Oceans and the Future Speaker Bios

Oceans and the Future Speaker Bios

Oceans and the Future: Why We Must Save Sea and Shore

Speaker Biographies

Bonnie Monteleone is the Executive Director and Director of Science, Research, and Academic Partnerships for the Plastic Ocean Project, Inc., which is based out of the University of North Carolina. Monteleone has received the Conservation Communicator of the Year Award as well as the Governor’s Award for her eye-opening research on marine plastic pollution. She also creates captivating works of art by taking plastic waste and imbuing it with renewed importance.

Michael Fishbach is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Great Whale Conservancy (GWC.). The GWC’s mission is to protect whales —particularly endangered blue whales —from ship strikes and thereby allow their populations to flourish and restore oceanic health. Michael has spent over 26 years studying whales  and in 2011 he and his crew received international praise for rescuing a dying humpback whale caught in a fishing net. Michael has worked closely with Academy Award winner Louie Psihoyos and he has appeared on CBS, NBC, ABC, the BBC, and National Geographic channels.

Asher Jay is an international adventurer, designer, artist, and conservationist. Her compelling paintings, sculptures, installations, animations, ad campaigns, and films all have a single purpose: to incite global action on behalf of wildlife conservation. In 2012, Jay was named a USNC United Nations Women Design Star, and, in 2014, she was designated an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic.  Jay just opened two permanent exhibits at National Geographic Encounter in New York’s Times Square — a large scale wall-mounted installation entitled Piece of the Planet, and an immersive, soundscaped installation called “Message in a Bottle.”

Ruth Greenspan Bell is a Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and affiliated with Columbia University’s Center for Decision Sciences and the Environmental Law Institute. With a long-standing focus on the governance issues inherent in managing greenhouse gas emissions, domestically and internationally, she has helped build more effective systems of environmental protection globally – including in the former Soviet bloc, Asia, and the US. She is co-leader (with Elke Weber of Princeton University) of a project to harvest insights from behavioral social science research to demonstrate how to re-motivate how humans engage with energy and move toward greater energy efficiency. Bell serves on several boards, is a co-founder of the Environmental Protection Network, and is a long-standing member of the Council on Foreign Relations.



Katie McGinty, Senior Vice President of Oceans Program, Environmental Defense Fund. Prior to this incarnation,  she served as an environmental advisor to President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore and she once held the position of Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.