Keynote Speakers

We look forward to this diverse group of keynote speakers that will bring new perspectives to the i-Rec discourse!


Heidi Harmon

Heidi is the Mayor of a city in California, San Luis Obispo. As Mayor, she is committed to engaging the community to work together to implement creative housing solutions, developing practices to support local businesses, strengthening relationships within the diverse voices of our residents, revitalizing the unique culture of our downtown, and enhancing community resilience through energy efficiency and sustainability in our changing climate. Heidi is a reform-minded leader, passionate about keeping the concerns of our local residents at the forefront of everything she does.

Heidi first arrived in San Luis Obispo as a college student thirty years ago. She graduated with a degree in early childhood education from Cuesta College, followed by a BA in liberal studies from Cal Poly. After falling in love with the charm and community San Luis Obispo had to offer, Heidi kicked a root down, got married, and began her life as an early childhood educator and mother.

Fast forward a few years and Heidi found herself as an overworked house cleaner and a multi-tasking single mom. Being a mom took center stage in her life and she began to form the rest of her decisions around what it meant to raise children in today’s world. Quickly she found that the best way to build a better community was to raise better people. She deepened her commitment to the community by getting involved in local organizations that worked to create a better world for all of our children.

As a participant and board member of many local non-profit organizations, Heidi has been able to work with local businesses, leaders and community members to fully understand the scope of environmental, fiscal and civic challenges our community faces. In 2014, Heidi turned her eye to elected office and ran for State Assembly. She led a grassroots campaign that focused on campaign finance reform, income inequality and climate change. She is a strong voice advocating for people who have been left out of our political and economic systems.

Heidi believes that Democracy starts and ends with the voice of the people, and as the Mayor of San Luis Obispo, has worked tirelessly to honor and represent and lift that voice.


Bruce Gagnon

Bruce grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that he became a peace activist.

He is the Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space . He was a co-founder of the Global Network when it was created in 1992. Between 1983–1998 he was the State Coordinator of the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice and has worked on space issues for 35 years.

In 1987 he organized the largest peace protest in Florida history when over 5,000 people marched on Cape Canaveral in opposition to the first flight test of the Trident II nuclear missile. Bruce was the organizer of the Cancel Cassini Campaign (launched 72 pounds of plutonium into space in 1997) that drew enormous support and media coverage around the world and was featured on the TV program 60 Minutes.

Project Censored (from Sonoma State University, CA) named a story on space weaponization by Bruce as the 8th Most Censored story in 1999. Again in 2005, Project Censored picked an article on space issues by Bruce as the 16th most censored story of the year and in 2015 his piece on endless war was listed as the 13th most censored story.

Bruce has been featured by artist Robert Shetterly in his collection of portraits and quotes entitled Americans Who Tell the Truth. In 2006 he was the recipient of the Dr. Benjamin Spock Peacemaker Award. He initiated the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home in 2009 that spread to other New England states and beyond. This campaign makes the important connections between endless war spending and fiscal crisis throughout the U.S.

In 2013 he helped organize the passage of a drone bill in the Maine state legislature that requires police to obtain warrants before they can spy on the public. The bill was vetoed by the governor. His articles have appeared in publications like: Earth Island Journal, National Catholic Reporter, Asia Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, Sekai Journal (Japan), CounterPunch, Space News, Z Magazine, Ryukyu Shimpo (Okinawa) and Canadian Dimension. Bruce published a new version of his book in 2008 called Come Together Right Now: Organizing Stories from a Fading Empire. He also has a blog called Organizing Notes.

In 2003 Bruce co-produced a popular documentary video entitled Arsenal of Hypocrisy that spelled out U.S. plans for space domination. In 2010 Bruce was extensively featured in the award-winning documentary called Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space . In 2013 he was featured in the documentary video called The Ghosts of Jeju about the South Korean village fighting against construction of a Navy base. He has worked to help build support for the Jeju Island issue for many years.

Bruce is also host of a public access TV show called This Issue that currently runs in 17 Maine communities. In 1968 Bruce was Vice-chair of the Okaloosa County (Florida) Young Republican Club while working on the Nixon campaign for president. Bruce is a Vietnam-era veteran and began his organizing career by working for the United Farm Workers Union in Florida organizing fruit pickers. He is an active member of Veterans for Peace and speaks about his work in communities and on college campuses around the world.



Anita is a tenured Professor in the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women's Studies Research at the University of Florida.

She has worked in Higher Education for the past fifteen years and her research interests are in the fields of gender studies, international politics (particularly emerging markets), and social justice movements.

Her MBA training has demonstrated a commitment to women and business, leadership, and executive education. She has won awards for teaching and research from USAID-MEAS, J. William Fulbright, and the U.S. Department of Education.

She holds a BA from Columbia University, a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from the Hough Graduate School of Business, University of Florida. 

She is committed to educational equity, and places high value on the learning process. Alongside teaching and research at the University of Florida, she runs a business and enjoys working in the start-up/entrepreneurship ecosystem of North Central Florida.

She is the CEO & Founder of an Education Technology company called LeaderLync which was launched with the goal of empowering women, students of color, non-binary individuals, and first-generation college students to grow, track, and showcase their interpersonal and leadership skills.

Her training in organizational behavior helps the company to devise AI/ML algorithms to combat bias and eliminate prejudice in the education ecosystem and the hiring process.

She fundamentally believes that we need a better way to value and measure career and life success, and her mission is to change traditional forms of assessments and validations of success.


Jose rubens morato leite

Jose is Professor of Law at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) in Brazil. As well as being a leading voice in Environmental Law in his home country, he has conducted research at Unversidad Alicante, Spain, Macquarie University, Australia and the University of Florida, USA.

His academic credentials include a Doctor (PHD) of Environmental Law from UFSC, Brazil, and a Master of Laws from University College London, UK.

Jose has undertaken research in a wide range of topics including civil liability for environmental damages, environmental hermeneutics, constitutional environmental law, biodiversity law and solid waste law. He has coordinated many research projects - supported and funded by governmental bodies such as the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES/Brazil) and the CNPq - within these subject areas. 

He is a member and consultant of IUCN - The World Conservation Union - Commission on Environmental Law (Steering Committee) and is President of the Institute "The Right for a Green Planet"(2013-2018). He is coordinator of the Research Group “Environmental Law and Political Ecology in the Society of Risk”, CNPq.

Jose has published and organized numerous works and articles in national and foreign periodicals. He is a member of the Scientific Council of the Journal of Environmental Law of Editora Revista dos Tribunais (Thomson Reuters), and a founding member of Aprodab - the Association of Teachers of Environmental Law of Brazil.

He is a Fellow and Ad Hoc Consultant at CNPq and Fapesc and was recognized with the “Distinguished Researcher Award” by the Federal University of Santa Catarina in 2011. He serves as an elected Member of the Governing Board of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law (2015 to 2018)”