About JRS / People

Board of Trustees

Sandy Andelman

Wildlife Conservation Society

Seattle, WA (USA)

Dr. Sandy Andelman is Vice President, Conservation Strategy and Partnerships with the Wildlife Conservation Society. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Washington in behavioral ecology and has three decades of experience at the interface of biodiversity research and policy in Africa and globally. She previously served as chief scientist of Conservation International and deputy director of the U.S. National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS).

Mohamed Bakarr

Global Environment Facility Secretariat

Washington, D.C. (USA)

Dr. Mohamed Bakarr is Lead Environmental Specialist in the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Secretariat, where he oversees all major programs designed to advance holistic and integrated solutions to global environmental challenges. He previously worked at Conservation International (CI) and at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya. He holds a B.Sc. (Ed) in Biological Sciences from Njala University in his native Sierra Leone, and the M.S. and Ph.D. in Tropical Ecology from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida.

Alécia Chen

Climb Credit

New York, NY (USA)

Alecia acts as Chief Operating Officer for Climb Credit, a fintech platform that empowers career transformation through vocational training. She has worked with several non-profit and impact investment organizations, particularly in Africa. Alecia holds a J.D. from the University of Toronto.

Julius Ecuru

BioInnovate Africa

Nairobi, Kenya

Julius Ecuru, Ph.D., is a scientist with extensive experience in science and technology policy, as well as a record of fostering innovative research and entrepreneurship ecosystems in Africa committed to sustainable development. He leads BioInnovate Africa, a regional science and innovation-driven network in eastern Africa, based at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe)  in Nairobi, Kenya. Previously, Julius served as Assistant Executive Secretary of the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology in charge of research, technology development and innovation

Michele JL Martin

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment

Boston, MA (USA)

Michele JL Martin is the Vice President of Finance and Operations at The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.  Michele has provided expert advice to non-profits including Root Capital, a leading nonprofit lender to agricultural enterprises in Latin America and Africa.  Prior to consulting to environmental and social organizations, she held positions at  KPMG France, and Credit Suisse.

Guy Midgley

University of Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Guy Midgley, Ph.D., is a Professor at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa; Acting Director, School for Climate Studies; Interim Director, Center for Invasion Biology; and concurrently Distinguished Professor, Global Change Biology Group. As a researcher in ecology, his work has included plant ecophysiology, biogeography and species ranges, population demography and dispersal, and aspects of systems ecology (including disturbance) and global ecology. Previously, Midgley worked as a scientist at the South Africa National Biodiversity Institute.

Grace Mwaura

Independent Consultant

Accra, Ghana

Dr Grace Mwaura is a multidisciplinary professional working at the intersection of environment and development particularly focusing on youth development and environmental conservation. She has extensive experience working across sectors such as education, conservation, agriculture, climate change, and science and technology. She studied at Kenyatta University for a Bachelors degree in Environmental Sciences, and at Oxford University for a Master of Philosophy in Environmental Policy and a Doctorate in Human Geography. She is passionate about capacity development, inclusion and sustainability. She is currently working as an independent consultant in East and West African regions. 

Michael Kwame Nkonu

Ikea Foundation

London, UK

Michael Kwame Nkonu is Head of Portfolio, Agricultural Livelihoods with the  IKEA Foundation. Previously he was a Senior Program Officer with the Open Society Foundations (OSF) where he oversaw portfolios on Food Systems and Smallholder Agriculture, and Climate Finance. Michael has also led the IUCN’s SUSTAIN-Africa program as Tanzania country lead and has served as the Executive Director for Fairtrade Africa building movements for trade and economic justice. He holds a B.Sc. in Agriculture Sciences from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, M.Sc. in Agricultural Science, Food Security and Natural Resources Management from the University of Hohenheim, Germany, and Master of Studies (Mst) in Sustainability Leadership from the Cambridge University, United Kingdom.

Alasdair Philip

Coalition Greenwich (a division of CRISIL)

Stamford, CT (USA)

Alasdair Philip is a Senior Relationship Manager at Coalition Greenwich, a leading provider of strategic benchmarking, analytics and insights to the financial services industry. Alasdair has long been an advocate for ESG and Impact investing that provides a positive contribution to individuals, communities and ecosystems.

