Katie Zdilla came to conservation from a background in ecology when she realized that she could keep studying the decline of the species and places that she loved, or she could become an interdisciplinary practitioner and work to avert the biodiversity crisis. She is currently Director of Earth for Life and works to better understand how protected and conserved areas can be more inclusive, resilient, and durable. This includes identifying opportunities for new investment or innovation, cultivating partnerships, developing knowledge, and convening stakeholders at the global and local levels.
Katie has managed the global program to replicate Project Finance for Permanence around the world since 2017, and before that was part of the forest program focusing on promoting responsible forestry and stopping illegal logging. Her work leverages previous experience on projects ranging from primatology to estuarine ecology in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, West Africa, and Latin America, as well as experience with DC organizations including the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
She has a Master’s in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology and a Bachelor’s in Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies. Outside of her formal education, she has additional training from the Organization for Tropical Studies and the University of The Gambia. A native of the DC metro area, she grew up volunteering at the National Zoo where she first built relationships with some of the species that she now works to protect.