NCSE 2020 Keynote and Plenary Speakers

Tuesday, January 7, 2020: Conference Day 1

Tony Michaels, Immediate Past Chair, NCSE Board of Directors

Tony Michaels photo

Anthony Michaels, Ph.D., is a nationally recognized leader in sustainability, innovation, and environmental science across multiple business sectors and academic fields. He is the co-founder and managing director of Proteus Environmental Technologies. Prior leadership roles include CEO of Midwestern BioAg, a leader in soil health and sustainable agriculture, Chief Scientist at Pegasus Capital Advisors, president of ReCommunity Energy, and CEO of PhycoSystems. Michaels’ academic roles include serving as the Founding Director of the University of Southern California Wrigley Institute, Professor at the University of Southern California and Board roles at the National Council for Science and the Environment and Global Institute on Sustainability at Arizona State University.

Michelle Wyman, Executive Director, National Council for Science and the Environment  

Michelle Wyman photo

Michelle Wyman has worked on energy and environmental policy with states and local governments for over 15 years, developing strategic and tactical solutions to their energy planning, climate mitigation, and adaptation challenges. Before joining NCSE, she served as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy. She founded Applied Solutions-Local Governments Building a Clean Economy and led ICLEI USA, both of which are nonprofits engaging directly with cities, counties, and states on clean energy, environmental, and sustainability issues. She has served in a wide variety of leadership capacities including with the World Bank and the United Nations. She was Natural Resources Director of the city of Fort Collins, Colorado, and established a public sector practice focused on the environment and sustainable development working with states, local governments, and related national nonprofits based in Washington, D.C.

Karim Ahmed, Adjunct Professor, University of Connecticut Health Center; NCSE Board Director

Karim Ahmed photo

A. Karim Ahmed, Ph.D., is the Secretary-Treasurer of the NCSE Board of Directors and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Previously, Ahmed was Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Program on Health, Environment, and Development at the World Resources Institute (WRI). On behalf of WRI, Ahmed helped launch the 1998–1999 World Resources Report (WRR) and gave a major public address on the impact of climate change on human health at the first Indian National Conference on Environment and Health. In 1974–1988, Ahmed served as Research Director and Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) where he directed an international program assessing the impact of toxic substances and hazardous materials on the global environment. Ahmed has served on a number of high level advisory committees and technical panels of national and international government agencies and scientific institutions.

Rita Colwell, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University; President, CosmosID, Inc.; NCSE Board Director

Rita Colwell photo

Rita Colwell, Ph.D., is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland at College Park and President of CosmosID, Inc. Her interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health. She has authored or co-authored 20 books and more than 800 scientific publications. Colwell served as the 11th Director of the National Science Foundation and Co-Chair of the Committee on National Science and Technology Council. Colwell is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Royal Irish Academy, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and American Philosophical Society. Colwell has been awarded 63 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education and is the recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star - Japan, 2006 National Medal of Science, 2010 Stockholm Water Prize, and the 2018 Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize of Singapore.

Stephen Hubbell, Distinguished Professor, University of California, Los Angeles; NCSE Board Director

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Stephen P. Hubbell, Ph.D., is a Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Before joining UCLA, Hubbell was Professor of Botany at the University of Georgia and a Butler Fellow and Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. Prior to joining the Princeton faculty, he served as a faculty member at the University of Michigan and University of Iowa and as a staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Hubbell's principal research concerns the ecology and management of tropical rainforests. His work focuses on long-term dynamics of tropical rainforests in the new and old world tropics, as well as the implications of global change for the conservation and management of forests.

Michael M. Crow, President, Arizona State University

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Michael M. Crow, Ph.D., is an educator, knowledge enterprise architect, science and technology policy scholar, and higher education leader. He became the sixteenth president of Arizona State University (ASU) in July 2002 and has spearheaded ASU’s rapid and groundbreaking transformative evolution into one of the world’s best public metropolitan research universities. 

Lauded as the "#1 most innovative" school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, ASU is a student-centric, technology-enabled university focused on complex global challenges related to sustainability, economic competitiveness, social embeddedness, entrepreneurship, and global engagement. Under Crow’s leadership, ASU has established 24 new transdisciplinary schools, including the School of Earth and Space Exploration, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, and launched trailblazing multidisciplinary initiatives including the Biodesign Institute, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and important initiatives in the humanities and social sciences.

