Dennis Peters


Dennis Peters is Gulf South Research Corporation’s (GSRC) office and staff manager, responsible for environmental business development and marketing.  Dennis also serves in a program and project management role, supporting multiple DOD customers; with focus on Navy, Air Force, and US Army Corps of Engineers.  Dennis is a seasoned marine and oceanographic scientist, focusing on environmental planning initiatives and natural resource studies of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic.

With over 30 years of marine, estuarine, and aquaculture R&D experience combined, Dennis has had previous employment with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Florida Wildlife Research Institute (Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission [FWC]), Hawaii Seafood Growers, Noraqua, Gulfstream Aquaculture, and the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

Dennis serves on the FWC’s Florida Marine Fisheries Enhancement Initiative, for the FWC Hatchery Network Initiative, in addition to serving on the board of directors of the Children’s Volunteer Health Network, Inc., and on the board of directors of the Northwest Florida State College Foundation.

Monica Autrey

Vice Chair

Monica Autrey, P.E., is a native to Destin and returned to the area after college in 2000.  She currently lives in Destin and has a daughter. As a graduate from the University of Florida with a Bachelors (1998) and Masters in Civil Engineering (2000), she currently works as the Operations Manager with Destin Water Users, Inc. Monica is a graduate of Destin Forward where she was honored with the Destin Forward Leadership award as well as Leadership Okaloosa.  She has served as secretary of the Destin History and Fishing Museum board, Destin Elementary PTO President, and President of the Florida Engineering Society’s Emerald Coast Chapter.  She currently is a member of Impact 100, Region IX chair for the American Water Works Association, Secretary/Treasurer for the Northwest Florida Utility Manager’s Council and State Director for the local FES chapter.  In her spare time, Monica enjoys boating, paddle boarding, photography, and scrapbooking.

Tim Norris

Advisory Member

Tim Norris, son of an Air Force father, grew up in Fort Walton Beach, surfing, fishing, and water skiing throughout the Choctawhatchee Bay estuary. After graduating from Choctawhatchee High School, Tim went on to study at Okaloosa – Walton Community College, and then transferred to Florida State University where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. In 1986, Tim became a licensed real estate agent and began his career at Sandestin Resort in Destin, FL. Now with almost 30 years of experience in the local real estate market, Tim is an agent for Pelican Real Estate and Development, focusing on residential and commercial properties.

From 2007-2011, Tim served on the board for the Northwest Florida Water Management District, where he was first introduced to CBA. During that time, Tim became a big fan of the organization and wanted to get involved, specifically to source funding for the continuance and growth of CBA’s mission in the Choctawhatchee watershed. Once elected to CBA’s Advisory Board, Tim was determined to secure the organization’s future and played a critical role in establishing CBA’s stakeholders. In recent proposal to acquire funding from the BP oil spill settlement, Tim was instrumental in forming a partnership between CBA and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to establish an aqua plant nursery and fishery in Walton County. In addition to being the past Chairman of CBA’s Advisory Board, Tim serves on the Walton County Design Review Board, the South Walton TDC, and as Commissioner for the South Walton Mosquito Control District.

As past Chairman of CBA, husband and father of three girls, and local water-enthusiast, Tim wants the Choctawhatchee Bay estuary to remain as beautiful as he remembers it from childhood. He hopes that through the mission of CBA, future generations will enjoy and appreciate the pristine water resources as he and his family do today.

James Ward

Advisory Member

James Ward is retired after being a Okaloosa County businessman for the last 50+ years. Educated at Florida State and Southern Polytechnical State University in Marietta, Georgia, he received his degree in Architectural Engineering Technology in 1965. Some of his past activities include: membership in the Florida House of Representatives (1976-1986), Chairman of the Correction Probation Parole Committee (1980-1984), Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee (1984-1986), Vice-Chairman of the Northwest Florida Water Management District Board (1972- 1976), Chairman of the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council (1986-1989), and a Member of the Southern Growth Policy Board (then Chaired by Governor Bill Clinton) (1985-1986). He is currently involved in the Boy Scouts of America.

Julie Terrell

Advisory Member

Julie Terrell is the Director of Northwest Florida State College’s DeFuniak Springs location—the Chautauqua Center. In her current role, she is also responsible as the Grant Administrator of the Adult General Education Program. From seven years (2006-2013), she was the Director for the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance.

Prior to working at NWF State College, Julie worked at the University of Florida as a regional coordinator with the Florida LAKEWATCH program.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Forest Resources and Conservation and a Master of Science in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences from the University of Florida. Ms. Terrell has worked on aquatic resources throughout Florida for over 20 years and has authored several publications in peer-reviewed journals using data collected by both CBA and Florida LAKEWATCH.

