July 11, 2022 Miami, Florida
The sudden loss of Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian has shocked and saddened all who knew him. Since entering public service in 2017, he brought fresh, clear and balanced thinking to the challenges that the City of Miami Beach faces in addressing flooding and sea level rise.
He questioned the logic of a ‘streets first’ strategy that placed residents’ vulnerable properties at greater risk. He raised concerns on projects that ignored aesthetics and neighborhood issues, with success in driving improvements. He proposed and passed an initiative to engaging residents in a long term inspirational resilience vision with input from local and global thinkers that the City partly implemented. He also sponsored and passed Miami Beach’s program to co-fund adaptation projects for private properties.
About 3 years ago he reached out to RAF seeking to learn more on resilience. “Mark approached difficult issues in a fair, unbiased and objective manner, always placing residents’ interests as his top priority, even when it risked making him less popular in certain circles”, said RAF’s founder Aris Papadopoulos. The two developed a close relationship based on mutual respect and trust, often communicating several times weekly. “He will be greatly missed. His efforts to protect both public and private assets from climate change should not be lost.”
To honor his cause and memory RAF pledges $50,000 to create a ‘Mark Samuelian Award in Urban Resilience’, commencing in 2023. This will be an annual award to individuals or organizations who demonstrate practical success in implementing hazard resilient measures and strategies in South Florida. Further details will be provided in the coming months. RAF invites other interested parties to partner in this initiative.