Deborah Burke, Rockefeller Brothers Fund

TITLE: Program Associate, Sustainable Development

FUNDING AREAS: Climate change, clean energy, energy conservation

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Deborah Burker is a program associate for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in their Sustainable Development program. Here's additional information from the fund's own website:

Before joining the RBF, Ms. Burke worked as a research assistant at New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. From 2008 to 2011 she served as the senior policy advisor to Oregon State Representative Jules Bailey (D-Portland). In this role, she managed the representative’s portfolio, including assisting on several successful bills to promote sustainable economic development programs, energy efficiency, and alternative energy incentives. Last summer, Ms. Burke had the opportunity to work in the United Kingdom’s House of Commons as a parliamentary researcher for the West Lancashire Member of Parliament Rosie Cooper. Ms. Burke holds a B.A. in political science from Portland State University’s School of Urban Affairs, as well as her M.P.A. in nonprofit and public management and policy from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.

Aileen Lee, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

TITLE: Chief Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Wild salmon ecosystem conservation

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Aileen Lee brings a very strong skill set to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, having earned an undergraduate degree in Political Science and East Asian Studies from Yale University, and a law degree from Harvard. Before she joined the foundation, Lee led a team at McKinsey & Company that helped clients to adopt effective operational strategies across a number of different industry sectors. She has also spent time in the past as chair of the board of the Environmental Grantmakers Association and treasurer of the Western Conservation Foundation, and currently volunteers in Los Altos Hills as a member of their Environmental Initiatives Committee.

Her foundation bio shares: 

The foundation's conservation program includes the Andes-AmazonMarine Conservation and Wild Salmon Ecosystemsinitiatives, as well an interlinked portfolio of initiatives focused on market-based approaches to conservation (the Conservation and Financial MarketsForests and Agricultural Markets, and Oceans and Seafood Markets initiatives). Aileen’s previous roles at the foundation include developing and leading the Wild Salmon Ecosystems Initiative and the Conservation and Markets initiatives.

Prior to joining the foundation, Aileen was an associate principal at McKinsey & Company, where she led client engagements in strategy, operations and organizational effectiveness across a wide range of sectors. She currently serves on the boards of the Windward Fund and the Climate and Land Use Alliance. She has previously served as chair of the board of the Environmental Grantmakers Association and treasurer of the Western Conservation Foundation. She also volunteers with her hometown of Los Altos Hills as co-chair of the Environmental Initiatives Committee.

Aileen was born and raised on Long Island, New York. She attended Yale University, where she received a B.A. in political science and East Asian studies. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and is a member of the California bar.

Leonardo Lacerda, Oak Foundation

TITLE: Director of Enivornment Programme

FUNDING AREAS: Marine conservation, climate change

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: . Before he became the Environment Programme Director at Oak Foundation, he spent 14 years as a journeyman with the World Wildlife Fund's international network. While there, he served as the Mediterranean Program Director, managed the Global Forest Conservation Program, and was the Program Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean. He was also once a board member for WWF-Spain and WWF-Greece.  And he is a founding member of Fundacao Vitoria Amazonica, an NGO based in Manaus, Brazil.

His foundation bio shares: 

Leonardo Lacerda holds the position of Environment Programme Director at Oak Foundation. He supervises staff, working on two priority areas: climate change and marine conservation.

Prior to joining Oak Foundation, Leonardo worked for 14 years with the World Wildlife Fund’s international network in various capacities, including Mediterranean Programme Director/Representative (Rome, Italy), Conservation Director of WWF-Brazil (Brasilia), Manager of the Global Forest Conservation Programme, and Latin America and Caribbean Programme Coordinator (Gland, Switzerland). He is a founding member of Fundacao Vitoria Amazonica, an NGO based in Manaus, Brazil. Leonardo has extensive experience in terrestrial and marine protected areas management, organisational development, financial and programme management, climate change and international relations.

He is a member of the Scientific Council of WWF-Brazil, and former board member of WWF-Spain and WWF-Greece. He speaks Portuguese, English, French, Italian and Spanish. Leonardo has a M.A. in International Relations from the Paul Nitsche School of International Advanced Studies (SAIS) from Johns Hopkins University.

