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About Us

Through large-scale restoration and rewilding, NATURAL STATE secures biodiversity, sequesters and stores carbon, and helps achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

CHALLENGE

Intact natural habitats are critical for our survival along with the 10 million species with which we share the planet. Yet we have now degraded 75% of the world’s natural ecosystems, and with business as usual, it is estimated that this will increase to 95% by 2050. To avoid the greatest climate and extinction crises in human history, we must halt habitat destruction and rapidly accelerate restoration and rewilding efforts globally. 

  

We believe the three greatest barriers to achieving restoration and rewilding at scale, particularly in the Global South, are lack of baseline data, insufficient funding and the skills needed to deliver high-quality projects.  

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SOLUTIONS

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Technology for Impact Monitoring 

NATURAL STATE is developing easy-to-use impact monitoring technology and systems, capable of measuring trends in biodiversity, carbon, and social indicators across biomes.  With the latest technology, such as acoustic sensors and drones, combined with our impact monitoring platform (Kutuma and uKweli), we can generate robust and cost-effective site-level data rapidly.  This information is essential for assessing the success or failure of restoration interventions and foundational to any reliable financial mechanisms for nature.  Trustworthy data and the ability to confidently measure change through time will help unlock billions of dollars for nature.   

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Leadership 

To foster leadership and build capacity, we are developing training courses that will be offered online and in countries with major potential for restoration, but few opportunities to develop the relevant skills. The first training centre will be in Laikipia, Kenya. The courses will enable us to share best practices in restoration and regenerative agriculture, as well as the impact monitoring systems and financial mechanisms needed to scale these activities. We will also offer additional content ranging from project management and implementation to launching your restoration or regenerative agriculture enterprise.  We aim to recruit 60% or more female trainees. In addition, we will host The Indigenous Knowledge Centre for Restoration and Climate Resilience which provides local community members a venue to share traditional approaches for restoration and develop and trial climate resiliency strategies and interventions.  

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Nature Financing 

The data from our impact monitoring systems underpin a range of innovative financial mechanisms that reward projects for restoring nature, sequestering carbon, and providing benefits to local communities. With our partners, we are testing our first three financial mechanisms including an Integrated Carbon and Biodiversity Credit, Rewilding Credit, and Single Species/Custodian Credit. Our technology and systems will lead to a proliferation of financial mechanisms that will soon surpass carbon credits and become the greatest source of funding for nature and local communities.  

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Getting to Scale 

NATURAL STATE is currently focused on testing the Impact Monitoring Platform (uKweli) in Savannah systems.  Once we have demonstrated the impact of our monitoring technology and uKweli, combined with new financing mechanisms, we will expand into new biomes and systems – opening new opportunities for investing in nature. We will initially focus on forests, drylands, wetlands, mangroves and seagrass.  As much of the earth’s surface has been converted to agriculture, we will also use our technology and financial mechanisms to measure and incentivise the transition to regenerative agriculture. As we expand into new biomes and systems, we will also grow our educational offering to ensure the capacity exists to develop and implement large-scale restoration projects.  

ADVISORY COUNCIL

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Bogolo Joy Kenewendo

Bogolo J. Kenewendo is a Global Economist and Strategic Advisor. She has served as the Cabinet Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry and Specially Elected Member of Parliament in Botswana.

She is currently championing climate action and finance as a catalyst for development in Africa and the global south in her role as Africa Director & Special Advisor of the UN High Level Climate Champions Team. Bogolo is a vocal advocate for gender equity and protection of children’s rights. She has received global recognition for her work, being appointed as a member of the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council, a member of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, Advisory group on the gender architecture of the UN and group on Financing for Development.

She is also a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Trade Advisory Group, Global Future Council on Global Public Goods in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and a WEF Young Global Leader. She is a Non-Executive Director in several corporate boards & Non-Profit organizations and is a Non-Resident Fellow with the Center for Global Development.

She is frequently named among Africa's Most Influential People by various publications. In 2022 she was named among Prestigious Time magazine’s TIME100 Next Honorees highlighting 100 emerging leaders from around the world who are shaping the future and defining the next generation of leadership.

