GW Calendar
Sign Up
Elliott School of International Affairs, Lindner Commons, 6th Floor

1957 E Street, NW Washington, DC 20052


For millennia, humans have used animals for food, clothing, transportation, research, recreation, and more. The 5th annual World Aquatic Animal Day Animals as Community panel presentation will examine why the human-animal relationship needs updating, what it could mean to live in multispecies networks that prioritize autonomy, coexistence, and justice, and steps to move in that direction.

We invite anyone interested to join us. Feel free to email us your questions for the speakers before the event at

This event will be on the record and is free and open to the public.

Speakers and Talk Titles

Raynell Morris - My Relatives That Live Under the Waves

Squi-le-he-le (Raynell Morris) is a mother, grandmother, Lhaq’temish matriarch, enrolled Lummi tribal member, and board member of the Friends of Toki, former Vice-President of the Sacred Lands Conservancy (Sacred Sea). As Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs under President Clinton, Raynell was the first Native American staffer appointed to the White House, and has served as Chief of Staff for the Chairman of Lummi Nation. As the Director of Lummi Nation’s Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office, she was a key strategist in the successful campaign to block a proposal to build North America’s largest coal port terminal on Lhaq’temish (Lummi) sacred ground. Her work for Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut (Toki/Tokitae), the famed orca, has been guided by ancestors, informed by science, and led with cultural strategy, traditions and beliefs. Her sacred obligation is to work for Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut’s Legacy; to save her family, to save the salmon, and to save her home waters…the Salish Sea.

Lauri Torgerson-White - Harmony in Diversity: Nurturing Coexistence through Sanctuary

Lauri Torgerson-White is a scientist and advocate. She was previously the senior director of research and sanctuary animal welfare at Farm Sanctuary, where she oversaw the animal care teams and worked with the sanctuary residents, designing and implementing research to understand more about the inner lives of farmed animals. Before coming to Farm Sanctuary, Lauri was director of research and lead animal welfare specialist at Mercy For Animals. She holds a master of science in zoology from Michigan State University, where she studied animal personality. Prior to her work with Mercy For Animals, she worked to improve the lives of captive animals as the first research analyst in the Center for Zoo Animal Welfare at the Detroit Zoo. She has authored peer-reviewed publications on animal welfare, personality, and cognition; taught university-level biology and nutrition courses; and traveled all over the world visiting farms to better understand the needs of farmed animals.

Constanza Prieto Figelist - The Protection of the Biodiversity and Endangered Species Under the Rights of Nature Framework

Constanza Prieto Figelist is a lawyer, founder, and director of the Latin America Legal Program at Earth Law Center. Constanza is a leading expert on the Rights of Nature, mainly focused on protecting and conserving rivers and marine ecosystems in the Americas.

Constanza has specialized in drafting ecocentric legislation, collaborating with local organizations and governments, and advising decision makers on several regional legislative projects. She has participated drafting of successful projects that have incorporated the rights of Nature in Latin America such as Law No. 287 ( Panama), Law that establishes the conservation and protection of sea turtles and their habitats in the Republic of Panama No.371(Panama), the constitutional reform of the State of Oaxaca (Mexico) and the popular initiative "15,000 hearts for the earth" that obtained more than 15,000 to incorporate the rights of nature in the Constitutional project of Chile. She leads legislative and judicial projects in more than five regional countries.

Elan Abrell - Ceding Power and Affording Agency: Reflections on Building Multispecies Community

Elan Abrell is an assistant professor of the practice in Environmental Studies, Animal Studies, and Science and Technology Studies at Wesleyan University. He is also Wesleyan’s faculty coordinator of Environmental Justice and Sustainability as well as the coordinator of Wesleyan’s Animal Studies minor. He received his J.D. from Berkeley Law School at the University of California, and his M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Previously, Abrell was a Farmed Animal Law & Policy Fellow at the Harvard Animal Law & Policy Program, a visiting assistant professor of Urban Studies at the City University of New York’s Queens College, and a visiting assistant professor in Animal Studies at New York University. He was also an Animals and Society Institute/Wesleyan Animal Studies 2014 Human-Animal Studies Fellow and worked as a legal associate at the AIDS Law Project and Natural Justice (both based in Cape Town, South Africa), as a senior regulatory specialist at the Good Food Institute, and as Vice President of Programs for the Phoenix Zones Initiative.

Juliette Jackson - Moderator

Juliette Jackson grew up in Northern California and is an enrolled member of the Klamath Tribes. She received her J.D from American University, Washington College of Law, and B.A from the University of California, San Diego. She is currently completing her Master of Laws (LLM) in Environmental & Energy Law focused on Indigenous Rights at The George Washington University Law School. Presently Ms. Jackson works at Native Law Group, a firm focused exclusively on Federal Indian Law matters. Over the course of her career, she has worked on tribal environmental justice issues at various non-profit organizations and government agencies. Most notably, during her Clerkship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency she assisted with drafting a proposed national policy on Sustainability and drafted the section on Indigenous Knowledge.

About World Aquatic Animal Day (WAAD)

World Aquatic Animal Day is an annual day dedicated to aquatic animals, launched for the first time on April 3, 2020. It was the idea of Amy P. Wilson and is co-founded by Amy P. Wilson and Kathy Hessler. Each year, we work to raise global awareness about these often-forgotten and mistreated nonhuman animals.

Aquatic animals play a critical role in our societies and ecosystems. They are important as species, but they also have value and intrinsic worth as individuals. By “aquatic animals” we mean not only fishes or whales, but also the many other animals who inhabit aquatic habitats such as: amphibians, marine mammals, crustaceans, reptiles, mollusks, aquatic birds, aquatic insects, starfish, and corals.

Aquatic animals urgently need to be considered in policy initiatives, education, advocacy, legal decision-making, and stewardship choices. Efforts to raise awareness of the plight of aquatic animals must rise to meet the immense challenges they face. We must consider our interactions with aquatic animals, our treatment of them, and the often-devastating impacts we are having on them and on their habitats.

Join us on April 3rd each year as we celebrate these creatures and call for action to protect them through education, law, policy, outreach, and other avenues. With a different focus each year, we will highlight and work to address the issues aquatic animals face.

Event Details