Samuel B. Passmore, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

TITLE: Program Director

FUNDING AREAS: Environmental conservation

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Samuel Passmore is the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation's environmental program director. In that position, he oversees an environmental grant-making portfolio that encompasses three areas: North American Freshwater Ecosystems, which supports freshwater conservation across the United States but emphasizes the Great Lakes region and, to a lesser extent, the southeastern states; International Finance for Sustainability, whose grants aim to boost sustainable investments and economic opportunities worldwide; and a bevy of Special Initiatives grants, which primarily focuses on grants for urban revitalization and growth management in Michigan.

His foundation bio shares: 

Sam Passmore directs the Foundation’s Environment Program. He supervises all environmental grantmaking and oversees the team’s work on program development and evaluation. He also shares responsibility for the Foundation’s freshwater grant portfolio, which focuses on the Great Lakes basin and portions of the southeastern United States, and is the lead staff person for the domestic aspects of the Foundation’s climate change grantmaking. Prior to joining Mott in November 2001, Passmore was the land use program director of the Coastal Conservation League in South Carolina. He has worked for a number of other environmental organizations in a staff or consulting capacity, including: Save The Bay; Environment Liaison Centre International; Trust for Public Land; Humane Society of the United States; and Environmental Protection Agency, Region III. Passmore has a bachelor’s degree in English and Environmental Studies from Oberlin College and a master’s degree in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. While Passmore describes himself as “pretty outdoorsy,” he credits two books for setting him off on his career path: “Soft Energy Paths” by Amory Lovins and “The Unsettling of America” by Wendell Berry.

Alan Holt, Margaret A. Cargill Foundation

TITLE: Program Director, Environment

FUNDING AREAS: Marine conservation, Great Bear of the Tongass Coast Conservation, local environmental sustainability and biodiversity

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: As Program Director for the Environment arm of this fairly new but deep-pocketed Minnesota funder, Holt now manages a huge conservation portfolio that reaches the Pacific islands, tropical forests, and the temperate rainforests of Alaska and British Columbia.

Holt's role at Cargill started when the foundation really began gearing up in 2009, and Holt has said his work developing conservation programs still strongly influences his thoughts on what makes a good funder. For example, he thinks back to his early work in Hawaii, and how a project funded by MacArthur in the 1980s morphed into the broad collaboration Hawai'i Conservation Alliance, because he strayed from the proposal.

"You get more when you give grantees the room to adapt and innovate toward important goals, not by trying to tightly manage them to an original work plan," he told an annual HCA conference in his 2012 keynote speech. Allowing leeway instead of holding grantees to a set of boxes to check off yields far greater results, he said. "Great science and great researchers aren't necessarily attracted to having their agenda orchestrated," Holt added. "Fancy that."

He’s now in a position to extend that same room to innovate to others, in a big way. Since its namesake's passing in 2006, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation has been ramping up, with its first big year in grantmaking in 2011 (featuring $141 million in giving). The foundation's endowment has grown to one of the largest in the country, and a good chunk of its funding is in conservation.

You can see Holt's apparent influence in the focus on Pacific islands, tropical forests and work in Alaska. Before taking the job at Cargill, he spent the bulk of his career at The Nature Conservancy, where in his most recent role he was regional director overseeing Alaska, Canada, Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. But having spent nearly 30 years at the Conservancy, Holt was also involved in international decisions and strategy. 

His legacy will likely remain his work in Hawaii. During his time at The Nature Conservancy, he designed and created its Hawaii conservation programs from 1982 to 1999. He was one of the founders of what would become the Hawaii Conservation Alliance, a coalition of nonprofits, educational institutions and government agencies collectively responsible for managing Hawaii’s land and waters. Prior to that project, he worked as a field biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service. He also holds a master's in botany from the University of Hawaii, and is an expert in invasive species.

Holt still cites his successful work on the island as the basis for what he thinks makes for successful conservation work. As he said in his 2012 keynote speech, Hawaii has been at the leading edge of what's happening now in conservation, which is a respect for culture and a fusion of community interests.

What we're doing now could be called not so much biodiversity conservation, but bio-cultural conservation, bio-cultural diversity. Where Hawaiian perspective is not a special topic or a visiting speaker, but a gift from our ancestors that can bring us beyond what we can do through science alone.

