Magazine Articles

Conservation Trailblazers

Meet six women who are changing how conservation is done at TNC, from conference rooms to local communities.

Spring 2023

Sharing Traditional Knowledge Portrait of Andrea Akall'eq Burgess © Michelle Mishina

As the threats of climate change and biodiversity loss intensify around the world, the environmental movement faces an unprecedented moment in history. To act quickly enough to protect people and the planet and avert some of the worst scenarios scientists warn are on the near horizon, we must develop new ideas and approaches to conservation.

One fundamental step to unlock the full potential of conservation is to remove the barriers that have limited the ability of women to lead and participate in this work for generations. Though a number of women have played key roles in accelerating environmental progress, the conservation movement has remained statistically male-dominated. Studies by Nature Conservancy researchers have found that involving women in a local community’s conservation work leads to more positive, enduring outcomes for both the environment and the communities. Similarly, behavioral research shows that more diverse groups working together creates smarter, stronger solutions for conservation.

The conservation community has a long way to go before women have equal industry access. But there is growing recognition of and support for women who are breaking barriers and generating creative new paths toward protecting nature. In this issue, we speak with six dynamic women from TNC who are reconfiguring the way conservation gets done. These women are opening the doors to fieldwork where high percentages of the jobs are still held by men—and they’re proving women are just as effective as their male colleagues. They are bringing women from rural communities to the decision-making table, where they can take the lead in protecting their local natural resources. And they are making conservation stronger, more diverse and more resilient as they open the conference-room doors for people who have often been left out of the conversation. These are just some of the women at TNC who are changing the face of conservation and the world.

  • Stephanie Holthaus portrait in a snowy landscape.

    Driving Climate Action

    Stephanie Holthaus connects diverse women leaders to generate collaborative solutions to the climate crisis. Read her story

  • Tiara Moore portrait

    Promoting Diversity in Science

    Tiara Moore, an environmental ecologist, founded Black in Marine Science—or BIMS for short—an organization that supports and raises the visibility of Black people working in marine science all over the world. Read her story

  • Nikole Simmons portrait

    Sparking Change

    Nikole Simmons co-founded a program dedicated to bringing more women into wildland fire management—where almost nine of 10 workers are male. Read her story

  • Andrea Akall'eq Burgess portrait

    Sharing Traditional Knowledge

    Andrea Akall'eq Burgess is helping TNC bring more women from Indigenous and local communities into decision-making roles in conservation. Read her story

  • Lucy Mlagala portrait

    Empowering Girls

    Lucy Mlagala knows that investing in girls’ education and women’s health reaps big rewards for communities and the environment. Read her story

  • Crystal Diaz de Villegas portrait

    Building a Better Workplace

    Through her work with the Women in Nature employee resource group, Crystal Diaz de Villegas is pushing TNC to become a leader in gender equity. Read her story