Speaker Information at the 2024 EnvironMentors Science Fair and Awards Ceremony

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Welcome Remarks - Opening Session

The 2024 EnvironMentors National Science Fair Opening Welcome Remarks will be provided by:

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Kimberly Winter

National Director of Conservation Education in State, Private and Tribal Forestry at U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service

Kimberly Winter recently moved into the Conservation Education Director position after over a decade serving as NatureWatch National Program Leader for the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C.; and formerly as Habitat Programs Manager for the National Wildlife Federation. She holds a Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology and Management and a M.A in Ecological Anthropology. Kim served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, as an environmental educator. She later returned to Bolivia and Ecuador by invitation of the Itonama and Quichua indigenous leaders, respectively, to document and facilitate communications that led to improved relationships and consensus on the nexus between indigenous and national conservation practices. Throughout her career in the non-profit sector and in public service, Kim has brought diverse communities together in conversations with national and international organizations to understand the voices and values they hold in common for living with and stewarding the natural world. In her free time, Kim spends as much time as possible witnessing the marvel of nature in her own backyard, working for social and environmental justice, and exploring as far as she can around the world.

Exploring Mentorship's Influence on Environmental Science, Diversity & Innovation - Luncheon Panel Session

This panel will discuss the vital role of mentorship in empowering future leaders in environmental science. It will highlight how mentorship fosters diversity and drives innovation in the field. Speakers include:

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Kristina Douglass

Associate Professor of Climate at Columbia University

Kristina Douglass is an archaeologist who investigates how people, land- and seascapes co-evolve. She is an Associate Professor of Climate at Columbia University and a Smithsonian Institution Research Associate. Her work is grounded in collaborations with local, Indigenous, and descendant (LID) communities as equal partners in the co-production of science, and the recording, preservation and dissemination of LID knowledge. Douglass and her collaborators aim to contribute long-term perspectives on human-environment interactions to public debates, planning and policymaking on the issues of climate change, conservation, and sustainability. Since 2011 Douglass has directed the Morombe Archaeological Project (MAP), based in the Velondriake Marine Protected Area and Commune de Befandefa in southwest Madagascar. This territory is home to diverse communities, including Vezo fishers, Mikea foragers and Masikoro herders. The MAP team is made up of local community members, and an international group of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The MAP is anchored to the Olo Be Taloha Lab (@OBTLab) housed at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. Douglass is a mother, singer, dancer, Capoeirista, SCUBA diver and avid gardener, all of which intersect in essential ways with her work as an archaeologist and climate scientist.

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Ty Todd

Undergraduate Student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Previous EnvironMentors Participant

Tyrin is a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) majoring in AI and Computer Science. At MIT, Tyrin performed research at the Earth Signals and Systems group where he works on measuring soil salinity through satellite imagery. Currently, Tyrin is the co-founder and CTO of Dyle, an AI startup that helps companies deliver world-class customer success to small to medium-sized businesses.

Before MIT, Tyrin was in the first cohort of Penn State's Environmentors chapter. His project, Particles Matter, in which he developed a low-cost particulate matter sensor, won the EnvironMentors National Science Fair in 2019 when he was a sophomore. The project also assisted in the development of a cost-effective sensor network across West Africa. Tyrin continued EnvironMentors through his senior year. 

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Tom Richard

Interim Executive Director at the Global Council for Science and the Environment (GCSE)

Tom Richard, Ph.D., served for 15 years as the director of Penn State’s Institutes for Energy and the Environment, coordinating a network of almost 500 faculty engaged in innovative interdisciplinary research and education on fossil and renewable energy, energy efficiency, water, climate, ecosystems, and environmental health. His research and teaching focus on applications of fundamental engineering science to microbial and agricultural systems, developing market-based strategies for a more sustainable agriculture, and the emerging bio-based economy. 

Richard is a fellow of ASABE and a fellow and past president of the Institute of Biological Engineering. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and master's and doctoral degrees from Cornell University.

Keynote Address - Awards Ceremony

The 2024 EnvironMentors Awards Ceremony Keynote Address will be provided by:

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Aida Collins

Deputy Director of Minority Programs, Office of Energy Justice and Equity, Department of Energy

Aida Collins is a long-time member of the United States Federal Agency family who was recently hired to serve as the Deputy Director of the Office of Minority Programs in the Office of Energy Justice and Equity (EJE). Ms. Collins joins EJE from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) at the Department of Labor, where she served as the Regional Director of the OFCCP’s Southeast Region.  In her current role, her team works tirelessly to advance the principles of recognition, procedural, distributive, and reparative justice by remediating energy injustices and disparities through equitable policy implementation, funding opportunities, and workforce initiatives that support disadvantaged communities, small and minority-owned businesses, and minority-serving institutions.

