Keynote Speakers

Each day of the IMAGIN Conference, we start with a keynote speaker.  Our keynote speakers feature innovative or inspiring topics that help you to focus and motivate you.  The conference planning team is currently securing keynote speakers and information will be shared here as soon as we finalize them.

Monday June 5 Guest Speakers
Frank Dituri, Brett Fessell, & Dan DeVaun - Boardman River Restoration Project

Frank has worked on the Boardman River Restoration Project for over 12 years. First with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indian’s Natural Resources Department as Project Manager/Ecologist, and currently as Director of Public Services for the City of Traverse City.

He has been the Boardman River Dams Implementation Team (IT) Chair since 2012. As such he has guided and facilitated the IT commitment and continues to expand and promote the collaboration born in the ideology of this multi-agency team. He and his family have lived on the Boardman River for over 3 decades and Frank brings a deep technical skill set as well as local familiarity to the project. Mr. Dituri has Bachelor of Science degrees in Environmental Science and Geography from Western Michigan University and is a Certified River Restoration Professional via the Portland State University River Restoration Program.

Brett Fessell has spent 27 years advocating for and supporting tribally-led conservation efforts in northern Michigan, working as an ecologist for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (GTB). His passion for this work was inspired by defending tribal treaty rights in federal court, leading him to ensure that Indigenous perspectives are acknowledged and applied in watershed restoration and conservation at all levels. Brett's experience and insights have given him a unique capacity to illustrate complex ecosystem processes and relate them to the fundamental values of ecosystem health and service for both human and non-human communities. His perspective has helped bridge Indigenous and western views of science and natural history, creating a holistic approach to conservation. Brett has led and supported a range of initiatives, projects and groundwork related to natural resources restoration and advocacy, including watershed restoration and tireless efforts to ensure that Indigenous conservation perspectives are acknowledged and accessible for a balanced reframing of human needs in the context of natural self-sustaining ecosystems.

Dan DeVaun is a Senior Project Manager and Professional Civil Engineer at GEI working with clients to solve water resource challenges in an ever-changing environment. His career over the past two decades has included service as an engineering consultant and a regulator in Michigan’s Dam Safety Unit. His experience includes supporting development of policy and law, implementing regulations, and designing and managing projects for; dam rehabilitation, dam removal, river restoration, watershed analysis and planning, and stormwater management.   During his tenure with a previous employer, Mr. DeVaun served as the project manager and Engineer of Record for the Boardman and Sabin Dam removals and FishPass.  Dan resides in Traverse City with his family and enjoys recreating in and around our treasured natural resources.

Tuesday June 6 Guest Speakers
Julie Christian & Merrith Baughman - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Julie Christian has been a biologist with the National Park Service (NPS) for almost 20 years. After jumping back and forth between her roots in the Midwest and field work to the west, she came to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in 2015, serving for 2 years as the plant biologist before becoming the Natural Resources Division Manager. Julie was first introduced to working in the NPS as an intern through the Student Conservation Association at Channel Islands National Park and officially started her NPS career at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on a project describing and mapping the plant communities of the area. Much of her career in the NPS has been with the Inventory & Monitoring (I&M) division of the NPS, which gathers and analyzes information on park natural resources—the plants, animals, and ecosystemsthat can indicate the overall biological health of parks. Julie received a BS in Biology from UW-Eau Claire and an MS in Botany from UW-Madison.  Julie has also worked at Mediterranean Coast I&M Network in southern California, Pacific Island I&M Network based in Hawaii, and Chihuahuan Desert I&M Network serving southern New Mexico and west Texas. 

Merrith Baughman has been an Interpretive Park Ranger with the National Park Service (NPS) for 32 years. She circled back to the Great Lakes in 2013 as Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s Director of Interpretation & Visitor Services. Merrith started her career with the NPS at Apostle Island National Lakeshore in 1991. Born to teacher parents and growing up in rural Wisconsin, Merrith knew from an early age she wanted to help others connect to nature and the human heritage shaped by it. She attended UW-Stevens Point’s College of Natural Resources. Merrith has also worked at Gateway Arch National Park, Voyageurs National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, and Homestead National Historical

IMAGIN: Improving Michigan's Access to Geographic Information Networks

IMAGIN is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with offices at 416 S. Cedar Street, Suite H, Lansing, MI 48912

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