Dominique Bikaba (Bashi Tribe, Eastern Congo, DRC), was born in the area that is now the Kahuzi-Biega National Park. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Strong Roots Congo, a grassroots conservation and sustainable development organization operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo that backs initiatives like connecting community forests to link great ape habitats between protected areas. He holds a degree in Rural Development with specialization in Regional Planning, and a Masters from the Yale School of Forestry, where he focused on Ecosystem Conservation and Management.
He has contributed to long-term research on great ape ecology in his home area, on forest governance and management, and on management of protected areas. An advocate for integrating Indigenous knowledge with applied science, Bikaba has complemented long engagement in his home area with advisory and other work with national and international organizations. He is a prominent member and Council member of the ICCA Consortium (a global movement and network of territories and areas conserved by Indigenous Peoples and local communities, or “territories of life”). He also represents communities on the Technical Advisor Committee of the United Nations Development Programme’s Equator Initiative.
Viviana Figueroa (Omaguaca-Kolla, Indigenous from the Jujuy Province of Argentina) is an international public lawyer, with a PhD in law in Agricultural and Mining Law from the University of Buenos Aires. She is an expert on issues of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and biodiversity. As a young activist, she served as the President of Asociación de la Juventud Indígena Argentina (Association of Indigenous Argentinian Youth), while connecting with the global Indigenous women’s movement as a member of the International Indigenous Women Biodiversity Network and focusing on the rights of Indigenous children (including through serving as a member of UNICEF’s Latin American Consultative Group).
From 2009 to 2018, she served as an Associate Programme Officer on Traditional Knowledge at the Convention on Biological Diversity, and participated in many international processes keenly relevant to Indigenous Peoples and the management of their territories. She has been involved in diverse projects related to traditional knowledge at the local, national, regional and international levels, including capacity-building for Indigenous Peoples from Latin America and the Caribbean region, especially women, with a focus on article 8 (j) and related provision of the Convention on Biological Diversity. She is an expert on Indigenous and Local Knowledge. She is currently a member of several Indigenous organizations and consults internationally on issues related to traditional knowledge and Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
Laura Hattendorf has directed the social investments of the Mulago Foundation since 2007. Mulago, a founding partner of Nia Tero, is a private foundation focused on finding the best solutions to the biggest problems in the poorest countries. The foundation does this by making grants and investments (debt and equity) in early-stage social enterprises that meet the basic needs of the very poor. As Head of Investments, Laura leads Mulago’s investment strategy and process.
She and her team evaluate new opportunities, make funding recommendations and work closely with portfolio organizations to maximize their social impact. Laura started her career in the private sector and later moved to the social impact sector. Prior to Mulago, she co-founded and led Sustainable Conservation, a nonprofit organization that innovates and implements economic solutions to environmental problems. Laura received her BS in Economics and Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and her MBA and Certificate in Public Management from Stanford University. Laura is also a Lecturer in Management at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (teaching Formation of Impact Ventures), is on the Board of Innovations for Poverty Action, and is an advisor to many social enterprises around the world.
Ole Kaunga Mali
Ole Kaunga Mali (Laikipia Maasai, Kenya) is the Founder and Director of OSILIGI (Organisation for the Survival of IL- Laikipiak Maasai Indigenous Group Initiatives), whose name translates as “hope” in Maasai. This group later transformed into the Indigenous Movement for Peace Advancement and Conflict Transformation (IMPACT), a peacebuilding, governance and community-development organization that works with pastoralists in Kenya. IMPACT addresses the loss of Maasai land rights and the exploitation of the pastoralists’ resources without Maasai participation or compensation.
He previously worked and consulted with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as an Indigenous Peoples’ expert for its Africa Program on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (Convention 169). He is also founder and convener of the Pastoralists Alliance for Resilience and Adaptation in Northern Kenya Rangelands (PARAN), a coalition of community leaders and natural resources stewards, grassroots organizations and customary institutions. Ole Kaunga has written on land, natural resources, culture, education and human rights. He brought an international legal case against the British government for using Maasai and Samburu grazing lands for military training and leaving live ordnance that maimed and killed scores of Maasai and Samburu. He has also been involved in lobbying and advancing the interests of Indigenous Peoples affected by megaprojects, such as Lake Turkana Wind Power and the Isiolo Dam. He also serves as a member of Conservation International’s Indigenous Advisory Group.
Aroha Te Pareake Mead
Aroha Te Pareake Mead (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Porou, Tuhourangi, Ngāi Tuhoe and Ngāti Tūwharetoa (Māori) tribes from Aotearoa/New Zealand). Aroha has worked at local, national, regional and international levels for over 40 years on indigenous rights, with a particular focus on Indigenous cultural and intellectual property issues including biocultural heritage and conservation. She currently serves on Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa (tribal governance) as well as on the NZ Conservation Authority and the Repatriation Advisory Panel of Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of NZ.
Previously, she served four terms, (16 years) on the Council of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) including two terms (8 years) as the Chair of the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP). She is now Chair Emeritus of IUCN CEESP.
Sherri Mitchell Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset is an Indigenous rights activist, spiritual teacher, and transformational change maker. Sherri was born and raised on the Penobscot Indian reservation (Penawahpskek). She speaks and teaches around the world on issues of Indigenous rights, environmental justice, and spiritual change. Her broad base of knowledge allows her to synthesize many subjects into a cohesive whole, weaving together a multitude of complex issues and articulating them in a way that both satisfies the mind and heals the heart.