Francesca Vietor, The San Francisco Foundation

TITLE: Senior Advisor, Donor and Development Services

FUNDING AREAS: Environmental conservation, renewable energy — San Francisco Bay Area

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Vietor is a Senior Advisor, Donor and Development Services at TSFF. Vietor's foundation bio shares: 

Francesca Vietor serves as Senior Advisor, Donor and Development Services for The San Francisco Foundation, developing grantmaking recommendations for donors and implementing programs to advance racial, economic and environmental equity. Previously, Francesca served for two years as Senior Director for Expanding Access to Opportunity at the foundation, directing grantmaking and initiatives in criminal justice, workforce development, transit, education and infrastructure. Before her promotion to Senior Director in 2016, Francesca served as Program Director for Environment, Public Policy, and Civic Engagement at the Foundation for five years.

Francesca also serves as one of five commissioners on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), where she leads policymaking for the City and County of San Francisco’s water, wastewater, and municipal power services. Francesca has served as President of the SFPUC twice in her nine year tenure.

Before coming to The San Francisco Foundation in 2010, Francesca was executive director of the Chez Panisse Foundation, president of the Urban Forest Council, president of the Commission on the Environment, and chair of Mayor Newsom’s Environmental Transition Team. She has worked for several non-profits, including Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace, and she serves on the boards of SPUR and Resilient by Design. Francesca holds a Bachelor of Sciences degree from Georgetown University and she lives in San Francisco with her twelve-year old daughter.

VIDEO:

Judy Adler, Turner Foundation

TITLE: President and Treasurer

FUNDING AREAS: Water and energy management, environmental sustainability, healthy living

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Adler is the president and treasurer of the Turner Foundation. Her foundation bio shares: 

As President of the Turner Foundation, Judy is responsible for implementing the Foundation's mission of protecting and restoring our natural systems - air, land, and water on which all life depends. Before being appointed President, Judy managed the energy and water programs at the Foundation. Judy has over 20 years of environmental experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Prior to joining the Turner Foundation, Judy worked for the State of Georgia's Sustainability Division where she managed a team of engineers that helped businesses and institutions reduce their environmental footprint. She also worked as a project manager and project engineer with Metcalf & Eddy, Inc. (now AECOM) where she provided environmental services for industrial, municipal and federal clients.
Judy received a Bachelor of Engineering from Vanderbilt University summa cum laude and a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Judy is a licensed professional engineer, LEED Green Associate, Certified Energy Manager, and former Chair of the Board of Directors for the Institute of Georgia Environmental Leadership. Judy lives in Atlanta with her husband, Ted Hull, and daughter Iris. In Atlanta, you may find Judy leading a courageous group of Girl Scouts, cooking and trying out the latest new restaurants with friends, and exploring the great outdoors with her family.

Walt Reid, David and Lucile Packard Foundation

TITLE: Director, Conservation and Science

FUNDING AREAS: Climate change, environmental science research, biofuels, marine conservation, biodiversity restoration

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: The David and Lucile Packard Foundation funds conservation through its Conservation and Science program. Reid is the director of conservation and science here. His foundation bio shares: 

Walt joined the Foundation in 2006 and is the director of the Conservation and Science Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, he was a consulting professor with the Institute for the Environment at Stanford University from 2005 to 2006. Walt was responsible for the creation of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which he directed from 1998 until the release of the findings in March 2005. From 1992 to 1998, he was vice president of the World Resources Institute in Washington D.C. Walt is a member (and past Chair) of the Board of the Climate and Land Use Alliance and a member of the Board of Editors of Ecosystems. He previously was a member of: the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services working group of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST); the Board of “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity” (TEEB) project; the governing committee of the Policy and Global Affairs Division of the National Research Council; the Board of the Society for Conservation Biology; and the Board of Editors of Ecological Applications and PLOS-Biology. Walt earned his Ph.D. in zoology (ecology and evolutionary biology) from the University of Washington in 1987 and his B.A. in zoology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1978.

Jorgen Thomsen, MacArthur Foundation

TITLE: Director, Climate Solutions

FUNDING AREAS: Conservation, environmental sustainability, marine conservation

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Jorgen Thomsen has spent much of his career at the helms of massive conservation programs, protecting the most vulnerable hotspots of biodiversity around the world. At the MacArthur Foundation, he's continuing that work but is expanding it to take on the underlying threats to biodiversity, including climate change. His foundation bio shares:

Prior to joining the foundation in 2009, Thomsen spent 14 years with Conservation International as Senior Vice President of the organization’s Conservation Funding Division and as Executive Director of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, which included leading a $260 million grantmaking and partnership development facility for civil society organizations in the most biodiversity rich areas of the world. Before this he was the chief executive of TRAFFIC, an organization that monitors trade in natural resources, and he held positions at WWF and IUCN, and in the Danish ministry of environment.
Thomsen has a MSc in zoology and also attended law school at the University of Copenhagen in his native Denmark.

