Note: Additional bios of speakers and panelists to be added periodically.
Grace Akumu, Lead Author, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 4th Assessment Report, and Environmental Activist, Climate Network Africa, Nairobi, Kenya
Oct. 15, 2009 — We sincerely regret that a benign, but unforeseen, visa-application contingency has occurred in Nairobi, and is likely to prevent Ms. Akumu from attending.
Grace Akumu is an accomplished environmentalist with eighteen years’ work experience not only as a policy analyst in climate change and the Kyoto Protocol, but as a person who also excels in campaigns, advocacy, and lobbying for environmental causes at national, regional, and international levels. Ms. Akumu has campaigned for community empowerment, rights, and justice.
In 2004, Ms. Akumu was nominated for the second time to be one of the Lead Authors of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 2004 to 2007 and in November 2007, the IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The IPCC Secretariat in recognition of the Lead Authors’ efforts, shared the Nobel Peace Laureate Certificate with all the Lead Authors, including Ms. Akumu. From 1998 to 2001, Ms. Akumu had the privilege to be one of the Lead Authors of the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC. In 2005, Ms. Akumu was elected Chairman of the National Governing Council of the NEPAD-African Peer Review Mechanism, Kenya, by all stakeholders (civil society, private sector, and government), where she steered the process by providing leadership, direction setting, and policy guidance to the national multistakeholder Peer Review Mechanism in four thematic areas of good governance, namely: socio-economic development, corporate governance, economic management, and political and democratic governance.
Glenn Albrecht, Professor of Sustainability, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia
Glenn Albrecht undertakes internationally relevant transdisciplinary research in the domain of sustainability and ecosystem health and has also produced research papers/publications in environmental history, transdisciplinarity, sustainability, environmental politics, environmental and animal ethics. Dr Albrecht has publications in international refereed journals where the focus of his work has been complexity in relation to human and ecosystem health. In 2001, with co-authors, he produced a major international publication: Health Social Science: A Transdisciplinary and Complexity Perspective with Oxford University Press. His most recent publications have presented the new concept of “solastalgia,” a form of human distress related to the lived experience of negatively perceived environmental change. This concept is now well established internationally and produces, in a Google search, over 5,000 hits in many languages. Glenn Albrecht has been interviewed, both nationally and internationally, by radio, television and print journalists about the concept of solastalgia and its applications, particularly those that relate to industrial development, mining, drought and climate change. His recent ARC funded research projects include a collaborative study into the relationship between human and ecosystem health in the coal-mining region of the Upper Hunter of NSW and the ethics of feral buffalo control in Arnhem Land.
Current ARC-funded research projects include, the geographies and bioethics of the thoroughbred horse industry and ecological footprint analysis for policy makers. In 2008, along with colleagues Linda Connor and Nick Higginbotham he has commenced a four-year Australian Research Council Discovery Project to study the lived experience of climate change, using the Hunter Valley as a case study. New initiatives at Murdoch include a “resilient regions” research project that will examine the resilience of various regions within Western Australia. An ARC Linkage grant on animal ethics in the commercial animal context will be submitted in 2009.
Nancy Bleck, Artist, Instructor, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Nancy Bleck is an artist whose photography, film and video explores notions of the witness, nomadic subjectivity, ecology, embodied ethics, with an emphasis on collaboration and social change. Bleck is co-founder of the Uts’am – Witness project, 1997-2007, together with Hereditary Chief Bill Williams, mountaineer John Clarke, and the Roundhouse Community Centre. She teaches at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, BC. In 2007, Bleck received a ‘Woman of Distinction’ award in the category of arts, culture and design.
