FLORIDA KEYS — Key West Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Atwell is leaving his post to take the position of communications and outreach manager for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, which funds the position, announced the hiring of Atwell last week. 

Atwell will be tasked with building and strengthening community outreach and engagement efforts in the Florida Keys while raising awareness of the sanctuary throughout the United States and internationally.

“Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is a national treasure that protects a marine ecosystem like no other in the world,” said Kris Sarri, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. “Scott’s involvement in the Florida Keys community makes him an asset to the foundation for engaging Florida Keys businesses and residents in the stewardship and management of this unique ecosystem.”

Atwell takes the position as the sanctuary is overhauling its management plan and regulations. There has been pushback to some of the proposals included in what the sanctuary is calling its Restoration Blueprint, which has led to some very confrontational public workshops in the past year.

The sanctuary is tweaking the Restoration Blueprint and could finalize the regulation changes later this year.

Atwell was born and raised in the Key West and “his perspective will be valuable to us as we roll out the Restoration Blueprint,” said Sarah Fangman, sanctuary superintendent.

Atwell is a 1979 graduate of Key West High School and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Miami. He worked in television in Tallahassee before serving in several communications positions at Florida State University and as president and CEO of the FSU Alumni Association. He also received a master’s degree in higher education administration from FSU.

“The waters that fall within the sanctuary are the heart and soul of the entire Florida Keys community,” Atwell said. “My grandfather made his living as a charter captain here as far back as the 1930s. I’m privileged to be part of the team working to safeguard this resource for present and future generations to enjoy.”

Atwell served as the CEO of the chamber for the past year.

“We will miss him and we will start looking for a replacement,” said Greg Sullivan, chamber executive committee member. “He did some good things for us and now he is pursuing a different avenue.

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