Plenary Session Biographies
Chair, Society for Ecological Restoration and Co-Chair, CEER 2014
Dr. Cara R. Nelson is an Associate Professor in the Ecosystem Sciences and Conservation Department at University of Montana, Director of the University’s Ecological Restoration Program, and Chair of the international Society for Ecological Restoration. She received Masters degrees in Forestry and in Conservation Biology from the University of Wisconsin and a PhD in Forest Ecosystem Analysis from the University of Washington. Her research focuses in three primary areas: 1) effects of large-scale disturbance on vegetation, 2) efficacy and ecological impacts of ecological restoration, and 3) conceptual basis for ecological restoration. In addition, Dr. Nelson works to increase awareness about the knowledge and training needed to improve the quality of restoration practice.
Co-Chair, CEER 2014
Ms. Ulrich is a registered professional engineer with over 25 years of experience managing large, complex Civil Works projects. Her last decade with USACE was in a senior leadership position working on the Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Program. Her final assignment was to begin creation of a National Center on Ecosystem Restoration on behalf of HQ USACE. This involved working with all the large scale ecosystem restoration programs throughout the US. For the last six years, Ms. Ulrich has worked as a private consultant focused on Gulf Coast restoration and post Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill efforts. Ms. Ulrich skill set brings the valuable perspective of a true implementer of large scale ecosystem restoration efforts. She has been leading the merger of the SER and NCER worlds since 2007. Ms. Ulrich is currently an At-Large member of SER’s Board of Directors and is leading SER’s Science and Policy Committee. She is also conference co-chair of CEER 2014. Ms. Ulrich has a BS Civil Engineering from University of Florida and a MS Civil Engineering (Emphasis on Coastal and Hydraulics) from University of California at Berkeley.
Edward E. Belk, Jr.
Director of Programs, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi Valley Division
Mr. Edward E. Belk is the Director of Programs for the Mississippi Valley Division (MVD), U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Mississippi River Commission (MRC). He was selected by the Secretary of the Army into the Senior Executive Service in 2012. The Senior Executive Service is comprised of the men and women charged with leading the continuing transformation of government.
Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Belk was the Chief of Regional Business and the Deputy Director of Programs for MVD. Before moving to MVD, Mr. Belk served as the Deputy District Engineer for Project Management in the Memphis District. He completed two tours in Iraq as the Deputy for Project Management at Gulf Region North District in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he served as the senior U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civilian in the seven provinces of northern Iraq and senior advisor to the Commander, Gulf Region North District, with headquarters initially in Mosul and later in Tikrit. He was also assigned to help stand up the Hurricane Protection Office in New Orleans in support of the overall Corps’ response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Other previous assignments include Chief of Project Development Branch, Chief of River Engineering and Executive Assistant to the Commander in the Memphis District. Prior to joining the Corps, Mr. Belk worked in the private sector with engineering consulting firms in both Memphis, Tennessee, and Little Rock, Arkansas.
Mr. Belk is a graduate of Christian Brothers University where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1984 and a Master’s degree in Engineering Management in 1991. He is also a 1999 graduate of the Army Management Staff College at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
He is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Mississippi; a past president and director of the Society of American Military Engineers, Memphis Post; and a member of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honors organization. Honors and awards include the Lieutenant General J.W. Morris Civilian of the Year for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bronze Order of the deFleury, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and two Meritorious Civilian Service Awards.
The Mississippi Valley Division is responsible for water resources engineering solutions in a 370,000-square-mile area, extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and encompassing portions of 12 states. Work is carried out by District offices located in St. Paul, Minnesota; Rock Island, Illinois; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; Vicksburg, Mississippi; and New Orleans, Louisiana.
Since 1879, the seven-member Presidentially appointed Mississippi River Commission has developed and matured plans for the general improvement of the Mississippi River from the Head of Passes to the Headwaters. The Mississippi River Commission brings critical engineering representation to the drainage basin, which impacts 41% of the United States and includes 1.25 million square miles, over 250 tributaries, 31 states, and 2 Canadian provinces.
