Keynote Speaker Biographies


William Craig Fugate: W. Craig Fugate began serving in the position of Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in May 2009.

Prior to coming to FEMA, Fugate served as Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. His agency coordinated disaster response, recovery, preparedness and mitigation efforts with each of the state's 67 counties and local governments.

Fugate began his emergency management career as a volunteer firefighter, Emergency Paramedic, and finally as a Lieutenant with the Alachua County Fire Rescue. Eventually, he moved from exclusive fire rescue operations to serving as the Emergency Manager for Alachua County in Gainesville, Fla. He spent a decade in that role until May 1997 when he was appointed Bureau Chief for Preparedness and Response for FDEM.

In September 2003, again under Fugate's stewardship, the Florida Emergency Management Program became the first statewide emergency management program in the nation to receive full accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.

In 2004, Fugate managed the largest federal disaster response in Florida history as four major hurricanes impacted the state in quick succession; Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. In 2005, Florida was again impacted by major disasters when three more hurricanes made landfall in the state; Dennis, Katrina and Wilma. The impact from Hurricane Katrina was felt more strongly in the Gulf Coast states to the west but under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact or EMAC, Florida launched the largest mutual aid response in its history in support of those states.


Jane Lubchenco: Dr. Jane Lubchenco has been the undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and administrator of NOAA since 2009. Nominated by President Obama in December 2008 as part of his “Science Team,” she is a marine ecologist and environmental scientist by training, with expertise in oceans, climate change, and interactions between the environment and human well-being. She received her B.A. in biology from Colorado College, her M.S. in zoology from the University of Washington, and her Ph.D. in ecology from Harvard University. Her academic career as a professor began at Harvard University (1975-1977) and continued at Oregon State University (1977-2009) until her appointment as NOAA administrator.

Under her leadership, NOAA has focused on restoring fisheries to sustainability and profitability, restoring oceans and coasts to a healthy state, ensuring continuity of the nation’s weather and other environmental satellites, developing a Weather-Ready Nation, promoting climate science and delivering quality climate products, strengthening science and ensuring scientific integrity at NOAA, and delivering the highest quality science, services and stewardship possible. Healthy oceans and coasts and a nation prepared for severe weather, disasters and climate change are keys to economic recovery and prosperity.

Lubchenco has served as president for the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS), the International Council for Science, and the Ecological Society of America, and was a board member for 10 years on the National Science Board.  She also served on the National Academy of Sciences’ study on “Policy Implications of Global Warming” under the administration of George H.W. Bush. She served on several commissions, including the Pew Oceans Commission, the Joint Oceans Commission Initiative, the Aspen Institute Arctic Commission, and the Council of Advisors for Google Ocean.

Before coming to NOAA, Dr. Lubchenco co-founded three organizations (The Leopold Leadership Program, the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea [COMPASS], and Climate Central) that aim to communicate scientific knowledge to the public, policy makers, media and industry; she also co-founded a research consortium, PISCO, which studies the near-shore ocean along the coasts of Oregon and California.


Amanda Ripley: Amanda is a literary pragmatist. In her book and in her work for TIME and other magazines, she obsessively investigates the mysteries of human behavior—not just what we do, but why. For TIME and the Atlantic, she has chronicled the stories of American kids and teachers alongside groundbreaking new research into education reform. From New Orleans, La., she covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, helping TIME win two National Magazine Awards for stories that detailed the years of dysfunction leading up to the storms. She covered 9/11 from Manhattan, the sniper attacks from Washington and the catastrophic 2003 European heat wave from Paris.

Over the years, Amanda has written or contributed to more than a dozen TIME cover stories, including Person-of-the-Year profiles of Bill and Melinda Gates, Rudy Giuliani, FBI Whistleblower Coleen Rowley and WorldCom Whistleblower Cynthia Cooper. She is currently an Emerson fellow at the New America Foundation, where she is studying kids, parents and public schools around the world.

Amanda’s book, The Unthinkable, was published in 15 countries. It was described by the New York Times as “a fascinating and useful new book” and by NPR as “The thinking person’s manual for getting out alive.” In 2012, Amanda executive produced Surviving Disaster, a PBS documentary based on the book. To discuss her work, Amanda has appeared on ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX News and NPR. She has briefed staff at the Pentagon, the Senate, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Peace Corps and FEMA, and she has spoken at conferences on leadership, homeland security, emergency preparedness and public health.

