• Our Team & Advisors

    Our Team & Advisors

Meet the Experts

Staff

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Photo of Andrew Taber, Executive Director at The Mountain Institute

Andrew Taber

Dr. 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 Brown

Bruce 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.
Photo of Jesse Bruschini, Communications Specialist at The Mountain Institute

Jesse Chapman-Bruschini

Jesse 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.
Photo of Jennifer Drenning, Development Director at The Mountain Institute

Jennifer Drenning

Jennifer 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.
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Erin Gleeson

Erin 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.

Himalayan Program

Photo of Meeta S. Pradhan, Ph.D., Director, Himalaya Program at The Mountain Institute

Meeta Pradhan

Meeta 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.
Photo of Shiva Basnet

Shiva Basnet

Shiva 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.
Photo of Umesh Basnet

Umesh Basnet

Umesh 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.
Photo of Purushotam Bhattarai, Regional Finance and Administrative Officer, Himalayan Program at The Mountain Institute

Purushotam Bhattarai

Purushotam 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.
Photo of Karma Bhutia, Regional Livelihoods Coordinator at The Mountain Institute

Karma Bhutia

Karma 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.
Photo of Shree Bahadur Gautam

Shree Bahadur Gautam

Shree 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.
Photo of Keshav Khanal, Nepal Team Leader, Mountain EbA Program.

Keshav Prasad Khanal

Keshav 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.
Photo of Alisa Rai

Alisa Rai

Alisa 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.
Photo of Dikee Sherpa

Dikee Sherpa

Dikee 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.
Photo of Ichchha Thapa

Ichchha Thapa

Ichchha 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.

Andes Program

Photo of Jorge Recharte, Ph.D., Director at The Mountain Institute

Jorge Recharte

Director 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 Asencios

Manuel 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.

Juan Ccahuana


Doris Chavez


Beatriz Fuentealba

Beatriz 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.
Photo of Mirella Gallardo

Mirella Gallardo

Mirella 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.

Isabel Menendez


Gabriela Lopez Sotomayor


Vidal Rondán

Vidal 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.

Elmer Segura


Fidel Torres


Miriam Torres

Miriam 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.
Photo of Florencia Zapata

Florencia Zapata

Florencia 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).

Anaïs Zimmer



Board of Trustees

Augusta Molnar

Chair
Director of Country/Regional Programs, Rights and Resources Initiative (retired).
Sr. Natural Resource Specialist, World Bank Group (retired).
Eagle Vail, Colorado

Walter W. Arensberg

Managing Director, Social Capital Group
Washington, DC

Ruth Greenspan Bell

Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Research Associate, Center for Decision Science, Columbia Business School Visiting Scholar, Environmental Law Institute
Washington, DC

Richard Boucher

US Ambassador (retired)
Former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia
Former Deputy Secretary General OECD
Washington, DC

Susan Braatz

Senior Forestry Officer, Forests and Climate Change, FAO
Rome, Italy

Edie Farwell

Executive Director, Sustainability Leaders Network
Norwich, Vermont

Bennett Freeman

Senior 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
Washington, DC

Susan MacGrath

Chair, LaGuntza Foundation
Bozeman, Montana

Robin Murphy

Senior VP of Marketing and Communications, The Conservation Fund
Alexandria, Virginia

William Stacy Rhodes

Chief of Staff, Peace Corps (retired)
Arlington, Virginia

Jed Shilling

Senior Economist, World Bank (retired)
Purcellville, Virginia

David Sloan

Senior Advisor, The Scowcroft Group
Eurasia Group
Corporate Strategies International
Washington, DC

Andrew Taber, Ph.D.

Executive Director, The Mountain Institute
Washington, DC

Senior Fellows

Miriam Torres Angeles

Former Protected Areas and Ecotourism specialist with the Andes Program, Torres Angeles joined TMI in 1995. She 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. She is a member of the Andes Chapter of the International Mountain Society (IMS) and the IUCN Commission on Protected Areas, Mountain Areas and Non Material Values.

Ganesan Balachander

Balachander is the Executive Director of the Ashoka Trust for Researh in Ecology and the Enviroment. ATREE does interdisciplinary research in various aspects of environment and development, conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Balachander served as member of the Executive Committee of the founding Board for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). He was also CGIAR’s Chair of its Science, Programs and Partnership Committee overseeing 15 Centers around the world. Balachander was The Mountain Institute’s Director in Washington, D.C. and also served as Director of the Biodiversity Conservation Network, a USAID-funded program for promoting conservation of vulnerable ecosystems in Asia. He holds an MBA from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Rutgers University. He was also a post-doctoral Bullard Fellow at Harvard University.