Manager, Ecosystem Restoration & Coastal Protection, ARCADIS
Mr. Daoust specializes in ecosystem restoration and coastal protection projects as well as climate adaptation studies that focus on sea level rise and storm surge flood risk mitigation. He has more than 18 years of experience in environmental consulting experience with public and private clients, including state, municipal, and federal agencies. He leads ARCADIS’ national Ecosystem Restoration and Coastal Protection practice in the United States, part of the firm’s Water Management ground, with an emphasis on Florida, New York, Louisiana, and California. His most recent work involves efforts to restore coastal Louisiana and the Florida Everglades support as well as on climate change adaptation to mitigate future flood risk associated with extreme storm events and sea level rise in New York City and south Florida. Mr. Daoust’s background is in ecosystem ecology and includes extensive experience in experimental design, implementation and optimization of long-term monitoring as part of adaptive management programs, as well as statistical analysis and interpretation of ecological data. He holds a BS degree in Geography from McGill University in Montreal, Canada and an MS from Florida International University, where he did research on the effects of phosphorus in Everglades National Park.
SER Regional Representative, Australasia
Kingsley Dixon is Director of Science at Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth, and a Visiting Professor at the School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia. His life-long interest and passion for native Australian plants has led him to develop a strong multi-disciplinary approach to conservation and restoration of native plants and degraded landscapes. His research team of over 45 research staff and postgraduate students specialise in the ecology, biology, conservation and restoration of species and ecosystems both terrestrial and marine, including a focus on rare plants. This research group has contributed significantly to restoration-focused seed science in Australia, with major advances in developing seed dormancy alleviation techniques (pioneering work in smoke technology), restoration ecology and seed bank technologies for 'at scale' restoration.
Executive Director, Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council
Justin R. Ehrenwerth serves as Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council). Created by the RESTORE Act of 2012 and comprised of the Governors of the five Gulf Coast States and Secretaries from six federal agencies, the Council is responsible for restoring and protecting the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, coastal wetlands and economy of the Gulf Coast.
Prior to joining the Council, Ehrenwerth served as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of Commerce. As Chief of Staff, he assisted the Deputy Secretary in overseeing issues of management, policy and strategic planning for the Commerce Department which has an annual budget of $8 billion and approximately 47,000 employees.
Previously, Ehrenwerth served as Assistant Counsel to the President in the White House Counsel’s Office where he was a member of the Oversight and Litigation group representing the White House in Congressional investigations and advising Federal agencies on oversight matters. In conjunction with the Department of Justice, he worked with Counsel from across the Executive Office of the President on issues related to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Multidistrict Litigation.
During the first two years of the Obama administration, Ehrenwerth served in the Department of Commerce’s Office of General Counsel. As Counsel, he assisted with the management of over 325 lawyers in fourteen offices and drafted numerous legal opinions. Ehrenwerth received the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) General Counsel's Award for Excellence for work related to the response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
Ehrenwerth has held leadership positions on a number of national and statewide political campaigns including the Obama for America and Kerry-Edwards campaigns. He has been active in the non-profit sector having worked at the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, Northern California Grantmakers, and Pennsylvania League of Young Voters. He also served as a Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Teaching Fellow as well as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs.
