Don J. McGrath, Chairman of the Board
Don J. McGrath, Chairman, is managing partner of Diamond Bear Partners LLC, an investment company. He retired from BancWest Corporation in 2010, where he served as chairman and chief executive officer. A California resident, Mr. McGrath currently sits on the boards of Deluxe Corporation, The Nature Conservancy of Idaho, Operation HOPE, Inc., the Resources Legacy Fund, the Commonwealth Club of California and Dominican University of California. He served on the board of governors of the Pacific Stock Exchange from 2001 to 2006. In 2008, President George W. Bush appointed him to the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. Mr. McGrath joined the NFWF Board in 2009.
Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer
Jeff Trandahl joined NFWF in November 2005 after serving on Capitol Hill for 23 years. As Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, a post he held from 1998 to 2005, he was the second-highest constitutional official in the House of Representatives and served as the chief legislative official. He led a highly specialized staff of 300 and oversaw an operating budget of more than $20 million. Prior to his election as Clerk, he served various members of the House and Senate and held numerous committee staff assignments.
Mr. Trandahl earned a B.A. in Government/Politics from the University of Maryland in 1987 and holds a Certificate in Management from the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University. He currently serves on the boards of the Gill Action Fund, Jones Group, Arise Corporation, and The Arcus Foundation. Raised in Spearfish, South Dakota, Mr. Trandahl is the son of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist. An avid outdoorsman, he has a life-long commitment to conservation.
Robert Menzi, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Robert Menzi directs NFWF's financial and business operations, investments, and strategic planning. Prior to joining the Foundation, Mr. Menzi, served as Executive Vice President of the Jane Goodall Institute, an expansive education and conservation public charity with staff across the United States and Africa.
Before his work in the not-for-profit sector, Mr. Menzi was the Chief Operating Officer of Protiveris, Inc., a venture-capital backed nanotechnology development company. Prior to joining Protiveris, Mr. Menzi was part of the corporate development staff at Raytheon Company, where he was responsible for a breadth of M&A activity in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. He also directed a venture fund based in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Menzi began his career at the Bank of Boston where as an associate he worked on large corporate financings. Mr. Menzi also served as a volunteer in the Peace Corps in the Yemen Arab Republic. He received his B.A. from Bowdoin College and his M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Claude Gascon, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Science, Evaluation and Programs
Dr. Gascon directs NFWF's science and conservation programs. An authority on biodiversity conservation, he joined NFWF in 2010 after serving as Executive Vice-President for Field Programs at Conservation International (CI). At CI, he directed institutional conservation and science strategies and managed their implementation in over 40 countries around the world. He also served as Deputy Director of the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science.
Dr. Gascon's research has focused on the study of forest fragmentation and the conservation of the Amazon, with special emphasis on amphibians and wildlife. He serves as co-chair of the Amphibian Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The author of three books and more than 70 publications, he completed his Master’s degree at Université du Québec à Montréal and his Ph.D. in Ecology at Florida State University.
Lila Helms, Executive Vice President, External Affairs
Lila Helms comes to NFWF from the United States Senate, where she served for more than 20 years. As Clerk for the Legislative Branch subcommittee, which funds Congress and the agencies that serve Congress, she managed legislation involving multiple federal agencies. She previously served as Clerk of the Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations subcommittee and worked for the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, the Oceans and Fisheries Subcommittee and the Subcommittee for Science and Technology. Ms. Helms began her career as a Legislative Assistant for Senator Ernest F. Hollings and holds a B.A. from the University of South Carolina.
David O'Neill, Vice President, Conservation Programs
David O'Neill oversees NFWF conservation activities across the country. From 2002 to 2007, he served as executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, which was created by the Maryland General Assembly to support Chesapeake Bay restoration. During his tenure, he increased the Trust’s conservation funding portfolio by more than 225 percent. Mr. O’Neill also served as a vice president at Cherokee Investment Partners, a private equity firm focused on brown fields redevelopment. He has lectured on land use and environmental issues at conferences and seminars across the nation and internationally. He joined NFWF in 2010 as Director of the Eastern Partnership Office.
Thomas Kelsch, Senior Vice President, Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund
Tom Kelsch joined NFWF in 1998 and has served the Foundation as Vice President, Conservation Programs, Director of the Eastern Partnership Office, and Director of Conservation Education. He spent eight years as an environmental scientist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds and was Chief of the Wetlands Regulatory Policy Section from 1995 to 1998. He also has extensive experience as an environmental planner for a private consulting firm. Mr. Kelsch holds a B.L.A. in Landscape Architecture from Michigan State University and earned an M.E.S. in Environmental Studies from Yale University.