Peter Matee

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Elizabeth Littlefield

Elizabeth L. Littlefield is currently Senior Partner at West Africa Blue and a Senior Adviser at the Pollination Group. From 2010-2017, she served under U.S. President Barack Obama as President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), now renamed the US International Development Finance Corporation. There she oversaw OPIC’s profitable $29 billion portfolio of financing and insurance to support private investment in more than 100 developing countries with a strong shift towards poorer countries and investments in renewable resources. From 2000 to 2010, Ms. Littlefield was a Director at the World Bank and the CEO of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, (CGAP), the central think-tank and standard setter for microfinance. Earlier in her career, Ms. Littlefield spent 17 years at JP Morgan, in New York, Paris, and London, serving as JP Morgan’s Managing Director in charge of capital markets and financing across Africa, Middle East, emerging Europe, and the former Soviet Union. She currently chairs the board of M-Kopa, the pioneer in pay-as-you-go solar in Africa. She also serves on the boards of the World Wildlife Fund, Development Alternatives Inc and several mission-driven institutions. She attended Sciences Politiques in Paris, graduated from Brown University and was an Adjunct Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

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Faustina Mwololo

Faustina Muthoki Mwololo has had a keen interest in wildlife and nature conservation since her school years. In 2021, she joined the Environmental Club at the Raila Educational Centre. Following the onset of The Earth Prize, Faustina, together with a team of four, initiated a project on E Waste Management to address the urgent need of informing people of the polluting effect of Electronic Waste and to curb its impact. She was subsequently elected as the organising secretary in the school Environmental Club, enabling her to organise for waste collection to be dropped off at Killicycle, where E waste is collected. During her tenure as the organising secretary, she created connections with Waste Electrical and Electronic Waste (WEE Centre) in Utawala, Nairobi County. This resulted in the environmental teams visiting the workshop together with the Kijani Gang, a group of young environmental conservationists. She is currently receiving training on how to run a business and converting business ideas into an actual business by The Kenya Management Institute through their Agile Programme. Her key business area is still in line with Environmental Conservation through turning Electronic Waste into valuable items that can be sold, for example jewelry. She will be sitting for her final examinations in December 2022.

Peter Matee

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Krithi Karanth

Dr. Karanth’s research in India and Asia spans 24 years, encompassing macro-level studies assessing patterns of species distributions and extinctions, impacts of wildlife tourism, consequences of voluntary resettlement, land-use change, and understanding human-wildlife interactions. She has published 100+ scientific and popular articles and serves on the editorial boards of several journals. Krithi’s conservation and research work has been featured in three award-winning BBC Series and she has co-produced five documentaries. In 2020, she co-starred with Kevin Pietersen in Save This Rhino: India. Krithi's work has been covered by over 250 media outlets such as Washington Post, Time Magazine, Al Jazeera Television, National Geographic, New York Times, and Scientific American. Krithi is National Geographic Society’s 10,000th grantee and a 2012 Emerging Explorer. Her more than 45 awards and recognitions include the Eisenhower Fellowship, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, University of Florida’s Outstanding Young Alumnus, India's Power Women by Femina, and Vogue Women of the Year. In 2019, she was chosen as one of the five 2019 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Laureates. In 2021, she was selected for the Government of India’s Invest India Women Achiever. Krithi has a Ph.D. from Duke (2008), a M.E.Sc from Yale (2003) with B.S and B.A degrees from the University of Florida (2001).

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Lisa Karanja

Lisa Karanja, Kenya Country Head for TBI, is a UK Barrister and Kenyan Advocate, with over 20 years’ experience in law, trade and regional integration in East Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Prior to TBIGC, she was the Senior Director for Business Competitiveness at Trademark EA, coordinating export capacity, logistics, women and trade and private sector programmes for the EA Region. Earlier in her career, Lisa’s work included commercial and criminal practice at chambers in London, followed by four years as a Snr Commercial Litigation Associate at Kaplan & Stratton, the largest commercial legal practice in EA. She is also a previous Orville Schell Fellow, Human Rights Watch in New York focusing on women’s rights in Africa. This was followed by a 3-year appointment as Senior Legal Advisor to the Permanent Secretary for Governance and Ethics in the Office of the President (Kenya,) and, consecutively, four years as Deputy-Director, Transparency International-Kenya. She serves on the Boards of the Business Advocacy Fund, Muthaiga Country Club and the Mara Elephant Project, and is a recipient of the Chevening scholarship (FCDO).

