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Speakers & Panelists

Keynote Speakers

Opening Remarks

Panel 1: Shifting Currents -- the State of our Waters

Panel 2: Science & Policymaking  

Panel 3: Can We Save Green Bay?


Keynote Speakers

Steve Ackerman, UW-Madison Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences

Steve AckermanSteven Ackerman's extraordinary career as an atmospheric scientist has brought him international renown. Ackerman's research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), where he is director, has produced new methodologies for interpreting satellite observations of clouds, enhancing Wisconsin's reputation as the birthplace of satellite meteorology. An internationally prominent agency with over 130 scientists and graduate students, CIMSS works with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to collect weather data from satellites to improve weather and climate forecasting. As a professor and CIMSS director, Ackerman encourages collaboration and the sharing of techniques, data, and expertise in order to foster advances in weather prediction that help save lives and livelihoods worldwide. 

Ackerman has collaborated on the development of engaging online learning tools, written an award-winning textbook on introductory weather and climate concepts, and published a number of popular science articles on the subject. He currently serves as the UW-Madison Associate Chancellor for Research covering the physical sciences. Read more...


Lana Pollack, International Joint Commission

Lana Pollack was appointed Chair of the U.S. Section, International Joint Commission, by President Barack Obama, effective June 26, 2010.

Throughout a diverse career in public office, education and the public interest sector, Ms. Pollack has demonstrated leadership on a range of public policy issues. She served from 1996-2008 as president of the Michigan Environmental Council, a coalition of 70 environmental organizations working to protect the Great Lakes and Michigan's environment. She was elected three times to the Michigan legislature, serving as a state senator from 1983-1994. As a state senator, Ms. Pollack became a leading advocate for women, children, and the environment. In this capacity, she earned praise as the architect of Michigan's landmark 1990 polluter pay statute which, before it was substantially amended in 1995, saved taxpayers $100 million by requiring proven polluters to pay for the cleanup of toxic waste.

In addition to these roles, Ms. Pollack was a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, taught at the University of Michigan, and was an elected trustee of the Ann Arbor Board of Education. Other professional experiences included co-founding a statewide general interest magazine, and co-directing a school for elementary education in Lusaka, Zambia. Read more...


Curt Meine, Aldo Leopold Foundation 

Curt MeineCurt Meine is a conservation biologist and writer based in Sauk County. He serves as Senior Fellow with the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the Center for Humans and Nature, and as Adjunct Associate Professor at UW–Madison. Meine served as on-screen guide in the Emmy Award-winning documentary film Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time (2011) and edited the Library of America’s definitive collection, Aldo Leopold: A Sand County Almanac and Other Essays on Ecology and Conservation (2013). Meine was the project coordinator for the Wisconsin Academy's first Waters of Wisconsin Initiative, and serves as advisor for the second iteration as well. He is a founder and member of the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance in Sauk County.

Opening Remarks

Meredith Keller, Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters

Meredith KellerMeredith Keller is the Initiatives director at the Wisconsin Academy, where she leads both the Waters of Wisconsin and Climate & Energy Initiatives. She joined the Academy in September 2014 with an array of experience in nonprofits, environmental policy, and community organizing. Before the Academy, Meredith led the Minnesota Waters Program at Conservation Minnesota, which included working with citizens’ groups and state agencies to control the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Keller deferred college after high school, choosing instead to serve in AmeriCorps. She dedicated two years to its Reading Corps Program in Minnesota before working on a Senatorial race in 2008. While a student in Environmental Studies, History, and Political Science at UW-Madison, Keller worked as a research assistant for two professors, and finally as the Student Director at the UW-Madison Office of Sustainability. Her honors thesis in political science brought her to Freiburg, Germany, and then back to Madison, where she quantified and researched the emissions and climate change policies of the two Sister Cities. She also completed an environmental history thesis with Professor Bill Cronon examining the legacy of environmental education in Wisconsin.

Panel 1: Shifting Currents: the State of our Waters

Stephen Born, UW-Madison Dept. of Urban Planning (Retired)

Stephen M. Born was associated with the University of Wisconsin from 1969 until retirement in 2005, where he was a Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and Environmental Studies. He has served as Chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the UW-Madison graduate Water Resources Management Program. From 1974 to 1977 Born served in Wisconsin state government as Director of the State Planning Agency and later Wisconsin State Energy Director. He has also worked in natural resources and governmental policy planning in Thailand, Tunisia, Mexico, New Zealand, and Australia. His interests are in the areas of environmental and natural resources planning and management, with emphasis on watersheds. His recent research has focused on groundwater management and assessing watershed partnerships. Born has been a principal in the development of Wisconsin’s laws for lake and watershed management, groundwater protection, land use planning, and mineral development.