Frank Sesno, Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University; NCSE Board Director

Frank Sesno

Frank Sesno currently serves as Director of The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, where he leads nearly two dozen world-class faculty who research and teach journalism, political communication, and the impact of digital media in international affairs. Sesno is an internationally recognized journalist with more than 30 years of experience reporting from around the world. From 1996 through 2001, he served as the Washington Bureau Chief and Senior Vice President. In this capacity, he oversaw the bureau’s editorial direction and supervised the network’s largest news-gathering operation. For seven years, he hosted Late Edition with Frank Sesno, CNN’s flagship weekend interview Program. He has interviewed five U.S. Presidents as well as leaders including Hillary Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and broadcast legend Walter Cronkite.

Marcia McNutt, President, National Academy of Sciences

Marcia McNutt

Marcia McNutt, Ph.D., is a geophysicist and the 22nd president of the National Academy of Sciences. From 2013 to 2016, she was Editor-in-Chief of Science journals. McNutt was Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) from 2009 to 2013, during which time USGS responded to a number of major disasters, including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. For her work to help contain that spill, McNutt was awarded the U.S. Coast Guard’s Meritorious Service Medal. She is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Association of Geodesy. In 1998, McNutt was awarded the AGU’s Macelwane Medal for research accomplishments by a young scientist, and she received the Maurice Ewing Medal in 2007 for her contributions to deep-sea exploration.

Thomas Lovejoy, Professor, George Mason University; Senior Fellow, United Nations Foundation; NCSE Board Director

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Thomas Lovejoy, Ph.D., was elected University Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University in 2010. He also holds the Biodiversity Chair at the Heinz Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment based in Washington, D.C. He served as President of the Heinz Center from 2002–2008. Before assuming this position, Lovejoy was the World Bank’s Chief Biodiversity Advisor and Lead Specialist for Environment for Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Senior Advisor to the President of the United Nations Foundation. Spanning the political spectrum, Lovejoy has served on science and environmental councils under the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations. With two co-edited books, he is credited with founding the field of climate change biology.

Valerie Luzadis, Professor, The State University of New York, ESF; Chair, NCSE Board of Directors

Valerie Luzadis photo

Valerie Luzadis, Ph.D., is Professor of Social-Ecological Systems and Ecological Economics at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), a public, doctoral granting institution. Luzadis has also served as Interim Provost and as the first Executive Vice President of ESF. Luzadis’ scholarly work includes the study and practice of collaborative interdisciplinary science and efforts to bring science into policy. She is a Past President of the United States Society for Ecological Economics, Luzadis also served in National and State level leadership positions in the Society of American Foresters (SAF), including: Chair of the House of Society Delegates at the National level. Luzadis was also the recipient of the National Young Forester Leadership Award from the Society of American Foresters. Luzadis has also consulted with groups such as The Nature Conservancy and The Wildlife Conservation Society to advise and facilitate community-based conservation efforts.

Kaitlin Yarnall, Senior Vice President and Chief Storytelling Officer, National Geographic Society

Kaitlin Yarnall Photo

As senior vice president and chief storytelling officer at the National Geographic Society, Kaitlin Yarnall is responsible for expanding the organization’s impact through all forms of storytelling, including photography, journalism, film, and public experiences. Yarnall oversees a creative team that produces impact-driven media and identifies key partnership, grant making, and fellowship opportunities with creative talent to further amplify the Society’s mission. She began her career at the National Geographic Society in 2005 as a cartographer. Yarnall has been a keynote speaker at conferences around the globe and has addressed the UN General Assembly, Scandinavian royals, and rock concert stadiums. She specializes in storytelling, data visualization, information graphics, cartography, and visual narratives, and has written extensively on these subjects.

Alexandria Villaseñor, Earth Uprising 

Alexandria Villasenor photo

Alexandria Villaseñor is a 14-year old climate activist living in New York City. Frustrated by the lack of progress at COP 24, and inspired by 16-year old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Villaseñor began her own solo weekly school strike for climate in front of the United Nations Headquarters on December 14, 2018, and has been on strike ever since. Soon after she began, Villaseñor became a national and international Fridays for Future organizer for the first ever global youth climate strike which occurred on March 15, 2019. This historic strike has been followed by four additional global climate strikes this year, with the most recent global climate strike on September 20, 2019, mobilizing 7 million people in over 180 countries. For her work, Villaseñor was awarded the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival's "Disruptor," "The Common Good Foundation Changemaker Scholarship, the Earth Day Network 2019 Youth Climate Leadership Award, the 2019 Rachel Carson Award for Environmental Service and Politico identified her as one of the top 100 people influential in climate policy. Villaseñor has also recently launched her own nonprofit, Earth Uprising, where she is working to bring accurate climate change education into schools and helping youth mobilize for direct action.