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Winnie Kiiru

Dr. Winnie Kiiru is a Kenyan-born wildlife biologist with a distinguished career in research, policy, advocacy, and wildlife management. She has recently received the State Honour “Order of the Grand Warrior” in recognition of her leadership in conservation. She was also appointed Chairperson of the inaugural Board of Wildlife Research and Training Institute, a newly formed government organization charged with leading wildlife research and training in Kenya. Winnie served as a Trustee of the Kenya Wildlife Service and chaired the conservation committee of the board, and was instrumental in influencing KWS to conduct a national inventory of the ivory and rhino horn stockpile, leading the team that successfully conducted an historic Ivory and Rhino Horn inventory and subsequent ivory burn in 2016. She is a founding member of the African Elephant Coalition, serves as the Head of Government Relations at the Elephant Protection Initiative, and acts as chairperson of the leadership council of WE Africa.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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Art Min

Art is a Builder/Operator with over 20 years working as a senior executive for Fortune 500 companies and startups building AI, data and infrastructure products. From 2017 - 2020, he led Vulcan's philanthropic operations and Tech4Good products focused on climate change, coral conservation, illegal fishing, and protected area monitoring. He's currently a Senior Fellow at the Rocky Mountain Institute and advising early stage startups.

Beatrice Karanja

Beatrice is a strategic communications specialist with over 25 years’ experience as a development communications professional covering the African continent. She has worked as a journalist with BBC and Reuters and for several international NGOs. She has also consulted for Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Kofi Annan Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Stop Ivory, Northern Rangelands Trust and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. In 2017, Beatrice was appointed as an honorary warden (3-year term) for Kenya Wildlife Service and in 2021, she completed a two-year term as founding Chair and investor of Uvumbuzi Trust. Beatrice is a Board representative of S.A.F.E Kenya, Mara Elephant Project (Chair) and Kenya Wildlife Trust, and serves as a panel judge and on the Board of Trustees for the Tusk Trust Conservation Awards for Africa.

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Corey Hajim

Corey Hajim has spent her career both working in and writing about business. As TED's business curator, Hajim seeks ideas from industry leaders, entrepreneurs, economists and teachers of the trade, ultimately helping speakers shape and share their ideas with the TED audience. Prior to TED, Hajim spent a decade in finance, most recently as a portfolio manager and analyst at a hedge fund based in New York, focused on consumer, media and technology equities. Hajim also spent three years as a reporter at Fortune Magazine and her early career working in marketing and project management. She earned her MBA at Harvard Business School, where she co-authored case studies with two professors and ran the weekly newspaper, The Harbus.

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Dulma Clark

Dulma Clark has diverse work experience spanning various organisations and roles. In 2019, she worked as an Intrapreneur at Vivobarefoot until July 2020, when she transitioned to Head of the Livebarefoot Fund. Dulma also joined the Nexus Global Summit as a Member in July 2019 and The Conduit as a Social Enterprise Member in February 2019. In 2020, she became a Member of the Steering Group at the Devon Environment Foundation. Additionally, Dulma has served as a Board Trustee at the JA Clark Charitable Trust since November 2013. Dulma has experience as a Director at SOUL OF AFRICA, and in 2014, she worked as a Project Monitoring and Evaluation Consultant at Global Giving U.K. Dulma has further contributed as an Advisor at Save Lake Baikal. Before that, she worked as a Legal Advisor at the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, The Student Law Clinic.

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Jonathan Baillie

Jonathan Baillie is President and Chair of the Board for NATURAL STATE. Baillie was previously Executive Vice President and Chief Scientist at the National Geographic Society where he oversaw grants, impact initiatives, National Geographic Labs, explorer programs, and the international team, initiating several ground-breaking collaborations across regions and sectors to conserve and monitor the natural world.  Before National Geographic Society he was Director of Conservation Programmes at the Zoological Society of London where he built and oversaw a portfolio of conservation projects in over 50 countries. He holds a Ph.D. in biology from Silwood Park, Imperial College London.  Baillie has been a visiting professor at the University of Oxford since 2009.