Born is coauthor of Exploring Wisconsin Trout Streams (UW Press) and writes occasionally for conservation/angling periodicals.  He has flyfished all over the world for fresh and saltwater species. Read more...


Jane Elder, Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters

Jane ElderJane Elder is executive director of the Wisconsin Academy. She brings to the Wisconsin Academy a strong background in public policy leadership, nonprofit management, and involvement in Wisconsin arts. Her career has focused on environmental policy and communications, while personal interests include theater, modern dance and painting. Jane was the founding director of the Sierra Club’s Great Lakes program, and led the organization’s Midwest Office for many years, spearheading advances in water quality, air quality, and public lands protection in the region. She was the first recipient of Sierra Club’s Michael McCloskey Award, which honors “a distinguished record of achievement in national or international conservation causes.”

Jane was also the founding director of the Biodiversity Project, a nationwide initiative to raise public awareness about the value of Earth’s diverse species, habitats, and ecosystems, and to promote responsive action to stem the tide of loss. This work included a project to explore the ethical and theological reasons for protecting biodiversity, and a groundbreaking communications handbook: Ethics for a Small Planet. In 2002 she received the Bay and Paul Foundations’ Biodiversity Leadership Award which recognizes and rewards efforts to protect biodiversity by researchers, scholars, and advocates.

Jane holds a BA in Communications from Michigan State University, and a MS in Land Resources from the University of Wisconsin. She and her family have lived in Madison for more than thirty years. Read more...


Todd Ambs, Healing Our Waters Coalition

Todd AmbsTodd Ambs is the Director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. For more than 35 years, Ambs has worked in the environmental policy field. From 2010 until becoming Director of Healing Our Waters in July, 2013, Ambs was President of the national conservation group River Network. Prior to that, he ran the Water Division for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for nearly a decade (2003-2010). His extensive experience in both state government and nonprofit organizations includes serving as Executive Director of two statewide river organizations, Policy Director for the Ohio Attorney General, and Senior Policy Analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Ambs was the lead negotiator for the State of Wisconsin during the development of the Great Lakes Compact. He has served on a number of water-related boards and commissions including the Great Lakes Commission, Great Lakes Protection Fund, and the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association. Ambs currently serves on the Regional Administrative Council for the North Central Region Water Network,  Advisory Board for the Great Lakes Clean Communities Network, and on the Board of the Southeast Wisconsin Watershed Trust. Read more...


Erin O'Brien, Wisconsin Wetlands Association

Erin O'Brien PortraitErin O'Brien is the Policy Director for the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. She joined the staff in 2004 and has expanded WWA's policy programs significantly in that time. O’Brien’s work focuses on strengthening state rules and regulations governing wetland management and providing support to individuals and communities interested in protecting local wetlands.

O’Brien has a Master’s in Land Resources from UW-Madison and more than 20 years of experience managing projects for non-profit organizations. Her advocacy work was recognized in 2010 when Community Shares of Wisconsin selected Erin to receive their Linda Sundberg Civil Rights Defender Award. In 2016, O’Brien received a "Reel Partners" award from the State Council of Wisconsin Trout Unlimited in appreciation of her efforts to support and collaborate with cold-water resource advocates across the state.


Sarah Geers, Midwest Environmental Advocates

Sarah Geers is a Staff Attorney at Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA). MEA is a nonprofit environmental law center that works for healthy water, air, land and government for this generation and the next. We believe that every citizen has the potential to make a difference.

Geers works with Wisconsin residents who have environmental and public health concerns to use the power of the law to drive change. Her work involves air quality, water quality and quantity, and wetland protection issues. She is currently focused on helping those who are impacted by industrial agriculture, including concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and frac sand mining. Geers is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and attended law school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Panel 2: Science & Policymaking

Rep. Fred Clark, Wisconsin State Assembly (Retired) and Forest Stewards Guild (Current Executive Director)

Fred Clark portraitFred Clark is the Executive Director of The Forest Stewards Guild, a national organization dedicated to sustainable forestry and forest science. He is also the owner and founder of Baraboo Woodworks of Madison, a business specializing in local wood products.

