2022 Speaker Bios

Workshop Presenters & Panelists

Talk Title & Time

Sophia Alexandrou

Sophia Alexandrou is a senior at White Plains High School and is a member of the Executive Committee for Westchester Green County USA, a youth-led climate organization dedicated to improving sustainability throughout Westchester County Schools. She has worked with One World since June of 2021 and in that time, led the initiative to make White Plains High School carbon neutral.

Student Participation in Local Advisory Groups Panel 1

11am, Blue Room


Riobart (Rob) Breen

Dr. Ríobart É. Breen is a climate policy analyst for the NYSDEC’s Office of Climate Change, where he leads the climate adaptation and communications section responsible for climate change adaptation and resilience policy, planning and communications. He formerly served as an environmental policy analyst for the NYS Coastal Management Program, focusing on coastal and ocean climate change resilience, and in Arizona, directed conservation programs implementing best practices to address climate-influenced western wildfires via restoring forests, streams and wildlife habitats. He is a lecturer in the Biodiversity, Conservation, and Policy program at SUNY Albany; a fellow with the ecoregional Anam Circle think tank; and is the developer of EarthQuest: a climate change simulation game that uses GIS story maps and digital media to educate youth. Rob lives with his family on a regenerative homestead and small goat farm in upstate NY.

Open Space Workshop

Local adaptation planning


3pm, Yellow Room

Joseph Carvin

Joe Carvin is the founder of One World. His time spent as Town Supervisor for the Town of Rye and three-decade long career in emerging market finance, his ability to speak 5 languages fluently, and being a father have influenced his passion for global citizenship education. Joe holds an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and an MBA from New York University.

Student Workshops

11am and 4pm, Blue Room

Maureen Coleman

Maureen Coleman, Esq. is President and Chief Executive Officer of NYS' Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC). She was formerly General Counsel at EFC. Previously, Maureen worked as Executive Director of the NYS Bridge Authority, and has served as Assistant Counsel to the Governor, where she advised the Governor and policy staff on legal matters related to the environment, energy, and agriculture. Before that, Maureen worked for the Department of Environmental Conservation for 13 years, where she served as legislative counsel in its Office of Legislative Affairs and then as Bureau Chief of Water and Natural Resources for its Office of General Counsel. Prior to joining state service, Maureen served as Vice President, Law & Regulation at J. &. W. Seligman & Co. Inc., a privately owned investment manager in NYC. She has a B.A. from College of Saint Rose and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

Water/Agriculture Workshop


2pm, Yellow Room

Avery Cotton

Avery Cotton is a junior at New Canaan High School and a member of Sustainable Lower Fairfield County, a youth-led organization dedicated to advancing equity by empowering underserved communities with clean energy technologies. He has also founded an environmental club at his school that participates in outdoor volunteer work.

Student Participation in Local Advisory Groups Panel 1


4pm, Blue Room

Hon. Mike Cusick

Michael J. Cusick is a NYS Assembly member representing Staten Island and Chair of the Assembly Energy Committee. Mike has worked to secure the energy grid against cybersecurity threats, increase the adoption of electric-drive vehicles, and supported efforts to bring the offshore-wind industry to NY. Prior to becoming Assemblyman, Mike served as Director of Constituent Services for Senator Schumer. Previously, Mike served as the Chief of Staff to Staten Island Assemblyman Eric Vitaliano. Mike began his career in public service as a Special Assistant to the President of the City Council. In addition to sitting on the Assembly Committees on Governmental Employees, Higher Education, Veterans Affairs, and Ways and Means, Cusick is a member of the National Conference of State Legislators Energy Task Force and the Council of State Governments Energy and Environment Committee.

Energy Workshop

Overview of the Bond Act


1pm, Blue Rom

Gavin Donohue

Gavin J. Donohue is the President and CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York (IPPNY), a statewide trade association. IPPNY represents operators and developers of independent electric generating facilities, power marketers, and suppliers of goods and services to the industry. Prior to this, Gavin served as Executive Deputy Commissioner for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Gavin was appointed to the NYS Climate Action Council in 2019, a 22-member body created in statute under the CLCPA. He has served on the board of the Electric Power Supply Association, Governor Cuomo's Energy & Environment & Recreation Transition Committee, Mayor Bloomberg's NYC Energy Policy Task Force and Governor Pataki's Commission on the Future of NYS Power Programs for Economic Development. Gavin graduated from Siena College and attended SUNY Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy and Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Climate Action Council Workshop