Ehrenwerth is a summa cum laude graduate of Colby College and holds an MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Vera Lex Engel
SER Regional Representative, Latin America/Caribbean
Vera has a B.S. in Forestry (University of São Paulo USP,1985), an M.S. in Forest Science (University of São Paulo, 1989) and a Ph.D. in Ecology (University of Campinas, 2001). She is currently a Lecturer at São Paulo State University UNESP, Brazil; she teaches undergraduate courses in forest engineering and postgraduate courses in forest science. She has expertise in forest ecology and restoration, specifically regeneration and dynamics of tropical forests, management of mixed forest plantations and agroforestry. Vera has been active in SER since 1997 and is a member of several other national and international scientific organizations, including the Brazilian Ecological Society (SEB), International Society of Tropical Foresters (ISTF), and Brazilian Ecological Restoration Network (REBRE). She serves as a referee for several high impact scientific journals and also is the Deputy Coordinator of IUFRO’s (International Union of Forest Research Organizations) Research Group on Restoration of Degraded Lands. She has served as a Consultant to Brazil’s Environmental Ministry, Directory of Forests, for developing the Native Species Silviculture and Agroforestry National Plan (2005); she was a member of the Scientific Consulting Board of the Institute of Forest Research and Studies, Cooperative Program in Silviculture of Native Species and the Centre of Forest Research; and she was the Local Coordinator of BRAFRAGRICAPES Project, a bilateral agreement between Brazil and France that aimed to increase interchange among students and professors. Vera is a Level 2 Research Productivity Fellow, National Council for Scientific and Technological Development. Last year, she was a visiting academic fellow at University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
Gerald Edward Galloway
Glenn L. Martin Institute Professor of Engineering, University of Maryland
Gerald E. Galloway, PE, PhD is a Glenn L. Martin Institute Professor of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and an Affiliate Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, where his focus is on water resources policy, resilience, and disaster risk management. He also serves as a consultant to several international, federal, state and non-governmental agencies and has been involved in water projects in the US, Europe, Asia and South America. He recently chaired a National Research Council (NRC) Study on Levees and the National Flood Insurance Program and is currently a member of the US National Academies’ Risk, Resilience and Extreme Events Roundtable and the Louisiana Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation. He has been a consultant to The Nature Conservancy on its Yangtze River Program and the WWF on its China Flood Risk Management program. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Public Administration. He served for 38 years in the US Army, retiring as a Brigadier General.
Executive Director, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), Baton Rouge, LA
Kyle Graham is the Executive Director for Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the state office responsible for implementing Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast and integrating hurricane protection, storm damage reduction, flood control, and the associated infrastructure construction and maintenance of coastal protection and restoration projects.
Before working for the State of Louisiana, Mr. Graham earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from the University of North Carolina and Appalachian State University, worked as a wetland scientist restoring streams and wetlands, and oversaw the preparation and management of environmental documentation and permitting impacts.
Assistant Chief Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) USDA
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack appointed Kirk Hanlin Assistant Chief of NRCS in July 2013. As Assistant Chief, he is central to the agency’s leadership team providing oversight and guidance for implementation of NRCS programs which help protect the environment, preserve our natural resources and improve agricultural sustainability through voluntary, private-lands conservation. NRCS has a staff of 11,500 employees across the country and a budget of approximately $4 billion.
Born in Keokuk, Iowa and raised in Hancock County, Illinois, Kirk Hanlin grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River in a family with generations of both farmers and towboat captains giving him a deep appreciation for protecting the land and the river for future generations. To pay for college he spent summer and winter breaks working on barges and towboats traveling from Minneapolis to New Orleans. He earned an AA from South East Iowa Community College, and a BA in Political Science with a Minor in Communications at Western Illinois University.
For more than 30 years Hanlin has worked in management for State and Federal Government, and the private sector. Hanlin served eight years in the Clinton Administration at the White House, and was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997 as a Special Assistant to the President working directly with President Clinton briefing him on a daily basis on issues related to events both domestically and internationally. Hanlin was responsible for coordination and ongoing communication with all levels of individuals and groups related to the President’s daily activities including career, elected, and appointed individuals and the highest ranking individuals from the National Security Council, State Department, United States Secret Service, White House Military office, all other White House Offices, Cabinet agencies and Members, Members of Congress, Governors and local civic leaders.
