Half-Earth Day Speaker Bios

Hilary Allison

Hilary Allison has been Head of the Ecosystem Assessment and Policy Support Programme at UNEP-WCMC since 2014 where she manages a team of experts engaged in work on biodiversity indicators, ecosystem assessments, engagement with multi-lateral environmental agreements and biodiversity mainstreaming. She is a member of the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership Secretariat, worked on the latest Global Environmental Outlook published in March 2019 and, with her team, is actively supporting the Convention on Biological Diversity in the preparations for future monitoring of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Prior to joining UNEP-WCMC she worked in UK environmental policy, advocacy and communications. She is a former chair of Wildlife and Countryside Link, a coalition of 40 environmental NGOs in Britain who collaborate on policy and advocacy. For 17 years she was Director of Policy at the Woodland Trust (one of the UK’s leading environmental NGOs), participating in several government-led processes on forest and tree health policy as well as leading advocacy work to enhance UK policy on woodland conservation. She became a Member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters in 2014 and has just been appointed by the UK government as a non-executive Forestry Commissioner.

Tim Beatley

Timothy Beatley is the Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities, in the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, where he has taught for the last thirty years. Beatley is the author or co-author of more than fifteen books, including Green Urbanism: Learning from European Cities, Native to Nowhere: Sustaining Home and Community in a Global Age, and Biophilic Cities: Integrating Nature Into Urban Design and Planning. Beatley directs the Biophilic Cities Project at UVA (http://biophiliccities.org/) and co-founded UVA’s Center for Design and Health, within the School of Architecture.

Rebecca Bright

As an associate editor at Island Press, I acquire and edit books on the natural world, including projects on biodiversity and conservation, environmental justice, climate change, and natural history. Along with my work as an editor, I manage subsidiary rights for Island Press titles, including international and audio licensing. I moved to Washington, DC and joined Island Press in 2010, after brief stints as a park ranger and sled dog handler in my home state of Alaska.

Jaime Butler

Jaime is of the Tangle People Clan, born for the Bitterwater Clan, maternal Grandfathers are the Redhouse Clan, and paternal Granfathers are the Toweringhouse Clan. She grew up in Cameron, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation Reservation. In 2011, Jaime and her Mother had to move from Cameron to Flagstaff because of water scarcity. Jaime and her extended family on the Reservation remember times when there was enough water on the Reservation for agriculture and farm animals, but now the springs they once depended on year-round are drying up. Jaime also sees firsthand the cultural and spiritual impacts of climate change, as participating in sacred Navajo ceremonies on the Reservation is an important part of Jaime’s life, and climate impacts are starting to harm the ability for Jamie and her tribe to participate in their traditional ceremonies. Since she was four years old, Jaime has been working to protect the earth. Beginning in elementary school, Jaime wrote letters to President Obama about her concerns for the environment. In 2011, she filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, also supported by Our Children’s Trust.

C.M. Butzer

C.M. Butzer is an illustrator, printmaker, and cartoonist. His work has appeared in numerous books, publications, and textiles. In 2009, he wrote and drew Gettysburg: The Graphic NovelforHarperCollins. Butzer is also a storyboard and concept artist whose clients have included Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. After 13 years of residing in Brooklyn, he and his wife moved to Hilo, Hawaii, where he does not miss winter.

Mason Clark

Mason Clark is a student at the University of Cincinnati majoring in International Affairs and Spanish. Mason is a recent graduate from Granville High School where he started working on a documentary project about the school’s interactive biological laboratory or “Land Lab.” Mason Clark and Rodrigo Mayet filmed and edited “Legacy: A Land Lab Story” with the help of Brent Sodegren from the USFWS, Environmental Science teacher Jim Reading, Wildlife Photographer Brad Imhoff, and many other contributors who work with the land lab. The project was created to bring awareness to projects that help educate students about habitat and biological diversity.

