall
The Executive Director directs the state's largest water management agency, leads the District in carrying out its mission to balance and improve flood control, water supply, water quality and natural systems across the region. The agency provides flood protection to South Florida through one of the largest water management systems in the world; works with utilities and stakeholders to develop long-term water supply plans; and is implementing landmark restoration strategies to improve water quality, expand water storage and restore more natural flows to the Everglades.
Drew Bartlett previously served as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Deputy Secretary for Ecosystem Restoration before becoming SFWMD’s Executive Director on April 1, 2019.
At DEP, he was responsible for overseeing statewide water supply; restoring and protecting Florida's aquatic ecosystems including the Everglades; managing aquatic research, monitoring, and laboratory analysis; funding water and wastewater infrastructure and governing coastal protection and resiliency.
Bartlett also previously served as Director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration, responsible for setting water quality standards, monitoring and assessing surface water quality, establishing restoration goals and adopting restoration plans. Prior to his service at DEP, Bartlett spent 17 years implementing the federal Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Bartlett holds a B.S. Degree in Industrial Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and received a Master's Degree in Business Administration from Georgia State University.
John Mitnik, (Interim) Assistant Executive Director
Contact: Mary Hall
John Mitnik serves as the Interim Assistant Executive Director and Chief District Engineer. He previously served as Engineering and Construction Bureau Chief after working as a section administrator and a supervising engineer with that group. Before joining the District in 2004, he worked as an environmental administrator and engineer for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Mitnik has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Florida and an MBA specializing in Environmental Resource Management from Florida Atlantic University. He is a professional engineer registered in the state of Florida.
Mitnik manages around-the-clock water control operations and monitoring of the regional water management system and coordination with local entities. He also supervises the inspection and refurbishment of existing facilities, along with the design and construction of new projects and infrastructure.
Jennifer Smith, Chief of Staff
Contact: Mary Hall
The Chief of Staff provides strategic counsel to key leaders within organization and is critical in supporting a successful leadership team. The Chief of Staff serves as strategic advisor and counsel to the executive team assuming day-to-day responsibility for projects and tasks creating and maintaining agency-wide relationships to assure leadership success.
Paula Cobb, General Counsel
Contact: Jennifer Aiton
The General Council provides and supervises legal services in support of the agency's mission responsibilities. Key program areas include negotiations and dispute resolution, resource protection rulemaking, litigation, preventive law, public records and Sunshine Law.
Gary Russ, Division Director, Field Operations & Land Management
Contact: Yailenis Diaz
The Director of Field Operations & Land Management manages the operations and maintenance functions conducted by the agency's eight field stations to provide year-round water management system readiness. They also supervise the District's canal and levee rights of way and stewardship of public lands.
Tia Barnett, Division Director, Governing Board & Executive Services
Tia Barnett took over responsibility for Governing Board and Executive Services in February 2016. Since joining the District in 2000, Barnett has spent many years supporting the agency's legislative agenda and community outreach.
In her most recent role, Barnett was the Water Resources Advisory Commission (WRAC) Coordinator, working closely with Governing Board and WRAC members, advocacy groups and interested citizens. Earlier in her career, she worked in the Engineering and Construction Bureau and supported several senior managers. She also has private sector experience as a manager in the hospitality industry.
Barnett earned a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from Palm Beach State College.
Barnett is responsible for coordinating the District's Governing Board meetings and other scheduled events with Governing Board members. She also serves as the agency's Ombudsman and supervises the District Clerk, Public Records, Records Management, Reference Library, mailroom and related functions.
Susan Gray, Ph.D., (Acting) Division Director, Water Resources
Contact: Lourdes Elias
Susan Gray. Ph.D., is the Acting Director of the Water Resources Division and an aquatic biologist with the South Florida Water Management District with over 30 years of professional experience. Dr. Gray has been with the South Florida Water Management District since 1992, and has worked on restoration plans for areas that include Lake Okeechobee, the coastal ecosystems, and the investigation of water quality treatment technologies for the protection of the Lake and Everglades. Prior to coming to the District, she worked for an environmental consulting firm and for the Department of Environmental Protection. Dr. Gray received her B.A, and M.A in Biology from San Francisco State University, and her Ph.D. in Biological Science from Florida State University.
