08 • 24 • 2022

Surfrider’s Wavemaker Awards Celebrate Outstanding Coastal Protection Leaders

By Surfrider Foundation

The Surfrider Foundation is proud to announce the recipients of its Wavemaker Awards from 2021. These individuals, chapters and clubs are recognized for their exceptional leadership, performance, dedication and support in fulfilling the Surfrider Foundation’s mission to protect clean water and healthy beaches. Through their voluntary actions and hard work, they have gone above and beyond, spending countless hours to address the issues facing our communities, states and nation, while having a positive impact and increasing awareness of the Surfrider Foundation. We thank each of the recipients who follow for their passion and dedication to our coasts: 


Chapter Leadership (West): Kimberly Williams

For leadership on the U.S. West Coast, Hawaii or Texas

Kimberly is the San Mateo Chapter's Policy Manager and Secretary. With Kimberly's help, the chapter worked with many stakeholders collaboratively to persuade the City of Pacifica in California to re-evaluate their surf camp permit policy and allow nonprofits that work with diverse communities to have a place in the lineup. Our partners, Brown Girls Surf and City Surf Project, who brought this issue forward and continue to work to make the permit a success, will now be able to operate their programs at Pacifica Beach. Kimberly has also flagged and helped to stop several large coastal armoring projects. On top of all of this, Kimberly is also the secretary of the chapter and continues to go above and beyond in all of her efforts to protect the coasts.


Chapter Leadership Award (East): Michael Gibaldi

For leadership of a Surfrider chapter located on the U.S. East Coast or Great Lakes Region.

Michael Gibaldi has been a lifetime member of the Surfrider Foundation and has been involved with the Miami Chapter for more than 15 years. Mike has not only held numerous Executive Committee positions throughout his involvement with the chapter, but he has also approached the Surfrider mission with incredible passion. An excellent communicator, Mike has upheld Surfrider values in every aspect of his life. From hosting plastic-free barbeques, to meeting regularly with his elected officials and making sure to always take a new chapter member along so they can learn the process and engage in civic service, Mike has been an incredible asset to our Florida chapter network.


Outstanding Club: Florida International University

Given to an outstanding student club

The Florida International University (FIU) Surfrider Club was founded in November 2020 and they have hit the ground running! They've launched a monthly beach and mangrove cleanup series, teamed up with StudentPIRGs to work on a plastic-free campus pledge, engaged with the Miami Chapter's Ocean Friendly Restaurants program and they have been raising awareness of ocean conservation issues on campus and through a robust social media platform. Their founder and club President, Alicia Maratos, also serves on the 2021 cohort of the Club Leadership Council. They are a shining example in our club network of how quickly a group of students can start raising awareness and driving change on campus and in their community!


Outstanding Contributions: Thomas Naro, Jane Schneider and Christina Blaustein

To recognize people or organizations for their service to Surfrider above and beyond chapter leadership or environmental activism.

Thomas Naro, Jane Schneider and Christina Blaustein were instrumental to the success of the Eastern Long Island Chapter's biggest annual fundraiser, Surf Movie Night. They put in a ton of volunteer time weekly to pull off an incredible event this year, and were especially helpful with the online auction, which alone raised close to $9,000 for the local chapter. The chapter met weekly for several months to plan this event and they consistently showed up to weekly committee meetings, plus put in more of their own free time to gather and organize auction items, list them for bidding, and promote the event. Their dedication and guidance throughout the planning process was truly appreciated and their exceptional efforts have made a significant difference. 


Distinguished Legal Service: Democracy Forward

Awarded to an attorney or law firm for distinguished legal work provided to Surfrider Foundation

Democracy Forward represented Surfrider on a pro-bono basis to defend the federal EPA's use of Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) in settlements with polluters, in order to realize on-the-ground benefits in affected communities. Democracy Forward attorneys provided outstanding professional legal service, on a pro-bono basis to Surfrider and our co-plaintiff Conservation Law Foundation. The lawsuit successfully helped lead the federal administration to withdraw the prior administration's memo prohibiting the use of SEPs. The Surfrider Foundation extends gratitude especially to attorneys Robin Thurston, Samara Spence, Michael Martinez and Travis Annatoyn. While Michael and Travis have since moved on to other opportunities, their efforts were greatly appreciated and contributed to this success.


Corporate Sponsor: Cathey Curtis/ Boardriders

Awarded to a corporation or business that displays outstanding dedication and support of the Surfrider Foundation

Cathey has been a sincere and dedicated Surfrider supporter as an individual, on behalf of Boardriders brands, and through her leadership with Surf Industry Members Association (SIMA). Cathey leads Boardriders' sustainability initiatives and the SIMA Sustainability Committee, and has attended Surfrider's Coastal Recreation Hill Day multiple times as an industry representative. This year, Cathey helped to secure funding for Surfrider across Boardriders brands through annual support and an above-and-beyond donation from Boardriders Foundation in the wake of the Southern California OC oil spill.


Special Recognition: The Strategic Plan Core Team, including Matt Jarvis, Teresa Christopher, Daniela Laborinho Schwartz, Ian Stewart and Stephanie Rinaldi 

Awarded to a corporation or business that displays outstanding dedication to and support of the Surfrider Foundation

Through a 10-month strategic plan process, we engaged our vast and passionate network, discovered key insights and developed ambitious goals to tackle the impacts of climate change, plastic pollution and threats to clean water. Early on, we formed a Core Team of representatives from our key stakeholders, including our Board of Directors, chapters, student clubs, donors and staff. This group met weekly throughout the process and was fundamental to the success of the plan. We also repeatedly sought input from our network. As a result, the process itself was transformative. Goals that seemed unreachable a year ago now seem possible and we are united across the organization to grow to a scale that is proportional to the challenges we face. We believe this combination of strategic focus, an inclusive approach and an ambitious growth mindset will enable us to set the national agenda on these issues and achieve our vision of clean water and healthy beaches for everyone, now and in the future.


 To get involved, find your nearest chapter or support Surfrider's coastal defenders at