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.
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.