Baldwyn Torto

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology

Nairobi, Kenya

Dr. Baldwyn Torto, is an Emeritus Fellow in Chemical Ecology at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), a world-class research center focusing on insect sciences. Previously, he worked as a scientist in some of the top research institutions in the world including Rothamsted Research, UK, and the USDA/ARS-Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary and Entomology. Baldwyn is a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, and an International Member of the National Academy of Sciences, US. He is also an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

JRS Staff

Matthew V. Cassetta

JRS Executive Director | Arlington, VA (USA)

Matthew Cassetta joined JRS in 2021 as the Foundation’s third Executive Director. He brings over two decades of diverse experience in international diplomacy and project management, much of it focused in Africa on capacity-building and development partnerships. Matthew’s work in Africa began as Regional Environment Officer for Central and West Africa, and later as Facilitator of the multilateral Congo Basin Forest Partnership.  Most recently he served as Deputy Chief of Mission in both the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. With a Master of Science concentrating in Protected Areas Management, conservation is a true passion and greatly influenced his professional trajectory first in the NGO sector and later in the U.S. Foreign Service. Fluent in French, Portuguese, and Spanish, he has developed creative collaborations with partners in civil society, academia, the private sector, and national governments for impactful programs to advance development while valuing unique biodiversity and enhancing environmental stewardship. These included such diverse projects as grants competitions for African forest conservateurs, global media outreach to prevent wildlife trafficking, anti-erosion and reforestation efforts in the Congo Basin, and biodiversity awareness campaigns in the Caribbean and Pacific regions.

John Hardies

JRS Operations | Alexandria, VA (USA)

John joined JRS in April 2021. He holds an MA in African Studies & International Business from the University of Wisconsin and has three decades of experience managing international grants and subcontracts for development entities and USAID partners. Expertise includes third-party and remote project monitoring, eco-tourism, agriculture, water resources, agriculture, infrastructure, early warning systems, and policy reform. Managed international projects from headquarters and long-term field sites in Africa and the Middle East. He enjoys working with JRS grantees and supporting African sustainable development.

Jennifer Piddington

JRS Program Specialist | Philadelphia,PA (USA)

Jennifer joined JRS in 2022. She has been working in academic institutions for over fifteen years where she has managed a wide array of communications, finance, operations, and events coordination and has extensive experience managing the research award lifecycle. She is delighted to be working with the staff, Board Trustees and committed grantees of JRS, helping to conserve Africa’s critical biodiversity. Jennifer holds a BA in Global Studies from Long Island University.

Former Trustees & Staff

The J.R.S. Biodiversity Foundation gratefully acknowledges the valuable contributions of our former Trustees and staff to the growth and development of the Foundation and to the success of our grantees.