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Namrita Kapur

Namrita Kapur combines a unique mix of traditional finance skills from her time in investment banking with environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact assessment experience as a senior leader in the nonprofit space. Currently, she is a Lecturer teaching sustainable finance at the Yale School of Management, and consults to several philanthropists, including the founders of one of the oldest venture capital firms and of a Fortune 500 company. Namrita is best recognized for being second-in-command in developing the products and platform of Root Capital, and for having developed Eileen Rockefeller Family Foundation’s approach to organizational development. In her philanthropic work, she has helped coordinate $75 million of annual global grant-making across 40+ funders worldwide to transition to a clean energy future. Namrita served as Board Treasurer of the Environmental League of Massachusetts from 2010-2016, holds an MBA and a MA of Environmental Management from Yale University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology from Princeton.

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Tom Lalampaa

Tom Lalampaa is a leading African conservationist and, since 2018, the CEO of  Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT). His work majors on helping rural communities to strengthen their governance structures as well as their wildlife conservation, economic development, and peace-building efforts. Tom serves as  the Founding Chairperson of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA), the Vice Chair of the Wildlife Security Taskforce, the Vice Chair of the Grevy’s Zebra Trust Board, and as a board member of both the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Board of Trustees and The Nature Conservancy. He is the recipient of the Stanford University Law School’s Bright Award for Environment Sustainability and in September 2013, he was awarded the Tusk Conservation Award by the Duke of Cambridge. Tom is currently pursuing his PhD, and holds an MBA in Strategic Management from the University of Nairobi.

Team

TEAM

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Alexander Godfrey

Director of Impact Monitoring

Alexander Godfrey is a dedicated conservationist with a decade and a half of experience overseeing global biodiversity conservation initiatives within the non-governmental organization (NGO) sector, addressing human-elephant conflict, leading teams in the deployment of camera trap arrays for tiger research, and providing training to rangers in Asia and Africa. More recently, Alex has concentrated on developing international programs, strategic planning, and financial management, with a primary focus on streamlining and optimising organisational operations to enhance overall impact. Alex is currently the Director of Impact Monitoring at NATURAL STATE.

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Bosco Letruka

Field Technician

Bosco Leturuka is an environmentalist, a birder, and a wildlife lover. Born and raised in a community surrounded by a conservancy, this drives his passion for wildlife and the environment. He started his career at Ngare Ndare Forest in the Ecotourism department as a forest guide, the Rangeland monitoring department, creating a harmonious coexistence of different stakeholders and ensuring sustainable use of forest resources and the community projects monitoring to ensure sustainable community-supported projects. He later worked at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in the Conservation Education program. Bosco joined Natural State as an intern and now works as a field technician. He holds a diploma in environmental management from the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute (KWSTI) and aspires to pursue a BSc in Environmental Science.

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Britni Hagwood

Head of Operations

Britni Hagwood is the Head of Operations at NATURAL STATE, with 13 years experience in operational and administrative support. Previously the Executive Assistant to the EVP & Chief Scientist, as well as the SVP of Partnerships at the National Geographic Society (NGS), she provided mission-critical logistics and administrative support. Prior to NGS, Britni worked as an Investigative Operations Analyst at the Federal Bureau of Investigation where she conducted case analysis and background research; the EA for the Executive Director of PICO National Network, a social-justice non-profit; and the EA to the Chief Revenue Officer and SVP of Corporate Development at The Advisory Board Company, a healthcare consulting firm. Britni holds a B.A. in Spanish from Alma College with a minor in Environmental Studies.

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Catherine Machungo

Head of Carbon Science

Catherine Machungo, Ph.D., has 13+ years of experience in research and technology transfer from government and international research institutions. Before joining Natural State, she was heading the research department at the National Irrigation Authority, responsible for developing, managing and coordinating internal and external research projects. Previously, she worked with Commonwealth Scientific and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO-Australia) and Bioscience Eastern and Central Africa (BecA -ILRI Hub). Her major professional interest is to generate and communicate scientific knowledge to inform policy to enhance the implementation of science-based technologies for development. She holds a BSc (Agriculture) from the University of Nairobi, an MSc (Horticulture) from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and a PhD in Agriculture from the University of Canberra (Australia).

