Our core teams – Communications, Finance and Risk, Operations, Philanthropy, and Programmes – are all based in our London office, but our broader network extends around the world. Our work is made possible and amplified by an extensive and knowledgeable ecosystem of advisers, affiliates, trustees, and partners, representing a broad and diverse range of regional and subject expertise, practical experience, connections, and wisdom. We are profoundly grateful to all our people for their support and their dedication to tackling the most urgent and important challenges of our time.
Adam has a deep love for the natural world and is an advocate for the intrinsic value of all species. He applies his knowledge of, and experience with, global markets to design and support organisations that work at the nexus of environmental health, human health, and social justice. He is passionate about creating and embedding models that sustain themselves over time.
As a founding member and Chief Investment Officer of Aurum Research Ltd, he has been investing in the alternative investment industry for almost 30 years. Adam holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Northwestern University.
In 1995 Adam formed a partnership with Jessica Sweidan to create the philanthropic Synchronicity Foundation. In 2007, they began exploring how to have a greater impact within the conservation realm, which resulted in the creation of Synchronicity Earth, a UK-based charity that launched in November 2009.
Adam was appointed as a Patron of Nature to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2012. In March 2015 Adam was appointed as an Honorary Conservation Fellow at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Adam is also a trustee for The Seneca Trust and became a member of the Oceans Board for Greenpeace UK and joined the board of directors for Arcus Foundation in 2022.
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Throughout her time at Synchronicity Earth, Anna has had the opportunity to work across the Asian Species, Biocultural Diversity, and Congo Basin Programmes, but her main focus has been on our ocean work. She led the establishment of the High and Deep Seas Programme in 2017, as well as the development of this into the wider Ocean Programme from 2021.
Anna is also closely involved in wider work on how to ‘Reimagine Philanthropy’ by increasing funding and shifting power to locally-led organisations.
Anna has had an international upbringing, spending most of her life in Thailand before gaining an MSci in Environmental Biology from University College London. Following her degree, she spent two years building her experience in field research, which took her to the Philippines, Malaysian Borneo, and Mexico and built her skills across a range of conservation research approaches, as well as deepening her love for the natural world.
Anna loves wild swimming, snorkelling and SCUBA diving, and long walks with her rescue lurcher.
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Aya is a dedicated conservationist with a passion for Southeast Asia.
Growing up between Europe and Asia, she developed a love for nature and learned the importance of the cultural and social contexts in tackling complex issues such as biodiversity decline. This led her to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Environmental Biology at Imperial College London, followed by a Master’s degree in Biodiversity Conservation and Management at the University of Oxford. During her studies, she conducted research with the Zoological Society of London and the National University of Singapore on species and habitat conservation.
For 5 years as a sustainability consultant, Aya helped public and private organisations reduce their environmental impact, enhance the communities serve, and improve their governance. Now, she is using her expertise in leading complex, multicultural projects to manage Synchronicity Earth’s Asian Species Programme.
Bihini Won wa Musiti
Bihini is one of the Congo Basin Programme affiliates based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He is a trained vet with a degree in applied environment and biology and a certificate in elephant capture and domestication from Wildlife School of India.
He has over 30 years of experience in Africa with a focus on the DRC and other Congo Basin countries. His career began with protected areas management and project development before he undertook regional and international work for more than two decades with various conservation organisations, notably the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) where he held several positions including Pan-African Co-ordinator of the Sustainable Use Initiative and Director for the Central African Regional Program. He worked with German development agency GIZ as a Regional Technical Advisor and later the Regional Head of the Support Programme to the Central African Forest Commission.
Bihini is one of the founding members of the Conference of the Central African Moist Forest Ecosystems (CEFDHAC), a multi-stakeholder platform to encourage Central African countries to conserve and sustainably use their forest ecosystems. He was awarded an honorary doctorate for his distinguished career in natural resources and ecosystems management in Central Africa.
