Pipa Elias is immediate past Director of Agriculture in North America leaving the position in early 2021 to accept the position as deputy director of the Environment Program at the Walton Family Foundation. Kris Johnson is currently the Interim Director of Agriculture in North America. Skilled at applying scientific research to advance policy and conservation solutions, Pipa led an interdisciplinary team of experts in a collaborative approach to help producers meet the growing demand for food while protecting critical lands and waters. She worked closely with colleagues from across the organization and stakeholders throughout the food and agriculture supply chain to achieve a sustainable food system.
Elias joined TNC in 2015 as a senior policy advisor, leading land use policy advocacy at the United Nations climate negotiations and other multilateral venues. In her eight years working on the UN climate negotiations, including six years before joining TNC, she led a coalition of nearly a dozen NGOs that helped influence the system of incentives and measurements for the land-use sector in global climate agreements. Elias also served as policy lead on the team that helped to establish TNC’s Natural Climate Solutions work. In January 2017, she joined the North America Agriculture team as Soil Health Strategy Manager.
In leading the growth of TNC’s soil health efforts in North America, Elias worked with the Soil Health Partnership and Soil Health Institute to secure a $10M grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, which was matched with $11M, making the project one of the largest-ever philanthropic investments in soil health.
Elias earned her master’s degree from Virginia Tech, researching forest soils in the Monongahela National Forest, and she holds a bachelor’s in environmental science from the University of Notre Dame.