SEJ's 28th Annual Conference Speakers




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Below are biographies (or links thereto) of speakers for SEJ's 28th Annual Conference, October 3-7, 2018, in Flint, Michigan, as well as the sessions they're participating in. Flint conference home.

Alphabetical Speaker List

(a daily work-in-progress; check back often)

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L
M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock



Rhonda Anderson

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 6, Gasoline, Garbage and Greenery in Detroit, 8:30 a.m.
  • Rhonda Anderson, Detroit-based environmental justice organizer for the Sierra Club, has long been engaged in fighting for the rights of poor and minority communities overburdened with pollution. A commitment to pursuing environmental justice has been at the core of her work for nearly two decades with the Sierra Club. Detroit's 48217 zip code, where the Marathon Petroleum Corp. refinery and other heavily polluting industrial sites are located, has been a focus of her efforts.


Jay Austin

  • Event: Friday, Lunch Plenary, Tracking Trump: Environmental Rollbacks and Legal Challenges, 12:15 p.m.
  • Jay Austin is a Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law Institute and Editor-in-Chief of the Environmental Law Reporter. He directs the Institute's Program on the Constitution, Courts and Legislation, which focuses on the intersection of U.S. constitutional and environmental law and trends in the federal courts. In that role, he produces scholarly research and commentary on environmental litigation; key areas of constitutional law, including the Commerce Clause, Fifth Amendment takings and Article III standing; and on proposals to amend major federal laws like the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act. He also directed a National Science Foundation-funded initiative on understanding the role of scientific uncertainty in law, science and journalism. Jay is based in Portland, Oregon, and received his B.A. at Michigan State University and J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.


Nancy Averett

  • Event: Friday, Concurrent Sessions 2, THE CRAFT 2: How to Freelance and Not Go Broke, 2:00 p.m.
  • Nancy Averett is a freelance writer based in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a passion for telling great stories about complex topics. Nancy's work has appeared in a variety of national publications such as Audubon, Pacific Standard, Runner's World, Bicycling, E! The Environmental Magazine and She also writes for institutions: Boston University, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, University of Colorado and the National Institutes of Health.



Janice Beecher

  • Event: Saturday, Concurrent Sessions 4, WATER: Water Infrastructure: Pipes, Plants and Problems, 10:45 a.m.
  • Dr. Janice Beecher has served as Director of the Institute of Public Utilities at Michigan State University since 2002, bringing more than 30 years of applied research experience to the position. Her areas of interest include regulatory principles, institutions, governance and pricing, and she specializes in the water sector. She is a frequent author, lecturer and participant in professional forums and Editor of the journal Utilities Policy (Elsevier). She co-authored the book "Risk Principles for Public Utility Regulators" (MSU Press). Dr. Beecher is presently serving on the U.S. EPA’s Environmental Finance Advisory Board and has served as an appointed advisor to the State of Michigan on infrastructure and water policy. She previously held positions at The Ohio State and Indiana Universities and the Illinois Commerce Commission. She is a faculty member in MSU’s Department of Political Science and holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern University.


George Bullerjahn


Jeff Burnside

  • Event: Wednesday, All-Day Journalism Workshop 3, Telling Climate Change Stories that Matter: From Impacts to Solutions, 8:30 a.m.
  • Event: Saturday, Concurrent Sessions 3, NATION: The War Against Plastics: Who's Winning? 9:00 a.m.
  • Jeff Burnside, an SEJ board member, is a Scripps Journalism Fellow at the Center for Environmental Journalism, University of Colorado in Boulder. He has been in the news business for more than 20 years working as an investigative reporter, general assignment reporter, executive producer and segment producer in cities such as Boston (WCVB Chronicle), Miami (WTVJ Special Projects Unit) and most recently, Seattle, as senior investigative reporter for KOMO 4 News. He's won more than 20 journalism awards — for television news, newspaper reporting and photography — including 10 regional Emmys. Jeff was among the first to chronicle the harm to marine mammals from low frequency active Navy sonar, exposed drinking water contamination from dairy farms, documented concerns over threats from rock mining to Miami-Dade wellheads that supply drinking water to one million people, has traveled the world covering the decline of coral reefs and ventured to the bottom of the ocean aboard a scientific submersible during biomedical prospecting. His general assignments include interviewing presidents, going inside to investigate violent white extremists, exposing dangerous religious cults, discovering lapses in Florida's drivers' licensing that allows several affected Alzheimers patients to continue driving, videotaping bribes, and going undercover to expose how pet stores buy dogs from puppy mills. Jeff is also a frequent invited speaker and panelist on environmental journalism, journalism ethics and media training. He's earned working media fellowships at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Tromso, Norway), Heinrich Boell Institute for green energy (Berlin), Steinbrenner Institute for climate science (Carnegie Mellon University), Reynolds Center for Business Journalism on the green economy (Cronkite School at Arizona State University), Metcalf Institute for Environmental Reporting (University of Rhode Island) and the Western Knight Center for Specialized Reporting in political coverage (University of Southern California Annenberg School).