Edwin Bernbaum

Bernbaum is currently working on an IUCN project to integrate the cultural and spiritual significance of nature into protected area management and governance. He is a scholar of comparative religions and mythology focusing on culture and the environment. Bernbaum led TMI’s Sacred Mountain Program and worked with TMI on a program in the Indian Himalayas to involve pilgrims in reforestation. Bernbaum initiated TMI’s project to develop interpretive materials for US National Parks based on the cultural and spiritual significance of mountains. He is the author of the award-winning “Sacred Mountains of the World”, the basis for a photographic exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution, and “The Way to Shambhala”, a study of Tibetan myths of the hidden valleys resembling the fictional Shangri-La of Lost Horizon. Bernbaum has climbed and conducted research in mountain ranges throughout the world, and he leads seminars and lectures on mountains, leadership, culture, and the environment for many organizations including the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Wharton School, and the American Museum of Natural History. He holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley with additional graduate work in Social Psychology and Anthropology at Harvard University.

Gillian Bowser

Bowser is currently working on a joint project in the Peruvian Andes on wetland restoration, funded by the National Science Foundation. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Bowser started her career as an art major, earning a degree in fine arts. Her academic focused shifted to biology with an emphasis on wildlife and population genetics. But her art shows and exhibits continued. Bowser’s career represents the nexus between art and science. She went on to become a wildlife biologist at Yellowstone National Park studying insects, bison, and rodents over 11 years. During the next ten years of her National Park Service Career, she worked on desert tortoises, habitat modeling, military overflight issues and international relations with China’s National Park system. Bowser spent two years in the headquarters office of the National Park Service working for the director of the National Parks Service where she assisted with policy briefs and other political documents. Dr. Bowser is now a research scientist at Colorado State University where her research is focused on biodiversity, sustainability and women’s scholarship. She leads interdisciplinary teams from multiple universities to do large-scale network analyses of women in sustainability.

Bob Davis

Joining TMI in 1979, Bob Davis held numerous leadership positions at The Mountain Institute in his thirty-three years at the organization. He served as TMI’s CEO from 2004 to 2009 and has worked in many of the organization’s programs and regional projects over the years. He has extensive international conservation and development experience. Bob holds an M.S. in Organization Development from American University, and an M.A. in Religious Studies from Yale University. He currently teaches organizational development and management courses at Eastern Mennonite University, and serves on the board of directors of a number of non-profit organizations. Bob is long time resident of Pendleton Country, West Virginia.

Rodney Jackson

A three-time finalist for the Indianapolis Prize, Rodney Jackson is the world’s foremost expert on the elusive snow leopard that serves as a flagship species for Central Asia’s high mountains. Credited as being the first individual to radio collar snow leopards to track their movements, Jackson has been able to obtain unprecedented data on the species’ movements and behavior. Jackson currently leads the Snow Leopard Conservancy—an organization that grew out of Jackson’s thirty years’ experience gained in working closely with rural herders and farmers whose lives are directly impacted when snow leopards prey upon their livestock. Upon receiving a 1981 Rolex Award for Enterprise, Rodney launched a pioneering radio-tracking study of snow leopards in the remote mountains of the Nepalese Himalaya. The four-year study led to the cover story in the June 1986 National Geographic. In addition, the June, 2008 issue of National Geographic featured Rodney’s work with the Snow Leopard Conservancy India.

Wendy Brewer Lama

Brewer Lama holds an MES from Yale University, and has worked in ecotourism development throughout Asia for the past twenty years. While living in Nepal from 1984 to 1999, she managed TMI’s Langtang Ecotourism Project and co-authored “Community-Based Tourism for Conservation and Development”, built upon the Appreciative Participatory Planning and Action (APPA) framework. With the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Wendy led some of the first ecotourism planning in China at Wanglang panda reserve in Sichuan; introduced Community-Based Tourism (CBT) to Kyrgyzstan; and brought eco-adventure tourism to Mongolia with USAID. From 2002-07, she advised the UNESCO Cultural and Ecotourism in Mountain Regions of Central and South Asia program. As owner of KarmaQuest Ecotourism and Adventure Travel, she organizes ecotours that support wildlife conservation and community-based conservation and operates academic travel programs for Stanford and other universities. At home in Half Moon Bay, California, Wendy introduced ecotourism to farmers, fishers, and Main Street entrepreneurs. Wendy is a former California Coastal Commission planner.

