brian formato leader surf board member surfrider foundation charlotte

This week’s volunteer spotlight introduces board member Brian Formato. Brian joined the team a few years ago and has been a driving force in forging partnerships with like-minded business and organizations throughout Charlotte. Brian also runs LeaderSurf, an executive leadership course that incorporates surfing into its program. You can also find Brian paddling, foiling and wakeboarding on Mountain Island Lake. Please see below our exclusive interview with Brian.

  1. Why and when did you get involved with Surfrider? 

I joined the Charlotte Surfrider group in 2016.  As an avid surfer and watersports enthusiast who cares deeply about our environment, I was looking for a way to get more involved in my local community. Living on Mountain Island Lake, the drinking water supply for 800,000 people in the Charlotte area, I see firsthand the impact that our region’s growth is having on our fragile water supply.  I am passionate about protecting nature and interacting with like-minded surfers and watersports enthusiasts.  The Surfrider Foundation has been a great outlet for me to be involved.

  1. What local issue affecting Charlotte are you fighting for?

Clean water and the protection of our rivers and lakes is very important to me.  I have seen the environment impact in our community.  Living on Mountain Island Lake, I have experienced the 100 year flood four times in 15 years.  This is a sign that our fragile environment is being negatively impacted by the regional growth.  I want to be an advocate for protecting the lakes and rivers.

  1. What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience?

In March of 2020, I traveled to Washington, DC with a Charlotte Surfrider colleague and 100+ members of Surfrider from other Chapters to spend the day on Capitol Hill lobbying our representatives to protect our waters, to end offshore drilling, to remove single use plastics and to do their part to represent our region more effectively.  It was an amazing experience meeting so many other passionate Surfrider members from other regions and hopefully making a positive impact.

  1. What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

Surfrider is a very worthy cause and a great organization to be associated with.  Members are a passionate and fun group of people who care about our ocean and love to recreate in it.  If you are not already a member you should join and attend one of our many events.

  1. Why are you a Surfrider Coastal Defender?

The coast is my happy place.  Surfing is my escape from reality, and it is my favorite pastime.  My favorite memories have all occurred in the ocean or at the beach. I want to protect our shores and make certain that our Ocean is a pristine place for my daughter and her offspring to live, play and surf.

  1. Where is your favorite beach or coastal area to visit from Charlotte?

I grew up in NY and the Hamptons are still my favorite beaches in the US.  Closer to Charlotte, I enjoy Folly Beach.

  1. What is your favorite water or outdoor-related activity to do in the Charlotte area?

I am a big Wakefoiler, wakeboarder and paddle boarder.  I love to spend my free time year-round out on Mountain Island Lake.