Plenary and Keynote Speakers

Opening Plenary Speaker: Wednesday, December 8th

Byron Franz, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Byron Franz is a Special Agent of the FBI and has worked national security matters for over 22 years.  He currently serves on FBI Milwaukee’s Cyber Squad, where one of his responsibilities is to raise awareness of cyber and insider threats to business, academia, and state/local governments.  He is FBI-certified to conduct cyber investigations and rated as proficient to          work counterintelligence investigations by the U.S. Intelligence Community. He holds a B.A. in Russian and a law degree, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Keynote Luncheon Speaker: Wednesday, December 8th

Debra Shore, EPA Region 5 Regional Administrator

Debra Shore was named the Regional Administrator for U.S. EPA Region 5 in October 2021. 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.  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.

Keynote Luncheon Speaker: Thursday, December 9th

Todd Ambs, Deputy Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR)

From 2003-2010, Todd was the DNR’s Water Division administrator, where he was lead negotiator for the State of Wisconsin during the development of the Great Lakes Compact. Todd has worked in the environmental policy field for more than 30 years, most recently as the campaign director for Healing our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

His extensive experience in both state government and nonprofit organizations includes serving as executive director of two statewide river organizations, policy director for the Ohio Attorney General and senior policy analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Todd graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science/Speech.