Carl M. Hild, Ph.D., MS, Associate Professor, Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, Alaska, USA
Dr. Hild earned his PhD in Organizational Systems and joined Alaska Pacific University in 2007, bringing over thirty years of Alaskan experience in health services delivery, administration, and research. Dr. Hild serves as the Director of the Health Services Administration Program. He has conducted health research utilizing Alaska Native traditional knowledge since the late 1970s. Dr. Hild was a member of the American Public Health Association’s Task Force which prepared “The National Arctic Health Science Policy.” He has received the Alaska Public Health Association’s Long-term Service Award. From 2004-07 he has been the Principal Investigator for a National Institutes of Health award from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities – Alaska Native Science Research Partnerships for Health. He also has served as Co-PI for a National Library of Medicine award to the UAA/APU Consortium Library for the hosting of the Arctic Health web site to make information on Alaska Native health disparities and traditional knowledge more accessible (www.arctichealth.org). He has worked actively with the Tribal Doctors of the Maniilaq Association and the Tribal Healer Program of the Norton Sound Health Corporation on the use of indigenous knowledge of healing to expand allopathic services. Dr. Hild has also served on the Alaska State Emergency Response Commission as well as the Northern Region Emergency Medical Services Council.
Rick Ingrasci, Psychiatrist, Author, and Community Builder, Whidbey Island, Washington, USA
Rick Ingrasci M.D., M.P.H. has a rich background in psychiatry, holistic medicine, community development, and social entrepreneuring. He is a graduate of Cornell University Medical College and the Harvard School of Public Health. He currently practices life coaching, mainly with leaders of non-profit organizations. He also serves on the board of directors of the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.
Rick co-founded Interface (Boston’s largest holistic education center), the American Holistic Medical Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Hollyhock (Canada’s leading holistic retreat centre on Cortes Island, B.C.), where he has been convening the annual Hollyhock Summer Leadership Gathering since 1986. He co-authored the bestselling Chop Wood, Carry Water: A Guide to Finding Spiritual Fulfillment in Everyday Life.
Rick’s current interests center on the role of play, art, and creativity in personal and social transformation. His approach to climate change education is focused on group methods for shifting worldviews, the development of resilient communities and collective wisdom. He recently founded a company called Better Party Productions, based on his idea that “If you want to create a healthy community, throw a better party!”
Sanjay Khanna, Writer/Huffington Post Blogger, Vancouver, Canada
Sanjay Khanna is a climate-change writer and journalist. His articles on politics, technology, the economy, the environment, and the potential psychological impact of climate change have been published by The Huffington Post, Reuters, Worldchanging, Sun-Times News Group, and Communication Arts. He has been interviewed by Swedish Radio about communicating to children about climate change, and recently had a piece called “Conveying the campaign message” published in the journal Nature in the run up to the December 2009 United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Nearing the start of the second decade of the twenty-first century, Sanjay’s goal is to encourage personal and community resilience amid disruptive climate change and long-term economic instability. He examines trends holistically and dynamically, complementing Western notions about the future with Indigenous ecological insight that traditional elders have supported him to communicate. Sanjay has synthesized and distilled environmental, social, technology, and mental health trends for the likes of Hewlett-Packard, Nokia Corp., and Yamaha Motor Corp., USA.
His perspective on global affairs has been informed by scenario-planning training with senior strategists from oil majors, financial institutions, manufacturers, and the U.S. government.
Michael Littrell, Cultural Mythologist, Victoria, BC, Canada
For more than 20 years, Michael Littrell has assisted individuals, communities, organizations, and political and marketing campaigns with “storytelling” methods that help to uncover the common story that aligns people with causes—whether those causes are ultimately related to the environment, politics, or marketing. The former international director for Earth Day International, Michael has guest lectured at both the Russian and Ukrainian Academies of Science; has spoken at the Non-Government Organization Steering Committee of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development; has been a guest of the Attaché Politique, Montreal Mayor’s Office, The Third Summit of the World’s Leading Cities; and, during the 1990’s, has been the subject of Japanese-language newspaper stories about Japanese-Canadian “green” projects that transferred technology to South America.
In addition, Michael is recognized for developing an easily taught storytelling technique rooted in both mythology and complexity theory, called Motivation-Proportionality-Alignment-Narrative, or MPAN. Its applications range from conflict resolution to values-based marketing. The technique capitalizes on the “broken places” within a organization’s narrative and has been effectively harnessed by Canadian and U.S. political campaigns. Michael has been a guest lecturer at various conferences such as Media that Matters (2009) and a facilitator at numerous others, including Gaining Ground.
