Akshay has spent the majority of life living in cities which helped foster his deep appreciation for nature and all that Earth has to offer. What drew him to The Nature Conservancy is its use of science and how it applies the results to the projects the Conservancy participates in. His passions for environmental conservation revolve around methods of sustainability. His favorite YP activities are the summer hiking trips.
Born in New Delhi, India, Akshay moved to New York at the age of 9 and has resided here since. He graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science from New York University and a B.E. in Computer Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. Professionally, Akshay has spent the majority of the past decade working in the financial industry working for Onyx Capital Management and BlueMountain Capital. Recently he formed his own company, Render Dragon, to design and create games.
In his spare time Akshay enjoys skiing, practicing tae-kwon do, playing soccer and furthering his foreign language skills. Akshay served as a co-chair of the 2012 YP Benefit, and currently co-chairs the YP Board
Serena's love affair with the outdoors began in the back seat of a Volvo during family road trips around the country and abroad. Today, she prefers to explore the globe by foot and has trekked through the likes of Norway, Peru, and America's backyard along segments of the Appalachian Trail. Her involvement with The Nature Conservancy serves as a means to preserve and bring awareness to the beauty she's witnessed for others to enjoy.
Though her recent life in New York assumes the persona of architect, her lifelong pursuit of diversifying her CV continues. When Serena is not catching a concert or lecture, you can spy her around town running the latest marathon or capturing New York's curiosities through the lens of her camera. Her latest adventure has brought her and her fire boots to Long Island as a volunteer with the Conservancy’s local burn crew.
Serena graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in Biological Sciences and holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. She has been involved with The Young Professionals Group since 2006 and is delighted to continue her efforts with this wonderful organization. Serena served as Co-Chair of the YP Benefit Committee in 2010 and 2011, and currently co-chairs the YP Board
Eugenia is an internationally renowned concert violinist whose travels from performing on the world's concert stages have exposed her to biodiversity on five continents and influenced her concern for environmental conservation. She is particularly active in global climate change initiatives, pernambuco reforestation in Brazil's Mata Atlântica, and local conservation projects in New York State.
Born in Canada, Eugenia earned her Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate degrees from the Juilliard School in New York. She is also an alumna of Dartmouth College and is currently on the violin faculty of the University of British Columbia and New York University. Eugenia is a founding chair of the Young Professionals Board and has been involved with the group since 2005.
Eliza is a lifelong environmentalist. She spent her formative years in Maine learning organic gardening from her mother, tending sheep and engaging in four seasons of outdoor sports. She has traveled extensively and lived in Mexico City, Southern California and New York. She has been involved with The Nature Conservancy since 2006. Weekdays she works to green the operations of Citigroup.
She consistently uses cloth napkins but has a penchant for fancy shoes. She loves swimming in oceans and lakes and even kayaked the Hudson from Albany to Manhattan. She learned to shear sheep in Maine and got her New York State hunter's license to work with Long Island's Mashomack Preserve to cull its deer herd and provide locally harvested food.
With his humble beginnings working at a local bar and grill in his youth, then moving on to the NYC night life scene, and eventually on to an obstacle course of his own businesses that included everything from construction companies to restaurants, Jason has found a way to weave all his experiences and his ever expanding knowledge into an expansive industry package. Currently, as FLIK's Director of Food Service Operations and Events at NBCUniversal (NY), Jason is taking his love of cooking, event planning expertise, certification as a personal trainer, as well as his relationships with some of the best Chefs in the country to bring a hip, trendy, yet healthy flavor to 30 Rock. He has also teamed up with NBCUniversal on some of the company's many important day to day objectives and initiatives, such as the Healthy at NBCU program and Green is Universal.
Jason's knowledge and passion for healthy foods and living has assisted him in becoming an asset to NBCUniversal and its many sustainable living programs. This focus is something he says he plans on continuing and expanding throughout his career.
Jared has held a lifelong interest in conservation, growing up in South Africa, and becoming involved in outdoor activities from an early age. His parents and school played a huge role in his appreciation of the diversity and fragility of nature and the environment, and his love of hiking and wildlife was developed in the Cederberg Mountains near Cape Town and the Umfolozi region of KwaZulu-Natal. He also loves the beach and finds it the best way to get away from it all in corporate life.
