KEYNOTE & PLENARY SPEAKERS
Eugenia C. South, M.D., M.S.
Opening Keynote Speaker
Eugenia (Gina) South, MD MS is Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine where she serves as the Vice Chair for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity. She is also the Faculty Director for the Penn Urban Health Lab. As a physician-scientist, her broad vision is to improve health and quality of life for residents in Black communities through both research and clinical work. Dr. South’s research agenda is focused on developing and testing individual and neighborhood level interventions to better understand the ways in which the physical and social attributes of where people live, work, and play influence physical and mental health, and community safety. She is particularly passionate about leveraging urban nature as a community health tool. Her research is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her work has been published in JAMA, PNAS, and AJPH, as well as been covered by national and international media outlets such as the Washington Post, NPR, and Time Magazine
Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands
Elected in 2016, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz protects and manages nearly six million acres of public lands in Washington State – from coastal waters and aquatic reserves, to working forests and farms, to commercial developments and recreation areas. Commissioner Franz is committed to ensuring our public lands are healthy and productive, both today and for future generations.
She is leading the push to make Washington’s lands resilient in the face of climate change, investing in carbon sequestration and clean energy with wind, solar, and geothermal infrastructure.
As the leader of our state's largest wildfire fighting force, she has pushed for new strategies, innovations, and resources to protect our communities.
In order to restore wildfire resilience in our forests, Commissioner Franz developed a 20-year Forest Health Strategic Plan. This plan will make more than one million acres of forest healthier and more resistant to wildfires – a scale and pace that is unprecedented.
And she has prioritized investments in our rural communities, allocating millions of dollars to spark economic opportunities in struggling communities. She knows that our working lands – and the communities that depend on them for family-wage jobs – are integral to our success as a state, and she is investing in their success.
Hilary is a third-generation farmer and small forest landowner, and has raised three wonderful boys.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a juris doctor from Northeastern University Law School.
Michelle Johnson-Jennings, PhD, EdM (Choctaw Nation)
Opening Keynote Speaker
Dr. Michelle Johnson-Jennings, a Choctaw Nation-enrolled tribal member, serves as a UW full professor and director of the division of environmentally based health and land-based healing at the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute. She holds a joint/affiliate appointments at the University of Colorado’s School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan, and the University of Waikato. As a clinical health psychologist, Her therapeutic expertise lies in working with Indigenous communities and decolonizing healing approaches. She has partnered, and received large scale funding, with many international and national Indigenous nations, organizations and communities. Together they have co-developed health interventions entrenched in ancestral guidelines to encourage a renewed commitment to health and the revitalization of land-based healing practices.
Dr. Johnson-Jennings recently served as the Canada Research Chair for Indigenous Community Engaged Research at the University of Saskatchewan, founded and directed the Research for Indigenous Community Health Center at the University of Minnesota, and was awarded a U.S. Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research in Aotearoa/New Zealand. She has been invited to present her research at numerous professional conferences held in the Philippines, Italy, Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and the U.S. She received a Biomedical Research Excellence postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Montana, her doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a master’s degree from Harvard University, and a BS from the University of Oklahoma.