Following his White House service Hanlin served in the private sector first as Vice President and Senior Advisor to the CEO of UAI Inc. a leading software company. He then served as Executive Vice President and Senior Advisor to the CEO of EnerGenetics Energy LLC (EGE) an advanced renewable energy and biofuel solutions company. While at UAI, he developed and directed business and communications strategies and oversaw day-to-day business operations. Hanlin has built strategic business alliances and partnerships throughout the U.S. and abroad working with more than 150 clients in 30 states, with local, state and federal governments and partner organizations developing, managing and advocating for emergency management solutions, electrical power grid and gas distribution applications and water and waste water applications. As corporate vice president, he worked directly with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Homeland Security, and the Center for Disease Control.
Hanlin maintains homes in Arlington Virginia, and on the Mississippi River Flyway in Nauvoo Illinois.
Tanner Alston Johnson
Director, Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund,
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tanner A. Johnson has worked for more than a decade on coastal conservation and restoration policy at the federal, state and local levels. After earning his law degree from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University, Tanner developed a focus on Louisiana’s imperiled coast in public service as Legislative Director to U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu and aide to Governor Kathleen Blanco. His work in these positions contributed to the development and unanimous adoption of Louisiana’s 2007 coastal master plan, entitled Integrated Ecosystem Restoration and Hurricane Protection: Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. In the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Tanner helped author and lead the Congressional staff level negotiation of The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act, the RESTORE Act, which dedicates 80 percent of civil and administrative Clean Water Act penalties paid by those responsible for the 2010 gulf oil disaster to Gulf Coast restoration. In 2013, Tanner was appointed by Governor Bobby Jindal to the Governor’s Advisory Commission for Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation. Tanner is a graduate of Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama and Catholic High School of Baton Rouge.
President and CEO Port of New Orleans
Gary LaGrange has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Port of New Orleans since 2001. Under LaGrange’s direction the Port made great expansions in spite of great adversity. During his tenure, the Port opened new, state-of-the art container, cruise and refrigerated terminals. LaGrange’s leadership brought the Port of New Orleans back into operation two weeks after Hurricane Katrina, the most extensive natural disaster in U.S. history. With over a decade of investment and expansion, the Port of New Orleans is now recognized as the #1 Port for logistics in America.
LaGrange serves on the Boards and Executive Committees of the Waterways Council, Inc., and National Waterways Conference where he is a past President. He also serves on the Board of the Gulf Ports Association of the Americas. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board.
A past Chairman, Mr. LaGrange still serves as a member of the American Association of Port Authorities Board of Directors. He is also past Chairman and past President of the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association.
He is a member of the Committee of 100 Louisiana. He serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Advisory Council on Trade and Transportation Committee, and the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration’s Port Subcommittee.
He was named the Maritime Person of the Year by the Propeller Club of New Orleans in 2003 and Maritime Person of the Year by the Propeller Club of the Port of Gulfport in 2001. He was named the “Man of Steel” by the American Institute for International Steel (AIIS).
Gary is also a member of the National Rivers Hall of Fame in Dubuque, Iowa and named to the Hall of Fame by the International Maritime Association at the United Nations in New York.
In 2012, he was the recipient of the Transportation & Infrastructure Summit Excellence in Maritime Transportation Award and the C. Alvin Bertel Award in recognition for outstanding contributions to the advancement of the Greater New Orleans port area. Mr. LaGrange also received the 2012 International Achievement Award.
In 2013, he was recognized by the University of Southern Mississippi for his support of the Center for Logistics, Trade and Transportation and is a 2013 Young Leadership Council Role Model Award winner.
Before taking leadership at the Port of New Orleans, LaGrange served as the Executive Director of the Mississippi State Port Authority in Gulfport, Ms., the Port of South Louisiana and the Port of West St. Mary.
LaGrange attended Louisiana State University. He received his B.A. in Geography/Economics from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He also completed a Master of Arts in Urban Planning, with honors from USL, in addition to having earned the Professional Port Manager Certification (PPM) from the American Association of Port Authorities.
Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, Ingram Barge Company
Dan Mecklenborg joined Ingram Barge Company in 1996, as Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, and was promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer in 2002. He is responsible for the company’s Legal and Claims, Safety, Training and Environmental departments, the company’s Governmental Affairs function, and Custom Fuel Services.