VIDEO:

Guillermo Castilleja, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

TITLE: Chief Program Officer, Environmental Conservation

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only) 

PROFILE: Guillermo Castilleja is the Chief Program Officer of Environmental Conservation at the Moore Foundation. His Yale bio shares: 

Guillermo Castilleja leads and oversees strategy for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Environmental Conservation Program, which seeks to protect critical ecosystems and balance long-term conservation with sustainable use. The program includes an interlinked trio of market-based approaches to conservation (the Conservation and Financial Markets Initiative, Forests and Agricultural Markets Initiative, and Oceans and Seafood Markets Initiative) as well as initiatives that focus on the Andes-Amazon, Marine Conservation and Wild Salmon Ecosystems. 
Before joining the foundation in 2010, Guillermo worked for World Wildlife Fund-International (WWF), most recently as Executive Director for conservation. In that capacity, he directed and coordinated its global conservation efforts, leading the development of global priorities for the network, overseeing implementation of its activities and monitoring progress. He has also worked for the World Bank and the National Wildlife Federation. 
Guillermo graduated from the National University of Mexico and received a Master’s degree in Forestry, a Master’s degree in Philosophy and a doctorate in Forest Ecology from Yale University. 

Avecita Chicchón, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

TITLE: Program Director

FUNDING AREAS: Andes-Amazon, sustainable agriculture

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: When Chicchón joined the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to head up its Andes-Amazon Initiative in 2011, she brought with her a veritable treasure trove of experience and knowledge. Her foundation bio shares: 

Avecita leads the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Andes-Amazon Initiative, which aims to secure the biodiversity and climatic function of the Amazon biome. Since the initiative began in 2001, it has helped conserve and improve management of over 170 million hectares in the Amazon, nearly one-third of the original forest cover. Avecita also led the team that developed the foundation’s forests and agricultural markets work.
Avecita has over 30 years of experience in natural resource use, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean. She currently serves on several committees and boards, including the Strategic Steering Committee for the Andes Amazon Fund, the Pew Marine Fellows Program selection committee, the Amazon Biodiversity Center advisory board, and the program team for the Climate and Land Use Alliance. Before coming to Moore, Avecita served as the executive director of the Latin America program at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), where she led conservation programs in 15 countries. Some of many contributions included strengthening WCS’s work in the Western Amazon region, the establishment of a private protected area in Tierra del Fuego (Karukinka, Chile) and consolidating wetland and species conservation approaches in Cuba. Previously, Avecita was a program officer at the MacArthur Foundation, where she developed the initial strategies on the North and Southern Tropical Andes and was responsible for conservation and sustainable development grantmaking in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Conservation International’s first country program director in Peru. While at Conservation International, she led a team that, with a social science perspective, used novel participatory approaches to help establish millions of hectares under permanent protection and management in the Tambopata watershed and Vilcabamba cordillera regions of the Peruvian Amazon.
Avecita earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Florida. Her dissertation focused on natural resource use by the Tsimane people of Beni, Bolivia. She has degrees from the University of Cincinnati and from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. In 2004, she was awarded a Doctor Honoris Causadegree from the Universidad de la Amazonia Peruana (UNAP) for her contributions in the conservation and sustainable development fields.

Wolcott Henry, The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation

TITLE: President and Chair

FUNDING AREAS: Marine fisheries and wildlife conservation

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Wolcott Henry is the president and chair of the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation. His foundation bio shares:

Underwater photographer Wolcott Henry is president and chair of The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation and The Henry Foundation, both of which support marine conservation projects with an emphasis on fisheries and coral reefs. From 1989 to 1993, he published Conservation Digest, a newsletter for environmental grantmakers. He is the co-founder of the marine funders working group.
In the non-profit field, Mr. Henry served as a director on the boards of the chair of Earth Echo International (also as chair), World Wildlife Fund-Philippines, and The Ocean Foundation (of which he was the founding chair). His prior board service also includes the International League of Conservation Photographers, World Wildlife Fund—US, FotoWeek DC, the Divers Alert Network (DAN), and the Ocean Conservancy. He serves on advisory boards forf the Smithsonian Ocean Science Initiative, the Frost Museum of Science, and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, and on the national council of World Wildlife Fund-US.
Mr. Henry has also collaborated with Dr. Sylvia Earle on two children's books published by the National Geographic Society, titled Hello Fish and Sea Critters. In 1999, he co-authored a large format book with Dr. Earle on our national marine sanctuary system called Wild Ocean, also published by the National Geographic Society. In 2011, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
Because of his interest in both conservation and photography, Mr. Henry has worked hard to promote the concept of "conservation photography," using high quality images to illustrate environmental problems as well as natural wonders. He helped foundwww.marinephotobank.org to provide such marine images to the global nonprofit community for use in public outreach and education projects.
Prior to joining the Munson Foundation in 1986, he worked for two management consulting firms in Chicago. He received his B.A. from Denison University and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University.

VIDEO:

Denis Hayes, Bullitt Foundation

TITLE: President and CEO

FUNDING AREAS: Marine ecosystem conservation, clean energy, and green infrastructure

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Denis Hayes is the president and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation. His foundation bio shares:

As president of the Bullitt Foundation, Denis leads an effort to mold the major cities of Pacific Northwest and British Columbia into models of sustainability for a rapidly urbanizing planet. The Foundation applies ecological principles to the design of healthy, resilient human ecosystems. Under his leadership, the Foundation designed and constructed the Bullitt Center—the world’s greenest office building—which it operates as a commercial enterprise.
Denis was the principal national organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970 and took the event international in 1990. It is now the most-wide-observed secular holiday in the world. As board chair of the international Earth Day Network, Denis is gearing up for the 50th Earth Day anniversary in 2020. Over the years, Hayes has been special assistant to the Governor of Illinois for natural resources and the environment; senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute; adjunct professor of engineering and human biology at Stanford University; Regents’ Professor at the University of California; and a Silicon Valley lawyer at the Cooley firm. Denis has been a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC and at the Bellagio Centerin Italy, and a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow of the Bosch Foundation. During the Carter Administration, Hayes was the director of SERI — the nation’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Hayes has received the national Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Public Serviceand the Rachel Carson Medal as well as the highest awards bestowed by the Sierra Club, the Humane Society of the United States, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Council of America, the Global Environmental Facility, the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, the American Solar Energy Society, and the Commonwealth Club. He has served on dozens of governing boards, including those of Stanford University, the World Resources Institute, the Federation of American Scientists, the Energy Foundation, Children Now, the National Programming Council for Public Television, the American Solar Energy Society, Greenpeace, CERES, and the Environmental Grantmakers Association. Time magazine selected Hayes as one of its “Heroes of the Planet”. He has been profiled as “Newsmaker of the week” by ABC News and as “Today’s Person in the News” by the New York Times. Denis and his wife, Gail Boyer Hayes, co-authored COWED: The Hidden Impact of 93 Million Cows on America’s Health, Economy, Politics, Culture, and Environment (WW Norton, 2015).

VIDEOS:

Michael Northrop, Rockefeller Brothers Fund

TITLE: Program Director, Sustainable Development

FUNDING AREAS: Climate change, clean energy, energy conservation

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Northrop is the program director of sustainable development at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. His foundation bio shares: 

Michael Northrop is the program director for the Sustainable Development grantmaking program at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund where he focuses on climate change and energy. Northrop has been a lecturer at Yale University’s Forestry and Environmental Studies School for the last 14 years, where he has taught a course on environmental policy campaigns. Previously he was executive director of Ashoka, an international development organization that supports “public sector entrepreneurs” and an analyst at First Boston, an investment bank in New York City. Northrop serves on New York City’s Sustainability Advisory Board, on the city’s Waterfront Advisory Board, and on the boards of the Rainforest Action Network, Inside Climate News, and Princeton-in-Asia. Northrop has a Master of Public Administration from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, where he was an English major as an undergraduate.

LinkedIn Profile

Andrew Johnson, William Penn Foundation

TITLE: Program Director, Watershed Protection

FUNDING AREAS: Watershed conservation and protection

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: Johnson leads land and water conservation up and down the Delaware River Watershed region. That includes urban areas, where he directs funds to parks, trails, and other projects to make nature more accessible to the public—and in so doing, he hopes, make the public more interested in protecting it.

