Meet the Speakers

Planet Youth Conference 2024

Jón Sigfússon

Jón Sigfússon is the Chairman of Planet Youth, serving as head of the Planet Youth Guidance program internationally; an evidence-based project of primary community-based health promotion intervention. Jon served as the Director of ICSRA – Icelandic Centre for Social research and Analysis for 20 years. Paralleling his main responsibilities, Jon has served as a board member in various international entities specializing in substance use prevention in Europe. Jon has served as coordinator on various projects also aimed at enhancing social factors and well-being of youth and promoting effective intervention, based on proven methods, Youth in Europe (YIE) and more. Nominated to the UNODC – Guide on Prevention of Drug Use and Treatment of Drug Use Disorder in Rural Settings, nominated by the Ministry of Education as representative of the European Network of Experts on Youth Knowledge, nominated to the European Knowledge Center of Youth Policy (EKCYP), nominated to the Pool of European Youth Researchers (PEYR), NDPHS, nominated as coordinator for the Nordic Youth Research and more. Jon has held lectures on Evidence Based Primary Prevention at conferences world-wide for years and publications focusing on youth in international peer-reviewed journals are a few. Jon is a family man, a proud father and grandfather of many children.

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson (President of Iceland)

Born in Reykjavík in 1968, grew up in Garðabær with his family. Educated in history and political science, he studied in Iceland, England, and Germany, earning degrees from the University of Warwick, University of Iceland, and Queen Mary, University of London. Before becoming President of Iceland, Guðni was a history professor and authored several historical works. He is married to Eliza Reid, with whom he has four children, and has a daughter from a previous marriage. Guðni is recognized for his academic contributions, including his writings on Icelandic history and politics.

Willum Þór Þórsson

Former football player and manager and politician. Since 2021 he has served as the Icelandic Minister of Health. From 2013 to 2016, he served on the Althing, the Icelandic parliament, for the Progressive Party, and is currently a member of parliament since 2017.

Dagur B. Eggertsson (Mayor of Reykjavík)
Is an Icelandic politician who is the Mayor of Reykjavik City. He was the vice-chairman of the Social Democratic Alliance from 2009 until 2013. He was first elected to the city council of Reykjavík in a 2002 election and became the mayor on 16 October 2007. Dagur is formally educated as a physician but also has a master’s degree in Human Rights and International Law from the University of Lund in Sweden. Dagur played an important part in implementing the Icelandic Model in Reykjavik after the foundation of ICSRA.

Dr. Ligia Gricelda Arce Padilla

Is the Secretary of Health in Guanajuato, she previously served as the head of Sanitary Jurisdiction III with headquarters in Celaya

Dr. Pall Rikhardsson

Pall Rikhardsson Is the Chief Executive Officer of Planet Youth and responsible for the strategic and tactical development of the organization. Pall holds a bachelor degree from the University of Iceland and a masters and a PhD degree from the Aarhus School of Business, Denmark. In his career he has worked as professor and dean at Reykjavik University, a senior manager with PwC in Denmark, and business advisor at the SAS Institute in Denmark. Pall holds a visiting professorship at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, where he teaches and supervises masters and PhD students.

Álfgeir Logi Kristjánsson

Dr. Kristjansson is an Associate Professor of Public Health at West Virginia University (WVU) School of Public Health and Center PI for the West Virginia Prevention Research Center (WVPRC), and a senior researcher and lead evaluator for Planet Youth. He earned his PhD in Social Medicine from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden in 2010 and was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University in New York City between 2010-2012. Dr. Kristjansson has published widely on the Icelandic Prevention Model, as well as more generally on adolescent behavioral development and the well-being of children and youth. Currently, he is the Principal Investigator (PI) of several US-based federally funded studies, including the Young Mountaineer Health Study funded by NIAAA, and the Integrated Community Engagement (ICE) Collaborative funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via the WVPRC. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts in scholarly journals within public health, health education, preventive medicine and multidisciplinary journals focused on children and adolescents.