Glenn Close

Glenn Close, a seven-time Academy Award nominee, made her feature debut in “The World According to Garp,” earning her first Oscar nomination. She was subsequently Oscar-nominated for “The Big Chill,” “The Natural,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Dangerous Liaisons,” “Albert Nobbs”– for which she was also co-screenwriter, producer and lyricist on the Golden-Globe nominated song, “Lay Your Head Down”—and most recently for “The Wife.”  For the latter she won Golden Globe, SAG, Independent Spirit and Critics Choice Awards as “Best Actress.” She’ll next be seen in “Hillbilly Elegy,” directed by Ron Howard.

Ms. Close made her theatre, and Broadway, debut in Harold Prince’s revival of “Love for Love.” Her theater credits include “The Crucifer of Blood,” “Barnum” (Tony nomination) and Tony Awards for her performances in “The Real Thing,” “Death and the Maiden” and “Sunset Boulevard.” She reprised her role in “Sunset Boulevard” on Broadway in 2017 in a special production and starred in “The Mother of the Maid” at the Public Theater in 2018.

Starting in 2007, Ms. Close headlined the legal thriller “Damages” for five seasons, winning two consecutive Best Actress Emmys. Her 14 Golden Globe nominations include a Best Actress Award for “The Lion in Winter.” Among her 14 Emmy nominations is also a Best Actress Award for “Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story” (earning her a Peabody Award as executive producer).

In 2010, Glenn Close co-founded Bring Change to Mind, a charity dedicated to confronting, head-on, the stigma associated with mental illness. The organization works to normalize mental health conversations and build the awareness, understanding and empathy necessary to inspire action, structural change, and the creation of new norms which will end stigma and discrimination. www.Bringchange2mind.org.

Close actively supports Puppies Behind Bars and their program Dog Tags: Service Dogs for Those Who’ve Served Us. She is a trustee emeritus of The Sundance Institute, having served as a board member for 16 years. 

Paula Ehrlich

Paula J. Ehrlich, DVM, PhD, is the President & CEO of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, where she oversees the Foundation’s broad activities to foster a knowing stewardship of our world through research and education initiatives that promote and inform worldwide protection of biodiversity. Dr. Ehrlich leads the Half-Earth Project, which is driving the research needed to better understand and care for our world, providing leadership to guide conservation efforts, and engaging people to participate broadly in the goal to conserve half the Earth and protect the bulk of biodiversity.

Dr. Ehrlich has more than 30 years of strategic scientific management and research expertise, and diverse academic, non-profit, and corporate leadership experience. She was formerly President & CEO of the Drug Discovery Center of Innovation, Senior Director of Scientific Affairs at Ansaris and Locus Pharmaceuticals, and Preclinical Oncology Imaging Lead & Associate Franchise Director at Merck Research Laboratories. She has held research, clinical, and teaching positions at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, the Atlantic Veterinary College, and the Royal Veterinary College.

Dr. Ehrlich has a B.S. in Zoology from Duke University, a Masters degree in Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia, a DVM from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, and a PhD in Bone Physiology from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London. She has Six Sigma Green Belt training and is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Sandra Fary

Sandra Fary is a native of Northern California who has been teaching in Vermont for over 20 years, sharing her love of nature and science to middle school students. As a Half-Earth Educator Ambassador, Sandra is bringing the project’s mission and goals to her students and fellow teachers. Currently teaching 7th and 8th graders, she uses the Half-Earth Mapping Biodiversity Activity to foster teamwork and critical thinking about conserving biodiversity while developing mapping skills. Sandra attended Half-Earth Day at the American Museum of Natural History in 2018 and participated in the mapping workshop. She took inspiration and practical resources back to her classroom and is currently engaging students in biodiversity work across the state of Vermont, organizing bioblitzes, and having students create models of “Half-School,” “Half-Yard,” and “Half-State.”

Lauren Genesky

Lauren Genesky is an English and literature instructor at Millbrook Magnet High School with Wake County Schools in North Carolina. A graduate of North Carolina State University with a master’s degree in new literacies, Lauren serves as an advisor for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s English Language Arts Advisory Committee. Her work and passion both in and out of the classroom helps to deepen conversations about literacy and instruction at a school and state level, and to push for diverse texts that allow students to find commonalities in content and their own experiences.

