A Celebration of the Tropical Forest Conservation Act: 25 Years of Conservation Leadership

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A Celebration of the Tropical Forest Conservation Act: 25 Years of Conservation Leadership

Tuesday, June 25, 2024



  • Welcome by Carter Roberts
  • Fireside Chat with Sen. Rob Portman
  • Panel Discussion moderated by M. Sanjayan
  • Closing Remarks by Molly Wallace
  • Reception


Alexia Latortue is the Assistant Secretary of International Trade and Development for the United States Department of the Treasury. In this role, she oversees Treasury’s Offices of Climate Environment and Sustainable Infrastructure, International Development Finance and Policy, International Trade and Investment, and Technical Assistance. Previously she served as the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer overseeing the agency’s operations to deliver on strategic and programmatic priorities and leading the MCC team. She is a veteran of the development finance world, with previous tenures as Managing Director for Corporate Strategy at the EBRD and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of International Development Policy in Treasury’s International Affairs department. She also has had experience at the World Bank and other private sector development-related positions. Alexia received her M.A. from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and her B.S. from Georgetown University. She grew up in Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, and Austria and has lived and worked in the United Kingdom, France, Haiti, and the United States.

John Thompson serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment in the Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES). In this position, he is responsible for policies and programs in the areas of environment, conservation, wildlife trafficking, water resources, and global change. From 2017-2019, Dr. Thompson served as Director for International Environment at the White House National Security Council and National Economic Council. Dr. Thompson oversaw White House international policy development on a full range of environment and oceans issues, including wildlife trafficking, conservation crimes, air quality, climate change, whales, and fisheries. He played a leading role managing White House engagement on these issues during the 2018 and 2019 Leaders meetings for the G7 and G20. Dr. Thompson joined the Department in 2000 as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow and spent the subsequent 18 years working in the OES environmental policy office and its front office. Dr. Thompson holds a PhD in environmental engineering from Purdue University focusing on advanced technologies for drinking water disinfection. He holds master’s degrees from Purdue in aeronautical as well as environmental engineering and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Gillian Caldwell serves as USAID’s Chief Climate Officer and is responsible for directing and overseeing all climate and environment work across the agency. She also serves as Deputy Assistant Administrator, overseeing REFS’ Center for Energy, Infrastructure, and Cities (REFS/CEIC); the Office of Environmental and Social Safeguarding (REFS/ECSS); Center for Climate Positive Development (REFS/CCPD); and the Center for Natural Environment (REFS/CNE). Ms. Caldwell has worked to protect human rights and the environment throughout her career. Prior to joining USAID, she served as the CEO of Global Witness, which has a focus on tackling climate change and deploys investigations into corruption and natural resource extraction to drive systems change worldwide. From 2007-2010, she launched and led 1Sky, a highly collaborative cross-sector campaign with over 600 allied organizations to pass legislation in the U.S. to address the climate crisis. Gillian also has extensive experience consulting in the areas of strategic planning and organizational development with over 70 non-profits, foundations, and universities. Ms. Caldwell has a B.A. from Harvard University and a J.D. from Georgetown University, where she was recognized as a Public Interest Law Scholar. She has received a series of awards recognizing her work as a leading global Social Entrepreneur.

The Honorable Rob Portman is a former United States Senator, having represented the State of Ohio from 2011 until his retirement in 2023. He previously served in cabinet-level positions in the executive branch, first as U.S. Trade Representative from 2005 to 2006 and then as Director of the Office of Management and Budget ("OMB") from 2006 to 2007. From 1993 to 2005, he served as a Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mr. Portman, who holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan School of Law, began his career in private legal practice and later worked as Associate Counsel and then Director of Legislative Affairs under President George H. W. Bush from 1989 to 1991. He currently serves as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow in the Practice of Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute and is the Founder of the Portman Center for Policy Solutions within the University of Cincinnati’s School of Public and International Affairs, which focuses on fostering civility and bipartisanship among future public service leaders.

Carter Roberts is president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund in the United States. WWF, the world’s largest network of international conservation organizations, works across 100 countries and enjoys the support of 5 million members worldwide. Roberts leads WWF’s efforts to save the world’s great ecosystems and address climate change by linking science, field and policy programs with an ambitious initiative to work with markets and businesses to lighten their impact on the planet. He has worked with communities and heads of state in North America, Africa, Latin America and Asia; and has built partnerships with some of the world’s largest corporations, including Walmart, Cargill and Mars to set new industry standards for resource efficiency. Roberts earned his MBA from Harvard Business School following a BA from Princeton University, and subsequently held marketing management positions for Procter & Gamble and Gillette. He went on to lead international conservation and science programs for fifteen years at The Nature Conservancy before coming to WWF in 2004. Roberts serves on the Boards of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy at Duke University and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College and the London School of Economics. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and most recently served on the International Finance Corporation’s Advisory Panel on Sustainability and Business, as well as the Advisory Board of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative chaired by the Secretary-General of the UN.

Molly Wallace is TNC’s Head of Policy and Public Funding. She leads TNC’s work to expand what is possible in conservation through transformational policies that achieve equitable climate and conservation outcomes for people and nature. Prior to joining TNC’s External Affairs team, Molly served as Managing Director of TNC’s Global Science Team, responsible for ensuring strong strategy and science alignment for global and regional priority teams, and support for the over 300 scientists across the organization. Molly brings a passion for leveraging science towards critical policy decisions, as well as a background in public health. In her 17 years with TNC, she has had the good fortune to lead science and conservation programs in Washington, Alaska, British Columbia and Western Australia. Molly also led the organizational design process for establishing TNC’s Canada program, Nature United, and conducted market and strategic analysis to launch TNC’s India program. She received a dual Masters in Public Policy and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland, College Park. Molly is based in Seattle, Washington.

Dr. M. Sanjayan is a conservation scientist and chief executive officer of Conservation International, an organization working primarily in the Global South to secure nature for humanity. Sanjayan joined Conservation International in 2014 as Executive Vice President; he was named Chief Executive Officer in 2017. Since his arrival, he has led two landmark capital campaigns totaling $2.7 billion; the development of critical scientific tools, including the irrecoverable carbon atlas; public-private coalition-building for massive forest restoration efforts across the globe; and the launch of a pioneering blue carbon project in Colombia, as well as the multilateral Blue Nature Alliance, which aims to protect 18 million sq. km of ocean over five years. Previously, Sanjayan served as lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy. Born in Sri Lanka and raised in West Africa, Sanjayan brings a unique perspective to his work, which has attracted media coverage from The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and Outside Magazine. He has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives and appeared on The Today Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS This Morning, and Fareed Zakaria GPS. Most recently, TIME named Sanjayan to the inaugural TIME 100 list of climate leaders, noting his ability to forge powerful partnerships for environmental protection and restoration. Sanjayan has hosted more than a dozen award-winning documentaries from PBS, BBC, National Geographic, Discovery, Showtime, and Vox Media. His latest series, Changing Planet, debuted on PBS in 2022. This unprecedented reporting effort shines a light on how climate change is affecting six of Earth’s bellwether biomes — and how Indigenous and local communities are meeting these challenges with inspiring ingenuity; a new episode will air every Earth Day for the next seven years. Sanjayan holds a master’s degree from the University of Oregon and a Ph.D. in conservation biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. His peer-reviewed scientific work has appeared in Science, Nature, and Conservation Biology. He has been a visiting researcher at UCLA, a distinguished professor of practice at Arizona State University, and a fellow at the Aspen Institute. Sanjayan also serves as a Trustee for The Earthshot Prize and a Climate Advisor for the Clinton Global Initiative.