Margret Lilja Gudmundsdottir

Margret Lilja Gudmundsdottir is the Chief Knowledge Officer of Planet Youth. She has been working with primary prevention for decades and has been involved in the development the Icelandic Prevention Model from the beginning. Margret has a masters degree in Sociology from the University of Iceland, she served as a specialist for the Icelandic Center for Social Research and Analysis for many years and was a lecturer at the Sport Science Department at the Reykjavik University from 2006.

Dr. Ingibjorg Eva Thorisdottir
Dr. Ingibjorg Eva Thorisdottir is Planet Youth’s Chief Analytics and Advisory Officer. At Planet Youth, she ensures that the data collection runs smoothly and provides feedback to our partners. Her primary focus is on mental health, dissemination practices, and upstream prevention. Ingibjorg Eva holds a doctor degree in Psychology and a is a Master in Public Health from Reykjavik University. Her studies include Social Media Use and Symptoms of Anxiety and Depressed Mood among Adolescents. She also holds a BSc degree in Geography from the University of Iceland.

Dan Heath

Dan Heath

Dan Heath is the co-author, along with his brother Chip, of four long-running bestsellers: Made to Stick, Switch, Decisive, and The Power of Moments. The Heath Brothers’ books have sold over three million copies worldwide and been translated into 33 languages. Dan’s new book Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen was an instant Wall Street Journal bestseller, and it was included on “best books” lists from Apple, Amazon, the Financial Times, and others.

Dan is a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s CASE center, which supports entrepreneurs who fight for social good. He is an entrepreneur himself, having founded Thinkwell, an innovative education company that next year will celebrate its 25th anniversary. Dan was named in 2013 to the Thinkers 50, a ranking of the world’s 50 most influential management thinkers, and also to Fast Company magazine’s list of the Most Creative People in Business. He has spoken to teachers, police chiefs, U.S. senators, interior designers, Navy admirals, health care leaders, marketers, ministers, and countless executive teams, across 26 countries on 6 continents. (He’s still waiting for that invitation from Antarctica.)

Dan has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from the Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin. One proud geeky moment for Dan was his victory in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest, beating out 13,000 other entrants. He lives in Durham, NC.

Joanne Pinnow
Joanne Pinnow is a Métis woman and mother whose family comes from the Qu’Appelle Valley area of Saskatchewan. Joanne has a degree in psychology and has been working with Calgary’s urban Indigenous community for over 30 years. This includes work with some of the First Nations communities in the Treaty 7 area, as well as Indigenous-led not for profit agencies in Calgary. Joanne’s current role at United Way of Calgary and Area is Director, Akak’stiman. Akak’stiman is United Way’s Indigenous strategy and has drawn interest locally, nationally and beyond. Joanne’s work and personal interests are: the methodology and concepts related to ethical space between Indigenous and non Indigenous people to build understanding, respect and reciprocal relationships; evaluation from Indigenous perspectives; mental health from Indigenous perspectives; learning from Indigenous Elders and applying that to her work; and writing. She instills the teachings of Elders into her work and life. Her Blackfoot spirit name is “Eeikachkimaki” which translates to English as “trying hard woman,” and conveys the idea of working hard towards long term or visionary goals.


Harvey Milkman

Harvey Milkman is Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is Visiting Professor at Reykjavik University, Iceland (2015 – present). He received a Fulbright Scholar award at the Department of Psychology, Reykjavik University (January – May, 2019. Dr. Milkman is author of numerous scholarly articles and books on the causes, consequences and treatment choices for the broad spectrum of addictive behaviors. His most recent publication is: Craving for Ecstasy and Natural Highs: A Positive Approach to Mood Alteration (2nd Edition), Milkman, H., Sunderwirth, S., & Hill, K. Cognella Academic Publishing, (2019).

Patricia Ros Garcia

Patricia Ros Garcia is the Regional Director for Planet Youth in Spain and Latin-America. She served as the Director of the Municipal Prevention Service of Addictions, in Tarragona City Hall since 1991. Patricia is a Clinical Psychologist, from the University of Barcelona (1986), and has a Master degree in Psychotherapy of groups and organizations, University of Deusto (Bilbao 1994).

