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November 1st

Plenary Session
Julie Majerus
Wisconsin DNR

Julie Majerus, JD, is the Environmental Justice Policy Advisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. As advisor to the Secretary’s Office, her work includes policy development and implementation of initiatives for enhanced community engagement to effect more equitable practices and policies relating to natural resource management and protection. Prior to joining the DNR, Julie was a school administration consultant on the Title I and School Support Team at the Department of Public Instruction, where she coordinated the state’s Migrant Education Program, and supported local district implementation of educational stability for students living in out-of-home care.

Julie also served as the policy and legislative advisor for the child welfare division of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, where her work included assistance in drafting, passage, and policy implementation of the Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare Act. Julie began her career as an assistant state public defender in Brown County, representing individuals in the criminal, juvenile, and child welfare systems.

She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School and Rice University. Julie lives in Madison with her husband and two daughters.


November 1st

Luncheon Keynote
Debra Shore

Debra Shore is the regional administrator for U.S. EPA Region 5. Her responsibilities include overseeing environmental protection efforts in the Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, as well as 35 federally recognized tribal nations. One of her roles is manager of EPA’s Great Lakes National Program, in which she leads restoration and protection of the largest freshwater system in the world.

Prior to joining EPA, Shore was an elected member of the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, a $1 billion agency responsible for wastewater treatment and stormwater management for more than five million people. She is a strong advocate for cleaning up the Chicago waterways and for resource recovery, including the reuse of treated water and the generation of renewable energy. Shore is a past chair and board member of the Great Lakes Protection Fund and served as board member and chair of the LGBTQ Victory Institute.

An award-winning author, Shore founded Chicago Wilderness magazine, was a leader in the regional conservation consortium Chicago Wilderness and founded Friends of the Forest Preserves. Shore has been an active habitat restoration volunteer in oak woods and savannas, prairies and wetlands of local forest preserves for more than 25 years.

Shore was born in Chicago. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Goucher College in Baltimore with a degree in philosophy and visual arts. She earned master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Columbia College (Chicago). Shore lives with her spouse, Kathleen Gillespie, in Evanston, Illinois. She has climbed 42 of the 58 mountains in Colorado more than 14,000’ high. Her son, Ben, is an architect in Seattle.

November 2nd
Luncheon Keynote
Adam Payne
Wisconsin DNR

Appointed by Gov. Tony Evers in 2023, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Adam N. Payne directs programs for environmental protection, natural resource management, outdoor recreation and law enforcement with an emphasis on diversity and service excellence.

Secretary Payne has deep Wisconsin roots, growing up in central Wisconsin and learning how to fish, trap and hunt from his father. An active outdoorsman and conservationist today, he continues to enjoy camping, hunting and fishing with family and friends.

With a lifelong dedication to conservation, Secretary Payne spent time at the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association as their executive director. Working closely with partners such as the Wisconsin DNR, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and others, he represented the interests of 72 County Board Land and Water Conservation Committees and Departments, to analyze and develop policies and rules for nonpoint source pollution, soil and water resource management and farmland preservation.

Secretary Payne has a bachelor’s in Communications and a master’s in Urban and Regional Planning, both from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He is dedicated to continuing the work of the Evers administration to ensure that everyone who lives, works and plays in Wisconsin has access to clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, and safe outdoor spaces to recreate outdoors.