The Secretariat oversees ABCG programming and operations and comprises three core staff dedicated to ABCG’s management, partnership engagement, resource mobilization and outreach. As an integral part of ABCG’s collaborative nature, the ABCG Secretariat rotates locations among its members. The African Wildlife Foundation currently hosts the Secretariat since November 2018 from their offices in Washington DC and Nairobi.
AFRICA BIODIVERSITY COLLABORATIVE GROUP DIRECTOR
Rubina provides vision, direction, leadership, and management to the overall ABCG program. Rubina leads and delivers on the multiple workflows of the ABCG Secretariat, ranging from internal coordination to strategy development, donor engagement, program management, communications, and external representation to key stakeholders in the US, Europe, and Africa. She facilitates ABCG’s efforts to identify and address emerging and high priority threats to biodiversity and encourages ABCG members to contribute the strengths that each brings to the collaborative effort of improving conservation practice in Africa.
Rubina has considerable and successful experience developing institutional business and strategic partnerships for international organizations to interlocution and liaison with national governments and diplomatic representatives in the delivery of organizational objectives and mandates.
Rubina has managed complex national and regional programs addressing harmonization, alignment, and coordination with national, regional, and international objectives, ensuring institutional program management and operational excellence, fundraising through blended and innovative financing and exceptional partner stewardship.
COMMUNICATIONS AND ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST
Evelyn fulfills a key role in building brand awareness, expanding ABCG’s reach to target audiences, and driving the effort to grow Communities of Practice and cultivate leadership by African institutions in addressing critical biodiversity conservation challenges facing the continent. Evelyn reports to and supports the Director in ensuring timely implementation of communications activities, grant reporting, and coordination with ABCG member organizations to contribute to achieving the program’s objectives
Evelyn is a multi-skilled communications, knowledge management and engagement professional in the fields of conservation, agriculture, and development with 15 years’ experience. She works to create awareness on developmental issues, support program design, and decision-making through innovative knowledge management, learning, and communication approaches. Evelyn has interacted and collaborated with various development partners, government departments, NGOs, policymakers, CBOs, and various other stakeholders. She has supported the design and delivery of communications and knowledge management strategies at Save the Children, East and Southern Africa Regional Office, the International Livestock Research Institution, and in other programs and institutions.
PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST
DIRECTOR, AFRICA REGION- WWF INTERNATIONAL
Alice Ruhweza is a global thought leader and practitioner with extensive experience working at the intersection of Conservation, Development, and the Environment in Africa and globally, fostering successful partnerships with a wide range of international institutions. She is currently the Africa Region Director for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), where she leads and oversees a regional program comprising 10 countries and over 600 staff. There she is leading the design of a new conservation framework that brings together work at national, transboundary, and global levels, as well as the development of a new system of program quality assurance. She sits on the Board of the CGIAR, the Global Ever-Greening Alliance, and on the steering committee of the Future Earth Water-Food-Energy Nexus working group. She is also co-chair of the World Economic Forum Sustainable Aquaculture 2030 working group. Before joining WWF, she was Vice President of Programs and Partnerships with Conservation International, where she oversaw the Vital Signs Program, which provides data and diagnostic tools to help inform agricultural decisions and monitor outcomes around the world. She was also the Team Leader and Technical Adviser for the United Nations Development Programme Global Environmental Finance Unit in Africa. In this role, she led a team supporting 44 countries to attract and drive public and private finance towards their sustainable development priorities. She is an Aspen New Voices Fellow; a Henry Arnhold Conservation Fellow; and a fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar. She holds an MSc in Agricultural and Applied Economics.
NORTHERN TANZANIA PROGRAM DIRECTOR, THE NATURE CONSERVANCY
Alphonce’s experience with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is as old as TNC Africa itself, where he worked to start the first office in Africa, right in Arusha Tanzania. Alphonce grew professionally within TNC for over 10 years, an experience that led to his promotion to TNC Conservation Coordinator, a post he held for 8 years and a half before he was further promoted to NTRI Conservation Coordinator in November 2019 and Northern Tanzania Program Director from January 2021. Part of the current role is to coordinate conservation work implementation by NTRI partner Organizations in Northern Tanzania. Alphonce is passionate about the tourism industry and has served in the sector at different capacities and levels including as local, cross-country, and intercontinental Tour Developer, the Tourism industry development Consultant for Zambia, Country Coordinator for Volunteer programs-Tanzania, Tour Guide in the Selous, Senior Tour Leader in Kenya & Uganda, to currently developing sustainable tourism business within three partner Wildlife Management Areas in the northern Tanzania landscape. He helped to develop the Alibaba Foundation & Paradise Foundation’s Africa Ranger award and was a Judge of the 2018 Africa Ranger Awards. He has served as a Board Member of Honeyguide, an NTRI partner, for 9 years to date and has recently joined the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group as a Steering Committee member.