Timothy DiCintio, Senior Vice President, Impact-Directed Environmental Accounts
Timothy DiCintio directs NFWF’s IDEA department, which receives, manages, and disburses funds designated for specific conservation purposes. Most often these funds originate from court orders, settlements of legal or administrative cases, regulatory permits, licenses, or conservation/mitigation plans, although they may also arise from voluntary activities focused on proactive conservation. Prior to joining NFWF, Mr. DiCintio was an attorney-advisor in the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, where he served as EPA’s national expert on Superfund financial assurance issues. He focused on corporate, financial, and insurance issues arising within EPA’s cleanup enforcement programs. As an attorney in private practice at Chadbourne & Parke LLP, he split his time between the firm’s environmental and, subsequently, corporate and finance practice groups. Mr. DiCintio received his B.A. from Yale University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Greg Knadle, Vice President, Government Relations
Greg Knadle manages NFWF’s relationships with federal government agencies. He joined NFWF in 2009 after six years on the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Previously, he served at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where he managed the maintenance and operations budgets for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Mr. Knadle also worked on several national wildlife refuges in the Southwest, including Sequoyah and Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuges in Oklahoma, serving as a biologist, refuge manager, and federal law enforcement officer. He earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Wildlife Science from New Mexico State University.
Anthony Chatwin, Ph.D., Marine and Coastal Conservation
Dr. Chatwin leads NFWFs Marine and Coastal Conservation team. He joined NFWF in 2008 with more than ten years’ experience at The Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Law Foundation. Dr. Chatwin has served on several advisory committees to NOAA, including the U.S. Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee and the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee. In 2012, he was appointed Chairman of the Maryland Oyster Advisory Committee. At NFWF, Dr. Chatwin established the Fisheries Innovation Fund, a public-private partnership that supports effective participation of fishermen and fishing communities in the implementation of sustainable fisheries in the U.S. Dr. Chatwin earned his doctorate in biological oceanography from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Carly Vynne, Ph.D., Wildlife and Habitat Conservation
Dr. Vynne joined NFWF as Director of Wildlife and Habitat Conservation in 2011. Previously, she worked at Conservation International as the Senior Manager for Biodiversity Analysis and Planning, as a Research Scientist studying lions in South Africa and maned wolves and jaguars in Brazil, and as a Ranger for the National Park Service. Dr. Vynne’s research has focused on understanding the functional connectivity of landscapes from the perspective of wide-ranging mammals. She has published more than 25 papers on wildlife ecology and is an editor for a leading textbook, Principles of Conservation Biology. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Public Lands Policy at Middlebury College and her Ph.D. in Biology at the University of Washington.
David Lawrence, Ph.D., Freshwater Fish Conservation
Dr. Lawrence is a fish biologist and freshwater ecologist specializing in the conservation of aquatic ecosystems. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Washington, where he was a Northwest Climate Science Center fellow. His doctoral research investigated the interactive effects of climate change, land-use alteration, and invasive species on Pacific salmon in rivers of the Northwest. Dr. Lawrence also worked as a staff scientist at the University of Washington and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, and as a fisheries consultant at Marine Research, Inc., based in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. His fieldwork has taken him to the high seas in Alaska, coastal rivers in the Northeast, the marshes of the Gulf coast, and high desert rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Lawrence earned his M.A. at Boston University and B.S. at Benedictine University in Illinois.
Ian Davidson, Bird Biology and Conservation
Ian Davidson has worked throughout the world on a range of conservation issues that are central to NFWF’s mission, in locations throughout North America, West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2000, he joined BirdLife International as regional head of the Americas and spent a decade implementing conservation at globally important bird areas (IBAs) and in critical ecosystems throughout the Western Hemisphere. Part of this work entailed an extensive inventory of IBAs in North, Central and South America. From 2009 to 2014, he served as Executive Director of Nature Canada.
Partnership Office Directors
Amanda Bassow, Director, Eastern Partnership Office
Amanda Bassow, director of NFWF's Eastern Partnership Office in Washington, D.C., managed the Foundation's Chesapeake Bay restoration programs from 2006-2013. She joined NFWF after nine years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, serving in the Office of Policy, Economics and Innovation and as a community watershed coordinator in EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program office. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from Duke University, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington.
Donn Waage, Director, Central Partnership Office
Donn Waage directs NFWF’s Central Partnership Office in Bloomington, Minnesota. Before joining NFWF in 2001, he was senior vice president-public relations at U.S. Bancorp, the nation’s largest banking firm. He previously served as Associate Director of The Denver Foundation and was the first executive director of the W.M. Berger Fund, which works to connect youth to nature. Mr. Waage chaired the Mayor’s Committee on Stapleton Tomorrow, which created a plan to redevelop Denver’s Stapleton airport site into a model sustainable environmental community, and later served as director of development and community relations for the Stapleton Redevelopment Foundation. He earned a B.A. in Geography from the University of Minnesota and a J.D. from The American University.
Krystyna Wolniakowski, Director, Western Partnership Office
Krystyna Wolniakowski leads NFWF’s Portland, Oregon, office, bringing more than 20 years of experience in natural resource management and foundation development. Since joining NFWF in 2000, she has built partnerships with state and federal agencies and local communities to address many of the urgent conservation issues facing the Pacific Northwest. She formerly served at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, where she was responsible for developing programs for coastal watershed management, water quality standards, and environmental legislation.