Donor Spotlight

Photo by Dennis Goodman

Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities

Supporting Our Work

We would like to spotlight some of the many donors who support the work of 1000 Friends of Florida.

Charley Williams

Charley Williams is a Winter Park resident and a past president of the League of Women Voters of Orange County.  He organized an event in December 2021 for 1000 Friends President Paul Owens and Policy & Planning Director Jane West to discuss policy priorities with interested Winter Park citizens.

We asked Charley to share his thoughts on the future of Florida and the role of 1000 Friends:

I often ponder the question: “What will Florida look like in 2030?”, less than 10 years from today. Our state’s natural assets are rich, but also fragile. My support for 1000 Friends and its leadership team is to help nurture that outcome.

Our state story has always been one of balance — between growth and development and less intensity. Our cascading red flags are impossible to ignore: coastal municipal flooding, Category Five storms, entire water bodies impacted by septic and agricultural runoff.  As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences”. He could be parroting the phantom character Skink in one of Carl Hiaasen’s novels!

I grew up in Jacksonville spending time on the St. Johns River and stealing across the state line to explore Cumberland Island. Its history of avoiding the fate of another barrier island, Hilton Head, has always intrigued me. It’s a success story for all of us to bear in mind. It can be done.

As a Winter Park resident for the past 17 years, I am always intrigued that our city of 30,000 wasn’t originally called Lakeland — with its 23 lakes. Recently 100 of our residents gathered for a 1000 Friends “friendraiser” to guide how more of us can impact decisions coming out of Tallahassee.  An alarming example is the growing impact of state preemption of local home rule which now captures decisions governing our local tree canopy, so much a part of our Winter Park brand. Shade is the key to walkability and the poetry to connectivity.  As composer John Williams has said “Take the time to listen to the trees — that is where the music is”.

So my wish for Florida 2030 would be for three things:

  • Remedies for Lake Okeechobee and Indian River Lagoon water quality degradation;
  • Accelerated funding for Florida Forever as the voters intended;
  • A state where solar investment underscores our name, the Sunshine State.

1000 Friends can be the decisive fulcrum which helps achieve these goals. I count my Friends membership as a “civic rent” investment to protect my home state. There is no other Florida.

Wolcott Henry

Wolcott Henry serves as president and chair of the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation and the Henry Foundation, both of which support conservation projects in South Florida. He has served as a director and advisor for numerous environmental organizations, and is an award-winning underwater photographer.

We asked him why he has been such a long-standing supporter of 1000 Friends of Florida and its work:

Q:  You were friends with our co-founder, Nathaniel Reed. What drew you and Nat together?
A:  Nat Reed inspired me and mentored me when we were setting up the foundations’ grantmaking programs in the mid-1980’s. We shared a strong sense of place. We shared a passion for Florida and her natural resources, and a concern about Florida’s future.

Q:  The Munson and Henry foundations have generously contributed to 1000 Friends for decades. Why do they support 1000 Friends?
A:  From the beginning, 1000 Friends’ mission and purpose aligned with the overall values of the foundations in protecting the lands and waters of Florida and the many species they support. Plus, it was really hard to say no to Nat when he was asking you invest in his vision for a more sustainable Florida.  Seriously, Florida’s natural resources are what drew my grandfather and many others to Florida, and still do today. At the same time, the very resources that attract people to move here are threatened by over-development and unwise development. 1000 Friends’ work helps steer a better path.

Q:  Do you have a favorite place in Florida?
A:  Like Nat Reed, I have a strong sentimental attachment to Jupiter Island. The Munson Foundation’s benefactor, Edith Cummings Munson, was a committed outdoorswoman who lived on the island for many years. But there are so many amazing places in Florida — in the water and on the land, and in the Everglades, that amazing combination of both — it’s too hard to call one a favorite.

Q:  Do you have a message for other 1000 Friends’ supporters, and what is your fondest hope for Florida’s future?
A:  When 1000 Friends was founded in 1986, Florida had just 12 million people. Today it has nearly 10 million more people drawn here by the weather, by its natural resources and its opportunities. Development has drastically changed the natural landscape already.

