Blue Community Program Coastal Sustainability Best Practices

Choices for Our Sustainable Tourism Futures



Primary Sponsors




This conference is registered as part of the UN Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development. The program will focus on those choices for the future that will highlight the best practices of sustainable tourism and encourage participants to use the lessons from these best practices in development projects they may be involved in themselves.


The UNWTO Blue Community Consortium and the Bradenton Area CVB are hosting a UNWTO Affiliate meeting to celebrate the UN International Year for Sustainable Tourism. Highlights will include:

  • ​​Presentations from international experts on sustainable tourism and development
  • Opportunity to co-create in a futuring process
  • Great sustainable food and networking opportunities
  • Tours of best practices in the Blue Community Sustainable Tourism Observatory  including: Pine Avenue Restoration Project, City of St. Petersburg 100% Renewable Energy program, Tampa Bay Watch, Fort De Soto Beach, Robinson Preserve, Historic Cortez Fishing Village, Mote Marine Lab & Aquarium, and more.


This symposium will include presentations, discussion and experiential learning. Throughout the program participants will be encouraged to learn from the best practices that are being presented and they are experiencing. The end goal is for each participant to begin to develop projects by choosing their own future.

Presenters will be a mix of both international experts from the UN community and the private sector along with individuals and groups who have created best practices within the Blue Community Sustainable Tourism Observatory.

Topics of the sessions include:

  • Choices for sustainable tourism
  • The vision of the Blue Community Sustainable Tourism Observatory
  • Achieving the goal of being a 100% renewable energy city
  • The role of peace, justice, and human rights in creating sustainability
  • Restoring wetlands for the public trust
  • A value added business model for sustainable seafood
  • The role of public policy in implementing the SDG's

Program Agenda

Thursday - October 26

  • 8:00 a.m. Registration The Studio Gulf & Pine
  • 9:00 a.m. Welcome  Dr. David Randle / Rebecca Tobias/ Elliott Falcione
  • 9:15 a.m. Intro to Pine Avenue Restoration Project - The Studio at Gulf & Pine Ed Chiles, Micheal Coleman, & Michael Miller
  • 9:45 a.m. - Panel 1 - Urbain Planning Expert Panel Respondents - Dr. T.H. Culhane & Louis Zunguze
  • 10:15 a.m. Walking tour of Pine Avenue Restoration Project
  • 12:15 p.m Sustainable Lunch at the Sandbar Restaurant Ed Chiles & Caryn Hodge
  • 1:45 p.m. Sustainable Futures Presenter Joe Tankersley Panel 2 at The Studio at Gulf & Pine, Nan Summers, Sarbuland Khan, Dr. David Randle, & Dr. T.H. Culhane, Dr. Mark Luther, Sharon Joy-Kleitsch
  • 3:15 p.m. Break
  • 3:30 p.m. The Vision of the Blue Community Sustainable Tourism Observatory - Dr. David Randle, Louis Zunguze,
  • 4:15 p.m. Q & A and discussion
  • 4:45 p.m. Break
  • 5:30 p.m. Press Conference - Beach House Restaurant
  • 6:00 p.m. Reception and Dinner Beach House Restaurant

Friday - October 27

  • 9:00 a.m. Bus leaves for St. Petersburg - Rhonda Sandborn
  • 10:00 a.m. Guy Harvey Outpost & Tampa Bay Watch
  • 12:30 p.m. Lunch at Tampa Bay Watch
  • 1:30 p.m. Sustainable Futures Presenter Dr. Dave Randle Villages Nature
  • Panel 3 At Tampa Bay Watch Sharon Wright, on Sustainable Cities Louis Zunguze, Debbie Meihls, Dr. Richard Berman
  • 3:00 p.m. Beach Time Fort Desoto Park
  • 5:30 p.m. Bus Returns to Anna Maria Island
  • Free Evening

Saturday - October 28

Sunday - October 29

  • 9:00 a.m. Sustainable Futures Presenters Chris Castro, Director of Sustainability, City of Orlando, FL Sarbuland Khan, UNWTO, UN Headquarters.
  • Panel 4 - The Studio Gulf & Pine, Rebecca Tobias, Dr. David Randle, Harry Crissy
  • 10:30 a.m. Wrap-up and Where do we go from here The Studio at Gulf & Pine
  • 11:00 a.m. Brunch at the Sandbar Restaurant
  • 12:00 p.m. Adjourn


Sarbuland Khan is the Liaison officer for the UNWTO at the United Nations Headquarters.  Mr. Khan has a Masters degree in economics, a post-graduate diploma in International Economic Relations from the institute for Social Studies, The Hague. He has authored a number of publications and various articles in economics for books, journals, newspapers and magazines.

Elliot Falcone - Executive Director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.  He feels his bio should entail his philosophies and not his few accomplishments.

