Thomas Ruppert, Esq., directs the Virginia Coastal Resilience Collaborative and serves as Assistant Provost for Coastal Resilience. In this role, he works with others inside and outside of William & Mary to develop and implement projects to improve the resilience of Virginia local governments. This includes developing collaborations among educational institutions, researchers, communities, governments to determine scientific needs, conduct research, and translate research results into meaningful policy analysis for decision makers.
Mr. Ruppert has been an attorney for two decades, practicing in areas including coastal planning, adaptation to sea-level rise, local government financing of adaptation, flood insurance, the National Flood Insurance Program, property buyouts, the Endangered Species Act, Florida’s coastal construction control line, comprehensive planning, sea turtle habitat protection, statutory property protections, and U.S. constitutional property protections.
As Coastal Planning & Legal Specialist at the Florida Sea Grant College Program from 2013 to 2020, Mr. Ruppert organized partners to host professional development workshops on coastal issues and flood insurance in Florida. He established himself as a recognized expert on law and sea-level rise through development of legal and policy analysis for local governments on planning for sea-level rise and resilience, resulting in adopted comprehensive plan amendments and ordinances. Mr. Ruppert has authored and co-authored three book chapters and seventeen articles in publications such as the Columbia Environmental Law Journal, The Environmental Law Reporter, and Florida Bar Journal. The article “Roads to Nowhere in Four States: State and Local Governments in the Atlantic Southeast Facing Sea-Level Rise” was selected as a top 4 environmental law article in 2019.
Mr. Ruppert previously worked with the University of Florida extension system and the College of Law’s Conservation Clinic. Work included issues such as international human rights, indigenous property rights, and land reform in Latin America and conservation-focused homeowners’ association documents. Mr. Ruppert is bilingual (English-Spanish), and this contributes to work that has taken him to Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, the Netherlands, Panama, and Puerto Rico.