Stephan Chenault is Director of Foundation Relations at The New York Botanical Garden and has substantial experience in not-for-profit management and environmental advocacy. His early experience as an environmental activist included volunteer work with the Sierra Club, where he served as a member of the Executive Committee of the New York City Group, Conservation Chair, Environmental Justice Committee Co-Chair, and Volunteer Coordinator; and initiated or served on several committees, including the Endangered Species Committee, Forest Committee, and Wildlife and Wilderness Committee. He also served as Vice President of the Board and Chair of the Development Committee for Magnolia Tree Earth Center, a conservation, cultural, community, and environmental justice center in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, NY, where he wrote and was awarded grants from private foundations for the “Magnolia Tree Earth Center Community Revitalization Project.” He has also worked on international hunger and poverty issues through RESULTS, and on homelessness issues with the Coalition for the Homeless and other homeless service and advocacy organizations. He currently volunteers with 350nyc on climate change issues. Stephan has a Bachelor of Arts from Amherst College, Master of Science Degree in Education from Long Island University, and certificates in field botany from The New York Botanical Garden and in conservation biology from Columbia University Earth Institute.
Mckenzie Dice is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. She completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota Morris in Environmental Science and German. Mckenzie now studies the polar atmospheric boundary layer, which is of critical importance for understanding climate change in the polar regions, and the threat it poses to the species and people who live there. Mckenzie is passionate about animals of all kinds, and wants to help the Endangered Species Coalition to protect animals all over the world that are at risk of being affected by climate change.
Jean Flemma provides strategic guidance and policy analysis for non-profits and foundations regarding the development and implementation of political, legislative, and administrative strategies related to natural resource conservation. She previously worked for more than two decades for the United States Congress and served on three committees for five committee chairmen or ranking members. Most recently, she was a Senior Policy Advisor for Ranking Member Raul Grijlava on the Committee on Natural Resources. During her time on the Hill, she worked to protect bedrock environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. In addition to her congressional work, Jean also served as the Executive Director of Prairie Rivers Network, a statewide non-profit in Illinois focused on protecting clean water and wildlife habitat. She started her career in public policy on Capitol Hill as a Sea Grant Fellow from the University of Washington, where she also earned her master’s degree in Marine Policy. She has an undergraduate degree in economics from Middlebury College.
Rodrigo Garcia serves as the Chief Investment Officer and Chief Financial Officer for the Illinois State Treasury. In this pivotal executive post, Garcia directs the treasury’s combined $25 billion fixed income, equity, and venture capital portfolios, all investment and financial professionals, multiple asset classes and related banking and financial services in order to maximize portfolio returns and bolster the Illinois macro and micro economy.
He holds two post-graduate degrees, one in finance from the University of Illinois and one in public policy from Northwestern University and recently completed a senior executives program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Garcia was previously the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and a member of the Illinois Cabinet, and has also worked for Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc. and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Garcia serves as the Chairman of Student Veterans of America and the National Hispanic Life Sciences Society and as Board Vice President for Teatro Vista Theatre Company. Garcia has also been named one of the “Top 100 under 50” Executive Leaders by Diversity MBA Magazine and was recognized as a “Rising Star” by the National Society of Hispanic MBA’s.
He is an avid entrepreneur, a successful financier, and an angel investor.
Chair: Major General Michael Lehnert (ret)
Major General Michael R. Lehnert is retired as the Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations West. As Commanding General, he was responsible for environmental stewardship of seven major Marine installations. Major General Lehnert began his career with the Marines in 1973. During his 36 years of service, Major General Lehnert was stationed in North Carolina, Texas, Oregon, Virginia, California, Panama, Japan, the Philippines, and Cuba and led Marines during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Throughout his career, Major General Lehnert has championed the cause of environmental stewardship in the Marine Corps. He was most recently stationed at California’s Camp Pendleton, home to eighteen threatened or endangered species. Under General Lehnert, Camp Pendleton pursued extensive stewardship of species, including restricting maneuvers during the nesting season of California least tern and Western snowy plover, and clearing miles of invasive species to protect the endangered arroyo toad. Under his command, the Marine Corps accomplished significant successes on other installations, protecting the Sonoran pronghorn antelope in Yuma and the desert tortoise at 29 Palms. During his nearly 5 years in command of the West Coast bases, his installations received numerous awards for protecting the environment and for energy conservation. He is also the National Conflict Resolution Center’s 2010 National Peacemaker Honoree.
Ariane Lemaire is a Duke University undergraduate student deeply passionate for intersectional environmental justice, ecology research, and international relations and politics. She has completed coursework at Harvard University, conducted research on the embryonic development of Pacific purple sea urchins in response to pollutants in the La Jolla region with the University of California San Diego, and earned an advanced science research certification under the expertise of Mario Capecchi, a Nobel Laureate in Medicine. In recognition of Ariane’s academic achievements as a Mexican-American student, she was selected as a National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar. Ariane serves as Co-Chief Operating Officer at the Am4All Foundation, a Forbes-featured nonprofit providing volunteer opportunities to youth worldwide through partnerships with renowned humanitarian organizations like Make-A-Wish, Feed the Children, and the Tyler Robinson Foundation. In this position, she oversees over 500 volunteers and leadership team members from around the globe and received the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Biden for her work with the Foundation. Previously, Ariane volunteered on voter outreach campaigns with Warnock for Georgia, OneMillionOfUs, and the Audubon Society. She has also organized various grassroots projects to assist her community, including associated with her former role as an Activist Training Lab Fellow with the Endangered Species Coalition. In her spare time, she works at a native plant nursery that grows and retails vegetation beneficial to pollinators and wildlife.