Matt Chapman

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 4, The Shape of Water... and Milk and Beer! 7:30 a.m.
  • Matt Chapman serves as the Project Manager for Grand Rapids Whitewater. Matt came to Grand Rapids Whitewater in September of 2015 after serving as the Executive Director of Alternatives in Motion for four years. Matt has over 12 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and is knowledgeable in marketing, special events management, grant writing & management, the donor development process and organizational development. Matt holds a Bachelor's of Science in Advertising and Public Relations and a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration from Grand Valley State University.


Mary Ann Colihan

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 3, Canada's Chemical Valley: From Toxic to Green? 7:00 a.m.
  • Mary Ann Colihan is a freelance journalist from London, Ontario, Canada who has covered the Chemical Valley since she graduated from the Journalism program at Western University in 2003.



Timothy Davis


Jim Detjen

  • Event: Saturday, Concurrent Sessions 4, NATION: Role of Religion in Protecting the Planet, 10:45 a.m.
  • Jim Detjen is the founding president of SEJ and an ex officio member of SEJ's board of directors. He has worked for more than 45 years as an environmental journalist at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Louisville Courier-Journal and Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal. He was the first Knight Chair in Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University and is now the Knight Chair in Environmental Journalism Emeritus. He was the founding director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at MSU and also a founder and past president of the International Federation of Environmental Journalists. He has won more than 50 state, national and international awards for environmental journalism and environmental education. Among these are the George Polk Award, National Headliner Award, Edward J. Meeman Award and Thomas Stokes Award. He has been a Fulbright Scholar in China twice. He is a co-author or contributor to seven books and has written for a variety of magazines and newspapers.



Debra Furr-Holden

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 9, Flint: Environmental Injustice in Context, 10:00 a.m.
  • Dr. Debra Furr-Holden is an epidemiologist with expertise in addiction epidemiology, prevention science, psychosocial measurement and behavioral health equity research, interventions and policy. In the past decade, her research has focused on developing environmental strategies, structural and policy interventions to promote behavioral health and health equity. Dr. Furr-Holden has worked extensively with a wide range of partners including community-based organizations, local municipal officials and policy makers. Her research has supported legislative efforts to impact zoning as well as state-level legislation to promote behavioral health equity. Dr. Furr-Holden’s research has been well received by community stakeholders in Flint, MI who are eager to explore policy interventions to help address some of Flint’s and the nation’s greatest public health challenges, with a special emphasis on health equity and policy-level interventions. Her research is grounded in the rubrics of epidemiology and consistent with principles and practices for understanding social determinants of health and health equity. Dr. Furr-Holden is a C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health and the Interim Director at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Division of Public Health. She is also the Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities-funded Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions.



Nancy Gaarder

  • Event: Wednesday, All-Day Journalism Workshop 3, Telling Climate Change Stories that Matter: From Impacts to Solutions, 8:30 a.m.
  • Event: Friday, Concurrent Sessions 1, CLIMATE 2: Climate and You: Change Hits Home, 11:00 a.m.
  • Nancy Gaarder is a journalist at the Omaha World-Herald, where she has worked since 1995. Back when newspapers had environmental reporters, she covered that beat for The World-Herald. And for a time, she was one of the few full-time weather reporters at a daily paper. Down-sizing eliminated that position, too. Now she is night city editor and a general assignment reporter at The World-Herald. She is the author of "Nebraska Weather," a photo book that examines Nebraska's extreme weather and climate. She is a recipient of the National Weather Association Walter J. Bennett Public Service Award. She was co-chair of the SEJ conference in Oklahoma. Previous work history: Reporter/Editor, St. Joseph, Mo., News-Press, 1983-1995; Peace Corps Volunteer (community development), Cameroon, Africa, 1982. Graduate, University of Missouri School of Journalism, 1981.


Maria Gallucci

  • Event: Saturday, Concurrent Sessions 3, ENERGY: Cargo Shipping: The Next Frontier in Clean Energy? 9:00 a.m.
  • Maria Gallucci is a freelance science journalist and the 2017-18 Energy Journalism Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. She currently covers clean energy development and environmental issues in the world of maritime cargo shipping. Maria was previously a reporter for Mashable, InsideClimate News, International Business Times and Mexico City press, and an editor at Makeshift magazine. More.


Justin Gerdes

  • Event: Friday, Concurrent Sessions 2, ENERGY: U.S. Offshore Wind Power Catches a Tailwind, 2:00 p.m.
  • Justin Gerdes is an independent journalist specializing in energy issues based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a contributing writer for Greentech Media and U.S. Correspondent for Primafila. His work has appeared at the Guardian,, Yale Environment 360,, and City Lab, among others. More.