Catherine uses her experience in organisational development, markets and risk, alongside her fascination with the natural world to support a wide range of work that promotes the protection and regeneration of nature.
Catherine embraced her growing interest in the environment in 2014, taking on pro-bono work at Synchronicity Earth. She became a trustee of Synchronicity Earth in 2015 and took on the role of CEO in 2017. Having worked with the team to build robust infrastructure and to deliver significant growth in grant funding across a range of biodiversity programmes, she stepped down in December 2019 to revert to her trustee role.
She is also Chair of the Environmental Funders Network and Chair of the Global Council of SHOAL, an initiative to increase freshwater conservation. She has a particular interest in shifting decision-making in the finance sector to fully incorporate environmental impacts and risks.
With her husband Tim, she is learning about what is needed to regenerate an upland farm, at Kingsdale Head in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Catherine worked at J.P Morgan until 1998. As Managing Director and Global Head of Equity Derivative Trading, she was also a member of the J.P. Morgan Risk Committee. She then took a career break and returned to the financial markets to undertake project work in 2012. She has a degree in Chemistry from Oxford University.
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Claire specialises in content writing and digital copyediting.
She grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spent much of her childhood hiking and camping in the beautiful Wasatch mountains.
Living near exceptionally biodiverse wilderness, ranging from high alpine tundra, to lush aspen forest, to harsh red rock desert, instilled a lifelong reverence for the natural world. Her passion for writing led her first to New York City and then to Cambridge, where she earned a master’s degree in medieval literature. Guided by an interest in environmental storytelling, her research analysed Christianity’s impact on premodern relationships to landscape, and connected those ideas to contemporary climate crisis.
Following her degree, she worked as a digital communications editor and educational writer, before joining Synchronicity Earth as Communications Assistant in November 2022. Her experience as a writer and copyeditor enables her to demonstrate the value of our unique approach to conservation to a diverse audience.
EJ Milner-Gulland is the Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford. Her research group works at the interface of social and ecological systems, using a range of methodological approaches to address key issues in current conservation, including fieldwork and modelling in the ecological, social and behavioural sciences.
The work has three themes; understanding resource user incentives, planning for effective and socially just conservation, accounting for social-ecological system dynamics. They work in the terrestrial and marine realms, with practitioners who are implementing interventions, to ensure that they are designed, carried out and monitored in a way that leads to the desired outcomes from both conservation and social justice perspectives.
Originally from the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, Félix moved abroad to complete an undergraduate degree in marine sciences in Ireland and Hong Kong and moved to London to complete a master’s degree in Conservation at University College London.
Following this, he gathered extensive knowledge of conservation science and environmental policy and governance during his time at the Secretariats of the United Nations (UN) Convention on Migratory Species and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, where he contributed to the 5th Edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, and at the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, where he spearheaded a collaboration to develop the world’s first database on systematic conservation planning.
Félix has been active in the environmental youth movement in Europe and beyond within the UNEP Major Group for Children and Youth, the Global Youth Biodiversity Network, Biodiversity Action Europe, Generation Climate Europe and Youth and Environment Europe. Félix brings an understanding of the complex and context-specific scientific, socio-political and economic aspects of the biodiversity crisis to the team which meaningfully contributes to the impact-driven work of Synchronicity Earth and its partners.
Frank is a conservation biologist and policy advisor with many years of experience working with governments, finance institutions, civil society and local communities in Africa and around the world. He is currently a policy and finance advisor to IUCN. Frank focuses on the use of natural capital data in investment decision-making, and on bringing the conservation and finance communities together to drive changes in international conservation. He was instrumental in creating the Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation and in developing the Species Threat Abatement and Restoration biodiversity metric.
Until August 2021, Frank was the Director of the IUCN North America office. The office supports the 120+ members in the region, and works with domestic foundations, international financial institutions, policy offices and government institutions.
