Plenary Speakers

All plenary sessions are held in the Palladian Room.

Tuesday 8:00 – 9:30 am

Kristin Bail

Kristin Bail is the Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management. In her most recent assignment, Bail served as Assistant Director for the BLM’s Resources and Planning Directorate. She previously served as the agency’s Assistant Director for National Conservation Lands and Community Partnerships. As Acting Director Bail oversees the nation’s largest natural resources organization, with responsibility for more than ten percent of the land in the United States and one-third of the country’s minerals. The Bureau of Land Management has nearly 10,000 employees and an annual budget of $1.3 billion.


Jean M. Franczyk

Jean M. Franczyk is president and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden. She comes to the Garden after serving as the deputy director of the Science Museum in London, the flagship museum within the United Kingdom’s Science Museum Group (SMG). Across two continents and 15 years, she has held a series of leadership posts in museums and science education. In addition to her most recent role in London, she has also been director of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, SMG’s director of learning, and vice president of education and guest services at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.


U.S. Representative Mike Quigley

Mike Quigley was elected to Congress to represent Illinois’ 5th District on April 7, 2009. Congressman Quigley has consistently supported legislation that aims to protect our planet as well as the health of people around the world, while also supporting job growth and a strong and sustainable economy. He believes that innovative policies that address some of our most pressing environmental threats are critical to creating a more sustainable future. Today, climate change is a real threat to our land, water, air, animals, plants and future generations. A member of the Sierra Club since he was 16, Mike continues pushing for strong environmental policies that protect our natural resources and address the growing threat of climate change.

Wednesday 8:00 – 9:30 am

Dr. Ann Bartuska

Dr. Ann Bartuska is Deputy Under Secretary for USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area. She comes to REE from the USDA Forest Service, where she was Deputy Chief for Research & Development, a position she has held since January 2004. She recently served as Acting USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment from January – October of 2009, and was the Executive Director of the Invasive Species Initiative in the Nature Conservancy. Prior to this, she was the Director of the Forest and Rangelands staff in the Forest Service in Washington, DC. She is an ecosystem ecologist with degrees from Wilkes College (B.S.), Ohio University (M.S.) and West Virginia University (Ph.D.).


Cristina Eisenberg

Cristina Eisenberg is an ecologist and the Chief Scientist at Earthwatch Institute, USA. Her responsibilities include developing strategic initiatives to explore key environmental sustainability issues and establishing partnerships with principal investigators. Her ecological research is focused on wolves and fire in Rocky Mountain ecosystems. She has a master’s degree in conservation biology from Prescott College and a PhD in Forestry and Wildlife from Oregon State University. She is a Smithsonian Research Associate, a Boone and Crockett Club professional member, and a Black Earth Institute Scholar/Advisor. She is the author of The Wolf’s Tooth (2010) and The Carnivore Way (2014) published by Island Press. For two decades Cristina lived with her family in a remote, wild corner of northwest Montana. She currently lives in Concord, Massachusetts, near Walden Pond.


Tom Kaye

Tom Kaye, PhD, is Executive Director and Senior Ecologist at the Institute for Applied Ecology. He specializes in habitat restoration, invasive species control, endangered species reintroduction, population dynamics of plants, population viability analysis, monitoring and conservation planning. In addition, his interests include plant-pollinator interactions and plant systematics. Tom graduated with a B.S. from The Evergreen State College (1984) and worked for the US Forest Service and National Park Service until 1987. He received a master’s degree (1989) and PhD (2001) from Oregon State University. After working for Olympic National Park (1984- 1987), he joined the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Plant Conservation Biology Program where he conducted research and contributed to policy on management of threatened and endangered plant species. He has served on the IUCN Species Survival Commission, Re-introduction Specialist Group. Tom currently serves on the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Team for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Sustainability in Prisons Project Network Steering Committee.


Thursday 11:00 am

Noreen Walsh

Noreen Walsh is Regional Director of the Mountain – Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Walsh oversees Service activities for all 8 states in the Mountain-Prairie Region, including the protection and conservation of some of the last intact habitat for native species in the Region, such as grizzly bears, wolves, sage grouse, black-footed ferrets and millions of migratory birds who journey through and breed in the Region’s Prairie Pothole landscape every year. She also leads the Service’s role in a west-wide conservation initiative focused on greater sage-grouse and its sagebrush habitat, and has supported the “working landscape” conservation model under the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.