Meet the Experts
Andrew TaberDr. Andrew Taber is Executive Director of The Mountain Institute. For 25 years, he has worked to conserve nature and improve the lives of rural people. He studied at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and holds a doctorate from Oxford University. His professional career started at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) where he undertook extensive fieldwork in Patagonia, the Gran Chaco, the Andes, and the Amazon. Dr. Taber played a key role in creating Bolivia’s Kaa-Iya Gran Chaco National Park, under co-management with native peoples–one of the Western Hemisphere’s largest protected areas. He also pioneered research on Neotropical wildlife including peccaries and jaguars. At WCS, Dr. Taber established an Amazonian conservation network and directed the Latin American and Caribbean Program. As Executive Vice President at Wildlife Trust, he coordinated an alliance of top conservation scientists and practitioners from developing countries. Prior to coming to The Mountain Institute, Dr. Taber was Deputy Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research based in Bogor, Indonesia. His current responsibilities included overseeing programs in North America, the Andes, and the Himalayas on climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation, livelihoods of mountain people, and international environmental policy of relevance to mountains. LINK TO FULL BIO.
Bruce BrownBruce Brown, Controller, holds a B.S. in Accounting and has over twenty-five years’ experience in fiscal management, primarily in the non-profit and government sect. Brown has served as the Chief Financial Officer for Seniors First (Meals on Wheels) in Orlando, Florida, Director of Finance for Clean Water Action/Fund in Washington, D.C., in addition to his consultancy work with the Brookings Institution and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Brown also served as Senior Accountant for the construction and dedication of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Jesse Chapman-BruschiniJesse Bruschini is TMI’s Communications Specialist with a background in international public relations, bilingual communications and event planning. Her experience includes working with wildlife conservation organizations based in the NYC area–The Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife Trust, The Institute for Ocean Conservation Science and The Blue Ocean Institute. Fluent in Spanish, Bruschini also led a consulting group that created bilingual advertising campaigns for corporate and non-profit clients. She has a Masters in Spanish Linguistics from the University of Illinois.
Jennifer DrenningJennifer Drenning, Director of Development, has 20+ years of specialized experience in raising funds and managing government and foundation grants for international development and conservation organizations both large and small. She began her career with ACDI/VOCA as a coordinator of USAID-funded agricultural cooperative development projects and later worked for 10 years on the foundation relations team at Conservation International. Drenning has an MA in International Development from American University in Washington, DC, and BA in International Relations from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.
Erin GleesonErin Gleeson is the Associate Director and Global Team Leader of TMI’s Mountain Ecosystem-based Adaptation (MtEbA) Program. Prior to coming to TMI, she worked for the Mountain Research Initiative in Switzerland, where she managed MRI’s subcontract to the SDC-funded Sustainable Mountain Development for Global Change (SMD4GC) project, coordinated MRI’s regional and thematic networks, and developed MRI’s social media presence. With degrees in geosciences (University of Arizona) and climate science (University of Bern in Switzerland), Gleeson’s passion is translating science into understanding, involvement and action. She has worked with a diverse range of institutions, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program, the American Geosciences Institute and the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation. She has also specialized in science education and scientific editing and translation. LINK TO FULL BIO.
Meeta PradhanMeeta S. Pradhan, Ph.D., is the Director of TMI’s Himalayan Program. She began her career with The Mountain Institute as the Women’s Development Officer with the Makalu-Barun Conservation Project. This innovative initiative, set up jointly by the Government of Nepal and TMI, encouraged local people to participate and sought to achieve a balance between conserving and managing natural resources and addressing social, economic and cultural development. Dr. Pradhan was involved in supporting community-based entrepreneurship opportunities for rural women in eastern Nepal and focused on empowering women in all project activities. After that initiative, Dr. Pradhan worked in technical and senior management positions including as Program Development Coordinator for CARE Nepal, and working on project monitoring and evaluation for UNICEF. She has produced a number of highly regarded technical and analytical reports and publications examining development impacts on poverty, social inclusion, and gender. Dr. Pradhan received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan concentrating on Social Exclusion and Social Change, examining the barriers that prevent local communities from fully participating in local development initiatives. LINK TO FULL BIO.