PROFILE: Conservation opportunities abound in America’s remaining wilderness areas, needless to say. But Andrew (Andy) Johnson finds them deep within cities, too. As senior program officer for the Watershed Protection program at the William Penn Foundation, he’s led the allocation of numerous grants to Philadelphia and nearby cities for urban parks, nature trails, and other projects that facilitate city folks’ access to, and enjoyment of, the natural world. The more remote wilderness habitats are part of the program, too, though. Johnson’s grantmaking sponsors conservation and restoration efforts across his state and beyond.

The William Penn Foundation has an endowment of close to $2 billion, out of which it dispenses about $110 million in grants a year. Its conservation outreach covers all bases: scientific research, policy development, restoration projects, and advocacy efforts to mobilize the public. It keeps its mission very localized, though. Grants go, with virtually no exceptions, to groups involved in stewardship of the Delaware watershed, the 12,800-square-mile river network that runs through the Philadelphia area, Delaware, and parts of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

National groups do receive William Penn grants, but they tend to get them for projects in the greater Philadelphia region. The Natural Resources Defense Council and The Nature Conservancy are some examples. So is the National Fish and Wildlife Federation, which has been using its grants from William Penn to finance a Delaware Estuary program since 2003.

Beneficiaries, both local and national, have used grants to track environmental health and water quality throughout the watershed, buy up lands that they identify as critical to water conservation, and develop and implement new models and methods for conservation, restoration, and enhanced public and private watershed protection.

The Delaware River Waterfront Commission, a public-private partnership that’s developing public nature sites on the banks of Philadelphia’s corner of the Delaware River, has been a major beneficiary of William Penn grants. The foundation gave the partnership $10 million—$5 million in 2010 and another $5 million in 2013—for a new nature trail, a public park, and related projects. Philadelphia’s zoo received $6 million to build a new trail that same year; and the city’s 55-acre Awbry Arboretum, a grant of $300,000. These all follow the foundation’s 2012 allocation of $495,000 to the civic association Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future for clean-water and storm-water-management programs.

These city-centric initiatives reflect a philosophy that Johnson and his foundation colleagues hold for furthering conservation by raising interest and awareness among the public. Trails and similar projects connect the public with nature. And this, Johnson and colleagues hope, can lead to more members of the public making personal connections with nature and finding more incentives to protect it.

This philosophy also underlies the foundation’s investment of large sums to complete the Circuit, a network of more than 250 miles of trails that crisscrosses the greater Philly region. And it’s why the foundation likewise issued $350,000 grant to the Wildlands Conservancy to expand a Bike and Boat Program on the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers, and to construct several new nature trails and the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.

Many more foundation grants fund work further out in the countryside. The foundation has issued $82,500 over the years to the Manomet Center’s Shorebird Recovery Project, a project to teach area residents and visitors about the region’s migratory shorebirds and horseshoe crabs. Other foundation-sponsored programs work with hunters, fishermen, and other outdoor enthusiasts throughout the region to encourage them to engage in their hobbies in the most ecosystem-friendly ways possible.

Christine James, The John Merck Fund

TITLE: Director of Programs

FUNDING AREAS: Environmental health, clean energy, food systems, and developmental disabilities

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Christine James serves as Director of Programs at the John Merck Fund. Her foundation bio shares:

Christine James came to The John Merck Fund in 2008, after 20+ years working for small, community-based human service and environmental nonprofit organizations in Maine and Massachusetts. She has a BA in art history from Bowdoin College and an MA in public policy from Tufts University’s Urban & Environmental Policy program. Just prior to coming to JMF, she was executive director of EarthWorks, a small urban greening organization based in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. Her work in Maine included four years as executive director of an educational organic farm and two years working on clean energy and climate change issues. As Director of Programs for JMF, she oversees the foundation’s environmental grants programs: Clean Energy, Health and the Environment, and Regional Food Systems.