Wednesday, January 8, 2020: Conference Day 2

Freeman Hrabowski, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Portrait of Freeman Hrabowski

Freeman A. Hrabowski, Ph.D., President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), is a consultant on science and math education to national agencies, universities, and school systems. He was named by President Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. He also chaired the National Academies’ committee that produced the report, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads (2011). 

Hrabowski was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME (2012) and one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report (2008), More recently, he received the American Council on Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2018) and was named a recipient of the University of California, Berkeley’s Clark Kerr Award (2019).

Xiye Bastida, Fridays For Future, NYC

Xiye Bastida photo

Xiye Bastida is a teenage climate activist based in New York City and one of the lead organizers of the Fridays For Future youth climate strike movement. For the first climate strike in March 2019, she mobilized 600 students from her school and has taken a citywide leadership role in organizing climate strikes and speaking out about climate justice issues in rallies and town halls. Bastida was born and raised in Mexico as part of the Otomi-Toltec indigenous peoples. She sits on the Administration Committee of the People’s Climate Movement, where she brings the voice of youth to existing grassroots and climate organizations. Bastida launched a youth activism training program to expand the climate justice movement and is a member of Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion. In 2018, she was invited to the 9th United Nations World Urban Forum to speak about indigenous cosmology. She received the “Spirit of the UN” award in 2018.

Chad Frischmann, Vice President & Research Director, Project Drawdown

Chad Frischman Photo

Chad Frischmann is the Vice President and Research Director of Project Drawdown, a nonprofit organization that assesses, maps, models, and communicates the world’s most substantive solutions to global warming. With a multidisciplinary background in public policy, human rights, sustainable development, and environmental conservation, Frischmann provides a systems-based approach to research and strategic leadership. Previously, Frischmann was the Senior Program Officer at The Europaeum, an association of leading European universities; taught at the University of Oxford and the University of California at Berkeley; and worked as a consultant and researcher for numerous organizations, from small grassroots nonprofits to UN agencies such as UNESCO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Frischmann holds a master's degree in Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley, a master's degree in Art History from the University of Oxford, and a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and History from George Washington University.


Illai Kenney, Program Manager, Office of Sustainability, Howard University

Illai Kenney photo

Illai Kenney serves as program manager in the Howard University Office of Sustainability where she is responsible for helping to facilitate all things green. A few of her responsibilities include managing new sustainability projects (solar energy, green space, composting), managing the recycling program and facilitating student engagement. Inspired by her experience as an alumna of Howard and working in their office of sustainability, Kenney partnered with her mom, Felicia Davis, to create the HBCU Green Fund. The HBCU Green Fund is a nonprofit that focuses on providing expertise and funding for large scale sustainability projects at historically Black colleges and universities. Kenney began her work as an environmental and social justice youth activist. Her first public speech was at the Million Youth Movement Rally at the age of nine. She co-founded Georgia Kids Against Pollution when she was 12 to fight local environmental issues. A winner of the Brower Youth Award for environmental leaders, she challenged Coca-Cola over water practices in India while in high school and spoke up about poverty at the United Nations Summit on Sustainability in South Africa. She served as an organizer with Black Youth Vote to promote youth civic engagement and as a Green Ambassador with the Toyota Green Initiative and Green for All. Kenney was among the many activists gassed at the traumatic Ferguson March that underscored Black Lives Matter. Her goal is to help shift the culture so that there are "fewer "isms" and more fun" in the world.

Marty Matlock, Executive Director, University of Arkansas Resiliency Center, Professor of Ecological Engineering

Marty Matlock photo

Marty Matlock, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the University of Arkansas Resiliency Center and Professor of Ecological Engineering in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department. Matlock’s research focuses on technologies and processes to increase the resilience of ecosystem services, with a focus on food, water, and community systems. He has coordinated agricultural sustainability initiatives with soybeans, corn, cotton, pulses, dairy, beef, pork, and poultry systems. Matlock works with ecologists, engineers, architects, social and political scientists, agricultural scientists, economists, and business leaders to create new understanding and framing of vexing human challenges. His interdisciplinary work has been recognized by the leading organizations in agriculture, engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, and sustainable design with over 30 national and international awards. Matlock is the Chairman of the Cherokee Nation Environmental Protection Commission and serves as sustainability science advisor for 12 food and agricultural product companies.

