The general sessions of the Conserving the Future conference feature several keynote speakers, including:

photo of Adm. Thad Allen

Adm. Thad Allen

Thad Allen is a retired U.S. Coast Guard admiral and commandant who served as national incident commander for the unified response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. In that position, Allen oversaw all efforts to cease the flow of oil and mitigate the disaster’s effects. He worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, Interior, Commerce and Health and Human Services on the federal response. He was also in charge of coordinating with state and local organizations and directing the efforts of BP, the responsible party in the spill. In 2005 and early 2006, he also directed the federal response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf region. He was born in Tucson, AZ, graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, holds a master of public administration degree from George Washington University and an MS from the Sloan School of Management of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

photo of Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley is an author, a Rice University history professor and a fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. He is also a history commentator for CBS News and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair magazine. He was born in Atlanta and raised in Perrysburg, OH. He received his BA degree from Ohio State University and his MA and PhD from Georgetown University in U.S. diplomatic history. He has taught at Princeton University, the U.S. Naval Academy and Hofstra University, and he has earned several honorary doctorates. Among the two dozen books he has written are: “The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation: From the Louisiana Purchase to Today” (2002, with Stephen Ambrose); “The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast” (2006); “The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America” (2009); and “The Quiet World: Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom, 1879–1960” (2011).

photo of Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle

Sylvia A. Earle, an oceanographer who served as chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 1990 to 1992, is a National Geographic explorer–in–residence. She was born in Gibbstown, NJ, received her BS degree from Florida State University, earned her MS and PhD from Duke University, and has numerous honorary degrees. She was curator of phycology at the California Academy of Sciences (1979–1986); a research associate at the University of California, Berkeley (1969–1981); Radcliffe Institute Scholar (1967–1969); and research fellow at Harvard University (1967–1981). From 1980 to 1984, she served on the President’s Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere. In 1992, after her tenure as NOAA chief scientist, she founded Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER), which designs, builds and operates manned and robotic equipment for deep marine environments.

photo of Dewitt Jones

Dewitt Jones

Dewitt Jones is one of America’s top professional photographers. In 20 years with National Geographic photographing stories around the globe, he has earned a reputation as a world–class photojournalist. As a motion picture director, he has had two of his films nominated for Academy Awards. As a businessman, he has risen to the forefront of creative marketing by photographing national advertising campaigns for organizations such as Dewar’s Scotch, Canon and United Airlines. He has published nine books, including “California” and “John Muir’s America.” His most recent book, “The Nature of Leadership,” was written in collaboration with Stephen R. Covey. Jones is a renowned lecturer. His inspirational messages are further discussed in his best–selling training programs. He graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA in drama and holds a master’s degree in filmmaking from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Additional information about conference speakers is at