2009 BC LAND SUMMIT KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

The program of the 2009 BC Land Summit included four leading, diverse, and engaging keynote speakers, who presented at the four Summit plenary sessions. Our keynote speakers included:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s reputation as a resolute defender of the environment stems from a litany of successful legal actions. Mr. Kennedy was named one of Time magazine's Heroes for the Planet for his success in helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore the Hudson River. The group's achievement helped spawn more than 160 Waterkeeper organizations across the globe.

Mr. Kennedy serves as senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper and president of Waterkeeper Alliance. He is also a clinical professor and supervising attorney at Pace University School of Law’s Environmental Litigation Clinic and is co-host of Ring of Fire on Air America Radio. Earlier in his career, he served as assistant district attorney in New York City.

He has worked on environmental issues across the Americas, and has assisted several indigenous tribes in Latin America and Canada in successfully negotiating treaties protecting traditional homelands. He is credited with leading the fight to protect New York City's water supply. The New York City watershed agreement, which he negotiated on behalf of environmentalists and New York City watershed consumers, is regarded as an international model in stakeholder consensus negotiations and sustainable development. He also helped lead the fight to turn back the anti-environmental legislation during the 104th Congress.

Among Mr. Kennedy's published books are the New York Times bestseller Crimes Against Nature (2004); The Riverkeepers (1997); and Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr: A Biography (1977). His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Nation, Outside magazine, the Village Voice, and many other publications. His award-winning articles have been included in anthologies of America’s best crime writing, best political writing and best science writing.

Mr. Kennedy is a graduate of Harvard University. He studied at the London School of Economics and received his law degree from the University of Virginia Law School. Following graduation, he attended Pace University School of Law, where he was awarded a master’s degree in environmental law.

Sherry Kafka Wagner has extensive experience as a consultant, planner, writer, and media producer.  Her work includes projects in city planning and urban design, such as the San Antonio, Texas, River Corridor development, the Dallas, Texas Arts District Plan, the Rio Salado, Arizona, Plan and the plan for the Charles River Basin Park and the Wharf District Park in Boston . Other projects include the new Scientific Center in Kuwait, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, ZEUM, an innovative museum for children and families in San Francisco, a masterplan for Carillon Park in Dayton, Ohio, and the strategic plan for Inventing Flight, the 2003 celebration of the Wright brothers.  She has served as consultant to more than 45 cultural institutions (museums, aquariums, performing groups) on projects ranging from management issues to production of programs, exhibits, facilities, and media. She has authored a novel, a play, two children's books, television and media scripts, essays and magazine articles as well as special publications for the National League of Cities and the Smithsonian.

Thomas R. Berger, O.C., Q.C., O.B.C. Now a practicing lawyer in Vancouver, Thomas Berger has been prominent in defending minority rights and establishing the rights of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.  He served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia from 1971 – 1983.  During that time, he was Chairman of the Royal Commission on Family and Children’s Law, B.C, 1973-74, Commissioner of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry 1974-77, and of the Inquiry on Indian and Health Consultation 1979-80 for the Government of Canada.  From 1983-85, he was Chairman of the Alaska Native Review Commission.  In 1991 – 1992 he served as deputy chairman of the World Bank’s Sardar Sarovar Commission in India. Thomas Berger is the author of Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland (1977); Village Journey: a Long and Terrible Shadow (1985);  Fragile Freedoms: Human Rights and Dissent in Canada (1981), and One Man’s Justice:  A Life in the Law (2002).  He acted as Conciliator, in2005-2006 with respect to a series of disputes between the Government of Canada and the Government of Nunavut; his report is called “The Nunavut Project.”

Richard Hebda has a Ph D. in Botany from the University of British Columbia and has been a Curator (Botany and Earth History) at the Royal British Columbia Museum for more than 28 years and an adjunct faculty member (Biology, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Environmental Studies) at the University of Victoria for more than 20 years. He curated the Dragon Bones (Chinese dinosaurs) and Climate and Climate Change exhibits at the museum and was the first faculty coordinator of the Restoration of Natural Systems Program, University of Victoria. He was also the Province of B.C.’s expert advisor on Burns Bog (eventually purchased as a globally unique wetland ecosystem). His research areas include vegetation and climate history of BC, Ethnobotany of BC First Nations, climate change and its impacts, ecology and origins of Garry oak and alpine ecosystems and botany of grasses. Richard Hebda, with his graduate students, is author of 90+ scientific papers; 200+ popular articles mainly on bulbs and native plants and climate change; (co) author of four books and major reports, (co)editor of three books. He appears often on TV and radio, and in newspaper interviews, speaking about climate change.