WHO WE ARE

Safe Water for Walton, Inc., is a 501(c)(4) advocacy and education organization properly registered with the State of Florida and the IRS — with this defined Mission: 
To study and educate the public about the health of, and any threats to, the water sources across the six-county watershed (Walton, Bay, Jackson, Holmes, Washington, and Okaloosa counties), including, but not limited to, safe drinking water issues and the recreational water basin comprised of creeks, rivers, bays, coastal dune lakes, and freshwater underground aquifers.

How can you or your business can be a part our success?

EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBERS

BETH JACKSON

Beth has been a Walton County resident for more than 40 years, both in South Walton and now in the City of Freeport. She is a happily retired grandmother. She served for many years on the Walton County School District Advisory Councilworking with professional staff, parents, and stakeholders to enhance the District’s countywide strategic goals and successes. With the burgeoning growth of about 10,000 students now countywide, she will be involved in the new iteration of localized Advisory Councils across the District. She is very active in helping her neighbors engage in Freeport local government issues. Beth has been a longtime member of the Walton County Library Board, Friends of the Freeport Library, and Freeport High School’s Improvement Team. She earned her degree in Early Childhood Development from Auburn University.

STEVE HALL, ESQ.

Steve is a Panhandle native and a principal of Hall & Runnels, P.A., based in Destin. He works with an array of governmental bodies on local, state, and federal issues. Steve served as Deputy General Counsel with the Florida Department of Community Affairs in Tallahassee, and later served as Assistant General Counsel for the Northwest Florida Water Management District. He has a long history of expertise in land use and real estate issues, and is a member of The Florida Bar’s Environmental and Land Use Law Section. Steve and his wife, along with many volunteers, operate a 20-acre horse farm and stables called Grace Rides in DeFuniak Springs. This charitable organization provides “equine therapy” to special needs children and youth of ages. Steve was a founding Board member for the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, and earned both his bachelor’s degree and law degree from Florida State University. 

KELLY LAYMAN

Kelly is a partner in two global businesses, one being a tech company that works with the U.S. military.  She also manages property investments across Walton County, and has held a real estate license for nearly 20 years. Before settling in Walton County full-time, Kelly served in all three branches of State government in Tallahassee, including as Chief of Staff at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Legislative Liaison at the Florida Supreme Court; and as a staff aide to the Senate Judiciary Chairman. Kelly also was appointed the founding Executive Director of a Florida conservation group established by former Governor Bob Martinez that advocated in Washington for Governor Jeb Bush’s state-federal Everglades Restoration plan. Kelly was raised on the northern reach of Florida's Loxahatchee River—one of only two nationally designated “Wild & Scenic Rivers” in the Sunshine State. Her late father was active in local water policy issues and founded a fishing club in the 1960s that exists today. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.

CAPT. HUNTER RAY

Hunter was born and raised near the banks of the Choctawhatchee Bay.  He represents the fourth generation of his family to depend on the vitality of the freshwater springs, rivers, and creeks intertwined in our regional, 6-county watershed.  Hunter’s love for the great outdoors was nurtured early on as a young deckhand. (See our video featuring Capt. Ray here.)   He now has a Captain’s License and works from two charter boats.  He has fished and hunted in Walton County and all the tributaries in the Choctawhatchee waterways and the surrounding region for more than 20 years.  He is the owner and lead guide for Florida Boy Adventures.  He spent years working for his family’s commercial shrimping business in Walton—developing a strong knowledge of local waters and its inhabitants and wildlife: “Watching my dad and grandpa wade around in the Bay, fishing for mullet and shrimp, all I ever wanted to do was hunt and fish—this is my life’s work.”  He is a concerned conservationist—and known to be a strong advocate of improved catch-and-release procedures at local fishing tournaments.  Hunter and his family live in Freeport.

Council of Technical Advisors
Community Council

EMILY ELLIS

For more than 2 decades, Emily has lived on Lake Powell—a rare “coastal dune lake”—and in all that time, she and her husband have been dedicated “UF LAKEWATCH” water quality samplers. She is a Co-Founder and current Chair of the non-profit Lake Powell Community Alliance, which coordinates the Annual Lake Powell Clean-up. Emily is a certified Florida Master Naturalist and contributing photographer for many nature-based groups. She also organizes the popular monthly bird species survey at Camp Helen State Park. She has been honored by the Florida Lake Management Society. Emily earned a Bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and a Master’s in Fine Arts from the University of South Florida. Her thesis work related to North Florida’s underwater caves. She is a former Assistant SCUBA Instructor, and an avid snorkeler: “I’ve always resented the fact that I was not born with gills!”

BEN STEWART

Ben Stewart is an environmental and geological consultant who works on complex projects across the U.S. Southeast.  His specialties include an emphasis on groundwater related projects, contaminant hydrogeology, assessment and remediation, water resource investigations/evaluations, and environmental resource planning.  Ben spent his formative years fishing and hunting along the Gulf Coast.  He is a member of the Air & Waste Management Association and the Society of American Military Engineers—both national professional associations.  He and his wife live in Walton County.  Ben graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science Degree in geology.

LAURA TIU, PH.D.

