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Mayor Curry introduces Jacksonville’s 1st chief resilience officer

Anne Coglianese will analyze vulnerabilities & risks, come up with policies & projects

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Anne Coglianese, who once worked as a special assistant for climate preparedness and resiliency at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, was confirmed Thursday by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry as the city’s first chief resilience officer.

Curry said his team conducted a nationwide search to find the best candidate, and that search led them to Coglianese. Around the country, it’s a job concerned with addressing extreme weather.

“This position is important to our city, our people and our future,” Curry said. “We are a city that is deeply connected to the water through the ocean, the St. Johns River and the many creeks and tributaries that flow throughout our community.”

As part of her duties, Coglianese will be tasked with analyzing the city’s vulnerabilities, looking at risks and coming up with policies and projects to address those concerns.

“The biggest lesson in resilience is that the more you can do to get out in front of climate threats, the better you’ll be when they do occur,” Coglianese said.

A key focus, Coglianese said, will be neighborhoods that are at a high risk of flooding, especially those that directly border the St. Johns River -- like Riverside and San Marco. She said there are factors to take into account when it comes to infrastructure that she learned during her time spent in New Orleans.

“Although there was, you know, certainly damage after Hurricane Ida that just swept through, the city’s (New Orleans) drainage system functioned very well,” Coglianese said.

The resilience officer said her team will be doing a “deep dive” on the city’s building codes and what new policies might be needed.

In the city, the resilience officer will apparently oversee resilience efforts by the city’s Public Works and Planning and Development departments.

“I think living shorelines are a great idea and in general, you hear a lot about gray infrastructure, something like a bulkhead or a pump station, versus green infrastructure, like a bioswale or living shoreline and. And my philosophy is really that you need both of those things in concert, and that if you have a bulkhead and have some sort of living shoreline feature in front of it, that actually provides you the most resilience and the best protection,” Coglianese said.

Also brought up -- the design plan at the former home of the Jacksonville Landing. As the final plan is still in the works, Coglianese said any resilience concerns will be factored in.

About the Authors:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident, journalist and experienced broadcast news producer with a passion for classic and exotic cars.

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.