Climate Change Planning & Response – Speaker Bios

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Climate Change and the News Initiative

May 11 – 12, 2015
National Adaptation Forum
St. Louis, Missouri

Alex Barron serves as deputy associate administrator for the Office of Policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to his current role, he served as a senior advisor in the Office of Policy, working on a broad range of policy issues. Prior to his appointments in the Office of Policy, Barron worked in Congress for several years, first as a fellow for Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and then as professional staff for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, focusing on energy and climate policy. Before coming to Washington, D.C., he was a visiting lecturer in biology and chemistry at Carleton College in Minnesota. Barron received a Doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University and graduated from Carleton College with a degree in chemistry.

Josh DeFlorio leads the climate risk and resilience practice at Cambridge Systematics, a national transportation consulting firm in New York. He is co-Principal Investigator for the Federal Highway Administration’s tri-State (NJ-NY-CT) transportation vulnerability and adaptation assessment, a key agency initiative to address climate change resilience in the Northeastern United States in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. DeFlorio recently managed climate change vulnerability and adaptation assessments for New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization/City of Austin, Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization in Tampa, Florida, and the Arizona Department of Transportation. For the Inter-American Development Bank, he recently led an eight-nation technical cooperation focused on building climate change resilience in the transport sector in Central America and the Caribbean. Prior to joining Cambridge Systematics, DeFlorio worked for the New York City Economic Development Corporation. He holds a masters degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jordan Fischbach is a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, co-director of the Water and Climate Resilience Center, and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He is leader in climate adaptation, water resources management, and coastal planning. Fischbach has expertise in risk analysis, exploratory simulation modeling, and Robust Decision Making, a method designed to better manage deep uncertainty and develop robust and adaptive plans through quantitative scenario analysis. He works with government agencies to better incorporate deep uncertainty into their long-term climate and water resources adaptation planning efforts. Fischbach is currently leading a pilot investigation of climate resilience in the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, with a focus on improved stormwater management. He is also the principal investigator for a storm surge and flood damage assessment for the State of Louisiana’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan using RAND’s Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment model and is co-leading a project to develop an integrated strategic plan for coastal investment in Jamaica Bay, Queens, after Hurricane Sandy. Fischbach was awarded a President’s Choice award at RAND in 2012. He earned a B.A. in history from Columbia University in 2001 and a Ph.D. in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School in 2010, where he was awarded the Herbert Goldhamer Memorial Award.

Bob Gough (Lenape/Irish descent) is an attorney with graduate degrees in sociology and cultural anthropology specializing in cultural ecology. He has worked with American Indian Tribes on cultural and natural resource issues over the past 40 years, particularly in the Great Lakes and Great Plains regions. He served as the first director of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Utility Commission, and as Secretary of the Intertribal Council On Utility Policy. Intertribal COUP was established to provide an informational forum on rights and resources for utility services on tribal lands with respect to regulatory authority, legislation, policy, and economic opportunity in telecommunications and energy development. He participated in tribal WAPA negotiations for Indian reservation allocations of federal hydroelectric power in the mid-1990s and in the congressionally mandated Sec. 2606 Tribal wind and federal hydropower integration feasibility study. Gough is a lead and contributing author on the National Climate Assessment (Indigenous Peoples, Lands and Resources-Chapter 12) and co-founded the Rising Voices of Indigenous Peoples in the Global Climate Conversation gatherings at NCAR. He co-directed the Native Wind Powering America, supporting COUP tribes to build sustainable reservation economies based upon renewable energy, served on the Western Governors’ Association’s Clean and Diversified Energy Advisory Committee seeking to develop 30,000 MWs of clean energy by 2015 in 18 western states, and is one of the architects of the Rosebud/COUP Intertribal Wind Energy Plan, which received the inaugural World Clean Energy Award in 2007. More recently he directed the UCAR/NOAA/NIDIS Tribal Engagement Training Program On Climate and Weather Related Issues in the Upper Great Plains, and is a certified emergency preparedness trainer in community resilience with FEMA’s National Disaster Preparedness Training Center. Gough maintains a private law practice on indigenous rights and has conducted outreach activities to the Native Alaskan and American Indian communities on behalf of the federal Wind Powering America program.

