2021 Virtual Dates:
Week 1: April 19-22, 2021
Week 2: April 26-29, 2021

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Design, Innovation & Governance (DIG) Plenary Session

Closing Plenary Featuring Design, Innovation & Governance (DIG) Presentations

Thursday, April 29, 2021
1:30pm – 2:30pm

The 2021 GEER conference theme is "Adapting Science and Management to a Changing World". In keeping with that theme, this year’s DIG session will feature four conservation leaders, presenting on one theme: “What Conservation-related Issue Keeps You Up at Night?”

Because GEER is primarily a science conference, each speaker will share their biggest concern and how they think science might help resolve it. This session is intended to focus our attention on the many opportunities environmental restoration provides, and you won’t want to miss it!

Speaker Biographies

Eric Eickenberg
Eric Eikenberg

Chief Executive Officer
Everglades Foundation
Miami, Florida

Eric Eikenberg is a seasoned political strategist and environmental policy expert who leads one of the country’s most prestigious and respected environmental non-profits – The Everglades Foundation, which has an annual operating budget of more than $10 million.

As CEO, Eikenberg oversees a team of nationally recognized scientists, educators, lobbyists, and communications and development professionals. These esteemed colleagues work together to achieve a decades-long campaign to restore America’s Everglades – roughly three million acres of endangered habitat that is vital to Florida’s economic and environmental viability.

Appointed CEO by the Foundation’s Board of Directors in 2012, Eikenberg has extensive policy and political experience in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. He previously served as Chief of Staff to former Gov. Charlie Crist and former U.S. Rep. E. Clay Shaw, Jr., the latter who authored the landmark Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

A sought-after public speaker on the importance of preserving one of America’s most unique natural habitats, Eikenberg is a regular OpEd columnist. He also is a widely quoted source for national and local media outlets, including National Public Radio, CNN, The Associated Press, U.S. News & World Report, Politico, The Miami Herald, and many others.

In 2020, Eikenberg was named one of Florida’s Most Influential People in Florida Politics by Influence Magazine for his advocacy work. In 2020 and 2019, he was named one of Florida’s 500 most influential business leaders by Florida Trend, and he was recognized by South Florida Business & Wealth magazine with a 2019 APOGEE Award for his leadership in the non-profit sector. Furthermore, he was selected to the 2019 panel of 50 Influential Floridians as part of an initiative led by The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, and The Bradenton Herald to address pressing statewide issues. Eikenberg was also elected Chairman of the Zoo Miami Foundation Board of Directors in October of 2019.

On Earth Day 2019, Eikenberg was named Chair of the Ocean to Everglades campaign by the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee for Super Bowl LIV. In this role, Eikenberg worked to highlight the benefits of Everglades restoration, protection of South Florida’s water supply and other environmental issues important to the future of Florida.

A graduate of The American University and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Eikenberg, his wife Tonya and four children reside in Palmetto Bay, Florida.

Doug Gaston
Doug Gaston

Northern Everglades Policy Analyst
Audubon Florida
Lorida, Florida

Doug serves as Audubon Florida’s Northern Everglades Policy Analyst and is actively engaging partners, elected officials and community groups to help solve some of the issues affecting the Lake Okeechobee Watershed and the greater Everglades ecosystem.

Prior to joining Audubon, Doug spent twenty years in the legal department at Comcast Cable Communications and served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for eleven years before leaving the company in 2016. In that role, he served as Comcast Cable’s principal legal advisor and directed a sixty person team of attorneys and legal support specialists who provided legal services to the company’s headquarters departments and operating divisions.

Before joining Comcast, Doug was an associate in the Business and Finance department at Morgan, Lewis and Bockius, LLP. Doug began his legal career as a judicial clerk to the Hon. Jan E. Dubois, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Prior to earning his legal degree, he worked for Suburban Cable Television, Harron Cable Television and WPHL-TV in Philadelphia as a writer/producer/director.

After leaving Comcast, Doug earned a Master’s Degree in Ocean and Coastal Law from the University of Miami. He earned his law degree from the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television and Film from Temple University. He has served Villanova as a member of the Law School Deans’ Board of Consultors, the University Board of Trustees and an adjunct faculty member, where he designed and taught a course on international ocean law and policy.

Doug is an avid fisherman and boater who has fished all over the east coast from New Jersey to South Florida, including the Florida Keys, and the Bahamas and Mexico. Doug is also an open water certified scuba diver. He resides in Lighthouse Point with his wife Michele.

Rob Moher
Rob Moher

President and CEO
Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Naples, Florida

Rob Moher, President and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, has more than 25 years of experience in local, regional and international conservation.

He recently celebrated his 21st anniversary at the Conservancy.

As Vice-President of Development and Marketing, Moher led strategic philanthropic initiatives and provided leadership support for the successful Conservancy “Saving Southwest Florida” Capital Campaign which raised $38.8 million toward the construction and renovation of the enhanced Conservancy Nature Center as well as funding for various programmatic endowments.

In his current role as President and CEO, Moher’s key focus is to build upon the Conservancy’s outstanding 56-year history in Southwest Florida with a keen eye on future environmental challenges. He believes in collaborative and science-based approaches in order to balance economic growth with environmental conservation. Moher continually establishes cooperative partnerships with local individuals, businesses, governmental and non-governmental institutions to further the Conservancy’s mission to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

Prior to joining the Conservancy, Moher served as Regional Director for the Bahamas National Trust where he was responsible for protection, management and development of three national parks including coastal and marine parks. Prior to that, he served as a Research Officer for the International Development Research Center in Ottawa, Canada where he was involved in environmental policy research on an international level.

Moher earned a Masters of Arts in International Affairs from Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. In addition, Moher is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and completed his Certificate in Fundraising Management (CFRM) from Indiana University Fundraising School. In 2012, Moher was named Fundraising Executive of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Everglades Chapter.

Eve Samples
Eve Samples

Executive Director
Friends of the Everglades
Stuart, Florida

Eve Samples is executive director of Friends of the Everglades, a nonprofit founded in 1969 by Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Prior to joining Friends of the Everglades, Eve worked as a journalist for 20 years, including roles as the statewide opinion editor for the USA TODAY Network Florida, local news columnist for TCPalm and Treasure Coast Newspapers, and reporter for The Palm Beach Post and Pittsburgh-Post Gazette. She is a native of Miami and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received her B.A. in journalism. Eve joined Friends of the Everglades in early 2020, recognizing an opportunity to meld her passion for environmental journalism with Friends’ legacy of grassroots advocacy and education. She lives in Stuart with her husband and son.