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Ceciliah Mumbi

Field Researcher

Ceciliah Mumbi is a conservation enthusiast and passionate about bringing positive change to the conservation research world. She has 5 years of experience in the conservation field where she pursued her degree in Natural Resources management at Karatina University. Ceciliah was an intern in Meru National Park and has worked on many projects with Kenya Wildlife Service, such as elephant and giraffe biopsy to establish inventories for the forensic Laboratory in Mt. Kenya National park and Mt Rwenzori national park, Uganda. She has participated in Annual National Surveys for lions and elephants and data analysis using Spatial Explicit Capture Recapture model. She has experience with wildlife monitoring from Solio game reserve and as a Kenya Wildlife Service Scout working on rhino daily monitoring and lions field data collection.

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Christina Barlow

Director of Education

Christina is an organisational development and program management specialist with over 20 years’ experience in strategic planning, organisation mobilisation and leadership. She spent the first half of her career in management consultancy at Accenture, in client-facing design and management roles in complex IT transformation programs for multinational financial service clients and the UK government. Motivated by her love of nature, Christina brought her skills to the conservation sector where she has worked in leadership positions for the past 15 years, including managing a nature conservation NGO in Asia and co-founding WildTeam UK, where she creates and field-tests conservation best practice to be translated into adult learning for the professional development of conservation teams globally.

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Christina Geijer

Head of Partnerships

Christina Geijer, Ph.D., is a conservation scientist with 15 years’ experience in different fields of conservation. Before joining Natural State, she acted as a consultant for the Northern Rangelands Trust, developing projects and securing grants for community conservation and development initiatives, and more recently, advised on large-scale restoration and rewilding projects in Southern Namibia. She has worked on a variety of species conservation projects writing management and strategic plans, and acted as a policy advisor to Wildhood Foundation, with a focus on the global ivory trade. Prior to this, Christina concentrated on her research and lecturing in the field of marine mammal conservation with particular focus on assessing bycatch of marine megafauna. Christina holds a B.A. and MPhil from Cambridge University, and a Masters and Ph.D. in Conservation from University College London (UCL).

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Dickson Mure

Ecologist & Driver

Dickson is a Maasai ecologist with extensive traditional knowledge of local plants and animals and has been working within the Mt. Kenya Landscape for over 15 years. Currently, he works at Natural State as an ecologist and driver with the field team.  Before joining Natural State, he was a driver for the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy research department and assisted researchers with wildlife and vegetation identification. Dickon is committed to working with the younger generation, students, researchers and organisation within the Mt. Kenya landscape to help them learn about Maasai culture and the importance of plants for medicinal use and traditional Maasai ceremonies. He’s currently writing a catalogue compiling all local vegetation and its use in Maasai culture.

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Glancy Chepkemoi

Laboratory Technician

Glancy is a passionate environmentalist dedicated to making a meaningful impact in conservation. With five years of experience, she has actively contributed to wildlife management and human-wildlife conflict resolution in Mau Forest with the Kenya Wildlife Service. Her involvement extends to multiple restoration programs in Mau Forest and Lake Ol bolossat. She has volunteered with James Finlay Forest Department on forest conservation initiatives. As an intern at the County Government of Kericho, she played a crucial job in environmental impact assessments. She holds a bachelor's degree in environmental science from Laikipia University. Glancy is committed to translating knowledge into action through more cost-effective, robust, and rapidly innovative technology for sustainable conservation solutions for nature.  

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Halima Hassan

Social Impact Lead

Halima Hassan is an environmentalist, educator, and climate change activist. In 2021, she joined Lewa Wildlife Conservancy as a Conservation Educator volunteer and later continued in Lewa's Department of Wildlife and Research as a Primates Research Assistant in partnership with York University. Halima holds a degree in Geography and Environmental Studies, and is currently pursuing her Master's in Biodiversity and Natural state, both at the University of Nairobi. Halima is a resident of the Manyangalo community neighbouring Lewa wildlife conservancy and Ngare Ndare forest. She recently joined Natural State as a Conservation assistant officer, and is dedicated to educating the importance of conservation to youth and women.