Dan has extensive experience in corporate law, including governance and compliance, mergers and acquisitions, environmental compliance, employment and labor law, admiralty law, and negotiating and drafting business agreements.
He has been actively involved in civic and professional organizations throughout his career. In 2003 he completed a four-year term as a Member and then Chairman of the Inland Waterways Users Board. He rejoined the Users Board in 2013 as Ingram’s representative. Dan currently serves on the Board and Executive Committee of Waterways Council, Inc. and was its Chairman from 2007 through 2009. Since 2010, Dan has served on the Board of The Nature Conservancy’s Great Rivers Partnership (GRP). He also serves on the Steering Committee for America’s Watershed Initiative.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Dan received his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Dayton in 1977 and his Juris Doctor degree from Salmon P. Chase College of Law in 1981. He is licensed to practice law in both Tennessee and Ohio.
R. King Milling
CEER 2014 Honorary Chair;
Chair, Louisiana Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation;
Board Member, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; and Chair, America’s WETLAND Foundation
A lifelong resident of New Orleans, R. King Milling is the Chairman of the America’s WETLAND Foundation. He also chairs the Governor's Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation and serves as a member of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana.
Milling is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association and the American Bar Association, and he serves as a member of the Tulane Law School Dean's Advisory Board and on the board of directors of the New Orleans Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He also serves on the boards of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, LSU Health Sciences Center, Dillard University, and the Greater New Orleans Education Foundation.
He was elected Director of Whitney National Bank in 1978 and as Director of Whitney Holding Corporation in 1979. He served as President of Whitney
National Bank and Whitney Holding Corporation from 1984 until April 2007 and as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors from April 2007 until December 2008.
Milling is a graduate of Washington & Lee University and Tulane University.
Samira Omar Asem
SER Regional Representative, Asia
Dr. Samira Omar Asem joined the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) in 1973. Dr. Omar Asem attained her Ph.D. in Wild land Resource Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley in 1990 and M.S in Range Management from the University of California, Berkeley in 1979. Her B.Sc. is in Botany and Chemistry from the University of Kuwait in 1972.
Dr. Omar Asem has more than 40 years’ experience in management and leadership of integrated applied research science in plant ecology, biodiversity conservation, arid land ecosystem restoration, inventory of natural resources, and sustainable land-use planning.
From 2001 to 2013 she was Director of Food Resources and Marine Sciences Division (FRD) responsible for management of six programs: Biotechnology, Arid Land Agriculture Production, Biodiversity for Terrestrial Ecosystem, Food and Nutrition Production, Ecosystem Based Management for Marine Environment, and Aquaculture.
Dr. Omar Asem is presently the technical Program Director of the Kuwait Environmental Remediation Program awarded by the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC). The program includes remediation and restoration of war-damaged terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems.
Dr. Omar Asem has national, regional and international recognitions and has been affiliated to many local and international organizations. She is member of the Board of Directors for the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) for Asia Region, member of the Executive Board for the Arab States in the Organizations for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) and Regional Councilor for West Asia Region (WANA) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Dr. Omar Asem has published and contributed to more than 100 publications and participated in 108 local, regional and international conferences, workshops and symposia.
