Advisory Board

Dereck Joubert is a globally recognized, award-winning filmmaker, conservationist, and National Geographic Explorer-at-Large based in Botswana and Kenya. He and his wife Beverly co-founded: the Big Cats Initiative with National Geographic to halt the decline of big cats in the wild and protect their ecosystems; the Great Plains Foundation, which distributes about $2.5 million to community projects annually; and Project Ranger, which aids front line conservation workers, rangers threatened with losing their jobs due to the pandemic.  His conservation awards include a World Ecology Award (along with Britain’s Prince Charles, Dr. Sylvia Earle, and late paleoanthropologist Dr. Richard Leakey), the Presidential Order of Merit one of the country’s highest honors, awarded by Botswana’s president, for contributions to the nation. He has also been inducted into the American Academy of Achievement.


Paul Maritz is a retired technology executive, now an active investor and supporter of technology that is transformational and built for the good of society. Paul was the third ranking executive in Microsoft at the time of his retirement in 2000. Since then, he has served as Co-Founder and CEO of multiple companies with the common theme of enhancing and protecting the use of personal information in the Cloud Computing era. He is an active philanthropist supporting numerous charitable projects and humanitarian efforts including: Chair of the Board of the Grameen Foundation (2004-2010), globally promoting microfinance and the use of technology in development, Ashesi University – building a world-class liberal arts university in Africa, The Crane Cloud – a cloud-computing project at Makere University in Ghana, aimed at strengthening graduate-level computer science education in Africa, and – the use of machine vision to automate and improve wildlife surveys. 

The Co-Directors and Executive Committee will jointly establish working papers and processes for key activities such as data sharing and chain of custody. 


Paula Francisco Coelho is Secretary of State for the Environment of the Republic of Angola, focusing on environmental education, waste management and strengthening policies related to wildlife. She has coordinated multiple projects related to biodiversity, climate change, waste management, soil and water conservation, and is an active member of the Central Committee of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola and the Angolan Women Organization.


Leslie Weldon is Chief Executive, Work Environment and Performance for the USDA Forest Service. She has led change and delivered results as a natural resource conservation leader for over 4 decades in the Forest Service. Leslie has in-depth science and policy experience in ecological systems, land and water conservation, and the benefits and services provided from the nation’s forests and grasslands. She represented the Forest Service in several international conservation initiatives with partners including the World Resources Institute, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Bonn Forest Landscape Restoration Challenge, Megaflorestais (a network of international forestry officials), and the North American Protected and Wilderness Area Alliance, and supported US natural resources partnerships with China, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Congo Basin. Leslie has collaborated with scientists to support research and to promote application of ecological, climate, forest, fire, drought, wildlife, watershed, and aquatic research into conservation policy and resource management. She collaborates with social scientists to design change, and to integrate human values and cultural needs into mission delivery. She has designed and led the Forest Service’s efforts to evolve as a values-based culture that centers equity and inclusion in mission delivery.


Steve Francis is currently the Acting Executive Associate Director for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the principal investigative component of the Department of Homeland Security. HSI investigates, disrupts, and dismantles transnational criminal organizations and terrorist networks that threaten or seek to exploit the customs and immigration laws of the United States. In this role, Mr. Francis oversees HSI’s workforce, which consists of over 10,000 employees to include special agents, criminal analysts, mission support personnel and contract staff assigned to over 220 offices throughout the United States and across 50 countries worldwide.