I’m Tim. Son of an Army veteran-turned-engineer who never went to college and a hospice nurse who put herself through college after getting me through it. Four brothers. Yale University. Science PhD. German Marshall Memorial Fellow. Former staff at White House CEQ. Former elected city official who led passage of the first 16 years and upvoting age in America. Thirteen years at conservation non-profits and convinced there are new and more effective ways to help save the planet. I’m a practical optimist, an ENFP on the Myers Briggs test, and always willing to help if you ask or just cheer you on.
Tim founded the Environmental Policy Innovation Center in 2017. Prior to launching this startup, he served as an Associate Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Vice President for Conservation Policy at Defenders of Wildlife, Director at National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Co-Director of agriculture policy at Environmental Defense Fund. He holds degrees in science from Yale University and the University of Hawaii. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Science magazine and a diversity of peer-reviewed journals. He has received a Marshall Memorial Fellowship and AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship (declined). He also ran for office and won, serving three terms as a city councilmember and leading the successful effort for that city to become the first in the country to lower its voting age to 16.
Director for Biodiversity
Ya-Wei (Jake) Li
I’m Jake. A childhood menagerie of pet snakes, turtles, and fish led me to wildlife conservation. Law degree from Cornell, where I moonlighted in conservation biology and herpetology. Represented the regulated community as an environmental lawyer, then grew the endangered species policy program at a major nonprofit, Defenders of Wildlife. Over a decade later, after sitting on both sides of the table, I’m convinced there are much better ways to engage the public and the private sector at saving endangered species.
Jake specializes in endangered species law, policy, and science. He leads the Innovation Center’s biodiversity program, which focuses on developing innovative strategies to conserve imperiled species. This work includes nearly every aspect of the Endangered Species Act, especially consultations, recovery planning, and funding.
Jake’s approach emphasizes the use of data science to yield evidence-based approaches to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the Act and other wildlife conservation programs. He then uses this knowledge to develop pragmatic, innovative solutions for wildlife and the regulated community. He works closely with other conservation organizations, federal and state agencies, scientists, congressional offices, and the regulated community to find novel solutions to complex or contentious endangered species issues.
From 2010 - 2018, Jake held various positions at Defenders of Wildlife, including as Vice President of Endangered Species Conservation and the Director of the Center for Conservation Innovation. In those roles, Jake oversaw the organization’s endangered species innovation, geographic information system, and science programs. Before joining Defenders, Jake practiced environmental law at Latham & Watkins, LLP. There, he worked on regulatory counseling and litigation relating to endangered species, air and water contaminants, pesticides, chemical regulation, environmental assessments, and renewable energy.
Jake holds a B.S. from Drexel University and a J.D. from Cornell University Law School. At Cornell, Jake also completed graduate coursework in conservation biology and herpetology. He is licensed to practice law in D.C.
Director of Markets
I’m Phoebe. I grew up in Montana where I fell in love with mountains, nature and winter. A passion for social justice led me to community organizing in Minneapolis and San Francisco, and an MBA in social entrepreneurship. Combining my interests in food systems and finance I ran a loan program for commercial fishermen engaged in sustainable fishing at EDF. I’m fired up to expand conservation and social prosperity through work on markets and finance. I’m a travel and language enthusiast, and after time in Italy, I learned how to make more than 20 styles of Italian pasta by hand.
Phoebe joined Environmental Policy Innovation Center after nearly 10 years at Environmental Defense Fund, where she directed the California Fisheries Fund, an award-winning $3.5-million revolving loan fund financing sustainable commercial fishing on the US West Coast. Her work focused on lending to commercial fishing operations to improve their business efficiency while reducing environmental impact, as well as financing California’s first fishing quota banks. Phoebe also worked on sustainable fisheries finance strategy together with teams in Mexico, Chile, the Philippines and South Pacific Islands. She has served as an impact advisor to entrepreneurs participating in seafood business plan competitions.
Prior to EDF, Phoebe was the Sustainable Programs Director at a community bank in Oakland, California. She holds a BA in Russian Studies from Carleton College and a Green MBA in Sustainable Entrepreneurship from Dominican University of California.
Bartlett is a lawyer, son of a lawyer, grandson of a professor and a cotton baron, and great-grandson of a Saint. Through extensive training in law, aikido, mediation, buddhism, and cooperative business, Bartlett has developed a specialized skill set in finding and resolving knotty problems through shared exploration of common goals. He gained brief national attention as “The Zen Butcher,” through the development of a farmer-focused organic meat processor in Wisconsin. He works with EPIC through the Sand County Foundation, on our collaboration to expand partnerships between producers and towns in the Midwest to achieve water quality goals.