  • If you are a leader, then consistently lead.
  • If you fail, fail fast and make corrections so you don’t make the same mistake twice.
  • If you focus on humility and maintain an unselfish mindset, you will no doubt build strong life-long relationships.
  • Work experience and education are important, but great people skills and work ethic   can                              help you excel in your career.

Ed Chiles owns three waterfront restaurants in Anna Maria and Longboat Key Florida, the Sandbar, Beach House and Mar Vista restaurants and has been in this business since 1979.  He is a pioneer in the sustainable tourism industry. In 2007, he initiated and became the managing partner for the Pine Avenue Restoration Project in the city of Anna Maria which is now known as “The Greenest Little Main Street in America”. In 2012 he was awarded the Champion of Tourism Award for the project by the Bradenton area CVB. Ed is a faculty member of the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability.

Dr. Govindan Parayil is Dean of the University of South Florida Patel College of Global Sustainability (PCGS).   His vision for PCGS is to make it an incubator for sustainable innovation and a hub for training a new generation of global sustainability graduates.   He also wishes to grow PCGS with a passion for transcending disciplinary boundaries in order to address the sustainability challenges facing our communities and the planet at large.


Dr. David W. Randle  is Director of Sustainable Tourism at the USF Patel College of Global and president and executive director of the WHALE Center.   Dave serves on the UN Steering Committee for the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and is a contributor to the Huffington Post.  He has been a speaker in conference in several countries around the world.

Louis Zunguze is the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability Coastal Sustainability Coordinator, and  Principal of The PTL Group, Inc. a consulting company specializing in sustainable community and regional planning. Louis has over 25 years of international experience in planning including two different Olympic Games.

Joe Tankersley is a writer, futurist, and former Walt Disney Imagineer. He combines his broad experience as a storyteller with a deep knowledge of strategic foresight to help organizations create compelling visions for better tomorrows.  During his 20 years at Walt Disney Imagineering, Joe led creative teams on projects for Epcot, Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Disneyland Resort in California. 

Chris Castro, LEED GA, CPB, is the Director of Sustainability and Smart Cities c0-chair for the City of Orlando.  He is an award winning sustainability professional, eco-entrepreneur, and community organizer with a passion for accelerating the transition to a smart, resilient and sustainable future. Chris is  the founder and president of IDEAS For Us, an international nonprofit and UN accredited organization working to develop, fund, and scale environmental solutions around the World; and co-creator of  ‘Fleet Farming’.

 Dr. Mark Luther is Director of the Ocean Monitoring and Prediction Lab in the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, where he co-directs the Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System. Dr. Luther's research involves the combination of real-time ocean observations with numerical models of ocean currents and processes and their application to various problems ranging from maritime safety and security to water quality in estuaries to variability in large-scale ocean circulation and its relation to climate change.

 Dr. Richard Berman is Professor of the USF Institute for Innovation & Advanced Discovery, and Visiting Social Entrepreneurship Professor at the MUMA College of Business.

A recognized global leader in public health, education and management, he has consulted for the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, McKinsey & Company, and the government of Rwanda.


Rebecca Tobias is the Blue Community Consortium Coordinator, and member of the Rosebud Continuum and currently assisting with curriculum development with Four Worlds International Institute, Vancouver, Canada.  Much of her work has focused on human rights advocacy and Earth ethics. Rebecca assisted at OHCHR in Geneva as a Research Fellow with the Working Group for Indigenous Populations and has presented at UNPFII and UNCSD Rio+20. 'Sustainability involves politics,' says Rebecca: 'Politics is about relationships. Come to any relationship with a clear conscience an open heart and rolled up sleeves and the best that resides within us manifests itself.'

Rhonda Sandborn.  Rhonda considers herself a multipotentialite – which means having many interests and creative pursuits. She has three decades of diverse business and international experience across industry sectors ranging from High Tech Training and Development to Tourism, Travel and Nonprofits. 


Dr. Thomas Henry Culhane is a faculty member of the Patel College of Global Sustainability  co-founding director of  "Solar CITIES" and a National Geographic Explorer.   As a National Geographic Emerging Explorer since 2009 Culhane introduced his own designs for low cost  biodigesters to community leaders in  Brazil and many Latin American, Middle Eastern and African countries.

Sharon Wright  is the City of St. Petersburg Sustainability & Resiliency Manager.  She is responsible for delivering the mayor’s sustainability priorities by working across city departments and with citizens, businesses, and community partners to establish a community-wide sustainability program.  Sustainability means finding the balance between environmental protection, economic vitality, and social equity and responsibility.  

Brad Tanner has been with Mote Marine Laboratory since June 2004. He assists with many scientific and educational oriented projects in his employment with Mote Marine research and outreach conservation projects. He creates in-house programs for students and manages Mote Marine's educational outreach programs.