Marilyn Gladu

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 3, Canada's Chemical Valley: From Toxic to Green? 7:00 a.m.
  • Marilyn Gladu is a long-time Sarnia resident and a professional engineer who worked for Dow Chemical for 21 years, in a variety of roles locally and globally. Gladu was also the director of engineering at Suncor before taking a consultant role at WorleyParsons where she managed a team of over one hundred engineers supporting the Shell refinery. Elected as the Member of Parliament for Sarnia-Lambton as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada in 2015, she serves as the Official Opposition Science Critic, as well as the Chair for the Status of Women. She is the current Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Rail Caucus, in addition to the Vice-Chair of the Aerospace Caucus. More.


Gloria Gonzalez

  • Event: Friday, Concurrent Sessions 1, CLIMATE: Here Comes the Flood, 11:00 a.m.
  • Gloria Gonzalez, an SEJ board member, is Deputy Editor of Business Insurance magazine where she covers environmental and workplace safety issues. She was previously Senior Editor at Crain Communications and News Editor at Ecosystem Marketplace where she reported and wrote stories for Ecosystem Marketplace's website and contributed to the "State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets" and "State of the Forest Carbon Markets" reports. Prior to joining the Ecosystem Marketplace team, Gloria was the Americas Editor of Environmental Finance and Carbon Finance magazines. Gloria graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in magazine journalism and political science.


Vanessa and Lindsay Gray

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 3, Canada's Chemical Valley: From Toxic to Green? 7:00 a.m.
  • Vanessa and Lindsay Gray, two young sisters in their 20s, have become the next generation of activists on the Aamjiwnaang reserve. In their early years, they started by doing nature surveys. Next, they became experienced protesters fighting the Enbridge Pipeline. Vanessa and Lindsay have been working with community members to bring awareness about environmental racism and health issues resulting from their reserve’s toxic surroundings. They are organizers with Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines. Vanessa is also working with Ecojustice to probe excessive flaring. They are regular guides on the Toxic Tour of the reserve. They have also been involved in a theatrical production called the Chemical Valley Project.


Paul Gross

  • Event: Wednesday, All-Day Journalism Workshop 3, Telling Climate Change Stories that Matter: From Impacts to Solutions, 8:30 a.m.
  • Paul H. Gross is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist at WDIV Local 4 Detroit. He studied meteorology at the University of Michigan Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Science. Paul has been awarded nine Emmys by the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences, and his 2014 live, 45-minute climate change webcast that aired on earned a first-place award from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. A court-qualified expert in meteorology, Paul also consults with the legal community in litigation involving meteorology and has testified in nearly four dozen trials since 1986. Paul also follows the science of global warming very carefully, and frequently gives lectures to share the scientific truth about Earth's changing climate.



Susan Hassol

  • Event: Wednesday, All-Day Journalism Workshop 3, Telling Climate Change Stories that Matter: From Impacts to Solutions, 8:30 a.m.
  • Susan Hassol is a climate change communicator, analyst and author known for her ability to translate science into English, making complex issues accessible to a wide variety of audiences for three decades. She helps scientists communicate more effectively and provides clear information on climate change to journalists and others. Susan has written and edited numerous high-level reports, including the first three U.S. National Climate Assessments. She has testified before the U.S. Senate, written an HBO documentary, provides advice internationally, addresses influential audiences and writes popular articles. Susan was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012 for her "exceptional contributions to the communication of climate change science to policymakers and the public." See


Barry Hill

  • Event: Friday, Lunch Plenary, Tracking Trump: Environmental Rollbacks and Legal Challenges, 12:15 p.m.
  • Barry E. Hill is a Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Law Institute, and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Vermont Law School, where he has taught an environmental justice course for more than 20 years. Professor Hill is the author of the four editions of his textbook/handbook, "Environmental Justice: Legal Theory and Practice," that is used at law schools and graduate schools throughout the U.S. He has authored more than 25 articles in professional and scholarly journals. He was the Director of the Office of Environmental Justice at the U.S. EPA from 1998-2007. Professor Hill has lectured in the Middle East, Africa, South and Central America, and the Caribbean islands on a variety of environmental law and policy topics. He is the recipient of distinguished achievement awards in environmental law and policy, and a distinguished alumni award for his teaching, research and leadership related to environmental justice and sustainable development in the U.S. and abroad. He received a BA in Political Science from Brooklyn College; a MA in political science at Howard University; and a JD from the Cornell University Law School.


Mary Hoff

  • Event: Friday, Concurrent Sessions 2, THE CRAFT 2: How to Freelance and Not Go Broke, 2:00 p.m.
  • Mary Hoff is editor in chief of Ensia, an independent, nonprofit magazine presenting new perspectives on environmental challenges and solutions to a global audience. She has more than two decades' experience helping to improve understanding, appreciation and stewardship of our environment through print and online media. She holds a bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of Wisconsin and a master's degree in mass communication with a science communication emphasis from the University of Minnesota.