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Eric Kasina

Communications Specialist

Eric Kasina is a passionate communications  specialist who aspires to empower positive change through compelling storytelling. He leverages his content creation, social media management, research, and data analysis expertise to craft impactful narratives and strategically engage diverse audiences. At Natural State, he translates research findings into engaging stories and reports, develops social media content, manages media relations and supports fundraising efforts. Eric's diverse experience, spanning roles like Assistant Internal Communications Manager at Stanbic Bank, Digital Communications and Social Media Manager, and Corporate Communications Officer at Standard Chartered Bank, has equipped him with a well-rounded skillset. He is pursuing a MA in Communication from USIU- Africa and holds a BA in Communication from the University of Nairobi.

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Irene Kago

Senior Accountant

Irene has over ten years of experience in financial management in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Irene has been at the forefront of planning, implementing, and reporting for projects involving youth participation in democracy and governance, as well as environment and livelihoods. Her ability to drive these initiatives demonstrates her commitment to community development.  She has worked in the renewable energy technologies industry, women in energy entrepreneurship, water and sanitation infrastructure projects, and natural water resources management initiatives in marginalised and underserved communities, the urban less privileged, and the ASALs.  Irene is a Certified Public Accountant and a project planning and management graduate from the University of Nairobi. 

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Jenny Farmer

Senior Specialist, Carbon & Community

Jenny Farmer, Ph.D., has 15 years of diverse experience working on the dynamics of land use and land use change, ecosystem service provision, community-based natural resource management and carbon market opportunities. Jenny has spent most of her professional career working in the environmental sector in Uganda. She co-founded the Uganda Carbon Bureau in 2006 and more recently Bubugo Conservation Trust in 2015, as well as conducting 8 years of academic research into social and environmental wetland land use impacts. Alongside research into soil carbon and greenhouse gas fluxes, she has worked on a diversity of consultancies around carbon project scoping and accounting, and carbon Standard methodology review and development. She has a PhD in Biological Science from the University of Aberdeen.

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Jim Aidan Odhiambo

Field Technician

Jim Aidan is a dedicated and ambitious conservationist; zealous with passion to rehabilitate the conservation research world. He has the skills in research and conservation field where he pursued his Diploma in Wildlife Management at Wildlife Research Training Institute.He was an attachee at Tsavo West where he worked closely with the Problem Animal Control before joining Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to work with the Research and Conservation Department. He also worked closely with the Community Development Programme and Conservation Education Programme and gained skills in sustainable development, participatory democracy and capacity building. He joined NATURAL STATE as an intern. He worked together with the field team in various thematic areas with a focus on impact measurements on biodiversity, carbon and social wellbeing. He is currently working at NATURAL STATE as a Field Technician and aspires to further his studies in Geospatial Data Management.

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Jonathan Baillie

Founder

Jonathan Baillie is Founder of NATURAL STATE. Baillie was previously Executive Vice President and Chief Scientist at the National Geographic Society where he oversaw grants, impact initiatives, National Geographic Labs, explorer programs, and the international team, initiating several ground-breaking collaborations across regions and sectors to conserve and monitor the natural world. Before National Geographic Society he was Director of Conservation Programmes at the Zoological Society of London where he built and oversaw a portfolio of conservation projects in over 50 countries, and gained a reputation for developing innovative, cross-sectoral collaborations to support conservation at scale. He holds an Honours BA in geography from Queen’s University in Canada, a Master’s Degree in conservation biology from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in biology from Silwood Park, Imperial College London. Baillie has been a visiting professor at the University of Oxford since 2009.

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Kaja Wasik

Entrepreneur in Residence

Dr. Kaja Wasik is currently living in Laikipia, Kenya working on new methods of attracting financial flows towards nature and understanding the dynamic relationships between people and natural landscapes. She is an adjunct professor at the J. Craig Venter Institute and a visiting scholar at Princeton University. She founded two genomics companies; Variant Bio and Gencove, which she led as Chief Science Officer for eight years. Variant Bio is developing therapies to improve global health by studying the genes of people who are outliers for medically relevant traits and genetic architecture. She built Variant’s scientific foundation and pioneered a benefit-sharing program which ensures that study participants benefit from involvement in research. Gencove introduced low-pass sequencing and cloud-based analysis and imputation software as an alternative to genotyping arrays. She completed her Ph.D. in molecular biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and her postdoctoral training at the New York Genome Center. 

