Peter Seligmann


For nearly 40 years, Peter Seligmann has been an influential and inspiring voice in conservation. He works in partnership with communities, governments, and businesses to find innovative solutions to ensure the sustainability of the planet’s natural and cultural resources. Peter co-founded Nia Tero in 2017. He is also the Chairman of the Board and former CEO of Conservation International, a global nonprofit organization he co-founded in 1987. Peter began his career in 1976 with The Nature Conservancy as the organization’s western region land steward, later becoming the director of the California Nature Conservancy. Peter earned a Master of Science in Forestry and Environmental Science from Yale University and a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology from Rutgers University. Peter holds Honorary Doctorates in Science from Michigan State University and Rutgers University. A world traveler, avid fisherman and diver, Peter lives in Seattle with his wife, Lee Rhodes, an entrepreneur and the founder of Glassybaby.


Melissa billows

finance and operations manager

I am from Boston and arrived in Seattle in August of 2018. I have over 20 years of finance and operations experience with the last 15 years residing in the nonprofit sector. I have worked within a large health care system in Miami, a foundation whose sole beneficiary was the only public school for the arts in Boston, an antiquarian library/museum whose mission is to engage all who seek knowledge, and most recently for an architectural firm whose mission is to construct beautiful and comfortable spaces for marginalized communities. I graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in Sociology and through my experience with data and analytics, ended up in Finance and Operations. In my personal life it is me, my husband, my two boys (one in college and one in high school) and my two dogs (who I do refer to as my fur babies). I am a voracious reader and a self-described coffee addict. I love being outdoors and being new to the Pacific Northwest, I am basking in the natural beauty that is right at our doorstep.

angeli brathwaite

Executive assistant and programs coordinator

Angeli Brathwaite is the Executive Assistant to the Chief Program Officer at Nia Tero. Prior to joining Nia Tero, Angeli worked at Kibble and Prentice, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Children’s Hospital. Raised in sunny California’s Bay Area, Angeli is now a resident of Washington State where she lives with her two daughters. 


nana sakyiwa brown-wood

program manager

Nana Sakyiwa is a Ghanaian native and holds a Master’s in Environmental Conservation from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Biology and Conservation Science from University of Ghana. As an Environmental Conservationist, she is particularly interested in programs and initiatives that empower local communities’ abilities to protect their natural resources while improving their livelihoods. Her engaging experiences with indigenous people in remote communities in Africa and South America has strengthened her belief in the use of traditional ecological knowledge and scientific evidence as a catalyst for change in environmental management and sustainable development. She has also served with conservation institutions in Ghana and the US providing support to evaluations, research, risk assessments, and strategic planning teams. Sakyiwa is thrilled to bring on board her multicultural background and interdisciplinary skills set to achieve a common goal of thriving people, thriving places. Outside of work she likes to watch movies, cook, go hiking and take long walks.


chris filardi

chief program officer

Dr. Chris Filardi is a research scientist by training. He brings to Nia Tero 30 years’ experience in building grassroots partnerships with indigenous peoples to sustain thriving natural systems under their stewardship. Chris has helped establish community-based wildlife reserves in Papua New Guinea and has facilitated strategies for customary protected areas in the Solomon Islands. He has also contributed to indigenous-led large-scale conservation initiatives in North America. Chris established the Pacific Programs at the American Museum of Natural History and directed that effort for more than 10 years. He has worked with Conservation International, the Nature Conservancy, and the Wildlife Conservation Society on integrating science and reciprocal agreements with indigenous peoples into large-scale conservation programs.


haley gustafson

administrative assistant

Haley Gustafson supports Nia Tero’s senior staff and leadership. Before joining Nia Tero, Haley worked as a Project Coordinator and Administrative Specialist. She brings a diverse background in fund-raising and event management to the organization. Haley holds a Master of Law (LL.M.) in International Human Rights Law from the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland Galway, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of Washington. Haley’s academic background has focused on community organizing and institutional representation in marginalized populations; conflict resolution, legal recourse, and negotiation; and sustainable local and global community systems. Outside of work, Haley is a voracious reader and cooking aficionada, and she has a soft spot for the opera and symphony. She also enjoys rowing on Lake Washington in any weather, and spending time with her cats while getting as much sunshine and fresh air as possible.


heidi hanson

grants manager

Heidi Hanson has nearly 15 years of international grantmaking experience. Prior to joining Nia Tero, Heidi worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in a handful of roles that supported the Global Health Division. She also spent many years working with local professional sports teams. Heidi earned a Bachelor of Arts from Pacific Lutheran University. In her free time, she enjoys playing steel pan, dancing, writing, traveling and listening to live music.

monique Lada

Executive and board manager

Monique Lada comes to Nia Tero from Conservation International, where she was the Executive Coordinator to the Chairman and CEO, as well as the Board Meetings Manager. Monique brings a diverse array of skills and experience to Nia Tero, including eight years as an event manager at SH Worldwide. She was also a website producer for Corbis and WorkLife Solutions and worked with ESL students at Bellevue College. Monique is first-generation American; her parents are both emigres from Poland. In addition to Nia Tero, her passions include experiencing new places and cultures, enjoying nature’s splendor, all things dance, and petting any cat that crosses her path. 

Dan Lin

pacific Storytelling lead

Dan Lin is supporting Nia Tero in promoting storytelling as a vital source of knowledge and information towards local and global conservation efforts, as it has been for countless generations within many indigenous communities. He believes firmly in the power of stories to inform public audiences and increase solidarity amongst disparate voices. Dan is an avid seeker of stories and storytellers from around the world, but has focused primarily on the Pacific Islands for the past decade. He is the founder and director of the Pacific Storytellers Cooperative, where he oversees the development and training of young storytellers from across the Pacific region in various forms of digital media. Additionally, Dan is a filmmaker and freelance photojournalist focusing on the impacts of climate change, post-colonialism, and globalization on cultural identity within indigenous communities around the world. He is a Hōkūle‘a crewmember and a National Geographic Explorer.

