Strategic steering committee 

Thomas Lovejoy, PhD



Thomas Lovejoy is a tropical biologist and conservationist, who has specialized in the ecology of the Brazilian Amazon since 1965.  He is famous for developing the concept of “debt-for-nature swaps” and for coining the term “biological diversity.”  

A number of his past positions have included Senior Advisor to the President of the United Nations Foundation, Chief Biodiversity Advisor to the World Bank, Assistant Secretary for Environmental and External Affairs for the Smithsonian Institution, and Executive Vice President of the World Wildlife Fund.  In the past, Thomas has also been the Chair of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies and President of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.  He received fellowships at both the United Nations Foundation and the National Geographic Society.  

Given his extensive experience, Thomas has been on advisory councils under the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations.  He is currently an Environmental Science and Policy Professor at George Mason University. Thomas serves on the Board of Directors of the Amazon Conservation Association and Population Action International, as well as the Scientific Board of SavingSpecies.  He received both his BS and PhD from Yale University.

Manuel Pulgar Vidal


Manuel Pulgar Vidal was the Peruvian Minister of Environment from 2011 to 2016.  He comes from an impressive background in environmental law, receiving his degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.  

In the past, he has served as the Chairman of the Directing Council of the Permanent Seminar of Agricultural Research (SEPIA), Director of the National Fund for Natural Areas Protected by the State (PROFONANPE), Director of the Fund for the Promotion of Forest Development (FONDEBOSQUE), Executive Director of the Peruvian Environmental Law Society (SPDA) in addition to other prominent positions.  

In 2014, his role as the President of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP20) led to the creation of the Lima Accord. He was most recently appointed the head of the World Wildlife Foundation’s Climate and Energy Practice.   

Russell Mittermeier, PhD

Russell Mittermeier is a primatologist and herpetologist, who is renowned for his work in the fields of biodiversity and tropical forest conservation.  In addition to a number of other positions, he has served as President of Conservation International, Vice-President of Science at the World Wildlife Fund, Vice President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN), and Chair of the World Bank Task Force on Biodiversity.

In the past, he has also served as the President of the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation and has taught at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Russell has authored over 15 books and 400 scientific papers and was named a “Hero for the Planet” by Time Magazine.  

He currently serves as Executive Vice Chair of Conservation International, Honorary Member of the ICUN, and Chair of ICUN Primates Specialist Group.  He received a BA from Dartmouth College and a PhD from Harvard University. 

Avecita Chicchón, PhD

Avecita Chicchón has over 30 years of experience in the environmental field. Currently, as program director of the Andes-Amazon Initiative at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, she works to achieve the consolidation of protected areas and indigenous lands while addressing drivers of habitat change across the Amazon Basin.  

During her career, Avecita has helped bring a rigorous social science perspective to the forefront of conservation theory and practice. Her contributions have resulted in the creation and effective management of several conservation areas supported by local stakeholders, particularly in Perú, Bolivia, Chile and Cuba. 

Before joining Moore, Avecita served as the executive director of the Latin America and Caribbean Program at the Wildlife Conservation Society, leading the organization’s work in 15 countries. Previously, as program officer for the MacArthur Foundation, she developed strategies and managed high impact grant-making portfolios in the Tropical Andes and the Caribbean. In the 1990s, Avecita worked for Conservation International, serving as its first country director in Peru.

Avecita holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Florida. Her research interests focus on natural resource management and indigenous peoples rights inspired by her previous work with the Asháninka and Matsigenka (Peru) and the Tsimane (Bolivia). In 2004, Avecita received a Doctor Honoris Causa degree from the Universidad de la Amazonía Peruana (UNAP).

Cristián Samper, PhD

Cristián Samper is a tropical biologist with a specific focus on environmental policy and conservation.  He helped found the Colombian Ministry of Environment and the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute.

In addition to numerous other positions, Cristián has served as the Chairman of the Subsidiary Body of Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Deputy Director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, and Director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.  He is also the former Vice-Chair of the World Wildlife Fund and a former board member of the American Alliance of Museums, the Nature Conservancy, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Latin American Program.

Cristián currently serves on the board of the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Harvard University Board of Overseers, and the Board of Bioversity International.  He is President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society.   Cristián received a MS and PhD in Biology from Harvard University.

Diane Miller

Diane Miller is the President, CEO, and Co-Founder of the blue moon fund.  She has been a longtime supporter of philanthropic efforts to improve society and the natural environment.  

Diane has served on numerous boards, which include the W. Alton Jones Foundation, Planned Parenthood of Virginia, the Childrens’ Discovery Museum, the Architectural Review Board of Albemarle County, Building Goodness Foundation, Urban Vision, Tandem Friends School, and the Global Environmental Institute.  She was formerly the President and CEO of the W. Alton Jones Foundation.  

Diane received a BA in Fine Arts from Bryn Mawr College and a Master of Architecture degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

Molly McUsic

Molly McUsic is the President of the Wyss Foundation.  She comes from an extensive background in law and has held numerous positions in the field.  

She was formerly a Skadden Fellow at the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, an attorney for Donovan, Leisure, Rogovin, Huge & Schiller, a tenured professor at the University of North Carolina, and a visiting professor at Harvard Law School.  

Molly also served in the Clinton Administration as Counselor to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt. She clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun and the Honorable Dorothy W. Nelson.  She is currently the Vice-Chair of the Wilderness Society.  Molly received a JD from Harvard University Law School. 


Banner photo by Ronald Catpo.