Amanda’s work has also appeared in the Atlantic, Slate, the New York Times Magazine, the Times of London, National Geographic Adventure and the Washington Monthly. She has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Newswomen’s Club of New York and the Washington Monthly, among others. Before joining TIME, Amanda covered the D.C. court system for Washington City Paper and reported on Capitol Hill for Congressional Quarterly. She graduated with a BA in Government from Cornell University.

Currently, Amanda writes feature magazine stories from Washington, D.C.


Mark Tercek: Mark Tercek is president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, the world’s leading conservation organization working around the world to save the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy uses a science-based, collaborative approach to solve complex global challenges: conserving critical lands, restoring the world’s oceans, securing fresh water and reducing the impacts of climate change.

Before joining The Nature Conservancy, Mark was a managing director at Goldman Sachs, where he played a key role in developing the firm’s environmental strategy. He headed the firm’s Environmental Strategy Group and Center for Environmental Markets, which worked to develop and promote market-based solutions to environmental challenges. Mark also headed various business units at the firm, including Corporate Finance, Equity Capital Markets, Consumer/Healthcare and Leadership Development.  Mark also led Pine Street -- Goldman Sachs' leadership development program for the firm's Managing Directors and clients.

Mark is a member of several boards and councils, including Resources for the Future, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, and the Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mark earned an M.B.A. from Harvard in 1984 and a B.A. from Williams College in 1979.


Ellis Stanley: Mr. Stanley’s 35+ years of work experience in emergency management began as Director of Emergency Management for Brunswick County, North Carolina in 1975. While in Brunswick County he was selected as the First Fire Marshal for the jurisdiction as well as served as Fire and Rescue Commissioner. There Mr. Stanley was responsible for helping to develop a strong public safety infrastructure and overseeing the volunteer fire and rescue operations within the county.

Mr. Stanley was appointed in 1982 as the Director of the Durham-Durham County Emergency Management Agency where he worked very close with the world’s largest research park in the North Carolina Triangle area and was heavily involved with hazardous materials planning.

In 1987 Mr. Stanley was appointed by the Governor of Georgia as the Director of the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency. As part of the Public Safety Department for the City of Atlanta, Mr. Stanley served as a key advisor to the Public Safety Director. While in Atlanta, Mr. Stanley had extensive experience in major event planning (1988 Democratic National Convention, 1995 Mandela visit, and the 2006 International Olympic Games).

Mr. Stanley was appointed in 1997 as Assistant City Administrative Officer for the City of Los Angeles and in 2000 as the General Manager of the Emergency Preparedness Department for the City of Los Angeles until his retirement in 2007.

Mr. Stanley joined Dewberry, LLC in November 2007 as Director of Western Emergency Management Services.

In March of 2008 Mr. Stanley was selected to be the Director of DNC Planning for the City & County of Denver, CO. Because of the success of the Democratic National Convention, August 29, 2008 was proclaimed “The Ellis Stanley Day in Denver”.

Margareta Wahlström:  Margareta Wahlström is the Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Disaster Risk Reduction.

She has over 30 years of extensive national and international experience in humanitarian relief operations in disaster and conflict areas, and in
institution-building to strengthen national capacity for disaster preparedness, response and for risk

In November 2008, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced her appointment as the first Special Representative to the Secretary- General for Disaster Risk Reduction. Ms Wahlström is based in Geneva and heads UNISDR, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Ms Wahlström has an academic background in economic history, political science, social anthropology, archaeology and philosophy of science. She speaks English, Swedish, French and Spanish. She is from Sweden.


Thomas Loster: Thomas R. Loster, a geographer, was a member of the Geoscience Research Group at Munich Reinsurance Company, Munich, the world’s leading reinsurance company, for 16 years. He was in charge of issues relating to weather perils, climate change and climate policy. His responsibilities also included the statistical analyses of worldwide natural catastrophes and trend analyses that appeared in a number of papers and publications.

Mr. Loster was appointed chairman of the Munich Re Foundation in July 2004. The Foundation addresses major global challenges – environmental and climate change, water as a resource and risk factor, population growth and disaster prevention – and is committed to helping people exposed to risk situations. True to its motto “From Knowledge To Action”, the Foundation aims to prepare people to deal with risks and to improve their living conditions as well as to minimise the risks to which they are exposed. Researching social vulnerability and building resilience through disaster prevention is one key pillar of the work of Munich Re Foundation.


