Keynote Address

Keynote Address:  Ellie Cohen, the President and CEO of Point Blue Conservation Science

  • Wednesday, 10:00am to 12:00pm

Ellie M. Cohen

Ellie Cohen, the President and CEO of Point Blue Conservation Science, will deliver our 2015 Keynote Address.  TWS-WS awarded Point Blue the ‘Conservationist of the Year’ Award in 2010. Under Ellie’s leadership, Point Blue has grown to a hemisphere-scale organization, conducting bird-focused applied ecosystem studies from the Sierra to the sea. After the keynote address, a group of Point Blue field scientists will join Ellie on-stage for conversation around questions collected from the audience.

Bio:   Ellie M. Cohen has served as President and CEO of Point Blue Conservation Science since 1999.  Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Ms. Cohen received her undergraduate degree with honors in Botany (focus on ecology) from Duke University.  Field studies in butterfly ecology brought her to California in 1979.

She later received her Master in Public Policy degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where she was honored with the Policy Analysis Exercise Award for highly distinguished performance and the first annual Robert F. Kennedy Public Service Award.  In 2001, she was awarded a fellowship to Stanford University’s Executive Program for Non-profit Leaders at the Graduate School of Business.

Ellie co-founded the Bay Area Ecosystem Climate Change Consortium, bringing together scientists and natural resource managers to cooperatively conserve nature’s benefits in the face of accelerating extremes, for wildlife and our communities. Ellie is an invited member of the National Wildlife Federation’s Climate-Smart Conservation Team and serves as Chair of the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative.  She is also a member of the Central Valley and SF Bay Joint Ventures’ Executive Committees.

Ellie is the recipient of the BayNature 2012 Local Environmental Hero Award for Conservation Advocacy.  As Ellie explained, “This award truly belongs to PRBO’s outstanding staff and Board leaders as well as many of our partners! It is a team effort!”  Read her interview with Bay Nature here.

In 2009 she was named one of the “100 Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet” in the United States as part of National Women’s History Month, recognizing her contributions to catalyzing conservation solutions to the impacts of rapidly accelerating environmental change on nature.

Ellie speaks regularly on climate change, ecosystems and adaptive solutions that benefit wildlife as well as human communities.

Ellie and her family live in San Anselmo, California.

The following Point Blue field scientists will join Ellie on-stage after her Keynote Address for conversation around questions collected from the audience:

Jaime Jahncke, PhD, California Current Group Director, received his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. His Point Blue work aims to advance marine conservation and by conducting research and developing tools to inform climate adaptation, marine spatial planning and ecosystem based management approaches. Jaime leads the Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies (ACCESS) Partnership to support marine wildlife conservation and healthy marine ecosystems by conducting ocean research to inform resource management, and the Whale Alert – West Coast Partnership to protect whales by using science, innovative technology, and collaborative community efforts to decrease ship strikes to whales.
Geoff Geupel has been with Point Blue for 35 years and is Director of the Emerging Program and Partnerships Group and a senior management team member. His recent work has evolved from monitoring and assessment to implementation with the goal of putting better, more appropriate conservation practices on the ground to improve conservation outcomes and reduce the negative impacts of climate change, habitat loss, and other threats to wildlife and people.
Wendell Gilgert, Working Lands Program Director, Emerging Programs and Partnerships, is a Great Valley native and joins Point Blue following a 34-year career with the Natural Resources Conservation Service where he most recently served as the Western Region Wildlife Biologist and NRCS Partners in Flight representative in Portland, OR. Wendell’s knowledge and experience with fish and wildlife issues, habitat management and restoration and how to work with private landowners helps the organization plan, design, implement and monitor conservation actions on their working lands. He is leading the new Rangeland Watershed Initiative that intends to help re-water California watersheds.
Catherine Hickey, Conservation Director, Pacific Coast and Central Valley, received her M.S. in Conservation Ecology from UC Davis. A leader in bird conservation planning from the local to international scale for two decades, she currently serves on steering committees of the Central Valley Joint Venture, Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership, US Shorebird Conservation Council, North American Bird Conservation Initiative, and the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.
Kristen Dybala, PhD, UC Davis Ecology (2012) is a Postdoctoral Researcher, Pacific Coast and Central Valley, and focuses on bringing together the best available science to inform conservation planning in the Central Valley. She collaborates with partners at the Central Valley Joint Venture to revise sections of the 2006 implementation plan, focusing on breeding riparian landbirds and wintering shorebirds.
Melissa Pitkin, Outreach and Education Group Director, works with Point Blue’s team of scientists and educators to share our conservation science findings and recommendations to inspire action. She firmly believes in training the next generation of conservationists, scientists, and educators by connecting people to science and nature. Melissa has a M.S. in Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University and a B.S. in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from UC Davis. She first came to Point Blue as a third grader on a field trip to observe bird banding at Point Blue’s Palomarin Field Station, and returning in 1997 as a biologist working at the Cosumnes River Preserve.  Over the past 17 years, Melissa has grown the Education and Outreach Group to reaching over 5,000 people of all ages each year, through programs in the field and in classrooms, including overseeing the award-winning program called STRAW (Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed). Western Section note: Melissa was an instructor-mentor for the Western Field Camp, a Professional Development Event coordinated by TWS Western Section.