John Mitchell, Honorary Curator, Institute of Systematic Botany
John Mitchell, a former Island Conservation Board member, is an Adjunct Scientist at the New York Botanical Garden and Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History. He serves as the Chairman of the Board at the Rainforest Trust and is on the Board of Directors (former Chairman) of Bat Conservation International and of the Turtle Survival Alliance. He is the former Executive Secretary and Chairman of the Beneficia Foundation. John belongs to a wide variety of scientific and environmental organizations and has special interests in conservation and birding, having pursued these activities worldwide from the Antarctic and Africa to Borneo and South America. He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and a member of the Explorers Club. He has a B.S. in biology from Muhlenberg College and pursued Ph.D. studies in ecology at Rutgers University. He has authored and co-authored many scientific papers, publications, and books dealing with tropical vegetation, tropical tree identification, and the taxonomy of the Cashew–Poison Ivy family.
Susan Packard Orr is co- founder and Chairman of Arreva LLC, a company started in 1986 to provide fundraising and other software to nonprofit organizations.
She currently serves as a trustee of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the National Audubon Society, Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Packard Humanities Institute. In addition she chairs the Global Advisory Group for BirdLife International.
Susan holds an M.S. in computer science from New Mexico Tech, and an M.B.A. and B.A. in economics from Stanford University. She and her husband, Lynn, reside on the Stanford campus where Lynn is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering. They have two children and four grandchildren. Susan is an avid birder and loves to travel in search of nature’s beauty.
Ryan Phelan is Co-founder and Executive Director of Revive & Restore, a nonprofit organization with a mission to enhance biodiversity through the genetic rescue of endangered and extinct species. Ryan works with some of the world’s leading molecular biologists, conservation biologists, and conservation organizations to develop pioneering genetic rescue projects. The goal is to use cutting-edge genomic technologies to solve previously intractable wildlife conservation challengers such as those posed by inbreeding, exotic diseases, climate change, and destructive invasive species.
Revive & Restore’s current projects range from the development of genomic tools to overcome specific conservation challenges to the advancement of the genetic rescue platform as a new toolkit for conservation. She recently raised a $3.5 Million Catalyst Science Fund to enable cutting-edge research that could transform conservation practice.
Since the inception of Revive & Restore in 2012, Ryan has brought together diverse groups of scientists and conservation practitioners in a series of meetings and workshops to advance the field of genetic rescue. The first of these was the 2013 TedXDeExtinction meeting, which explored the idea of reviving extinct species and re-introducing them to the wild. For the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress, she organized the first significant workshop on genetic rescue, with both a public and a private event. In 2017, in partnership with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Ryan organized the “Engineering Resilience” workshop, which was modelled on Revive & Restore’s highly successfully “New Genomic Solutions for Conservation” workshop in 2015.
Ryan is a serial entrepreneur, active in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. She was the founder and CEO of two innovative healthcare companies: DNA Direct, the first medical genetics company to focus on bringing personalized medicine to the consumer, and Direct Medical Knowledge, a consumer health web site unique for its content depth and innovative search interface.
Ryan is also the President of Revive & Restore’s Board of Directors.
Mike is a respected environmental conservation leader with extensive experience managing nonprofit organizations, influencing public policy, advocating for natural resources, and guiding successful philanthropic efforts. His distinguished career has ranged from work with the National Park Service to senior conservation roles at the World Wildlife Fund, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the California Fish & Game Commission, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and National Audubon Society. Mike received his BS in Wildlife Biology at Utah State University; did graduate studies in Marine Biology at the University of Sydney, Australia; and, received a law degree with honors from George Washington University’s National Law Center. He joined the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2018 as Executive Director.
Lindsay Young is the Executive Director of Pacific Rim Conservation, a Hawaii based non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of endemic birds. She has a BS in Zoology from the University of British Columbia and an MS in Zoology from the University of Hawai`i. In 2009, she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Hawai`i where her research focused on the population genetics, at sea foraging ecology, and conservation needs of Laysan Albatross. Lindsay has worked on numerous conservation projects in Hawai`i and the Pacific region since 2003 with a variety of state, federal, and private partners. Lindsay has authored several dozen scientific papers, served as the treasurer for the Pacific Seabird Group, the chair of the North Pacific Albatross Working Group, is the former North Pacific correspondent for ACAP (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels), and as a reviewer for multiple refereed journals. Lindsay was one of the 2011 recipients of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Recovery Champion Awards for her work on the Nihoa Millerbird Translocation, and in 2016 she was awarded a special achievement award from the Pacific Seabird Group for her work with Hawaiian seabirds. She currently serves as an affiliate graduate faculty member at the University of Hawai`i Natural Resources and Environmental Management Department and
Jon, a former Island Conservation Board member, leads the Greenway as Executive Director, working with the Board of Directors, staff, and partners to collaboratively conserve the Mountains to Sound Greenway landscape. Jon brings to the Greenway a unique blend of scientific understanding, strategic problem solving and communication skills. Before joining the Greenway Trust, he served as Chief Scientist for the World Wildlife Fund, and led a variety of strategy and conservation initiatives at The Nature Conservancy. While Jon enjoys traveling around the world to explore wild places, he always loves coming back home to Seattle and the Greenway landscape that he and his wife have called home for 20 years.
