Global Council

Claude Gascon


​Dr. Claude Gascon is Senior Vice-President and Chief Science Officer at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. In this role, Dr. Gascon leads the development of conservation goals and priorities for the Foundation and the investment strategy to achieve concrete conservation outcomes.

Dr. Gascon manages a team of science and monitoring experts as well as a team of conservation program officers in 4 regional offices around the US. From 1999 to 2010, Dr. Claude Gascon worked in a variety of position at Conservation International. As Executive Vice-President for Field Programs at Conservation International, Dr. Gascon managed 4 Field Divisions and 2 HQ technical Divisions. The Field Programs Unit was responsible for developing CI’s institutional conservation and science strategies as well as their implementation. The Unit comprised over 700 people in over 30 countries around the world. Prior to becoming VP, Dr. Gascon was Deputy Director of the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science.

Dr. Gascon completed a Master’s in Ecology at Université du Québec à Montréal in Canada and his doctorate in Ecology at Florida State University. Dr. Gascon’s areas of research include Biodiversity patterns and causes and Amazonian Biodiversity, especially amphibians. His research has resulted in over 70 publications and 3 books emphasizing Conservation and forest fragmentation in the Amazon, amphibians, and wildlife management. Gascon has appeared in public broadcasting television films on the Amazon Ecosystem as well as in interactive environmental education television programs for US and Brazilian schools. Gascon started his professional career in the Brazilian Amazon as project director and scientific coordinator for the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP) for six years. Gascon also directed a large-scale research and conservation project investigating the distribution and abundance of vertebrate species in the southwestern Amazon region. This project was the single largest scientific expedition in the Amazon since the last century. Gascon is also a visiting professor with the department of ecology at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia (National Amazon Research Institute) and a research associate with biodiversity programs at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution. Gascon has trained many young graduate students in the Amazon through Master’s and Ph.D. programs as well as during intensive field courses.

Dr. Gascon also acts as co-chair of the Amphibian Survival Alliance. In his previous role as ASG Co-Chair, Dr. Gascon was responsible for developing the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP), which defines a global strategy for conservation amphibians worldwide. To date, over 50 species of critically endangered frog species have been protected in key areas in the tropics.

Simon Stuart


​Dr. Simon Stuart is the Chair of the SSC and has undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Cambridge, with fieldwork in Tanzania and Cameroon. He has over 25 years of experience with the IUCN and the SSC. Simon started work on the African Bird Red Data Book in 1983. He joined the IUCN Secretariat in 1986, and was Head of the Species Programme (1990-2000), Acting Director General (2000-2001), Head of the Biodiversity Assessment Unit (2001-2005), and Senior Species Scientist (2005-2008). He was elected as Chair of the SSC at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona in October 2008. Read more

David Field


David Field is Zoological Director at Zoological Society of London (ZSL). David is also Chairman of (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) BIAZA, vice-chairman of ISIS and a council member of  World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

Wes Sechrest


​Dr. Sechrest founded GWC and serves as Chief Scientist and CEO. He leads the organization’s efforts to explore, document, and protect the world’s most threatened species. Dr. Sechrest has a background in conservation biology, particularly focused on mammal conservation and priority setting for biodiversity conservation.

Gemma Goodman


​A passionate conservationist and advocate for wildlife since childhood, Gemma currently manages the freshwater and species portfolios at Synchronicity Earth. Before joining Synchronicity Earth in January 2012, Gemma worked for TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. Gemma has also worked for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and for various other charities in research and reporting, advocacy, capacity building and relationship management roles. She has field experience in Uganda, researching the impacts of ecotourism on wild chimpanzees, and in Cameroon and Argentina. She holds an MSc in Wild Animal Biology from the Royal Veterinary College and the Zoological Society of London and a Joint Hons BSc from the University of Bristol in Zoology and Psychology.

Mark Pilgrim


​With a passion for animals from childhood, Mark joined NEZS, Chester Zoo as a bird keeper in 1988 and later became the Deputy Curator of Birds, followed by the Chief Curator. In 2007 Mark became Director of Conservation & Education and in 2010 he was appointed Director General of the Society, only the fourth in its history. Mark is a Council member of both the British & Irish and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, and manages the European zoo populations of Black rhino, Jaguar and the Ecuadorian Amazon parrot. Mark has a passion for amphibians with a special interest in Madagascan frogs.

Onnie Byers


​Onnie earned her Ph.D. in reproductive physiology from the University of Minnesota and completed a post doctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo in Washington D.C. where she was a member of the Mobile Laboratory Reproductive Research team. Onnie joined the SSC’s Conservation Breeding Specialist Group in 1991 as a Program Officer and was promoted to the position of Executive Director in 2005, and appointed Chair in 2011. In addition to leading the organization, Onnie shares with CBSG’s Program Officers responsibility for organization, design and facilitation of a wide range of Species Conservation Planning and other CBSG workshops. Onnie is dedicated to the transfer of these tools and processes to conservationists around the world through the establishment and nurturing of CBSG’s regional and national Networks, the work of the SSC’s Species Conservation Subcommittee, and the development and implementation of mass collaboration tools for conservation.  Onnie was integral in the establishment of the Amphibian Ark and continues to serve on its executive committee.  Onnie also serves on the SSC Steering Committee, the ISIS Board, the Conservation and Sustainability Committee of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Board of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL). Onnie and her husband, Steven, a newscaster with Minnesota Public Radio, have two children.

