Keynote Speakers

We are excited to announce that Kyle Whyte will be serving as our keynote speaker on Wednesday July 13th. Kyle will discuss “Indigenous Rights, Reconciliation, and Climate Change”.

Indigenous peoples have long had knowledge of the dynamics between climate change and society. Due significantly to ongoing colonialism and racism, Indigenous peoples are disproportionately vulnerable to harms from climate change.  Kyle will discuss Indigenous guided solutions to climate change that require the ending of colonialism and racism, and how Indigenous peoples are leading forces in the global movements to stop climate change.

A man with glasses and a beard standing in front of a river in the winterKyle Whyte is George Willis Pack Professor of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. Kyle’s research addresses moral and political issues concerning climate policy and indigenous peoples, the ethics of cooperative relationships between Indigenous peoples and science organizations, and problems of Indigenous justice in public and academic discussions of food sovereignty, environmental justice, and the anthropocene. He is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

Kyle currently serves on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. He has served as an author for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and is a former member of the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science in the U.S. Department of Interior and of two environmental justice work groups convened by past state governors of Michigan.

Kyle is involved with a number organizations that advance Indigenous research and education methodologies and environmental justice, including the Climate and Traditional Knowledges Workgroup, the Sustainable Development Institute of the College of Menominee Nation, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, Pesticide Action Network, and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence.

Kyle’s work has received the Bunyan Bryant Award for Academic Excellence from Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Michigan State University’s Distinguished Partnership and Engaged Scholarship awards, and grants from the National Science Foundation.

Thursday, July 14th will feature a panel discussion on “Approaching climate change from all angles: Exploring climate mitigation and adaptation at different scales”.  Panelist include:

  • David Bucaro serves as project delivery lead for the Chicago District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and provides project management oversight of multiple projects constituting the District program. He develops and monitors project schedules, budgets and milestones throughout their life cycle in coordination with functional elements of the District, stakeholders and partners. He provides authoritative project information and coordinates activities with customers and other outside interests, including project sponsors, state, local, and community officials, elected officials, other Federal agencies, the news media, and members of the public. He plans and assigns work of subordinates, sets and adjusts short-term priorities and prepares schedules for work completion. Mr. Bucaro has over 20 years of technical and management experience in the formulation and execution of feasibility studies, re-evaluations and other planning and economic analyses related to flood and coastal storm risk management, navigation and ecosystem restoration to ensure compliance with applicable Federal laws, executive orders, regulations, USACE policy and guidance. He led the technical plan formulation of several major feasibility studies including the Upper Des Plaines River and Tributaries Multi-Purpose Study, Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study, Bubbly Creek Ecosystem Restoration Study and Calumet Harbor Dredged Material Management Plan.Mr. Bucaro received a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the Indiana Institute of Technology and a M.S. degree in Environmental Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining the Chicago District in 2000, he worked as a research assistant for USACE’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign, Illinois. He is a registered Professional Engineer, certified Project Management Professional and a USACE Water Resources Certified Planner.


  • Mindy Granley is the Sustainability Officer with the City of Duluth.As Sustainability Officer, Mindy is responsible for improvement of City policies, programs, and initiatives in support of local environmental, economic, and social systems. She works to incorporate sustainability into decision making, measure and communicate progress, and build partnerships for change. During her first two years at the City of Duluth, Mindy led creation of the City’s first Climate Action Work Plan, pushed for adoption of new performance standards for City-owned buildings, established an interdepartmental Sustainability Advisory Team, and coordinated multiple grant projects with City and community partners.Previously, Mindy served for 12 years as Sustainability Director at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), where she advanced operational improvements and integrated sustainability into the learning experience for all students. Before working at UMD, Mindy spent 6 years working on watershed management in the Lake Superior watershed at local, regional, and state levels. Mindy has a B.S. in Geology/Hydrogeology, an M.S. in Water Resources Science, and is a Certified Energy Manager.


  • Samuel Leguizamon Grant currently serves as the Executive Director at Rainbow Research, a national research and evaluation firm. He has been organizing, educating, and facilitating around environmental justice and its intersections with the complex ecosystem of issues impacting BIPOC populations in world-ecology and supporting co-creative responses at all scales. He is also part of a global worker cooperative – Embody Deep Democracy, and has been on faculty at Metropolitan State University since 1990. As a climate justice organizer and researcher, Sam is currently engaged in numerous initiatives to advance a just transition in response to the climate crisis. Working with The Nature Conservancy, Sam is supporting the development and orchestration of climate just reforestation council that will reforest 1 million acres in Minnesota in a way that addresses the failures to include BIPOC populations in the forestry industry, failures to include them in equitable land ownership, and failures to think, integrally, about the future of the forest and the futures of the peoples most negatively impacted by the climate crisis. He is among the founders of an effort using a commons-based approach to land tenure that seeks to support clusters of BIPOC farmers with collective land ownership (land in common) with low to no debt financing for land acquisition. The farmers, in turn, commit to carbon sequestration, bringing back biodiversity through their farm operations, contribute to local living economies, and work with other farm clusters to grow space and capacity of the commons based approach.  Sam is also launching an environmental justice landscape assessment for Minnesota – examining environmental justice priorities from BIPOC EJ leaders and organizations and working to secure more equitable finance for BIPOC-led EJ efforts in the state.


  • Gidigaa bizhiw (Jerry Jondreau) hails from the Wiikwedong, or the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), where he currently resides with his family. Jerry began working with his Tribe’s natural resources department as a technician and has been involved ever since. Jerry received his Bachelor’s degree in Forestry from Michigan Tech and returned to the reservation to establish the first KBIC Tribal Forestry Department. Jerry currently runs Dynamite Hills Farm with his family where they are producing traditional, clean, and artisan foods.