Governor McKee Announces Appointment of State’s New Chief Resilience Officer

Published on Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Kimberly Korioth will develop and lead the implementation of the state’s climate resilience strategy

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee today announced Kimberly Korioth, most recently serving as Stormwater and Resilience Analyst at the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB) with frontline experience in delivering climate adaptation solutions to Rhode Island communities, will transition to the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to be the state’s new Chief Resilience Officer (CRO). The Governor announced the re-establishment of the CRO position in May by Executive Order. Korioth will be tasked with developing and leading the implementation of the state’s climate resilience strategy. She will start on Dec. 31.

“While climate change is a global issue, it is felt most intensely on a local scale and its impacts on the Ocean State are undeniable,” said Governor McKee. “With Kim Korioth as our new Chief Resilience Officer, I am confident that we are taking an important step to becoming better prepared for the future, whatever it may bring.”

“At DEM, Kim will join forces with Caitlin Chaffee in devising policies and action plans to protect Rhode Island from the worst effects of climate change,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. (Chaffee is Manager of the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve on Prudence Island and serves as Chairperson of the EC4’s Science and Technical Advisory Board.) “Kim and Caitlin will build upon the work already being done throughout the state to create a framework for helping communities plan and implement resilience actions on the ground. I am delighted to welcome Kim to the DEM team!”

“Rhode Island cities and towns are facing numerous impacts of climate change, from flooding and coastal erosion to heat islands and wildfires,” said Korioth. “Through my work implementing the Municipal Resilience Program, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to municipal concerns and to understand the key resilience actions needed across our state to tackle these pressing challenges. As Rhode Island’s Chief Resilience Officer, I look forward to continuing to collaborate with municipalities, state agency partners, statewide stakeholders, and government leadership to advance priority resilience solutions.”

A native Rhode Islander, Korioth has been at RIIB for three and a half years. In her work there, she has directed the Municipal Resilience Program and has led other stormwater and resilience initiatives. Previously, Kimberly worked as a Fellow with the RI Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), assisting with implementation of CRMC’s Shoreline Adaptation, Inventory, and Design project; she also has completed aquatic invasive species work with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. She holds a Master of Landscape Architecture, specializing in Ecological Design, from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston University.

Mitigation and adaptation are the two planks of confronting climate change. Mitigation means making the impacts of climate change less severe by preventing or reducing the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimize the damage they can cause. The CRO will focus on helping Rhode Island adapt and adjust to the current and future effects of climate change.

Within DEM, the Chief Resilience Officer will serve as the primary voice and advocate for Rhode Island’s actions on climate resilience and will work very closely with multiple programs and organizations to advance resilience solutions, including the protection and restoration of coastal habitats. Among other tasks, the CRO will coordinate efforts across state agencies, municipalities, businesses, and other organizations and will advise the RI Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (RIEC4) as well as draft and implement policies under the direction of RIEC4. In partnership with RIIB and The Nature Conservancy, the CRO will work to continue and expand the services of the Municipal Resilience Program. The CRO also will lead and plan projects to restore habitat, work directly with CRMC and RIIB on the implementation of the Ocean State Climate Adaptation and Resilience (OSCAR) fund, draft state policies on resilience, and track and apply for federal grants to fund these efforts across Rhode Island.