John Jackson

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 5, Sail the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay, 8:00 a.m.
  • John Jackson has worked with citizens' groups for the past 35 years, with a focus on Great Lakes issues, waste management issues, water quality and quantity issues, cleanup of toxics hot spots in the Great Lakes, and public participation and consultation. Since 2014, John has been a member of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board, a chief advisory body to the International Joint Commission (IJC). In this role he has been the leader in the board's investigation of PBDEs in the Great Lakes basin with a focus on policies to address issues with the chemicals. John worked with Great Lakes United (GLU), a coalition of citizens' groups in Canada and the U.S., for 30 years. He was responsible for GLU's programs on nuclear issues, including radioactive waste, water quality and water quantity; and binational issues, including the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin Sustainable Waters Agreement. He lives in Kitchener, Ontario.



Joe Kelpinski

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 4, The Shape of Water... and Milk and Beer! 7:30 a.m.
  • Joe Kelpinski is the program manager for the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). Joe’s responsibilities within this program include managing the day-to-day operations of the program, overseeing grants with local conservation districts, working with the MAEAP partners to continue to improve, promote and evaluate the program, and working with communication and technical committees within the program to address issues and review MAEAP standards within the MAEAP systems. Additional responsibilities include working with partners to identify opportunities and challenges for the MAEAP program. Joe is a graduate of Michigan State University. He began his career as an agriculture agent with Michigan State University Extension in Genesee County for five years. From there he spent five years as a regional swine agent in the six counties of the thumb region, focusing on environmental management and manure utilization on swine farms. Joe left that position to become one of the two initial verifiers in the MAEAP program in 2001, and worked in that capacity before becoming the MAEAP program manager in November of 2014.


Detlef Knappe

  • Event: Friday, Concurrent Sessions 2, WATER: PFAS Contamination, 2:00 p.m.
  • Detlef Knappe is the S. James Ellen Distinguished Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at NC State University. In 1985, he moved from a small Black Forest town in Germany to a small prairie town in Illinois, where he began his undergraduate studies at Highland Community College. In 1996, he received his PhD degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and joined the Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Current efforts in the Knappe research group focus on (1) developing and evaluating physical-chemical (and sometimes biological) treatment processes for the control of contaminants in drinking water, and (2) overcoming gaps between the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act by developing information about the effects of reactive and unregulated wastewater contaminants on drinking water quality and treatment. Detlef was recently selected to serve on the Science Advisory Board of the NC Departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services. He also serves as Trustee for the Water Science and Research Division of the American Water Works Association.


Chuck Kutscher

  • Event: Wednesday, All-Day Journalism Workshop 3, Telling Climate Change Stories that Matter: From Impacts to Solutions, 8:30 a.m.
  • Charles F. (Chuck) Kutscher is a Fellow of the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, a joint institute between the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). He served as the Director of the Buildings and Thermal Sciences Center at NREL from 2013 until his retirement in 2018. He has worked in the field of renewable energy for over four decades, during which time he has led research in solar heating and cooling, building energy efficiency, solar industrial process heat, geothermal power and concentrating solar power. He is a Fellow of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and served as the Society's chair in 2000 and 2001. He led the ASES study, "Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.", a 200-page report detailing how energy efficiency and six renewable energy technologies can greatly reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 2030. He is the lead author of the third edition of the college textbook, "Principles of Sustainable Energy Systems." He obtained a B.S. in physics from the State University of New York at Albany, an M.S. in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder.



Theresa Landrum

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 6, Gasoline, Garbage and Greenery in Detroit, 8:30 a.m.
  • Theresa Landrum, community organizer and activist, has been fighting against environmental injustices for over fifteen years. She is co-founder of the 48217 Community and Environmental Health Organization, a resident-based advocacy group that fights heavy polluting industries' encroachment on residential neighborhoods. Landrum is a member of the Sierra Club (a national organization fighting to restore the Great Lakes and protect the environment). She is acting Community Communications Liaison for the Original United Citizens of Southwest Detroit and a member of the Community Advisory Panel (CAP) at the Marathon Petroleum Corporation. Landrum is one of Southwest Detroit 48217's (an area the U.S. EPA deems as the most polluted zip code in Michigan) most outspoken community activists, where she promotes "Green Jobs, Less Emissions" for a cleaner environment.


Dolores Leonard

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 6, Gasoline, Garbage and Greenery in Detroit, 8:30 a.m.
  • Dolores V. Leonard has been a resident of Detroit's 48217 zip code community since 1955, with an environmental justice avocation since 1998. She is a retired educator and community activist.