Margarita Mora

director of Partnerships

Margarita Mora is passionate about empowering local groups in their efforts to manage their territories. She has dedicated the past 15 years to devising and implementing strategies for integrating conservation into a positive vision of the future for these communities. Margarita, as the Managing Director of the Conservation Stewards Program of Conservation International (CI), a pioneer in the conservation agreements model, has been involved in conservation agreement initiatives in 19 countries around the globe. She is applying the lessons and experiences from this work to shape Nia Tero’s approach to building partnerships with indigenous peoples and local communities worldwide. Margarita believes that if ecosystems that are vital for humanity’s well-being are to thrive, the people who have sustained these places and are most knowledgeable about them must also thrive. She is a Conservation Fellow at the Mulago Foundation, a Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab, and a Heinrich Böll Stiftung alumna. 

Leigh Morgan

Chief strategy and operating officer

Leigh Morgan is the lead architect of Nia Tero’s growth and impact inclusive of strategy, innovative finance, infrastructure and enterprise, operations, and governance. Before joining Nia Tero, she served as Chief Operating Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she was accountable for a broad portfolio and led the foundation’s transformation efforts. Her global leadership experience spans multiple sectors, including the corporate healthcare sector, where she served as Vice President and Global Head of HR (Product Development) for Genentech/Hoffmann LaRoche. Her public sector roles include Associate Chancellor at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and serving in former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt’s administration. Leigh serves on several Boards, including the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Institute (Seattle and Uganda), Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, and NYC-based Springboard Enterprises. She is also a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Aaron Oravillo

Program Associate

Aaron Oravillo is currently splitting his time between Nia Tero and studying issues related to social justice, equity, and inclusion at school. Aaron has worked as a grassroots fund-raiser for local community groups, and he volunteers for organizations that center on immigration, gender, race and equity, and environmental justice. Aaron cares about the rights of the homeless, and he is conscious of the need for indigenous sovereignty. His goal in life is to identify and address the root causes of systemic oppression and help change them.

Tracy rector

managing director, storytelling

Tracy Rector comes to Nia Tero with a passion for amplifying and empowering Indigenous voices. She brings two decades of experience as a community organizer, educator, filmmaker, film programmer, and arts curator, all infused with her deep roots in plant medicine. For the last 17 years she has directed and produced over 400 films including shorts, features, music videos, and virtual reality projects. Her work has been featured on Independent Lens, ImagineNative, National Geographic, and the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, as well as at international film festivals including Cannes and Toronto. Tracy is in her second term as a Seattle Arts Commissioner, sits on the board of the Mize Foundation, and is the co-founder of Longhouse Media. 

John Reid

senior economist and partnership lead

John Reid has pioneered the use of economic insights and strategies to protect natural ecosystems. He founded Conservation Strategy Fund in the late 1990s, and propelled its global impact for nearly two decades. The organization’s innovative blend of economics education and on-the-ground applications earned it the MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. John’s work, primarily in Latin America, has focused on the themes of infrastructure, conservation incentives, and protected areas. He has also guided business planning with indigenous and local communities. John has written about economics, public policy, and conservation for The New York Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Conservation Biology, Ambio, and other publications. He has a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University. He mountain bikes, photographs, and writes fiction for fun.

David Rothschild

Senior partnership lead

David Rothschild is applying 25 years’ experience in philanthropy and working with indigenous peoples in support of Nia Tero’s mission. At the newly formed Fossil Foundation, David led development of new philanthropic systems and overall strategy. At the Skoll Foundation, he led environmental partnerships and the strategy to address deforestation. Before turning to philanthropy, David worked with indigenous peoples in the Amazon from his positions at the Inter-American Development Bank, the Field Museum, and the Amazon Alliance for Indigenous and Traditional Peoples. David also currently sits on the board of STIR, which improves learning outcomes by increasing teacher motivation in India and Uganda. David earned a Master’s in International Policy and Practice from the Elliott School of International Affairs of the George Washington University, where he received a high-honors fellowship, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz, where he received honors and the Dean’s Award. David loves exploring new locales and discovering the unexpected with his family. He has a profound respect for and appreciation of cultural differences and varied ways of knowing.

Jessica schroeder

director of operations

Jessica Schroeder began her career in nonprofit administration in 2007, when she joined the staff of Town Hall Seattle. Jessica worked in a variety of capacities there, including event production, project management, and operations management. In 2017, Jessica became Director of Finance and Operations at On the Boards. As part of the Executive Leadership team, Jessica was responsible for all of the organization’s daily business activities, including financial management, strategic planning, facility management, human resources, and more. Jessica also volunteers with the Seattle nonprofit Bushwick Northwest and enjoys dancing, teaching Gyrotonic, hiking, biking, reading, and playing with her adorable dog Gus.

Chris walker

director, program strategy & planning

Chris Walker has committed his career to enabling organizations and their people to do their best work. In his role in Program Strategy & Planning, Chris supports Nia Tero by serving as a link between the Programs team and business operations to develop strategy and effectively implement the mission of the organization. Chris’ varied experience in public, private, and nonprofit sectors, along with his background in finance, operations, strategy, and process improvement allow him to seamlessly navigate across Nia Tero’s teams. Before joining Nia Tero, Chris served as Deputy Director for the Agricultural Development program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation working to support county-led inclusive agricultural transformation across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia while reducing poverty for millions of farming families by increasing agricultural productivity, household income, nutritious diets, and women’s empowerment in agriculture.