Joe Grabowski

Joe Grabowski is a science communicator and educator working to inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers. He is the founder of the non-profit Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants, which brings science, exploration, adventure, and conservation into classrooms across North America through virtual speakers and field trips. Since 2015, he’s hosted over 2,000 live events connecting hundreds of thousands of students with leading scientists and explorers from over 80 countries. Joe is using technology to open the most remote corners of the planet to classrooms, sending textbook-sized satellite units into the field with explorers so they can live broadcast into classrooms from the most remote regions on the planet. In 2017, he was selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and shortly after became National Geographic’s first Education Fellow. He founded National Geographic’s Explorer Classroom program and recently launched the Global Biodiversity Festival, a virtual event bringing biodiversity live to the general public in over 100 countries. Joe’s a top 50 finalist for the Global Teacher Prize and is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Explorers Club. An avid scuba diver for the past decade, he’s always looking for an excuse to sink beneath the waves.

Eric Hagen

Eric Hagen received his master’s degree from the Field Naturalist Program at the University of Vermont in the spring of 2020, and his bachelor’s degree from Williams College in 2014. Eric is continuing to do research with the University of Vermont on the value of nature as mediated through human-nature relationships, and is also working as an independent conservation consultant, focusing on ecological inventory, geospatial analysis, habitat restoration, and conservation planning.

Jonathan Jarvis

Jonathan (Jon) B. Jarvis is the Executive Director of the Institute for Parks, People and Biodiversity at the University of California, Berkeley, focused on bringing science to the many issues facing parks and protected areas around the world.  He served for 40 years with the National Park Service as ranger, biologist and superintendent in national parks across the country.  From 2009 to 2017, he served as the 18th Director of the National Park Service (NPS), serving for the entire Obama administration. During his tenure, he added 22 new parks, achieved its largest budget in history and raised over $400 million in philanthropic support. Managing the NPS through its Centennial, Jarvis focused on several key areas that are critical for the future: stewardship of the places entrusted to the agency’s care; maximizing the educational potential of parks and programs; engaging new generations and audiences, bringing out untold stories of women and people of color, and ensuring the safety of National Park Service employees. In 2018, he co-authored “The Future of Conservation in America, A Chart for Rough Water” (UC Chicago Press) with his former science advisor and Clemson Professor, Dr. Gary Machlis.

Walter Jetz

Walter Jetz is a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and of Forestry and the Environment at Yale University. He is Scientific Chair of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and the lead scientist for the Half-Earth Project Map. Dr. Jetz is Director of the Yale Center for Biodiversity and Global Change, which links scientists, students and practitioners engaged in the environment, biological, infomatics, policy or health aspects and implications of global biodiversity change. He also leads the Map of Life, which consolidates global biodiversity distribution data sources into a single asset to provide the best possible species range information and species lists for any geographic area worldwide. Dr. Jetz’ work addresses patterns and mechanisms of changing biodiversity distribution and the resulting implications on conservation and environmental management. His research combines remote sensing, phylogenetic, functional, and spatiotemporal biodiversity data with new modeling approaches and informatics tools. Dr. Jetz is particularly interested in how environmental, ecological, and macroevolutionary mechanisms combine to determine the co-occurrence of species and the structure of species assemblages. Dr. Jetz has chaired the IPBES Task Group on Biodiversity Indicators and is Co-Lead of the GEO BON Working Group on Species Distributions. Dr. Jetz was previously a professor of biological sciences at the University of California San Diego. Dr. Jetz earned his MSc ins Integrative Bioscience and DPhil in Zoology from the University of Oxford.

Tamara Jolly

Tamara Jolly is an educator and lover of the natural sciences. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from The Ohio State University, where she specialized in evolution, ecology, and organismal biology. After graduating, she went on to study education and earned a master’s of art in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University. For the past 11 years, she has had the pleasure of teaching high school science in Baltimore City Public Schools. Tamara believes that science promotes the important skills of wonder and curiosity, and works to inspire her students to explore and appreciate the natural world. Over the years she has taught many scientific subjects including biology, physics, chemistry, and science research techniques. Currently, she is taking a sabbatical year to attend the SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry Ranger School where she is studying Environment and Natural Resources Conservation. She plans to become more of an expert in this content and field work in hopes of improving urban science education for future students. Tamara is also passionate about improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in our world, and works as a DEI Coach facilitating workshops with oneTILT.

