World Wildlife Fund

Annual Dinner

National Museum Of The American Indian

October 17, 2023

Thank you for joining us!

We are honored to have you as our guests this evening, and we’re grateful for your support of WWF’s vital mission. Tonight, we invite you to learn more about how Native Nations are leading the way to returning bison to their traditional homelands and WWF's work in the Northern Great Plains.

We are pleased to welcome members of WWF’s Board of Directors and National Council.


7:00 P.M.

Monica Rattling Hawk

Welcome Remarks
Yolanda Kakabadse

Sanjeev Mehra

Carter S. Roberts

7:15 P.M.

Keynote Address
U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland

7:30 P.M.


Menu acknowledgement by Chef Kimberly Tilsen-Brave Heart, featuring a performance by The Zotigh Singers.

8:00 P.M. 

Video Message From Ken Burns
Preview of The American Buffalo.

8:10 P.M. 

Indigenous Leaders Panel
Clara Pratte, moderator
Wizipan Little Elk Garriott
Troy Heinert

Heather Dawn Thompson

8:30 P.M. 

Dessert Reception

9:00 P.M. 

Evening Concludes
We want to extend a special thanks to our Board of Directors for their generous support of tonight’s Annual Dinner.


This evening’s meal was thoughtfully designed by Chef Kimberly Tilsen-Brave Heart, a renowned artisanal chef, caterer, and entrepreneur and an enrolled citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. This menu was designed to reflect the rich cultural heritage of North America’s Native Nations. We hope you enjoy it.


Three sisters, wild rice, and roasted pumpkin salad with maple vinaigrette


Pan roasted bison tenderloin with butternut squash puree topped with a wildberry wojapi, red wine jus, and sunflower tendrils

Vegetarian option available upon request


Domaine de Bernier Chardonnay
Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon

Featured Speakers



Monica is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation, an aspiring Unci (grandmother), and resides on Quiver Hill, the northeast corner of the Pine Ridge Reservation, where she happily toils in the soil, harvesting medicines, and enjoying the challenges of walking in two worlds.

Monica, who is walking a journey of discovery of traditional knowledge and ecosystem relationships from an Indigenous perspective, joined the WWF Northern Great Plains program in 2017. In her role, she leads outreach efforts on Pine Ridge regarding the future of the South Unit of Badlands National Park (locally known as the Strong Hold). This land is both owned and co-managed by the tribe and the National Park Service. Monica is a founding and board member of the Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance (BNGA)—a non-profit organization that is working to ensure the sustainability of Native-led grasslands and wildlife conservation, ensuring that this important ecosystem and its wildlife will continue to exist for generations to come. BNGA is working to accomplish its goals by creating sustainable financing opportunities, engaging local communities and leadership, and connecting conservation with Indigenous lifeways. Monica is also an advocate of the Buffalo Treaty, which invited the Oglala Sioux Tribe to be a signatory. She continues to be engaged as a working group member by tackling issues that impact Native Nations and their relative, the buffalo. In addition, Monica explores topics like “food as a medicine” with her community through education on planting, harvesting, and preserving locally grown and harvested foods. She participates in other areas of public service as the President of the Crazy Horse School Board and is a founding member of a local women’s society that focuses on traditional ethics, thoughts, and philosophy.



Yolanda Kakabadse’s work with the environmental conservation movement officially began in 1979, when she was appointed Executive Director of Fundación Natura in Quito, where she worked until 1990. In 1993, she created Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano, an organization dedicated to promoting the sustainable development of Latin America through conflict prevention and management. She was the Executive President until 2006 and remains as Chair of the Advisory Board. From 1990 until 1992, Yolanda Kakabadse coordinated the participation of civil society organizations for the United Nations Conference for Environment and Development (Earth Summit). From 1996 to 2004, she was President of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and Member of the Board of the World Resources Institute (WRI) during the same period. Yolanda was appointed Minister of Environment for the Republic of Ecuador, a position she held from 1998 until 2000. She is the Chair of the Board of the Charles Darwin Foundation in Galapagos.