Gwen Griffith is a veterinarian turned environmental educator and conservationist. She applies her science and health training to promote ecosystem health at the landscape scale for people, animals and natural systems. Gwen serves as the Program Director for the Cumberland River Compact and Curriculum Director for Climate Solutions University Program, a national collaborative program of the Model Forest Policy Program and the Cumberland River Compact together with community leaders nationwide. The program has worked with 33 communities to develop and implement climate resilience plans with a focus on protection of human communities and the regional ecosystem services from forest and watershed resources. As program director for Compact, Griffith led the award winning EPA-funded Building-Outside-the-Box program and accomplished a number of high profile demonstrations sites of green building and low impact development, three of which individually received the Tennessee Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for Building Green. She also received the Educator of Year award from the U.S. Green Building Council Middle Tennessee Chapter and her program work helped stimulate a wave of green building across the middle Tennessee region. Prior to this, she worked in large animal medical practice, received a AAAS Congressional Science Fellowship with the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and AAAS Science and Diplomacy Fellowship with U.S. Agency for International Development, and was executive director of the Tennessee Environmental Council. Griffith received her D.V.M. from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine and her M.S. from Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine. She also completed the Envirovet Summer Institute on Ecotoxicology and Ecosystem Health.

Shalini Gupta is executive director for the Center for Earth Energy & Democracy. She has worked at numerous local, regional and national organizations on state/regional regulatory and legislative policy analysis and advocacy related to renewable energy and climate change issues. Her work has ranged from developing community-scale energy projects to international work in Kiel, Germany, and at Argonne National Laboratories where she analyzed sources of atmospheric organic pollutants from urban and industrial sites in China. Gupta was a 2006 National Environmental Leadership Fellow and a 2008 Archibald Bush Leadership Fellow. She also served on the technical working group of the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group, was a Governor appointee to Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Board, and is a current appointee to the Minneapolis Environmental Advisory Commission. She conducts environmental and energy justice workshops with numerous grassroots groups, and served on the Board of Directors of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice. Gupta holds a B.S. in the geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago and a Master’s degree in environmental management from Yale University.

Kimberly Hall is a climate change ecologist and terrestrial resilience project manager for The Nature Conservancy on the North America Science Team in the LANDFIRE Program (Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools Project). She is a trained landscape and forest ecologist and has spent most of the past decade researching risks to nature and people associated with climate change. She manages a TNC climate change resilience mapping project focused on the Great Lakes and Great Plains regions of the U.S., collaborating with colleagues across the Conservancy on strategies and tools for climate change adaptation. From 2008 to 2014, she was part of the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy team for the Conservancy’s Great Lakes Project, which works with partners to restore and maintain the Great Lakes system. She has worked with the Conservancy team that developed NatureServe’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index and contributed to updates of the Conservancy’s guidance on how to conduct regional-scale conservation planning. Recently, she was part of a group organized by the National Wildlife Federation to develop comprehensive guidance on best practices in climate change adaptation and she currently represents the Conservancy on the Federal Advisory Committee for USGS’s Climate Science Centers & the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, and she serves on the Program Committee for the National Adaptation Forum. Prior to joining the Conservancy in 2008, she received her Master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and conducted research focused on understanding connections between forest conditions and habitat quality for migratory songbirds in northern forests. She holds adjunct faculty positions at Michigan State University in the Departments of Forestry and Fisheries & Wildlife.

Lara J. Hansen is chief scientist and executive director of EcoAdapt, which she co-created in 2008. She is co-author and editor of one of the earliest texts on the issue of natural system adaptation to climate change, Buying Time: A User’s Manual for Building Resistance and Resilience to Climate Change in Natural Systems, as well as co-author of one of the newest books on adaptation, Climate Savvy: Adapting Conservation and Resource Management to a Changing World. The team that created these books created an engaged stakeholder process (first known as Climate Camp; now known as Awareness to Action Workshops) to help resource managers create adaptation strategies applicable to their work. Hansen serves on the unfairly maligned, vitally important Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is a Switzer Environmental Fellow and a United States Environmental Protection Agency Bronze Medalist. Prior to creating EcoAdapt, she was the chief climate change scientist for the World Wildlife Fund, creating their international Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Program, from 2001-2008, and a Research Ecologist with the Environmental Protection Agency from 1998-2001. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis, in ecology and her B.A. in biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Sara Pollock Hoverter is a senior fellow at the Harrison Institute for Public Law at Georgetown Law. Her areas of concentration are climate change and public health, including adaptation to urban heat islands, green infrastructure as a tool to manage stormwater, and helping school districts make school food more healthful, regional, and sustainable. Within the field of climate change and public health, Hoverter works primarily with state and local governments to help them protect their most vulnerable residents from the public health and environmental impacts of heat and intense precipitation in urban areas. Her education includes a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. and an LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Katharine Jacobs is director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS) and professor in the department of soil, water and environmental science at the University of Arizona. CCASS, within the Institute of the Environment, builds and supports climate change adaptation and assessment capacity at regional, national and international scales, based on climate science and service investments within the University. From 2010 to 2013, Jacobs served as an assistant director in the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President. She was the director of the National Climate Assessment, leading a team of 300 authors and more than 1,000 contributors who wrote the Third NCA report. Jacobs also was the lead advisor on water science and policy and climate adaptation within OSTP. Prior to her work in the White House, Jacobs was the executive director of the Arizona Water Institute from 2006-2009, leading the consortium of the three state universities focused on water-related research, education and technology transfer in support of water supply sustainability. She has served on eight National Research Council panels and was chair of the NRC panel on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change and a member of the panel on America’s Climate Choices. She has more than 20 years of experience as a water manager for the Arizona’s Department of Water Resources, including 14 years as director of the Tucson Active Management Area. Her research interests include water policy, connecting science and decision making, stakeholder engagement, use of climate information for water management applications, climate change adaptation, and drought planning. Jacobs earned her M.L.A. in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Jennifer Jurado is director of Broward County’s Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division with responsibilities that include county-wide water resource policy and planning, advancement of the County’s regional climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, administration of shoreline protection, marine resource management, and urban lands enhancement programs, and environmental monitoring. Since joining the County in 2002, a primary emphasis has been the coordination of multi-jurisdictional initiatives focused on water conservation, alternative water supply planning, and climate resiliency strategies. She is an original member of the Staff Steering Committee to the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, a four-county collaboration focused on regional climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. Jurado was a major contributor to the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on Climate Resilience and Preparedness, Built Systems Work Group and was an invited speaker by the U.S. Embassy in France on Climate Adaptation and Coastal Protection. In 2013, she was recognized by the White House for leadership in climate resilience.  Jurado earned her Ph.D. in marine biology and fisheries from the University of Miami.