Luisa Maffi, Principal, Terralingua, Saltspring Island, BC, Canada
Luisa Maffi, Ph.D., is Co-founder and Director of the international NGO Terralingua. Luisa is a linguist, anthropologist, and ethnobiologist. She has conducted fieldwork in Somalia (1979-85), Highland Chiapas in southern Mexico (1988-93), and the Sierra Tarahumara in northern Mexico (2000-present), and is currently also involved in projects in China and Japan. Luisa has pioneered the concept and field of biocultural diversity. In 1996, her interest in the relationships between language, knowledge, and the environment, and in the links between linguistic, cultural, and biological diversity, prompted her to co-found Terralingua. Also in 1996, she organized the ground-breaking interdisciplinary conference “Endangered Languages, Endangered Knowledge, Endangered Environments” (University of California, Berkeley). In 2008, she co-organized a follow-up conference, “Sustaining Cultural and Biological Diversity in a Rapidly Changing World: Lessons for Public Policy” (American Museum of Natural History, New York). Luisa has collaborated with major international organizations, including WWF, UNEP, UNESCO and IUCN, on issues of biocultural diversity conservation. She has published extensively on biocultural diversity and related topics. Among her edited or co-edited books are On Biocultural Diversity: Linking Language, Knowledge, and the Environment (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001) and Ethnobotany and Conservation of Biocultural Diversity (New York Botanical Garden Press, 2004). Her co-authored book Biocultural Diversity Conservation: A Global Sourcebook, the outcome of one of Terralingua’s projects, is to be published by Earthscan in 2010.
Kevin Millsip, Sustainability Coordinator, Vancouver Board of Education, Vancouver, BC
Kevin’s passion is working at the intersection of sustainability, social change, and democratic engagement. He recently joined the Vancouver Board of Education in a new role of Sustainability Coordinator and is also the Director of Next Up: a leadership program for next generation social change leaders. He is a Co-founder and past Director of both Check Your Head and Get Your Vote On and has served as an elected Trustee on the Vancouver Board of Education. He is on the Board’s of the Columbia Centre for Civic Governance, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Small Change Fund. Kevin has recently begun rooftop gardening and loves old cruiser bicycles.
Pravin Pillay, Organizational Ecologist, Emergent Design Solutions, Saltspring Island, BC, Canada
Pravin Pillay is an activist working at the nexus of several disciplines. As a media artist, cyber-philosopher, and organizational ecologist, Pravin has a considerable experience in catalyzing high-performance multi-sector trans-disciplinary teams. Holding both an MFA and an MBA, Pravin formerly held a senior-leadership position at Doctors Without Borders (Canada). Today he serves as an advisor and consultant to various mission-driven organizations. He has written about the web as a global artwork to catalyze the evolution of consciousness and to effect real-world change. Presently Pravin is focusing his activist energies on catalyzing networks in this bioregion to engage the challenges of climate change and on SawaGlobal – an organization that seeks to connect grassroots heroes from the 50 poorest nations in the world to each other and to a global audience.
David Rapport, Principal, EcoHealth Consulting, Saltspring Island, BC, Canada
David Rapport, Ph.D, FLS, is Principal of EcoHealth Consulting and Co-Professor at the Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang. From 1994 to 1998 he held the Tri-Council EcoResearch Chair at the University of Guelph, where he also held a professorship (1994-2004) in the faculty of Rural Planning and Development. He is cofounder of the Program in Ecosystem Health in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario, where he held an honorary professorship (1998-2004). In 2007 he was Visiting Professor in the laboratory for landscape ecology at the University of Tokyo. David has pioneered the concept and field of ecosystem health. His research on ecosystem health has focused on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on four continents (Europe, North America, Asia and Australia). He also spearheaded the development of state of environment reporting in Canada and the Pressure-State-Response (PSR) statistical system, which has been adopted internationally as the basis for reporting on human activities and the environment. David was Founding President of the International Society for Ecosystem Health (1993-2000) and Founding Editor-in-Chief of its journal, Ecosystem Health (published by Blackwell Science 1995-2001). He serves or has served on the editorial boards of the journals EcoHealth, Ecological Indicators, Ecological Economics and Aquatic Ecosystem Health Management. He has authored over 200 scientific papers and has co-edited several books, including: Ecosystem Health (Blackwell Science, 1998); Transdisciplinarity: reCreating Integrated Knowledge (McGill/Queens U. Press, 2002); and Managing for Healthy Ecosystems (Lewis Publishers, 2003).
