Heather Wright, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Environment, land conservation

CONTACT: heather.wright@moore.org, (650) 213-3003

IP TAKE: Wright isn't assigned to the Bay Area exclusively, but she balances her attention between local and global causes.

PROFILE: There aren't a ton of open spaces in the populous Bay Area, but Program Officer Heather Wright is working to keep them they way nature intended. She works under the direction of Environmental Chief Program Officer Guillermo Castilleja and Bay Area Director Kenneth Moore. Castilleja has a much broader global focus in his position, overseeing initiatives in the Amazon and wild salmon habitats. Moore has been a member of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's Board of Directors for quite some time, but he's recently stepped into the realm of land conservation as the foundation's Bay Area program director.

So where does local environmental grantmaking fall into the mix? Although the foundation has a full environmental conservation staff, most of them have a global focus. This is where Wright comes in. Wright earned a Bachelor's in Biology from UCLA and her Master's in forestry and environmental science at Yale. Although her emphasis was in tropical ecosystems, she's worked in a wide variety of habitats. Wright also serves as a representative to the Climate and Land Use Alliance.

Before joining the Moore team, she was a manager at Conservation International's Rapid Assessment Program, where she traveled to “global hotspots” conducting biological inventories and publishing the results. She's also worked with the Chicago Field Museum, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and the League of Conservation Voters and Friends of the Osa. Wright might have trouble restricting her focus to the Bay Area, given her past passions for field research in West Africa, South America, and French Polynesia.

There are just two focus areas for the Bay Area, as far as the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is concerned. Aside from land conservation, science and technology museums continue gaining momentum. The foundation's conservation program focuses on preserving the 400,000 acres of open space at risk for suburban development in the Bay Area. Its museum program focuses on instilling in children and families an understanding and appreciation of science.

The foundation contributed $6 million to Sonoma Land Trust to preserve undeveloped land between the redwoods and the bay. Other recent Bay Area land grants include $1.75 million to save the Bertagnolli property on Mount Diablo and $315,000 to ecosystem adaptation efforts at the State Coastal Conservatory.

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