The agriculture industry represents the backbone of Pennsylvania's heritage and economy.
Pennsylvania Farm The agriculture industry represents the backbone of Pennsylvania's heritage and economy. © George C. Gress / TNC


The Nature Conservancy Names Pipa Elias as the Director of the North America Agriculture Program

Arlington, VA

The Nature Conservancy announced today the appointment of Pipa Elias as Director of Agriculture in North America. Elias will lead an interdisciplinary team of science, policy and agriculture experts in a collaborative approach to help farmers and ranchers meet the growing demand for food production while protecting critical lands and waters for people and nature. Elias will work closely with colleagues from across the organization and stakeholders throughout the food and agriculture supply chain to achieve a sustainable food system.

“Pipa Elias has an impressive range of experiences that makes her uniquely qualified to lead the design and execution of our ambitious program to influence how society provides food and water sustainably in North America,” said Michael Reuter, Midwest Director and Chairman of the North America Agriculture Committee for The Nature Conservancy. “She first joined TNC five years ago and has proven herself an exceptional leader, helping to drive economic and policy solutions to achieve large-scale conservation outcomes that benefit society and nature.”

The North America Agriculture program is focused on helping farmers and ranchers produce food, while delivering clean and abundant water supplies, vital habitat, and natural solutions to mitigate climate change. Working collaboratively across business, policy and science sectors, TNC aims to improve soil health practices on more than half of U.S. croplands, reduce harmful nutrient runoff into waterways by 20 percent, and ensure at least 30 percent of grazing lands are sustainably managed by 2025.  

“I’m humbled and honored to have been chosen to lead The Nature Conservancy’s North America Agriculture work and support an impressive team of experts that work daily for the betterment of our world.” said Elias. “Together, we will continue to help farmers and ranchers sustain their livelihoods and steward our lands and waters.”  

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 establish TNC’s Natural Climate Solutions work. Most recently, she joined the North America Agriculture team as Soil Health Strategy Manager in January 2017.

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. She is based at TNC’s office in Arlington, VA.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.