Jacob Lebel

Jacob is an activist, writer, and biodynamic farmer who was born in Quebec and lives in Roseburg, Oregon. At the age of 18, he joined 20 other American children and teenagers bringing the first youth federal climate change lawsuit against the United States government arguing that the government has a constitutional duty to not destroy the life and security of young people by causing climate change and environmental destruction. Since then, he has written about environmental and social issues on national and international outlets and spoken to youths and adults at multiple universities and schools and in interviews with CNN, CBC, the Weather Channel, Radiocanada, and other platforms. He aspires to help create self-sustainable living ecosystems for human communities worldwide and to promote unity based on a shared reflection on the importance of our environment.

Curt Lindberg

Curt Lindberg has had a long interest in complexity science and what advances in this young field suggest for improving the health and well-being of people, communities and the natural environment. His dedication to this new science was inspired by Edward O. Wilson and his writings on biodiversity, ant behavior and his book Consilience. Since moving to Vermont several years ago he has worked to spread awareness of the Half-Earth Project and its call for action. Towards these ends he joined with Vermonters to co-found the Vermont Community for a Half-Earth Future. Lindberg holds a doctorate degree in complex systems from the University of Hertfordshire.

Dennis Liu

Dennis Liu is Vice President of Education at the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. A nationally recognized expert in science education, Dennis Liu directed the production of educational media at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and before that with Videodiscovery, and Microsoft designing multimedia science education programs. His signature programs with the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation include the Half-Earth Project Educator Ambassadors Program and the Half-Earth Project Chairs and Scholars Program.

Reggie Love

Reggie Love is Vice President and Head of External Affairs for HRS Management, where Love is responsible for communication strategy, brand management and long-term strategic planning. Earlier in his career, Love served at the White House as personal aide to President Barack Obama, where he was responsible for assisting with the coordination and completion of the President’s daily schedule, as well as coordinating long- and medium-range planning.  

Love is a graduate of Duke University, holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and is the author of the New York Times Best Seller, Power Forward, My Presidential Education, a collection of stories and principles learned while working for President Obama and as a team captain for the Duke Blue Devils under Mike Krzyzewski. Love serves on the boards of the National Summer Learning Association, Center for Environmental Farming Systems, Organizing for Action, MilitaryBowl Committee, Team Works, The New Renaissance, and the Caribbean Educational and Baseball Foundation.

Rodrigo Mayet-Velasco

Rodrigo Mayet-Velasco is a third year student at the Ohio State University currently working towards a bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture. He lives in Columbus as a full time student. In his free time, Rodrigo works on multimedia projects, typically helping as the film maker and editor for other people’s projects or with organizations within OSU or around Columbus, such as some filming for the YMCA’s Youth & Government program.

Rodrigo is close friends with Mason Clark, a recent high school graduate and first year at the University of Cincinnati. Together, they filmed, organized and edited “Legacy: A LandLab Story”, a documentary about an educational nature preserve in Granville, Ohio. Rodrigo and Mason took this project on as a way to educate their community about the global impacts of biodiversity and habitat loss. Prior to the documentary, a large part of the community was unaware of the Land Lab and all of the work that the school district and its student do there.

Craig Mills

Craig Mills is the CEO of Vizzuality. He provides strategic oversight for the mapping core of the Half-Earth project, which brings to life the species distribution data and analytics that will guide us towards the best opportunities for protecting the most species.

Erika Mitkus

Erika Mitkus started her career as an experiential and outdoor educator, and made the shift into the classroom six years ago. She currently teaches Biology and Science Ethics at the Governor’s Academy in Massachusetts. Erika is also the director of KELP, Knowles Experiential Learning Project, which is a small working group within the Knowles Teacher Initiative. With the support of Knowles, she was able to organize professional development experiences in the Galápagos Islands for thirty teachers in the summer of 2019. KELP fellows have recently published a resource bank of multidisciplinary STEM lessons, all of which are anchored in phenomena from the Galápagos ecosystem, and are working to share them with teachers nationwide. The resource bank is available at www.teachkelp.com. Erika also works as a consultant for other projects focused on science education, including the Biograph2.0 project on complex systems in biology and the DeTECT project, which is focused on developing argumentation and epistemic thinking skills in high school students. When she needs a break from work, she enjoys backcountry skiing, trail running, reading, and traveling as much as possible. She lives a short walk from the ocean in York, Maine.

