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.
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.
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.
Colleen O’DonnellColleen O’Donnell first partnered with The Mountain Institute in 2014 as she conducted research for her master’s thesis linking dry season water availability to pastureland management in the Peruvian Andes. She completed her bachelor’s at the University of Notre Dame. With a degree in biology and anthropology, she began working at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Conservation and Science Department. O’Donnell’s early work focused on animal behavior and captive animal welfare. Always a lover of wildlife, she shifted her attention to wildlife conservation and ecosystem health to benefit wild African carnivores, chimpanzees and gorillas, as well as, domestic dogs and people living in and around the protected areas of Tanzanian National Parks and the Congo Basin. Through the course of this work, she saw how important local communities were to conservation success and how human well-being and healthy ecosystems could be mutually reinforcing. This led her to pursue a master’s in sustainable development with the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies. Shortly after graduating, O’Donnell was invited to be part of the TMI Andes team to launch a wetland restoration project in the Huascarán National Park of Peru. As Program Officer, she works with TMI international programs and partners to advocate for community- and ecosystem-based approaches for adaptation to climate change, wildlife conservation, and prosperity for mountain communities.
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.
Jeremy SpoonJeremy Spoon, Ph.D., is a Research Associate with TMI and an Assistant Professor of Applied Anthropology at Portland State University. His research focuses on the influence of political economy on local ecological knowledge in and around protected areas. Dr. Spoon has conducted research with the Khumbu Sherpa inside Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) National Park, Nepal; the Southern Paiute/Chemehuevi around the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Nevada; the Keekonyokie Maasai and Dorobo around Hell’s Gate National Park, Kenya; and Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) around Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. He has 12 years of experience collaborating with international NGOs on participatory interpretation/education and environmental management in Nepal, the United States, and Kenya.
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.
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 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.
Purushotam BhattaraiRegional Finance and Administrative Officer
Shiva BasnetOffice Assistant
Jorge RecharteJorge Recharte, Ph.D., is the Director of TMI’s Andes Program. He is based in Huaraz and Lima, Peru, and holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Cornell University. Dr. Recharte has taken full advantage of the dramatically visible consequences of climate change on tropical glaciers to draw attention to the Andes’ important role in the welfare of mountain communities and the region as a whole. He and his team have organized and implemented many transformational climate change adaptation projects for mountain ecosystems. Fostering cooperation between scientists, mountain communities and local governments, he has helped develop solutions for large watersheds as well as for specialized challenges, including reducing the risk of glacial lake flooding. Dr. Recharte joined The Mountain Institute in 1997 after spending three years in Ecuador working for the Latin American Social Science Faculty (FLACSO) designing and heading the graduate education and research program in Mountain Societies and Sustainable Development. Between 1980-1981 and 1990-1993 he was an associate researcher at the International Potato Center where he developed participatory research methodologies in agriculture. Dr. Recharte currently serves on the Board of The Common Good Institute and is a member of the Andes Chapter of the International Mountain Society (IMS).
Manuel AsenciosDirector of Finances
Vidal Rondan RamirezEnvironmental Education Program Officer
Florencia ZapataCultural Heritage Program Officer
Doris ChavezRangeland Management Project Officer
Cristina GiraudAdaptation Project Officer
Laura TrejoAdaptation Project Officer
Junior GilAdaptation Project Officer
Milena HuertaAdministrative Assistant
Gabriela Lopez SotomayorRural Development Specialist
Juan SanchezField Staff
Donato Sanchez LirioDriver
Vicki Fenwick-JudyVicki Fenwick-Judy is the Director of TMI’s Appalachian Program. She is a lifelong resident of West Virginia. She returned to TMI in 2014 to lead the Appalachian program’s ongoing environmental, watershed, and wilderness education. Fenwick-Judy worked previously as a Field Instructor at Spruce Knob, and holds a MA in Psychology from Marshall University. She serves as a representative on the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Education Workgroup, and has worked with the West Virginia Department of Education and the Canaan Valley Institute to develop environmental education.
Dave MartinDave Martin, Program Officer has a BA in American Studies from Hampshire College. Prior to his current position at The Mountain Institute he worked as a climbing guide at Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides. Martin has been with TMI in several different roles since 1993.
Kellee WaddellKellee Waddell, Education Coordinator has been exploring the backcountry and instructing environmental and adventure-based programs for over a decade. She has a degree in English from Slippery Rock University and in Natural Resources from Garrett College.
Melinda BrooksMelinda Brooks, Independent Schools & Summer Programs Coordinator, is originally from the rolling hills of the Mississippi Valley. After earning a BS in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Administration from Western Illinois University, she headed east in search of more dramatic topography – first to Northern Georgia, then to West Virginia where she has been with The Mountain Institute since 2010. She lives in the North Fork Valley with her husband, daughter, and a rotating menagerie of farm animals.
Jackie Lambert, Course Director
Ryan Stewart, Course Director
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
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
Volker HeidenVice President of Finance for Caribbean and Latin America, Marriott Hotels
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Rose LikinsUS Ambassador (retired)
Susan MacGrathChair, LaGuntza Foundation
Robin MurphySenior VP of Marketing and Communications, The Conservation Fund
William Stacy RhodesChief of Staff, Peace Corps (retired)
Nikunj ShahTechnical Team Lead, Entech
Jed ShillingSenior Economist, World Bank (retired)
David SloanSenior Advisor, The Scowcroft Group
Corporate Strategies International
Andrew Taber, Ph.D.Executive Director, The Mountain Institute
Ganesh ThapaRegional Economist, Asia and the Pacific Division, International Fund for Agriculture Development (retired)
Haihao WuPresident, WX Consulting
Senior Advisor, McKinsey & Company