Joelle Novey, Director, Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA) 

Joelle Novey photo

Joelle Novey is the Director of Interfaith Power & Light-DMV, a nonprofit organization that works with hundreds of congregations of all faiths across D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia to save energy, go green, and respond to climate change. Novey is the co-author of Green and Just Celebrations, a purchasing guide that Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) distributes to local congregations for assisting families in making greener purchasing decisions around weddings and bar/bat mitzvah celebrations. Most recently, Novey worked at Green America, where she screened applicants to the Green Business Network and wrote dozens of articles about greener living for the organization’s newsletter and magazine. Novey brings a variety of interfaith experience to the religious diversity of IPL’s network. For more than a year, she counseled hospital patients of all backgrounds and led interfaith worship services through a chaplain training program at Washington Hospital Center. Novey is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University where she received a BA in Social Studies, and completed the coursework for a minor in the Study of Religion.

Laura Weiland, Director, Omega Center for Sustainable Living 

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Laura Weiland is director of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL), and creator of Omega's 4-week Ecological Literacy Immersion Program. Weiland and the OCSL team organized the first Drawdown Learn Conference in partnership with the Project Drawdown organization to explore how we can more deeply activate a solutions-oriented approach to climate education and engagement through schools and community participation. Through the development of Omega’s climate education initiative, Weiland enjoys strong involvement in regional, national, and global networks and relationship building to bring about the change needed to ensure the health of our ecosystems and the possibility for all communities to thrive. She is part of the coordination team for the Education, Communication, and Outreach Stakeholders (ECOS) community of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Weiland holds a master's degree in sustainable development with a focus in community development. 

Marcia Bernicat, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Marcia Bernicat photo

Marcia Bernicat, a career member of the Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, served as Ambassador to Bangladesh from 2015-2018 and to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau from 2008-2011. Previously she was Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Human Resources, a position she held from 2012-2015. Domestically she served in the Department of State as Office Director for India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan in the Bureau of South Asian Affairs from 2006 to 2008; and from 2004 to 2006 as the Senior-Level Director and Career Development Officer in the Bureau of Human Resources. Bernicat was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados from 2001 to 2004, and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe, Malawi from 1998 to 2001. She was Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Casablanca, Morocco from 1995 to 1998, Deputy Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India from 1992 to 1995, and Desk Officer for Nepal and India in the Bureau of Near East and South Asian Affairs from 1988 to 1990. She is the recipient of the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award and numerous other Department awards.

A native of New Jersey, Bernicat received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Lafayette College and a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. In 2018 she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service by Lafayette College.


Hannele Pokka, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Environment, Finland

Hannele Pokka Photo

Hannele Pokka serves as Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of the Environment. She is the highest-ranking public servant within the Ministry. Pokka is also Docent of Environmental Law at the University of Lapland. Previously, she has served as governor of the Province of Lapland and the Minister of Justice. From 1979 to 1994, Pokka was a Member of Parliament. She has special interest and expertise in Arctic issues and has held the position of chair of the Barents Regional Council and the Northern Forum. Hannele Pokka holds a doctoral degree in environmental law. She is an honorary doctor of environment and forestry at the University of Eastern Finland (previously, University of Joensuu).

Alfonso Silva, Ambassador of Chile to the United States

Alfonso Silva

Alfonso Silva has served as Ambassador of Chile to the United States since September 2018. In Chile, Ambassador Silva has served as the Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs Secretary and in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in multiple other positions. Abroad, he has performed as: Secretary at the Embassy of Chile in the United States of America, Counselor at the Embassy of Chile in the United States of America, Counselor at the Embassy of Chile in Brazil, Minister Counselor at the Embassy of Chile in South Africa, Consul General in Barcelona, Delegate to the Latin American Integration Association in Montevideo, Uruguay, Ambassador of Chile to Jamaica and Concurrent in Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kilt's and Nevis, Grenada, Saint Lucia. He has been Permanent Representative to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Soil Authority, and Ambassador of Chile to India and Canada. Silva is a graduate of the Law School of the University of Chile. 