Nick Leonard

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 6, Gasoline, Garbage and Greenery in Detroit, 8:30 a.m.
  • Nick Leonard worked with the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center as an Equal Justice Works fellow from 2014 to 2016. His fellowship project focused on providing transactional legal services to individuals, nonprofit corporations and for-profit businesses engaged in urban agriculture in Detroit. During the course of his project, he frequently worked on real estate transactions, lending transactions, land use and zoning, and entity formation for Detroit's burgeoning urban agriculture community. After transitioning to his role as staff attorney at the conclusion of his fellowship, Nick has worked on environmental justice issues in Detroit, with a specific focus on Clean Air Act permitting, hazardous and solid waste management, and local environmental policy. Nick received his bachelor of arts from Kalamazoo College and his juris doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. More.


Eric Lipton

  • Event: Friday, Lunch Plenary, Tracking Trump: Environmental Rollbacks and Legal Challenges, 12:15 p.m.
  • Event: Friday, Concurrent Sessions 2, NATION: Science in the Trump Administration, 2:00 p.m.
  • Eric Lipton is an investigative reporter in the Washington Bureau of The New York Times, where he writes about federal regulatory policy during the Trump administration particularly as it relates to energy and the environment. He is a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, most recently in 2017 for foreign reporting when he was part of a team of reporters from The New York Times that wrote about Russian hacking of the 2016 election. He also won a Pulitzer in 2015 for investigative journalism, based on a series of stories about the boom in lobbying of state attorneys general. Before moving to Washington, he was based in the City Hall bureau of The Times, covering the final term of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani as well as the 2001 attacks. He is co-author of “City in the Sky, the Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center,” a book about the conception, design, construction, destruction and cleanup of the towers. Before joining The Times, Lipton spent five years each at The Washington Post and The Hartford Courant. While at The Courant, he and a colleague won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism for their stories about the flaw in the main mirror of the Hubble Space Telescope. Lipton started his daily newspaper career in 1987 at a small New Hampshire paper, The Valley News. He received a B.A. in philosophy and history from the University of Vermont.


Ada Lockridge

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 3, Canada's Chemical Valley: From Toxic to Green? 7:00 a.m.
  • Ada Lockridge is a member of Aamjiwnaang First Nation, an activist and a long-time client of Ecojustice, which represents Ada in the challenge against the Ontario government's failure to review how it regulates air pollution in a timely manner. Ada is contesting the Ontario government's ongoing approval of air pollution without considering cumulative effects in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, home to 40 percent of Canada's petrochemical industry. Chemical Valley exposes Ada's community to a range of harmful air pollutants, including cancer-causing benzene and chemicals known to cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems.



Elaine MacDonald

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 3, Canada's Chemical Valley: From Toxic to Green? 7:00 a.m.
  • Dr. Elaine MacDonald joined Ecojustice in 1999 and is an environmental engineer who applies her expertise to work related to the Great Lakes, air and water quality and oil sands operations. She leads the Environmental Health team at Ecojustice and challenges all levels of government to protect every Canadian &emdash; especially children &emdash; from illnesses related to harmful chemicals. She has spent many years working on cases in Sarnia to reduce the cumulative effects of toxic chemicals.


Edward Maibach

  • Event: Wednesday, All-Day Journalism Workshop 3, Telling Climate Change Stories that Matter: From Impacts to Solutions, 8:30 a.m.
  • Edward Maibach, PhD is a Distinguished University Professor at George Mason University, and Director of Mason's Center for Climate Change Communication. Ed's research — funded by NSF, NASA and private foundations — focuses on public engagement in climate change. He was a member of the federal committee that conducted the 3rd National Climate Assessment (released in 2014), and he co-chaired the committee's Engagement & Communication Working Group. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Ed earned his PhD in communication science at Stanford University, his MPH at San Diego State University, and his BA at University of California, San Diego. Previously, he has served as Associate Director of the National Cancer Institute, Worldwide Director of Social Marketing at Porter Novelli, and Board Chairman for Kidsave International.


Nicholas Mandros

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 2, Cruisin' Ground Zero: The Western Lake Erie Shoreline, 6:30 a.m.
  • Nick Mandros, a Toledo native, is the Ohio Environmental Council's Regional Director for northwest Ohio. His work crosses each of the OEC's policy issues but has recently been focused on nutrient-laden runoff contributing to toxic harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie. Prior to working at the OEC, Nick was an executive staffer for the Lucas County Commissioners in Toledo when a toxin in the drinking water caused half a million people to be without access to clean water for three days in 2014. Nick takes a local approach to solving environmental issues and works with business and community leaders to strengthen state and local policies that impact water quality, renewable energy and protections for public lands.


