Florida’s first chief resilience officer, the person in charge of adapting the most vulnerable state in the nation to climate change, has an impressive resume. But it’s missing one thing — any obvious experience with climate change or resilience.
The candidate Gov. Ron Desantis is expected to name as soon as Wednesday, sources tell the Miami Herald, is Julia Nesheiwat. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nesheiwat had no comment. No formal announcement has been made.
The last four years, she’s been the deputy special envoy for hostage affairs at the State Department, where she works with hostage families, foreign governments and the multi-agency group called the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell to bring Americans back home.
Her professional background is in military and diplomacy issues, and the closest experience she has with environmental issues seems to be a stint at the Department of Energy under the Obama administration, where it appears she focused on energy security.
It’s unclear from her multiple biographies available online what experience she has with the kind of work Florida’s unique climate-change-related challenges demand. On Twitter, however, she regularly retweets stories about environmental issues and resiliency.
She graduated from Central Florida’s Stetson University, where she served in ROTC, with dual degrees in religious studies and sociology. Nesheiwat enrolled in Stetson law school after graduation, but after September 11th she was called to duty, an experience she detailed in her 2017 convocation speech at Stetson.
She served two tours — in Afghanistan and Iraq — as a U.S. Army Military Intelligence officer, where she “coordinated and managed interagency assessments on terrorist networks within the Middle East and Asia,” according to her state department bio. After that, she was on the U.S. Presidential Commission on Intelligence Capabilities Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. She led the North Korea and Iran policy steering committee from 2004 to 2005.
Then she became the chief of staff for policy and planning in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. She focused on international energy security, including nuclear issues in Japan, she told CBS News at the time. According to her LinkedIn, Nesheiwat served as senior adviser on energy policy in the department of state, where she later climbed to deputy assistant secretary of state for implementation in the Bureau of Energy Resources.
In addition to her Stetson degrees, Nesheiwat has a masters in security studies from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. from the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan. She speaks fluent Arabic and Japanese.
The job posting for the state’s CRO job lists as an “essential requirement” that the candidate have a master’s degree in an Environmental Science related field, “with a minimum of 5 years working experience in the resilience and sustainability related field preferred. Bachelor’s Degree in an Environmental Science Field with 10 years of related experience will be considered in lieu of a master’s degree.”
-- Miami Herald staff writer Alex Harris wrote this story. Miami Herald Staff Writers David Smiley, Samantha J. Gross and Joey Flechas contributed to this story. This story was produced in partnership with the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a multi-newsroom initiative founded by the Miami Herald, the Sun-Sentinel, The Palm Beach Post, the Orlando Sentinel, WLRN Public Media and the Tampa Bay Times.