Shiva BasnetShiva Basnet is the Himalayan Program Office Assistant. A native of Kavrepalanchok, Banepa, he joined The Mountain Institute in Nepal in 1991 as a gardener. His main responsibility is to support the Administrative Assistant in day-to-day office functions and assist the office staff as necessary. Basnet also assists with office operations plus postal and banking needs as directed by the Regional Finance/Admin Officer.
Umesh BasnetUmesh Basnet, Senior program Officer, is a native of Kathmandu, Nepal and graduated in Environmental Science with a specialization in Sustainable Development, Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change. In 2015, Basnet started his career with The Mountain Institute’s Himalayan Program as an intern, just before the Nepal Earthquake. His major responsibility immediately after the earthquake was to support relief work and conduct ground level needs assessments of mountain communities. Now Basnet coordinates TMI’s ongoing project “Building Resilient Ecosystems and Livelihoods in Remote Mountain Communities of Nepal” implemented in 21 VDCs in four different districts. He has spent a significant amount of his time working with marginalized mountain communities in Gorkha, Dhading and Rasuwa districts after the earthquake until the present. He has attended training sessions on Arc GIS and on “Environmental and Economic Issues to Enhance Mountain Sustainability” hosted by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat and FAO. While with TMI, Basnet has focused on climate change and eco-tourism sectors. Basnet volunteers for several charitable organizations including Helping Hands Youth Club, Godawari, Nepal Red Cross Society, and Community Forest User Groups.
Purushotam BhattaraiPurushotam Bhattarai, Regional Finance and Administrative Officer, is a native of Kathmandu, Nepal. Bhattarai started his career in the finance unit of The Mountain Institute’s Himalayan Program in 1992. He was part of the team that supported the Makalu-Barun National Park in the eastern part of the country that was jointly managed by The Mountain Institute and the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation. Bhattarai is a graduate of Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu and holds a professional Audit license from the Government of Nepal. His major responsibility is to oversee all accounting matters for the TMI Himalayan Program. He has attended special Finance/Accounting trainings organized by the Institute in its headquarters office in Washington D.C. Bhattarai has also worked closely with a number of TMI’s local NGO partners in different parts of Nepal helping them to strengthen their financial management and accounting systems and to maintain good accounting practices and transparency. Bhattarai also volunteers his fundraising skills for a number of worthy causes including the reconstruction of Kathmandu Durbar Square historic monument (destroyed by the 2015 earthquake) and for different schools located in remote areas of Eastern Nepal.
Karma BhutiaKarma Bhutia, Regional Livelihoods Coordinator, is a native of Chyamtang village in the Upper Arun Valley of Eastern Nepal, one of the several districts where TMI supports mountain farmers to cultivate and market high value medicinal and aromatic plants. He joined TMI’s Himalayan Program in 1997 and has over 17 years experience in community development and natural resource management. Bhutia has lead the work on medicinal and aromatic plants cultivation and marketing, and has trained over 8,000 farmers to increase their income and conserve the biodiversity in mountain communities in Nepal, India (Sikkim and Darjeeling), and Bhutan. He has also supported orientations on the concepts of REDD+ and on the “Free Prior and Informed Consent” (a key principle in international law and jurisprudence related to indigenous people) in mountain communities in Nepal. Bhutia has been instrumental in raising funds for community development programs in Nepal. He has attended a number of trainings and workshops in different countries around the world, and volunteered at Washington State University as well as different herbal and agricultural farms in the USA. Bhutia was awarded the “World Wildlife Fund Young Conservation Leaders Award” in 2007 and received a “Certificate of Achievement” from ICIMOD in 2011.
Shree Bahadur GautamShree Bahadur Gautam is a native of Kapan, Kathmandu and serves as Office Guard. He joined The Mountain Institute’s Himalayan Program in 1999. His major responsibility is to oversee security affairs for TMI’s office in Nepal.