1pm, Yellow Room

Dazzle Ekblad

Dazzle Ekblad has served as a Climate Policy Analyst for NYSDEC since 2014. Originally from Minnesota, she works out of DEC’s central office in Albany and leads the community engagement team at the Office of Climate Change. This team manages the Climate Smart Communities (CSC) program and all its affiliated initiatives, including the zero-emission vehicle rebates, CSC grants, Climate Leadership Coordinators, and CSC certification program. Dazzle holds a Master of Science in Natural Resources Policy from SUNY ESF, as well as a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Outside of work, you'll find Dazzle digging in her garden, cruising the streets on her electric bike, or scanning the sky for raptors.

Energy Workshop

Update on Climate Smart Communities


1pm, Blue Room

Ted Fink

Ted Fink is the founder of GREENPLAN, a professional planning firm that works for communities throughout the Hudson River Valley, the Catskills, and Upstate New York. GREENPLAN offers comprehensive custom planning to communities for a host of issues. Ted has practiced planning for more than 40 years and is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners. He also teaches environmental science and policy at Marist College and taught Land Use Planning at Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy. Ted previously worked in DEC’s Region 3 office preparing plans and studies for the State and Federal Wild and Scenic Rivers programs and Hudson River Coastal Management Program

Open Space Workshop

Connectivity


3pm, Yellow Room

Kristin Hamilton

Kristen Hamilton is Grants Management Operations and Implementation Lead for the NYS Division of Budget, and has worked in the grants field since she began working for New York in 2009. She has worked with the Grants Management Team since its inception in 2013, and has helped design and implement Grants Gateway, as well as assisted with rolling out the policies involved in the original Grants Reform effort. She currently leads the implementation, operations, and vendor support teams and continues to work on policy development. Prior to her state service, Kristen worked at a number of nonprofits providing financial development, program services, and training.

Grants Gateway Workshop


11am, Yellow Room

Midge Iorio

Midge Iorio is Executive Director of the nonprofit Bedford 2030, where she has built a robust and trusted brand, engaged thousands of community members and expanded the organization's programs, participants and impact. As community ambassador, Midge organized Bedford 2030's Car Show: New York State’s First Fuel Efficient Car/EV Show, and the recent adoption of Bedford's 2030 Climate Action Plan. Midge is committed to climate action and to fighting for greenhouse gas reductions, and ultimately for clean, healthy air, water and land. She has lived in Katonah for 22 years with her husband Frank and two sons, and has been a proud, active community member of several local organizations.

Energy Workshop


1pm, Blue Room

Mayor Shawyn Patterson Howard

Shawyn Patterson-Howard is Mayor of Mount Vernon, NY, in southern Westchester County. She is also Vice President of the African American Mayors Association, where she supports her fellow African-American Mayors throughout the United States of America in addressing historical issues on behalf of their constituencies. Widely known for her groundbreaking work in HIV/AIDS, public health, criminal justice, education, housing, and urban development, Shawyn has developed relationships with government and cross-sector leaders on local, state and national levels. She focuses on developing systemic solutions that address the complex social determinants that have plagued communities for decades. She works to create innovative public/private partnerships to serve those who have been marginalized, disenfranchised, and are oftentimes voiceless. Shawyn is a graduate of Howard University School of Social Work, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and has a Master's in Public Administration and Urban/Community Development from Hunter College.

Environmental Justice Workshop

Case Study: Mount Vernon

2pm, Blue Room

Dr. Robert Howarth

Bob Howarth is an Earth systems scientist and ecosystem biologist. He earned a Ph.D. jointly from MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1979 and then worked as staff research scientist in Woods Hole on Cape Cod, Massachusetts for several years before joining the faculty at Cornell in 1985. Bob has published over 250 scientific papers, reports, and book chapters and has edited or authored eight books. He is one of the 100 most-cited environmental scientists in the world. He works broadly on issues related to climate change, methane emissions from the oil & gas industry, agriculture, coastal water quality, and nutrient pollution. Howarth serves on NYS' Climate Action Council, the group charged with implementing the State’s ambitious climate goals laid out in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019.

Climate Action Council Workshop


1pm, Yellow Room


Luke Huang

Luke Huang is a junior at New Canaan High School and is the founder of Sustainable Lower Fairfield County, a youth-led organization dedicated to advancing equity by empowering underserved communities with clean energy technologies. In collaboration with Westchester Green County USA, he is leading the initiative to connect underserved schools and municipalities with funding for clean energy solutions.

