Founded in 2017, Safe Water for Walton is a 501(c)(3) advocacy and education non-profit where members only join once! Members range from business owners and community leaders, to retirees and elected officials, and even to second-, third-, and fourth-generation charter fishermen and licensed boat captains. See who's involved at the link below.
MISSION: To study and educate the public about the health of, and any large-scale threats to, the underground water supply across the 6-county watershed (Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Okaloosa). This includes but is not limited to safe drinking water issues as well as impacts to the recreational basin comprised of creeks, rivers, coastal dune lakes, and freshwater springs.
It's easy to be a part of our success.
EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBERS
BETH JACKSON, FOUNDING BOARD MEMBER
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 Council—working 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 Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Development from Auburn University.
KELLY LAYMAN, FOUNDING BOARD MEMBER
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 of Science degree in Journalism from the University of Florida.
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.
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
PATRICK PILCHER, CHAIR
Patrick is a lifelong Walton County resident with deep knowledge of regional properties, both as a native and a certified professional. As a child, LaGrange Bayou and Mallet Bayou were literally Patrick’s backyard. Patrick says this is where he developed a curiosity and deep appreciation for our local tributaries. One of his first jobs was as the public cartographer – the task of researching and mapping Walton County’s vast legal property descriptions. Some years later, in 2000, he was elected Walton County Property Appraiser – and served 5 consecutive terms in elected office, retiring in 2020. Patrick has State-level certifications in mapping and real estate appraisal. He earned an Associate of Science Degree in engineering and design technologies from Okaloosa-Walton College (now Northwest Florida State College). He enjoys all forms of outdoor recreation and resides with his wife in Freeport. They have 2 adult sons. He has been a member of Safe Water for Walton since the very beginning.
For more than 2 decades, Emily has lived on Lake Powell—a “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 of the non-profit Lake Powell Community Alliance, which runs the the Annual Lake Powell Clean-up and which has partnered with Safe Water for Walton on critical water advocacy issues. Emily is a certified Florida Master Naturalist and contributing photographer for many nature-based groups. She organizes the popular monthly bird species survey at Camp Helen State Park and 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!”
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. 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, and served on the Board for Junior League of Atlanta. She was born in DeFuniak Springs claims 3 "four-legged children": Phyllis, Hank, and Hooper. Her favorite waterbodies are the coastal dune lakes: "They bring back childhood memories of endless summer days spent at Blue Mountain Beach."
KENDALL ANDREWS, FOUNDING MEMBER
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, FOUNDING MEMBER
Born and raised in Walton County, Ricky Fannin is a local entrepreneur and Realtor®. He has served on 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—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 a local firm, he earned a broker’s license and has opened his own real estate firm, HomeGo Properties. 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 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 a former President of the Junior League of the Emerald Coast. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Advertising from Western Kentucky University. She also previously served on Safe Water for Walton's Executive Board.
STEVE HALL, ESQ., FOUNDING MEMBER
Steve is a Panhandle native and a principal of Hall & Runnels, P.A. He works with an array of governmental bodies on local, state, and federal issues. He was one of our Founding Board Members for Safe Water for Walton during its first 3 years. Steve served as Deputy General Counsel with the Florida Department of Community Affairs in Tallahassee, and later as Assistant General Counsel for the Northwest Florida Water Management District. He has expertise in land use and real estate issues. Steve and his wife, along with many volunteers, operate a horse farm and stables called Grace Rides in DeFuniak Springs. This charitable organization provides “equine therapy” to special-needs children. Steve was a Board member for the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, and earned both his Bachelor’s degree and law degree from Florida State University.
Fletcher Isacks has been a full-time resident of Walton County for more than 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 local schools. He has coached several sports teams with fellow parents at South Walton High School, Emerald Coast Middle School, and Seaside Neighborhood School, and served as Co-President of Bay Elementary PTO. Fletcher earned his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from the University of New Orleans.