Dr. Eric Rasmussen, CEO, InSTEDD, Palo Alto, California, and Seattle, Washington
Dr. Eric Rasmussen became CEO of InSTEDD, a humanitarian technology NGO founded by Google.org, in October 2007. Before that, he was both Chairman of the Department of Medicine within Naval Hospital Bremerton near Seattle, Washington, and an advisor in humanitarian informatics for the US Office of the Secretary of Defense. He has been a Principal Investigator for both the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and for the National Science Foundation. He sits on several advisory boards, including the Crisis Management Resources Board for the National Academy of Sciences, has a number of publications, and has been awarded several personal, unit, and theater military decorations, including a Presidential Legion of Merit.
Dr. Rasmussen spent seven years enlisted in nuclear submarines. After the Navy, he received undergraduate and medical degrees from Stanford University. Later he completed a Residency in Internal Medicine and re-entered the Navy as Chief Resident in Medicine at the Navy Medical Center in Oakland, California. Subsequent Navy positions included three years as Fleet Surgeon for the US Navy’s Third Fleet.
Dr. Rasmussen, with an additional European Master’s Degree in Disaster Medicine from WHO-CEMEC, served on the Afghanistan humanitarian support planning staff within US Central Command Headquarters (CENTCOM) in 2002, and later as a physician to the Iraq Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) for the Iraq War in 2002-2003. As a member of the DART, he served as Medical Director within the International Humanitarian Operations Center in Kuwait and Baghdad and was later selected for the DARPA 2003 “Sustained Excellence in a Principal Investigator” award.
Further work as Director of the Strong Angel series of international humanitarian support demonstrations led to work in Afghanistan in 2004 and 2007, and in Indonesia as head of a Civil-Military Coordination Team for the tsunami response in Banda Aceh in early 2005. Later in 2005, he deployed with Joint Task Force Katrina in New Orleans, coordinating a small portion of the relief response after Hurricane Katrina.
At InSTEDD, he currently leads efforts with UNICEF, Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, the Thomson-Reuters News Foundation, the US Centers for Disease Control, Google.org, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He also serves as Permanent Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Forum on Water Disasters, as a member of the US Congressional Task Force on Global Biosurveillance, and as a member of Kofi Annan’s Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva. He recently returned from a multi-week UN mission to Tajikistan, working on issues around climate-driven disaster risk reduction.
Dr. Jeffrey L. Reading, Director, Centre for Aboriginal Health Research, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
An urgent commitment prevents Dr. Reading from attending the event.
Dr. Reading recently completed his term (2000-2008) as the inaugural Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health (CIHR-IAPH). Presently, Dr. Reading is the Inaugural Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Health Research based at the University of Victoria where Dr. Reading is a full professor in the Faculty of Human and Social Development, and a faculty associate with the Indigenous Governance Program.
As an epidemiologist, Dr. Reading’s research has brought attention to such critical issues as disease prevention, smoking, healthy living, accessibility to health care and diabetes among Aboriginal people in Canada. The long-term outcome of research activities aims to improve the health of Aboriginal people in Canada and abroad. This community-based approach to research produces research that is both scientifically rigorous and relevant to Aboriginal communities.