Keshav Prasad KhanalKeshav Prasad Khanal is the Team Leader for TMI’s Mountain Ecosystem-based Adaptation (MtEbA) Project in Nepal. He has 25+ years experience in natural resource management and climate change projects. He began his career with the Government of Nepal in 1989 as a forester and has worked in different regions of Nepal. For the next 12 years, Khanal continued his work at the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation of Nepal in various donor-funded projects on forests, biodiversity and climate change. He played a key role in developing policies and programs in the fields of REDD+ readiness, climate change adaptation and forest management. Prior to joining The Mountain Institute’s Himalayan Program, Khanal worked for five and half years in WWF Nepal as a Coordinator of the USAID-funded Climate and Biodiversity Conservation (Hariyo Ban) Project. He holds a Master’s Degree in Forestry/Land Use in Developing Countries from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Alisa RaiAlisa Rai, Senior Program Officer, is a native of Lalitpur, Nepal. She began her career with the Mountain Institute’s Himalayan Program as an intern in 2015, promoted later to her current position. She was involved in earthquake relief work and became part of the Pragatishil Pahad Project. Rai has been responsible for supporting local partners to implement this project in Rasuwa district, Nepal. Rai also worked as Research Coordinator for the Nepal Critical Transition Project that seeks to understand how natural disasters can serve as a catalyst for critical social and ecological transitions during recovery. Currently, she is supporting TMI’s Mountain Ecosystem-based Adaptation Program (MtEbA). In 2012 WWF Nepal awarded Rai the “Chandra Gurung Memorial Fellowship” for a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science. She pursued that Master’s degree at Tribhuwan University with a specialty in biodiversity conservation, climate change and sustainable development.
Dikee SherpaDikee Sherpa, Administrative Assistant/Receptionist, is a native of Taplejung District, Nepal. She joined The Mountain Institute’s Himalayan Program in 2013. Her major responsibility is to assist the Regional Finance/Admin Officer in various admin duties. Sherpa is also responsible for coordinating overall office management including assistance with project documents, communications materials and reports as directed by senior staff.
Ichchha ThapaIchchha Thapa, Senior Program Officer – Monitoring and Evaluation, is a native of Syangja, Nepal. Thapa started her career as an intern with The Mountain Institute’s Himalayan Program in 2015 and was later promoted to Program Officer. She is a graduate of Tribhuvan University with a Master’s in Environmental Science. Her major responsibility is to support TMI’s Himalayan Program Team and local implementing partners. Thapa coordinates monitoring and evaluation activities and reporting for ongoing projects. She has also played a supportive role in new program development by writing proposals for TMI’s Himalayan Program. Currently, Thapa is working closely with TMI’s Mountain Ecosystem-based Adaptation Project in Nepal.
Jorge RecharteDirector of the Andean Program, Anthropologist, Ph.D. from Cornell University. Since 1997 Recharte has led the development of TMI conservation and economic development programs in the Andes. Key programs include designing the Páramo Initiative in 1997-1998, initially in Ecuador, followed by implementing numerous projects that have transformed the visibility and understanding of the important role of páramo ecosystems and societies. With TMI and partners, Recharte also pioneered the implementation of several projects in Peru and Ecuador, beginning in 2001, that have contributed to formulating the Great Inca Road initiative. The Great Inca Road was declared a World Heritage Site in 2014. He has managed three cooperative agreements between TMI and USAID to implement climate change adaptation projects in partnership with municipal commonwealths in the Ancash and Piura regions. Before joining TMI, Recharte directed the Program on Mountain and Sustainable Development Societies of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Ecuador (1994-1996). Recharte worked with the International Potato Center (1980-1982 and 1991-1993) where he helped develop the Consortium for the Sustainable Development of the Andean Ecoregion (CONDESAN). He is a member of the Common Good Institute (IBC) and Institute for the Promotion of Water Management (IPROGA) serving on both Boards of Directors. LINK TO FULL BIO.
Manuel AsenciosManuel Asencios is Director of Administration and Finance for TMI’s Andes Program. He is a Certified Public Accountant (1999) and completed graduate studies in Social Management at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (2006). Asencios joined TMI in 2001, providing the Andes program with administration and accounting services for a range of projects funded by national and international agencies. Asencios has over 16 years of experience overseeing that TMI in Peru complies with norms established for non-profit organizations by the Peruvian government.