Michael Mann

  • Event: Wednesday, All-Day Journalism Workshop 3, Telling Climate Change Stories that Matter: From Impacts to Solutions, 8:30 a.m.
  • Michael E. Mann, PhD is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC). Dr. Mann received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in Physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University. His research involves the use of theoretical models and observational data to better understand Earth's climate system. Dr. Mann is author of more than 200 peer-reviewed and edited publications, numerous op-eds and commentaries, and four books including "Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change," "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines," "The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy" and "The Tantrum that Saved the World."


Sandy Marshall

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 3, Canada's Chemical Valley: From Toxic to Green? 7:00 a.m.
  • A.J. (Sandy) Marshall is a chemical engineer who started his professional career in 1984 with Polysar Inc., a Canadian rubber manufacturer and has spent over 30 years in the chemical and polymers industry. He retired as President for Lanxess Canada and is now Executive Director of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) and CEO of the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance. At BIC, he has actively recruited new companies in green chemistry, and partnered with industry and government in key alliances to advance the bio-based chemical industry for Canada.


Stephanie McClellan

  • Event: Friday, Concurrent Sessions 2, ENERGY: U.S. Offshore Wind Power Catches a Tailwind, 2:00 p.m.
  • Stephanie McClellan is the Director of the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind (SIOW), a globally recognized, US offshore wind energy policy and communications program. The SIOW is non-commercial and philanthropy-funded, and is administratively housed in the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. McClellan's work has extended from Massachusetts to North Carolina, the nearest-term offshore wind energy markets in the United States, providing cutting-edge policy and cost analysis, building a knowledge bridge between state governments, the federal government and the global offshore wind industry. Through her established leadership and convening ability, McClellan also advances collaboration within the US offshore wind sector. Prior to launching the Special Initiative in Offshore Wind in 2013, McClellan was the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach for the Google-backed Atlantic Wind Connection. McClellan joined the offshore wind sector after her work on offshore wind began as Policy Director for former Delaware Governor Jack Markell. She holds a Ph.D. and Master's degree in public policy from the University of Delaware.


Michael McKay

  • Event: Saturday, Concurrent Sessions 4, The Global Rise of HABs: Climate Change, Poor Land Use and Other Common Denominators Spurring Deadly Algal Growth Across the World, 10:45 a.m.
  • As a regional expert working on harmful algal blooms (HABs), Robert Michael McKay was pressed into action and helped lead the scientific response to the 2014 Toledo Water Crisis following contamination of Toledo's water supply by cyanobacterial toxins. With the crisis still unfolding, McKay coordinated sampling efforts with NOAA and worked with the DOE-Joint Genome Institute and the University of Tennessee to coordinate environmental genomic analysis of the HAB. Coinciding with the scientific response, McKay was active communicating issues related to the crisis to a concerned public through television, print press and social media, and serving on regional panels. He co-organized the symposium Global Solutions to Regional Problems: Collecting Global Expertise to Address the Problem of Harmful Algal Blooms held at BGSU in April 2015. This international symposium provided a forum to share ideas and learn from approaches used around the globe related to HABs and their mitigation. McKay has also worked closely with federal legislators to address issues of water quality in Lake Erie, including the office of Congressman Bob Latta (OH 5th District) to pass H.R. 212, The Drinking Water Protection Act, legislation aimed at addressing the persistent blooms of cyanobacteria that negatively affect Ohio’s most important natural resource.


Terry Miller

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 5, Sail the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay, 8:00 a.m.
  • Terry Miller, a native of Bay County, has a BS and MA from Central Michigan University and an MAT from Saginaw Valley State University. He taught in Saginaw City Public Schools for 30 years, and has taught Western Civilization and Recent American History at Delta College for the past 19 years. In 1978, he and four other residents of Bay City founded the Lone Tree Council, a non-profit environmental group that was formed to oppose the Midland Nuclear Power plant. With the power plant’s cancellation, the group continued to promote cleanup of watershed contamination; defend both coastal and inland wetlands; and, most recently, educate on global climate change. Lone Tree Council’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) first publicized the extent of dioxin contamination in the Tittabawassee River and floodplain, and today he serves on the leadership team of the Community Advisory Group (CAG) that oversees the Dow/U.S. EPA/DEQ cleanup. He is also on the Board of Directors of BaySail, Inc., a Bay City-based non-profit that conducts environmental education on its two schooners, and the Michigan Environmental Council, a state-based coalition of over 70 organizations.



San Juana Olivares

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 9, Flint: Environmental Injustice in Context, 10:00 a.m.
  • San Juana "Juani" Olivares, a Flint resident, is the President and CEO of the Genesee County Hispanic and Latino Collaborative (GCHLC). When the Flint Water Crisis began, Juani asked Spanish-speaking families in Flint, Michigan what they knew about the crisis. She found most of the undocumented community didn't understand or have any knowledge of the situation. The resources that were initially made available required a valid ID or license, and documentation, which was impossible for the undocumented to obtain. Realizing there was a need that no one had addressed, Juani left her position as the Executive Director of the Flint Hispanic Technology Center to assist these people. She led volunteer efforts to find clean water for them; accepted bottled water donations; researched information on lead; spoke with local, state and federal government officials and national organizations. She was invited to New York to speak with the United Nations Board and to Washington DC to speak with government officials about the impact of the Flint water crisis on people, and the lack of information in Spanish or other languages. She set up Health Clinics for the people of Flint to receive free blood testing and signed up those that qualified for insurance.