Brian Peniston

Peniston worked with The Mountain Institute from 1996 through mid-2014, directing a national park, Himalayan Regional programs, and Innovation and Livelihood programs. He has experience in rural enterprise, protected area and natural resource management, food security, climate change adaptation, operations research, primary health care, community development, mountain agriculture, cultural restoration, and community-based tourism. Starting in 1975, Peniston worked in Nepal (24 years), Indonesia (6 years), Malaysia (2 1/2 years), Thailand-Cambodia border (1 year) and Peru (1 year). Brian also helped design integrated conservation, development, and livelihoods projects in Bhutan, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Tibet Autonomous Region of China, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Brian’s work experience includes Wildlife Fund, USAID, Plan International, CARE, GIZ, American Refugee Committee, Britain Nepal Medical Trust, and US Peace Corps. Currently Peniston is Director of Markets and Communities, Inc and is the US Representative of Ennovent Ltd, both seeking to promote and accelerate impact investing and innovation in developing country markets. He has Masters degrees in Forestry (Yale University), Public Health (University of Hawaii) and an undergraduate degree in Philosophy (Connecticut College).

Johan Reinhard

Reinhard received his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna, Austria and was a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence from 1999 to 2013. While making over 200 ascents over 17,000 ft in the Andes, he led expeditions resulting in the discovery of more than 50 high-altitude Inca ritual sites. In 1995 and 1999 Time Magazine selected his finds of Inca frozen mummies in Peru and Argentina as among “the world’s ten most important scientific discoveries” of those years. Museums in Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia have been built to exhibit the archaeological finds made during his expeditions. In the Himalayas his studies included shamanism, the “hidden lands” of Tibetan Buddhism, and culture change among one of the world’s last nomadic hunting and gathering tribes. He has directed Nepal Peace Corps Training Projects, and while mountaineering in the Himalayas, he participated in the successful 1976 American Everest Expedition. His research has been featured in TV documentaries on National Geographic, BBC, NOVA, PBS, the History Channel, and Discovery. In 2001 the Ford Motor Company chose him as one of twelve “Heroes for the Planet” and in 2002 he was awarded the Explorers Medal of the Explorers Club of New York. He has authored more than 70 publications, including “The Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods, and Sacred Sites in the Andes”, “Machu Picchu: Exploring an Ancient Sacred Center”, “The Nazca Lines”, and “Inca Rituals and Sacred Mountains”.

Lhakpa Norbu Sherpa

Sherpa received a Ph.D. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington and is the first person from the Sherpa community to receive a doctorate. He began his education in the Sir Edmund Hillary Schools in Nepal’s Khumbu region. His higher education was achieved through a Colombo Plan scholarship to Lincoln University in New Zealand followed by a Fulbright student scholarship to the United States. Sherpa joined the Government of Nepal in 1980 to work as Park Superintendent in Rara Lake and Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Parks. He collaborated with TMI in 1989 to carry out planning of the Makalu-Barun National Park, and later joined TMI on a full time basis as Manager of the Qomolangma Conservation Program in the Tibet Autonomous Region (China). He also served as Co-Director of The Mountain Institute’s Himalayan Program from 2005 to 2009 during which he developed and implemented an integrated cultural conservation and livelihood improvement project in the Sagarmatha National Park. Presently, Dr. Sherpa was also a Visiting Fulbright-Post Doctoral Fellow at Yale University, USA.

Jeremy Spoon

Dr. Spoon is an Associate Professor at Portland State University. His research focuses on indigenous ecological knowledge inside and around mountainous protected areas in the Nepalese Himalaya and the Western United States. Dr. Spoon recently initiated a new project on social-ecological transitions after natural disasters in mountain ecosystems. In all of these projects, he utilizes collaborative methods and applies research findings to tangible projects created in participatory ways. Dr. Spoon’s applied research on natural disaster recovery in Nepal is funded by a National Science Foundation RAPID grant. His project with the Department of Energy (DOE), Nevada Field Office and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to revegetate a low-level nuclear waste storage site on the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) (formerly the Nevada Test Site). The project blends indigenous knowledge and western science to create innovative restoration solutions.

Robert Wampler

Wampler has worked on U.S. foreign policy, federal research and development, technology transfer strategies, and high technology business development issues. His current research interests include sustainable development and design, community- and regionally-based environmental protection and management, and ecological restoration. He has pursued these interests in support of The Mountain Institute’s programs, particularly in connection with TMI’s Major Mountains of the World initiative; sustainable development, environmental conservation, and cultural preservation for mountain towns and cities along with TMI’s overall education and training programs.
Since 1972 The Mountain Institute has partnered with remote mountain communities in the highest, longest and oldest mountains of the world. We work together to conserve ecosystems, develop sustainable livelihoods and protect unique mountain cultures.