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Speakers, Exhibitors, Acknowledgements

The Heath Hen Could Come Back
– Panel Presentation & Exhibit
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
July 24, 2014

On Thursday, July 24, 2014, Revive & Restore convened a panel presentation with six experts in conservation, de-extinction and island ecology in Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard. The presentation to the community outlined the opportunity to bring back the extinct heath hen – one that is provided by new techniques in genomic technology. The presentation was followed by Q&A and a panel discussion.

Event Speakers

StewartBrand-1Stewart Brand – Founder/editor of The Whole Earth Catalog, Cofounder of Revive & Restore

Stewart Brand is Cofounder of Revive & Restore, of The Long Now Foundation, of The WELL, Read More

of Global Business Network, and founder/editor of the Whole Earth Catalog.  His books include Whole Earth Discipline, The Clock of the Long Now, How Buildings Learn, and The Media Lab.  He was trained as a biologist at Stanford and served as an Infantry officer in the US Army.

Ryan_PhelanRyan PhelanEntrepreneur and Cofounder of Revive & Restore

Ryan Phelan is Cofounder and Executive Director of Revive & Restore, with a mission to Read More

enhance biodiversity through the genetic rescue of endangered and extinct species. She is a serial entrepreneur active in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds. She was the founder and CEO of two innovative healthcare companies: DNA Direct (2005 to 2012), the first medical genetics company to focus on bringing personalized medicine to the consumer, (acquired in 2010 by Medco Health Solutions with over 55 million Medco members) and Direct Medical Knowledge (1995 to 2000), a consumer health web site unique for its content depth and innovative search interface, (acquired by WebMD in 1999). She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Personal Genome Project, which aims to sequence and publicize the complete genomes and medical records of 100,000 volunteers, in order to enable research into personalized medicine.

Josh_Donlan_cropJosh DonlanEcologist and specialist in island conservation

Josh Donlan is the Founder and Director of Advanced Conservation Strategies, which focuses on outcomes, Read More

incentives, and sustainable finance. Its foundation is science, yet Advanced Conservation Strategies works and collaborates outside of science to design and implement new solutions and ventures. Trained as a scientist, Josh holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University and an M.A. from University of California. Josh is Visiting Fellow in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University and a Visiting Professor at University of South Paris. He has over fifteen years of experience in international environmental conservation. Josh has worked on environmental issues in over a dozen countries, including the management of invasive species, environmental restoration, ecological history, and developing financial and incentive instruments for environmental conservation. Josh served as the Chief Scientist for Project Isabela in Galápagos Islands, the world’s largest island restoration project.  He also played a pivotal role in building the NGO Island Conservation, whose mission is to prevent extinctions by removing invasive species from islands, from a five-person operation to a multi-million dollar organization that now works in over a dozen countries.  He served as a key advisor to the Chilean and Argentinean governments on the restoration of Tierra del Fuego. Josh’s efforts currently focus on innovation, environmental entrepreneurship, behavioral incentives, and human-centered design approaches to environmental problem solving.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATom ChaseEcologist, conservation strategist

Tom Chase directs the conservation strategies for the Massachusetts chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Born and Read More

raised on Martha’s Vineyard, Tom brings a deep understanding of land-use change to the conservation of Massachusetts’s coasts, including making residential landscapes more supportive of essential ecological processes.  Tom has a B. S. in Zooarchaeology from the University of Florida and an M.S. in Quaternary paleoecology from the University of Maine. His areas of expertise and interest include Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island, ecological restoration, conservation entrepreneurship, conservation education and community engagement, island ecology, archaeology, and climate change. Tom grew up hearing first-hand accounts of the heath hen and as child fantasized he might one day find them in a hidden corner of the Vineyard.

tom-dunlop-300x267Tom DunlopJournalist and author

Writer Tom Dunlop, a lifelong year-round and summer resident of the Island, is a former editor of and now Read More

contributing writer to Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. He is the co-editor of the second edition of the Vineyard Gazette Reader. Tom lives in New York City, where he also works as a film producer.