Kate Meis is the executive director of the Local Government Commission. She is a recognized leader in combating climate change in California, advising on key state initiatives, helping to catalyze regional adaptation efforts and developing new statewide education and assistance programs including the first California Adaptation Forum, the California Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative and the Governor’s Initiative CivicSpark AmeriCorps program.

Nicholas B. Rajkovich, Ph.D., AIA, is an assistant professor in the Department of Architecture at the University at Buffalo. His research investigates the intersection of green buildings and adaptation to climate change. Prior to earning a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from the University of Michigan, he was a senior program engineer at the Pacific Gas & Electric Company Customer Energy Efficiency Department. At PG&E, he was responsible for energy efficiency and renewable energy strategic planning. He was also chair of the San Francisco American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment. Rajkovich has a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University. He is a licensed architect, member of the American Institute of Architects, and a U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional.

Erika Spanger-Siegfried is a senior analyst in the Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, where she manages UCS’s coastal and Mountain West climate impacts projects, designed to shed light through new research and outreach on ongoing local impacts, current efforts to cope, and the urgency of high-level action. She also managed the Energy-Water Initiative, a multi-year program aimed at raising awareness of the energy-water connection, particularly in the context of climate change, and motivating and informing effective low-carbon and low-water energy solutions. Spanger-Siegfried formerly managed the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment, a collaboration between UCS and a multi-disciplinary team of more than 50 scientists from across the region that explored future climate change in the Northeast states and the impacts on key sectors. Prior to joining UCS in 2005, Spanger-Siegfried was an associate scientist at the U.S. Center of the Stockholm Environment Institute, where her work focused on understanding and building the adaptive capacity of vulnerable populations and sectors in developing countries. Earlier in her career, she worked with the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s environmental laboratories. She has served on several relevant advisory bodies, including the Massachusetts’ Climate Change Adaptation Advisory Committee. Spanger-Siegfried has an M.S. in energy and environmental analysis from Boston University and a B.S. in fisheries biology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Ed Thomas is a floodplain manager, disaster response and recovery specialist, and a practicing attorney. His primary concern is the prevention of misery to disaster victims, the public purse, and the environment. Hazard mitigation and climate adaptation through advocacy and development of locally orientated policies and procedures with a strong economic, moral and legal foundation is his chosen method of accomplishing this goal. Thomas is the president of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association, an elected member of both the Fellows of the American Bar Association Foundation and the Council of the State and Local Government Section of the American Bar Association. He is also the chair of the Hazards Sub-Committee of the Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee of the American Bar Association. Thomas serves on the Advisory Committee of the Natural Hazards Center of the University of Colorado and is an active member of the American Planning Association, the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, and the Association of State Wetland Managers. During his 35-year career with Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he closely worked with state and local government on community development and disaster recovery issues. He specialized in pre- and post-disaster risk reduction initiatives and served as the President’s on-scene representative, the Federal Coordinating Officer, dozens of times. Thomas has appeared as an expert witness on many occasions, including providing testimony before the Colorado Water Conservation Board. He is a frequent lecturer on emergency management issues, especially the Constitutional and Legal Aspects of Floodplain Regulations and he has authored dozens of publications and articles on various disaster-related issues. Thomas has been declared a “National Treasure” and has received numerous national and international awards including the nation’s highest award for Floodplain Management from the Association of State Floodplain Managers.

This program was underwritten by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, with significant in-kind support provided by  the National Adaptation Forum.

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