Conference Speakers Bios


Conference Opening, featuring Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Julie Packard

Wednesday, October 12, 6:30 PM MST

Monterey Bay Aquarium
2022 NAAEE Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Julie Packard is executive director of the acclaimed Monterey Bay Aquarium, which she helped found in the late 1970s as the nation’s first major public aquarium dedicated to interpreting marine life of a single region. She is an international leader in the field of ocean conservation, and a leading voice for science-based policy reform in support of healthy oceans.

Under her leadership, the aquarium has pioneered innovative exhibits and education initiatives and has evolved into one of the nation’s leading ocean conservation organizations. It is known for its respected Seafood Watch program, work to improve ocean governance in California and beyond, and field research illuminating the lives and conservation challenges facing sea otters, white sharks, and tuna in the wild. The aquarium envisions a world in which both people and nature thrive, and equity and social justice are essential underpinnings to achieving its mission: to inspire conservation of the ocean.

Julie is a leader in ocean conservation worldwide and brings a lifelong passion for the natural world to her service with many organizations dedicated to conservation activities. She is equally a strong advocate for advancing equity and diversity in the sciences, including endowment of scholarships at UC Santa Cruz that support individuals from historically marginalized communities, and of aquarium programs that help young women develop confidence and identity in the sciences.

She is a trustee of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and chairs the board of the independent Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, a world leader in deep ocean science and technology. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the Audubon Medal for Conservation, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the California Coastal Commission’s Coastal Hero award. In 2013, she was appointed to California’s Parks Forward Commission to craft a vision and blueprint for the future of a state park system serving 38 million Californians.

She was a member of the Pew Oceans Commission and serves on the Joint Oceans Commission Initiative, where she works to implement comprehensive reform of U.S. ocean policy. She has addressed ocean issues as a featured speaker at international conferences, including the World Trade Organization, the International Aquarium Congress, and the Seafood Summit.

A marine biologist, Packard earned bachelor's and master’s degrees in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a focus on marine algae.

Executive Director
Monterey Bay Aquarium 
886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 648-4802
Twitter: @juliepackard

Julie Packard’s remarks will be presented virtually during the in-person opening ceremony.

Mayor Regina Romero (Invited)

Conference Opening: Wednesday, October 12, 6:30 PM MST

Raised by immigrant farm-workers in Somerton, Arizona, Regina is the youngest of six children and began breaking barriers early on as the first member of her family to vote and the first to graduate from college. She is a proud graduate of the University of Arizona and holds a post-graduate certificate from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

In 2007, Regina became the first woman to represent Tucson’s Ward 1 on the Tucson City Council. She has proven herself to be a champion for issues such as acting boldly on climate change, affordable housing, infrastructure investment, immigrant and workers’ rights, and access to a high-quality education. In
November, 2019 Regina was elected Tucson mayor, becoming the first woman and first Latina mayor of Tucson, as well as the only Latina mayor in the 50 largest U.S. cities.

Robin Wall Kimmerer

Thursday, October 13, 11:30 AM MST 

State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry 
Indigenous Knowledge for Education and Sustainability

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, which has earned Kimmerer wide acclaim. Her first book, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing, and her other work has appeared in Orion, Whole Terrain, and numerous scientific journals. She tours widely and has been featured on NPR’s On Being with Krista Tippett and, in 2015, addressed the general assembly of the United Nations on the topic of “Healing Our Relationship with Nature.” Kimmerer lives in Syracuse, New York, where she is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. The center’s mission is to create programs that draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability. 

As a writer and a scientist, her interests include not only restoration of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land. She holds a BS in botany from SUNY ESF, an MS and PhD in botany from the University of Wisconsin. Kimmerer is the author of numerous scientific papers on plant ecology, bryophyte ecology, traditional knowledge, and restoration ecology. She lives on an old farm in upstate New York, tending gardens both cultivated and wild. 

This session will be presented virtually. 

Leander Lacy

Friday, October 14, 11:30 AM MST

Lacy Consulting Services, LLC, Denver, Colorado
Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey

Leander Lacy is the founder and owner of Lacy Consulting Services. His company focuses on helping environmental organizations and sustainability-minded businesses meet their goals of improving human and community well-being through conservation action. Leander has worked on projects such as dam removal; deer management; building trust between fishers and conservation groups; a five-state collaborative to protect the US shortgrass prairie; assessing discrimination in US farming and ranching; and assisting the states of Kansas and Maryland in their efforts to ensure that justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are core to their strategy for statewide environmental education. Leander is trained traditionally as a wildlife ecologist and received his MS in human dimensions of natural resources with thesis work on how to improve the quality of life of the urban poor through environmental action. Before starting his company, he worked on global teams with The Nature Conservancy and has been an advocate for increased social science and JEDI in conservation projects.