Sherri received her Juris Doctorate and a certificate in Indigenous People’s Law and Policy from the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law. She is an alumna of the American Indian Ambassador program, and the Udall Native American Congressional Internship program. Sherri is the Founding Director of the Land Peace Foundation, an organization dedicated to the global protection of Indigenous land and water rights and the preservation of the Indigenous way of life.
Prior to forming the Land Peace Foundation, Sherri served as a law clerk to the Solicitor of the United States Department of Interior; as an Associate with Fredericks, Peebles and Morgan Law Firm; as a civil rights educator for the Maine Attorney General’s Office, and; as the Staff Attorney for the Native American Unit of Pine Tree Legal. She has been actively involved with Indigenous rights and environmental justice work for more than 25 years. In 2010, she received the Mahoney Dunn International Human Rights and Humanitarian Award, for research into Human Rights violations against Indigenous Peoples.
In 2015, she received the Spirit of Maine Award, for commitment and excellence in the field of International Human Rights. In 2016, Sherri’s portrait was added to the esteemed portrait series, Americans Who Tell the Truth, by artist Robert Shetterly. And, she is the recipient of the 2017 Hands of Hope Award from the Peace and Justice Center. Sherri has been deeply committed to cultivating and renewing the traditional and ceremonial practices of her people.
She has worked in many capacities over the past 30 years helping to highlight and advance the position of Wabanaki peoples. In addition to helping her own people, Sherri has been a longtime advisor to the American Indian Institute’s Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth and was a program coordinator for their Healing the Future Program. She also served as an advisor to the Indigenous Elders and Medicine People’s Council of North and South America for the past 20 years. In this role, she has worked with Indigenous spiritual leaders from across the Americas, helping to ensure that their voices are heard within the larger society. This has included bringing their messages to political leaders in the U.S., and Canada and the Indigenous Peoples Forum at the United Nations.
Sherri is the visionary behind “Healing the Wounds of Turtle Island,” a global healing ceremony that has brought people together from all corners of the world. The ceremony is designed to heal our relationships with one another as human beings, and then to heal the relationship between human beings and the rest of Creation. Sherri is also the cohost of the syndicated radio program Love (and Revolution) Radio, which focuses on real-life stories of heart-based activism and revolutionary spiritual change.
Stephanie Platz is the Managing Director for Programs at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, a founding partner of Nia Tero. She is an anthropologist trained at the University of Chicago who lived in Armenia through the early years of independence (1991-1994), where she worked and conducted research, and has served on the faculty of the History Department at the University of Michigan.
A long-time grantmaker, she has worked for nonprofit organizations and foundations including the Spencer Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq, and an earlier role at the MacArthur Foundation, work that has engaged her in Africa, India, Iraq, Mexico, the US, and the former Soviet Union. Thematic areas of focus have included education, research and training, immigration, cultural diversity, human rights, conservation, population and reproductive health, peace and security, and Chicago, her hometown. As Managing Director for Programs at the MacArthur Foundation she oversees multiple grantmaking areas and offices in Nigeria, India, and Mexico. She is active in funder groups, including sitting on the Steering Committee of the Funders’ Forum on Sustainable Cities of the European Foundation Centre, and is committed to the continuous improvement of philanthropic practice for the benefit of civil society.
Ralph Regenvanu (Uripiv of Malakua Island, Vanuatu), artist, anthropologist and politician, has been a leading architect of Vanuatu’s cultural renaissance. As the Director of the Vanuatu Cultural Center, he buttressed community efforts across Vanuatu’s 200-plus language groups to value cultural heritage and make it central to development and biodiversity management.
This effort culminated in Vanuatu’s leadership in transforming how development and well-being are measured and in valuing the “Traditional Economy.” Regenvanu entered the Vanuatu Parliament in 2008 as an Independent, launching the Land and Justice Party in 2010, and he has served in a variety of capacities in succeeding coalition governments, notably as Minister of Lands and Natural Resources. He is currently the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade; in this role, his focus areas include climate change and international support for the right of self-determination for the peoples of West Papua. He is a noted longtime advocate of the application and evolution of customary law, including around Indigenous land rights. His work in the region has included co-founding the Pacific Islands Museum Association (1994), co-founding and spearheading the Fest’Napuan annual music festival (from 1996) and co-founding the Melanesia Indigenous Land Defence Alliance (2009). He has worked extensively with UNESCO and the global community of museums. His artwork has been exhibited at the British Museum, where he was an artist in residence in 2006.
Gunn-Britt Retter was born and raised in the coastal Saami community Unjárga-Nesseby by Varangerfjord in North-Eastern Norway. She is a teacher of training from Sámi University College (Guovdageaidnu - Kautokeino, Norway) and holds an MA in Bilingual studies from University of Wales. Since 2001, Retter has worked with Arctic Environmental land issues, first at Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat (IPS) (Copenhagen, Denmark) and since 2005 in their present position as Head of Arctic and Environmental Unit of the Saami Council.
Gunn-Britt has served as a board member of the Sámi University of Applied Sciences (2011-2019) and served as Member of Saami Parliament (Norway) for two terms (2005 – 2013). She is also chair of her local community organization. In Ms. Retter’s position as head of the Arctic and Environmental Unit in the Saami Council, she has been involved in issues related to Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous knowledge related to climate change, biodiversity, language, pollution and management of natural resources.