Clark served three terms as a Representative to the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing parts of Sauk, Columbia, and surrounding counties from 2009 to 2014.  He has been appointed by both Governor Doyle and Governor Walker to the Wisconsin Council on Forestry, where he served from 2004 until 2014. In 1992, Governor Thompson appointed Clark to the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board.  


Sen. Janet Bewley, Wisconsin State Senate

Janet Bewley PortraitJanet Bewley represents Wisconsin’s 25th Senate District, which covers 7,500 square miles in northwestern Wisconsin along both the Minnesota and Michigan borders and the shore of Lake Superior. She was elected to the State Senate in the fall of 2014 after serving two terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly.  

Sen. Bewley’s professional career in northern Wisconsin spans over 30 years and includes serving as Senior Community Development Officer at the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), Dean of Students at Northland College, and Executive Director of the Mary H. Rice Foundation. Sen. Bewley’s work for WHEDA included travel to every corner of northern Wisconsin. She is proud of the quality housing, the new business opportunities, and the many jobs she helped create. 

Sen. Bewley was one of the original cast members at Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua and continues to perform as part of the Rittenhouse Chamber Singers. She is married to David Saetre, Professor of Religion and Campus Minister, Northland College. She and David have five grown children and three fantastic grandchildren.


Sen. Dale Schultz, Wisconsin State Senate (Retired)

Dale Schultz was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1953. He and his wife Rachel now make their home in Richland Center. They have two daughters Katie and Amanda. His mother was a successful attorney, while his father owned and operated a local pharmacy. Schultz attended Madison Central High School and graduated from Madison West High School, and earned his BBA from the UW Madison School of Business.

Schultz was elected to the Assembly in 1982 where he served until being elected in 1991 to represent the 17th Senate District. During his 32 years in the Legislature he earned a reputation as a consensus builder who could reach across party lines to get results. He's been recognized for his work on agriculture, insurance, and environmental issues. Following the 2004 elections, his colleagues in the State Senate chose him as the Senate Majority Leader. His experience in both houses of the Legislature, and well as his time on the Joint Committee on Finance, help to make him an effective leader.

Dale and his wife Rachel own a centennial, 210-acre family farm in Sauk County. He is a licensed real estate broker and this fall will be teaching a political science class at UW-Platteville entitled “Citizenship and Practical Political Decision-Making.”


Mike Wiggins, Jr., Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Former Tribal Chairman)

Mike Wiggins, Jr., former chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe Tribe, is a life-long resident of northern Wisconsin. Raised on the Bad River Reservation, Mike learned how hunting, fishing and harvesting were essential to the Tribe’s cultural and spiritual traditions and why the Tribe’s ceded territory rights were important to protect for this generation and the next. (Bio courtesy of Farms Not Factories and Midwest Environmental Advocates; Photo from Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative)



Patty Loew is a professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication, documentary producer, and former broadcast journalist in public and commercial television. A member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Loew is the award-winning author of Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal, which won the Wisconsin Library Association's 2002 Outstanding Book Award. In 2013, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press published a revised and expanded second edition of Indian Nations. A children’s version of the book, Native People of Wisconsin, won the 2003 Best Juvenile Non-fiction Award from the Wisconsin Writers Council. Used as a social studies text by 18,000 Wisconsin schoolchildren, Native People was revised and expanded in 2015. Loew is currently collaborating on the revised Teachers Guide to Native People of Wisconsin.

In 2014, Loew published Seventh Generation Earth Ethics (2014), a collection of Native American biographies, which won the Midwest Book Award for Culture. Loew has written extensively about Ojibwe treaty rights, sovereignty, and the role of Native media in communicating indigenous world views.  Her chapter on “Ojibwe Treaty Rights” appears in the new Sage book, 50 Events that Shaped American Indian History, edited by Donna Martinez (publication expected 2016).



Panel 3: Can We Save Green Bay?

