Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities

Standing Up for You

1000 Friends of Florida maintains an experienced, professional staff to monitor ongoing local, regional and state growth management activities and recommend actions to 1000 Friends’ Board of Directors. The staff also coordinates with other public and private organizations involved in growth management issues.  Find out about current and past interns here.

Updated December 2023

Paul Owens, President (Joined 1000 Friends in July 2018)

Paul works with the Board of Directors to implement the policies and programs of the organization. With the Orlando Sentinel since 2002, Paul served as Opinions Editor since 2013. In that capacity he wrote extensively on growth management, environment and quality of life issues facing Florida. In addition to serving as Opinions Editor, Paul was the Sentinel’s Florida Forward Moderator, organizing and moderating public forums on topics including transportation and affordable housing, and before that was an Editorial Writer and then a Senior Editorial Writer. Earlier he was a reporter and editor with The Associated Press in Baltimore, covering state governments in Maryland and Delaware. He was with the Charleston Daily Mail in West Virginia for nine years, first as Statehouse Reporter, then Associate Editor and finally Political Editor. Early in his career he worked for the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in Washington, D.C. Paul has a Bachelor of Arts in History with honors from Swarthmore College and a Master of Arts in Journalism from Stanford University. His numerous awards include First Prize in Editorial Writing from the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors in 2016, First Prize from the Florida Bar Media Awards in 2013 for editorials on judicial independence, and First Prize in Editorial Writing from the Florida Society of Professional Journalists in 2012.

Haley Busch, Outreach Director (Joined 1000 Friends in January 2020)

Haley joins 1000 Friends to promote sustainable growth through collaboration with civic and conservation organizations across Florida. She works to connect a new generation of Floridians with 1000 Friends’ mission and assists in planning local workshops and other informational events statewide. Prior to working for 1000 Friends, Haley was the Administrator for the Florida Conservation Coalition where she helped conservation leaders build consensus on policy solutions to Florida’s pressing environmental challenges. She is a founding board member of the Florida Futures Project, a statewide scholarship competition for high school seniors to craft solutions to large-scale challenges facing the Sunshine State. A Gainesville native, Haley graduated from Eckerd College, Phi Beta Kappa (St. Petersburg, Florida), and obtained her master’s degrees of Public and Urban Policy from the University of Glasgow (United Kingdom) and Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida). Haley resides in St. Petersburg with her husband where she enjoys kayaking, birdwatching and long runs along the Pinellas Trail.

Kimberleigh Dinkins, Policy & Planning Director (Joined 1000 Friends in November 2023)

Kim works with citizens providing guidance on critical growth and development issues.   She also advocates before the Florida Legislature to promote legislation for sound community planning that protects Florida’s lands, waters and quality of life.  Kim has been directly involved in natural resource policy and management for over 15 years, as senior conservation associate with Save the Manatee Club, senior planner with the Marion County Board of County Commissioners, environmental consultant for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the water resources coordinator for the Marion County Board of County Commissioners and an environmental scientist for a water pollution control company.  Kim earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental science, with a minor in agricultural and natural resource ethics and policy, from the University of Florida in Gainesville. She earned her master’s degree in soil and water science at UF.  Kim, her husband and two sons reside in Ocala. She is a board member with Young Life Ocala and the Ocala Discovery Center. Kim and her family enjoy spending time on the water, hiking and traveling whenever possible.

Carol R. Jones, Office Assistant (Joined 1000 Friends in June 2021)

Carol assists with office and financial management for 1000 Friends of Florida. A long-time resident of Miami who relocated to Tallahassee in 2017, Carol studied business administration at Barry University in Miami Shores and worked in the insurance industry for several decades, serving as Vice President of Claims at American Bankers Insurance Group for 19 years and Vice President of Operations at Financial American Life Insurance Company for 11 years. Carol most recently served as Senior Office Manager for the Tallahassee office of Sunrise Community, Inc., a not-for-profit organization headquartered in Miami dedicated to serving the needs of people with intellectual and physical disabilities. She also served in an administrative support role with the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities.

Toni Russell, Operations and Development Director (Joined 1000 Friends in January 2015)

Toni manages the fundraising and the office operations for 1000 Friends. She works to increase support of 1000 Friends through the planning and execution of fundraising campaigns and donor relations. She also manages the grants process, donor stewardship activities and provides insights and strategies for change and improvement for exceptional membership experience. She also works closely with the President to ensure fundraising goals are met and that the office is operating effectively and efficiently. Prior to working for 1000 Friends, Toni served as the Deputy Director of Philanthropy for the Major Gifts fundraising team at The Nature Conservancy. In that capacity she managed the Florida Donor Relations fundraising team, the annual renewals, grants and proposal writing, the stewardship activities and portfolio management. She also managed the operations function of the team including overseeing database entry, budgeting, allocations of donor funds and financial tracking and reporting for the statewide and global fundraising efforts. She has a B.S. in Business Administration, Finance from the University of Florida.

Vivian Young, AICP, Communications Director (Joined 1000 Friends in April 1996)

Since 1984, Vivian has devoted her professional career to promoting more livable, sustainable, and fiscally sound communities and protected rural and natural lands across Florida.  In recent years, she has worked with the University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning (Center) on a series of planning outreach activities, including a 4-part online seminar, Planning to Protect the Florida Wildlife Corridor.  In partnership with the Center, she led 1000 Friends’ involvement in Agriculture 2040/2070 (2024), Sea Level 2040/2070 (2023), and Florida 2070/Water 2070 (2017) which reveal the devastating potential impact of millions of new residents and sea level rise on Florida’s natural and agricultural lands and waters. She led 1000 Friends’ successful outreach campaign to curtail M-CORES, the proposed 330-mile system of tolled roads through rural Florida. Vivian launched and coordinates the monthly Dr. John M. DeGrove Webinar Series which has attracted more than 42,000 attendees since 2011 and now averages more than 800 participants per event. From 1996 through 2023 she managed1000 Friends’ website, administered e-mail alerts, coordinated publication of the newsletter and annual report, authored and edited numerous special reports, and undertook other communications endeavors. Vivian served as 1000 Friends’ Interim President in both 2014 and 2018. In 2005, the Florida Heritage Foundation and Tallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation awarded Vivian its Outstanding Individual Achievement Award.  Prior to 1000 Friends, she was Florida’s first State Main Street Coordinator and then the Historic Tallahassee Preservation Board Planner.  Vivian received her Master of Urban Planning degree with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, her Bachelor of Arts with honors from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Robert N. Hartsell, P.A. (Of Counsel to 1000 Friends since October 2014)

Recognizing the pressure on Palm Beach County to approve several extremely large developments through the approval process, 1000 Friends has moved into this legal arena by selecting Robert N. Hartsell, P.A. to represent its legal interest there. Mr. Hartsell is the principal in the Law Firm of Robert Hartsell, P.A., a private public interest law firm providing exceptional representation to the environmental community in south Florida. The firm’s primary focus is environmental, land use, zoning, permits, Fair Housing Act and everglades restoration law in South Florida. Click here to find out more.