Bea G. Leopold

Trustee, 2000 - 2005

James H. Beach

Trustee, 1999 - 2006

Leonard Saari

Trustee • 1998 - 2006

Janet Boudris

Trustee • 1999 - 2007

Colin Day

Trustee, 2000-2008

Carole Haywood

Trustee, 2003-2008

Janet McCue

Trustee, 2002-2008

David Molyneux

Trustee, 1999-2008

Michael Jensen

Trustee • 2001 - 2009

Jim Edwards

Trustee, 2002-2010

Benjamin Rader

Trustee 2013-2023

Vinand Nantulya

Trustee, 2006-2011

Scott Nichols

Trustee, 2006 - 2011

Harry Cerino

Executive Director & Trustee • 2006 - 2012

Bryan Heidorn

Trustee, 2007-2013

Rebecca Schrader

Trustee • 2007 - 2013

Jorge Soberón

Trustee, 2007-2013

Richard Kiome Bagine

Trustee, 2008-2014

Daniel Masiga

Trustee, 2008-2014

Aaron McNevin

Trustee, 2009-2015

Jon Paul Rodriguez

Trustee, 2013-2015

Sarah Feresu

Trustee, 2010 - 2017

Robert Guralnick

Trustee, 2011 - 2017

Souleymane Konaté

Trustee, 2015-2017

Ruth K. Temple Midcalf

Trustee, 2009 - 2019

Akiça Bahri

Trustee, 2019-2020

Lucy W. Irungu

Trustee, 2013 - 2020

Bonnie Cockman

Trustee, 2017 - 2020

Allyson Fish

Trustee, 2012-2021

Don S. Doering

Executive Director & Trustee • 2013 - 2020

Leonard Krishtalka

Trustee 2013-2022

Sarah Lynch

Trustee, 2015-2021

Ellen Martz

Trustee, 2012-2021

Former Staff, 2013 – 2020

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Don S. Doering

JRS Biodiversity Foundation Executive Director | Seattle, WA (USA)

Don Doering served JRS 2013 – 2020 as JRS’ second Executive Director.  He presided over the shift of JRS grantmaking to focus on Africa, local capacity development to serve local needs, and on pollinators and freshwater biodiversity. He led grantmaking of $13.4M in commitments predominantly to African institutions and a high representation of women project directors. His expertise is philanthropic strategies to create change and he has over 25years of experience in strategy development and execution in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. From 2006-2011, Don served at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where he helped to start and lead a sixty-five person team in Agricultural Development that committed over $1.7 billion in four years to help poor farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. He held positions of Program Office, Business Officer, and Senior Strategy Officer. Don has held senior positions at the Wharton School of Business, World Resources Institute, Winrock International, and the International Food Policy Research Institute and consulted to Fortune500 companies and major non-profit organizations. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University in Biophysics and received his Ph.D. in Biology from M.I.T.. 

Samantha A. Garvin

JRS Biodiversity Foundation Program Manager | Seattle, WA (USA)

Sam Garvin served JRS 2018-2019 as JRS’ first full-time Program Manager.  Sam made great contributions to all areas of JRS work including grantmaking, strategic communications, grantee support, and management. Her expertise is in socio-political contexts of conservation, and she has 6 years of professional experience in applied research in the conservation and international development arenas. She has conducted research on decision-making to support human-elephant coexistence in Botswana, as well as contributed to projects at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, implementing financial instruments  to mitigate climate risk for smallholder farmers. Sam is a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University in Environmental Science and received her Masters of Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Lillian Mcgill

University of Washington | Seattle, WA (USA)

Lillian McGill served JRS 2017-2018 as a science communications intern. She is currently a graduate student in the Quantitative Ecology and Resource Management program at the University of Washington. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science and Applied Mathematics from the University of Notre Dame. Lillian enjoys the challenges of communicating technical science to a broad audience. 

Emily Grason

University of Washington | Seattle, WA (USA)

Emily Grason served JRS 2015-2017 as a science communications intern. She recently completed a Ph.D. at the University of Washington studying biological invasions. She enjoys communicating conservation and biodiversity science to broad audiences, as a speaker, a blogger, and as the person sitting next to you to on the airplane.


Ariel West

University of Washington | Seattle, WA (USA)

Ariel West served JRS 2015-2016 as our third management intern. She is a graduate student at the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington and received her Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies from the University of Michigan.


Samantha DeMars-Hanson

University of Washington | Seattle, WA (USA)

Sam DeMars-Hanson served JRS 2014-2015 as our second communications intern. She is a University of Washington graduate with a degree in Environmental Studies. Sam is a huge animal lover.


Alison Saperstein

University of Washington | Seattle, WA (USA)

Alison served JRS 2014-2015 as our second management intern. She completed her Master’s of Public Administration at the University of Washington. Allison has a background in Geology-Biology from Brown University and professional experience in non-profit program management and environmental education.


Izabella Phillips

University of Washington | Seattle, WA (USA)

Izzy served JRS 2013-2014 as our first communications intern. She is a graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in Communications and is a Seattle local. Izzy managed JRS’ social media and was JRS’ point of contact for grantee communications and has developed the Grant Portfolio content in partnership with JRS grantees.


Chris Clark

University of Washington | Seattle, WA (USA)

Chris served JRS 2013-2014 as our first management intern. Chris completed his Master’s of Public Administration at the University of Washington’s Evans School. He is also a graduate of Portland State University in International Studies and Economics and served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa.

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