Michael Kraft, UW-Green Bay Department of Politics & Environmental Affairs (Emeritus)

Michael KraftMichael E. Kraft is Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs Emeritus and Herbert Fisk Johnson Professor of Environmental Studies Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of California, Riverside, and he received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from Yale University.  From 1970 to 1976 he taught at Vassar College, and from 1977 to 2013 at UW-Green Bay, where he offered courses on environmental politics and policy, public policy analysis, Congress, and environmental science and policy. He continues to teach part time in the online Sustainable Management master’s program in the UW System. He also has held visiting faculty appointments at Oberlin College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kraft’s research interests focus on U.S. environmental policy and politics, and his most recent project dealt with the impact of information disclosure programs on corporate environmental performance in the United States. It used the federal Toxics Release Inventory program to examine trends in toxic chemical releases and risk reduction at some 10,000 industrial facilities nationwide and the reasons for variation among firms, communities, and states. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation and was the focus of the book, Coming Clean, co-authored with Mark Stephan and Troy Abel; the book won the 2012 Lynton K. Caldwell Award from the American Political Science Association. Read more...


Julia Noordyk, UW-Green Bay and UW Sea Grant

Julia NoordykJulia Noordyk is the Water Quality & Coastal Communities Specialist at the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. She works closely with the Lower Green Bay and Fox River Area of Concern Citizen Advisory Committee in developing education and outreach to elected officials and community leaders. Noordyk is also a Great Lakes NOAA Coastal Storms Program Outreach Coordinator and focuses on hazard mitigation, community resilience, and reducing stormwater impacts with green infrastructure.

A former NOAA Coastal Management Fellow, Noordyk came to Sea Grant from the Maine Coastal Program where she was a senior planner working on outreach programs in offshore wind energy, water quality and coastal public access. She has a M.S. degree in conservation biology and sustainable development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.S. in zoology from Colorado State University.


Bill Hafs, NEW Water / Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District

Bill HafsBill Hafs is the Director of Environmental Programs at NEW Water. NEW Water has conducted a Aquatic Water Quality Monitoring program of the Lower Fox River and Green Bay since 1986 and is currently working in an Adaptive Management Silver Creek Pilot project to install agriculture non point best management practices to evaluate the feasibility of a full scale Adaptive Management Watershed Project.

Hafs has a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resource Management from the University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point. He worked 30 years as County Conservationist with Brown County Land and Water Conservation Department. Prior to that position, he worked four years at Taylor County Land and Water Conservation Department and three years at Appleton Mills.

Hafs has experience working in the field of nonpoint pollution control. While at Brown County, he was responsible for adopting the first buffer strip ordinance in the State of Wisconsin. He also worked on five priority watershed projects and the adoption of an Animal Waste Management Ordinance.


Kevin Fermanich, UW-Green Bay Natural & Applied Sciences

Kevin Fermanich is a Professor of Geoscience and Environmental Science at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where he holds the Barbara Hauxhurst Cofrin Professorship of Natural Sciences. He teaches courses in soil science, environmental science and policy, GIS, hydrogeology, ecosystems management, and environmental systems. He and his students study water quality, watershed management, soil health, and agricultural management.

Since 2003, Fermanich has been director of the Lower Fox River Watershed Monitoring Program, a program involving local, state, federal and university scientists and managers to assess impairments and sources of runoff pollution. There is a strong hands-on science and education emphasis within the program that engages high school students and teachers in monitoring the health of the Fox River ecosystem.

Recently, he has been co-PI and co-director with J. Val Klump (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) on two collaborative projects aimed at developing linked Green Bay watershed-hydrodynamic-biogeochemical ecosystem models to simulate various climatic and restoration scenarios within the Fox-Wolf basin. More than 20 scientists and management stakeholder representatives are involved in these projects. Read more...


Steve Galarneau, Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources

Steve GalarneauSteve Galarneau is the Director of the Office of the Great Lakes for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). His responsibilities include implementing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Great Lakes policy in Wisconsin. Galarneau has been appointed one of the commissioners for the Great Lakes Commission, serves as a Council Member for the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, and represents WDNR as a board member for the Fund for Lake Michigan. He is co-chair of the Great Lakes Dredging Team and is responsible for sediment management in Wisconsin. He has also been appointed as one of Wisconsin’s representatives for the National Ocean Council Regional Planning Body, is on the steering committee for the Upper Mississippi and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative, and is on the Great Lakes Advisory Board.

Steve graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1985 with a Master’s degree in biological sciences. His Master’s thesis focused on primary production in Lake Michigan. Galarneau has worked with WDNR for 22 years and has spent over 27 years working on water quality, sediment quality and Great Lakes issues.


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