en board

board members
trusted guidance for a rare approach

Ed Soule, chair

Rare defies categorization. The organization is defined by its commitment to produce substantive conservation results and its grassroots approach that benefits people. Rare is also an educational institution with a growing list of Rare Fellows to prove it.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2005

Current position: Professor at Georgetown University

Other boards: None! Are you kidding? Like I have time for another board.

Rare pride: “The people of Rare make me proud, especially the values they bring to their work. I am in awe of Rare's staff members and their dedication to the success of every Pride campaign, and the Rare Fellow that leads it. “


Scott M. Amero, vice chair

Rare not only celebrates the conservation results it achieves but it also celebrates the people and communities that make it happen and who are forever impacted and inspired.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2011

Hobby: Fly fishing

Other boards: Harbor Funds and Berkshire School

Rare observation: “The people and the culture make Rare Rare (and rare). The essence of Rare is the strong push to find solutions that work and scale them. Along the way, there is always a strong emphasis on collecting data, learning from it, and constantly improving the process and programs. Rare is a unique organization that uses education, pride, and tenacity to help both people and nature.”


Paul John Butler

Rare is special because of the people: staff, Rare Fellows, partners and board members. Each and every one of them inspires me, encourages me and makes me proud of the work Rare does and the legacy we are leaving.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2013

Current position: Senior vice president, Rare

Rare fact: Paul serves as both a staff member and trustee. He has worked at Rare for 26 years beginning when there were just two staff, a total budget of less than $100,000 and an office smaller than the average kitchen. When originally asked to join Rare, Paul pledged to stay for at least ten years so long as it remained an innovative, creative and fun place to work. He says, “It has — and still is — a quarter of a century later.”


Joseph H. Ellis

The critical ingredient for conservation success — or failure — is the support and participation of local populations. Rare is one of the few conservation organizations dedicated to the idea that
conservation is about people.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2002

Hobbies: Birding and gardening

Other boards: National Audubon Society and Housatonic Valley Association

Rare pride: “I am proud of the extraordinary growth Rare has achieved in bringing its Pride campaign methodology to all parts of the world and its expansion on a regional and global scale.”


Gustavo A. B. da Fonseca

I am proud to be a part of Rare because of our honesty, transparency, accountability and hard work.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2011

Current position: Head of natural resources, Global Environment Facility

Other boards: Fundação Biodiversitas, Conservation International - Brasil, Funbio

Why conservation? “Life is the greatest patrimony this planet has produced. Without it, Earth is just another flying rock. Conservation is simply a no-brainer.” 


Steve Gaines

Rare gets that it is far more effective to inspire behavior change than to demand it. That insight makes nearly any environmental solution possible.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2011

Current position: Dean of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara

Other boards: COMPASS and National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

Rare fact: Steve can hold his breath for more than five minutes. He learned the secret from a magician.

Rare goal: “I want to see Rare take environmental solutions and scale them to a global level. This is the key to conservation success, and Rare is uniquely poised to succeed.”


Jeremy Grantham

Rare combines efficiency and passion in a way that will allow for conservation at scale while maintaining effectiveness.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2012

Current positions: Chief investment strategist of GMO and co-chair of The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment

Other boards: The Nature Conservancy, Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College, The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at The London School of Economics, GMO 


Barbara Hernandez

I’ve been involved with Rare in Mexico and Latin America for over a decade. Rare’s ability to engage local communities and to strengthen local organizations has impressed me every step along the way. I am proud to be part of the Rare family.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2002

Other boards and involvements: President and co-founder of Niños y Crías, Fundación Pedro y Elena Hernandez, Fondo Nacional Para la Comunicación y Educación Ambiental, owner of Hotel Las Nubes de Holbox

Rare Pride: “I am proud of the courage and vision Rare’s staff and board demonstrated by launching Fish Forever, an ambitious global effort to save nearshore fisheries.”


Brett Jenks

Rare exemplifies the power of finding what works and taking it to scale. It’s what we call solutionology.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2000

Current position: CEO and President of Rare

First day at Rare: Brett went bird watching in Monteverde, Costa Rica, with a ravenous group of listers. “I think one of them stepped over me on a trail to get a look at a bellbird,” says Brett. “And my thought was, ‘These people are passionate about nature.’ I was hooked.”


Nancy Mackinnon

I love Rare for its optimism, its spirit of celebration, and its ability to drill down and replicate what works.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2005

Interests: conservation, experiencing the outdoors; fly fishing and birding.

Other boards: The Nature Conservancy - Idaho Chapter; The Nature Conservancy - Argentina, Patagonia; Trout Unlimited

Rare observation: “Rare is transparent. It tries many things and isn't afraid to admit when something does not work. However, when something does work — when they find that “bright spot” that is changing how people live and work in their environment — they spread it far and wide. Inspired vision, remarkable leadership, and a fantastic team!”


