Staff

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.
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.

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

Toni assists with and manages the fundraising efforts and financial and office management. She also provides administrative support to the President and serves as the liaison to the Board of Directors. She previously served for two years as the Major Gifts Manager and seven years as Deputy Director of Philanthropy for The Nature Conservancy, where she was responsible for the management of the Florida Donor Relations fundraising team, the annual renewals, grant writing, donor database entry, budgeting, allocations of donor funds and financial tracking and for prospecting and stewardship for the Major Gifts fundraising team. Prior to that she coordinated the membership and development efforts for the Orange County Regional History Center where she was responsible for organizing fundraising campaigns and managing special events. She has her B.S. in Business Administration, Finance from the University of Florida.

Jane West, Policy & Planning Director (Joined 1000 Friends in September 2019)

Jane works with citizens, providing guidance on critical growth and development issues facing communities across Florida. She also advocates before the Florida legislature to promote legislation for sound community planning that protects Florida’s lands and waters and quality of life. In addition, Jane coordinates 1000 Friends’ legal advocacy efforts related to growth management. Jane has been practicing law for 21 years, and for the past 7 years has owned Jane West Law, P.L., a boutique litigation law firm focused on precedent-setting public interest land use and environmental cases throughout the state of Florida. She is an AV-rated attorney admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, the 7th and 11th U.S. Court of Appeals and the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida. She is highly knowledgeable on comprehensive plan amendments, the quasi-judicial process, and zoning matters. The majority of her case load has involved land use litigation in circuit court and the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) along with federal litigation. Previously, she practiced law in Portland, Maine at Conservation Law Foundation, and Jupiter and West Palm Beach, Florida. Jane has a law degree from the Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University and B.A.s in both International Relations and Fine Arts from the University of South Florida. Jane currently serves as the Chairperson of the City of St. Augustine Beach’s Planning and Zoning Board, she was the founding member and President of the St. Johns Association of Women Lawyers and is a long standing member of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers. She likewise is a founding member of GreenHands, Inc., she served on the Land Development Committee of Conservation Florida-, and chaired the Agriculture and Environmental Council for the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce. Jane lives in St. Augustine Beach with her husband, two sons, three dogs and chickens.

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

Vivian handles communications and outreach on behalf of 1000 Friends. Most recently, she helped coordinate the Trouble in Paradise report and project which explores major environmental issues facing Florida and strategies to address them., She also spearheaded the Florida 2070/Water 2070 project which reveal the devastating impact 15 million new residents could have on Florida’s lands and waters. She coordinates monthly Dr. John M. DeGrove webinars which have attracted close to 13,000 participants since 2012. Additionally, Vivian manages 1000 Friends’ website, administers e-mail alerts, coordinates publication of the newsletter and annual report, and undertakes fundraising activities. She has authored many of the organization’s special reports and served as its Interim President in both 2014 and 2018. Prior to joining 1000 Friends, Vivian was the Planner for the Historic Tallahassee Preservation Board, working on the development and implementation of the Historic Preservation Plan, ordinance, and economic incentive program, and staffing the Architectural Review Board. Previously she served as Florida’s first Main Street Coordinator. In 2005 she received an individual achievement award from the Florida Heritage Foundation and Tallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation for her two decades of contributions in historic preservation. She received her Master of Urban Planning degree with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 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.