Vance joined WILD as president in 1984 after 15 years in international business and non-profit management. An innovative leader known for bridging the interests of people and nature, he has lived extensively overseas, worked in over 55 countries, and helped to establish many non-profit organizations. An acknowledged expert in international nature conservation and wilderness protection, including strong friendships and working partnerships with traditional and indigenous community leaders, he serves on the boards of numerous organizations such as the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Friends of Peace Parks, Fulcrum Publishing, Wilderness Foundation (UK), International Conservation Caucus Foundation, and others. He is also a co-founder and President of Wilderness Foundation Global (based in South Africa), and the Founder/Co-chair of the Wilderness Specialist Group (part of the World Commission on Protected Areas, within the International Union for the Conservation of Nature). He is the prolific author/editor of many publications in numerous countries. A native of the U.S. Piedmont region, he graduated magna cum laude from West Virginia University. For more information about Vance, please visit his wikipedia page.
Vice President of Policy & Communications
Amy Lewis has spent the last 15 years researching the building blocks of collective action. She has brought this knowledge to bear in her own work as an award-winning nonprofit leader and as a scholar of environmental policy. Her research explores the relationship between democratic decision-making and policies that benefit the environment. Nothing inspires Amy more than a good mystery, and she delights in uncovering the deep forces that determine a society’s political and ecological future. Amy employs her knowledge and skills at the WILD Foundation, aligning her personal goals with WILD’s mission to activate an international ethic of care for wildlife and wild places. In addition to lending her support to a growing community of people taking action to keep Earth wild, Amy is also finishing the last two chapters of her doctoral dissertation, something she has resolved will be completed before the conclusion of this decade.
Director of Communications & Outreach
Joining the WILD Foundation in 2011, Melanie works to attain local and international support of WILD’s conservation programs through a variety of digital platforms, visual storytelling, and engaging appeals. Additionally, Melanie manages the collaborative Wild Boulder citizen science initiative as a way to help local land managers improve open space while deepening community respect for nature.
Melanie graduated from Kent State University with a B.S. in Photo-Illustration, completed a year of service with Americorps National Civilian Community Corps, and received her M.A. in Media & Public Engagement at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her creative-track MA thesis, the Bears & People Project, serves as a visual case story of Boulder’s efforts to peacefully coexist with urban black bears.
In between her work and studies, you can find Melanie outside exploring Colorado’s extraordinary mountain terrain with her dogs, volunteering as a bearsitter (you read that right, a bear-babysitter), serving as a board member for the Community Fruit Rescue, and working with students as the advisor of the CU Boulder Wildlife Club.
Director of Operations
Nurturing her love of mountains, wide open spaces, tasty veggie-friendly food and yoga; Jenn has made her a new home in Boulder by exchanging one sunny state for another. She was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida, attended school in Boca Raton and a few years later the laid-back lifestyle of Sarasota called her back home. Jenn comes to The WILD Foundation with 10 years of experience in the Administrative field and has also been a yoga enthusiast and instructor for the last few years. When she’s not at the desk or flowing through a vinyasa she can be found with her dog, Roxy taking in the sun….and maybe even on the slopes, hopefully!
Donor Relations Manager
Growing up in rural New York, Geoff came to love the outdoors through his many hiking, camping, and canoeing trips. He moved to Colorado for the first time to pursue a graduate degree in International Development and meanwhile fell in love with the mountains and the climate. After serving two AmeriCorps terms with Habitat for Humanity, Geoff comes to WILD excited to combine his passions for nature and helping people. He will be working on donor engagement, communication, and recognition, as well as enhancing development systems.
Geoff enjoys international travel and has spent an extended time living in the Middle East. In his free time he likes to spend time in the mountains and has a lifelong passion for music. He has been playing piano since elementary school, and he dreams of one day owning a his very own grand piano.
Design & Visual Content Lead
Cassie is a curious and optimistic creative problem solver. The process of identifying the problem and then flowing through the obstacles to find a creative solution excites her.