Sanjeev Mehra is cofounder and serves as managing partner of Periphas Capital LP, a private equity investing firm focused on making mid-market buyout and growth capital investments in industrial, technology, business services, and consumer industries. At Goldman Sachs, he served as vice chairman of the global private equity business, as co-head of US private equity, and as head of its operating committee, and he helped start the India private investing activity. He served on the investment committee and as a partner of the firm for 18 years. Mehra has served on the boards of over 25 companies, and currently serves on the board of KAR Auction Services, Inc. and ShipMonk, Inc. He also serves as a trustee of Oakham School Foundation and Friends of The Doon School. Mehra is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of The Economic Club of New York, and a member of the Committee of Undergraduate Resources of Harvard College. He is a past chairman of the Board of Trustees of Brunswick School and served as a trustee of Trout Unlimited. Mehra earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Harvard College.

Carter Roberts


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.

Roberts lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Jackie Prince Roberts and their three children.



Secretary Deb Haaland made history when she became the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a 35th generation New Mexican.

Secretary Haaland grew up in a military family; her father was a 30-year combat Marine who was awarded the Silver Star Medal for saving six lives in Vietnam, and her mother is a Navy veteran who served as a federal employee for 25 years at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. As a military child, she attended 13 public schools before graduating from Highland High School in Albuquerque.

As a single mother, Secretary Haaland volunteered at her child's pre-school to afford early childhood education. Like many parents, she had to rely on food stamps at times as a single parent, lived paycheck-to-paycheck, and struggled to put herself through college. At the age of 28, Haaland enrolled at the University of New Mexico (UNM) where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and later earned her J.D. from UNM Law School. Secretary Haaland and her child, who also graduated from the University of New Mexico, are still paying off student loans.

Secretary Haaland ran her own small business producing and canning Pueblo Salsa, served as a tribal administrator at San Felipe Pueblo, and became the first woman elected to the Laguna Development Corporation Board of Directors, overseeing business operations of the second largest tribal gaming enterprise in New Mexico. She successfully advocated for the Laguna Development Corporation to create policies and commitments to environmentally friendly business practices.

Throughout her career in public service, Secretary Haaland has broken barriers and opened the doors of opportunity for future generations.

After running for New Mexico Lieutenant Governor in 2014, Secretary Haaland became the first Native American woman to be elected to lead a State Party. She is one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress. In Congress, she focused on environmental justice, climate change, missing and murdered Indigenous women, and family-friendly policies.



Clara Pratte has advocated for Tribal communities nationwide on economic development and sustainable growth. She grew up on the Navajo Reservation and has committed her work to poverty alleviation, economic empowerment, and advancing Tribal sovereignty. Today she assists and advises tribes nationwide on economic development matters. She founded Strongbow Strategies, a government services firm, in 2013 and joined the Navajo Power leadership team in 2018 to implement new energy development models on the Navajo Nation. Her past experience includes serving as the Tribal Engagements Director for the Biden/Harris Campaign and transition, Navajo Nation Chief of Staff, the Navajo Nation Executive Director of the Washington DC office, the National Director of the Office of Native American Affairs of the U.S. Small Business Administration and as a trade specialist/business analyst with the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration Foreign and Commercial Service. She has had the privilege of working for two U.S. Presidential Administrations, four Navajo Presidential Administrations, and for a member of the United States Congress. She was named the Tim Wapato Public Advocate of the Year in 2009 (NCAIED), a 40 under 40 in Indian Country in 2010 (NCAIED), a top 50 business leader in Indian Country in 2019 (Native Business Magazine), 2020 Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award (UCLA), and 2020 Native Disruptor Award (Native Business Magazine).



