Keynote Speakers

Keynotes and Speakers

Transforming a River, Transforming Lives

Monday, February 26, 8:00 am

Omar Brownson, River LA


Since 2011, Omar Brownson has served as President and Executive Director for the nonprofit, River LA, whose mission is to ensure that the Los Angeles River integrates design and infrastructure that brings people, water and nature together. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Los Angeles River powered the city's industry and served as an important transportation corridor, creating economic value and growth. As development encroached upon the river’s floodplain, a series of floods had a significant impact on housing and properties, and the river was ultimately channeled in the 1930's  - 1940's.

The nonprofit River LA works to revitalize the river and acts as a hub to drive forward tangible change. Brownson leads the organization's strategic vision and seeks to build a broad coalition across the public, private and philanthropic sectors to champion the river. Brownson believes that, through partnerships, River LA can enhance the quality of life for Angelenos and strengthen communities by restoring the Los Angeles River to a vibrant green corridor that people from throughout the country will want to visit and enjoy.

Brownson's background is in purpose-driven real estate finance, project development and community investment. His track record is entrepreneurial, rooted in scaling transformational initiatives. He completed a joint-Masters in Public Policy and Urban Planning from the Harvard Kennedy School and Graduate School of Design where his team won the ULI/Hines Urban Design Competition. Among other leadership roles, he has served as Chair of the Board of the Liberty Hill Foundation; Southern California Leadership Network California Connections Fellow; and was a Member of the Mayor’s Los Angeles Food Policy Council.

Tuesday, February 27, 8:00 am

Welcome Address: Lisa Mangat, California Department of Parks and Recreation

Lisa Mangat is the Director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation which oversees the state’s nearly 300 parks that span 1.6 million acres across California.

Broaden the Base of Support For Public Lands

Connecting the “next generation” to public lands has been a concern of several recent generations. Equally important have been efforts to ensure that public lands are accessible and attractive to Americans of every demographic and community. Join our panel of young professionals who have been devoting their volunteer time and intellectual energy to engaging with public lands. Their stories inspire us to think differently about how we can broaden the base of support for public lands.

Partnering with an LA Cougar to Build the Largest Wildlife Crossing in the World

Wednesday, February 28, 4:30 pm

Beth Pratt-Bergstrom, National Wildlife Federation


Building the largest wildlife crossing in the world to help save a population of mountain lions from extinction is no easy task—especially when the price tag is $60 million. A project that illustrates the vast power of partnerships, the #SaveLACougars initiative, led by the National Wildlife Federation, is a cutting edge example of how a nonprofit is taking a leadership role in convening a broad array of partners including the National Park Service, Caltrans, and one cougar, P-22.

The #SaveLACougars initiative shows what is possible in leveraging public support for a project on public lands. Join us for this interactive discussion and hear from Beth Pratt, manager of the initiative, on how #SaveLACougars uses a variety of contemporary techniques, including social media marketing, a “celebrity” mountain lion personality, crowd-sourcing, and foundational and private sector funding to build potentially the largest wildlife crossing in the world and to engage urban communities in conservation.