Student Participation in Local Advisory Groups Panel 1


4pm, Blue Room

Peter Iwanowicz

Peter M. Iwanowicz is the Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York. Previously, Peter worked as Assistant Vice President at the American Lung Association, where he directed the Healthy Air Campaign, a nationwide effort to defend the Clean Air Act, and in the Spitzer and Paterson administrations in several positions, including as Acting Commissioner of NYSDEC, Deputy Secretary for the Environment in the Governor’s Office, and as the very first Director of the NYS Office of Climate Change, which was created by Governor Spitzer in 2007. Before joining state government, Peter served as Vice President for the American Lung Association of NYS, where he directed the association’s advocacy efforts and environmental programs. He lives in the Albany, NY area with his wife and two children.

Climate Action Council Workshop


1pm, Yellow Room


Riddha Iyengar

Riddha Iyengar is part of the executive community of Green County. She recently graduated from Scarsdale High School, and is in her freshman year at Smith College. She is planning to major in Geosciences with a focus on Environmental Science and Government.

Student Participation in Local Advisory Groups Panel 1


11am, Blue Room


Isabella Jabbour

Isabella Jabbour is a 15-year-old junior at Edgemont Jr./Sr. High School. She is one of three youth who make up the Executive Committee at Westchester Green County USA, a countywide initiative to make every school in Westchester County climate neutral now. In addition to her efforts to fight climate change, she serves as Deputy Executive Director of Students Against Nicotine, a national student-led organization taking a stand against nicotine addiction, while also serving as vice president of the Westchester County Youth Board, an advisory board to the County Executive, George Latimer.

Student Participation in Local Advisory Groups Panel 1


11am, Blue Room


Laura Lengnick

Laura Lengnick has worked for decades to put sustainability values into action as a researcher, policymaker, educator, and farmer. She led award-winning soil health and sustainable farming research at USDA and served as a lead author of the USDA report, Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation. Laura has led national, state and local research and planning projects that take advantage of working lands as a community resilience strategy. Her book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate (New Society, 2022), explores climate change, resilience and the future of food through the adaptation stories of leading sustainable farmers and ranchers across the U.S. Laura runs Cultivating Resilience, LLC, and serves as the Dir of Agriculture at the Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming in Cold Spring, NY.

Water/Agriculture Workshop

Agricultural Protection of Water Sources



2pm, Yellow Room

Mark Lowery

Mark D. Lowery is the assistant director of NYSDEC’s Office of Climate Change. Mark currently leads the state’s Interagency Climate Adaptation and Resilience Work Group, and several other work groups focused on adaptation to the effects of climate change. He is a member of the Climate Action Council’s Land Use and Local Government Advisory Panel and led development of the Council’s adaptation and resilience recommendations for the Council’s draft scoping plan. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa., and a master’s degree in environmental and forest biology from the State University of NY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY.

Energy Workshop

Update on NYS Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (CLCPA)


1pm, Blue Room


Colleen Lutz

Colleen is an Assistant Biologist with New York Natural Heritage program. She works as a special project assistant for the iMapInvasives team and research support specialist for the Zoology program. She holds a BA in Environmental Science from Marist College and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology from University at Albany.

Open Space Workshop

Local adaptation planning


3pm, Yellow Room

Trifan MacIntire

Trifan MacIntire is a junior at New Canaan High School and is one of the student leaders at Sustainable Lower Fairfield County, which is a youth-led organization dedicated to advancing equity by empowering underserved communities with clean energy technologies. He also serves as a liaison for a community-based organization in New Canaan which handles volunteer work around the local community.

Student Participation in Local Advisory Groups Panel 1


4pm, Blue Room


Mike McCann

Dr. Mike McCann is a Climate Adaptation Specialist at The Nature Conservancy, where he works with communities and governments to plan for and adapt to climate change. He is part of a statewide team that works across NY's diverse floodplains to help build healthy and resilient shoreline communities. Prior to this, Mike worked as an urban marine ecologist on The Nature Conservancy's oyster project in NYC harbor. Mike has a BS in Environmental Science from University of Notre Dame and a PhD in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook, and completed a postdoc at Rutgers University in which he analyzed the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on food webs and energy flow in Louisiana salt marshes.