Wizipan Little Elk Garriott, an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior. He serves as the first assistant and principal advisor to the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs in the development and interpretation of policies affecting Indian Affairs bureaus, offices, and programs. Prior to his appointment, Garriott served as chief executive officer from 2012 to 2021 of the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation, an ecosystem of Tribal organizations serving the Rosebud Indian Reservation. In this capacity, Garriott led and started businesses and community-based programs, including a Native language immersion school and 1,500-head buffalo herd. Garriott’s previous federal service included serving under the leadership of Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk from 2009 to 2011. Garriott was born and raised on the Rosebud Indian Reservation where he attended St. Francis Indian School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs (now Bureau of Indian Education) facility. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from Yale University. Garriott received his Juris Doctor degree in 2008 from the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College.



Troy Heinert, Sicangu Lakota, is the Executive Director of the InterTribal Buffalo Council (ITBC). Heinert lives with his wife (Gena) and youngest son (Harold) on their ranch on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in South Central South Dakota. Prior to his selection as ED, Heinert coordinated the shipping of surplus buffalo to ITBC Member Tribes. His extensive experience in transporting buffalo has helped numerous Tribes safely restore buffalo back to their lands. The ITBC is a federally chartered Indian Organization under Section 17 of the Indian Reorganization Act. ITBC’s mission is to restore buffalo back to Indian Country, and to preserve our historical, cultural, traditional, and spiritual relationship with buffalo for future generations. ITBC was formed in 1992 after a gathering by Tribes in the Sacred Black Hills of South Dakota. Currently ITBC consists of 83 member Tribes in 22 states. Heinert is also a Professional Rodeo Pickupman. Heinert served for 10 years in the South Dakota Legislature, four of which he was the Senate Minority Leader. He is the first Native American in South Dakota to hold that position as well as preside over the Senate.



Heather Dawn Thompson is the Director of the Office of Tribal Relations (OTR) for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). She is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, a Harvard Law School graduate, and an expert in American Indian law, Tribal sovereignty, and rural Tribal economic development. Most recently, Thompson served a member of the American Indian Law Practice Group at Greenberg Traurig, where she worked on federal Indian law and Tribal agriculture. Thompson has a long record of public service, beginning as a Presidential Management Fellow at the Department of Justice. Since then, Thompson has served as a law clerk with the Attorney General’s Office for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, as Counsel and Policy Advisor to the United States Senate, and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for South Dakota’s Indian Country Section, where she prosecuted cases involving violence against women and children. In the private sector, Thompson was previously a partner at Dentons, where she was one of only a handful of Native American partners at an “AmLaw 100” law firm. In addition, she has served as the Director of Government Affairs for the National Congress of American Indians, President of the South Dakota Indian Country Bar Association, and President of the National Native American Bar Association. Thompson holds a Juris Doctor cum laude from Harvard Law School, as well as a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Florida, and a bachelor’s degree in international studies from Carnegie Mellon University.



Chef Brave Heart’s love of cooking arose from necessity. Raised by a single father and older brothers, she found herself in charge of the kitchen before the age of 10. Asking her grandmother for cooking lessons so she could provide food for her family, Chef Brave Heart learned much more than recipes. Her grandmother instilled a sense of tradition, a strong work ethic, and an appreciation for beautiful presentation.

A member of the Oglala Lakota Nation of the Pine Ridge Indian Reserve in South Dakota, Chef Brave Heart instinctually embraced both her Indigenous and Jewish heritage. She has always held a deep respect for her people and finds connection to them through her cooking. “My existence is because of the resilience of my people.” Coming from a people who are economically desolate but enriched in culture, Chef Brave Heart vows to honor her elders—the oral historians and language keepers who came before her. Believing that food is healing—nourishing not only body, but soul—Chef Brave Heart’s divine purpose is to make the food of her ancestors accessible in a modern, simple way. Each morsel is seasoned with love.

Growing up in a community of small businesses made a lifelong impact on Chef Brave Heart, who has dedicated her career to empowering other Indigenous entrepreneurs. As co-founder of the South Dakota Indian Business Alliance and in her role as National Diversity Ambassador, Chef Brave Heart strives to support small business owners, highlighting their incredible passions and hard work. To date, Chef Brave Heart has helped launch over 187 small business across the United States, primarily on Indian reserves.