Rachel Silverstein: Miami’s Waterkeeper

Executive Director, Miami Waterkeeper

The South Florida waterways have their own Lorax: the Miami Waterkeeper. Rachel Silverstein joined the nonprofit organization as executive director and official waterkeeper in 2014. Her mission: advocate for swimmable, drinkable, and fishable water for all.

Silverstein researched coral reef ecology as part of her marine biology doctoral degree at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science. After graduating in 2012, she received a crash course in federal legislation working on the subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in charge of matters that impact oceans, coasts, and inland waterways. All of this prepared her for her role as the leading investigator, scientist, educator, and legal advocate of Miami Waterkeeper.

Throughout the years, Silverstein has grown the Coral Gables-based organization to over 13 staff members. She leads her team in achieving “water wins,” like successfully challenging the unsustainable license extension at the Turkey Point nuclear power plant located between the Florida Everglades and Biscayne National Park.

Rachel Silverstein overlooking the Coral Gables Waterway

Latest Achievement

Silverstein was one of this year’s Elevate Prize winners, a global award recognizing nonprofit leaders for their work in environmental and social issues. She was also awarded the 2023 Mayor’s Pioneer Award by Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who has worked extensively with the organization. The mayor first appointed Silverstein to the county’s Biscayne Bay Shoreline Development Review Committee during her time as a commissioner.

What She Says

“I have a deep passion and love for the South Florida ecosystem, and its uniqueness, its beauty, its biodiversity,” Silverstein says, “and really how it interacts with this large, growing metropolitan center in its backyard. There’s a lot of nature in everyday life — even in urban settings — and fostering that, appreciating it, and allowing nature a place to thrive benefits all of us.”