Ms. Terrell successfully completed Walton County Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Walton Class in 2010 where she also received the Outstanding Dale Carnegie Project award. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for both the Walton County Area Chamber of Commerce and the Chautauqua Offices of Psychotherapy & Evaluation, Inc. (COPE). She also served two consecutive terms as a Director for the Florida Lake Management Society (FLMS), an organization whose mission is to promote protection, enhancement, conservation, restoration, and management of Florida’s aquatic resources.

Joe Nacchia

Advisory Member

An Emerald Coast “local” since 1973, Joe has been employed in advertising and marketing since graduating from the University of West Florida. Currently, Joe owns Emerald Coast Marketing and Publishing, in addition to managing Homes & Land of the Emerald Coast – a real estate magazine showcasing properties for sale throughout the coast of the Florida panhandle. Joe was introduced to the CBA in 2012 by an advisory member, Tim Norris, and felt compelled to get involved. Now serving on the CBA Advisory Board as Marketing and Events Committee, Joe works closely with CBA’s Marketing Coordinator to spread awareness for the organization that benefits and aids the betterment and conservation of the local waters he had fished, swam, and boated in since childhood. Joe is married and has one daughter who also shares the same love for local waterways.


Mitch Shank

Advisory Member

Mitch Shank retired from the Naval Oceanographic Office at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi with over 40 years of federal government service, 25 of which were as a senior manager in all aspects of Naval Oceanography and Meteorology. Mitch has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Meteorology and has served on national and international oceanographic committees, including serving as a US Delegate to the Intergovernmental Ocean Committee in Paris, France and the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mitch has served on the CBA Advisory Committee since December 2006, performing multiple terms as Secretary and Vice-Chairman.  He held several workshops to identify CBA’s strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats as part of a strategic planning effort.  He has assisted in preparing short-term plans and provided guidance on the need to establish metrics to better determine CBA’s progress.  Mitch attended several meetings in Walton County to develop the Coastal Dune Lakes Management Plan and participated in the first three Mattie Kelly Environmental Symposiums and several CBA Workshops.

Mitch has resided in Destin at Sandpiper Cove since 2005. He has served on the Board of Trustees of Sandpiper Cove since 2008.

Mark Shaeffer

Advisory Member

Mark Shaeffer was born in Texas to a US Air Force Air Rescue helicopter pilot father and elementary schoolteacher mother. Mark graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach and has always considered this area his home. Mark graduated with a Civil Engineering degree from the University of Florida, and after a short stint in south Florida, joined Smith and Gillespie Engineers, which later became Jones Edmunds and Associates (JEA). JEA is a Florida-based consulting engineering organization (approximately 225 persons). Beginning in the environmental division of JEA in Jacksonville, Mark later became a Vice President and managed their Northwest Florida regional office in Destin before he joined Baskerville Donovan, Inc. While at JEA, he was involved in the replacement of Destin’s harbor pumping station, designed to improve water quality in the Harbor lagoon system. He also assisted in the development of the City’s stormwater master plan. Mark is currently with Baskerville Donovan in their Destin office and has assisted CBA in previous efforts including a basin-wide water quality history and stormwater impact evaluation. He is also assisting two utilities in the Choctawhatchee Bay. Currently, spending time with his son Reid, enjoying shared interests in cars, fishing, skiing, and watersports are Mark’s favorite ‘outside of work’ activities. Choctawhatchee Bay has and continues to give to Mark’s family in so many ways and he wishes to give something back and preserve it to benefit the quality of life of others.

Dr. David Schjott

Advisory Member

Dr. David Schjott earned his undergraduate degree in Communication Arts and his Master of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. He earned a Master of Science degree in Counseling and Human Development at Troy State University and completed his Doctorate degree in Education at Nova Southeastern Iniversity in Fort Lauderdale, FL with a specialization in Adult Education. He is employed full-time at Northwest Florida State College as a Professor of Social Science with primary teaching responsibilities in Sociology, Psychology, and Human Growth and Development. David is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at Troy State University in the Department of Social Science and at Gulf Coast State College as an Adjunct Instructor in the Sociology Department.

David has served on the Board of Directors for the Mental Health Association of Okaloosa and Walton Counties, the Focus Center, and the Boys and Girls Club of Okaloosa County. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for C.O.P.E. Center, a non-profit community mental health agency in Walton County, FL. David’s professional career has spanned working in retail management and marketing and public relations. He spent many years in both public and private psychiatric healthcare as both a consultant and outpatient service director.

David was selected by the Faculty Commission of the Florida Association of Community Colleges as the “Professor of the Year” for Instructional Excellence in 2000. The Northwest Florida State College Alumni Association has also honored David as the “Instructor of the Year” for the 2001/2002, 2002/2003, 2007/2008, 2011/2012, 2012/2013, 2013/2014 – an award selected by student balloting each spring semester for the academic year.