Dr. Abel Busutu

Dr. Abel Busutu

Abel Basutu is a Programme specialist with extensive experience in policy formulation and advocacy, management and implementation of technical cooperation projects in diversified development fields. He holds a PhD in Business Administration and previously worked for the World Food Programme (WFP), World Health Organization
(WHO), and International Labour Organization (ILO). He currently works as a Senior
Drug Control Programme Officer for the African Union Commission with whom he has
been for the past 10 years. His intervention focuses on the misuse of information and communications technologies to prop up drug trafficking and related crime in Africa.

Robin Katrick

Robin Katrick is Regional Director North America for Planet Youth. She holds a master’s in public health from the University of Vermont and a BA in Community Development. She brings 10 years of experience in community development, community health, and program development to her role at Planet Youth. Her main responsibilities at Planet Youth are community advising, project development, and project management.

Kevin A. Sabet, PhD

An affiliate of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies and the Medical School at Yale University, and dubbed by NBC News as the “prodigy of drug politics,” author, consultant, and advisor to three U.S. presidential administrations, Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D., has studied, researched, written about, and implemented drug policy for 25 years. He is currently the President and CEO of the Foundation for Drug Policy Solutions (FDPS) and SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), two non-profit organizations he founded with Congressman Patrick Kennedy.

His latest book, Smokescreen: What the Marijuana Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know, is distributed by Simon & Schuster, won the Next Generation Indie Book Award in the Social Justice Category, and has been optioned for a documentary film by a Hollywood studio. His upcoming book, One Nation Under the Influence, will be published by Polity in 2024. He is the only person appointed by Republican and Democrats to work at the White House drug office, and he is a columnist for Newsweek. He received his doctorate from Oxford University and BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

Hans Quaghebeur

Hans Quaghebeur is a coordinator for Planet Youth in the coastal town of Blankenberge in Belgium. This is the first Planet Youth project in the country. Hans is the local chief of police. He has had a career of over 40 years in nearly all domains of policing in the former Belgian gendarmerie, the federal and the local police. He worked several years in the Belgian Interpol office, and as a liaison officer to the federal minister of Justice. He also holds a Master diploma in Criminology from the University of Ghent, Belgium.

Zilla North

Zilla North is a medical doctor with a master’s degree in public health from University College Dublin.

She is currently the medical manager for the George Health Service, in the Western Cape of South Africa and a convenor of the Planet Youth Pilot Programme in George. Her previous work experience includes emergency medicine in rural and metro settings in South Africa and Ireland, Primary Healthcare delivering HIV and chronic disease management services in George and managing the specialist medical service of George Regional Hospital for 5 years. Zilla organized two successful National Science Week festivals for George in 2014 and 2015 and spearheaded a grassroots community garden programme for the town during that same period. Zilla is passionate about enabling people to realize their potential and live healthy, happy lives under the African sun.

Emmet Major

Emmet Major is acting as the Planet Youth Coordinator in the West of Ireland.  He is responsible for the three Planet Youth sites there: Planet Youth Galway, Planet Youth Mayo, and Planet Youth Roscommon. Emmet has over twenty years of experience in the health sector, specializing particularly in the area of substance use.  He has worked as an addiction counsellor, rehabilitation center manager and is currently a community worker with the Western Region Drug and Alcohol Task Force.

Patty Giardina

Patty Giardina is the Executive Director for the West Central Mountains Youth Advocacy Coalition in Idaho, USA. She holds a master’s in Social Work from Walden University and a BA in Psychology from Boise State University. She has spent many years in the school setting as a school counselor and brings over 10 years of program development and community social work to her role in implementing Planet Youth across the rural West Central Mountains region.