Brennan Van Dyke, Chief, Capacity Development and Innovation Branch Science Division, UN Environment Programme

Brennan Van Dyke photo

Brennan Van Dyke is currently the Chief of the Capacity Development and Innovation Branch of UN Environment’s Science Division. Prior to assuming these responsibilities, she served as the Executive Coordinator of the Strategic Donor Partnerships and Global Funds section in UN Environment, established an Environmental Management System for the United Nations Secretariat, and held the position of UN Environment’s Regional Director for North America. Van Dyke also served as Senior Advisor to the CEO of the Global Environment Facility and Secretary of the Global Environment Facility Council and worked in the U.S. Senate. She began her international career working on trade and investment issues for the Center for International Environmental Law.

Randy Burd, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Long Island University; NCSE Board Director

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Randy Burd, Ph.D., is the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Long Island University. Previously, Burd was the Associate Vice President for Global Research Alliances in the office of Research, Discovery and Innovation. He also served as the Assistant Director of Distance and Global Initiatives in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, where he held a faculty appointment as a Professor of Nutritional Sciences. His role in these linked positions is to lead the expansion of programs and initiatives to increase global research and connect faculty to new international research opportunities. He also has extensive expertise in technology, innovation and distance education, and in developing international research and academic programs. His current research efforts focus on bioactive food compounds and he also publishes in the areas of technology and innovation.

Alex Beehler, Assistant Secretary of the United States Army Installations, Energy and Environment, U.S. Army

Alex Beehler Photo

In his role as the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, Mr. Beehler is the primary advisor to the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff of the Army for all matters related to Army installation policy and oversight, and coordination of energy security and management. In addition, he is responsible for policy and oversight of sustainability and environmental initiatives; resource management, including design, military construction, operations, and maintenance; Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC); privatization of the Army real estate portfolio and installations’ Safety and Occupational Health programs. Before joining IE&E, Beehler served in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment. He was also the first Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) of the Department of Defense and served in the Department of Justice, at the Environmental Protection Agency, and served on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

Tim Gallaudet, USN Ret., Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, Deputy NOAA Administrator

Tim Gallaudet Photo

Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D., was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 5, 2017, as the assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere for the Department of Commerce in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Gallaudet was previously a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, where his most recent assignment was Oceanographer of the Navy and Commander of the Navy Meteorology and Oceanography Command. During his 32 years of military service, Gallaudet has had experience in weather and ocean forecasting, hydrographic surveying, developing policy and plans to counter illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, and assessing the national security impacts of climate change. He has led teams of Navy sailors and civilians performing such diverse functions as overseeing aircraft carrier combat operations, planning and conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts, assisting Navy SEAL Teams during high visibility counter-terrorism operations, and developing the Navy's annual $52 billion information technology, cyber security, and intelligence budget. Gallaudet masters’ and doctoral degrees from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Gerald Geernaert, Director, Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, U.S. Department of Energy

Photo of Gary Geernaert

Gerald (Gary) Geernaert, Ph.D., is Director, Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). He oversees and directs basic scientific research at DOE National Laboratories and Universities, involving atmospheric, climate, and environmental sciences. In addition, he is the federal official responsible for two DOE scientific user facilities, i.e., the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) research facility and the Environmental Molecular Science Laboratory (EMSL). Besides his DOE duties, Geernaert serves as Vice-Chair and/or as DOE principal to four science interagency subcommittees under the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), that in turn is part of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Before joining DOE in 2010, Geernaert was Director, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) during 2002–2010. Geernaert is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society. Geernaert holds a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington.

James Green, Chief Scientist, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Photo of James Green

James (Jim) Green, Ph.D has served in multiple positions at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), including as head of the National Space Science Data Center at Goddard Space Flight Center, Chief of the Space Science Data Operations Office, and Chief of the Science Proposal Support Office. In August 2006, Green became the Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. Under his leadership at the Planetary Science Division, several missions have been successfully executed, including the New Horizons spacecraft flyby of Pluto, the MESSENGER spacecraft to Mercury, the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter, the Grail A and B spacecraft to the Moon, the Dawn spacecraft to Vesta and Ceres, and the landing of the Curiosity rover and the InSight lander on Mars. In 2015, Green was a part of the NASA involvement with the film “The Martian.” He received his Ph.D. in Space Physics from the University of Iowa.

