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2018 Plenary Speakers

Honorable John Bel Edwards

Governor of Louisiana

Governor Edwards began his public service in 2008 when he was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives from District 72. He served the people of District 72 for eight years until the voters of Louisiana elected him governor in November 2015. Governor Edwards grew up in Amite, Louisiana as one of eight children. With four Tangipahoa Parish Sheriffs in his lineage, he learned the importance of public service at an early age. Governor Edwards served eight years as an Airborne Ranger on active duty with the United States Army and commanded a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Governor Edwards graduated in 1988 from the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated Order of the Coif from Louisiana State University Law Center and set up a civil law practice in his home town of Amite.

Marvin E. Odum

Chief Recovery Officer, City of Houston

Water, Water Everywhere: A conversation on urban flood resilience at the intersection of public and private sectors.

Mr. Odum serves as chief recovery officer for the City of Houston. He was appointed by Mayor Sylvester Turner in September 2017 after the historic damage Houston suffered as a result of Hurricane Harvey. He is retired chairman and president of Shell Oil Company and executive committee member of Royal Dutch Shell. He began his Shell career as an engineer in 1982 and served in a number of management positions. He also led Shell’s major role in supporting New Orleans’ recovery after Hurricane Katrina. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and board member of the National Urban League. In addition, he is a member of the Dean’s Council of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and the Advisory Board of the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Houston.

Jason Clay, Ph.D

Senior Vice President for Markets and Food, World Wildlife Fund

Partnerships and Platforms: Learning at the speed and scale of change.

Dr. Clay joined the World Wildlife Fund in 1993 as a Consultant. Jason has taught at Harvard and Yale and spent 15 years with human rights NGOs working with indigenous people, refugees, and famine victims. In 1988, he invented Rainforest Marketing, created one of the first US fair-trade ecolabels, and set up a trading company within an NGO. He has co-convened multi-stakeholder roundtables of producers, investors, buyers, researchers, and NGOs to identify and reduce the impacts of salmon, soy, sugarcane, cotton, and beef. In the past, Jason launched aquaculture, agriculture, and market transformation programs within the WWF Network. He has helped create corporate commitments around deforestation and brought attention to global issues such as illegality, degraded land, and long-term contracts to use the market to change it. He is the author of 20 books and is National Geographic’s first-ever Food and Sustainability Fellow. He was awarded the 2012 James Beard Award for his work on global food sustainability. Jason studied at Harvard University and the London School of Economics and holds a doctorate in anthropology and international agriculture from Cornell University.

Kimberly Davis Reyher

Governor of Louisiana Executive Director, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana

Ms. Reyher joined the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana in 2014. Under Kim’s leadership, CRCL has convened candidate forums to focus state leaders on coastal issues, developed “The 300” project to inspire Louisiana’s next generation of coastal leaders, and continued CRCL’s science-based policy advocacy and volunteer restoration programs. Kim joined CRCL after 13 years with the World Wildlife Fund, where she worked with fisheries and the seafood industry to advance sustainable management. Kim co-led the development of a $29 million tuna management project with the United Nations FAO, directed the International Smart Gear Competition which awards cash prizes for fishing gear innovations, and supervised projects in 20+ countries. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree in Natural Resource Economics and Policy from Duke University. Kim, a Gulf Coast native with deep roots in Tampa, moved to New Orleans in 2011.

Michael Ellis, P.E

Executive Director, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

Mr. Ellis joined the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority in 2016. Michael joined CPRA after serving as Louisiana Manager at HDR Engineering, focusing on coastal sustainability and municipal water and wastewater projects. Previously, he served as Program Manager of the Baton Rouge sanitary sewer consent decree program. He managed 85 program team members and multiple sub-consultants and oversaw 100 design and construction projects valued at approximately $1.5 billion. Michael holds two bachelor’s degrees in Civil Engineering and in International Trade and Finance from Louisiana State University. He is licensed to practice engineering in the State of Louisiana.

Justin Ehrenwerth

President and CEO, The Water Institute of the Gulf

Mr. Ehrenwerth joined The Water Institute of the Gulf in in 2017. Justin joined the Institute after serving as the inaugural Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council created in the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill to direct billions in civil and administrative penalties for Gulf Coast ecosystem and economic restoration. He served as Chief of Staff to the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce where he assisted the Secretary and Deputy Secretary in overseeing issues of management, policy, and strategic planning for the Department. Justin also served as Assistant Counsel to the President where he took the lead on Deepwater Horizon litigation for the White House working with the Department of Justice. He holds a bachelor’s in Philosophy from Colby College, a master’s in Philosophy and a master’s in Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford, and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Johnny Bradberry

Executive Assistant for Coastal Activities and Chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board

Mr. Bradberry was appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards as Chairman in 2016. He joined the Governor after serving as Secretary of the Louisiana DOTD. In 2005, His department played a critical role in the preparation, response, and recovery efforts for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Johnny was integral to the development of the state’s first coastal master plan and in establishing the vision for corresponding implementation plans for coastal protection and restoration. Johnny also has served in the private sector as President of TOPCOR Services, CEO for TOPCOR Companies; and Board of Directors and Vice President of Business Development for Volkert, Inc, and spent 28 years with energy giant ConocoPhillips. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from LeTourneau College and a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from LSU.

Robert R. Twilley, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Louisiana Sea Grant College Program; Professor, Oceanography and Coastal Sciences; President, Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation

Dr. Twilley joined Louisiana Sea Grant College Program in 2012. Robert also currently serves as Past-President-of Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation, an international coastal science society. He has been a Distinguished Professor at both LSU and UL Lafayette. Robert is the founder of the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio and developed the UL Lafayette Center for Ecology and Environmental Technology. His research has focused on coastal systems ecology both in the Gulf of Mexico, throughout Latin America, and in the Pacific Islands. Robert has been involved in developing ecosystem models coupled with engineering and landscape designs to formulate adaptation strategies for coastal communities. Robert holds a bachelor’s and master’s from East Carolina University, a doctorate in Systems Ecology from the University of Florida, and post-doctoral studies at University of Maryland Center for Coastal Oceanography.