February 08 2015

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif., Feb. 8, 2015—The Surfrider Foundation staff and Board of Directors gathered last night at the Bella Collina Towne & Golf Club in San Clemente, California, to honor its 2014 Wavemakers. During this annual awards ceremony the Foundation recognized individuals and companies for their outstanding volunteer efforts and support to fulfill Surfrider's mission to protect the world's ocean, waves and beaches.

The Surfrider Foundation's 2014 Wavemaker Award recipients:

Environmental Activism
Open Martin’s Beach Team, California

The Surfrider Foundation achieved many incremental wins this year in its campaign to open Martin’s Beach in San Mateo, California. These successes are due to the long hours and hard work by a committed team of activists: the Surfrider Foundation San Mateo County Chapter leadership of Edmundo Larenas, Mike Wallace, Amber Gill and Rob Caughlan; our legal representation of Joe Cotchett and Eric Buescher of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP as well as Mark Massara; our pro bono lobbying firm, Platinum Advisors; and, U.S. Representative Pete McCloskey. Surfrider not only successfully advocated for Senator Hill’s Martin’s Beach access bill (SB 968) to pass through the legislature and be signed by Governor Brown in September; we also won a landmark case in San Mateo Superior Court that month, requiring billionaire venture capitalist and property owner, Vinod Khosla, to open the gates to Martin’s Beach until he obtains a permit from the California Coastal Commission.  

Chapter Leadership, West Coast
Cliff Schlabach
Chapter Chair, Surfrider Foundation Texas Coastal Bend Chapter, Texas

Cliff Schlabach is the Chapter Chair of the Texas Coastal Bend Chapter.  He exhibits many qualities of a great leader: he’s kindhearted, has excellent character, empowers others while doing his fair share of work, and is never remiss to thank and recognize those he works with.  Under Cliff’s leadership, the chapter has developed a great advocacy presence through its Skip the Plastic program.  The chapter has worked for a handful of years to build a movement on this issue in the conservative confines of Texas, and is on the cusp of its first bag ban victory in Port Aransas. In the “enjoyment” realm, Cliff organizes three annual surf camps for the disabled, blind, and wounded warriors, respectively, which have become amazing feel-good events for volunteers, participants and the broader community.

Chapter Leadership, East Coast
Gregg Rosner
Chapter Chair, Surfrider Foundation Delaware Chapter, Delaware 

As the Chapter Chair of the Delaware Surfrider Chapter, Gregg has demonstrated superb leadership in the fight against a proposed ocean outfall pipe at Rehoboth Beach. He has single-handedly engaged federal and state agencies, filed Freedom of Information Act requests, collaborated with other Delaware organizations and advocated this issue in the press.  The outfall campaign continues, but it would not have made it this far without Gregg’s leadership and extraordinary efforts. For example, he recently attended a meeting of the Delaware Clean Water Infrastructure Council (the financiers of the project) and informed the group of federal agency comments regarding the project that could significantly increase costs.  It is hard to believe that anyone else is connecting the dots on this campaign with this level of detail.

Outstanding Contribution
Jean Olson
Chapter leader and volunteer, Pacific Northwest

From her early days of helping the Surfrider Foundation Newport, Oregon Chapter implement its Blue Water Task Force, to serving as Chair of the Seattle, Washington chapter, to leading the Clean Water Classic surf competition to benefit Surfrider, Jean Olson has made huge contributions to the Surfrider Foundation throughout the Pacific Northwest for the last 10 years. She continues to manage the Clean Water Classic surf competition, the longest running volunteer-run surf contest, which is a crucial fundraiser for our Pacific Northwest chapters and also provides excellent visibility for Surfrider. Surfrider chapters in Washington and the Pacific Northwest have been fortunate to have such a dedicated leader in Jean, who has expanded the Surfrider volunteer base as well as its brand and image.