Steven Kappes, Agricultural Research Service Associate Administrator for National Programs, U.S. Department of Agriculture 

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Steven Kappes, Ph.D., became the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Associate Administrator for the Office of National Programs in August 2016. The Office of National Program sets the research direction and develops budgets for the ARS research portfolio which includes plants, animals, natural resources, human nutrition, insects, and microbial pathogens. The Office of National Programs also includes the international research program. Currently, Kappes is leading the ARS Big Data Initiative. He has served as a senior advisor for Animal Protection and Production in the USDA, Office of the Chief Scientist. He has worked with USDA agencies on issues related to animal health and production, herbicide resistance, and biosafety and biocontainment in high and maximum biocontainment laboratories. Previously he co-chaired a U.S. Government Interagency Biosafety Taskforce and was a co-chair of the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Foreign Animal Disease Threats. Kappes received his B.S. and M.S. from South Dakota State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Cynthia Lodge, Deputy Director, U.S. Geological Survey

Cynthia Lodge Photo

Cindy Lodge is currently serving as the Deputy Director, assisting the Director in leading the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and managing the business operations of the bureau. Prior to her Deputy Director role, Cindy served as the Associate Director of the Office of Budget, Planning and Integration in the Office of the Director of the USGS. She is the Bureau's chief adviser for all matters related to strategic budgetary and financial strategies, budget formulation, presentation and advocacy; guidance and oversight for budget execution, internal controls, and working capital funds; leadership and oversight for the Bureau's Strategic Plan and supporting the Department of the Interior's Strategic Plan; leadership for performance management and enterprise risk management; and reports to these activities to the Department of Interior, Office of Management and Budget and Congress.

Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, Office of Research and Development Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 

Jennifer Orme Zavaleta Photo

Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, Ph.D., is the Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science for the Office of Research and Development (ORD) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Agency’s Science Advisor. Orme-Zavaleta has been with EPA since 1981, working in the areas of human health and ecological research, risk assessment, policy and regulation development, strategic planning, and program implementation. The focus of her experience includes the evaluation of risks to human and ecosystem health, and the influence of environmental change on human health in response to a variety of stressors including synthetic organic and inorganic chemicals, radionuclides, microorganisms, and vector-borne disease. Orme-Zavaleta received her B.A. in Zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University, M.S. in Zoology and Toxicology from Miami University, and Ph.D. in Wildlife Science and Public Health from Oregon State University.

 Lynn Scarlett, Chief External Affairs Officer, The Nature Conservancy

Lynn Scarlett Photo

Former Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Lynn Scarlett serves on the CEO management leadership team as Chief External Affairs Officer at The Nature Conservancy, overseeing all global public policy influence and corporate engagement, as well as serving as the Conservancy’s Global Climate Strategy Lead. In these roles, Scarlett directs all public policy strategies in the United States and the 79 countries in which TNC operates. Scarlett also served at Interior as the Acting Secretary of the Interior in 2006. While Interior’s Deputy Secretary, Scarlett initiated, chaired the Department’s Cooperative Conservation Working Group and its first-ever Climate Change Task Force, and oversaw development, with the U.S. Geological Survey, of the Department’s first guidance on adaptive management. She chairs the Science Advisory Board of NOAA, recently co-chaired the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives Council of the U.S. Department of the Interior and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Sustainability Roundtable.



Thursday, January 9, 2020: Conference Day 3

Hon. Shirlee Zane, Supervisor, County of Sonoma, California, Sonoma Water; NCSE Board Director

Shirlee Zane photo

Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane took office in January 2009. Prior to her election she served for 10 years as CEO for Council on Aging. Supervisor Zane serves on several countywide and regional boards, including the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, Sonoma County Transportation Authority/Regional Climate Protection Authority and the Sonoma County Water Agency, among others. The Supervisor is leading Sonoma County’s Water Agency on atmospheric rivers, related weather forecasting technology, and their potential benefits to the future of water management. Through her advocacy and leadership, Supervisor Zane has developed a well-earned reputation for strong conservation values in addition to her environmental and social justice ethics. She holds an M.A. in Theology from Chicago Trinity Divinity School, an M.A. in family counseling from Sonoma State University, and a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Chico State University.