Edith McBean

I think Rare is different because it is all about the solutions, not the problems.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2007

Interests: conservation and travel 

Other boards: African Parks, Panthera Inc., Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Rainforest Trust, Newport Restoration Foundation

Rare pride: “Rare is Rare because of the people — in the field, in the office and on the board.”


Duncan M. McFarland, treasurer

Rare’s unique culture positions the organization for continued success."

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Joined Rare’s board: 2008

Current job: The Bromley Charitable Trust

Other boards: New Profit Inc. and Panthera Inc.


Lois Morrison, secretary

Rare’s approach to conservation is grounded in science and years of research, but it is always hopeful, action-oriented and fun.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2010

Current position: Executive director, Harold M. and Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation; and an all-around steward of the environment

Other Boards: Lake Forest Open Lands, Family Foundation and Environmental Grantmaking Committees of the Donors Forum

Rare fact: Lois spent a summer in Panama documenting the Panamanian tamarin monkey.

Rare inspiration: “I am inspired by Rare Fellows who lead Pride campaigns in their local communities. These individuals are making a real difference. They are true conservation heroes!”


Vadim Nikitine

The evolution of Rare has been remarkable. While we are 20 times bigger now in terms of staff and budget than in 1996, we still retain the unique culture that attracted me to Rare in the first place. I love the spirit of Rare.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 1996

Current interests: investor in real estate and green tech companies

Other boards: Flamboyan Foundation, Sapientis, CCM Group

Rare observation: “The people make Rare special. From Brett to the most recent hire, from the board chair to our newest board member, there is a shared commitment to conservation and a shared passion for doing the right thing, respecting each other and our partners, and being innovative thinkers.” 


Amanda Paulson

Rare is unique in its focus on both people and nature — with solutions that benefit both. It’s willing to try innovative, unusual and creative tactics and gets incredibly successful results.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2014

Current position: Staff writer for the Christian Science Monitor

Other board: Jarrow Montessori

Why conservation? “I feel an immense wonder and awe at the diversity of life, ecosystems and landscapes we have on this planet and a sense of urgency about the need to protect it. While it can be discouraging to see how much nature we’ve already lost, I feel a deep responsibility to do whatever is possible to conserve what remains for future generations.”


Jan Portman

Rare is entrepreneurial. We strive for excellence in all we do. We are seriously science driven and we celebrate conservation success along the way.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2010

Current interests: Working landscapes, birdwatching, urban hike and bike trails

Other boards The Nature Conservancy of Montana; The Nature Conservancy of Ohio, honorary life trustee; Smith College, Center for the Environment, Ecological Design and Sustainability (CEEDS)

Rare goal: “I want Rare to become a household name. I want all of us to have pride in the natural systems that support our lives. Valuing our natural resources, finding sustainable solutions to problems and harnessing the power of people’s pride to make changes for conservation. Rare offers us a bright path forward.”


Annie Simonds

Rare’s teams innovate beyond conventional boundaries. They execute with dogged persistence. Unachievable is not a part of the Rare lexicon.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2009

Current position: Managing Director, Global Health and Development at Russell Reynolds Associates

Other board: Advisory Board of the Global Development Incubator

Why conservation? “Initially, it was a trapper’s cabin in an isolated basin in Montana’s Rocky Mountains that drew my attention to the challenges of preserving the high meadows for elk and grizzly migrations. The passion of the people and the urgency of the topic affected me.”


Ruth Yeoh

Rare treats its trustees and supporters not only as friends, but as family. Everyone works together for a common goal and towards a mission of positive change.”

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Joined Rare’s baord: 2008

Current position: Executive director at YTL Singapore Pte Ltd and director at YTL-SV Carbon Sdn Bhd

Other board: Reef Check Malaysia

Why conservation? “My Father taught me the concept of environmental stewardship. Conservation requires cooperation and is like a fellowship requiring everyone to be involved. We are all environmentalists whether we like it or not and have a responsibility towards this good Earth.”


Wendy Paulson, chair emerita

Rare has harnessed pride as a means to change behavior individually and collectively in a way that honors natural heritage.”

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Joined Rare’s board: 2003

Interests: Teaching city kids about birds

Other Boards: The Nature Conservancy - Illinois chapter; Openlands (Chicago); Field Museum Science Action Committee; BirdLife International/Audubon US Stewardship Council (chair); several conservation advisory boards; Bobolink Foundation (chairman)

Rare fact: "My husband I danced in a conga line on a beach in Argentina with a human-sized red knot mascot in the lead."

Why conservation? “Because of the beauty and endless diversity of nature, the species and ecosystems that don’t have a voice.”


honorary trustees

Kenneth Berlin, esq.
David Hill (founder)
Robert S. Ridgley Ph.D.