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2024 Changemaker Speaker Series

Presented by the Patricia R. Behring Foundation

Join us for our enlightening 2024 Changemaker Speaker Series at the Blackhawk Museum, where five exceptional speakers will share their pioneering insights and experiences in understanding and preserving our world. On September 5th, dive into the environmental recovery journey of California's Monterey Bay with Frans Lanting and Christine Eckstrom. On September 26th, gain profound personal and professional insights from Chris Johns, a celebrated National Geographic photographer and former editor. On October 17th, experience the intricate minds of animals through the captivating photography of Vincent Musi. Finally, on November 21st, step into the hidden intricacies of the natural world with Anand Varma’s innovative imaging techniques. Each session begins at 7PM. Don't miss the opportunity to be part of these transformative experiences!


Frans Lanting and Christine Eckstrom are partners in life and work who promote understanding about the Earth through images and stories that inspire wonder and engagement with our living planet. In their upcoming talk, they will explore the remarkable environmental success story of California’s Monterey Bay, which is now the hottest hotspot for biodiversity in North America after having once been a hotspot of ecological collapse. A century ago, this region suffered from severe environmental damage: the redwood forests were clearcut, and marine wildlife was decimated by over-exploitation. Through shared stories of hope and action, Lanting and Eckstrom highlight how the recovery of Monterey Bay exemplifies the potential for restoring damaged ecosystems, offering a compelling model for conservation efforts at a crucial time for our planet.


For more than two decades, Chris Johns held one of the most enviable gigs in the world as a National Geographic magazine staff photographer, a role that evolved when he became Editor-in-Chief—the first photographer ever to serve in this prestigious position. At the helm of one of the world’s most treasured brands, Chris celebrated the wonders of the world and addressed the global challenges that threaten our existence, balancing these responsibilities with skill and care. Near the end of his nearly ten-year editorship, while finalizing an issue devoted entirely to Yellowstone National Park, Chris was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. In his candid talk, he reflects on his illustrious career in photography and journalism, the life experiences that equipped him and his family to confront his cancer battle, and how this journey reconnected him with what matters most in life.


In this enlightening talk, Vincent shares highlights from more than 30 years, traveling the world for National Geographic, documenting a changing planet—from close to home, along the iconic Route 66, to what it’s like to live at the base of a volcano, to ancient Sicilian mummies. One story that captured his heart took readers “Inside Animal Minds” (NGM cover story, March 2008) and included a deep study of birds, apes, dolphins, and dogs, revealing a wide range of emotions and communication skills. With his trademark dry humor, Vincent takes us into the world of animal cognition and on a tour of some of the world’s most unusual pets, including a hilarious romp through his The Year of the Dogs project. You may never look at man’s best friend the same way again!


Step into a world of wonder with biologist-turned-photographer Anand Varma as he unlocks the mysteries of nature through cutting-edge photography techniques. In his Berkeley-based Wonder Lab, Anand captures the invisible behaviors of the natural world, beyond our naked eye. His images and videos reveal the hidden worlds that exist just outside of our perception, from the mesmerizing life cycle of a honeybee to the lightning-fast wings of a hummingbird. With Anand’s expert guidance, we can slow down the fast, speed up the slow, and magnify the miniature, enabling us to see the true beauty and complexity of the natural world.


Discover the art of photography and nature through our exclusive Changemaker Speaker Series Package, which includes access to all four talks at a discounted rate. This special offer allows you to explore diverse perspectives and captivating stories from leading experts in the field, all for the price of three sessions. Secure your package today and experience these enlightening evenings at an exceptional value!

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