Lisa Palmer

  • Event: Friday, Concurrent Sessions 2, GLOBE: Reporting Beyond Our Borders: Funding and Navigating International Trips, 2:00 p.m.
  • Over two decades in national and international media gives author and journalist Lisa Palmer a global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. Her award-winning coverage of science, nature and sustainability has been published by The Guardian, Scientific American, The New Republic, Yale E360, Slate, the Nature journals, Climate Connections and The New York Times, among many others. She is the author of "HOT, HUNGRY PLANET: The Fight to Stop a Global Food Crisis in the Face of Climate Change" (St. Martin's Press; 2017). She is a senior fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, where she researches and writes about complex environmental stories through long-form storytelling and documentary film production. She is a two-time grantee of the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation and was a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center 2014-2015. She is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, the National Association of Science Writers and the D.C. Science Writers Association.



Carrie Rivette

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 4, The Shape of Water... and Milk and Beer! 7:30 a.m.
  • Carrie Rivette is Stormwater Manager for the City of Grand Rapids. Carrie is a Professional Engineer with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering from Michigan Technological University. She has over 20 years of experience in the environmental and water resources field. Currently, she is Chair of the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds.


Tik Root


John Rumpler

  • Event: Saturday, Concurrent Sessions 4, The Global Rise of HABs: Climate Change, Poor Land Use and Other Common Denominators Spurring Deadly Algal Growth Across the World, 10:45 a.m.
  • John Rumpler, Senior Director, Clean Water for America Campaign and Senior Attorney. John directs Environment America's work to protect our rivers, lakes, streams and drinking water. He has co-authored several research reports — including Get the Lead Out, Fracking by the Numbers, and Corporate Agribusiness and the Fouling of America's Waterways. John has also testified before Congress on enforcement of clean water laws. His current efforts include defending the Clean Water Act, curbing pollution from factory farms and working to "Get the Lead Out" of drinking water. Prior to his position at Environment America, John represented community organizations in public interest and environmental law. He began his environmental activism at Tufts University in 1985, and then worked in various roles with the PIRGs before earning his law degree at Northeastern University School of Law in 1996. John lives and works in Boston. He enjoys cooking, tennis, chess and building sandcastles.



Rick Sadler

  • Event: Friday, Concurrent Sessions 1, NATION: From the Skyline to the Streets: Covering the Urban Environment Beat, 11:00 a.m.
  • Rick Sadler is a medical geographer by training and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Public Health at Michigan State University in Flint. His work is rooted in community partnerships and aimed at strengthening the understanding between the built environment and health behaviors/outcomes, with the goal of informing land use policy to build healthier cities. His work on the Flint Water Crisis has provided him with the opportunity to highlight and build on the evidence showing how deliberate disinvestment in cities and the creation of subsidies for suburbanization have contributed to (and will continue to influence) serious infrastructure and public health problems nationwide.


Dianne Saxe

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 3, Canada's Chemical Valley: From Toxic to Green? 7:00 a.m.
  • Dr. Dianne Saxe is the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), the province's watchdog over environmental, energy and climate performance. The ECO also acts as the guardian of the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR). Saxe is an environmental lawyer with 40 years of experience litigating Ontario's energy and environmental laws. She established one of Canada's environmental law boutiques and also worked for two major Bay Street law firms.


Zoe Schlanger


Lisa Song


Michael Staal

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 4, The Shape of Water... and Milk and Beer! 7:30 a.m.
  • Michael Staal is a project manager for the City of Grand Rapids, where he focuses on stormwater management, design of green infrastructure and management of Grand River Revitalization project. Michael was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI, and after graduating from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, he worked for six years at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District. Michael has a passion for educating and connecting with people and currently serves as the Chair of the Public Engagement Committee for the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds.


Meera Subramanian

  • Event: Wednesday, All-Day Journalism Workshop 3, Telling Climate Change Stories that Matter: From Impacts to Solutions, 8:30 a.m.
  • Event: Friday, Concurrent Sessions 1, CLIMATE 2: Climate and You: Change Hits Home, 11:00 a.m.
  • Event: Sunday, Book Slam, 11:00 a.m.
  • Meera Subramanian is a freelance journalist and former MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellow. Her first book, "A River Runs Again: India's Natural World in Crisis, from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka," was short-listed for the 2016 Orion Book Award. Covering environmental stories from biomass cookstoves to vulture extinction, her award-winning features have been published in Nature, The New York Times, The New, Orion and others. She is currently working on Finding Middle Ground, a series exploring perceptions of climate change across America for InsideClimate News. You can find her at and @meeratweets.


