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Day One-19th May 2021

Dr Arlene Laing
Arlene Laing

Chair, Arlene Laing is the Coordinating Director of the Caribbean Meteorological Organization Headquarters Unit. She promotes and coordinates regional activities in weather, climate, water and related sciences. She has researched lightning and wildfires in Florida and the relationship between El Nino-Southern Oscillation and Lightning over the US Gulf Coast.

Mr Evan Thompson

Evan Thompson is President of WMO Regional Association IV (RA IV, North America, Central America, and the Caribbean) and the Director of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica.

Mr Rodney Martinez Güingla

Rodney Martinez is the head of the WMO Subregional Office for RA IV, located in Costa Rica.

Lightning deaths, injuries, and damages

Mr Ron Holle

Ron Holle is a senior scientist with Vaisala, Inc., in Tucson, Arizona, and a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society. He works extensively in lightning safety education and the demographics of lightning victims and damages around the world, including ACLENet.

Dr Mary Ann Cooper, MD

Mary Ann Cooper, MD, an emergency physician by training, is an international expert in lightning injuries and lightning injury prevention. In addition to her research, she has served as a Board Member of the Lightning and Electrical Shock Survivors, International, a support group for lightning survivors over 30 years.

Dr. Cooper was awarded Professor Emerita on retirement from the University of Illinois and continues working internationally to mentor young lightning scientists, research and prevent lightning injuries, and educate and raise awareness of lightning safety. Since 2014, she has been the Managing Director of the African Centres for Lightning and Electromagnetics Network (, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries and property damage from lightning across Africa and is active internationally with many other lightning safety programs around the world.

Dr Norberto Navarrete-Aldana, MD

Norberto Navarrete, is an emergency physician, and has worked for more than 14 years in the Burn Intensive care Unit of the Simon Bolivar Hospital, the largest referral center for the care of burn patients in Colombia. His interest in his research led him to pursue a master's degree in clinical epidemiology. He is a professor at the Universidad del Rosario in Bogota. He has a special interest in electrical injuries and lightning injuries and currently leads burn prevention initiatives and research on the subject.

Ms Nikeisha Hibbert

Nikeisha Hibbert is a meteorologist at the Meteorological Service of Jamaica. She has been a meteorological officer for the past 18 years and currently works in Applied Meteorology within the Climate Branch.

Lightning safety, culture, and education

Mr John Jensenius

John Jensenius is a meteorologist and worked for the U.S. National Weather Service for more than 41 years before retiring in 2019. He initiated the U.S. National Weather Service’s lightning safety program in 2001 and served as their lightning safety specialist until his retirement. He also organized the U.S. National Lightning Safety Council where he currently serves as a lightning safety specialist.

Ms Violeta Yas

Violeta Yas is the Chief Meteorologist at Telemundo62/NBC10 in Philadelphia, and is deeply invested in her role as Lead Broadcast Ambassador of the AMS Committee for Hispanic and Latinx Advancement. Ms. Yas works directly with broadcast meteorologists across the country to advance bilingual communication of weather and climate across the world, regularly visits classrooms as a STEM mentor to promote more female and minority involvement, and has been a bilingual science communicator for 11 years.

Mr Joseph Trujillo Falcón

Joseph Trujillo Falcón is a PhD student at the University of Oklahoma and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies. His research interests involve bilingual risk and crisis communication, and as Chair of the AMS Committee for Hispanic and Latinx Advancement, he has established partnerships with academic institutions, broadcast networks, and public and private sectors to improve bilingual communication in the weather and climate enterprise.

Lightning preparedness and protection measures

Ms Kim Loehr

Kimberly (Kim) Loehr holds a B.A. in Journalism from Radford University. A communications and lightning protection consultant and longtime member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)and its Building Fire Safety Systems Section, Kim serves on the National Lightning Safety Council and helps promote the annual National Lightning Safety Awareness Week campaign. She was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by NOAA/NWS in August of 2009 for 'Personal dedication and outstanding contributions to the National Weather Service’s Lightning Safety Awareness efforts.'

Ing. Daniel Esteban Villamil Sierra

Electrical Engineer and student of Master in Engineering at the Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas in Bogotá, Colombia. He is a member of the Research Group on Electrical Systems and Energy Efficiency (GISE3) and of the High Voltage and Lightning Research Hotbed at his University. He has been working on promoting lightning safety in Colombia since 2012 and in 2016 he was awarded the Young Scientist Award by the Scientific Committee of the 33rd International Conference on Lightning Protection (ICLP 2016) for his presentation about the role of lightning risk in the context of Disaster Risk Management (DRM).