Empowering Change: Bridging Science and Communities for a Healthier Planet - Awards Ceremony Panel Session

This panel brings together a diverse group of experts, including scientists, educators, and advocates, to explore how science can empower communities to build a healthier, safer, and more equitable world for future generations. With an interdisciplinary facilitator, the discussion will delve into critical themes such as environmental justice, the importance of diversity and inclusion in STEM fields, and innovative career pathways in the sciences. Attendees will gain insights into the transformative potential of science in addressing contemporary challenges and fostering community resilience and empowerment. Speakers include:

An African American woman (person) with curly hair, wearing glasses smiling. The background is a field of large feather fingergrass weeds. The background is blurred, and the person is in the forefront. The image is not full color but in grey scale.

Denise Hill

Water Resources Program Coordinator at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Denise Hill currently serves as a program coordinator and stakeholder engagement lead for NASA’s Water Resources Program which is part of the Earth Action initiative. In this role Denise uses her expertise as a strategic communicator to drive stakeholder engagement and help NASA partners discover, develop, and demonstrate new practical uses for NASA’s Earth observations in the water resources management community.

Prior to this role Denise was the Communications, Outreach Media Relations lead, and the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility co-lead for NASA's Heliophysics Division where she led an award-winning team of diverse content creators and storytellers. Before coming to NASA, Denise led the communications efforts for the COVID-19 vaccine hesitance campaign and the Health Equity Task Force for Health and Human Services; Office of Minority Health. Prior to that she worked as a senior
speechwriter and policy editor at the Department of Transportation and led communication efforts for the Research and Technology Office which included directing engagement efforts for the Smart Cities Initiative.

Denise began her career as an educator. She taught 4th-6th grades, college, and worked as a curriculum writer and district staff developer. She has done extensive research and work in the areas of child psychology and education, specifically single-gender education, brain research, gifted and talented education, behavior modification, and classroom management.

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Joe Toolan

Justicia y Equidad Fund Grant Manager

Joe (he/him) serves as the Senior Manager of America the Beautiful for All Coalition Strategy and Development. He works with funders to support joint 30x30 and Justice 40 goals nationally to benefit frontline and communities of color. He has a background in philanthropy, community stewardship, behavior change, and building capacity of individual organizations and networks of nonprofits. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Geographical Sciences with a concentration in Environment Systems and Natural Resource Management from the University of Maryland, College Park and an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University.

Joe, born in Guatemala, was adopted in the 90s and grew up just outside of Annapolis, Maryland. He identifies as a queer, latine, indigenous, transracial international adoptee and environmentalist. Joe is the Chair of the State of Maryland Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs, the Chair of the Board of Annapolis Pride, a Planning Committee Member for the Naturally Latinos Conference and the Chesapeake Watershed Forum, and serves as a mentor in the Young Professionals of Color program with the Choose Clean Water Coalition.

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Kim Noble

Senior Advisor for Environmental Education in the Office of Public Engagement and Environmental Education at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Kim Noble currently serves as the Senior Advisor for Environmental Education in the Office of Public Engagement and Environmental Education at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Prior to joining the EPA, Kim was the Chief Operations Officer for Green The Church (GTC), an initiative that engages Black congregations in the fight against climate change, and for environmental justice. Kim has spent the majority of her career working to improve the social, environmental and public health outcomes for vulnerable communities. Always mindful of underserved communities, Kim continues to build and manage relationships with community- based organizations, African American faith leaders and grassroot coalitions. Kim attended Fort Valley State University and received her B.A. in Mass Communications. She is passionate about making sure children are in a healthy & safe environment and families have access to available local, state and federal resources. A self-described foodie, Kim also enjoys photography, reading and is an avid walker.

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Avriel Díaz

Executive Director-Elect at the Global Council for Science and the Environment (GCSE)

Before joining GCSE, Avriel co-founded and served as Executive Director of  Walking Palms Global Health, an organization focused on building community resilience amidst climate and environmental disasters. She has dedicated years to forming international transdisciplinary partnerships aimed at enhancing community resilience in the face of climate change and variation across Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently situated at Columbia University's Department of Earth and Environmental Science, she is actively pursuing her Ph.D. focused on Climate, Environment & Health while concurrently leading working group two Climate Adaptation for the Lancet Countdown Latin America. Avriel's expertise spans a spectrum of domains, including climate services development and implementation, climate-resilient health systems, disease ecology, monitoring & evaluation, communications and education, social mobilization, and equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) methods. Her collaborative approach involves working closely with government entities, researchers, and communities to co-produce and co-deliver climate, environment and  health initiatives, ensuring their usability by decision-makers for impactful public outcomes. Avriel holds a Bachelors of Science from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and two Masters from Columbia University in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology and Environmental Earth Sciences. 

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