Pete Thomas: Pete Thomas has 37 years of insurance and reinsurance underwriting, broking and management experience. He joined Willis Re in October 2004 as a Senior Vice President and was promoted to Executive Vice President and Managing Director in 2005. He joined us from Arch Re where he worked as a management consultant. Prior to Arch Re Pete worked for PMA Reinsurance Management Company  At PMA from 2001-2003, Pete was first a Senior Vice President and then an Executive Vice President responsible for strategic planning, claims, operations, information technology, underwriting services, accounting, contracts, human resources, and marketing. Prior to joining PMA Reinsurance, Pete was President and Chief Operating Officer of the Burlington Insurance Company, First Financial Insurance Company and Alamance Group (1997-2000).  He spent much of his career at Guy Carpenter in increasingly more responsible roles (1978-1986 and 1990-1997) ending his tenure as a Managing Director. He took 1987-1990 to serve as a Senior Vice President at Trenwick American Reinsurance Company.  He began his insurance career in 1976 as a licensed independent insurance agent at Allen, Russell & Allen, Inc., Hartford, Connecticut. 

Pete graduated from Catholic University, Washington, D.C., with a Bachelor of Art Degree in Philosophy.


Nancy Lindborg: Nancy Lindborg is the USAID assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA) and leads the efforts of more than 500 team members in nine offices focused on crisis prevention, response, recovery and transition.

Since being sworn into office in October 2010, Ms. Lindborg has led DCHA teams in response to the Arab Spring uprising and numerous other global crises. She led the USAID Horn Drought Response and continues to spearhead USAID efforts to advance resilience as a means of helping communities out of chronic disaster.

The nine offices of DCHA include the newly established Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance, the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the Office of Food for Peace, the Office of Transition Initiatives, and the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation.

Lindborg has spent most of her career finding solutions to long-standing issues involving transition, democracy and civil society, conflict and humanitarian response. Prior to joining USAID, she was president of Mercy Corps, where she spent 14 years developing it into a globally respected organization known for its innovative programs in challenging environments.

Lindborg has held a number of leadership and board positions including co-president of the board of directors for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, founder and board member of the National Committee on North Korea, and chair of the Sphere Management Committee. She is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in English literature from Stanford University and a Master of Arts in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Mary L. Landrieu: Mary L. Landrieu was first elected to the Louisiana state legislature at the age of 23. After serving eight years as a state representative and two terms as State Treasurer, in 1996 she became the first woman from Louisiana elected to a full term in the U.S. Senate. Senator Landrieu is currently the Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security and a member of the Energy and Natural Resources, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees. The nonpartisan has ranked Senator Landrieu as the tenth most effective legislator in the Senate.

Senator Landrieu has been the leading voice in Washington for the Gulf Coast recovery effort. In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the failures of the federal levee system, she secured billions in recovery dollars and has worked extensively to jumpstart recovery projects. She is committed to reforming the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ensure the nation’s disaster response arm is speedy and effective the next time a disaster strikes the United States, be it natural or manmade.

In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Senator Landrieu introduced the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act, which is a bipartisan, regional approach to address the immense economic and environmental damage to America's working coast. The RESTORE Act will, for the first time, direct 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties paid by BP directly to the Gulf Coast. This represents the largest single investment in environmental restoration in our nation's history. Senator Landrieu helped build a strong, bipartisan, hard-working coalition of Congress members to pass the RESTORE Act through Congress with overwhelming support. This historic legislation was signed into law on July 6, 2012, as part of a two-year transportation bill.

As chair of the Small Business Committee, she is leading efforts to ensure all small businesses have access to capital and contracts, superior health insurance at a low cost and the resources needed to help boost our economy and guarantee America’s competiveness in the global marketplace.

As one of the chairs on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Landrieu is a strong and effective voice for Louisiana. The Senate appointed Sen. Landrieu chair of the Appropriations Committee's important Subcommittee on Homeland Security. This subcommittee is responsible for drafting legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security's 20 offices and seven sub-agencies.  The Appropriations Committee is considered the most powerful panel on Capitol Hill. From this seat, she fights for Louisiana’s jobs and economic interests and the funding the state needs to rebuild from the 2005 and 2008 hurricanes.

Senator Landrieu, a member of the Energy Committee, coauthored the landmark Domenici-Landrieu Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which was signed into law in 2006. The bill expanded oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico by more than 8 million acres and shares the revenues with Louisiana to restore and protect the eroding wetlands along the Gulf Coast