Plenary: Building Resilience Starts With Us

Date: Monday July 18, 2022, 10:30am – 12:00 pm PDT (1.5 hours)

This plenary is being organized by: COMPASS, whose mission is to champion, connect, and support diverse science leaders to improve the well-being of people and nature.

Learn more about COMPASS


As we seek to restore connections and build resilience in nature, how might we also build and restore our own resilience? In this lively, interactive plenary, we’ll peel back the onion of the layers it takes to create the lasting, systemic change we seek in the world. Panelists will explore how the conservation movement can better foster resilience – within ourselves and especially collectively – in the face of staunch headwinds. They’ll share stories from their experiences of what sustains them: being grounded in a sense of purpose and meaning; drawing sustenance from powerful networks of support; growing cultures of inclusion, shared vulnerability, and belonging; and being deeply rooted in relationships with both places and people. And they’ll share relevant insights based on what we’re learning about collective resilience in other arenas. For example, what can we learn from forests about how to thrive amidst loss and change? What might we learn about how to act in alignment with nature from Indigenous ways of knowing or from building meaningful partnerships with communities? What wisdom lies at the intersections of environment, art, and culture? Our hope is that you’ll leave this session freshly energized for your own journey to build resilience within yourself, so you can create a more just and equitable future for the planet.


James Rattling Leaf 

Global Indigenous Consultant 

Principal, Wolakota Lab 

James Rattling Leaf is a Global Indigenous Consultant and principal of the Wolakota Lab, LLC who works to support Indigenous peoples’ nation rebuilding efforts through the effective and respective application of traditional ecological knowledge and western science. He has over 25 years’ working with the US federal government, higher education institutions and non-profits to develop and maintain effective working relationships with federally and non-federally recognized American Indian tribes, tribal colleges and universities and tribal communities. He specializes in developing programs that utilize the interface between Indigenous people’s traditional knowledge and western science. He sees a greater vision of human knowledge that incorporates the many insights of human cultures and provides a context for our better understanding of the planet and the world. Currently, he has projects with the University of Colorado-Boulder; North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center; Rosebud Sioux Tribe; GEO Indigenous Alliance; TerrAdapt and the Ecological Society of America Traditional Ecological Knowledge Section. He is a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. 

Jonaki Bhattacharyya 

Ethnoecologist, Consultant and Researcher 

Stewardship and Planning

Jonaki Bhattacharyya is an ethnoecologist who does applied research and biocultural conservation, specializing in wildlife and habitat stewardship, and landscape level planning. An independent consultant and researcher, Jonaki works primarily for community-based and Indigenous-led initiatives, providing technical support and facilitation services to Indigenous nations, NGOs, and their partners. She draws on an interdisciplinary background and diverse cultural experiences, integrating multiple ways of knowing, methodologies in her work with communities, Nations, and programs throughout Canada. 

Jonaki earned a PhD in from the University of Waterloo (Ontario), and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria (British Columbia). She is part of the core team who have been working to establish Dasiqox-Nexwagwez?an (Tsilhqot’in Protected Area) since 2012. She received the 2015 Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science, and currently serves on the Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership (CRP), the Indigenous Leadership Initiative’s (ILI)

National Advisory Committee on Indigenous Wildfire Management and Stewardship, and on the Board of West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL). At the core, Jonaki’s role is rooted in relationships with places and people; time spent on the ground nourishes connections, sustaining meaning and credibility in her work. 

José G. Gonzalez 

Founder and Director Emeritus, Latino Outdoors 

Partner, Avarna Group 

José G. González is the Founder and Director Emeritus of Latino Outdoors. He is a professional educator with training in the fields of education and conservation while engaging in different artistic endeavors with art and messaging—often exploring the intersection of the environment and culture. As a Partner in the Avarna Group and through his own consulting, his work focuses on Equity & Inclusion frameworks and practices in the environmental, outdoor, and conservation fields. He is also an illustrator and science communicator. 

He received his B.A at the University of California, Davis, and his M.S at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment. His teaching coursework was at the Bilingual, Multicultural, Education Department at Sacramento State. 

He serves as a Trustee for the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Trustee for the National Recreation Foundation, Resource Media Board Director, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project Board Director, Councilor for Save the Redwoods League, and as an advisor to Blue Sky Funders Forum, among other such leadership volunteer roles. You can connect with him on social media @JoseBilingue. Puns welcomed.

Karen McLeod

Director of Leadership Programs, COMPASS

Karen McLeod is the Director of Leadership Programs for COMPASS and a certified professional coach. Across these roles, she supports mission-driven professionals, within science and beyond, to have impact and thrive. Since joining COMPASS in 2003, she’s served in many capacities, including coach, facilitator, fundraiser, mentor, organizational leader, strategist, synthesizer, trainer, and Interim Executive Director. Most recently, she’s led COMPASS’s cohort-based leadership programs, building a network of leaders who advance just and equitable solutions across North America and around the world. Karen earned a PhD from Oregon State University, where she is courtesy faculty in the Department of Integrative Biology. Trained as a marine ecologist, her appreciation of nature’s astounding beauty and fragility was strongly influenced by the thousands of hours she spent underwater on coral reefs in various parts of the world. She enjoys backpacking, hiking, meditation, poetry, trail running, yoga, and soaking in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two daughters, and their dog.