Nikhil Advani

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.

Read More

Peter Veit

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.

Read More

Michael Painter

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.

Read More

Kimberly Holbrook

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.

Read More

Stella Mercurio

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. 

Read More

Janet Edmond

Senior Director for Peace and Development Partnerships

Conservation International

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.

Read More

Eric Coppenger

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.

Read More