She joins WILD with a history of striving to make the world a better place for all living things, and a formal background in graphic design after having studied Creative Advertising at CU Boulder and continuing education classes at Alberta College of Art and Design. At her previous job, she led an internal corporate giving-back effort for 4 years where she worked to bring the team together to support organizations like March of Dimes, Emergency Family Assistance Association, and the WILD Foundation. She also helped create and manages the nonprofit, Art Sticks, that works to support local artists, get art into the hands of more people, and create space for practicing a dialogue that allows for sharing opinions, even, and especially, when they differ from others (a skill our digital world has dwindled).
With a strong love and appreciation of animals and nature, Cassie is exploring her way across the world to learn about and experience other cultures. She spent a month in Togo learning West African dance and studied design while exploring the Alberta mountains. She’s a firm believer in the magic of nature and is thrilled to combine her love of making beautiful things with her desire to help save the world.
Social Media & Content Specialist
Savannah Manning is a professional rock climbing guide, business owner, and world adventurer. After graduating with a degree in Natural & Cultural Resources and Creative Writing from Georgia Southern University, she skipped the graduation walk and flew down to Mexico to climb majestic limestone towers. For the past eight years, she has been climbing her way all over North America, enjoying places like the Bugaboos in Canada and iconic motherlands like Yosemite. During that time, she worked for a local non-profit called the Southeastern Climbers Coalition and helped them manage and secure hundreds of acres of new land for conservation purposes. This led her to start her own climbing business that focuses on providing opportunities for all to become enriched in the outdoors through the gateway of rock climbing.
As the Social Media & Content Specialist, Savannah works to support WILD’s vision by sharing the stories, policies, and triumphs of the organization and its partners with the global community.
Savannah is your go-to person if you have a story to tell or an idea that aligns with WILD’s values. She’s also the best person to rope into any adventure because she’ll always say yes!
In 1999 Carol volunteered for WILD as an in-country manager for a community development project in Isandlwana, a remote and primitive Zulu village in South Africa. For 2 ½ years she worked with local tribal leaders and women to initiate skills training, water management projects, micro-lending programs and more. She authored a book about her experience called When Elephants Fly, One Woman’s Journey from Wall Street to Zululand, published in 2005. After a 10 year hiatus, Carol returned to work with WILD with special projects that help to refine existing systems and create new systems to help manage WILD’s complex organizational/management requirements.
Carol has a varied academic background with a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition, working for 10 years in hospitals and research facilities. She then achieved an MBA from Columbia University working in institutional equity sales for 10 years at a Wall Street investment bank. Carol serves on two boards: Chair, BoldeReach, a non-profit aiding women and children in extreme need internationally and President of her Homeowner’s Association.
Conservation Adviser and Project Leader for our Mali Elephant Project*
Dr. Susan Canney has a variety of experience from working on conservation projects across Africa, Asia and Europe, and as a research officer for the UK Government’s independent adviser on sustainable development at the Green College Centre for Environmental Policy & Understanding.
Her work involves using systems perspectives and collaborative approaches to understand the human-nature relationship and find sustainable solutions to conservation problems.
She is a Research Associate of the Department of Zoology, Oxford University, a Trustee of Tusk Trust, a Tusk Award Judge; sits on the Nature Needs Half Advisory Committee, the Sahara Conservation Fund’s Science Committee, and is a member of the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group. She has co-authored a recently published book on “Conservation” for Cambridge University Press, that takes a global perspective to bring conservation to the heart of sustainability and environmental policy.
*The Mali Elephant Project is a joint program of WILD and the International Conservation Fund of Canada.
