08 • 16 • 2019

Surfrider’s National Summit celebrates 35 years of coastal protection through a powerful network

By Surfrider Foundation

On August 9-11, Surfrider brought together the brightest minds and ocean conservation leaders for an innovative and inspiring 3-day Surfrider National Summit event. More than 300 Surfrider chapter leaders, staff and volunteers gathered at the motivational event hosted at the University of California, Irvine. Taking place every five years, Surfrider's National Summit brings together passionate activists and coastal defenders from across the country to discuss daunting coastal challenges and solutions for the future.  

Keynote speakers included World Champion Surfer Shaun Tomson; Founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson; and Canva’s Chief Evangelist, Guy Kawasaki. Additional speakers, such as Tim Greenberg, Chief Community Officer for the World Surf League (WSL); Meg Caldwell, Deputy Director of Oceans for the Packard Foundation; award-winning creative directors Beto Fernandez and Paco Conde with Activista; and Anna Cummins, Co-Founder and Global Strategy Director of 5 Gyres Institute, joined Surfrider representatives, including CEO, Dr. Chad Nelsen, to share best practices, resources and tools to help protect the ocean, waves and beaches.  

From veterans to passionate new volunteers, the impactful Surfrider Summit brought together representatives from every region in the collective network of more than 176 chapters and student clubs across the nation. Kicking off the conference, Dr. Chad Nelsen highlighted the significant achievements the organization has attained through 35 years of coastal protection. As a result of Surfrider’s cumulative efforts, more than 11,000 chapter leaders have helped 1.8 million volunteers to conduct over 20,000 beach cleanups, remove at least six million pounds of trash and take over 200,000 water samples to protect clean water and healthy beaches.  

“Building community around solutions is the most important thing,” said Founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. “Surfrider’s heart-driven ocean activists, leading chapters around the country, are living these words.” 

“The biggest takeaway from this weekend was that little ripples can make big waves,” said Olivia Angus with Surfrider’s San Francisco Chapter. “This is what Surfrider has been about since the beginning - people sharing their passion for the ocean to protect what they love.”

“We have never been stronger, bigger, or more effective,” said Surfrider’s CEO, Dr. Chad Nelsen. “We’re making a real difference every day and have a great amount of optimism for the future. Our success shows the power of our network and what we can accomplish together. Surfrider is making a real impact, and we’re having a pretty good time doing it, too.” 

Surfrider extends an enormous amount of gratitude to all the speakers, volunteers, staff and supporters who made this monumental event possible. Thank you for helping to protect clean water and healthy beaches for this and future generations. 

Join us! Find your nearest chapter or student club at, and join or renew your membership