K. Ramesh Reddy
Chair, University of Florida/IFAS Soil and Water Science Department
Dr. K. Ramesh Reddy is a Graduate Research Professor and Chair of Soil and Water Science Department (SWSD) at the University of Florida (UF). Dr. Reddy’s areas of expertise and research include: biogeochemistry, soil and water quality, and ecosystem restoration. Dr. Reddy carried out research for 35 years on biogeochemical cycling of nutrients in natural and managed ecosystems as related to water quality. His early research as a biogeochemist focused on the fate of nutrients in flooded rice paddies, followed by applying biogeochemical principles to study nutrient/contaminant behavior in various ecosystems including freshwater, coastal wetlands, and lakes, as related to water quality and eutrophication. Dr. Reddy developed an interdisciplinary program on biogeochemistry of wetlands and aquatic systems, through the Wetland Biogeochemistry Laboratory (WBL) established within the SWSD. Since its establishment in 1987, the WBL has provided a home for graduate students from various disciplines, postdoctoral associates and visiting scientists. Examples of teaching, research, and extension activities of the WBL can be seen at the web site: wetlands.ifas.ufl.edu. Dr. Reddy has published 350+ refereed journal articles and book chapters, edited 5 books, and authored one text book. Dr. Reddy has served on numerous advisory committees at state, national, and international levels. Dr. Reddy’s select awards and honors include: UF-Graduate Research Professor, UF-Research Foundation Professor (1999-2002; 2009-2012); Doctoral Dissertation Advisory /Mentoring Award (2005); Fellow, World Innovation Foundation; Environmental Quality Research Award, American Society of Agronomy (2002); Sigma Xi Senior Faculty Research Award (2002); Soil Science Applied Research Award, Soil Science Society of America (2001); Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Fellow - Soil Science Society of America (1988); Fellow - American Society of Agronomy (1988); and Gama Sigma Delta International Award (2006).
Managing Director for Public Policy, The Nature Conservancy
Lynn Scarlett currently serves as Managing Director of Public Policy at The Nature Conservancy where she oversees worldwide government relations and public policy efforts. Lynn joined the Conservancy in 2013, bringing deep experience in environmental and conservation policy, both in and outside government. She served two terms in the U.S. Interior Department under President George W. Bush, first as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget and then as Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer. Before her government service, she spent over 15 years at the Reason Foundation, a leading public policy research institute, where she served as Research Director, Vice President for Policy, and finally as President and Executive Director. Most recently, she has been co-director of the Center for Management of Ecological Wealth at Resources for the Future and a Visiting Lecturer at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara, her alma mater. Lynn has led or served on numerous government and non-government task forces and working groups, including service as a lead author on the U.S. National Climate Assessment.
Robert R. Twilley
Executive Director, Louisiana Sea Grant College Program
Professor, Oceanography and Coastal Sciences
Dr. Twilley is Executive Director of Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science at LSU. Presently, Dr. Twilley serves as President-Elect of Coastal Estuarine Research Federation. He has been a Distinguished Professor at both LSU and UL Lafayette. In the last several years, Dr. Twilley has served in administrative capacities in higher education including Vice President for Research, Associate Vice Chancellor of Research and Economic Development, and Director of the Wetland Biogeochemistry Institute. He is founder of the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio and developed the UL Lafayette Center for Ecology and Environmental Technology. Most of Dr. Twilley's research has focused on coastal wetlands both in the Gulf of Mexico, throughout Latin America, and in the Pacific Islands. Dr. Twilley has published extensively on wetland ecology, global climate change, and has been involved in developing ecosystem models coupled with engineering designs to forecast the rehabilitation of coastal and wetland ecosystems. He received his BS and MS from East Carolina University, PhD from University of Florida and post-doctoral studies were at Horn Point Laboratory at University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies.
PLENARY SESSION ORGANIZERS/MODERATORS
President, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Donald F. Boesch is a Professor of Marine Science and President of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and University System of Maryland’s Vice Chancellor for Environmental Sustainability. He earned his B.S. in biology at Tulane University and Ph.D. in oceanography at the College of William and Mary. Don has conducted ecological and oceanographic research on coastal and continental shelf ecosystems along the Atlantic Coast, and in the Gulf of Mexico, eastern Australia, and the East China Sea. He is a past-chairman of the Ocean Studies Board of the National Research Council was appointed by President Obama to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Oil Spill and the Offshore Drilling. Don has forty years of experience in the application of science in ecosystem restoration, including in the Chesapeake Bay, the Florida Everglades and Coastal Louisiana.