George Rabb


President Emeritus of the Chicago Zoological Society, George B. Rabb served as Brookfield Zoo’s director from 1976 until 2003. Rabb’s pioneering work led the zoo towards its current position as a conservation center, a concept Rabb has championed for zoos everywhere. Rabb received both masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and his bachelor’s degree from the College of Charleston, South Carolina. He joined Brookfield Zoo in 1956 as curator of research. Rabb created the zoo’s Education Department and was instrumental in the use of naturalistic exhibitry to provide visitors with environmental immersion experiences throughout the zoo. Additionally, under Dr. Rabb’s direction, the zoo pioneered a new approach to help children develop caring attitudes towards nature.

Dr. Rabb has affiliations with conservation organizations worldwide and is a respected spokesman on wildlife conservation issues. Most notably, he is a past chairman of the Species Survival Commission of IUCN, the largest species conservation network in the world, and he founded the Declining Amphibian Population Task Force. He is active with Chicago Wilderness, a multi-organizational alliance to maintain the exceptional biological diversity of the metropolitan region. He has been a member of the University of Chicago’s Committee on Evolutionary Biology, and is a research associate of The Field Museum. Dr. Rabb currently serves on the board of the Illinois State Museum Board and is on the National Council for the Defenders of Wildlife. In 2008, Dr. Rabb was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council on Science, Policy, and the Environment.

Dr. Rabb is a published authority on the behavior of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, notably on social behavior of a captive wolf pack, behavioral development in okapi, and breeding behavior of pipid frogs. His other studies have ranged from the evolutionary relationships of viperid snakes to diabetes in tree shrews.

Myfanwy Griffith


Myfanwy is the Executive Director of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), which represents and links 351 institutions and organisations in 45 countries across Europe and the Middle East. Many EAZA members, and indeed the EAZA Amphibian Taxon Advisory Group, are active in amphibian research and conservation; effectively linking captive and wild amphibian conservation efforts. Myfanwy’s background is in training and development with a particular focus on behavioural ecology and research skills.

Paul Salaman


At the age of eight Paul met Sir David Attenborough and became enthused by international wildlife conservation. By age 14 Paul was managing a nature reserve in London and travelling across England birdwatching and volunteering in protected areas. As an undergraduate, Paul led a series of research expeditions across Colombia, spending a total of over three years in the field that culminated in a new national park and creating four nature reserves. He has described four bird species new to science, including the Chocó Vireo–which he discovered at the age of 19. In 1998, Paul helped found Fundación ProAves, which has become one of the most effective conservation organizations in South America. After graduating with a D.Phil from the University of Oxford in 2001, Paul undertook a post-doctoral fellowship at The Natural History Museum, before coordinating biodiversity science in the Andes for Conservation International. Paul joined Rainforest Trust in 2008 as the Director of Conservation and was appointed the CEO in January 2012.

Marco Cerezo


Marco Cerezo is an environmental economist who has been a leader in environmental protection in Guatemala and neighboring countries since the late 1980s. He has served within the government of Guatemala for many years, particularly during the period of National Reconstruction in the 1990s where he led the development of the Forestry Action Plan, served on the Central American Commission on Environment and Development, and led the National Emergency Recovery Plan’s development within the Ministry of Finance. He has also co-led the Tri-National Alliance for the Conservation of the Gulf of Honduras.
Marco founded the national NGO, FUNDAECO, with an emphasis on work to protect and manage reserves throughout Guatemala, while monitoring the social and economic needs of the local communities to ensure that agricultural practices within and around reserves are maintained sustainably. FUNDAECO is a founding member of the National Association of Environmentalists (ASOREMA) and the Tri-National Alliance for the Conservation of the Gulf of Honduras (TRIGOH). FUNDAECO led the protection of the Sierra Caral, home to a staggering 12 Threatened amphibian species, five Critically Endangered and five endemic to Guatemala.

Brian Gratwicke


Brian Gratwicke is a conservation biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute where he leads the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project This project established a new research facility the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama that houses captive assurance colonies of amphibians threatened with extinction by a frog-killing fungal disease. Brian is also leading a research project to develop solutions to help manage the disease that will eventually lead to successful reintroductions of captive amphibians back into the wild. 

Brian’s previous experience includes working as assistant director of Save The Tiger Fund at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation where he helped to manage grant-making programs, evaluation and fundraising activities. Brian received a PhD in zoology from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Zimbabwe.