Piotr Naskrecki

Half-Earth Chair Dr. Piotr Naskrecki is an entomologist, conservation biologist, author, and photographer, based at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, and is a member of the Half-Earth Council. He currently directs the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique where he trains a new cadre of Mozambican biologists and conservationists, and helps rebuild the park, which suffered during the recent civil war in that country. His scientific interests focus on the evolution of communication and sound production in insects and other animals, and the phylogenetic reconstruction of insect relationships. He is the author of over 50 scientific, peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.

Piotr’s work focuses on projects that include invertebrate animals in conservation practices and he strives to promote understanding, appreciation, and conservation of “non-charismatic” animals. In his popular writing and photography he tries to capture both their beauty and roles as vital, often critically important members of the planet’s ecosystems. He is one of the founding members of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) and his photographs and nature writing have been published in a number of national and international publications, including The Smithsonian Magazine, Natural History, National Wildlife, National Geographic, BBC Wildlife Magazine, BBC Knowledge, Terre Sauvage, Time magazine, Ranger Rick, and many others. His books illustrate a multitude of threats faced by invertebrate animals and other organisms (“The Smaller Majority”, “A Window on Eternity”), explore ancient organisms and ecosystems of the globe (“Relics”), and his most recent title (“Hidden Kingdom”) showcases the diverse insect fauna of Costa Rica.

Jennifer Norris

Dr. Norris is Deputy Secretary for Biodiversity and Habitat at the California Natural Resources Agency. She is responsible for overseeing their statewide biodiversity strategy, driving landscape-scale restoration through partnerships and “cutting green tape.” Jennifer most recently served as the field supervisor for the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office at the US Fish and Wildlife Service. There, she oversaw the implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other laws for over 100 listed and trust species, across north-central California. Over the course of her career, Jennifer has held several conservation positions, including Deputy Field Supervisor for the Bay Delta Fish and Wildlife Office, the Rio Grande ESA coordinator for the Albuquerque Fish and Wildlife Office, State Biologist for the New Mexico State Land Office, and as an environmental consultant in San Francisco. She has a B.S. in Resource Policy and Planning from Cornell University, an M.S. in Conservation Biology from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of New Mexico. When she is not at work, she can be found exploring beaches, forests or deserts with her family. 

Jim Ottaviani

Jim is the bestselling author of fourteen (and counting) graphic novels about scientists. His most recent books include Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier, illustrated by Maris Wicks, features the first women astronauts, Hawking, illustrated by Leland Myrick, and The Imitation Game, a biography of Alan Turing illustrated by Leland Purvis. His books have been translated into over dozen languages, and have received praise from publications ranging from Nature and Physics World to Entertainment Weekly and Variety.

He lives in Michigan and comes to comics via careers in nuclear engineering and librarianship. Find out more at www.gt-labs.com and on Twitter at @gtlabsrat.

Henrique M. Pereira

Henrique Pereira is one of the world’s leading experts on global biodiversity change. He has worked both as a researcher and as a practitioner, having served as the Director of Peneda-Gerês National Park and as the coordinator of the Portugal Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Since 2013, he is the Professor of Biodiversity Conservation at iDiv – German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and Invited Professor at InBio, Universidade do Porto (Portugal). He is the co-Chair of the Biodiversity Observation Network of the Group on Earth Observations and member of the Taskforce on Scenarios and Models from the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. He has published over one hundred scientific papers and reports on biodiversity issues.

Walter Poleman

Walter Poleman specializes in natural history, place-based landscape analysis, and education for sustainability. He teaches courses in natural history and human ecology, landscape inventory and assessment, and conservation science. He is co-director of the Field Naturalist Ecological Planning Graduate Program, and serves as faculty advisor to the Sustainability Learning Community. Walter is the founding director the PLACE (Place-based Landscape Analysis & Community Engagement) Program, and co-coordinator of the Greater Burlington Sustainability Education Network. He coordinates the Rubenstein School’s dual master’s degree program with Vermont Law School, and teaches ecology there each summer. His teaching awards include the President’s Distinguished Senior Lecturer Award, the Kroespsh-Maurice Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Outstanding Service-Learning Faculty Award.