A highly decorated Marine during the Korean War, McCloskey was one of the nation’s first environmental lawyers as well as one of the first lawyers to integrate his practice during the Civil Rights movement. He represented California’s 11th District in Congress from 1967 to 1983. In 1970, McCloskey became the cochairman of the first Earth Day. After being one of the first Congressmen to oppose the war in Vietnam, he ran against Richard Nixon for the Republican presidential nomination in 1972 in an attempt to end the Vietnam War. In 1973, McCloskey co-sponsored the Endangered Species Act. He was also one of the first few members Congress to call for the impeachment of his party’s President. In 2006, in opposition to the corruption and anti-conservation policies of his party, McCloskey ran against California Congressman Richard Pombo in the Republican primary, contributing to Pombo’s defeat in the general election. Pete continues practice law and protect the environment. He lives on an olive and walnut farm in Northern California with his wife Helen Hooper McCloskey.
Ruth Musgrave has worked in wildlife and conservation law and policy for over two decades. In 1990, she founded and was director of the Center for Wildlife Law at the Institute of Public Law, University of New Mexico School of Law until the center closed in August 2011. She managed numerous projects concerning wildlife and biodiversity law, including training, youth civics education, facilitation, legal and policy research, drafting legislation, and policy analysis. Ruth was project manager and lead author of the Federal Wildlife and Related Laws Handbook and the State Wildlife Laws Handbook, and was editor of the Wildlife Law News Quarterly and online “Wildlife Law News Weekly Alerts” from 1993 to 2011. She has been a visiting associate professor and an adjunct professor at UNM School of Law, teaching wildlife law, biodiversity and the law, advocacy, and intellectual property law. Ruth is a trustee of the Frances Seebe Charitable Trust, and sits on the board of directors of several wildlife organizations. She is also president of Wildlife Policy Consulting Associates based in Olympia, Washington, and advises agencies and nonprofits on wildlife and environment policy issues. She currently works with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators as their conservation and climate adaptation coordinator.
Cynthia Renfro is currently President & CEO of Civis Consulting, LLC, a Seattle-based consulting firm that supports philanthropic institutions and community-based organizations in developing and implementing strategic and intentional programs. Civis Consulting has expertise in grant-making, organizational development, comprehensive human resource development and program implementation at local, state and national levels. She also currently holds a senior Fellow position with Frontline Solutions, a consulting firm that provides convening design and facilitation, research and analysis, project management and strategy advisement services for institutions working toward the greater good.
Prior to launching Civis Consulting and joining the Frontlines team, she spent more than nine years as program officer then program director at the Marguerite Casey Foundation; two years at the Beldon Fund in New York City and three years with the Turner Foundation in Atlanta. She continues to be profoundly grateful for the “advanced degree in supporting environmental activists” she earned from her experience with the Turner family’s passion for protecting and restoring the natural world. She currently serves on the boards of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and the Public Citizen Foundation.
Tom Sachs is a sculptor, probably best known for his elaborate recreations of various modern icons, all of them masterpieces of engineering and design of one kind or another.
Ruth Anna Stolk
In her 35 years with the Smithsonian and related institutions, Ruth has created powerful programs that changed the way people think about conservation, science, and environment. She has forged connections through hosting hundreds of live and web-based conversations to harness the power of science in our culture. She led the elite team that produced and built audiences for Earth Optimism Summits from 2017-22. Earth Optimism reached more than 400m people worldwide on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2020. Earth Optimism will be a theme of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on Washington, DC’s National Mall June 22 – July 4, 2022.
Stolk is presently a Smithsonian Research Associate, writing about US Conservation in the early 1900s. She was recently awarded a Bell Research Grant by the Forest History Society at Duke University. She holds a BA and Master’s degree in English Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Ruth’s interdisciplinary team created the Smithsonian’s “Working Land and Seascapes” and “Movement of Life” Action Areas – which incentivize project co-design among scientists and communities. In the past 15 years, Ruth has created and led dozens of incubators across health/environment, Science for Global Goals, species and ecosystem conservation, and intergenerational engagement, which have led to important integrative research programs from Alaska to Kenya, engaging multiple partner organizations in meaningful collaborations.
Virginia Working Landscapes (VWL), which Ruth co-founded in 2010 with the scientific team at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, flourishes as a Smithsonian model for successful science/community engagement toward improving rural landscape management. VWL has catalyzed broader regional programs like “Chesapeake Working Landscapes,” based at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.
In the 1990s, Ruth Anna pioneered some of the first distance learning platforms for Smithsonian’s National Zoo NOAHS Center, along with award-winning educational series with PBS “The New Explorers” and educational broadcast networks. She successfully pitched and created “Saving Stuff,” a best-selling book published by Simon and Schuster. She has overseen volume-editing for key book series for Brill Publishers in The Netherlands since 1987.
Arden Wohl is a philanthropist, pastry chef, and experimental filmmaker. Arden graduated from the French Culinary Institute with a degree in classic pastry arts. She interned at Jean George’s ABC kitchen and Charlie Palmer’s Aureole. Arden’s films include The Goatsucker, Coven—screened at Art Basel Miami Beach—and Two Other Dreams, which was launched at the Art Production Fund Lab in New York City and starred Leelee Sobieski. Arden serves on the board of the Nest Foundation, which combats the sexual exploitation of children within the United States. As part of her work with Nest, Arden co-produced the documentary film, The Playground Project, whose executive producers include George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh. Arden holds a film degree from New York University’s Kanbar Institute of Film & Television, one of the premier film programs in the world.