2013 Speaker Profiles

Carl Safina
Author, environmentalist and PBS series host

Audubon magazine named Carl Safina among its "100 Notable Conservationists of the 20th Century." Host of PBS' Saving The Ocean, Carl Safina has documented marine environments around the world. Author of several books, his writing explores the scientific, moral, and social dimensions of our relationship with nature, and has been awarded such distinctions as the New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Los Angeles Times "Best Nonfiction," Library Journal's "Best Science Book," Lannan Literary Award, John Burroughs Medal, and the National Academies' "Year's Best Book for communicating science." Carl is a recipient of the Pew Scholar's Award in Conservation and the Environment, a MacArthur "genius" Prize, Pew and Guggenheim Fellowships and numerous other honors. Safina is founding president of Blue Ocean Institute at Stony Brook University, where he also co-chairs the University’s Center for Communicating Science.  Learn more HERE >>

Environmentalist and Comedian

Pete Dominick is a standup comedian who is the host of the popular Stand Up with Pete Dominick on the POTUS Channel at Sirius XM Radio. In March 2010, Dominick began appearing as a correspondent on CNN's John King, USA, in a segment called "Pete on the Street". Dominick's weekend show What the Week premiered on CNN in October 2010. He currently appears on CNN’s day programming as a commentator. He has also worked as the warm-up personality for The Stephen Colbert Show and the Daily Show. Dominick consistently tries to avoid political labels, insisting that callers speak to the issues without pigeonholing themselves with labels that do not contribute anything meaningful other than partisan divisions. He also encourages listeners to challenge him "through conversation on important issues." Dominick also closes each radio show telling his listening audience to "think for yourself," to "check your sources" and to "always question what you hear."

File 29588Dr. Mitchell Joachim

Architect, Planner and Futurist

Dr. Mitchell Joachim, Ph.D. is an architect and planner and Co-Founder and partner of the non-profit design group, Terreform 1. Mitchell Joachim earned a Ph.D at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MAUD Harvard University, M.Arch. Columbia University, BPS SUNY at Buffalo with Honors. Currently he is faculty at Columbia University and Parsons. Formerly an architect at Gehry Partners, Michael Sorkin Studio, and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. He has been awarded the Moshe Safdie and Assoc. Research Fellowship, and the Martin Family Society Fellow for Sustainability at MIT. He won the History Channel and Infiniti Design Excellence Award for the City of the Future, New York and Time Magazine Best Invention of the Year 2007, Compacted Car w/ MIT Smart Cities Group. His project, Fab Tree Hab, has been exhibited at MoMA and widely published. He was selected by Wired magazine for "The 2008 Smart List: 15 People the Next President Should Listen To". Rolling Stone magazine recently honored Mitchell as an agen​t of change in "The 100 People Who Are Changing America."


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Juan Martinez
Nature Leader Network
Juan Martinez, Children & Nature Network’s national Natural Leaders Network Coordinator and Lets G.O.! (Get Outside) Co-Chair, is the recipient of numerous national awards and honors. As a leader of C&NN's Natural Leaders Initiative, he inspires young people internationally to become leaders in the children and nature movement. Juan also serves as Youth Coordinator for Sierra Club's Building Bridges to the Outdoors. Juan Martinez is planting seeds as a national spokesman for the importance of getting youth into the outdoors, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. He attends White House forums, advises the U.S. Department of the Interior on plans to create a youth conservation corps, serves as National Youth Volunteer Coordinator for the Sierra Club, and organizes youth delegations to conferences on green jobs and outdoor experiences. Above all, he focuses on inspiring and nurturing grassroots action by the 15- to 29-year-old “Millennial” generation. To that end, he spearheads the Natural Leaders Network of the Children & Nature Network, an organization creating links between environmental organizations, corporations, government, education, and individuals to reconnect children with nature. Martinez sees the power of nature every day, from teaching neighbors to start gardens and songbird areas to leading inner-city kids on wilderness adventures. “Some kids on my trips have been in foster care their whole lives, feeling very disconnected from other people. Suddenly they’re out in the backcountry relying on each other. Nature can be a real facilitator for skills that are so crucial in life—communicating, working together, and realizing you can do things you never thought you could (like hiking six rough miles in one day). I take kids who have been abused, heavily medicated for behavior problems, violent, distrustful, but after a few days outdoors they’re sharing feelings and fears, laughing, and thinking like a team. You may be able to see the stars through a computer screen or book, but it’s nothing like lying on the grass looking up at the Milky Way. ... I realized the reason I love nature is because I love people. I thrive on connecting them with the outdoors and watching it change their lives. If I accepted a job that took me away from my community, I’d be like so many other people who leave as soon as they have any success. I know South Central L.A. isn’t the nicest place; there’s still crime, but there’s beauty too. When I think back on the people who were here to step in for me at a critical moment, I want to make that same kind of difference.” Speaking to educators and nature organizations across the country, Martinez never forgets to champion those kids. “I remind groups that kids who raise their hands and want to be involved are great, probably born, leaders. But we also need to give the kids in detention, the ones who aren’t on the ‘good’ list, a chance. Sometimes just one person showing an interest and giving them an opportunity can change everything.”