Director, Mississippi River Delta Restoration, Environmental Defense Fund
As the Director for Environmental Defense Fund’s Mississippi River Delta Restoration project, Steve Cochran works to restore the natural functioning of the river while addressing the needs and health of southern Louisiana’s diverse communities and economic infrastructure. With local, state and federal attention turning towards this delta, executing a strategy for its timely and responsible large scale restoration is crucial. In addition, Steve works within Louisiana and nationally to encourage communities, economic interests and political leaders to see delta restoration as a fundamental priority to the nation.
Steve spent two years as Executive Director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana, and seven years with Louisiana Congressman and then Governor Buddy Roemer. He served as Legislative Director in D.C., then Field Director, and ultimately Chief of Staff to the Governor.
In his prior role as Vice President of Climate and Air at Environmental Defense Fund, Steve Cochran managed EDF's domestic and international efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution. Steve served as the Executive Vice President of our 501 c(4) organization, the Environmental Defense Action Fund (EDAF), and was the Political Director of EDAF's Political Action Committee. He formerly served as the director of the National Climate Campaign. Prior to that, Steve managed EDF's media, legislative and Internet advocacy work and served as Environmental Defense's legislative director.
Managing Director, America’s WETLAND Foundation
President and Founder, Marmillion + Company
Valsin A. Marmillion has managed the work of the America's WETLAND Foundation (AWF) since 2002. AWF serves as a respected Gulf Coast voice for preserving the environmental, economic and community assets of the region. By providing a balanced forum for consensus building, AWF has been recognized for its relentless pursuit of shared solutions to restore the coast and to bring about significant public engagement and political will.
Marmillion has a long history of service to state and local governments, foundations and nonprofits, having provided strategic planning, communications, media outreach, branding and public awareness campaigns in this arena for more than 25 years.
Prior to establishing Marmillion + Company in 1989, Mr. Marmillion was a partner in the public relations and public consulting firm Hunt/Marmillion and Associates, which was later acquired by Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide.
Prior to forming Hunt/Marmillion, he was manager of public information for Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) in Los Angeles, CA. Before joining ARCO, he was in congressional service in Washington, D.C., where he served on the staffs of the late Senator Allen J. Ellender, Senator Elaine S. Edwards, Congressman Burt Talcott and as Chief of Staff for then congressman, now former senator, John B. Breaux.
Under Mr. Marmillion's leadership MCo has emerged as one of the nation's premier marketing and communications firms with offices in Los Angeles, CA.; Denver, CO.; New Orleans, LA.; and Fort Lauderdale, FL. Current and recent clients include the America’s WETLAND Foundation, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, Kip Holden for Mayor, Committee for the Future of East Baton Rouge, J. Paul Getty Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of Counties, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and UCLA.
He has led several ambitious public education campaigns for various clients: American Psychological Association (Talk to Someone Who Can Help), UCLA (Where Great Futures Begin), National Association of Counties (Counties Serve America), the National Endowment for the Arts (The American Canvas), National Association of Elementary School Principals (Our Children, Our Schools, Our Future), National Conference of State Legislatures (The Forum for America's Ideas), the J. Paul Getty Trust for the Arts Education Partnership (Arts Literacy for Changing America), and the State of Louisiana (America's WETLAND: Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana).
Mr. Marmillion has served as Executive Producer for numerous programs including several features developed for Discovery and The Learning Channel. His production work has garnered several awards including: the prestigious Pollie Award from the American Association of Political Consultants and the Platinum Award from the League of American Communications Professionals.
Mark R. Wingate, PE
Chief, Projects and Restoration Branch, USACE
Mr. Mark Wingate serves as the Chief for Projects and Restoration Branch with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), New Orleans District. He joined USACE in 1993 and is responsible for the management and execution of a variety of Civil Works programs, projects and studies including Section 408 permits for Lower MS River Diversions, the Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration Program, MS River and Tributaries Program and Continuing Authorities Program. He graduated from the University of New Orleans in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Louisiana.