Prior to joining IUCN, Frank was Senior Vice-President at Conservation International (CI). In addition to leading CI’s programme in Africa and Madagascar, during which time he launched the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability. He also worked on green economy policy and landuse planning issues, emphasizing the value of nature as the basis for sustainable development.
For 20 years until 2007, Frank worked primarily in Madagascar, with CI and other NGOs, where he conducted research on birds, lemurs and carnivores, and supported the government, local communities and local NGOs in implementing the National Environmental Action Plan. He is the co-author of Volume 8 of the Birds of Africa: the Malagasy Region, in addition to four other books and many scientific papers, and is a Chevalier de l’ordre Nationale of Madagascar.
Gemma joined Synchronicity Earth from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network; working on issues including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), collection of species-specific data regarding human subsistence needs and livelihoods, and risk-based approaches to assessing species risk of overfishing.
She has also worked for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee where she was involved in policy-related matters and species research for CITES.
Gemma has been fortunate enough to gain field experience in Uganda, researching the impacts of ecotourism on wild chimpanzees, and has also worked voluntarily in Cameroon and Argentina.
She holds a Masters of Science in Wild Animal Biology obtained from the Royal Veterinary College and the Zoological Society of London.
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Grace Iara Souza
Dr Grace Iara Souza is a professional learner who has dedicated the past 18 years to learning about socio-environmental conservation related to Brazil from a global perspective, while also engaging with knowledge sharing with multiple stakeholders. She started her career implementing carbon credit projects in the bioenergy sector in Brazil, migrating to a deeper understanding of the impacts of global environmental governance and social policies to local rainforest defenders in the Brazilian Amazon. Grace’s academic training is rooted in Political Ecology. Her professional experience includes project management for educational, private, and charity sectors, teaching in higher education and researching environmental conservation and development.
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Ian Harrison obtained his Ph.D. in systematic ichthyology at the University of Bristol, UK. He has conducted research on marine and freshwater fishes from several parts of the world, including fieldwork in Europe, Central and South America, West and Western Central Africa, the Philippines, and the Central Pacific.
Isha joined the Synchronicity Earth team in September 2022 as Events and Engagement Coordinator, specialising in science engagement and education, with a background in ecological field research.
Her passion for youth and community-based conservation professionally began as a researcher at Wild Otters Research, a grassroots wildlife research, education, and outreach organisation based in Goa, where she led a field research team alongside managing and delivering the internship and education programmes.
On return to the UK, Isha swapped smooth-coated otters and mangroves for wildflowers and fungi at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, working on a flagship outreach initiative developing several training programmes, creative engagement activities, and events.
Isha has a BSc in Biosciences from the University of Birmingham and is an active member of the IUCN-SCC Otter Specialist Group. Outside the office, you’ll find her attempting to keep her balcony garden alive and flourishing, seeking hidden greenspaces, and sharing her love of nature journaling.
Julia has over five years of experience in the non-profit working in roles ranging from fundraising to marketing to project management.
Her love of nature began during her childhood when spent her summers exploring the mountains and forests of her hometown in Brasov, Bucharest.
Having grown up between Romania and the United States, she developed an interest in understanding how culture, ideas, religion, and politics shape the global landscape in the modern world. This interest led her to pursue a degree in Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Following her degree, Julia began her career in the non-profit sector working as Program Manager at a music-based social justice organisation. After five years, fuelled by a keen interest in responsible business, Julia moved to London to earn her MBA from Kingston University.
With the skills she developed during her program and love of diverse natural environments, Julia is contributing her relationship-building and strategic thinking skills to cultivate philanthropy for Synchronicity Earth.
Dr Jerome Lewis lectures in Social Anthropology at University College London. He has undergraduate and doctoral degrees in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics and 20 years research experience working with Pygmy hunter-gatherers and former hunter-gatherers in the Congo Basin.