Distinguished Service 
Brian Wagner
Attorney, Houser & Allison, Rhode Island 

Brian Wagner single-handedly authored a high quality amicus brief, representing Surfrider Foundation Rhode Island Chapter’s interest in the preservation of Rose Nulman Park, located north of Point Judith Lighthouse.  The issue involved an encroachment on preserved coastal land. The owner of the offending property was ordered to move or demolish his encroaching house, but he appealed. The Rhode Island Chapter intervened as an amicus party, led by the generous pro bono support of Brian. In June 2014, the Rhode Island Supreme Court issued its opinion in favor of Surfrider.  The Court cited its gratitude for Brian's brief in a footnote reading, "This Court is indebted to amicus curiae the Surfrider Foundation for its eloquent and helpful brief."

Heather Ludemann 
Program Officer, The David and Lucille Packard Foundation 

As a Program Officer for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Heather Ludemann has made major contributions to Surfrider Foundation’s efforts to protect ocean and coastal ecosystems. Since 2008, Heather has managed the Packard Foundation’s generous grant making to Surfrider, including support for Oregon, Washington and Global Headquarters. Equally important, Heather has emerged as a strategic leader within the philanthropic community, developing initiatives and partnerships that enhance the effectiveness of all of Packard’s grantees. These include the Oregon Marine Reserves Partnership and Washington’s Leadership Development Program for the Pacific Coast. Heather’s support for community-based conservation has been a major factor in Surfrider Foundation’s success in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. 

Corporate Partner 

For the past two years, has sold exclusive Surfrider products, with 20 percent of retail sales donated to the Foundation. has gone above and beyond in promoting and selling products that benefit Surfrider, including donating jewelry for various national Surfrider promotions throughout the years. In addition to its annual donation in 2014, ZeeBerry came on board as an official sponsor of the organization’s International Surfing Day last June, while sales from its Alex & Ani Beachcomber bracelet successfully contributed more than $50,000 to support Surfrider initiatives. 

Surf Industry Partner 
SPY Optic 

SPY Optic is revolutionizing the sunglasses industry through its eco-friendly Recompose Collection.  Calling them the “greenest” sunglass frame ever made, the SPY + Surfrider Helm is composed of 100 percent biodegradable plantate.  The best part is that five dollars from the sale of each pair of SPY + Surfrider Helm sunglasses goes directly to the Surfrider Foundation to support its mission to protect our world’s oceans, waves and beaches.  In 2014, SPY supported the Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics program with more than $13,000 in donations, and donated product for events like International Surfing Day in June and Rise Above Plastics month in October. 

Coastal Impact 
Ellis Pickett, Texas

Surfrider Foundation’s presence in Texas was largely created through the tireless efforts of Ellis.  A member since the 1980s, he founded the first chapter in Texas and has served as the Texas Chapters’ citizen lobbyist since 1999.  His own involvement was ignited by a set of projects proposed in response to erosion caused by Tropical Storm Francis: an 18-mile breakwater off Galveston and a one-mile breakwater off Surfside Beach.  With no experience as an activist or lobbyist, his interest in stewardship and conservation led him to organize and advocate protecting what he loved. Ellis’s work has evolved and resulted in some of the most important legislative actions protecting beach access and shorelines in Texas.  His legacy continues today in the five chapters in Texas that work together to protect the coast and coastal access statewide. 

Lifetime Achievement Award
Chris Keys
Certified Public Accountant, Keys & McBride

For more than 20 years, Chris Keys, a Certified Public Accountant, voluntarily served as the Surfrider Foundation’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). As a partner in the accounting firm of Keys & McBride, Chris’s expertise was invaluable to the organization over the past two decades. He advised and provided valuable business services to the organization, especially during its early formative years, including: switching its antiquated software to a robust non-profit specific accounting platform; developing a dynamic budgeting system; reviewing and commenting on 20 years of financial reports, audits and 990s; and, attending 80-plus board meetings to advise the Surfrider Foundation’s Board of Directors on their fiduciary duties. He provided guidance to, and served as a sounding board for, three Executive Directors/CEOs.  And, he has participated in countless hours of strategic discussions on how to grow the organization to achieve its mission of protecting and enjoying the world’s ocean, waves and beaches. While serving as CFO, the Foundation’s annual revenue grew from $800,000 to over $6 million. The chapter network grew as well, resulting in more bank accounts and increasing account balances, all of which Chris helped to track and oversee. Chris has been with the organization for so long that it is hard to remember if he willingly offered his assistance or if he got suckered into volunteering. Regardless of how he found us, we are extremely thankful for his contributions.