Bartlett joins the Environmental Policy Innovation Center to facilitate agreements that allow municipalities and utilities to achieve water quality goals by working with farmers and agriculture groups on a watershed basis. Working through the Sand County Foundation in collaboration with EPIC, Bartlett’s work is focused on developing documents that local government and state agencies can use to reach agreements that create enough certainty for cities to invest and sufficient clarity for regulators that water quality goals will be met in the future. Bartlett is a creative attorney and businessman with over twenty years of high level achievements. His professional background encompasses a broad range of practical legal experience, including academic research, complex litigation, mediation, transactional work and extensive contract work focused on business outcomes. He has started three successful businesses: an artisanal farm-based cheese line from his family’s dairy; a USDA-inspected meat processing business; and a retail butcher shop, The Conscious Carnivore.
Director of Water
I’m Sri. I grew up in India and left work as a construction engineer to come to the US for graduate studies in engineering. A chance encounter with an environmental activist on a trip back home and volunteering at an on-campus international NGO led me to environmental studies and then a career in water policy and governance. A decade later, I am still convinced that solving water challenges requires using interdisciplinary scientific approaches, people skills, and collaboration to deliver better access to safer water and a healthier environment.
Dr. Sridhar Vedachalam leads the water program at the Environmental Policy Innovation Center. His work has addressed national water issues such as affordability, aging infrastructure, extreme weather impacts, financing, and non-point source pollution. Dr. Vedachalam’s work is often cited by national, state, and local policymakers. Dr. Vedachalam is also the Editor for Urban Water at the Global Water Forum, a resource for evidence-based, accessible, and open-access articles on freshwater governance. He brings water policy experience from his years in academia, government, and the non-profit sector. He holds a PhD from The Ohio State University.
Conservation & Environmental Markets Fellow
Kavita Kapur Macleod
I’m Kavita. I developed a love for the outdoors and protected places through a childhood spent around the mountains and coasts of New England. My degrees (and my Red Sox allegiance) come from Boston, studying international development and environmental economics. I have worked across environmental sectors: endangered species conservation, pollution prevention and regulation, water economics and regulation, and forestry conservation and policy. I focus on all things related to data tech and economics and how they can speed the pace and efficacy of conservation. Swimmer. Sailor. I love the ocean and jump in whenever I can. I can't be around horses enough.
Kavita has over a decade of environmental consulting experience conducting analysis around environmental policy issues and integrating economic, scientific, and policy considerations for public, private, and NGO institutions both domestically and internationally. Kavita has managed and conducted regulatory, economic, and technical analysis and support for a variety of clients, including the World Bank, the Jane Goodall Foundation, the US EPA, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the US Coast Guard. Kavita holds a BA in International Relations/Minor in Art History from Tufts University and an MPP from Harvard University, where she studied environmental economics, science, and policy.
Aaron is currently a first year MPP at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and is seconded to EPIC from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation to support the Water Data Prize. Aaron has experience with water policy in California and Texas, having worked with a number of environmentally focused NGOs, including Water Education for Latino Leaders, Save Our Springs Alliance, and the Texas Campaign for the Environment. Aaron graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, with a B.A. in Spanish and Portuguese.
Web & Digital Media Fellow
Angie leads the technical and logistical components of the Water Data Prize and is seconded to EPIC from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. Angie has worked in the government and nonprofit sectors for 10 years in a variety of positions ranging from recreation and community engagement, project management and operations, environmental education, and climate and energy resiliency. Angie’s passion for the outdoors, education, sustainability, and data visualization have led to her completing a Bachelor of Science in Resource and Environmental Studies and a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Science.
Chesapeake Conservation Finance Fellow
I’m Ruby. I hail from rural New York where I spent summers swimming in freezing cold mountain streams. I studied environmental science in college, which is where my passion for all things water evolved. 2+ years in Paraguay with the Peace Corps turned me into a huge empanada and yerba mate fan. I worked briefly with the National Park Service and attended Duke University for my masters, focusing on water resources, policy, and water finance. Innovative finance can protect and restore natural resources in the Chesapeake Bay; I hope to help figure out how new policies can make that happen.