Nan Summers is the Grants Coordinator for Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources, Nan coordinates a diverse portfolio of alternatively funded projects spanning environmental protection and restoration, public waterways, inclusive recreation, sustainable food, health and wellness.  She specializes in collaborating with a wide range stakeholders to integrate metrics impacting environmental, economic, wildlife and human health. 

Micheal Coleman is a  founding partner of the Pine Avenue Restoration Project.  Having conceived the original idea he served as Operating Partner, responsible for the planning, execution and day to day management of the project, which has set a standard for what he calls “responsive development” and a model for sustainable tourism, using “practical, measurable and repeatable” principles and methods to create a small town village center. 

Charlie Hunsicker has been involved in a wide variety of environmental issues during a 37-year career with Manatee County Government. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Master's Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida State University.   He is currently the Director for Manatee County's Parks & Natural Resources Department with 174 employees with five divisions. 

Harry Crissy is the University of Florida Economic Resource Development Agent for Monroe County.  His academic research concentration (two MS degrees) at Penn State University focused on economic sustainability and consumer’s willingness to pay in tourism related  industries.  In addition, he holds a Professional Master Certification from Villa Nova University in Applied Project Management. 

Debbie Meihls is the Executive Director of the New Smyrna Beach Area Visitors Bureau. Debbie manages a staff of 7 at the Visitors Bureau.  Her goals are to bring sustainable tourism to the NSB area and continue her work as a satellite with the Blue Community Consortium.  She recently passed the “PM4SD Foundation” exam and looks forward to working with her stakeholders to develop products more sustainably.

Debbie Resides in New Smyrna Beach with her husband of 18 years and her 8-year-old Golden Retriever – Sir Toma.

Sharon Joy Kleitsch, Principal of The Connection Partners, Inc., is a meta-networker, weaving local with global initiatives by sharing what’s emerging and what’s working. She has synergized her management and executive experience at Citigroup and a Masters in Spirituality with the application of systems thinking. Sharon Joy inspires communities, organizations and individuals to partner in conversations that matter, leading to actions that make a difference.

Michael Clendenin Miller is President of Perfect Environs Inc., focused on defining and implementing sustainability in the natural visual identity of places in both theory and practice. He has two degrees and 54 years of professional experience designing automobiles, residential architecture, interiors, and landscapes. His public landscapes are locally abundant: Historic Manatee County Courthouse, Anna Maria City Hall, The Studio, Pine Avenue Restoration Project, and the boardwalk of the Historic Anna Maria City Pier. 

Richard Jordan is a faculty member of the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability and liaison for the College to the United Nations.  Richard has 40 years experience working with the United Nations serving in many capacities including Chairing the UN DPI Conference and helping to facilitate the successful Sustainable Tourism UN DPI Conference as well

Karen Bell is CEO of the A. P. Bell Fishing Company in Historic Cortez, Florida. Karen comes from generations of sustainable fishing and is continuing to show leadership in both keeping the fishing community alive and finding new ways to fish more sustainably.  
Kare says “I love this coast. I love the people I work with—the fishermen, the customers, even the restaurants,”

 Chad Truxall is the Executive Director of the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  Truxall, has 17 years of experience as a biologist, educator and non-profit manager.  He began working with Marine Discovery Center in 2001 as a volunteer, had served as the center’s managing director since 2011. In addition to overseeing the day-to-day management of the center, Truxall  works closely with the board of directors on policy decisions, strategic planning and focuses on cultivating long-term partnerships and donor relationships.

Bruno Falkenstein has been the marine turtle permit holder for St. Pete Beach and Shell Key since the inception of the FWC Statewide Nesting Beach Survey 35 years ago! Bruno has managed and monitored hundreds of sea turtle nests and enthusiastically educates members of the public at every opportunity about all aspects of marine turtle conservation.

Ryan Duncan is the Owner and Director of Jubilee Organics, a twelve acre farm in Bradenton, Florida.  Through the use of permaculture, organic farming, and other techniques, Ryan and has team produces health food with no fertilizers or pesticides.   Much of the food grown is donated to people in need.

The Location ​

Anna Maria Island is a quaint Barrier Island nestled in the Gulf of Mexico. Beautiful turquoise waters and white sandy beaches are the main attraction here. It is a place where “old” Florida charm can still be found, flip flops are a way of life and the speed limit never exceeds 35mph. High rise condos and fast food restaurants are pleasantly absent from our pristine “get away from it all” island.  The accommodations and  restaurants offer something for everyone. From quaint cottages by the sea to deluxe suites, from million-dollar villas to rustic cottages to own.  One visit to Anna Maria Island and people often call it, “My island in the sun”.

Special room rates at the Marriott Waterline Hotel.   Click Here to reserve room at special rate.


Marriott Waterline Hotel


For more information or questions please contact the WHALE Center 



Randle, D. (2017). Choices for Our Sustainable Tourism Futures. Retrieved from


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