Allison Harvey Turner, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

TITLE: Program Director, Environment

FUNDING AREAS: Environment, water conservation, sustainable water management, land conservation in California

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Allison Harvey Turner serves as a program director at the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, where her focus is the environment. Her foundation bio shares:

Allison joined the Foundation in 2003, and she oversees the Foundation’s Environment Program. Allison directs strategy, and manages program staff and grantmaking to advance water management and land stewardship in California. In this role, she develops efforts to support effective programs, build strong partnerships, and develop organizational capacity. Before moving into the role of Program Director, Allison led the development and implementation of the Foundation’s water and migratory bird strategies. Allison serves on the Board for Audubon California and the Advisory Board for Sustainable Conservation. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Rica Rodman, Wasserman Foundation

TITLE: Executive Director

FUNDING AREAS: Education, arts, environmental responsibility, health

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Rica Rodman serves as executive director of the Wasserman Foundation, where her bio shares:

Rica is the Executive Director of the Wasserman Foundation.  She advises Casey Wasserman on strategic philanthropic initiatives in the areas of education, health, arts & culture, service, and global initiatives.  Rica has over 20 years of experience with media relations, strategic philanthropy, government relations, and large scale event management.

She started her career in The White House Press Office, serving for four years as President Clinton’s Radio Director.  She produced the President’s Saturday morning radio addresses and managed press for the President, Vice President, First Lady, world leaders, and U.S. Cabinet Secretaries.  She has been active in politics ever since, serving as a television booker for John Kerry’s presidential campaign, a finance director for Antonio Villaraigosa’s first mayoral campaign, and a media booker for three national Democratic conventions.

After spending time in Washington, D.C., Rica moved home to Los Angeles in 1997 to work at The Walt Disney Company as the Manager of Government Relations and Vice President of Disney’s political action committee.  Following this, she served as the Director of Norman Lear’s Foundation.

Prior to joining the Wasserman Foundation, Rica owned a public relations and marketing firm working in both Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.  Her client roster included: the United Nations World Food Programme, the United Nations Foundation, CNN, the Sundance Channel, the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, the National World War II Memorial, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Washington, D.C. Convention and Tourism Corporation.  Some of these clients overlapped with her time as Vice President of a public relations firm.

Rica is Co-Chair of the Human Rights Watch Los Angeles Committee, Board Member of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and a Member of the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Rica graduated magna cum laude with Honors from UCLA in Communications Studies.

Tweets by @Ricaorszag

Matt Foreman, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

TITLE: Senior Program Director, Gay and Lesbian Rights

FUNDING AREAS: LGBT rights, immigration

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Matt Foreman serves as senior program director of gay and lesbian rights at the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, where his official bio shares:

Matt is a nationally recognized LGBT rights leader with a diverse background in political advocacy and civil rights. He joined the Fund in 2008 to oversee its gay-lesbian-rights and immigrant rights programs. Under Matt’s leadership, the Fund played a critical role in advancing marriage equality across the country by supporting public education, research, litigation, and community organizing. Matt served as co-chair of the Civil Marriage Collaborative, a partnership of key marriage equality funders.

Matt also has overseen the Fund’s work to build bridges between gay and immigrant communities and to study and test ways to increase individual giving to LGBT organizations.

Before joining the Fund, Matt was executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Under his leadership, the Task Force’s budget and staff more than doubled, and it reestablished itself as a leading voice for LGBT rights in the nation’s capital.

Matt also served as executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda and the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project. While working at the Pride Agenda, he led campaigns that resulted in enactment of a statewide gay rights law, a hate crimes law, and laws extending equal benefits to the surviving partners of those killed on 9/11. Matt’s leadership also was instrumental in securing $15 million for LGBT health and human services in New York State. During Matt’s tenure at the Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, the organization focused the city’s attention on anti-gay violence, resulting in important changes in police training, deployment and responsiveness.

Prior to his work in gay and lesbian rights, Matt was involved in prison policy and administration. A graduate of the New York University School of Law, Matt is a founder of Heritage of Pride, which organizes New York City’s annual LGBT pride events, and a former member of the New York City Human Rights Commission.

Taryn Sherman, Turner Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer, Sustainable Living

FUNDING AREAS: Conservation, sustainable living, environmental education

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: With 10 years of environmental grantmaking experience already under her belt, Taryn Sherman (then Taryn Murphy) joined the Turner Foundation as a program officer in 2010. Her official bio on the foundation's website states:

Taryn manages a portfolio that spans three of the foundation’s program areas including Creating Solutions for Sustainable Living, Healthy Planet, Healthy Communities, and Growing the Movement and includes work in reproductive health and family planning, environmental health, and environmental education. Taryn also manages the Turner Community Youth Development Initiative providing development and leadership opportunities for youth in priority communities. Prior to joining the Turner Foundation, Taryn was the Sr. Program Director at Captain Planet Foundation overseeing all aspects of the foundation’s program development and grantmaking. Taryn has a liberal arts degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.