Matt_PelikanMatt PelikanNaturalist and writer

Matt Pelikan is a coastal ecologist on Martha’s Vineyard for The Nature Conservancy, helping to maintain and restore Read More

the island’s natural sandplain communities, along with shellfish and eelgrass of its shores and ponds. Matt also writes a regular column, “Wild Side,” for the MV Times and is a birder, ecologist, and conservationist. Matt is based at The Nature Conservancy’s Vineyard Haven office.

Special Acknowledgement

Susan_Banta_ColorSusan Johnson Banta has been instrumental in the creation of this event and with connecting Revive & Restore with the Martha’s Vineyard Community. Susan has called Martha’s Vineyard her summer Read More

home for 40 years and serves as the Community Development Consultant for Revive & Restore. Her efforts have focused on bringing island leaders and the community together to discuss a potential heath hen revival project.  Susan has also coordinated the collaborative exhibit for the Heath Hen Event and designed the graphics for Revive & Restore’s heath hen project.

Susan has served for 18 years on the boards of a variety of organizations in West Marin, California.  Her work has been recognized for building community by the Marin Community Foundation.  She is also the Founder and CEO of Alphabet Soup, the parent-child learning and relationship building program that makes global connections through cooking, art and gardening activities.

Prior to serving the nonprofit world, Susan worked 17 years in the corporate world.  She began her career at the Smithsonian, the Cooper Hewitt and I.M. Pei & Partners.  During her 10 years at Ogilvy & Mather Promotions in New York she was an intrapreneur   Trained as both a creative director and account manager, she successfully started up new profit centers for Ogilvy while serving as Senior Vice President and Creative Director.

Exhibitors –MVMSealLowRes

With our special thanks

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum and the Vineyard Gazette joined forces for the July 24 event to create a special XitZkPvU_400x400 exhibit on the history of the heath hen and the extraordinary effort the Islanders’ made trying to save the species. Arranged in a linear timeline, the exhibit began in 1876 when the last flocks died on the mainland (leaving the Vineyard as the sole host of the near-extinct species) and ended in 1932 with the death of the last heath hen, “Booming Ben”, on Martha’s Vineyard.

The exhibit highlighted the heath hen’s history and the formation of a dedicated preserve (now the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest) where the flock initially thrived, and even recovered from a devastating fire in the spring of 1916 that burnt much of the island during nesting season. Beautifully chronicled by Henry Beetle Hough and captured in the audio recordings of those who remember, this interactive exhibit told not only the story of the heath hen’s extinction but the story of extinction itself. It’s also a story about the Vineyard community— their history, their vision and their leadership in the world of Island Conservation.

Martha’s Vineyard Museum


Anna Carringer is the assistant curator at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Founded in 1922, the Museum preserves and interprets collections that engage and connect the public Read More

to the Island’s history, art, and culture. Anna curates many of the museum’s changing exhibitions and helps to care for the thousands of objects in the collection.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERALinsey Lee is the Oral History Curator at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Linsey has been collecting oral histories of the people of Martha’s Vineyard Read More

for over 25 years. She is the author of Vineyard Voices — Words Faces and Voices of Martha’s Vineyard (1998), More Vineyard Voices (2003), Those Who Serve — Martha’s Vineyard and WWII (2010) and Edible Wild Plants of Martha’s Vineyard (1976)”.


nathaniel_smNathaniel Janick – Oral history assistant and Museum Archivist

Vineyard Gazette

Hilary_Wall_PortraitHilary Wall is the Archivist and Librarian at the Vineyard Gazette, a nationally recognized weekly newspaper based on Martha’s Vineyard. Founded in 1846, the Gazette has long been associated with conservation Read More

efforts. Its former editor and publisher, Pulitzer Prize winner Henry Beetle Hough, was in the forefront of efforts to save the heath hen from extinction in the 1930s. The Gazette also hosts an online collection of photos and articles on the heath hen.

The Vineyard Gazette Research Library & Archive has assembled a unique collection of newspaper clippings, town and state reports, manuscripts, scrapbooks and photographs that document the history of the Vineyard and its people. Hilary, is working toward a master’s degree in library science at Simmons College, and is dedicated to making the Vineyard Gazette’s historical collections accessible to the public.