Supporter Spotlight: Lex Sant | Oceana
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April 18, 2023

Supporter Spotlight: Lex Sant


Oceana Board Member Lex Sant on how helping people and the oceans goes hand-in-hand

The elements found in human blood and seawater are remarkably similar. For Lex Sant, this fact hints at a larger truth: people and nature are interdependent. As president of the Summit Foundation, Sant is focused on improving the well-being of the oceans and the many who rely on them — the same goal that drew him to join Oceana’s Board of Directors in June 2023.

Over 25 years ago, Summit adopted the Mesoamerican Reef as a conservation priority. Despite being the longest barrier reef system in the Western Hemisphere — stretching about 1,005 kilometers (625 miles) along the coasts of Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico — the reef was overlooked by many philanthropy

Lex Sant. © Philip Bermingham

The Mesoamerican Reef supports the livelihoods of nearly 2 million people engaged in fishing and tourism, and protects many more from rising sea levels and severe weather. Sixty percent of Belize’s population lives along the coast. But overfishing, habitat loss, and climate change challenge the Mesoamerican Reef and the ecosystems it supports.

When Lex Sant’s parents, Roger and Vicki Sant, founded the Summit Foundation, they took a holistic approach to environmental problems. “You can’t really address the health of the Mesoamerican Reef without also considering the well-being of the people who depend on the reef and those who live and work in the watersheds adjacent to it,” Sant said. Summit focused on gender equality in countries adjacent to the reef, recognizing that human dignity and prosperity go hand-in-hand with the health and abundance of the reef.

The Foundation’s early work with the Mesoamerican Reef inspired it to sponsor the creation of the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative’s Reef Health Index, which has been published roughly every two years since 2008. Aggregating scientific measurements across the entire reef to indicate its health, the Index has become central to the Summit Foundation’s work.

Vicki Sant led the Foundation as its president from its creation in 1991 until shortly before her death in 2018. In the last five years, Lex Sant has served in that role. “I’m very proud of the work we’ve done to refine our identity and values in a way that honors the intention with which the Foundation was created and allows those values to animate our work in the future,” said Sant.

In 2023, Sant joined Oceana’s Board of Directors, inspired by “the clarity with which Oceana establishes the goals of its global campaigns.”

“Oceana seeks solutions with ambition, focus, and a necessary sense of urgency,” said Sant, “Moreover, Oceana’s care for the nexus of ocean health and human well-being resonates with me. I am excited to work together with Oceana to restore the health of the oceans and their abundance and biodiversity around the world.”