We are excited to showcase the amazing speakers who will be presenting at our conference


Dr David Suzuki

Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki
Foundation. He is Companion to the Order of Canada and a recipient of UNESCO’s
Kalinga Prize for science, the United Nations Environment Program medal, the 2012
Inamori Ethics Prize, the 2009 Right Livelihood Award, and UNEP’s Global 500. Dr.
Suzuki is Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and holds 29 honorary degrees from universities around the world. He is familiar to television audiences as host of the CBC science and natural history television series The Nature of Things, and to radio audiences as the original host of CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks, as well as the acclaimed series It’s a Matter of Survival and From Naked Ape to Superspecies. In 1990 he co-founded with Dr. Tara Cullis, The David Suzuki Foundation to “collaborate with Canadians from all walks of life including government and business,
to conserve our environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through science-based research, education and policy work.” His written work includes more than 55 books, 19 of them for children. Dr. Suzuki lives with his wife and family in Vancouver, B.C.

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Dr. Jonathan Patz, Director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

He is a professor and the John P. Holton Chair in Health and the Environment with appointments in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Population Health Sciences.

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Read Dr Patz’s The Rotarian Interview


Jess Housty, Member of the Heiltsuk Nation

She serves her community as an elected tribal councillor and chairperson of the Lands Portfolio. She also helps to operate an Indigenous-led non-profit called Qqs (Eyes) Projects Society, which has an open mandate to build community capacity for cultural and natural stewardship in the Great Bear Rainforest.

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Ian Riseley, Rotary International President 2017-18

He is a chartered accountant and principal of Ian Riseley and Co., a firm he established in 1976. Prior to starting his own firm, he worked in the audit and management consulting divisions of large accounting firms and corporations. His firm specializes in income tax and management advice for individuals and small businesses. He has a master’s degree in taxation law and graduate diplomas in accounting and income tax.

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Paul Netzel, Trustee Chair 2017-18

Paul A. Netzel is founder and chair of Netzel Grigsby Associates Inc., a leading management consulting firm specializing in work with nonprofit organizations and institutions throughout the western United States. He served as mayor of Culver City, California, and president of Culver City’s Board of Education.

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Douglas Justice,Associate Director of Horticulture and the Collections at UBC Botanical Garden

The Garden, which recently celebrated its one hundredth anniversary, is noted for its beautiful location on Point Grey, at the western edge of Vancouver, and especially for its world-renowned collections of documented wild-origin Asian and North American plants, including (but certainly not limited to) rhododendrons, maples and magnolias.

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Linda Low, Rotary Peace Fellow

Committed to building stronger communities and a more sustainable world, Linda is a Rotary Peace Fellow at the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Centre in Durham, North Carolina, where she is pursuing her Masters in International Development Policy.

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Derran Moss, Humanitarian Affairs Officer at the UN and Rotary Peace Fellow

In 2002, Derran was awarded an inaugural Rotary World Peace Fellowship to study in the USA for two years at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). On completing his Masters in political science, focusing on international security challenges, Derran returned to Brisbane to work with the Crime and Misconduct Commission, during which time he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study juvenile substance abuse in remote and indigenous communities in the USA and Canada, and also completed a Master of Laws focused on international and comparative law.

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Navin Ramunkutty, Professor, University of British Columbia

Navin Ramankutty is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change and Food Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia.

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Kathleen Rogers, President, Earth Network

Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network, has worked for more than 20 years as an environmental attorney and advocate, focusing on international and domestic environmental public policy and law. Kathleen has held senior positions with the National Audubon Society, the Environmental Law Institute, and two U.S. Olympic Organizing Committees.

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Maria Rodale, President and CEO, Rodale Industries

Maria Rodale is the CEO chairman of the board of Rodale Inc., a board member of the New York Restoration Project and a board member of the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center for the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Over the years, Maria has been recognized for her work by major organizations.

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Chris Cochran, Executive Director, ReFED

Chris Cochran is the executive director of ReFED, an effort of 40 businesses, non-profits, foundations, investors and policymakers committed to reducing food waste in the United States. Previously, Chris was the Senior Manager of Sustainability at Walmart where he developed a farm to consumer view of food waste while leading sustainability for Walmart’s global produce business.

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Dr Jamie Bechtel, Managing Partner at Kito Global

Jamie is a dynamic, innovative, and highly regarded impact expert with over 25
years of experience including work in over 40 countries.  She has a knack for
identifying and building non-traditional (unexpected) partnerships across sectors
including private, public and local stakeholders.