Jim Reding

Over the last 30 years, Jim Reding has taught ecology, environmental studies, advanced placement environmental science, and a class on sustainable agriculture. He is currently employed by the Granville Exempted Village Schools in Granville, Ohio. There he manages a garden created by his students that was named the Growing to Green, Educational Garden of the Year and an outdoor learning space (The Land Lab) that was named the Ohio School Board Association’s, Outstanding Project. He was selected as a Fulbright Scholar, received the Environmental Education Council of Ohio, Formal Educator of the year award, The North American Association of Environmental Education Teacher of the Year award and the Arthur S. Holden Teacher Award for Excellence in Science Education. He lives in Granville, Ohio with his wife, four kids, two dogs and two cats. His hobbies are all outdoors.

Sibylle Riedmiller

German-born Social Scientist and former aid worker with UNESCO and the German Aid Agency GTZ/GIZ in Latin America and Africa, has from 1991 created the award-winning not-for-profit Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd. (CHICOP – www.chumbeisland.com), which has turned formerly uninhabited Chumbe Island in Zanzibar/Tanzania into a forest reserve and the first privately managed marine park in the world, where a small ecolodge has from 2000 fully funded park management and environmental education programs for local school-children, teachers, fishers and other community members.

Aiming at close to zero carbon footprint and impact on the environment, the Visitors’ Centre and seven bungalows were built with state-of-the-art eco-architecture, where all energy is solar, water is generated by rainwater catchment and sewage is totally avoided by composting toilets and vegetative greywater filtration systems. Sibylle Riedmiller is also co-founder of The Long Run (TLR – www.thelongrun.com), an international network of Privately Protected Areas founded by the renowned German entrepreneur Jochen Zeitz, member of Leadership for Conservation in Africa (LCA – www.lcafrica.org), Member of the IUCN World Commission of Protected Areas (WCPA) and the Chairperson of the Conservation Committee of the Hotels Association of Tanzania (HAT – www.hat-tz.org). In 2016, she received the Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande (German Order of Merit). Contact: sibylle@chumbeisland.com

Paul Simon

In June 2017, net proceeds from Paul Simon’s month-long U.S. tour were donated to benefit the Half-Earth Project, an initiative of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, which is committed to stopping the species extinction crisis by conserving half the planet’s lands and oceans. Paul Simon is a member of the Half-Earth Council and a member of the Board of Directors of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation.

During his distinguished career, Paul Simon has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including 16 Grammy Awards. In 2003, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as half of the duo Simon & Garfunkel. Simon is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame both as a member of Simon & Garfunkel and as a solo artist. Simon was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2002 and was named one of Time magazine’s “100 People Who Shape Our World” in 2006. In 2007, Simon was awarded the inaugural Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, which recognizes the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world’s culture. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011. And in 2012, he was named the recipient of the prestigious Polar Music Prize along with Yo-Yo Ma. Simon’s philanthropic work includes the co-founding of the Children’s Health Fund (CHF), which donates and staffs 53 mobile medical units that bring health care to low-income children and their families in urban and rural locations around the United States. Since its inception in 1987, CHF has provided more than 3 million doctor/patient visits. Over his career, Simon has also raised millions of dollars for worthy causes as varied as Autism Speaks, The Nature Conservancy, CURE, and Tibet House.