We know that by the time 1000 Friends is celebrating its 50th birthday, Florida will look much different than it does today. Rising sea levels and related effects of a changing climate are making the need to allow natural habitats to adapt ever more urgent. How human communities adapt is as important. Thanks to 1000 Friends, its partners, and thoughtful government officials, we know what can be done. My fondest hope is that Florida will lead the world in promoting sustainable communities and restoring abundance to its natural resources.

Victoria Tschinkel

Victoria Jean Tschinkel of Tallahassee has been one of Florida’s top leaders on environmental policy for decades. Her resume includes stints as Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, State Director of the Florida Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and a member of the National Commission on the Environment, among other high-profile positions. She has been a member of 1000 Friends of Florida’s Board of Directors since 1987, with only a break during her time with The Nature Conservancy. She and her husband, Walter, have also been 1000 Friends’ most generous benefactors for several years.

We asked Vicki about her long commitment to 1000 Friends and her life in Florida.

Q: What has led you to dedicate so much of your time and resources to 1000 Friends?
A: Nathaniel Reed, Florida’s pre-eminent environmental leader of modern times, and Professor John DeGrove, the renowned scholar of land management, founded 1000 Friends. Although I was part of the early years, it wasn’t until John DeGrove fondly but critically told me that I was an “incrementalist” that I understood how essential 1000 Friends is.

Some of us dedicate ourselves to certain water bodies — the Everglades or the Apalachicola River, say. Some of us are concerned with toxic chemicals or climate change. Some of us are concerned about our commute, or wild areas, or water supply, or just places where our kids can meet and play. 1000 Friends is the only organization that looks at all these things together, and chooses its priorities understanding how these important pieces fit together.

Q: In more than one role you worked closely with Nathaniel Reed. What is your favorite memory of Nat?
A: … When I became Secretary of DER, in the Graham administration, I had not yet met him. One day, I received an elegant card, ecru and engraved. I thought I had been invited to something very grand. It was a handwritten sentence: Victoria, you must immediately do something about the Kissimmee River. The signature was a flourish: NPR.

Q: You are not a Florida native, but you have chosen to spend most of your life here. What do you love best about Florida?
I think Florida is a wondrous place. So many people come here with their own visions and hopes. In a way, it’s ungovernable. The one thing which we seem to agree on is that we love our natural resources, lakes, rivers, beaches, clean water, wildlife and natural lands. We vote for those treasures, and are willing to pay for them, too. We have the unique opportunity to work together to match this love we share with a quality of life for our day-to-day needs that we can all appreciate.

Q: What is your fondest hope for Florida’s future?
My fervent hope is that we succeed in this vast experiment.

Q: Do you have a message for other 1000 Friends’ supporters?
Of course. You are the reason our staff works so hard. You motivate all of us and nourish us even when events can be discouraging. Your support is essential and your ideas valued. We are so grateful to have you alongside.

Jennifer Johnson Duke

Jennifer Johnson Duke is one of 1000 Friends of Florida’s most generous and steadfast donors. She and her husband, Joseph Zachary Duke III, have long been among Florida’s top environmental leaders and patrons. They have served on multiple boards of directors and contributed abundantly to conservation causes.

The Dukes have a home in Hobe Sound, and Jennifer says she first became interested in 1000 Friends because of a fellow Hobe Sounder — “our great leader Nathaniel Reed.” She and 1000 Friends’ late co-founder served together on the board of The Nature Conservancy. Joseph Duke served with him on the board of the Everglades Foundation.

Jennifer Johnson Duke & Bango

Jennifer has lived in Florida her entire adult life, traveled throughout the state, and cherishes “the out of doors life” here. “Beach and river trips with friends and family have been the best part of my life,” she says. “Being able to raise my family in our beautiful state was a joy.”

Jennifer counts “springs, rivers, the Everglades and beaches” among her favorite parts of Florida, but also enjoys “the cities and restaurants.” “My fondest hope,” she says, “is that we can have it all” — a hope that aligns well with 1000 Friends’ dual goals of saving special places and building better communities throughout Florida. Success in both goals will ensure that future generations of parents will continue to experience the joy of raising their families in a beautiful state.

We salute Jennifer’s life of leadership, we share her love for Florida, and we’re very grateful for her extraordinary support for 1000 Friends.