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Metro Flood Defense is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with the mission to increase public understanding of the flooding challenges the NY-NJ Metropolitan Region faces in the era of climate change and steadily increasing sea level. MFD advocates for the advancement of science-based strategies designed to protect the entire region from these destructive threats. We translate and transform essential scientific, technological and urban planning issues in a coherent and readily accessible manner. This essential information is made available to elected officials at all levels of government, governmental agencies and workers, commercial, industrial, transportation and insurance sectors, public health and social justice workers, and the wider public of all ages and backgrounds.

Our team has the experience and specific relevant expertise to tackle these complex scientific issues. MFD’s team is supported by leading oceanographic, weather, climate and ecology scientists, professional engineers (PE), urban planners, architects, advocates, and social scientists with many years of experience in the estuarine and urban regional area. We work closely with the NY-NJ Storm Surge Working Group, with some members serving on our board including: Robert Yaro, Former President, Regional Plan Association; Professor of Practice Emeritus, UPenn; President, North Atlantic Rail Alliance. Malcolm J. Bowman, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences State University of New York at Stony Brook; Director of the Environmental Defense Society (NZ). Suzanne DiGeronimo, President, DiGeronimo Architects. Colleagues include Dutch engineer Bas Jonkman of TU Delft and Bill Merrell at Texas A&M in Galveston.


Sally Bowman, Co-President and Co-Founder

Sally became involved in environmental and climate issues as a teenager, successfully working with the NY State Legislature to ban certain Styrofoams in Suffolk County, contributing to publications and conferences as far back as ‘The Baked Apple? Metropolitan New York in the Greenhouse’ in 1994, which was the first conference in the U.S. to examine climate change mitigation and adaptation measures for a major urban area. She has spent the last two decades working in community development, including in the areas of housing and tenant advocacy, organizing, economic development, and education.

Sam Jackson, Co-President and Co-Founder

Sam has worked tirelessly for marine and environmental conservation over the last decade. He has been an active member of the NY-NJ Storm Surge Working Group since 2017, has organized educational and stakeholder cruises in both New York and Boston Harbors, and teaches sailing to community members in Jamaica Bay. Sam served as Director of Communications for the National Institute for Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure from 2017-2020.

Joseph Woodrick, Outreach Coordinator

Joseph grew up on the South Shore of Long Island and currently resides in Queens.  After graduating from Stony Brook University with a B.S. in Coastal Environmental Studies and minor in Geospatial Studies, Joseph joined the NYC DEP as a Resiliency Program Analyst on the Integrated Water Management team.  The Integrated Water Management team develops programs and policies to adapt New York City's relationship with the water cycle to climate change.


Malcolm Bowman, Chair

Malcolm Bowman is Professor of Physical Oceanography and a Distinguished Service Professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS), State University of New York at Stony Brook. He obtained his B.S. and M.S. (honors) degrees in physics and mathematics at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and his Ph.D. in Engineering Physics at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. He joined SoMAS in 1971 and rose through the ranks to serve a term as Acting Dean and Director during 1987-88. He is the coordinator of the Stony Brook Storm Surge Group, whose current research interests are prediction and modeling of storm surges that threaten the New York Metropolitan area. The group studies ways the City can protect itself from flooding from extreme weather events in an era of possible global warming and sea level rise. He also is the coordinator of an international group of oceanographers and modelers who are studying the Black Sea in Europe. Between 1996 and 1999, Dr. Bowman took leave from Stony Brook University to accept an invitation to return to his native New Zealand as Founding Head of the School of Environmental and Marine Sciences at Auckland University. There he developed a keen awareness and interest in the role marine reserves and wilderness areas can play in marine conservation and fisheries rehabilitation. He is a Director of the Environmental Defence Society (NZ), an honorary Professor of Physics at Auckland University, the Stony Brook Faculty Director of Study Abroad in Australia and New Zealand and a Distinguished Member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Suzanne DiGeronimo, Treasurer

Suzanne has 50 years of experience as owner of DiGeronimo PC Architects. She is a licensed architect, planner, and interior designer.  Her accolades include multiple recognitions: the American Institute of Architects (AIA) - elevated to Fellow; AIA National Chair of the Practice Committee, AIA National appointed juror to select new Fellows, AIA National appointed juror to the National Urban and Regional Design Awards, among other local AIA leadership positions held.  Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) - elected to National Board of Direction, elected as VP of SAME, elevated to Fellow, awarded SAME’s highest honor the Gold Medal, awarded SAME Fellows highest honor, the Golden Eagle Award, among other local, regional, and national SAME leadership positions.  Ms. DiGeronimo is a frequent speaker and lecturer.  She has held several teaching positions.  She had been a Member of the Board of Directors of NJ Youth Symphony as well as several other non-profits.  The Port Authority of NY&NJ appointed Ms. DiGeronimo Juror in 2018 for the International Mid-town Bus Terminal Competition.  She holds an Associate Degree in Applied Science Interior Design from FIT 1967, she attended Pratt Institute School of Architecture and Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning.  She received a Bachelor of Architecture Degree in 1973 from the Cooper Union School of Architecture. 

Robert Yaro, Secretary

Robert D. Yaro was Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design from 2002-2020.  His teaching and research focus on land use, urban development and infrastructure planning for megaregions and metropolitan areas. In 2004 he identified the emergence of 11 mega-regions across the United States, and since then has led seminars and studios on planning for emerging megaregions in the US, Spain, the United Kingdom, China, Singapore and Morocco. He is also President Emeritus of the Regional Plan Association. He led RPA from 1990 until his retirement as President and CEO in December 2014. Headquartered in Manhattan, RPA is America's oldest and most distinguished independent metropolitan research and advocacy group.

At RPA, Bob Yaro led the five-year effort to prepare RPA's Third Regional Plan, A Region at Risk, which he co-authored in 1996. And he also initiated work on the 4th Regional Plan, which was completed in 2018. These strategic plans are designed to shape metropolitan growth and development and policies and investments in transportation, environment and climate, housing and urban design across the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Metropolitan region.

At RPA he also established and led the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York, a broad-based coalition of civic groups formed to guide redevelopment in Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He also initiated and led America 2050, an investigation of long-term development trends and infrastructure needs for the United States and its magaregions. In partnership with the World Bank, he also initiated the Metro Lab, an initiative to assist emerging global cities in preparing their own metropolitan strategic plans

Prior to coming to the Weitzman School in 2002, Mr. Yaro served on the faculties of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Harvard and Columbia Universities. From 1985 to 1989, Mr. Yaro was Associate Professor of City & Regional Planning at UMass and founder and Director of the University's Center for Rural Massachusetts. In this role he initiated Growing Smart in Massachusetts, the nation's first smart growth initiative, and coined the term “smart growth.” In 2015 he served as Visiting Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where he led a studio that outlined a regional plan for the Texas Hill Country, continuing a life-long interest in planning for large landscapes.

From 1976 to 1984 Mr. Yaro served as a city planner at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and then as Chief Planner and then Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management.

He is now leading Rebooting New England, an initiative to build a high-performance rail network between New York and Boston, as part of a broader effort to with revitalize the region’s mid-sized cities. He also co-chairs the New York-New Jersey Metropolitan Storm Surge Working Group, which is advancing a proposed system of both off-shore and perimeter storm surge barriers to protect the nation’s largest urban region from future storm surges.

He is an honorary lifetime member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and American Society of Landscape Architects.



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