Jessica is a creative, natural connector. She draws on her personal experience in philanthropy to encourage others to reimagine how they can more effectively support those on the frontlines of environmental defence.
Her deep understanding of the importance of bio-cultural conservation and its crucial role in ensuring a healthy future has guided her philanthropic work.
As a strategic convenor, she organises fora to ensure that the key voices needed to inform important discussions on our collective futures are present together and in productive dialogues.
Jessica’s philanthropic journey began over 25 years ago when she formed a partnership with Adam Sweidan. With the creation of The Synchronicity Foundation, she oversaw donations to a range of projects that addressed social and economic justice; education, children’s welfare, and the arts; healthcare, poverty alleviation, and the refugee crisis; and conservation.
Synchronicity Earth, a UK-based charity, launched in November 2009 as their focus shifted to global biodiversity, creating an organisation to leverage their interest and support, to address urgent, overlooked, and underfunded conservation.
More recently, Jessica co-founded Flourishing Diversity, a network initiative centred on uplifting, aligning with, and evidencing the interrelation between cultural and biological diversity.
Jessica has been an International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Patron of Nature since 2012, helping to raise the visibility of global conservation needs worldwide, while championing inclusive, rights-based practice.
Jessica is also Chair of Synchronicity Earth USA (501c3), an Honorary Conservation Fellow at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), on the Board of Trustees of Wildscreen, and a Strategic Advisor for the Environmental Funders Network (EFN), Action for Conservation, and Conservation Optimism. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Northwestern University.
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Jessie has just finished studying A-Levels in English Language and Literature, Sociology, and Geography.
After completing a 2-week summer placement through VOYAGE Youth, she secured a role as a Communications Intern in October 2022.
Jessie is keen on gaining more knowledge and experience in the environmental sector. She is open to developing an interest in environmental law and exploring how rivers can gain protection and legal rights.
Jessie wishes to contribute to the ongoing accomplishments of protecting threatened species and Indigenous communities with Synchronicity Earth.
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Although a Londoner at heart, Jim’s first degree was in Modern Languages, and it enabled him to indulge his wanderlust. He spent time living and working in some of Earth’s most biologically diverse regions, including Ecuador and Venezuela, and developed a passion for the underwater realm through his favourite hobby, scuba diving.
Whilst building a career in education, training, and online learning at various universities and educational institutions, Jim began to explore opportunities to volunteer in marine conservation, spending time in Ecuador and south-west Madagascar.
As a long-term friend and supporter, Jim initially joined Synchronicity Earth’s team in 2016 to draw out compelling stories from the brilliant work of its programmes and partners around the world. His role was to weave these stories together into a coherent and strategic narrative, developing communications materials and building the organisation’s online presence.
As Synchronicity Earth grew, Jim took a more active role in developing the strategic direction and framing of the organisation. In 2018, he was promoted to Head of Communications. He currently manages a small communications team and has been a member of the Senior Leadership Team since its creation in 2020.
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Jonathan Baillie is the CEO of On The EDGE Conservation, a media and technology company promoting the natural world and advancing the science of nature communication. He is also President of the board of Natural State, a NGO committed catalyzing large-scale restoration and rewilding.
Previous to this he was Chief Scientist and Executive Vice President at National Geographic, and before this, Jonathan was Conservation Programmes Director at the Zoological Society London (ZSL) for 14 years, where he was responsible for conservation projects focusing on threatened species and their habitats in more than 50 countries.
He holds an undergraduate degree from Queen’s University in Canada, a Master of Science in Conservation Biology from Yale University, and a PhD in Biology from Silwood Park, Imperial College; his postdoctoral research was undertaken at the Zoological Society of London, Institute of Zoology. Jonathan is currently a Visiting Professor of Zoology at the University of Oxford.
Judith joined the staff team at Synchronicity Earth in April 2021 as Due Diligence Officer, having previously been contracted as a consultant to carry out organisational health assessments on Synchronicity Earth’s potential and current partner organisations.