Beatriz FuentealbaBeatriz Fuentealba is the Team Leader of the Punas-Agua program. She has a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences and Integrated Ecosystem management fro the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Fuentealba is also TMI Andes’ Science Coordinator. She earned her B.Sc. in biology from National Agrarian University La Molina in Peru, and obtained her master’s degree and doctorate. She has more than 10 years of experience investigating issues that link rural production and development with biodiversity conservation from a multidisciplinary perspective. Fuentealba’s main lines of work are ecological restoration and agroforestry integrated with mountain ecosystems management. She also has experience as a university teacher.
Mirella GallardoMirella Gallardo is the Team Leader for TMI’s Mountain Ecosystem-based Adaptation (MtEbA) Project in Peru. She is an agricultural engineer from La Molina National Agrarian University in Peru (1993) with a M.Sc. in Land and Water Resources from Karlsruhe University, Germany (2000). Gallardo has extensive experience linking the science community to the needs of watershed management and developing decision-making support tools for watershed managers. She has over 15 years of experience in rural development, co-management of protected areas and land use planning and hydrology studies with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit). She is also a visiting professor at La Molina National Agrarian University.
Gabriela Lopez Sotomayor
Vidal RondánVidal Rondán is TMI’s representative in Ancash, Peru. His is a specialist in Adult education (B.A. 1992). Rondán was responsible for Huascaran National Park Environmental Education programs between 1993 and 1995. He joined TMI in 1996 as a community facilitator, supporting multiple projects in conservation and development. Rondán has over 20 years of experience adapting facilitation methods to the conditions of mountain communities and to the objectives of community-based conservation projects.
Miriam TorresMiriam Torres served as the Protected Areas and Ecotourism specialist with the Andes Program. She joined TMI in 1995. Torres graduated from the National Parks and Wildlife Management program of Peru’s National Agrarian University. Her professional history includes working with mountain protected areas in Peru, particularly conducting participatory management plans. Torres Angeles was a member of the team that produced the first management plan of Huascaran National Park in 1990, the lead in developing its Ecotourism Plan in 1997, as well as the lead on the second Management Plan initiative and the National Master Plan for the Peruvian protected areas system in 1995. Before joining TMI, she was a staff member of Pro Naturaleza, supporting several of Peru’s protected areas.
Florencia ZapataFlorencia Zapata is the Deputy Director of Institutional Development, Andes Program. She is an Anthropologist with a degree from the State University New York (B.A. 2006). Zapata is a specialist in participatory action-research (PAR), having implemented several projects, published papers and edited books on PAR methods and practice. She joined The Mountain Institute in 1999 participating in multiple conservation projects and social memory studies. Her current work centers on the social dimensions and participatory methods of ecosystem management, climate change adaptation and cultural landscape studies in the Andes. Zapata serves as Knowledge Management Specialist for TMI’s new Mountain Ecosystem-based Adaptation Program (MtEBA). In 2003 and 2006, she was a visiting Scholar in the Latin American Studies Program of Cornell University. She is a member of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) and the Seminar on Rural Research (SEPIA).
Board of Trustees
Director of Country/Regional Programs, Rights and Resources Initiative (retired).
Sr. Natural Resource Specialist, World Bank Group (retired).
Eagle Vail, Colorado
Walter W. ArensbergManaging Director, Social Capital Group
Ruth Greenspan BellPublic Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Research Associate, Center for Decision Science, Columbia Business School Visiting Scholar, Environmental Law Institute
Richard BoucherUS Ambassador (retired)
Former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia
Former Deputy Secretary General OECD
Susan BraatzSenior Forestry Officer, Forests and Climate Change, FAO
Edie FarwellExecutive Director, Sustainability Leaders Network
Bennett FreemanSenior Advisor, Business for Social Responsibility
Former Senior Vice President, Sustainability Research and Policy, Calvert Investments
Former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Susan MacGrathChair, LaGuntza Foundation
Robin MurphySenior VP of Marketing and Communications, The Conservation Fund
William Stacy RhodesChief of Staff, Peace Corps (retired)
Jed ShillingSenior Economist, World Bank (retired)
David SloanSenior Advisor, The Scowcroft Group
Corporate Strategies International
Andrew Taber, Ph.D.Executive Director, The Mountain Institute