WCS at WPC

Staff

WCS Staff

Meet the WCS conservationists and specialists from around the world at the World Parks Congress 2014.  For general inquiries or to schedule a meeting,  please contact wpc@wcs.org.
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Select WPC Stream:
Caleb McClennen
Vice President, Global Conservation
Caleb leads WCS’s cross-cutting strategies designed to mitigate global drivers of environmental decline. This portfolio includes WCS’s programs for the oceans and fisheries, climate mitigation and adaptation, livelihoods, and markets. Caleb also provides overall strategic leadership and representation for WCS’s organizational efforts to build multi-institutional partnerships with NGOs, corporations, and the philanthropic sector to heighten our impact beyond the footprint of WCS’s 3,000+ staff in 60 countries worldwide. Caleb also holds appointments as Adjunct Faculty at Columbia University’s School of Public and International Affairs, and the Earth Institute Center for Environment and Sustainability; and serves as an overseer of the Woods Hole Sea Education Association, and an advisor the New England Aquarium Marine Conservation Action Fund. Previously, Caleb directed WCS’s global marine conservation efforts to improve fisheries, establish effective marine reserves and conserve some of the world’s most important marine biodiversity. In this role, Caleb managed a team of several hundred marine conservationists in the waters of 24 countries across all five oceans in addition to the conservation efforts of the New York Aquarium. Prior to WCS, Caleb spent over ten years at sea and abroad as an Environmental Advisor to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and as a GIS analyst and marine scientist with Woods Hole Sea Education Association. Caleb holds an undergraduate degree from Middlebury College in Environmental Studies and Geography, and a Master’s and PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in International Environmental Policy and Development Economics.
Cristián Samper
President and CEO
Dr. Cristián Samper, a tropical biologist and an international authority on conservation biology and environmental policy, began his tenure as President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society on August 1, 2012. He joined WCS after serving for a decade as Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, the world’s largest natural history collection. At WCS, Dr. Samper leads the preeminent conservation organization with field programs in 65 nations and in all the world’s oceans; and oversees the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo, which welcome more than 4 million visitors annually.
David S. Wilkie
Director, Conservation Measures

As Director of Conservation Measures for the Wildlife Conservation Society, David Wilkie seeks to strengthen the practice and impact of WCS conservation worldwide. David joined WCS in 2001. Since then he has led efforts to ensure that WCS field programs identify explicit conservation objectives for which we hold ourselves accountable, and tactically monitor and report our conservation progress. Today he leads our 5-measures approach to evidence-based conservation.

He is a founder of the Conservation Measures Partnership – a joint venture of conservation NGOs committed to improving the practice of conservation by promoting adoption of a consensus-based set of standards for planning, implementation and measuring conservation impact. He was co-chair of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, and helped establish the Conservation Initiative on Human Rights. He is a member of the WCS Institutional Review Board for protection of human subjects. He is the director of the Ituri Forest Peoples’ Fund – a special project of Cultural Survival. David has over 30 years of experience working in international conservation in Central Africa, Central and South America and Asia. He is a Ph.D. wildlife ecologist with a post-doctoral anthropology specialization in the socio-economic drivers of natural resource use practices. His work covers the impacts of commercialization of non-timber forest products on forest conservation; the role that logging plays in the commercial wildlife trade; the role that income, prices, and taste preferences play in determining demand for wildlife; the use of conditional direct payments as a tool for biodiversity conservation in developing countries; and the use of satellite imagery, and agent-based, spatial simulations to model present and future tropical forest loss. He has published more than 140 peer reviewed articles and books.