VICE PRESIDENT PUBLIC FUNDRAISING, GOVERNMENT RELATIONS AND POLICY
Eric Coppenger leads a globally dispersed team at African Wildlife Foundation that works across the organization to design new programs, and partners with bilateral and multilateral institutions in the US, Europe and Africa to integrate wildlife and wildlands into their development agendas in Africa. The team also leads all public sector relationships and proposal development. Eric started off in the backcountry of US National Parks and later western Uganda. Over the past 20 years he has played key roles in program design addressing a diverse set of conservation strategies, and engaged institutional partners with the Environmental Law Institute, Earth Day Network, Conservation International, Rare and the African Wildlife Foundation. He has focused mainly across Africa, but has also worked in Southeast Asia and island states. Eric volunteers for and has served on the steering committees of the Global Island Partnership and the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group.
VICE PRESIDENT, GLOBAL LEADERSHIP, AWF
Frederick leads AWF’s engagements with government and multilateral institutions across Africa, China and Europe in close collaboration with a team of strategic partners. He leads a global team focused on government engagement alongside other non-state actors to devise strategies that cultivate leadership for wildlife and wildlands. Through his leadership, his team supports African governments in international negotiations that ensure conservation is at the center of development dialogues. In his current capacity, he has managed to engage in strategic platforms to share proposed policies and measures and influence their adoption. He continues to bring together key players that are shaping the continent’s development priorities. His deep understanding of the CBD processes has been integral in aligning AWF’s 10-year strategic vision with the development of the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework. He is currently in the steering committees of high-level engagements within the continent including Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) and the African CSOs Biodiversity Alliance (ACBA) that are successfully engaging with world leaders and global conventions that are setting the agenda for the next decade. Fred strongly advocates for deliberate youth engagement at all levels to achieve the ambitious targets and he actively works to build their capacity and create platforms that will unlock their potential. “The best time to start standing for nature was yesterday. The next best time is NOW. It is time for Nature. At AWF we continue to prioritize youth engagement because we believe change is inevitable with young people leading this effort speaking in unison for nature.” Fred holds a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s Degree in Business Administration and a certificate in International Development from Andrews University, Berrien Springs.
SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIPS
Janet Edmond is the Senior Director for Peace and Development Partnerships in the Center for Environment and Peace at Conservation International.
She has more than 20 years of experience managing health, development and environment programs, including more than nine years as the Population Environment Director at Conservation International. Janet is an expert in family planning and reproductive health, maternal and child health. She has more than 15 years technically and financially managing the United States Agency for International Development health and environment grants and cooperative agreements.
From 2008-2013, she served as Deputy Director for Family Planning and Reproductive Health (Population, Health, and Environment) Advocacy and Outreach for the flagship $5 million, 5-year United States Agency for International Development Family Planning and Reproductive Health Advocacy Project (Building Actors and Leaders for Advancing Community Excellence in Development), overseeing project communications and providing strategic technical guidance on country-specific Population, Health, and Environment Initiatives in the Philippines.
From 2004-2008, Janet directed Conservation International’s combined $3.5 million United States Agency for International Development-funded Population, Health, and Environment project, which integrated Family Planning/Reproductive Health and Maternal and Child Health service delivery with improved natural resource management activities to improve community health and well-being in Madagascar, Cambodia and the Philippines. In addition, Janet has a long-term experience providing technical assistance and guidance on the social components of conservation, including incorporating gender and a rights-based approach. Janet co-facilitates Conservation International trainings for staff and partners on gender analysis, indicator selection and participatory monitoring and evaluation.
MANAGER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, AFRICA REGION
The Nature Conservancy
Kimberly Holbrook joined The Nature Conservancy in September 2013 as the External Affairs Manager for Africa. Her work focuses on building relationships and increasing engagement with The Nature Conservancy's United States-based partners. This work includes advancing policy initiatives and public funding opportunities as well as raising awareness of conservation priorities in Africa.
Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, Kimberly was a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Tropical Research at the University of California, Los Angeles where she conducted climate policy research and served as a liaison between the University of California, Los Angeles and District of Columbia-based institutions. From 2010-2012 Kimberly was a Science Policy Fellow at the United States Department of State, and from 2008-2010 worked for the Spanish National Research Council as a Postdoctoral Scholar. In the course of more than 15 years’ experience working in Africa, Australia, Europe, and Latin America she has focused on enhancing understanding of how human activities influence tropical forest ecosystems, and has developed expertise in tropical ecology, conservation biology, and international human rights policy. She is interested in protecting natural ecosystems and their services through conservation policy and practice that promote the sustainable development of human communities.
