Climate Change and the News: Planning for Sea Level Rise & Extreme Weather – Speaker Bios

Sea Level Rise and Extreme Weather Seminar
Participants | Seminar Agenda | Speaker Bios | Resources | View Seminar Videos

November 4, 2015
Rising Seas Summit
Boston Sheraton Hotel
39 Dalton Street
Boston, MA

Amir Aghakouchak is an Assistant Professor of Civil l and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. His research crosses the boundaries between hydrology, climatology, remote sensing to address critical global water resource issues. His long-term research objective is to utilize continuously growing satellite data along with ground-based observations to develop/improve integrated drought, flood and landslide modeling, prediction and decision support systems. Dr. AghaKouchak is the principal investigator of several research grants funded by the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), National Science Foundation (NSF), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Jane Downing is associate director of Drinking Water Branch, Region 1, for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  She is responsible for managing the federal drinking water program in New England, with emphasis on implementation of the Safe Water Act programs, including the Public Water Supply Supervision Program, the Source Water Protection Program and Drinking Water Security Programs. She is also responsible for policy making on matters affecting drinking water in New England. Downing was also a member of the National Water Protection Task Force dealing with national, regional, and local security issues facing the water industry.

Jeff Goodell is contributing editor of Rolling Stone Magazine. He’s is working on a book about the impact of sea level rise on cities around the world. He is the author of five books, including How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest of Fix Earth’s Climate, which won Metcalf Institute’s 2011 Grantham Prize of Special Merit. Goodell’s previous books include Sunnyvale, a memoir about growing up in Silicon Valley, which was a New York Times Notable Book, and Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future. Goodell is a 2016 Fellow at New America Foundation.

Dr. Nancy J. Gassman has been in public service for more than 20 years working on integrated water resources planning, environmental monitoring including construction of a LEED-certified environmental chemistry laboratory and the development and implementation of Broward County’s Climate Change Action Plan. While managing Broward’s Energy and Sustainability Program, she was a major contributor to developing a regional vulnerability assessment and a sea level rise projection for the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. Since 2014, as the Assistant Public Works Director for Sustainability in the City of Fort Lauderdale, she is coordinating training and implementing sustainability, climate mitigation and adaptation strategies within government operations and throughout the City.

Dan Kreeger is co-founder of the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) and has a unique familiarity of key climate and sustainability leaders at and efforts by most Fortune 500 companies, higher education institutions and North American government entities. Dan has led ACCO’s programming efforts, as well as establishment of the CCO Certification, the first comprehensive climate change credentialing program for executives across sectors. Dan led ACCO’s partnership with the White House Council on Environmental Quality in 2011 and 2012 to co-produce their flagship conference on sustainability in Federal agency operations, the GreenGov Symposium, and has been a co-founding steering committee member for the consortium that jointly administered EPA’s Climate Leadership Awards from 2012-2015. An accomplished business executive with more than 15 years of cross-functional experience in change management and enterprise business strategies within business-to-business, government, and consumer-centric sectors, Dan focuses specifically on the human capital, economic and operational implications of environmental and public health issues. Dan serves on the Dean’s Council of Advisors at the FIU College of Architecture and the Arts, and frequently lectures at top sustainability focused graduate and executive education programs.

Benjamin McFarlane is a Senior Regional Planner for the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. Located in Chesapeake, Virginia, the Hampton Roads PDC is the regional planning organization for southeastern Virginia. Mr. McFarlane has worked primarily on the Commission’s coastal zone management efforts, including studies on climate change, sea level rise, green infrastructure, and local land use policies.

Steven Miller has worked for MassDOT for 21 years. Miller is the project manager for MassDOT-FHWA Pilot Project: Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessments and Adaptation Options for the Central Artery. He assists with ongoing future climate change related projects including the MassDOT pilot project in Deerfield Watershed exploring how transportation assets relate to fluvial geomorphology, statewide vulnerabilities, and coastal vulnerabilities and adaptation options.

Jacqueline Patterson is currently the NAACP Director of Environmental and Climate Justice, Jacqui Patterson, MSW, MPH, has served as a trainer, organizer, researcher,, and policy analyst on international and domestic issues including women’s rights, HIV&AIDS, violence against women, racial justice, economic justice, and environmental and climate justice. Patterson authored multiple articles including: “Jobs vs Health: An Unnecessary Dilemma”; “Energy Democracy, Black Lives Matter, and the NAACP Advocacy Agenda”, “Climate Change is a Civil Rights Issue”, “And the People Shall Lead: Centralizing Frontline Community Leadership” and more. She serves on the Boards of Directors for Center for Story Based Strategy, Institute of the Black World and US Climate Action Network, as well as on Steering Committees for Interfaith Moral Action on Climate and Advisory Board for Center for Earth Ethics.

Dr. Joe Romm is a Senior Fellow at American Progress. He oversees the blog ClimateProgress.org, which was named one of Time Magazine’s Fifteen Favorite Websites for the Environment in 2007. In December 2008, Romm was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for “distinguished service toward a sustainable energy future and for persuasive discourse on why citizens, corporations, and governments should adopt sustainable technologies.” In a March 2009 column in the New York Times, Tom Friedman noted that Dr. Romm is “a physicist and climate expert who writes the indispensable blog climateprogress.org.” In March 2009, Rolling Stone also named him one of of “The 100 People Who Are Changing America” calling him “America’s fiercest climate-change blogger.” And in April, U.S. News & World Report named him “one of the most influential energy and environmental policymakers in the Obama era.” He is author of Hell and High Water: Global Warming—The Solution and The Politics (William Morrow, January 2007).

Dr. Benjamin Strauss serves as Vice President for Sea Level and Climate Impacts at Climate Central, a non-profit climate research and journalism organization based in Princeton, N.J. He is a national expert and author of numerous scientific papers and reports on sea level rise, as well as architect of the SurgingSeas.org suite of coastal flood risk tools. Strauss has testified before the U.S. Senate and presented to state and local elected officials, and the White House has highlighted his work. His research has been covered across the U.S. and internationally by, among others, the New York Times, Washington Post, AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, The Guardian and USA Today. He has appeared as an expert on national network news and nationally syndicated radio.

Quinton Zondervan is a dedicated community environmental activist. He has been a member of the Climate Protection Action Committee (CPAC) in Cambridge since 2008, including as chair from 2012 through 2014. CPAC is a City Manager appointed advisory committee of stakeholders advising the city on climate change action, including mitigation and adaptation responses.   Zondervan cofounded and serves as the President and board chair of the Climate Action Business Association (CABA), an organization of small, local businesses, based in Boston.  He also serves as President of Green Cambridge, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to improving the environment and enhancing Cambridge’s sustainability, including combating climate change. Zondervan was one of the leaders pushing for a Net Zero Emissions initiative in 2013, and served on the subsequent City Manager appointed year-long Net Zero Task Force (2014-2015) working on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings in the city to zero as quickly as possible.  Zondervan also serves as board member of Better Future Project, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to a future free of fossil fuels and climate change, and the sponsor organization for the volunteer lead 350 Massachusetts network.  He is currently helping organize MIT Alumni for Climate Action Leadership (MITACAL), a new organization for MIT alumni concerned about climate change, urging MIT and the world to take more action.

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