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Kennedy Laur

Research Centre Administrator

Kennedy has four years of experience in camp management and guest handling. He previously worked at the Lewa Conservancy as a Guest House Manager and at Richard's Camp, Maasai Mara, as a Camp Operations Manager. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a specialisation in Finance and a Diploma in Business Management, Purchasing and Supplies. 

Kennedy is a dedicated environmental enthusiast with a passion for conservation and hospitality. His career took root at Sirikoi Lodge, where he honed his lodge administration and guest management skills. Driven by his commitment to conservation, Kennedy played a pivotal role in managing guest houses and handling donor relations at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. This experience deepened his understanding of the intersection between hospitality and wildlife preservation. 

Kennedy excels as a bush walk guide and has a passion for ornithology, immersing himself in the intricacies of tracking and signs in the wilderness.

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Kisiidi Taek Maiyani

Site Manager

Kisiidi Taek Maiyani was born in Ngare Ndare village in Laikipia county in Kenya. Currently, he is the Site manager at Natural State with the responsibility for management of the physical site and logistics. Prior to joining Natural State, he worked at Ok View limited for 7 Years as the manager. Prior to that, Kisiidi worked for 6 years at Rugusu House where he was assistant manager. He is also an experienced organic farmer and enthusiastic environmentalist with a dream that in the future we will achieve zero carbon emission on a global scale.

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Lucy Smyth

Conservation Scientist

Lucy Smyth, Ph.D, is an enthusiastic and energetic conservation biologist with diverse field and research experience in African systems. She is passionate about making real, impactful, measurable changes to the natural world through well-thought-out research and adaptive management processes. She earned her PhD at the University of Cape Town with the Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa and Panthera during which she ran extensive camera trap surveys in the greater Kruger region of South Africa and Mozambique. After that, she spent fourteen months on a remote subantarctic island researching seabirds and invasive mice's devastating impact on many avian species. She is particularly interested in the value of long-term population monitoring and in developing innovative solutions to promote human-wildlife coexistence.

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Margaret Njuguna

Field Implementation Lead

Margaret Njuguna is passionate about wildlife, community work, and the use of technology in conservation and community development. She has experience working as a volunteer at the Mara Predator project monitoring the big cats of the Mara, Taita Hills wildlife sanctuary as a ranger guide in wildlife monitoring, and at Mwalua wildlife trust. She has worked in Mugie Conservancy as a Community and Tourism Coordinator, focusing on community interactions/engagements, overseeing community projects and service delivery, forming community policies to act as a roadmap for the conservancy’s community engagement, and conducting a social survey, Social Assessment of Protected Areas, in the surrounding community zones. She holds a BSc in Environmental Conservation and Management, Diploma in Community Development, and will soon start an MSc in Project Management.

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Mary Ndiba

Director of Operations - Global

Mary Ndiba is a seasoned strategic leader with over 20 years of experience in the development sector. Her expertise covers multiple functional areas, including organisational strategy and development, financial management, budgeting and budget implementation, procurement, operations, audit and risk management, internal control systems design and setup, grant and contract management, sub-awards management, project lifecycle management, HR, and IT systems management. In her previous roles, Mary held senior positions such as Chief Operating Officer, Regional Financial Analyst for East Africa, and Financial Controller. She holds a Master of Business Administration degree (Finance and Strategy) and a Bachelor of Commerce. She is a Certified Public Accountant of Kenya and a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Kenya (ICPAK). 

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Matt Rogan

Biodiversity Data Scientist

Matt Rogan, Ph.D., has spent a decade as a biodiversity data scientist tackling conservation from local to global scales. Matt has extensive experience working throughout East and Southern Africa from the banks of the Rufiji River in Tanzania to the Namib Desert. Early in his career, Matt investigated the impacts and drivers of bushmeat hunting on wildlife populations and communities around the Okavango Delta, Botswana. He then went on to earn a PhD with Panthera and iCWIld, using hierarchical models to assess the status and trends of leopard populations across South Africa. Before joining Natural State, Matt worked as a data curator with the Map of Life at Yale University, assembling and integrating data to understand global patterns of biodiversity. Matt holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cape Town, a M.E.M from Duke University and a B.A. from Pomona College.

