11 • 13 • 2017

2017 Chapter Leadership Summits: Inspiring Coastal Defenders and Building Leaders

This fall, chapter leaders from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Hawai'i, and Texas converged in the beautiful and remote Marin Headlands in California for the 2017 West Coast Chapter Leadership Summit. It was our largest summit yet, with 42 chapters and clubs represented and 128 chapter leaders, club leaders, and staff in attendance. On the edge of the continent, surrounded by nature, participants were able to immerse themselves in the coastal landscape and focus their attention on our mission, each other, and themselves. 

Leaders from our chapters all along the East Coast as well as the Great Lakes journeyed to historic Charleston, South Carolina for the 2017 East Coast Chapter Leadership Summit. On the east coast, we brought together 85 participants from 30 chapters and clubs for a more refined experience in the former Citadel. For half of the attendees of this summit, it was their first time attending a chapter conference, so it was a terrific chance for them to really see and experience the network effect, and the positive energy they contributed was powerful.

Topics covered at the summits included an overview of our national organization's goals and direction, discussions of how we can advance our mission in the changed political environment, presentations on efforts related to our core initiative areas (clean water, coastal preservation, plastic pollution, beach access, and ocean protection), and breakout sessions on topics related to chapter functions and leadership development.

“Board meetings” at local surf breaks were organized in the mornings to facilitate shared moments in the water and on the beach, and evening festivities celebrated accomplishments over the past year and created space for interpersonal bonds to be formed and strengthened.

San Francisco Chapter Volunteer Coordinator, Mike Grizzle, who has stepped up to the Vice Chair role since attending the summit, had this to say: “It was my first time at a Summit and the experience was invaluable. [...] [T]he most powerful part [was] connecting with other Chapters who have unique local challenges, but who are working towards the same common goal. It was great hearing from the leaders who are steering the organization and meeting like-minded people who are passionate about the ocean.”

Surfrider Foundation would like to extend special thanks to event supporters Clif Bar, Coronado Brewing Company (support of West Coast Summit), SweetWater Brewing Company (support of East Coast Summit), Proof Lab (Mill Valley, CA), Jack of Cups (Folly Beach, SC), Gross Family Foundation, and Rick Kuykendall for helping us to create these opportunities for our activist network!