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.
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
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.
senior director of operations
Lisa Dean has 25 years’ experience leading program operations and financial management for nonprofits. Lisa comes to Nia Tero from Conservation International, where she led operations for the policy department, including support of the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. Before that, she was part of the design team for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and led the operations and grant systems for CEPF, the Global Conservation Fund and Verde Ventures. Lisa has also studied collective leadership and somatic healing and believes that everything is interconnected. She enjoys dance, photography, and all things in the natural world.
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 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.
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.
Executive In Residence
Leigh Morgan is accountable for Nia Tero’s strategy and cross-enterprise alignment, and for building the organization’s current and future organizational architecture. Before she joined Nia Tero, Leigh served as Chief Operating Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she was accountable for a broad portfolio and drove 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 serving as Associate Chancellor at the University of California San Francisco and in the administration of former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt. Leigh serves on several Boards, including the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Institute (Seattle and Uganda), the Gates Cambridge Trust at University of Cambridge, UK, and Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
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.
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.
Accounting and operations manager
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
Dr. Transform Aqorau
Thriving Pacific Advisor
Dr. Transform Aqorau is currently CEO of iTUNA Intel, an international fisheries law consultancy, and Founding Director of Pacific Catalyst, a research consortium providing innovative policy analysis and solutions. He was pioneer CEO of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement Office and former Administrator of the Vessel Day Scheme and FSM Arrangement for Regional Access based in the Marshall Islands. He previously served as Legal Adviser and Deputy Director-General of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Law Adviser to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Legal Counsel and Deputy Director-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency. He is Adjunct Visiting Fellow at the School of Development, Government and International Affairs at the University of the South Pacific and Visiting Fellow at the Australian National Center for Oceans, Resources and Security (ANCORS) of the University of Wollongong. He is a Member of the Board of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). He has written and published on development and fisheries issues on the Pacific Islands. He holds a Bachelor of Laws Degree (LLM) from the University of Papua New Guinea, Masters of Laws from the University of British Columbia (Canada) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Law from the University of Wollongong (Australia).
Clean energy veteran
Marc Ballandras is a veteran of international renewable energy development, with more than 20 years’ experience developing, financing, and managing investments in infrastructure and clean energy projects worldwide. Marc previously worked in structured finance and energy project development in Singapore, Pakistan, Texas, Morocco, Spain, and most recently France, where he was the Managing Director of PCER, the renewable energy project development and investment affiliate of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine regional government. PCER owns and operates 18 renewable energy power generation sites (solar and hydro) and is governed as a public/private cooperative. Additionally, Marc also sits on the Board of Enercoop, France’s largest pure renewable electricity provider; he also serves on the Enercoop Ethics Committee. Marc enjoys the contradiction of being both a vintage petrol car connoisseur and a proud commuter on a wind-powered electric bicycle.
Joi Ito is the director of the MIT Media Lab, Professor of the Practice at MIT and the author, with Jeff Howe, of Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future (Grand Central Publishing, 2016). Ito is a Visiting Professor of Law from Practice at the Harvard Law School. Ito is chairman of the board of PureTech Health and serves on several other boards, including The New York Times Company, the MacArthur Foundation and the Knight Foundation. He is the former chairman and CEO of Creative Commons, and a former board member of ICANN, The Open Source Initiative, and The Mozilla Foundation. Ito is a serial entrepreneur who helped start and run numerous companies including one of the first web companies in Japan, Digital Garage, and the first commercial Internet service provider in Japan, PSINet Japan/IIKK. He has been an early-stage investor in many companies, including Formlabs, Flickr, Kickstarter, littleBits, and Twitter. Ito received a PhD from The Keio University Graduate School of Media and Governance in 2018 for his thesis The Practice of Change. Ito has received numerous awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oxford Internet Institute and the Golden Plate Award from the Academy of Achievement, and he was inducted into the SXSW Interactive Festival Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2017, he received the IRI Medal. Ito has been awarded honorary doctorates from The New School and Tufts University and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Taholo Kami is a strategist, innovator and convener with 30 years of experience in regional and international sustainable development and conservation issues. He has worked with communities, churches, NGOs, Pacific Island governments, and international organizations on policy and implementation challenges. A passionate Pacific Islander from Tonga, Taholo was raised in Papua New Guinea and is based in Fiji.
cultural and spiritual continuity advisor
Born near Lake Baikal (Siberia) to Buryat-Mongolian Khongoodor and Sagaan clans, Erjen Khamaganova was raised in a traditional yurt and educated in Mongolia, Russia, Germany, and the U.S., becoming a specialist on environmental and cultural heritage with experience in academia, government service, philanthropy, international institutions, and cultural work at the community level. She specializes in biological and cultural diversity and has been deeply engaged in indigenous, environmental, and sacred sites issues with UNESCO, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, striving to bring the spiritual dimension of indigenous guardianship of the Earth into the heart of environmental conservation action. Most recently Erjen served as Program Officer for Central Asia and Head of the regional office of The Christensen Fund. She firmly believes in the power of altan khelhi – the traditional concept of the unbreakable interweave of human-nature-culture and leads Nia Tero’s effort to develop and implement strategies to support inter-generational efforts of partner communities to sustain cultural continuity and spiritual affiliation to place.
Storytelling Strategy Advisor
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 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.
interim managing director
Joe Morrison has 25 years experience working with Indigenous people in northern Australia and internationally on community-based development, conservation, land, sea and freshwater rights, ecosystem services, economic development and agreement making between third party developers and Indigenous peoples. Joe has been instrumental in the establishment of the ranger program and Indigenous Protected Area programs in Australia and has advised the Australian and state governments on Indigenous peoples’ customary, economic and environmental actions and opportunities for self-determination. Joe established and was CEO of the North Australian Indigenous Land & Sea Management Alliance, an Indigenous-led research and policy NGO, and was recently the CEO of the Northern Land Council, the largest statutory land council in Australia. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of New South Wales for his work with Indigenous people on sustainability, climate change and community development.
Special Advisor for programs
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.
Amplification and impact strategy consultant
Brooke Runnette is thrilled to be helping Nia Tero to draw on the power of storytelling to help indigenous peoples secure their guardianship of vital ecosystems. Brooke most recently served as Chief Program Officer for Emerson Elemental, the environmental and energy practice of the Emerson Collective. From 2015 to 2017, Brooke served as the National Geographic Society’s Executive Vice President and Chief Program and Impact Officer. In that position, she was responsible for the National Geographic Explorers, as well as grant-making, impact initiatives, education, public engagement, and storytelling for the Society. From 2012 to 2015, she was President of National Geographic Studios, where she oversaw all television, film, and digital video production for the National Geographic Society, leading the delivery of creative, groundbreaking content. An Emmy- and Peabody Award--winning producer, Brooke spent 15 years in broadcast journalism. From 2002 to 2006, she was a producer for Ted Koppel at ABC News’ Nightline, and before that, for PBS’ Frontline and CBS’ 60 Minutes II, and for Peter Jennings at ABC News, among others. From 2006 to 2012 she was Executive Producer at Discovery Communications. As EP of Shark Week, she used the platform to drive new innovations in underwater photography, support ocean science, and launch campaigns against the practice of shark finning. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and daughter.