Flooding Workshop

Coastal flooding


3pm, Blue Room


Julie Noble

Julie Noble is the Environmental Education and Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Kingston. In this capacity, Julie manages the City’s environmental projects, initiatives, and programming, including energy, land use, climate adaptation, transportation, recycling and environmental education. Julie also serves as the Climate Smart Community Coordinator and Conservation Advisory Council liaison.

Grants Gateway Workshop



11am, Yellow Room


Dwayne Norris

Dwayne R. Norris is the Co-Founder & COO of Soulful Synergy, LLC., which seeks to address systemic issues that affect disadvantaged communities by providing transformational services, designed to improve lives and create long term, sustainable development. Dwayne is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and working with stakeholders to design programs that create impact, such as curated curricula for career advancement that encompass classroom training, hands-on vocational training, communication and soft skills training, financial literacy training, resume writing and assistance with job placement and career advancement. Dwayne is the Board Chair for the Rotary Club of Harlem Foundation and appointed by Westchester County Executive George Latimer to serve on his African American Advisory Board where he sits on the Economic Development Committee. He is a recipient of the Business Council of Westchester’s “40 under 40 Rising Star” award and the Brooklyn Crown Heights Lions Club Community Service Award.

Environmental Justice Workshop

Economic Empowerment


2pm, Blue Room



Marina O'Donnell

Marina O'Donnell is the Political and Legislative Director of the NYS Conference of Operating Engineers. She oversees their political and legislative agendas in 10 states, focusing on protecting the safety of—and increasing the work for—its members. Marina has extensive experience in government and campaigns, including as a Special Assistant for Labor Affairs to the Governor of New York. She is the recipient of numerous industry recognitions, including the prestigious 40 Under 40 award from The Capitol, and named one of New York's top women in organized labor by City & State. Marina graduated from Fordham University.

Opening Plenary


Noon, Auditorium



Steve Otis

State Assemblyman Steve Otis represents the 91st Assembly District in Westchester County, which includes communities along the Long Island Sound, and is serving in his fifth term. Steve has played a leadership role on environmental issues, locally and statewide, for the duration of his tenure. He initiated the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015, and advocates for environmental issues in Albay including EV charging infrastructure, flood mitigation, coastal resilience, open space preservation and support for parks. Steve has been a leader in the effort to oppose energy inefficient “proof of work” cryptocurrency mining, working with environmental groups across New York. He has been a member of the NYSACC Board of Directors for almost 30 years, since his time as chair of the City of Rye Conservation Commission. Steve also served as the mayor of the City of Rye for three terms.

Water/Agriculture

Water Protection



2pm, Yellow Room


Susan Pepe

Susan Pepe is Grants Coordinator at NYSDEC's Hudson River Estuary Program (HREP). In this role, Susan manages HREP’s grant process, including developing the Request for Application (RFA), coordinating the application review and award process, contract development, and grant reporting. Prior to her position with HREP, Susan worked as a Contract Grant Specialist for the Research Foundation for SUNY, and as a Senior Grant Administrator for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Susan holds an MA in Social Policy from Empire State College.

Grants Gateway Workshop



11am, Yellow Room


Raya Salter

Raya Salter is an attorney, professor and founder and Executive Director of the Energy Justice Law & Policy Center, the nation's first public interest law firm dedicated to energy justice. She is also a Member of the NYS Climate Action Council, the body tasked with developing NY's plan to reach its climate goals and the author of "Energy Justice" (2018). In prior roles, Raya was the Policy Organizer for the NY Renews Coalition and an attorney for the NRDC and the Environmental Defense Fund. She is ClimateAuntie on IG/TikTok and Raya Salter on Twitter. www.EJLPC.org.

Climate Action Council Workshop

Why we should care about EJ

1pm, Yellow Room


Juliet Schneider

Juliet Schneider is a senior at Scarsdale High School. Her passion for sustainability and innovation drove her to join the executive team of Westchester Green County USA. Juliet is determined to help her school, along with other schools in Westchester, go carbon-neutral with the support of WGC USA!