Laura is a Marine Science Extension Agent with University of Florida IFAS/Sea Grant—serving in Okaloosa and Walton counties.  Dr. Tiu’s areas of expertise include marine and environmental education, coastal ecosystems, and aquaculture/aquaponics.  Her signature programs include aquaponics, micro-plastic awareness.  She lives in DeFuniak Springs and enjoys fishing, visiting state parks, attending Broadway shows, kayaking, snorkeling, and eating ethnic foods.  Laura earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Biology from Silliman University, Philippines; her Master’s Degree in Wildlife Ecology from Mississippi State University; and her Doctorate Degree in Agriculture & Extension Education from Ohio State University.

MARY CHRIS MURRY

Mary Chris Murry is a Walton County native.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Alabama and had a successful 26-year tenure in Atlanta with McRae—a fully integrated marketing agency.  She was the first employee hired, and helped it become one of the largest independently owned agencies in the U.S. Southeast.  Her client experience spans tourism, travel, real estate, economic development, government, utilities, non-profits, and more.  Mary Chris is the communications director at Alaqua Animal Refuge in Freeport, where she is heavily involved in managing other aspects of the non-profit’s well-known success alongside a talented team.  While in Atlanta, Mary Chris helped established a non-profit “community foundation” dedicated to protect the uniqueness of a neighborhood while preserving the quality of its natural resources.  Mary Chris also served on the Board for Junior League of Atlanta.  She currently lives where she was born—DeFuniak Springs—with her 3 "four-legged children": Phyllis, Hank, and Hooper.  Her favorite waterbodies are the coastal dune lakes, which bring back childhood memories of endless summer days spent at Blue Mountain Beach.

KENDALL ANDREWS

Kendall Andrews is a native of Walton County. She is the E-commerce Director for The Seaside Style®. When spending time outdoors, Kendall particularly enjoys fishing in the Choctawhatchee Bay, gardening, and helping her husband at the family farm in DeFuniak Springs. Kendall volunteers with several non-profits beyond Safe Water for Walton, including the Junior League of the Emerald Coast. She is an alumna of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science & Economics—and a certificate in Urban & Regional Planning.

RICKY FANNIN 

Born and raised in Walton County, Ricky Fannin is a local entrepreneur and Realtor®. He was appointed in 2017 to the City of Freeport Planning Commission. He credits his first mentors in real estate—who gave him the financing to buy a $22,000 land parcel at age 19—for igniting his passion in real estate. During the economic downturn, he ventured into other work as did many real estate agents—if they stayed in town. Ricky worked for The St. Joe Company at a local resort property—and was inspired to create a signature “850” bottled custom cocktail. It successfully launched, regionally distributed, and he later sold it. After working on major transactions with Beachy Beach 30A Real Estate, he recently earned a broker’s license and has opened his own real estate firm. His favorite regional waterways are the upper Choctawhatchee River and Ebro Springs. Ricky earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences from Florida State University. 

KATIE FUENTES

Katie has been a resident of the Emerald Coast since 2011. She is Construction Service Administrator with Corvias Military Living—a fully integrated development, construction, and property management company that provides on-base housing for America's servicemembers and their families. Corvias is involved with military housing at Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field. Eglin AFB is the nation’s largest Air Force Base, and stretches over more than 460,000 acres in Okaloosa and Walton counties. Its southern and eastern boundaries are directly on the Choctawhatchee Bay. Katie also is President of the Junior League of the Emerald Coast, which comprises hundreds of members from both Okaloosa and Walton counties. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Advertising from Western Kentucky University.

FLETCHER ISACKS

Fletcher Isacks has been a full-time resident of Walton County for nearly 20 years.  His parents and his siblings also have owned homes in Old Seagrove since the 1950s.  When he is not relaxing at Western Lake, Fletcher is out on shoots for clients of Isacks Imagery—a popular commercial photography and videography business, which includes drone footage projects.  He also travels internationally for freelance assignments.  A father of three, Fletcher is a passionate volunteer for local sports and youth leagues.  He has served in many leadership service positions with several Walton County schools.  He also has coached several sports teams with fellow parents at South Walton High School, Emerald Coast Middle School, and Seaside Neighborhood School.  He served as Co-President of Bay Elementary PTO.  Fletcher earned his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from the University of New Orleans.

Come join us in our work to keep your water supply abundant and healthy.   

LEE PERRY

Lee Perry has been a proud Walton County resident for nearly 35 years. After a career in real estate and development projects, he founded Azland Mining and Azland C&D Recycling—both of which are privately funded. The state-of-the-art construction recycling facility itself requires extensive State-level permitting, and is the only such center serving the Northwest Panhandle. He is a graduate of Auburn University with a degree in Finance. He has served in multiple leadership positions at Good News United Methodist Church, where he attends with his wife, Margie.  Lee also serves as the Vice Chairman of the Walton County Planning Commission, and spearheaded the effort to pass legislation supporting what is now the new Highway 331 toll-free bridge in Walton County. He is also an avid boater and fisherman.

Safe Water for Walton, Inc., is a non-profit advocacy and education organization properly registered with the State of Florida and the IRS.