Ruby helps coordinate the Innovation Center’s work in the Chesapeake and analyze how best to use innovative finance to protect and restore it. Ruby’s master’s project research focused on water infrastructure finance and policy, specifically looking at private and public finance mechanisms that water utilities can utilize. She also has private sector experience, working for a consulting firm to collect geospatial data and analyze land-use and environmental justice impacts of transportation projects. Ruby worked previously for the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring to sample local streams, analyze water quality data, and assist in the development of citizen science projects in the Chesapeake Bay region. As an environmental educator with the Peace Corps, Ruby worked on trash management and environmental conservation with her local Paraguayan schools. Ruby holds a BS in Environmental Science from Dickinson College and a MEM (Master of Environmental Management) in Water Resources Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
The Innovation Center is privileged to have the expertise and support of our Advisory Board, made up of individuals with enormous and diverse expertise in conservation, finance, business, and law.
Adam serves as managing partner of Ecosystem Investment Partners and has over thirty years experience in owning and running businesses that align economic incentives with environmental outcomes. He has focused specifically on mechanisms that enable land-based offsets and the financial value of natural systems since the late 1990s and is one of the national leaders in this investment space.
Cristina is the founder and managing director of TERRAMAR consulting group. She has worked in the non-profit arena for over twenty years and has developed and led numerous conservation campaigns for international and national NGOs. She also has extensive experience designing and evaluating investment strategies for philanthropic organizations and family foundations.
Leigh leads the Conservation Finance Network’s (CFN) effort to expand the use of innovative funding and financing strategies. Leigh has spearheaded the development of new trainings and workshops supporting a growing number of public, private, and nonprofit professionals focused on conservation finance.
Brenda is the Executive Director and Senior Counsel for the Conservation Litigation Project, a project created to protect the environmental and conservation values on public lands. During the Obama Administration, Brenda served as the General Counsel for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. She also previously served as Acting General Counsel and the Principal Deputy General Counsel at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and as a director at an environmental law firm.
Steve is a Partner at Nossaman LLP specializing on federal wildlife law, including the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Steve has served as counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, as Deputy Under Secretary of the Department of the Interior, and represented the Ford Foundation in Brazil.
Kevin is President of the Sand County Foundation, an entrepreneurial non-profit supporting voluntary conservation on working lands through ethics, science, and incentives. He led a 10-year program to enhance regeneration of eastern forests and founded the Cooperative Sagebrush Initiative.
FALL FELLOWS - 2020
I’m Coral, the water policy intern. I am a senior at the University of California Santa Cruz majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Global Environmental Justice. My academic focus is international environmental policy with an emphasis on environmental justice while my previous internship experience includes researching and developing restrictions to waste water runoff in Simi Valley and Indigenous water rights in South America. I look forward to learning more about water policy and management in the United States and applying this experience to my future studies and career.
I'm Benji Weaver, the Conservation Markets Intern. I am a senior at the University of California, Santa Cruz, double majoring in Ecology/Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies. Through my classes and previous internships, I have developed the belief that shifting to a restorative, cyclical economy is not only possible but necessary. In order to make the switch, it is critical that we inform policy with sound, consumable science. I look forward to taking part in this process through my work with EPIC, and to continuing this work in my future.
I'm Olivia. I am an Endangered Species Data and Policy Intern at EPIC for the summer of 2020. I received my Bachelor's degree in Biology from The College of New Jersey, and am currently a Biology & Society Ph.D. student at Arizona State University on the Ecology, Economics, and Ethics of the Environment track.. I'm interested in endangered species recovery planning, specifically in regards to conservation actions and how we can improve recovery planning at state, federal, and international scales. I am also interested in science communication, and bridging the gap between scientists, decisionmakers, stakeholders, and the general public sector. I have been passionate about wildlife from a young age, and I'm excited to take part in projects to help save as many species as possible.
I'm William Nicholas, the Water Data Fellow. I'm proficient with both R and Python, as well as Shiny, Tableau, Plotly, and ArcGIS for data visualization and mapping. I have used both Tableau and Shiny in professional roles, and my website includes a number of personal projects utilizing these tools. Several of these examples are on water-related topics, including federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding and invasive species in the Great Lakes watershed. A graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington – O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs Bloomington, Indiana with a Master of Public Affairs, concentration in Resource Systems Analysis December 2020.
I'm Sachi Rai, the Water Intern and a rising senior at Cornell University. I'm studying Environment & Sustainability (Bachelors of Science) with a concentration in Policy and Governance. I have previously worked for Johnson & Johnson and The Fund for Public Interest.
I’m Teresa Gonzalez, the Water Policy Intern. I am currently double majoring in Environmental Studies and Physical Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Through my courses at UCSB and a previous internship with Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL) in California, I have developed an interest in water and agriculture. During my internship with WELL, I analyzed the effectiveness of water conservation and water education throughout California. I am excited to learn more about water in our country through this internship with EPIC and use the skills I learn in my future career.
People who have helped grow our organization.
Former Endangered Species Data & Policy Intern