Eric VanderWerf earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University in 1988 and Master of Science degree from the University of Florida in 1992. In 1999, he completed a Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii, where his research focused on plumage variation and effects of habitat disturbance and diseases on population biology of the Hawaii Elepaio. From 2000-2006, he worked on a variety of conservation and ornithological projects during stints with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Eric founded Pacific Rim Conservation in 2006 with the goal of conducting on the ground conservation work focused on Pacific Island birds and ecosystems. He currently serves as the Director of Science for Pacific Rim Conservation. Eric has authored over 120 scientific papers, book chapters, and technical reports.
Bernie is a co-founder of Island Conservation and an Adjunct Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California Santa Cruz, where he co-directs the Conservation Action Lab. Bernie is also co-founder and Board Chair of Conservation Metrics, a for-profit social venture dedicated to improving conservation through better monitoring, and co-founder of Freshwater Life, which saves endangered freshwater species by eradicating freshwater invasives. He is a member of the IUCN’s Invasive Species Specialist Group and Commission on Ecosystem Management. Bernie serves as a consultant to the Mulago Foundation’s Henry Arnhold Fellows Program, and is on the boards of OneReef, Rainforest Trust, and the Tony Hawk Foundation. He earned his BS in Biology from UC-Santa Cruz, an MS in Marine Sciences from San Jose State University, and a PhD in neurobiology and behavior from Cornell University.
Founder and Executive Director, Willow Grove Foundation and Adjunct Professor, Pacific Water Research Centre
Andrew S. Wright is a former high technology entrepreneur and currently an adjunct professor at SFU in the Faculty of the Environment. Since 2007 he has actively engaged in promoting enhanced inner-city childhood education programs and ecological conservation efforts. In addition to directly supporting the Great Bear Rainforest agreement via donation he has played a direct technical role in advancing land-based closed containment salmon aquaculture in BC. The development of the Namgis Kuterra FinFish aquaculture farm is a direct result of these efforts. He is involved in a wide range of conservation endeavors and sits on the boards of various groups and initiatives. Additionally, he is a passionate conservation photographer and has produced two books, Emeralds at the Edge and Faltering Light, both arguing the case for increased conservation in British Columbia.
Alex Wegmann, PhD: A 20-year veteran of managing and advising conservation projects in the Pacific, Alex Wegmann became The Nature Conservancy’s Palmyra Program Director in 2016 and then the Director of Science for the Palmyra Program in 2019. Prior to joining the Conservancy, Alex worked for Island Conservation for more than 10 years. Alex’s tenure with IC started as an advisor to the Palmyra Atoll rat eradication project and ended as the organization’s U.S. Pacific Islands and Micronesia Program Manager. Alex holds a B.A. in anthropology from Linfield College and a Ph.D. in botany from the University of Hawai‘i where his graduate research focused on terrestrial ecosystem response to invasive rats. Alex has experience in conservation projects across the pacific, including the Northwestern Hawai‘ian Islands, the Line Islands, Micronesia, Fiji, and Japan. His experience with Pacific Island ecosystems made him a valuable resource to many government and non-governmental conservation organizations, including: The US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US Department of Defense, New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, Coastal Conservation, Pacific Rim Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, and Island Conservation. In his current role, Alex leads a compelling, $5M conservation science initiative leveraging Palmyra Atoll’s unique ecological characteristics to address global conservation challenges.
Nick Holmes’ career and passion focus on research program management and conservation ecology. He earned his PhD from the University of Tasmania, Australia, working with the Australian Antarctic Division to develop best-practice guidelines for managing human impacts to seabirds in the subantarctic. Nick managed the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project at the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit, University of Hawai‘i, developing and implementing recovery actions for Newell’s Shearwaters, Hawai‘ian Petrels and Band-rumped Storm-petrels. He served as Island Conservation’s director of science for eight years with a background in research and management expertise in seabirds, population modeling, endangered species recovery, environmental impact assessment, human-wildlife interactions, and monitoring programs. His experience includes a strong focus on island conservation and ecology, including time spent living and working on islands in the subantarctic, Antarctica, Hawai‘i, and Australia. His professional goal is facilitating practical conservation outcomes based on sound science.