Judith is an experienced charity finance manager, with a Postgraduate Certificate in Charity Finance and Accounting from London Southbank University in conjunction with CIPFA. She has worked in the not-for-profit sector for many years, most recently in international NGOs, including a short assignment in Burundi, where she helped two grassroots community groups improve their financial procedures.
Judith is interested in how conservation can and should be done in conjunction with local communities, to improve their lives and livelihoods too. Outside of work Judith is a Trustee of the Mali Development Group, which fundraises for and supports small NGOs in Mali, West Africa.
Judith is a finance professional (ACA) who has chosen to devote her skills to the environmental sector.
As a mother of three children (now adults!), the future of our planet, it’s amazing biodiversity, beauty, and soul, is always at the forefront of her mind.
Being a committed environmentalist, she completed a MSc from London University in Environmental Management in 2016, which led her to becoming Treasurer and Trustee of Tree Aid, and joining Synchronicity Earth as Head of Finance & Risk in 2018.
She has since become a member of the Senior Leadership Team, and manages the More Than Carbon Portfolio. Her role at Synchronicity Earth allows her to combine her passion with her profession and make a difference.
Julie Gagoe Tchoko
Julie has more than 13 years of experience in the monitoring and evaluation of development projects, particularly with a gender equality and community-led focus, and has worked for several international organisations including the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). She holds a master’s degree in Natural Resources Management and another master’s degree in Anthropology Development and Environment. She also participated in the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) in Ottawa, 2013.
Julie has developed and implemented a system of monitoring and evaluation which focuses on gender analysis of international projects. She has helped develop business development courses for local communities, with a focus on women and Indigenous communities.
As the Gender Focal Point for the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC), she has worked on the development of the COMIFAC gender strategy, a document validated in 2016 by COMIFAC Ministries.
Julie has over 12 years’ experience establishing and cultivating partnerships with philanthropists and philanthropic organisations or initiatives (trusts, foundations,and governments) from the environmental sector in the UK and internationally.
She continues to do so at Synchronicity Earth in support of our various Conservation Programmes and Initiatives as part of the Senior Leadership Team.
Julie grew up in various parts of France, including Reunion Island, a tropical and volcanic island in the Indian Ocean that presents a variety of landscapes and is home to highly diverse terrestrial and marine wildlife.
Julie studied politics and completed a Masters in 2010 from Sciences Po Grenoble, in the French Alps. Relocating to London, she then chose to dedicate her career to protecting nature and fighting environmental degradation.
Julie has an interest in inclusive conservation and throughout her career has worked to enhance community voices in conservation planning and policymaking.
She grew up in rural Somerset and as child was able to freely roam the fields and woods, becoming immersed in the excitement of exploring every season, close-up. This has shaped the way she sees the world and instilled a lifelong respect for nature.
With formal training in biology and environmental sciences, she began her career in Local Government supporting marginal communities in Tanzania and the UK to have a greater voice in decisions that directly affected their lives and to develop and implement their own solutions to environmental challenges.
Since then, Julie has continued to champion the importance of locally-led approaches to conservation that recognise people’s needs and rights. She has worked extensively in Eastern and Southern Africa and China shaping the policies and practices of governments, businesses, and conservation NGOs.
This includes working for 15 years with WWF UK, initially as their social development adviser but going on to lead innovative work bringing organisations together from across the world to work collectively to embed sustainability principles in China’s aid, trade, and investment with Africa.
Julie is passionate that children and young people can access, explore, and connect with nature. She is a qualified Forest School Leader and helped establish Nature Nurture Sussex which is making Forest School more accessible to low-income families and children with special educational needs.
Katy Scholfield is the Director of Strategic Grantmaking for the Great Apes and Gibbons Programme at Arcus Foundation.