Kristine Tompkins

Kristine McDivitt Tompkins is the cofounder and president of Tompkins Conservation and the UN Patron of Protected Areas. The former CEO of Patagonia, Inc, she has spent almost thirty years protecting and restoring Chile and Argentina’s wild beauty and biodiversity through creating national parks, restoring wildlife, inspiring activism, and fostering economic vitality as a result of conservation. A key figure behind the establishment of 13 national parks in Argentina and Chile, she has helped to protect approximately 14.5 million acres through Tompkins Conservation and its partners. With her late husband Douglas Tompkins, who passed away in 2015, Kristine is considered one of the most successful national park-oriented philanthropists in history. In 2017, she received the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. Her 2020 TED Talk, entitled “Let’s Make the World Wild Again,” discusses the critical role we all have to play to heal the planet. A global leader in conservation, she currently serves as Chair of National Geographic Society’s Last Wild Places campaign. (Photo credit: George Steinmetz)

Jeff Ubben

Jeff Ubben is a Founder, Managing Partner, member of the Management Committee, Chief Investment Officer and Portfolio Manager of Inclusive Capital Partners. Mr. Ubben is a retired Founder of ValueAct Capital, where he was Chief Executive Officer, member of the Management Committee, Chief Investment Officer, and Portfolio Manager. Mr. Ubben is also a Founder and served as Portfolio Manager of the ValueAct Spring Fund. Prior to founding ValueAct Capital in 2000, Mr. Ubben was a Managing Partner at Blum Capital Partners for more than five years. Mr. Ubben is a director of The AES Corporation, where he is a member of the Compensation and Financial Audit Committees, AppHarvest, Enviva Partners, LP, where he is a member of the Compensation and Health, Safety, Sustainability and Environmental Committees, and Nikola Corporation. He is the former chairman and director of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc., and a former director of Catalina Marketing Corp., Gartner Group, Inc., Mentor Corporation, Misys plc, Sara Lee Corp., Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Willis Towers Watson plc, and several other public and private companies. In addition, Mr. Ubben serves on the boards of Duke University, The Nature Conservancy’s NatureVest, and the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, and formerly served as Chair of the National Board of the Posse Foundation for nine years. He has a B.A. from Duke University and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

E.O. Wilson

Edward O. Wilson is currently Honorary Curator in Entomology and University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, Chairman of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation Board of Advisors, and Chairman of the Half-Earth Council. He is generally recognized as one of the leading scientists in the world. He is also recognized as one of the foremost naturalists in both science and literature, as well as a synthesizer in works stretching from pure biology across to the social sciences and humanities. Wilson is acknowledged as the creator of two scientific disciplines (island biogeography and sociobiology), three unifying concepts for science and the humanities jointly (biophilia, biodiversity studies, and consilience), and one major technological advance in the study of global biodiversity (the Encyclopedia of Life). Among more than one hundred awards he has received worldwide are the U.S. National Medal of Science, the Crafoord Prize (equivalent of the Nobel, for ecology) of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the International Prize of Biology of Japan; and in letters, two Pulitzer Prizes in non-fiction, the Nonino and Serono Prizes of Italy and COSMOS Prize of Japan. For his work in conservation, he has received the Gold Medal of the Worldwide Fund for Nature and the Audubon Medal of the Audubon Society.

Dawn Wright

Dr. Dawn Wright is Chief Scientist of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (aka Esri), a world-leading geographic information system (GIS) software and data science company. Core to Esri’s mission is to inspire and enable people to positively impact their future by connecting them with the geoanalytic knowledge needed to make the critical decisions shaping the planet. Hence, Esri believes that geography is at the heart of a more resilient and sustainable future.

As Chief Scientist, Dawn is responsible for strengthening the scientific foundation for Esri software and services, while representing Esri to the scientific community. As such, she has served on many advisory boards including the NOAA and EPA Science Advisory Boards, the National Academy of Sciences Ocean Studies Board, and the Science Advisory Boards of Conservation International, COMPASS Science Communication, and the Ocean Discovery XPRIZE. Dawn is also a Professor of Geography and Oceanography at Oregon State University. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geological Society of America, the American Association of Geographers, and the California Academy of Sciences, as well as Stanford University’s Leopold Environmental Leadership Program (now the Earth Leadership Program). She enjoys road cycling, 18th-century pirates, her dog Riley, and SpongeBob SquarePants. Follow her on Twitter @deepseadawn.