Ms. Ileana Mora

Ms. Ileana Mora currently works at the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), at the Hydrology Area of the Electricity Management. Her experience focuses on themes of data analysis using a specialized software, as well as making reports and meteorological studies of diverse subjects such as atmospheric discharges, climatology studies, climate variability, climate change and preparing stational forecasts. She also has publications in subjects related to atmospheric discharges

Dr Katie Flanagan

Dr. Katie Walsh Flanagan is a Professor and Director of Sports Medicine at East Carolina University in North Carolina, USA. For the past 22 years, she has been a strong proponent of lightning safety in sport with position statements

Day Two-20th May 2020

Lightning characteristics and distribution of lightning activity in the Inter-Americas

Dr Ángel Muñoz

Ángel Muñoz is an Associate Research Scientist in the IRI Climate Program, focusing on climate variations and prediction at multiple timescales. Dr Muñoz presently serves as co-chair of the Climate Information for Decision Making (I4D) project in the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Working Group on Subseasonal-to-Interdecadal Project (WGSIP). He also works on the development of climate services, especially those related to food security, vector-borne diseases, and lightning activity.

Cherri-Ann Farquharson
Cherri-Ann Farquharson is the Knowledge Management and Capacity Development Expert at the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE), a role she assumed in August 2020. She holds a BSc degree in Electronics and Physics, and a MPhil degree in Physics, both from The University of the West Indies, Mona. She is also a Certified Energy Manager.

Lightning and Weather Forecast Applications

Mr Joseph Patton

Joseph Patton is an assistant research scientist specializing in lightning research and training with the University of Maryland-College Park. Joseph has degrees in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma and Florida State University, and has previously served as a forecaster with the US National Weather Service.

Dr Jose Galvez

Jose Galvez works at the NOAA Weather Prediction Center International Desks as a trainer in Weather Analysis and Forecasting since 2012. He has an MS and a PhD in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma

Mr Chris Vagasky

Chris Vagasky is a meteorologist and lightning applications manager at Vaisala, Inc., in Boulder, Colorado, specializing in applications of lightning data. He has a particular interest in new uses of lightning data, including for tropical cyclone and volcano monitoring, and is passionate about improving lightning safety globally.

Lightning as an essential Climate Variable

Dr Steven J. Goodman
Steve Goodman photo

Steven J. Goodman (Steve) is a Senior Advisor to NOAA, NASA, and DOE satellite programs since retiring as the NOAA/NASA GOES-R Geostationary Satellite Program Chief Scientist in 2017. Dr. Goodman is also an adjunct professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. His research interests are in satellite and radar remote sensing, Nowcasting of severe storms and high impact weather, and lightning and precipitation process studies.

Lightning Detection

Mr Brook Pearson

Brooke Pearson works with organizations around the world to help them better manage weather conditions that threatens safety and their operations. For over 30 years he has led a variety of regional and product teams within the Vaisala organization and has specialized in lightning related business for the last 7 years.

Mr Benedikt Burkhardt

Next to a graduate degree in economic studies & business administration, Benedikt has extensive project management and solution sales experience. He has conducted project development in different complex technical areas, always aiming at the best possible outcome for the specific situation and n eeds of the customer. His approach to successful business relations is based on a deep believe in the power of win-win and respectful as well as energetic teamwork.

Mr John de Denghy

John de Denghy is an International Business Executive who is fluent in six languages and has a profound understanding of cross-cultural communication and management styles. Since joining Earth Networks in 2017, Mr. de Denghy has attended multiple meteorological conferences across Latin America negotiating direct sales agreements with end-users and partners and providing educational webinars and training.

Dr Jorge Tamayo Carmona

Dr Tamayo holds a PhD in physics and is a meteorologist in the Spanish Meteorological State Agency (AEMET). Since 2003, he has led the secretariat of the Conference of Ibero-American Directors of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (CIMHET). Coordinator of the Ibero-American Meteorological Cooperation Programme, he has extensive experience in meteorological cooperation, especially in Ibero-America; including activities related with institutional strengthening of NMHS, resource mobilization, provision of weather and climate services, and education and training