Katy was based at Synchronicity Earth for 10 years, where she led efforts to centre Indigenous and community rights and the revival and protection of biocultural diversity across the organisation. During this time, she played a key role in developing Synchronicity Earth’s forest grantmaking in Africa, Brazil and Papua New Guinea, as well as establishing collaborative funding initiatives to amplify conservation impact.
Prior to this, Katy held various conservation and development posts before completing her PhD using a case study of mountain gorilla conservation to explore how different people and their ideas are included or excluded in conservation.
She also holds a bachelor’s degree in environment, ecology, and economics from the University of York and a master’s in environment and development from the University of Manchester. Katy has sat on the executive committee of the AgroEcology Fund since 2015 and has a strong interest in how agroecology can help conservation re-imagine its relationship with agriculture to support all species to flourish. Katy joined the board of Synchronicity Earth USA in 2021.
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Laura’s nine years of marketing experience is used as a tool to strengthen ecological and socially just local and global movements.
Starting her career as a marketing apprentice, she went on to excel in numerous marketing roles. But soon the tug to align her earthly passions and work arrived! Not long after, she joined the team at Local Futures, a non-profit working to renew ecological, social, and spiritual well-being by promoting a systemic shift towards economic localisation.
This work led to Laura joining Synchronicity Earth’s Flourishing Diversity team as a Communications Lead in 2021. Outside of work, Laura loves tending to soil and veg on her allotment, watching birds, dancing in fields, and wandering around in the sunshine!
Luis Fernando Marin da Fonte
Luis is a Brazilian biologist working on amphibian conservation, research, and education.
He currently acts as Director of Partnerships & Communications at the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), the world’s largest collaborative effort to conserve amphibians, and as Coordinator of the Atelopus Survival Initiative (ASI), a massive collaborative effort to conserve harlequin toads, one of the most threatened group of amphibians on Earth.
In Brazil, Luis is member of the most successful amphibian conservation project in the country, which prevented the construction of a hydropower dam that would have caused the extinction of the Critically Endangered admirable redbelly toad.
He also served for seven years as Program Officer at the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group for Brazil. At the ASA and the ASI, Luis helps to coordinate and promote cooperative efforts for the implementation of collaborative conservation actions that benefit amphibians.
Luis is also interested in increasing diversity in the global conservation network, and through his work strives to make room for people and organisations from underrepresented regions of the world, especially the younger generations of amphibian conservationists.
Luke joined Synchronicity Earth in July 2022 as our Administration Officer.
He has a BSc in Zoology from the University of Manchester, and also studied at Manchester Metropolitan University where he received an MSc in Animal Behaviour.
After his studies, Luke spent a year at Chester Zoo where he undertook a Curatorial Internship with the Mammal Curator Team – a hugely varied role which saw him contributing to EAZA Best Practice Guidelines one day and catching bats the next.
Before coming to Synchronicity Earth, Luke worked at Bradford Hospital, helping to manage and maintain PPE during the pandemic, and also spent time in an administrative role at the Alzheimer’s Society.
Liz Hosken is co-founder and Director of the Gaia Foundation.
She is from South Africa and was active from a young age in both environmental issues and the anti-apartheid movement. During the first decade of Gaia’s work Liz spent many years in the Amazon, where she learnt about Indigenous ways of seeing and accompanied Indigenous communities in a process of reviving their knowledge, practices, and governance systems to protect their ancestral lands.
When Liz returned to her continent, she was inspired to share these lessons with African colleagues to restore Africa’s rich cultural, spiritual, and ecological heritage.
She also spent precious time with Thomas Berry exploring his ideas of Earth Jurisprudence and Rights of Nature and the need for an Earth-centred paradigm shift in the dominant world.
Liz then developed and co-facilitated a three-year training in the philosophy and practice of Earth Jurisprudence and the Amazonian approach to enhancing indigenous traditions to restore biocultural diversity, rooted in experiential learning for practitioners in Africa. She has a BSc in Environmental Sciences and a Masters in Philosophy and Education for Social Change.