Distinguished as a leading national and international expert in Indigenous health research, his dedication to the pursuit of excellence in research is broadly recognized in academic and government circles and by Aboriginal leadership in Canada. In 2005, he was elected as a Fellow into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences; this distinction is considered the highest honor for an individual in the health sciences. As a Fellow, Dr. Reading has achieved recognition of his leadership, creativity, distinctive competencies and commitment to advancing health sciences. In March 2008, Dr. Reading was selected by Aboriginal peers to receive a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in the Health category.
Victoria Hykes Steere, Iñupiat and Human Rights Lawyer, Alaska, USA
Victoria Hykes Steere is author of an essay titled “An Iñupiaq Reflection on ‘Ice,’” from Global Warming Reader, by William H. Rodgers, Jr., Jeni Barcelos, Anna Moritz, and Michael Robinson-Dorn, (in press, Carolina Academic Press, Durham). She is also a former law student of William H. Rodgers, Jr., at the University of Washington School of Law. As a delegate for Snowchange at the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change, the desire for Indigenous Peoples to have access to their sacred sites for ceremonies reinforces her desire to find effective cross cultural communication styles. She says, “We are the Iñupiat and our villages begin with Unalakleet and enter into Canada. The knowledge we learn belongs to our families, communities, our world. My families chose to teach me of weather and of laws. They sent me out to learn how the West thinks, to understand it but not to become a part of it. They sent me from the place I most love to learn, to question, to seek and to become comfortable communicating to advocate for our survival. Unalakleet is one of the villages already being impacted by changing weather so this is personal and very real.”
Jane Sterk, Ph.D., Leader, Green Party of BC, and Counseling Psychologist, Victoria, BC, Canada
Jane Sterk, Leader of the Green Party of BC, brings a wealth of experience, commitment and understanding to her position as leader, thanks in large part to her success in business, politics, government, and education. She has the innate ability to identify and address the issues that affect individuals, families and communities, and the determination to work toward the transitions we all must make if we’re to prosper and thrive in the future.
Long an advocate for environmental responsibility and sustainability, social justice and fair trade, Jane is an elected councillor in the Township of Esquimalt, on Vancouver Island, where she topped the polls when she was elected in November, 2005. She also ran an effective campaign in the 2005 Provincial election under the Green Party banner. In the 2004 Federal Election, Jane had the distinction of garnering the 5th highest number of Green votes out of 308 Canadian ridings. Jane is an adjunct professor at University Canada West where she teaches MBA courses in Business Environment and Organizational Behaviour. She owned a retail business in the computer industry which created 60 full time positions.
Jane Sterk has a Ph.D. in Counselling Psychology and a Masters in Education. She worked as a psychologist in private practice and the public health system, and as a public school teacher. The mother of two grown sons, and the very proud grandmother of one, Jane and her husband John, a retired lawyer, is also an accomplished sailor, enjoys yoga, cycling, swimming, running and walking.
Inka Weissbecker, Ph.D., NGO Representative of the International Union of Psychological Science to the United Nations, Berlin, German
A job offer prevents Dr. Weissbecker from attending. She will be working with International Medical Corps, evaluating their programs in public health/mental health in countries affected by disaster, crises, and conflict.
Dr. Weissbecker is a public health professional specializing in mental health and psychosocial issues in the context of natural disasters, armed conflict, and humanitarian emergencies. She recently completed her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at the Harvard School of Public Health, specializing in global health and humanitarian studies. Dr. Weissbecker also has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Louisville and she completed her clinical psychology internship with focus on public policy at the University of South Florida. She is an NGO representative of the International Union of Psychological Science to the United Nations (ECOSOC and DPI) and serves on the NGO Committee on Mental Health and the NGO Committee on the Family in New York. Furthermore, she is the director of the “NGO Working Group on the Impact of Climate Change on Mental Health and Psychosocial Well-Being: Guidelines for Action,” which is part of a larger network of NGOs addressing different aspects of climate change. She has published several peer-reviewed manuscripts on psychological stress and health, and she has been involved in research and educational projects in Belize, Ecuador, Tanzania, and Nepal.