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Event Details

Presenting Sponsor

Join the Tampa Bay Times for a discussion on climate change in the Sunshine State.

In Florida, rising seas threaten our low-lying coastal communities, hotter temperatures push ecosystems on land and sea to the brink, and outdated infrastructure and a shaky insurance market stand vulnerable to extreme weather. How is the state - and the Tampa Bay area - preparing for a warming world? And most importantly: Is there hope for a better tomorrow?

When: Tuesday, May 21, 2024

5:00 pm - Registration & mingle

6:00 pm - Welcome & Panel Discussion

7:30 pm - Q & A

VIP Ticket - $50:

  • Exclusive opportunity to meet and mingle with panelists and Times executives.
  • Access to a pre-event reception.
  • Includes drinks and appetizers during the pre-event reception.
  • Premium seating during the main event.
  • 50 VIP tickets available, get yours today!

General Admission Ticket - $20:

  • Access to the main event.
  • Open seating.

Student Ticket - $10:

  • Student ID required at check in.
  • Access to the main event.
  • Open seating.

All proceeds from this event will benefit Tampa Bay Times Journalism Fund.


Kenneth T. Welch was sworn in as the 54th mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida in January 2022. As the first African-American to hold the city's top office, Mayor Welch is committed to Intentional Equity and Inclusive Progress, placing a high priority on Environment, Infrastructure and Resilience. Throughout the course of Mayor Welch's administration, more than $30 million in resilient Florida state funds have been awarded to the city; his team has initiated several major projects and programs that mitigate and protect communities from the impacts of our changing climate, including sea level rise; and the Office of Sustainability and Resilience has doubled and has been embedded into Public Works for more seamless integration into the city's infrastructure planning. Prior to his current role, Mayor Welch proudly served on the Pinellas county Commission for 20 years, where he brought a focus to economic development, transportation,, equity, housing, criminal justice reform, and poverty relief. Mayor Welch is a proud alumnus of the following schools: Melrose Elementary, Bay Point Elementary, Bay Point Middle, Lakewood High, USF St. Petersburg, and Florida A&M University.

Mayor Jane Castor has served the people of Tampa as a police officer, the Chief of Police and now as the 59th Mayor of the City of Tampa. During her tenure, her administration has attracted more than $90 million in federal and state funding for transportation improvements and embarked on a $2.9 billion program t rebuild Tampa's aging water and wastewater systems. Mayor Castor also established the city's inaugural Sustainability and Resilience Officer position and Tampa's first Climate Action and Equity Plan. Upon winning reelection in 2023, she established advisory teams to create roadmaps to address the city's most pressing issues, including transportation, affordable housing, workforce development and sustainability. A lifelong Tampa resident, Mayor Castor graduated from Chamberlain High School and the University of Tampa, where she was a basketball and volleyball Hall of Famer.

Terry L. Root primarily works on how wild animals and plants are changing with climate change, with a current focus on the possible mass extinction of species with warming. She actively works at making scientific information accessible to decision makers and the public. For example, she was a Lead Author for the Third (2001) and Fourth (2007) Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change and a Review Editor for the Fifth (2014) Assessment Report. In 2007 the IPCC was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Al Gore. In addition to other honors, Root was awarded the Spirit of Defenders Award for Science by the Defenders of Wildlife in 2010; in 1999 she was chosen as an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow; in 1992 as a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment; and in 1990 as a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation. She served on the National Audubon Society Board of Directors from 2010 to 2016, and as Assistant Secretary from 2016 to present. Root is also Science Adviser to the American Wind and Wildlife Institute, Boreal Birds Foundation, Point Blue, to name a few.

Professor Mitchum has been a faculty member in the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida since 1996. Prior to coming to the USF he was a faculty member in the Department of Oceanography at the University of Hawaii where he was also the Director of the University of Hawaii Sea Level Center. His interest in sea level rise began there in the mid-1980’s, and he remains especially interested in the study of 20th century sea level rise. Professor Mitchum’s research focuses on the use of satellite and in situ data to study sea level variations and climate change. In addition, he also works on a wide variety of problems in the general area of ocean physics, including ocean eddies, the El Nino phenomenon, internal tides and various types of ocean waves. He also has a long-standing interest in the application of ocean physics to improve our understanding of fisheries. Dr. Mitchum currently serves as the Associate Dean for Research for the college.

Cara Woods Serra, AICP, CFM serves as the Director of Resiliency for the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. Her current role with the Council involves supporting the Regional Resiliency Coalition, hazard mitigation planning, and resiliency policy. She has a land use planning background and previously worked on special area plans, long range plans, development review and floodplain management at the local government level. Cara supports the work of hazard mitigation professionals throughout the Tampa Bay region in an effort to facilitate knowledge sharing and regional consistency. Cara has a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences from the University of South Florida and a Master of City and Regional Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology.


Max is a lifelong Floridian and the environment and climate reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. He reports on issues including water quality, climate justice, pollution and wildlife. Prior to working for the Times, Max covered environmental issues for Treasure Coast Newspapers and the USA Today network, writing about Lake Okeechobee, the Indian River Lagoon and Florida’s wondrous Everglades. Max is a 2023 journalism fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and a recipient of several environmental writing awards. Max studied both journalism and sustainability at the University of Florida and is also licensed to fly drones.


Venue Information

The Palladium Theatre in downtown St. Petersburg
235 5th Avenue North
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Organizer Information

Tampa Bay Times Journalism Fund

490 First Ave South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

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