All News

Seaside Institute New Leadership

Posted on May 01, 2016 in Seaside Institute , Leadership , May-June 2016

The Seaside Institute is pleased to announce that Sandra (Sandi) Fiske, a longtime resident of Seaside, will be serving as the institute’s interim executive director pending a search for a new executive director, along with South Walton resident Christi Ferry as operations manager.

Prior to moving to Seaside full time, the better part of Fiske’s career was spent in Washington, D.C., where she served in a variety of legal and political positions, including general counsel of the Presidential Bipartisan Commission on Entitlements and Tax Reform, as well as director of regional affairs for the City of Washington, D.C., staff director and chief counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Government Operations & Metropolitan Affairs for the District of Columbia and general counsel and staff director of the Federal Government Service Task Force, during which she was closely involved in urban planning, transportation, environmental and intergovernmental cooperation issues between D.C. and the states of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and their local governments in the region.

Fiske and her husband, Jerry Anderson, have been longtime Seaside homeowners (17 years) and have been visiting and vacationing here since Seaside’s inception in the early 1980s. Their daughter was in the first full graduating class at the Seaside Neighborhood School and Fiske was responsible for organizing both “The Truman Show” East Coast Premier and the Via Colori Street Painting Festival as fundraisers for both the Seaside Neighborhood School and the Seaside Institute.

Fiske has been a Seaside Institute board member for the past six years, has visited many New Urbanism communities, and has travelled extensively with the institute to India, Paris, Cuba, Guatemala and Croatia.

In talking about her view of the institute in Seaside’s future, she believes that the institute should become an integral part of the community and its daily life.

“By sponsoring a broad range of programs in the arts and education and by asking the community to work together to identify community-wide goals and aspirations, it can serve as a leader in promoting civic life on 30A,” she adds. “Almost all of the issues facing Seaside are or will be faced by the broader community at large. We must be a leader in seeking solutions to the challenges that face us all. It is fairly clear that both tourism and residential development are overwhelming the infrastructure of this beautiful 30A byway. Whether it is roads, traffic, parking, emergency and medical services or cell and Internet availability, we must all work together to balance and build the structure — physical and social — necessary for a healthy future for all of us. The institute is at a critical stage of its development. It is seeking to expand its local programs and presence and is beginning to look at community-wide issues such as these infrastructure issues and to do so must increase its resources — financial and human — and continue to build a positive community experience. ”

With regard to the Seaside Institute’s Academic Village, Fiske says, “The Academic Village has become the physical embodiment of the institute and is providing numerous programs in art, photography, writing, music and community-building, as well as fostering discussions that are available to all of South Walton about how to solve community problems. This will and must continue to expand, leading to a widespread effort to discuss and define “community” and how to grow in positive directions that will help to define our civic life.”

Joining Fiske in the administrative leadership of the institute is Christi Ferry, a local South Walton resident. Ferry majored history and historic preservation and did an internship with the Lower Chattahoochee Regional Development Commission before going into healthcare administration. She served as director of a specialty breast cancer hospital in New Orleans before moving to the 30A area in 2005. Since then, she has focused her energy on volunteer work and has worked with Children’s Volunteer Health Network, Walton County Master Gardeners, The REP, Habitat for Humanity of Walton County, A Better South Walton, and her favorite event — The Witches of South Walton Witch Ride.

“I fell in love with Seaside, and by extension New Urbanism, when I first stumbled upon it as an undergraduate in 1991,” she says. “It changed my focus in college, and sparked my interest in architectural history and vernacular architecture. Although my career path led elsewhere, I have retained an interest in design and planning. The main challenge facing Seaside and 30A is finding a way to handle the goose that is laying too many golden eggs without killing the goose. We have to learn to develop responsibly, in a way that preserves the natural beauty and old Florida feel that has drawn so many residents and visitors to the area.”

Visit The Seaside Institute online.