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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.


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.


Audrey Peterman
Audrey Peterman

President and Co-founder
Earthwise Productions, Inc
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Audrey Peterman is a national award winning conservationist and a leader in the movement to engage more Americans of color in the enjoyment, care and protection of our National Parks and public lands system. She has been a vocal supporter of Everglades restoration since 1995, while also drawing attention to the needs of Black and Hispanic stakeholders that are absent from the decision-making process.

A resident of South Florida since 1985, Mrs. Peterman and her husband Frank drove 12,500 miles around the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean in 1995 and “discovered” the National Park System. Finding that only a miniscule percentage of Americans of color know about or feel comfortable utilizing public lands, Mrs. Peterman and her husband formed the consulting company Earthwise Productions, Inc., to provide services connecting land managers and the public.

One of their most successful projects was connecting members of South Florida’s African American and Hispanic population to the restoration, earning them the Everglade’s Coalition’s George Barley Award in 1999. In 2017 President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Our National Parks, National Forests, and Other Public Lands and Waters at the urging of Mrs. Peterman, as part of The Next100 Coalition. It provides guidance to managers of publicly owned lands and emphasizes the need to engage communities of color that have historically been overlooked.

She is the co-founder of the Diverse Environmental Leaders Speakers Bureau, a “one-stop shop” providing easy access to scientists as well as experts in the fields of mountaineering; sailing; climate, green energy, environmental justice and climate adaptation, among many others.

A prolific writer, Mrs. Peterman’s new book, From My Jamaican Gully to the World tells the story of her carefree childhood in Jamaica that set her up for life as an advocate for Nature. She is author of the travel guide, Our True Nature: Finding a Zest for Life in the National Park System (2012) and co-author with her husband of Legacy on the Land: A Black Couple Discovers Our National Inheritance and Tells Why Everyone Should Care, (2009)

She has visited more than 185 units of the National Park System along with scores of forests and wildlife refuges. Her achievements have been recognized with awards including the Environmental Hero Award 2000 from Vice President Al Gore and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Outstanding Citizen Advocate Award from the National Parks Conservation Association, (1998) and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Outdoor Afro, (2017.)


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.