File 29673

Dr. Mamie Parker
Biologist & Environmental Leadership Advocate

Dr. Mamie Parker, retired from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service in 2008 after nearly 30 years of service. While she last served as the Assistant Director, Fisheries and Habitat Conservation from 2003-2007, Dr. Parker has plied her trade at a number of Service facilities, starting as a fish health practitioner at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin. From there she went to the New London National Fish Hatchery and then a stint at the Green Bay Ecological Services Field Office before returning to the National Fish Hatchery at Lake Mills, Wisconsin. Never one to shy from something new, Dr. Parker worked in the Section 404 program and the Partners for Wildlife Program out of Columbia, Missouri, helping private landowners improve wildlife habitat. The north had its pull again on this native southerner; she eventually became the Regional Division Chief of Habitat Conservation and the ecosystem and NEPA coordinator for the Great Lakes – Big Rivers Regional Office in Minneapolis. Opportunity knocked to return south in 1996 to the Southeast Regional Office in Atlanta, where Dr. Parker served as the Deputy Geographic Assistant Regional Director, and Deputy Assistant Regional Director – Fisheries where she supervised Ecological Services, Fisheries offices and National Wildlife Refuges in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The road to leadership eventually wended its way to Washington in 1998. Dr. Parker served the Director’s Office as the Special Assistant, providing expert advice and analysis on national policies. In 1999, she became the Deputy Regional Director and eventually the Regional Director for the 13-state Northeast Region, in Hadley, Massachusetts, where she proved to be a strong advocate for employee development. Dr. Parker’s successes were recognized by her home state; Governor Mike Huckabee inducted her into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame. She also received the Service’s distinguished Ira Gabrielson Award given to one outstanding leader in the Service each year, and the Department of Interior Silver Award presented by the Secretary. Dr. Parker is a member of The Links, Incorporated; Rotary International; and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Relevant experiences pre-date Dr. Parker’s Service career. She is the youngest in a family of 11 children, and no matter how high she may rise, she will always look up to her employees and also her older siblings. It was only natural then that she should make mentoring a significant part of her management methods. Dr. Parker owes the greatest debt of gratitude to her favorite mentor, her mother Cora, the avid angler.

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Dr. Robert Michael Pyle

World-Renowned Lepidopterist, Field Biologist and Author

Place is what takes me out of myself, out of the limited scope of human activity, but this is not misanthropic. A sense of place is a way of embracing humanity among all of its neighbors. It is an entry into the larger world. -- Bob Pyle

Dr. Robert Michael Pyle is a world-renowned lepidopterist, field biologist and writer who has published twelve books and hundreds of papers, essays, stories and poems. He has a Ph.D. from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. In 1971, during a Fulbright Fellowship at the Monks Wood Experimental Station in England, Pyle founded the Xerces Society for invertebrate conservation, and later chaired its Monarch Project. He received a 1997 Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology. His acclaimed 1987 book Wintergreen describing the devastation caused by unrestrained logging in Washington's Willapa Hills near his adopted home was the winner of the 1987 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing. His 1995 book Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide was the subject of a Guggenheim Fellowship. His book, Sky Time in Grays River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place, was a Finalist for the 2008 Washington State Book Award for General Nonfiction.

National Geographic Young Explorer and Wildlife Photojournalist
The wild animals that I photograph—they are the inspiration. Plain and simple, we should be honored to share this Earth with them, and they need a voice in our human culture. --Joe Riis

Joe Riis (b. 1984) is a wildlife photojournalist, born and raised in South Dakota on the Great Plains. He completed his first feature for the Geographic at the age of 26, photographing the rarest bear in the world in Mongolia. Before that, he worked on two other Geographic feature stories. Riis approaches his work as a trained biologist and core conservationist, believing that photographs can give wild animals and places a voice in our culture. Riis established himself as a photojournalist during his pioneering work on the Grand Teton pronghorn migration, documenting the migration for the first time, and campaigning for 6 wildlife highway over and under passes which are now being built with a completion date in late 2012. Riis received an Emmy in 2011 for his pronghorn cinematography on the NG Great Migrations series. Riis lives alone in a cabin that he built on the prairie in South Dakota on his great grandparents homestead. Read More >>

File 29582

Rob Watson
Environmentalist, Innovator & Green Building Pioneer

Rob Watson, Chairman, CEO & Chief Scientist of The ECON Group and the “Founding Father” of the LEED Green Building Rating System, is described in Thomas Friedman’s 2008 book, Hot, Flat And Crowded, as “one of the best environmental minds in America.” As the National Chairman of the US Green Building Council LEED Steering Committee from 1994 to 2006, LEED became the most widespread and fastest-growing standard by which green buildings are measured worldwide. One of the pioneers of the modern green building movement, as Director of International Energy and Green Buildings Programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Rob worked for over twenty years on five continents improving the environmental performance of buildings, utilities and transportation through energy and building policy and program development, integrated design solutions, and clean building technologies. In 2007, Rob founded ETI to meet the demand for green building technologies and services in China, India and the U.S. The recipient of several national and international awards for green buildings, in 2002, Rob was named as the first recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership Award For Lifetime Achievement for his work as the “Father of LEED.” In 2004, China’s Ministry of Construction (MOC) recognized Rob with one of its first “Green Innovation” awards—the only foreign expert so honored—for his work on green buildings in China. Watson is the Executive Editor of GreenerBuildings.com where he blogs. His work on green buildings and green technology has been featured in numerous publications including Fortune Magazine and The Economist and referenced on numerous occasions by New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman.