Keynote & Plenary Speakers

2024 Conference and Workshop
April 15-17, 2024

MERYL HARRELL | KEYNOTE

Meryl Harrell was appointed as Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) in 2021. Before this appointment, she served as the Executive Director of the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards. She has also served as a consultant, advising non-profits, foundations, and government agencies working to conserve America’s public and private working lands. During the Obama-Biden Administration, Harrell spent eight years in the Office of Natural Resources and Environment at USDA, including serving as Chief of Staff and then Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary. Harrell previously worked on public lands issues at The Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C.

Harrell received her J.D. from the Yale Law School, where she studied environmental law, and graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in geosciences and environmental studies from Princeton University. Originally from New Jersey and more recently based in Atlanta, Georgia, Harrell can often be found out on the trails in our national forests with her husband and two children.

COLLIN HAFFEY | PLENARY

Collin started in February 2023 as the new post-fire recovery program manager for the WA Department of Natural Resources. Prior to joining the DNR he worked for over ten years on fire ecology, and post-fire recovery in the Southwestern US. In 2022, he worked with local, state, and federal agencies to assist communities with post-fire flood preparation, response, and recovery following record-breaking fires in New Mexico. He has degrees in environmental science and policy from the University of Iowa and Nothern Arizona University, where he was a Wyss Scholar for the American West.

CRAIG T. NELSON | PLENARY

Craig Nelson has served as the Executive Director for the Okanogan Conservation District in north-central Washington State since December 1996.  He and his office have been called upon by the community multiple times over the past two decades to assist with pre-wildfire planning, fuels reduction and mitigation work, and most notably post-wildfire recovery work.  In 2014 and 2015 Craig led local recovery efforts for the largest wildfires in Washington State history through collaboration with key partners, application of existing and new technologies, and using ingenuity and creativity to find solutions for resource limited and underserved communities.  Since then, Craig and his team have worked tirelessly to increase available resources to reduce wildfire risk and severity through partnerships with the local recovery organizations, Washington State Conservation Commission, and the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Craig earned a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Land Use Planning from Central Washington University in 1995 and is a 2006 graduate of the Washington State Agricultural and Forestry Education Foundation Leadership Program.  In his off time, he enjoys spending time with his family traveling or enjoying his hobby of sports photography.

JENNA KNOBLOCH | PLENARY

Jenna Knobloch is the Wildfire Resilience Impact Fellow doing a tour of service with the USDA office of Natural Resources and Environment. Jenna previously worked as Wildfire Program Manager at Sustainable Northwest. She has extensive experience planning landscape-scale forest restoration projects that support ecosystem health and community well-being in the age of wildfire, working to address system barriers to responsible use of fire as a land management tool through the Oregon Prescribed Fire Council.