Amelia Berry

Amelia Berry is Director of Just Say Yes, an innovative youth substance use prevention coalition based at the Franklin County Health Department in Frankfort, Kentucky, USA. Amelia came to prevention work through the arts, serving from 2018 to 2021 as founding Executive Director of Yes Arts, a non-profit working to mobilize the power of community and the arts to disrupt the cycle of addiction. In 2019, Amelia was named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader. 

Prior to relocating to Kentucky, Amelia worked as a consultant in international affairs for the United Nations, the China Law Society and the Consensus Building Institute. In 2016 Amelia was elected to the Frankfort Independent Schools Board of Education, where he 6- year tenure included serving as Vice Chairperson and overseeing the district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amelia and her husband have two children.

Melanie Cormier

Melanie Cormier is a Senior Program Advisor with Public Health New Brunswick and project lead with Planet Youth New Brunswick. Melanie is particularly interested in upstream prevention and action on the social and commercial determinants of health. She has worked in Public Health for over 10 years with a range of experiences working across important population health topics such as substance use prevention, healthy food environments, school health promotion, and harm reduction.

Sandi Hackett

Sandi Hackett is the General Manager of Pūmanawa Āwhina, trading as Community Connect – community social good programme owned by the national sports organisation Touch New Zealand. She oversees the 9 different community hubs, of which Planet Youth is part of in Papakura, South Auckland.
Sandi has been involved in the sporting industry for 20+ years as a manager, coach, player, administrator and volunteer. After studying Sport & Rec at Auckland University, she moved to work the national sports organisation Touch New Zealand, where she has been for the past 13 years.
She has a great love for people, in particular youth and providing opportunities for people to excel or be the best they can be using physical activity as the vehicle for engagement. She has been with Touch NZ in many different roles, moving to General Manager for Community Connect in 2021 after launching the programme in 2016.

Hafthór Barði Birgisson

Hafthór Barði Birgisson Hafthór Barði Birgisson is the Director of Sport and Leisure at the Reykjanesbær Municipality in Iceland. He graduated from the Faculty of Health Promotion, Sport and Leisure Studies of University of Iceland in 2006 and has the Bachelor degree in Leisure Studies. Hafthór Barði Birgisson has been working on leisure and prevention issues among children and adolescents at Reykjanesbær for the last 23 years. During his presentation “Reykjanesbaer municipality on the right track!” he will talk about his professional experience in past and in present and will focus on the future of the Icelandic Prevention model.

Sigurður Sigurðsson

Sigurður Sigurðsson has been employed at the national parents’ organisation for the last five years as a project manager, specialist and now as an executive director of the organisation. In 2023 Sigurður, along with other members of the staff of Heimili and skóli, traveled around the country to talk to parents about what were the challenges they faced in their role to raise their children and in cooperation with other parents. In last autumn the Prosperity agreement was pupliced and work on implementing it to every parent in the Icelandic school system is ongoing.

Friðmey Jónsdóttir

Friðmey is the CEO of Samfés, Youth work Iceland. She has over 18 years of experience in the youth work field in Iceland, including managing a youth club in downtown Reykjavík for 10 years.

Ragnhildur Skúladóttir

Works as a director of Education and Sport for All at the NOC of Iceland (The National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland). I studied Sport and Education in the University of Iceland, Sport Science and Coaching at the Norwegian Sport University in Oslo, Norway and have a master’s degree in public health from Reykjavik University.

Steinunn Sigurjónsdóttir

A data analyst and visualization specialist at Planet Youth since 2021. Her role at Planet Youth focuses on report creation, data cleaning and survey setup. She has degrees in BSc. Management Information Systems and MSc. Data Analytics from Kansas State University where she was on a full soccer scholarship. Steinunn also has over 12-year experience coaching football at all age levels at Breidablik, Iceland’s largest youth club where she grew up playing football.

Marta Kristín Hreiðarsdóttir

Marta Kristín Hreiðarsdottir is a sociologist with a long-standing career at the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police, specializing in child welfare and working on various subjects related to children, prevention, domestic violence, and more. As of now, she holds the position of the head of the of Information and Planning Department at RMP.