After finishing his undergraduate degree in Finance and Economics at the University of Cape Town, he obtained a Masters Degree in Economics from NYU on a Fulbright Scholarship. After graduation he worked in New York and London for BlueMountain Capital, and now works as an associate at Highbridge Capital, a multi-strategy hedge fund. He enjoys travelling, reading, debating, sports, and experiencing as much of New York as possible. Jared has been involved in The Nature Conservancy since 2009, and chairs the Membership Committee.
A longtime member of The Nature Conservancy, Joel doesn't like bird watching, and isn't nearly the environmentalist his younger sister is.
Joel lives in Brooklyn and is a senior asssociate at K. Backus & Associates, a real estate development consulting firm. He is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College (1997) and Columbia Business School (2003).
Joel is currently serving as Chair of the YP Real Estate Group.
Gayle has been involved with The Nature Conservancy since 2004, volunteering with the Eastern New York Chapter and then joining up with the Young Professionals in late 2008 with the committee planning for their annual benefit.
Gayle graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in Biology and a concentration in Environmental Studies. Because of what she learned there, she appreciates the methods of The Nature Conservancy's work and hopes to help further that with her support of the organization. She hopes that through the special events and programs that she plans with the group and otherwise, people will have fun while developing an appreciation for the natural world and finding a reason to support conservation efforts.
Found outdoors as much as possible, she enjoys swimming, skiing, hiking and backpacking--especially on trails that lead to a rewarding view, as well as traveling to new places.
Gayle is Chair of the Events Committee.
Growing up by the ocean in Florida, Melinda has always had a deep appreciation for the environment and the need to protect it. She was inspired by her father’s love for nature, and has wonderful memories of spending time on the beach with family and friends. That is why when the opportunity to volunteer for The Nature Conservancy came along, she could not help but become involved.
Melinda attended Tufts University where she graduated with a degree in international relations and psychology. During university, she spent a year studying abroad in London. After graduating, Melinda began working for Mercer in Miami and then New York. While at Mercer, she had the opportunity to work in business development and marketing for multi-national clients. She is currently a marketing manager at Oliver Wyman, a global management consulting company.
Melinda speaks Spanish fluently, and enjoys traveling, running, and practicing her skiing.
Since 2010, she has been involved with The Nature Conservancy and currently serving as Chair of the Development Committee, which focuses on initiatives such as the YPG Summer Membership program for corporations.
Mark learned of The Nature Conservancy through his involvement in a Green Energy campaign at UNC Chapel Hill, where a student movement secured funding for green energy projects on campus. After moving to New York, he was connected to the Young Professionals Group and is actively involved with its Conservation Committee. He is drawn by the Conservancy's innovative, science-based and collaborative approaches to conservation. He also appreciates the ability to get out of the city once in a while through YPG hikes.
Mark currently works in the Investment Banking Strategy Group at Credit Suisse, where his team helps to plan and implement a range of projects for senior management. These projects include corporate development mergers and acquisitions, strategic reviews of businesses, and ad-hoc analyses. Prior to this role, he was in Accounting and Valuation Advisory at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is a NY licensed CPA.
He holds a Masters in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin and a BS in Business Administration with distinction from UNC Chapel Hill. He's lived in the concrete jungle of Tokyo, spent a formative year in Frankfurt, Germany, and grew up in the beautiful state of North Carolina. Mark is currently serving as the YPG's Trustee Legacy Ambassador and co-chaired the 2012 YP Benefit.
Wendy's first experience with the Young Professionals was on an overnight Mashomack trip in 2005. She quickly realized that the group was special and started becoming more active. Having lived in the urban jungles of Beijing, Hong Kong, and New York as well as the natural landscapes of New Hampshire, she can tell you: green is better.
Wendy received her B.A. from Dartmouth College in 2002 and J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2005. Wendy is currently living in San Francisco, CA, where she works as in-house counsel for The Gap, Inc., and volunteers her time for nonprofits focused on assisting immigrants.
In her spare time, Wendy enjoys taking dance class, watching movies and snowboarding.
One of the originators of this clan of happy young tree huggers, Tom currently acts as an Advisor to the YPG.
He has previously served on the Boards of the Eastern New York Chapter and the New York State Board of The Nature Conservancy.
When not fly-fishing, reviewing strategies with the YP Board and Committees, or hosting parties for the YPG, Tom spends his free time as a senior vice president at Merrill Lynch.February 12, 2013