Michael Mahoney, Senior Geologist, FEMA

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Michael Mahoney is a Senior Geophysicist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a position he has held for 35 years. He currently leads FEMA’s seismic problem-focused studies and has investigated a variety of earthquake-related issues to develop design and construction guidance under the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). His current projects includes the development of FEMA’s seven volume Performance-Based Seismic Design Guidelines series (FEMA P-58) and Seismic Evaluation of Older Concrete Buildings for Collapse Potential (FEMA P-2018). Mahoney is also responsible for FEMA’s earthquake-related work with the International Codes and has been involved in the model code development process dating back to 1984. He serves as the FEMA Headquarters representative to the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, where he led a project to develop guidelines for vertical evacuation refuge structures. He holds a Masters and Bachelor’s degrees in physics.

Adam Parris, Deputy Director of Climate Science and Risk Communication, Office of the Mayor, New York City

Adam Parris Photo

Adam Parris has over 15 years experience working with scientists, governments, and communities to advance climate resilience and adaptation. Currently, he is the Deputy Director of Climate Science and Risk Communication at the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency in New York. Previously, he led the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay, a partnership aimed at improving resilience in New York City. Parris has supported coastal planning for Federal agencies, as well as the states of California, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey. Parris also directed NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program, a network of 10 regional centers that help expand the nation's capacity to prepare for and adapt to climate. He has co-edited two books and co-authored nearly a dozen papers both research and nonfiction. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Environmental Geology from Bucknell University and a Master of Science in Geology from the University of Vermont.

Alice Pennaz, Program Analyst, Natural Hazards Mission Area, U.S. Geological Survey

Alice Pennaz photo

Alice Pennaz, Ph.D. is a  social scientist in the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Natural Hazards Mission Area, where she works on a variety of efforts related to risk research and applications, as well as science during crisis. Pennaz co-leads a collaborative project between USGS and the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Office of Emergency Management to identify risk to DOI lands and resources. She also staffs the DOI Strategic Sciences Group that takes a unique approach to disaster response by quickly deploying multi-disciplinary groups of experts to consider the cascading economic, environmental, and social consequences of disasters.  Pennaz is a member of the USGS Emergency Management team, working to improve scientific response to disaster events. She is the executive secretary for the interagency working group, Science for Disaster Reduction (SDR) where she co-leads US reporting to the United Nations Sendai Monitor on disaster losses as well as an effort to examine current and potential uses for science during disaster response. Pennaz earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the University of California Berkeley.

 Tina Kirby, Independent Insurance Innovation Expert

Tina Kirby bio

Tina Kirby is an engineer by training who accidentally became an underwriter of specialist insurance at Lloyd’s of London in 1995. For 15 years, she underwrote diverse products ranging from professional indemnity to political risk and intellectual property to product recall until, in 2010, she became the Head of Innovation at Beazley (a syndicate at Lloyd’s). Innovation in risk awareness and risk transfer goes beyond insurance products, to the heart of the potential damage, and builds from there a holistic view using quantification, adaptation, mitigation and management. Kirby links all these facets together, by building bridges and a common language between the experts in each sphere, taking into account the interconnectivity of systems and people. In 2019, Kirby set up as an independent innovation consultant in the insurance sphere with a focus on resilience at scale and using creative insurance to enable businesses to achieve their goals.

Darlene Tocktoo Turner, Migrant Educational Aide, The Shishmaref School 

Darlene Tocktoo Turner photo

Darlene Tocktoo Turner was born and raised in Shishmaref, Alaska. Her parents, Vincent Tocktoo, Sr. and late Molly Tocktoo, raised her to live and survive with their subsistence way of life. She currently works for the Bering Strait School District as a Migrant Educational Aide and Librarian, where she has worked for the last 30 years. She enjoys working with students and watching them grow in their education at the Shishmaref School. Turner has also been involved with the Shishmaref IRA, Shishmaref Native Corporation and her regional Kawerak, Inc., Bering Straits Regional Housing Authority, and Norton Sound Health Corporation for nearly 20 years. Her passion is to work and help her community members to live in a safe and healthy environment.

Nicole Meyer-Morse, Quality Assurance, Lane Manager, FEMA CRC-West

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Nicole Meyer-Morse currently works as one of the quality assurance supervisors for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Public Assistance (PA), which is FEMA’s largest grant program. Before serving in her current position, Nicole was the Science and Technology Advisor for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) where she spearheaded an effort to identify innovative hazard mitigation projects targeting drought, sea-level-rise, and wildfire. In collaboration with local, state, and federal partners, she and a small team identified five managed aquifer recharge projects targeting drought in California’s Central Valley; these projects were the first of their kind in the United States to use FEMA hazard mitigation funding to target drought. Meyer-Morse was an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow with the Department of Defense in Chemical and Biological Defense and a California Council of Science and Technology Policy Fellow with Cal OES. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. 