Hansjörg Wyss

Hansjörg Wyss is a philanthropist dedicated to conserving the planet’s remaining wild places, expanding
opportunities for women, advancing social justice causes, and accelerating breakthroughs in medicine and science, among other issues. Since establishing the Wyss Foundation in 1998, Hansjörg has invested more than $650 million to permanently protect more than 55 million acres of public lands and waters in North and South America, Australia, Africa, central Asia, and Europe – more than any other living individual. He recently launched a 10-year, $1 billion campaign to help protect at least 30% of the planet in a natural state by 2030. Elsewhere, his support has enabled Harvard University and four Swiss universities to create multi-disciplinary scientific institutes that are producing ground-breaking research in applied medicine and biology. A native of Switzerland who now lives in Wyoming, Hansjörg’s philanthropy is made possible by his success in starting and growing a medical research and design company, Synthes USA, whose products have helped millions of patients recover from skeletal and soft tissue injuries.

Jochen Zeitz

Jochen Zeitz is the President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Harley Davidson, Inc. Previously Zeitz served 18 years as Chairman and CEO of PUMA (the youngest CEO in German history), during which time he turned PUMA from near-bankruptcy into one of the top 3 sporting goods brands in the world, growing sales to $4 billion and share price by 4000%. While at PUMA, Zeitz also conceived and pioneered the ground-breaking Environmental Profit and Loss account (E P & L) that puts a monetary value on environmental impacts across a business’ supply chain, inspiring a new internationally recognised environmentally and socially conscious business model. Zeitz retired from PUMA and the Kering Group in 2013 to focus on his environmental, sustainability and philanthropic projects.

In 2014, Zeitz co-founded The B Team with Sir Richard Branson, an initiative which includes 24 of the world’s top business leaders promoting socially and environmentally conscious business practices across the globe. Zeitz is also a Board Member of Cranemere, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), and he was previously a Board Member and Chair of the Sustainability Committee for Wilderness Safaris and Kering, the international luxury goods group (formerly PPR) for whom he developed its global sustainability strategy. 

Recognised as one of the world’s leaders in sustainable business, conservation and philanthropy, Zeitz conserves 50,000 acres of wildlife habitat in Kenya and launched Segera Retreat in 2012, a completely sustainable, luxury eco-safari retreat so he could share his passion for Kenya with the world. Recognised by the Kenya Tourism Regulatory Authority as the only 5-star safari lodge in Kenya, Segera has since become Africa’s “must-see” destination and is celebrated as one of Top 20 places to visit worldwide by international press including the New York Times and LA Times. An avid conservationist, Zeitz is VP of Fauna & Flora International (FFI), an Honorary Game Warden of Kenya and Conservation Fellow of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

As Founder of the ZEITZ Foundation, a non-profit organisation registered in Kenya and Germany which supports sustainable solutions that balance conservation, community, culture and commerce (the 4Cs), Zeitz has supported the building of 6 eco-sustainable schools (including the winner of LEED’s 2015 “Greenest School in the World” award) educating over 2,000 children, a soccer academy, an initiative for inter-tribal understanding and female empowerment, and provided hundreds of educational bursaries for Kenyan children. Having started as an initiative of the ZEITZ Foundation, ‘The Long Run’ is now one of the world’s largest conservation alliances preserving over 21 million acres of wilderness and touching the lives of 750,000 people across the globe.

In September 2017, Zeitz and his partners at the V&A Waterfront launched the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town, South Africa. Zeitz MOCAA is committed to preserving and exhibiting cutting-edge contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora.

As a published author, Zeitz co-wrote “The Manager and The Monk” with Anselm Grün, which has been translated into 15 languages, and “The Breakthrough Challenge: 10 Ways to Connect Today’s Profits with Tomorrow’s Bottom Line” with John Elkington. Zeitz has received numerous awards during his professional career, including “Entrepreneur of the Year”, 3-times “Strategist of the Year” by the Financial Times, “Trendsetter of the Year” and “Best of European Business Award”. In 2004, the German President awarded Zeitz with the Federal Cross of Merit of the Republic of Germany. In 2015, he was ranked #18 of “The World’s Top 100 Compassionate Business Leaders” by Salt Magazine, awarded for his advocacy of Responsible Capitalism by FIRST Magazine, and Zeitz featured in OOM’s 2016 “The World’s Most Inspiring People” list. In 2019, Conde Nast Traveler named Zeitz as one of “The 44 People Changing the Way We Travel”.