Student Participation in Local Advisory Groups Panel 1

4pm, Blue Room


Basil Seggos

Basil Seggos is the Commissioner of NYSDEC, leading an agency of more than 3,000 professionals, and has served in this position since 2015. At DEC, he oversees efforts to protect and restore New York’s air, lands and waters; combat climate change; enforce environmental laws and regulations; respond to natural disasters; and support world-class outdoor recreation. Seggos is the Co-Chair of the State’s Climate Action Council, the committee developing the Scoping Plan to achieve the State’s nation-leading climate goals. Seggos advises Governor Kathy Hochul on environmental policy and serves on boards including the Adirondack Park Agency, Environmental Facilities Corporation, and New York State Energy and Research Development Authority, among others. Prior to state service, Seggos served as VP of Business Development at Hugo Neu Corporation, a cleantech private equity company; Chief Investigator and Attorney for Riverkeeper; Associate at NRDC; and legal clerk at the White House. Seggos graduated from Trinity College and Pace University School of Law and served as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Opening Plenary


Noon, Auditorium

Simon Skolnik

Simon Skolnik is the President of NYSACC and a member of the Town of Bedford Conservation Board. A trained civil engineer, Simon devoted his career to the management of public and private sector construction projects. He was first appointed to the Bedford Conservation Board in 1985 and became Chair in 1995. He joined the NYSACC Board of Directors in 1989. Besides their historic role in the protection of open space, Simon views Conservation Advisory Commissions and Boards as among the most vital and important institutions in combating climate change locally and mitigating its effects on the natural and built environments.

Welcoming Remarks

and Grants Gateway 2


Noon, Auditorium

Ned Sullivan

Ned Sullivan is the President of Scenic Hudson, which preserves land and farms, advocates for the Hudson River, and transforms contaminated industrial waterfronts into parks and community assets. Prior to this, Ned served as Environmental Commissioner of the State of Maine, where he helped enact legislation ending the discharge of dioxins from pulp and paper facilities and mercury emissions from power and industrial sources. Ned was previously Vice President and Managing Director at the Bank of Boston, financing capital projects for energy and environmental facilities, and the cleanup of Boston Harbor. In 2011, he was appointed as the Governor's environmental representative on the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council. Ned has a BA in Political Science and a degree in Environmental Studies from Williams College, plus Master’s Degrees from Yale University’s School of Mgmt and School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Opening Plenary


Noon, Auditorium


James Tierney

Jim Tierney serves as the Deputy Commissioner for Water Resources within the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Jim has management responsibility for all clean water programs, including: sewage and industrial wastewater treatment plants; programs to address polluted runoff from concentrated animal feeding operations, construction excavations, and urbanized areas; water quality standards; stream classifications, and water quality assessments. This includes the management of multiple grant programs often exceeding $100 million, and coordination oversight of the $1 billion Clean Water State Revolving Loan fund with the Environmental Facilities Corporation.

Flooding Workshop

Watershed/inland Flooding



3pm, Blue Room

Julie Tighe

Julie Tighe is President of the New York League of Conservation Voters and the NYLCV Education Fund. As President, she oversees the organizations’ policy, political, and programmatic work. Due in part to the League’s and her advocacy in 2019, the State Legislature passed the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act, along with congestion pricing and several other pieces of legislation to reduce emissions from the transportation and buildings sectors. Her priorities for NYLCV include expanding the use and production of renewable energy, greening the transportation sector and reducing waste. Prior to joining NYLCV, Tighe served for more than a decade at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, most recently as Chief of Staff.

Opening Plenary


Noon, Auditorium


Gloria VanDuyne

Gloria is the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Urban and Community Forestry Program Coordinator. She has held various positions in DEC Division of Lands and Forests since 2005. Prior to DEC, Gloria was the Executive Director of the Landis Arboretum in Esperance, NY. Gloria has an MS in Natural Resource Management and Not-for-profit Administration from Antioch New England.

Open Space Workshop

Trees


3pm, Yellow Room


Dr. Courtney Williams

Dr. Courtney Williams is a scientist and cancer researcher for Regeneron, a biopharmaceutical company. She holds a B.S. in molecular biochemistry and biophysics from Yale University and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Princeton University. Courtney is appointed to the Peekskill Conservation Advisory Council.

Environmental Justice Workshop

Case Study - Waste to Energy Plant in an EJ area: An example of Greenwashing


2pm, Blue Room

Libby Zemaitis

Libby Zemaitis is the Climate Change Program Coordinator at the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program, in partnership with the Water Resources Institute at Cornell University. Her work supports local governments in the Hudson Valley to adapt to climate change and build resiliency through community planning, collaborative design, and state policy leadership. Libby leads her team to build partnerships and fund innovation in ecological and equitable solutions. Her previous work includes management consulting and leading startups in the cleantech space. She earned her MBA and MS in Climate Science and Policy from Bard College, and BA in Geology from Vassar College.

Flooding Workshop

Hudson River Flooding



3pm, Blue Room