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HELIX Announces CEO Retirement & Succession Plan

Mar 5, 2024 | Newsroom

HELIX Executive TeamMichael Schwerin will step down as CEO on June 30, 2024, and retire December 31, 2024.

Shelby Howard will succeed Michael Schwerin as Chief Executive Officer and Justin Fischbeck will become Chief Operating Officer on July 1, 2024.


HELIX Environmental Planning (HELIX), a leading California-based environmental consulting firm, today announced the retirement and succession plans of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael Schwerin after serving 23 years at HELIX and 34 years in the industry. The HELIX executive team has worked closely together since 2022 on the transition plan, when Mr. Schwerin initially announced his retirement plans to the firm.


Michael SchwerinHaving first joined the company in 2001, Mr. Schwerin became CEO in 2008. From the Great Recession‐era low of one office and roughly 75 employees around that time, HELIX has since grown under Mr. Schwerin’s leadership to approximately 280 employees; seven offices throughout California; more than $40 million in annual revenues; and a full range of environmental disciplines including California Environmental Quality Act/National Environmental Policy Act (CEQA/NEPA) compliance, biology, habitat restoration, regulatory permitting, air quality, greenhouse gas/climate change, noise, cultural resources, architectural history, and landscape architecture.


“Michael’s drive for success has been coupled with genuine care for the firm’s employees and an approachable, humorous manner,” said Kristin Olszak, Chief Financial Officer. “He will be greatly missed, and through his leadership has mentored a wonderful team of leaders here at HELIX.Shelby Howard


Mr. Schwerin commented, “I am honored to have led HELIX as its CEO and am extremely proud of our employee-owners and their unwavering commitment to integrity; high-quality client service; employee well‐being; and environmental stewardship. Given the strength of our staff and long history of our leadership working together, HELIX is well-positioned to continue to thrive and succeed for many years to come.”


Mr. Schwerin will continue his role as CEO until June 30, 2024, after which, he will remain employed as an advisor to the firm to assist in the transition until his retirement on December 31, 2024. Mr. Schwerin will also continue to serve as HELIX’s Board Chair until the end of the year.


Justin FischbeckOn July 1, 2024, current HELIX board member, Vice President, and Biology Division Manager Shelby Howard will be promoted to Chief Executive Officer. Simultaneously, Justin Fischbeck, current HELIX board member and Construction Group President, will be promoted to Chief Operating Officer. Together with current Chief Financial Officer and board member Kristin Olszak, they will continue to direct HELIX with the support of a robust leadership team.


Mr. Howard commented, “I am incredibly excited to serve as HELIX’s next CEO, and I thank Mike for his strategic leadership, friendship, and guidance over the years. I look forward to working closely with Justin, Kristin, and our leadership team to build on HELIX’s successes, lead our talented team of professionals, and guide HELIX’s continued growth into the future.”


With nearly 25 years of experience, Mr. Howard has provided strategic direction and oversight for HELIX, working closely with the CEO, CFO, and other corporate leaders. He has helped to lead strategic planning efforts and develop business strategies for long-term growth and success of the firm, collaborating with service and sector leads. Kristin OlszakAs the Biology Division Manager, he has led HELIX’s biology division overseeing business development and operations for a large team of biologists who are responsible for environmental compliance monitoring, sensitive species surveys, vegetation mapping, wetland delineations, impact analyses and development of mitigation measures, and habitat restoration planning and implementation.


Commenting on the appointments, Mr. Schwerin said, “Having worked closely with Shelby for nearly two decades, I am confident he will be an outstanding CEO. Together, with Kristin and Justin, he shares a passion, commitment, and dedication to our staff and clients, coupled with exceptional leadership and innovative approaches. There is an exciting future ahead for HELIX.”


For more information about HELIX’s leadership team, visit our leadership profiles.



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