Elizabeth Bennett
Vice President, Species Conservation
Elizabeth Bennett is Vice President, Species Conservation, at WCS. Raised in the UK, Elizabeth went to Nottingham University to read zoology, and then to Cambridge University for her PhD on the ecology of primates in Peninsular Malaysia. She then moved to Sarawak, Malaysia in 1984, and lived and worked there for the next 18 years. Her first role there was working jointly for WCS and WWF Malaysia, to conduct the first-ever detailed study of the ecology and conservation needs of the proboscis monkey. She subsequently conducted many projects for WCS and the Sarawak Government, culminating in her leading a team, with WCS and Sarawak Government staff, to write a comprehensive wildlife policy for the State, and subsequently to head a unit within the Government to oversee its implementation. A core part of the policy and its implementation comprised ways to control unsustainable hunting and wildlife trade. More recently, Elizabeth has worked to direct wildlife trade initiatives for WCS field staff globally as Director of the Hunting and Wildlife Trade Program. Her work included developing and implementing a policy on bushmeat trade in Central Africa, and working on a strategic plan to address wildlife trade in China. She provided technical support to WCS field staff working on hunting and wildlife trade issues in 65 projects and 29 countries worldwide. She has more than 120 scientific and popular publications, includingco-editing a book which is a comprehensive review of the issue of hunting in tropical forests, and the World Bank policy paper on the same topic. Her services to conservation have been recognized by her being awarded the “Golden Ark” award by Prince Berhard of the Netherlands in 1994, the “Pegawai Bintang Sarawak” (PBS) by the Sarawak State Government in 2003, “Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (MBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2005, Leila Hadley Luce Award for Courage by Wings WorldQuest in 2006, and D.Sc. (honoris causa) by Nottingham University, UK in 2008.
Emily Darling
Research associate
Emily Darling is a marine ecologist and conservation biologist motivated to find conservation solutions for coral reef ecosystems and the societies they support. Emily is currently a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow at the University of North Carolina where she is leading a large collaboration of scientists to identify climate refuges for coral diversity in the Indo-Pacific. She also leads a global coral reef fisheries monitoring initiative with WCS Marine to promote shared monitoring tools and data management for improved fisheries outcomes. Emily completed her PhD at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada where she won the Governor General's Gold Medal for distinction in doctoral research. She was a recent plenary speaker at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress and will be featured in the journal Nature on moving towards effective protected areas at the World Parks Congress. Find out more by following her on Twitter @emilysdarling or at her website www.emilysdarling.com.
Emma J Stokes
Regional Advisor and Conservation Scientist, Africa
Emma has over 15 years experience of conservation science and management in tropical forests, with a focus on large mammal ecology and population status. She has conducted fieldwork on apes in Indonesia, Uganda and Republic of Congo, and coordinated landscape-scale implementation of conservation assessment and wildlife monitoring programs for apes and elephants in Northern Congo and for tigers across South-East Asia. She played an instrumental role in the first regional conservation action plan for chimpanzees and gorillas in West Equatorial Africa in 2005 and documented new ape populations in Northern Congo in 2006 that revised the global estimate for western lowland gorillas. Her skills include scientific design and application of management-focused biodiversity monitoring programs and strategic evaluation of conservation outcomes, with a focus on law enforcement effectiveness. She holds a degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and a PhD in cognitive ecology from the University of St Andrews. She has worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society since 1999. Emma is currently based in Gabon as a regional advisor on conservation effectiveness for WCS programs in Africa, and on law enforcement monitoring for WCS globally.
Gaspard Abitsi
Country Program Director, Gabon

Born in Mounana (south-east Gabon, Central Africa) in 1976, Gaspard studied biology at the Université de Sciences et Techniques de Masuku (Gabon) and Université Claude Bernard de Lyon (France). He also attended the International Seminar on Protected Area Management with University of Montana and US Forest Service in 2009.

Gaspard is particularly interested in understanding how various land use strategies, such as logging, mining, palm plantation and protected area management, differentially impact wildlife, habitats and livelihoods of forest-dependent people. He also strengths in building consensus between local communities and conservationists on sustainable management of natural resources and; human and elephant conflict mitigation strategies.

Gaspard ABITSI has worked for WCS in Gabon for ten years and he is now the Country Director for WCS programme in Gabon.

Inaoyom Sunday Imong
Director, Cross River Landscape
Inaoyom Imong has a PhD in Primatology from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany and a MSc in Conservation Biology from the A. P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute, University of Jos, Nigeria. His interests are ecological monitoring, protected area management and planning, and community-based conservation. He received the WCS Graduate Scholarship Award in 2009, the GRASP-Ian Redmond Conservation Award in 2013, and the Whitley Award in 2015. He is a member of the Scientific Commission of the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), and a member of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group. He joined WCS Nigeria in 2004.
James Watson
Director, Science and Research Initiative
James is an Associate Professor Fellow at University of Queensland and Director of Science and Research Initiative at the Wildlife Conservation Society. For the past six years, James has directed WCS’s climate change program, leading the planning and implementation of climate adaptation and REDD+ projects throughout WCS’s landscape, seascape, and species conservation programs. He currently serves on the leadership committee for the Science for Nature and People (SNAP) Initiative, the International Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Data and Knowledge Task Force, and was chair of the IUCN’s climate change specialist group. James was recently elected the global president of the Society for Conservation Biology. He is the director the Green Fire Science research group (www.greenfirescience.com) whose mission is to do applied research that is linked directly to the practice of conservation. in 2004 where, funded by a Rhodes Scholarship, he explored the effects of habitat fragmentation on birds in Madagascar and Australia. James is the current President-elect of the Society of Conservation Biology; Chair of the IUCN’s Climate Change Specialist Group; an Associate Professor at the University of Queensland, Australia; an editor of four conservation journals (Conservation Biology, Diversity and Distributions, Scientific Reports, and Pacific Conservation Biology); and he has published more than 80 peer-reviewed and popular articles on conservation-related issues.
John Calvelli
Executive Vice President for Public Affairs
John F. Calvelli is the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society. John serves on the Executive Management team that manages the overall organization and he specifically oversees the work of WCS in Government and Community Affairs, Policy, Communications, Marketing and the WCS Digital Program. John is leading and coordinating the organization’s effort to build a wildlife conservation movement that will inspire and engage the public in this effort. He is currently the Director of the 96 Elephants Campaign with more than 200 partner organizations. John was a founder and currently serves as Chair of the International Conservation Partnership (ICP), which is comprised of senior public affairs representatives from the major global U.S. conservation organizations. He also serves on the board of the Bodhi Tree Foundation.

Prior to joining WCS, John served as the Chief of Staff in Washington, DC to Congressman Eliot Engel, Ranking Member of the United States House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. The Republic of Italy bestowed the honorific title of Knighthood in the Order of Merit to John for his work promoting stronger US-Italy relations. He graduated from Fordham University and went on to earn a law degree from Fordham Law School.

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