Dr. Gray is responsible for overseeing water supply planning and implementation, water quality monitoring and assessment, and applied research in support of District projects.
Stephen Collins, Division Director, Real Estate
Contact: Staci Machado
Stephen Collins joined the South Florida Water Management District in November 2016. He brings more than 25 years of practical experience and insights in South Florida’s corporate real estate industry to the agency. Most recently, Collins served as CEO of The Wetlandsbank Group, a wetlands mitigation bank company, and prior to that as Asset Manager of Florida Power & Light Co.’s multibillion real estate portfolio.
Collins’ work in the wetland mitigation industry has been recognized both nationally and internationally. He was a 2001 recipient of the Edison Electric Institute National Land Management Award for his work at FPL’s Everglades Mitigation Bank. In 2010, The Wetlandsbank Group’s Panther Island Mitigation Bank was designated as a Ramsar wetlands of international importance by the Ramsar Convention. In both instances, it was the first time a mitigation bank had been recognized.
Born in Schenectady, N.Y., Collins is a 30-year resident of Palm Beach County. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Fredonia.
Collins is responsible for the District's extensive property interests, which include more than 1.4 million acres of land with a combined value of more than $2.5 billion. He and his staff handle all real estate acquisitions, exchanges, sales, leasing and asset management for the agency.
Jill Creech, P.E., Division Director, Regulation
Contact: Lourdes Elias
Jill Creech, P.E., joined the District as the Regulation Division Director in February 2016 after serving five years as director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Southeast District Office in West Palm Beach. In addition to her public service experience with South Florida's regulated community, Creech brings an extensive private sector background to the District. She was president and co-owner of her own engineering firm for 18 years. Creech has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and is a registered professional engineer in the state of Florida. Creech manages the agency's regulatory programs, which help protect, manage and improve regional water resources. The District's streamlined permitting process and online database provide ready access to historical and current regulatory information, including pending applications.
Sean Cooley, Division Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Sean Cooley serves as the South Florida Water Management District’s Communications Director and leads the Division of Public Affairs. In his role, Cooley is responsible for the agency’s engagement with the public and connecting people to the important work of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). As Communications Director, Cooley leads the agency’s robust communications team and oversees media relations, public affairs, website management, internal communications, events, publications, graphic design, video production, social media, crisis/emergency communications, and public outreach.
He has worked in various communications roles in the non-governmental and public sectors and was previously the Florida Communications Director for a national conservation organization. Cooley frequently serves as an adjunct university professor and lecturer. He has both undergraduate and graduate degrees in communications from Florida State University and also has graduate certifications in public administration and project management. When not in the office, Cooley enjoys birding and spending time exploring America’s Everglades.
Candida Heater, Division Director, Administrative Services
Contact: Kimberly Bates
The Director of Administrative Services manages the day-to-day business/administrative support operations for the District including budget, finance, procurement, human resources and performance metrics.
Duane Piper, Division Director, Information Technology
Contact: Ashley Mangual
Duane Piper became the agency's Chief Information Officer in 2011. He brings 25 years of Information Technology experience, including 11 years at the District and 14 years in the private sector, helping businesses remain competitive through the efficient use of technology. His experience with large information systems in complex operational environments includes international and multi-site settings in the manufacturing, database and publishing industries.
Piper earned his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Florida Atlantic University and a Master of Science in Management of Technology from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is also a Certified Project Manager (PMP) and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Additionally, Piper serves on the Technical Advisory Committee for the Palm Beach County School Board.
Information Technology supports critical work throughout the agency. Piper supervises network infrastructure, systems engineering, software applications, data security and desktop resources. He and his staff enable District functions that include Everglades restoration modeling, project planning and design, geospatial mapping and water resource and water supply monitoring and analysis. They also manage systems that support the agency’s financial and regulatory operations.
Jennifer Leeds, (Interim) Division Director, Everglades Policy and Coordination
Contact: Lourdes Elias
The Director of Everglades Policy and Coordination coordinates, develops and implements comprehensive policy and projects to preserve, restore and protect the South Florida ecosystem while recognizing the needs of external constituents and stakeholders. She supervises interactions with the agency's restoration partners at both the federal and state levels.