Guillermo Castilleja, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

TITLE: Senior Fellow

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

IP TAKE: How does Castilleja ensure that Moore's conservation results remain extraordinary? He thinks big.      

PROFILE: After serving as the chief program officer for the Environmental Conservation Program at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for over five years, Guillermo Castilleja accepted the position as senior fellow in early 2016. In this role, Castilleja serves as an advisor to the president, “providing foresight and judgement to aid in identifying future directions, as well as opportunities to elevate the foundation’s and grantees’ achievements”

Before joining the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2010, Castilleja worked for the World Bank and the National Wildlife Federation. The majority of his pre-Moore career, however, was with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where he contributed to the WWF's international efforts in various capacities. He spent some time as the senior vice president for Field Programs for the WWF in Washington and then went on to represent the WWF in Mexico, where he built the Mexico WWF field program into one of the largest in the organization's network. He also served a stint as the vice president and regional director for the WWF's Latin America and Caribbean Secretariat.

Castilleja earned his bachelor's degree from the National University of Mexico and went on to Yale to earn a master's degree in forestry, a master's degree in philosophy, and a PhD in forest ecology. That philosophy degree notwithstanding, Castilleja's style is all business.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's international focus is predominately in South America, though the foundation has awarded a handful of grants to Canadian and U.S. organizations too. Most granting is in the realm of $600,000 or more, but they do sometimes award smaller amounts. Most of the grants in between have gone out to heavy hitters in environmental conservation. These include groups like the World Wildlife Fund, Instituto de Persquisa Ambiental de Amazonia, The Ocean Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, the Field Museum, and the Amazon Conservation Association.

While the size of an organization isn't a determining factor behind a grant, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation does make it known that 80 percent of its $250 million annual grant making budget does go toward the foundation's initiatives, which are designed for large-scale impact. Guillermo Castilleja states that even though the foundation is relatively young, "it has already supported grantees in achieving extraordinary conservation results."

Both Castilleja and the Moore Foundation in general are results-driven, and want those results to be significant. If you're looking for grant money to save the rainbow trout population in a small community lake, don't bet on the Moore Foundation cutting you a check. Small projects like this wouldn't likely even register on the foundation's radar.

If your organization is considered one of the little guys, don't be discouraged just yet, but be aware that your organization's work has to be significant and interesting enough for the foundation to seek you out and invite you to apply for a grant.

In this video, Castilleja speaks eloquently about the foundation's goals, their philanthropic evolution, and what they see as their responsibilities, primarily within the context of food production systems (at the 1:23:00 mark):