2013 Speaker Profiles
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
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.”
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.
World-Renowned Lepidopterist, Field Biologist and Author
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.