Jeffrey Lusk, Deputy Director, U.S. Small Business Administration

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Jeff Lusk is the Deputy Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Field Operations Center (FOC) West. Following a disaster, FOC-West coordinates preliminary damage assessments (PDAs), and the Office of Disaster Assistance’s (ODA) declaration process with FEMA and the states. SBA provides low interest disaster loans for uninsured loss to homeowners, renters, and businesses of any size.Prior to joining SBA, Lusk worked with FEMA’s Region IX office in Oakland, CA for 22 years. During his tenure at FEMA, Jeff served in several positions, including the Regional Earthquake Specialist, the Response Operations Manager, Deputy Chief of National Preparedness, and as the Director of Mitigation Division.In 2006 and 2008, Lusk received the Shoemaker Award from the USGS for external communications, and in 2012 he received the Federal Manager of the Year award from the San Francisco Federal Executive Board. Most notably in 2005 for his actions on Hurricane Katrina, Jeff received the Homeland Security Gold Medal, the highest decoration in the Department of Homeland Security. Lusk studied International Relations and Physical Geography at California State University, Chico, and Geology and Natural Hazards at University of California Berkeley. He is also a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Senior Executive Fellows program.

Joel Scheraga, Senior Advisor for Climate Adaptation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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Joel Scheraga, Ph.D., is leading the EPA’s efforts to develop and implement a Climate Change Adaptation Plan to ensure it can continue to protect human health and the environment even as the climate changes. He has worked extensively on interdisciplinary environmental problems and has expertise in the areas of climate change science and policy, environmental economics, the integration of science and policy, and applied microeconomics. He earned his Ph.D., Economics in 1981, M.A., Economics in 1979, and A.B, Geology – Mathematics/Physics in 1976 all from Brown University.

Holmes Hummel, Founder, Clean Energy Works

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Holmes Hummel, Ph.D., is the founder of Clean Energy Works, which works to accelerate investments in the clean energy economy with inclusive financing. As a champion for inclusive financing to deploy all cost effective grid edge technologies, Hummel has led Clean Energy Works to win endorsement from the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance for breakthroughs in the transportation sector that are also applicable to rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and more.  Previously, Hummel served as the Senior Policy Advisor in the Department of Energy’s Office of Policy & International Affairs from 2009-2013. She served as an AAAS Congressional Science Fellow for then Representative Jay Inslee, rejoining Inslee’s policy team this year for his presidential campaign that sparked more ambitious climate policy across the field. Hummel earned a doctorate degree from Stanford University for interdisciplinary research on energy technology scenarios that achieve 100% clean energy for all, and later taught climate policy design at UC-Berkeley’s Energy Resources Group.

Rohan Patel, Director, Policy and Business Development, Tesla; NCSE Board Director

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Rohan Patel serves as the director of policy and business development at Tesla, where he oversees regulatory and legislative efforts throughout North America. Previously, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor for Climate and Energy Policy, where he worked on a range of power sector and transportation policies. In addition, Patel was President Obama's primary liaison with city and county officials. He also served as Associate Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, overseeing climate change and conservation issues. After the 2008 inauguration, he joined the Obama administration as Senior Policy Advisor to Secretary Vilsack at the United States Department of Agriculture. Patel is a graduate of Northwestern University and a native of Goshen, Indiana.

Paul Shrivastava, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Pennsylvania State University

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Paul Shrivastava, Ph.D., is Chief Sustainability Officer at Penn State University, Director of the Sustainability Institute and Professor of Organizations at the Smeal School of Business.  Prior to this role, he served as Executive Director of Future Earth, a global research platform for environmental change and transformation to sustainability. Earlier Shrivastava was David O’Brien Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Enterprise, and the Director of the David O’Brien Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, at the John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal. Shrivastava was part of the management team that launched Hindustan Computer Ltd. He founded the non-profit Industrial Crisis Institute, Inc. in New York, and published the Industrial Crisis Quarterly.  He founded Organization and Environment, a journal of Sage Publications. He was founding Chair of the Organizations and Natural Environment (ONE) Division of the Academy of Management. He was founder President and CEO of eSocrates, Inc., a knowledge management company, and Founding Executive Director of Future Earth. Shrivastava received his Ph. D. from the University of Pittsburgh.