Manisa specialises in non-profit finance and due diligence.
Growing up in India and Nepal, Manisa was exposed to extreme poverty. Her experience convinced her that all social change must improve the quality of life of the most marginalised. She is thus especially passionate about Synchronicity Earth’s Biocultural Diversity Programme, which provides holistic support to communities on the front lines of the climate crisis.
Manisa began her career in the banking sector, but took time away to focus on being a parent. When she re-entered the workforce, she decided to enter the charity sector, and earned an MSc from Cass University in Philanthropy, Grantmaking and Social Investment.
As Finance and Risk Officer, Manisa helps with monthly financial management, supports fundraising and research efforts, and connects with partners to assess risk. In her free time, she acts as Trustee and Treasurer with St Jude India Childcare Centre.
Meg completed her Master’s in International Development, Social Justice and Sustainability, where she spent time on placement with the Gaia Foundation.
She is passionate about addressing the social injustices related to environmental degradation, something which she explored in depth during her Master’s.
Before joining Synchronicity Earth, she worked on a research and advocacy project for the Coalition Against the Mining Pandemic exploring the intersection of mining and the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. A key part of this role involved interviewing affected community members, aiming to amplify their voices and experiences.
Outside of the office, Meg volunteers time assisting with children’s karate lessons and loves reading, walking, and yoga.
Merline Touko Tchoko
Merline Touko Tchoko is an expert communicator with experience working in several countries in Africa and Europe. She graduated with a first in her Communications undergraduate degree and went on to gain a master’s degree in Natural Resources Development and Management.
She began her career as a journalist and gradually worked in several radio stations and television channels, which developed her skills in radio and video production. Several training courses in audiovisual editing, directing and scriptwriting enabled her to acquire expertise in video production, newsletter editing, website development, and social network management. She is also an author of documents, novels, books, short stories, and series.
Merline Touko has worked for several international research and sustainable management institutions including the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
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Michael has more than 10 years experience working in various marketing and communications positions.
He started out as a journalist in Tanzania in 2009, and subsequently worked in the corporate sector in digital marketing and online PR, before moving over to work in environmental communications in 2017.
His rounded experience stands him in good stead to juggle the different facets of leading on SHOAL’s communications and engagement.
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Mike is a conservation biologist with over 30 years of experience in Asia, Africa and Europe.
He started his career undertaking and leading biological inventory expeditions in Uganda, Vietnam, and Indonesia. He has since specialised in leading large, complex, multi-country-focused conservation programmes.
For more than 18 years, he worked for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as the Conservation Director for their Greater Mekong Programme, Director of the Danube-Carpathian Programme and for nine years was the Lead for their global tiger programme, Tigers Alive.
In 2019, he founded and launched a new global initiative called the SHOAL initiative for freshwater life, to help end the freshwater species crisis. SHOAL is a global partnership hosted by Synchronicity Earth and Rewild.
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Nina is a conservation communicator with experience in fundraising, digital media, and charity storytelling.
As well as her role in Synchronicity Earth’s small but ambitious communications team, Nina founded and co-runs the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group at Synchronicity Earth and helps with the Synchronicity Portfolio.
She has previously worked with Conservation Optimism, World Land Trust, UK Youth for Nature, and Big Canopy Campout; she also currently volunteers with Groundwork as part of the riverfly monitoring network and is a Trustee of Buglife.
Prior to her career in conservation communications, Nina worked in South Africa as a safari guide following her degree in Zoology from the University of Edinburgh. In her spare time, she is editing her debut novel, flying on aerial silks, and taking her dog on adventures.
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Owandji-Virji has a particular interest in projects that have a positive social and environmental purpose and which aim to educate people on these critical issues.
Previously at Mosaiqe, a wooden watch organisation helping to plant trees in impoverished African lands, his background has seen him operate in various business development, operational and digital marketing roles.