DIRECTOR, POLICY AND INSTITUTIONAL PARTNERSHIPS FOR AFRICA, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY (WCS)
Dr. Michel Masozera has over 25 years of experience working for conservation NGOs in Africa. Prior to rejoining the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), he served as the Deputy Wildlife Practice Leader for Africa at WWF International from 2017 to 2020 working primarily on strategic design, implementation support and evaluation of WWF’s wildlife conservation portfolio across the continent. He is a specialist in wildlife conservation, community-based natural resource management, project management, protected area planning and management, and tourism development.
Dr. Masozera has a particular interest in inclusive conservation and capacity building of civil society organizations and young African conservationists. He holds an M.Sc. degree in Forest Resources and Conservation from the University of Florida, Gainesville, and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He was awarded the National Geographic/Buffett Award for Leadership in African Conservation in 2004, following the creation of the Nyungwe National Park. He is the board member of several organizations including the Akagera Management Company (AMC), which is a joint venture between the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and African Parks for the management of Akagera National Park.
SENIOR TECHNICAL ADVISOR, CONSERVATION MEASURES AND COMMUNITIES
Wildlife Conservation Society
Dr. Michael Painter has worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society for over 18 years, serving as director of country programs in Bolivia and Peru, the Amazon Landscapes Conservation Program, and a cross-cutting program on conservation and the quality of human life. He is currently a Senior Technical Advisor, charged with supporting efforts to build trusting, effective partnerships with local communities, and indigenous and traditional peoples, and developing opportunities to improve collaboration between the conservation and rights communities. Michael has also served as a Program Officer in the Andes Amazon Initiative of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and advised the Department of Wildlife and National Parks of the Government of Botswana on the design and monitoring of community-based conservation and wildlife management programs. He holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Florida, with specializations in economic and ecological anthropology.
LEAD SPECIALIST, CLIMATE, COMMUNITIES AND BIODIVERSITY
World Wildlife Fund
Nikhil was born and brought up in Kenya, and went on to pursue his Bachelor’s Degree and Doctor of Philosophy Degree at The University of Texas at Austin. His thesis focused on gaining a better mechanistic understanding of species response to climate change, using the Glanville Fritillary butterfly as a model species.
DIRECTOR, LAND AND RESOURCE RIGHTS INITIATIVE
World Resources Institute
Peter Veit is Director of the Land and Resource Rights initiative. The Land and Resource Rights Initiative seeks to strengthen land tenure and natural resource rights of rural people and communities by: 1) conducting research and generating new knowledge on critical property rights issues; 2) developing information platforms, including an online platform to document community rights; 3) participating in and contributing to policy and legislative reform processes; and 4) building the capacity of civil society organizations and other actors. Peter is also an Adjunct Professor at the School of International Advanced Studies, Johns Hopkins University.
For more than 25 years, Peter has worked on a range of environmental governance matters, particularly environment/democracy and environment/human rights links. He has conducted research and written on community-based natural resource management, environmental decentralization, environmental advocacy, and other environmental accountability matters. Peter has undertaken long-term field research in a number of African countries, including in Sierra Leone as a Fulbright Scholar, where he conducted research on household variability in agricultural strategies and practices; and, in Rwanda as Director of the Karisoke Mountain Gorilla Research Center, where in the 1970s he studied the behavior of mountain gorillas. Peter has also held a range of research and teaching positions at the University of California campuses at Santa Cruz and Davis.
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, AFRICA PROGRAMS
As an Associate Director at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Africa Programs, Stella Mercurio leads Project Design, Monitoring and Learning initiatives in the Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. She loves unconventional solutions, creating order out of chaos, thinking big, and honing-in on pivotal details. Using the latest tools in conservation, she dedicates her time to enhancing the design of conservation projects, boosting collaboration, improving structures and processes, enabling learning, and showcasing results. In her daily work, she leads teams to do their best work together, think critically, and focus on the change they seek to create.
Born and raised in the Caucasus Mountain Region of Russia, her natural surroundings instilled a deep appreciation of the wilderness and the importance of preserving it. Stella is relentlessly committed to building a brighter future and is passionate about great food. When she isn’t baking or blending something, you will find her spin cycling or trying to keep her cactuses alive. For the last decade, she worked on finding solutions to conservation and animal welfare issues with teams around the globe. Prior to joining the Jane Goodall Institute, Stella had the pleasure of working at the International Fund for Animal Welfare and at Conservation International.