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Dr. Ira Helfand, Nuclear Expert

Ira Helfand, MD is co-President of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, and he is co-Founder and Past President of Physicians for Social Responsibility, IPPNW’s US affiliate. In September of 2015 Dr. Helfand addressed a special session of the United Nations General Assembly, and in May of 2016 he led the session on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war at the United Nations Open Ended Working Group meeting in Geneva. Dr. Helfand was educated at Harvard College and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is a former chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine and President of the Medical Staff at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, and currently practices as an internist and urgent care physician at Family Care Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.

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PDG Jiro Kawatsuma, Hiroshima Survivor

PDG2710 2002-2003. He was born in Hiroshima, Japan, has been passionate about global peace since his nuclear tragedy. Chaired Rotary Global Peace Forum in Hiroshima in 2013.Since then, he serves “Green Legacy Hiroshima”, spreading Hiroshima’s atomic-bomb survivor trees worldwide. He was awarded with the Medal of Honor, Blue Ribbon in 1995.The nation also awarded him with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette in 2003 for his outstanding work to the society.


ADG Hiroko Seki, Japan Co-ordinator Heiwa: Rotary Hiroshima Survivor Trees

ADG Hiroko Seki is a Grand Master of Tea Ceremony (Omote senke) for 25years. She lives in Tokyo. She was a Computer trainer and ran a PC schoolsfor kids and young generations. Hiroko is a Rotarian since 1997. She founded two Rotary Clubs, the first multinational Yoneyama Yuai Club & Yoneyama E-Club 2750 with 32members each from 8 countries, is the special representative for both clubs. They use Japanese as the common language.


PDG Steve K. Yoshida, US coordinator, Heiwa: Rotary Hiroshima Survivor Trees

Steve Yoshida retired from practicing commercial law in Homer, Alaska after 25 years. He now lives in Hilo, Hawaii. Steve graduated from UCLA with degrees in Mathematics and Physics and earned his law degree at the University of California at Davis. As Rotary District Governor in 1994-95 (Alaska, Yukon, Eastern Russia with 11 time zones), Steve helped to start 12 Russian clubs. Steve is the recipient of Rotary’s Service Above Self award. and served on numerous RI and Rotary Foundation committees. In Hawaii, Steve was the Chair of the Rotary Global Peace Forum, 25-27 January 2013.


Lee B. Dombroski, Curator Survivor Plant Distribution Center, Hilo, Hawaii

Ms. Dombroski is currently the Director of the Performing Arts Center at the University of Hawaii, Hilo. She has held various positions, from Costume Director and Wig Master to Production Manager and Associate Managing Director in professional and educational theatres on the US west coast and in Hawaii. Ms. Dombroski has exhibited hair sculptures in galleries in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ms. Dombroski holds a BFA in Theatre from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a MFA in Design from California Institute of the Arts.

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Will Plowright, Rotary Peace Fellow

Will Plowright, District 5040 Rotary Peace Fellow is currently a Ph.D student at UBC. Will’s 8 years of experience in conflict and disaster zones across Asia, Africa, and the Americas frames his doctoral research on the use of child soldiers by non-state armed groups. This research has led him to make contact with armed groups in a dozen countries, including Syria, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Colombia and others. He also works with Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) as a project manager, most recently in Central Africa and Afghanistan. ‘Seeing things from the other side is key not only to researching conflicts, but to ending them as well.” Will’s story appeared in the February 2016 edition of the Rotarian.


Beth Keck, Practitioner-in-Residence of China Studies, The John Hopkins University

Beth Keck has an extensive background in international business and corporate social responsibility. Currently, she is Practitioner-in-Residence of China Studies at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Previously Ms. Keck was a Senior Director at Walmart where she led Walmart’s $100 million Women’s Economic Empowerment commitment to train one million women on farms and in the workforce.  She also initiated the company’s sustainable agriculture initiative.  Before joining Walmart in 2004, Ms. Keck was based in China with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and The Boeing Company.  She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Committee on US-China Relations.

Ms. Keck has a master’s degree from The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and bachelor of journalism degree from The University of Missouri School of Journalism.


Simon Donner, Associate Professor of Climatology, University of British Columbia

Simon Donner is an Associate Professor of Climatology in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia. He teaches and conducts interdisciplinary research at the interface of climate science, marine science, and public policy. His current areas of research include climate change and coral reefs; ocean warming and El Nino; climate change adaptation in small island developing states; public engagement on climate change. Simon is also the director of UBC’s NSERC-supported “Ocean Leaders” program and is affiliated with UBC’s Institute of Oceans and Fisheries, Liu Institute for Global Issues, and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. His efforts at public engagement on climate change have been recognized with an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship, a Google Science Communication Fellowship and the UBC President’s Award for Public Education through the Media.