Nikhil Swaminathan

  • Event: Friday, Concurrent Sessions 2, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE: Diversity Within Environmental Groups: Has Anything Changed? 2:00 p.m.
  • Nikhil Swaminathan is the executive editor of Grist, the leading environmental news site. Previously, he led the publication's environmental justice coverage. He's held editorial positions at Scientific American, Al Jazeera America, GOOD, Archaeology and others. Prior to joining Grist, he was in the inaugural class of Ida B. Wells fellows at The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.



John Upton

  • Event: Saturday, Concurrent Sessions 3, CLIMATE: Blaming Climate Change for Disasters and Suffering, 9:00 a.m.
  • John Upton is a features journalist at Climate Central, which is a non-advocacy group based in New Jersey that researches and reports on the changing climate. Climate Central's journalism program collaborates with the nonprofit's scientists and researchers on joint journalism and research projects, and it partners with media outlets to produce and publish feature stories that are informed and guided by science. Upton studied science and business in Australia and previously worked as a journalist in California and India.



Scott Whitcomb

  • Event: Thursday, Tour 1, The Last Good Country: Lush Forests and "Holy Waters", 5:00 a.m.
  • Scott Whitcomb's earliest memories as a child were of the years spent at a DNR research cabin on High Island in Lake Michigan. Later in life his family lived in nearby Wolverine, Michigan, where he spent time recreating in the Pigeon River Country State Forest growing up. After earning a bachelor's degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University and a Master's degree in Wildlife Management from University of Maine, Scott spent five years in the Appalachians of southwest Virginia managing state wildlife areas for the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. He returned to Michigan in 1998, beginning work in the DNR as a biologist in Lansing working on special projects before being promoted to the statewide Public Lands Specialist for Wildlife Division. Scott transferred to the DNR's Forest Resources Division and moved back north to manage the Pigeon River County State Forest beginning in December of 2008. He has professional interests in public land administration, conservation biology and integrating recreation and resource management.


Steven Wilhelm

  • Event: Saturday, Concurrent Sessions 4, The Global Rise of HABs: Climate Change, Poor Land Use and Other Common Denominators Spurring Deadly Algal Growth Across the World, 10:45 a.m.
  • Steven Wilhelm is the Kenneth & Blaire Mossman Professor & Associate Head of the Department of Microbiology at The University of Tennessee. In 2016 he became a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology as well as a Sustaining Fellow of ASLO. In 2018 he was also named a James R. Cox Professor at the University of Tennessee. His group studies synergies between microbial communities and biogeochemical cycles in lakes and oceans. Lab members use biomolecular tools — DNA and RNA sequencing, metabolomics and PCR-based quantitative analyses — to study viruses, bacteria, cyanobacteria and eukaryotic algae. Research in the Wilhelm lab into harmful algal blooms stretches back over two decades, with ongoing collaborations in Australia, Canada, China, The Netherlands, Germany and Uruguay. In North America the group has focused on the Laurentian Great Lakes, but also has active projects examining bloom events in Florida. The lab is currently supported by grants from NSF, NOAA and the DOE to develop biomolecular approaches and models to describe environmental drivers of bloom events.


Rebecca Williams

  • Event: Saturday, Concurrent Sessions 3, WATER: Great Lakes: Perspective on Toxic Past and Binational Protection, 9:00 a.m.
  • Rebecca Williams is a senior editor and reporter at NPR affiliate Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor. She's been on the environment beat for 18 years at the station, and she was part of the team that covered the Flint water crisis. Rebecca has a degree in resource ecology and management from the University of Michigan, where she had close encounters with escaped boars and poison sumac. Before getting into radio, Rebecca snapped photos of Mongolian diatoms and published a few papers in obscure scientific journals. More.


Chris Winslow


Bernadette Woods Placky

  • Event: Wednesday, All-Day Journalism Workshop 3, Telling Climate Change Stories that Matter: From Impacts to Solutions, 8:30 a.m.
  • Bernadette Woods Placky is an Emmy Award-winning meteorologist and director of Climate Central's Climate Matters program. Before coming to Climate Central, Bernadette spent 11 years as a TV weather forecaster. Her most recent station was WJZ in Baltimore, where she earned an Emmy for "Best Weathercaster." Bernadette has a B.S. in Meteorology and a minor in French from Penn State University, where she is a steering committee member for MAPS (Meteorology Alumni of Penn State) and currently serves on the Graduates of Earth and Mineral Sciences (GEMS) Board. She carries the American Meteorological Society certification and is currently serving on several AMS Committees.