NAWPA Facilitator & Manager of Conservation Programs
Adam is the Facilitator for the North American Intergovernmental Committee on Cooperation for Wilderness and Protected Areas Conservation (NAWPA) and provides program support to the Marine Wilderness Project. He has a strong passion for the environment and fostering relationships between people and nature. Adam holds a B.S. in Biological Sciences from South Dakota State University and M.S. in Biological Science at Old Dominion University. As a U.S. Peace Corps (PC) volunteer, Adam specialized in coastal resource management and establishment of marine protected areas. During his PC service, he worked with local fishers communities, provincial and federal agencies, NGOs, and scientists to facilitate, develop, integrate, monitor, and evaluate coastal projects throughout the Philippines. He studied the origins of biodiversity by examining genetic relationship of coral reef fish populations throughout the Coral Triangle as a Research Scientist/Molecular Ecology Lab teacher with the Coral Triangle Partnership in International Research and Education. Adam is based out of WILD’s Washington, D.C. office and enjoys exploring the outdoors, music, sports, spending time with family and friends, and volunteering at the local farmers market selling organic produce.
Program Director for CoalitionWILD
After graduating from Quinnipiac University in 2009, Crista was drawn to non-profit work, enjoying the ability to be a part of decision making processes and watching how her day-to-day contributions immediately and directly affected an outcome. In 2013, with an invitation from the WILD Foundation to address the lack of support and visibility that was available to younger generations in the environmental sector, Crista co-founded CoalitionWILD working to connected and equip the world’s young leaders to tackle our planet’s greatest conservation challenges. She continues to lobby for a stronger integration of youth voices and empowerment in decision making, and has achieved this through co-publishing an intergenerational leadership toolkit for conservation and leading multiple projects that accelerate and further initiatives around the world being led by young people for nature.
Crista is the North American Focal Point for the the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Young Professionals, a Womentum and Leadership Jackson Hole Alumnae, and has had her writing featured in local, regional and international publications on a variety of topics. Most recently, Crista was named one of Wyoming’s Top 40 Under 40 across the state, and was named the 2017 Rising Star by the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. Crista spends her free time pushing her limits in the Tetons and searching out the best ice cream shops around the world.
China Representative, WILD Foundation and Wilderness Foundation Global
Zhang Qian joined the international wilderness family in 2016 when she was introduced to this idea by WILD president Vance Martin and their common friend, with whom she had worked for years for showing China’s amazing beauty of nature to the world through nature photography and communication. As a nature lover, Qian was deeply inspired by the wilderness concept which could fit into China’s undergoing Eco-civilization movement, national parks planning and Eco-Red Line policies. She believes the introduction of an international wilderness standard will benefit China’s future conservation efforts, as a similar idea has been deeply rooted in the country’s traditional culture for a thousand years, but has somehow been lost in people’s minds because of the fast modernization progress.
As the China representative of WILD Foundation and Wilderness Foundation Global, Qian works as a bridge and facilitator between the international think tank and Chinese government, NGO partners, and academic institutions, working to build up a wilderness movement together that will work for China and shape China’s future conservation of wild nature. Academically, Qian completed her master’s degree at Tsinghua University in 2018 which researched wilderness management and became the first such thesis on wilderness management in China. Before working in the NGO sector, Qian had worked in Chinese government for many years, indulging 11 years of experiences in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 2 years in the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.
Katie Shepherd Christiansen
Director of Conservation Strategy
Katie supports WILD’s mission by developing and implementing strategies for the protection of half of the earth. Her work is backed by a decade of experience building meaningful and creative partnerships for conservation. Katie’s interdisciplinary approach has spanned science, management, policy, industry, education, outreach, storytelling, and the arts. At the heart of her work is a deep interest is the relationship between humans and nature, and how to affect transformations in culture and values towards a sustainable future for all life.
Katie obtained her Masters of Environmental Management from Yale’s School of the Environment as a Wyss Conservation Scholar. She serves as Artist-in-Residence at the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative and is a two-time National Endowment for the Arts recipient for her protected areas interpretive artworks. Katie attributes her environmental and community values to her upbringing on the protected northern shores of Lake Michigan. She now makes her home in the Rocky Mountain West.