David has three sons, and in his free time he enjoys reading, cycling, tennis, spending time with his family, and living in beautiful Santa Rosa Beach, FL. As for his affinity for CBA, David has this to say: “I have lived in Santa Rosa beach for 29 years. I am originally from Mobile, AL, and I have always loved the water and the role it pays in my life and the communities around it. My father grew up in the fishing village of Bayou La Batre, AL. He worked on shrimp boats, owned a seafood business, and loved the water. It became part of my life as a child…and that part of my has never left! I think CBA is a model of stewardship for taking care of a precious resource that so many of us love…the water. Yet, it is fragile. It must be protected, loved and nurtured.”

Chester Kroeger

Advisory Member

Chester Kroeger is a life-long resident of Florida, growing up in the Florida Keys where his love of the coastal zone first began. His father and mother ran a crab and lobster boat and he often accompanied them, starting at the age of four. From his parents he learned how to fish and how to be a steward of the resource. His dad was an early proponent of ‘catch and release’ fishing techniques – as he often said, “You can only eat so much and if you are going to kill it you better be willing to eat it.” His first job in life was filleting fish for a head boat in Sarasota, FL, and his love of the sea prompted him to shy away from pursuing a law degree and instead accepting a fellowship in Coastal Zone Management at the University of West Florida. After graduating in 1978, he followed his heart to Fort Walton Beach. It was the best decision of his life, as it was here that he started his business, Fudpucker’s, met his wife Patti, and raised an incredible family. His youngest daughter is now pursuing a Master’s Degree in Marine Science at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. He has been able to give back to the community in various roles ranging from serving on the Destin City Council to the Tourist Development Council and even President of the Destin Fishing Rodeo. Now he feels a need to go back to his roots and get involved with an organization whose efforts will have long standing effects on where we live, work and play. It is for this reason he chose to join the CBA Advisory Committee.      



Ross Hamilton


Ross Hamilton grew up on the northern Florida coastal plain and was attracted to the estuarine habitat and ecosystems at an early age. The interdependence of living and nonliving factors to sustain a functional ecosystem provides material for perpetual investigation and learning.

Ross is a charter CBA Advisory Committee member and has a BS in Biology from William Carey College with the emphasis in Marine Biology from the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. He also obtained a MS in Biology with emphasis in Ichthyology from Northeast Louisiana State University.

Ross’s teaching experience includes Biology, Zoology, Marine Biology, and Tropical Biology. He has been employed by Northwest Florida State College for over 45 years. He was the Chairman/Instructor of the NWFSC Science Department, and taught college science to high school students for a decade at the Collegiate High School. Ross was a founding board member of the Focus Science Center. He has directed seven summer science institutes on Coastal Ecology for public school teachers and was the director of five summer camps for middle and elementary students entitled “Cool Coastal Ecology.” In 2008, Ross received the Marjorie Carr Award that recognizes contributions to Florida’s aquatic resources and was glad to accept the award on the behalf of the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance of Northwest Florida State College.

Ross Hamilton is currently the Director of the Fort Walton Beach Campus of NWFSC and supervises operations of the five NWFSC centers as well as the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance and the Mattie Kelly Environmental Institute.

Steve Young

steve-young.jpgAdvisory Member

Steve Young is a dedicated husband and father, committed to the long term health of our Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary. He is a retired Fortune 500 company executive with global accountability for business development, account management, and marketing, as well as expertise in leadership development, coaching, business planning and marketing. Steve is a routine lecturer for the University of Houston’s MBA program and a Colorado State University graduate with a BS in Chemical Engineering.
Before moving to his home on Choctawhatchee Bay in Miramar Beach, he and his wife, Lisa, lived in Denver, Indonesia, New Orleans, and a suburb of Houston. Current activities for CBA include Oyster Gardening and Water Monitoring for the Niceville sites 1-4, plus Santa Rosa Beach 1-8 sites. He has a passion for sustainable living, biomimicry, and native plant gardening.

Life’s next phase includes time to give back to the community, plus observing nature and fish. Most days start with a cup of coffee on the dock to watch the sun rise then wind down via sunsets from the dock with family, friends and beverages.

Emily Gregory
ECG Headshot.jpg
Advisory Member
Emily is a lifelong resident of Fort Walton Beach.  Growing up as a native Floridian, she has explored the local rivers, Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay and knows what they offer our great community. These experiences inspired her to obtain a degree in Environmental Science Policy from the University of West Florida after graduating from Fort Walton Beach High School. Currently, Emily is the Property Manager and Leasing Director for the commercial division of The Jay Odom Group and has been with the company since 2008.  Here she utilizes her conservation skills, balancing the need for economic development and conservation of natural resources which make Northwest Florida a beautiful tourist destination and coveted spot the locals call home. Emily has been a volunteer in the CBA water quality monitoring program since the Fall of 2014. Emily also serves as a Committee Member for her son’s Boy Scout troop and is chairperson for one of their many fundraising endeavors.  One of her current long-term goals is section hiking the Appalachian Trail in between her other responsibilities and labors of love including yoga, raising chickens, and bike riding.