Owandji-Virji assists in ensuring effective processes are in place to help the Synchronicity Earth team achieve its core conservation objectives.
In his own words, he has a huge appreciation for the diversity of natural habitats – above all for those marine environments that are home to sharks!
Before joining Synchronicity Earth, Pria was researching amphibian chytridiomycosis, a disease that has caused unprecedented species declines globally.
As well as a long-standing interest in amphibian conservation and she is especially interested in how community and ecosystem health can be improved together, synergistically.
Pria has continued working along these themes at Synchronicity Earth, where she supports work on our Biocultural Diversity Programme and leads our Amphibian Programme.
She completed a PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Environmental Sciences at Imperial College London and North West University, South Africa, and an MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College London.
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Rudo Angela Sanyanga Hungwe is an environmental scientist and activist based in South Africa. Born in Zimbabwe, she spent the first ten years of her professional career as a freshwater research biologist on Lake Kariba before moving to university teaching and scientific research administration. She holds a doctorate in freshwater system ecology from the Stockholm University and has spent nearly three decades of her working life on numerous research and consulting assignments in the Zambezi River basin especially on Lake Kariba. She has also worked on a number of other river basin ecosystems in over 20 southern, central, eastern and west African countries. These assignments have given her first-hand experience of the sustainability issues surrounding natural resource utilisation on the continent as well as the impact of development activities on the lives of vulnerable people.
Over the ten-year period, 2011 – 2021, Rudo was the Africa Regional Director for International Rivers based in Pretoria, South Africa, responsible for directing highly impactful research and advocacy campaigns against socially and environmentally destructive hydropower infrastructure on the continent while promoting more environmentally friendly renewable energy alternative programs. She oversaw the growth of the International River Africa Programme into a highly regarded science-based advocacy organisation.
She currently works as a consultant for a number of organisations and initiatives in African countries, using her experience to provide technical analysis and advice on the establishment of environmentally sustainable and gender sensitive water and sanitation infrastructure projects at community level. She has developed some effective gender assessment guides.
Samuel Nnah Ndobe
Samuel Nnah Ndobe is an agronomist from Cameroon and a leading advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
With a degree in Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology from the University of Dschang, Samuel began working in Cameroon on community-led conservation initiatives such as community forest management, sustainable livelihood development, participatory mapping and advocacy for community land rights.
He moved on to develop Payments for Ecosystem Services projects around the Dja Forest Reserve and became a consultant delivering workshops for various organisations working on sustainable development projects in Central Africa, including the United Nations Development Programme, Jane Goodall Institute, and Rights and Resources Initiative.
Samuel also facilitated the contribution of organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change REDD negotiations and helped build capacity in those regions to participate in these negotiations.
Most recently he has been a consultant for many international organisations, including the IUCN, Global Greengrants Fund, and Synchronicity Earth, using his expertise to facilitate strategic planning for projects focussed on conservation, sustainable development, and REDD+. Samuel’s experience and knowledge has been invaluable in helping Synchronicity Earth develop a robust and successful programme in the Congo Basin.
Simon Stuart was previously our Director of Strategic Conservation.
In December 2020, Simon took on the role of Executive Director of A Rocha International but remains as our Chief Scientific Adviser on a part-time basis. Before joining Synchronicity Earth, Simon served as Chair of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The SSC is a science-based network with more than 10,000 experts from all over the world. SSC’s major role is to provide information and advice to the worldwide conservation community on biodiversity conservation, including through the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Simon has undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Cambridge, with fieldwork in Tanzania and Cameroon.
Simon started work in BirdLife International in 1983, joined the IUCN Secretariat in 1986, and was elected as Chair of the SSC in October 2008.
Simon has been instrumental in the development of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the Key Biodiversity Area global standard and played a key role in identifying and addressing the global amphibian extinction crisis.
He has also produced numerous high-impact scientific papers and books. For all this work, he won the Blue Planet Prize in 2020.