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 industries as an environmental lawyer, then grew the endangered species policy program at a major non-profit, 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 endeavor to make a different Italian pasta shape or sauce every week in 2019.
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.
Endangered Species Data & Policy Intern
I’m Angus. A Canadian raised in New York, I’m passionate about all things winter. Former climate activist, wildlife researcher, and environmental educator. I’ve learned that conservation problems are often as cultural as they are scientific, and that lasting solutions require policies to acknowledge and address both these dimensions. Now, I'm using data-driven storytelling to compel action and advocate for improvements in environmental policy. Currently pursuing a Master's degree. Musician and whitewater weekend warrior.
Angus is currently a Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, specializing in policy analysis and climate change. He is also a writer and research assistant with the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, where he investigates the science of science communication. Previously, he conducted research on human-wildlife conflict in Australia with the Bathurst Kangaroo Project, a small organization on the front lines of conservation. He has also worked as an environmental educator on Catalina Island, California, teaching STEM subjects to students of all ages.
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.
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.