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Molly Blank

Director of Restoration Projects

Dr. Molly Blank is a biomedical engineer who grew up wandering the evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest and is working to catalyse investment to safeguard their future. She is interested in solutions integrating emerging technologies, practical realities, and market opportunities to address human needs. She leads the Conservation Projects team at Natural State to implement best-practice impact monitoring methods and facilitate large-scale investment in restoration. She establishes technology-based platforms in complex stakeholder landscapes, from developing human genetics research partnerships around the world to student training programs to establish commercially viable medical innovations at the University of Washington. She has been the technical lead on an NSF Innovation Corps team, worked at Microsoft Research, and secured millions of dollars in non-dilutive research funding in strategic research roles at startups. Dr. Blank obtained her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

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Nzuki Waita

Vice President, Global  Operations & Business Development

Nzuki Waita has over two decades of distinguished senior management experience across sub-Saharan Africa, the United States, the Middle East, and Asia. With a multifaceted skill set in nonprofit leadership, institutional strengthening, resource mobilisation, and program management, he has significantly contributed to renowned organisations such as the Academy for Educational Development (AED), Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), and the Millenium Promise Alliance. He has collaborated closely with the Touch Foundation and McKinsey & Co., overseeing the establishment of its inaugural country office in Tanzania. Nzuki's journey also includes key roles at the United Nations. He holds a B.Ed. from Kenyatta University, an MBA from Edinburgh Business School, and is an alum of the Harvard Business School Nonprofit Leadership Program.

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Peter Matee

Carbon Field Researcher

Peter Matee is an environmentalist who has worked with different research NGO as a research assistant in field data collection. Currently, he is the carbon field researcher at Natural state. In 2017, Peter worked at Anglican Development Services-Eastern and supported environmental conservation activities like establishment of tree nurseries and awareness forums on carbon storing agricultural practices to farmers. Later, he joined Chyulu hills REDD+ Carbon Project as Field carbon sampler responsible for biomass carbon sampling and soil sampling within 1 million acre projected area. Most Recently prior to joining Natural State, he worked for Socio-Ecological observatory for Southern African Woodlands as a carbon field researcher and actively participated in establishing biomass plots in the community. His primary focus is on supporting and implementing habitat conservation by carbon offsetting.

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Rajchandar Padmanaban

Geodata Scientist

Rajchandar Padmanaban, Ph.D., is a Geodata Scientist with over a decade of diverse experience in research and academia and boasts expertise spanning various international research institutes. He actively contributes to cutting-edge projects in geospatial science, including terrestrial ecosystem analysis, land use mapping, forest monitoring, and urban health insights. Leveraging advanced techniques like AI and deep learning, Raj pushes the boundaries of satellite missions and environmental understanding. Driven by a passion for innovation, his contributions extend beyond science. With a diverse academic background, including three master's degrees in Remote Sensing from Anna University, Tamil Nadu, Geoinformatics from the University of Muenster, Germany, and Business Administration from Madras University, he bridges technical expertise with real-world impact. Holding a Ph.D. in Geographic Information Systems from the NOVA Information Management School, Portugal, Raj's postdoctoral experiences at renowned international institutions further solidify his leadership in geospatial science.

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Ross Tyzack Pitman

Head of Technical Delivery

Ross Tyzack Pitman, Ph.D, is a senior conservation technologist with a decade of experience working in the NGO sector—providing scientific and technological advice and software solutions to government agencies across Southern Africa and NGOs globally. He began his career as a quantitative ecologist working on leopards (Panthera pardus) in Southern Africa. Subsequently, he focused his quantitative abilities on establishing a Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and Conservation Technology division within Panthera. He has a strong foundation in ecology and conservation and a proven record in designing and implementing technological solutions at scale. He specialises in conservation-related software development—using advanced data science techniques and artificial intelligence whilst leveraging cloud computing technologies to achieve conservation-oriented solutions. He holds a B.Sc. in Conservation Science from the University of Plymouth, United Kingdom and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Conservation Biology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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Ruwaydah Abdul-Rahman

Head of Fundraising

Ruwaydah Abdul-Rahman is a creative disruptor, strategic troubleshooter and problem solver who has successfully advised and strengthened nonprofit organisations' fundraising and strategy for the last 15 years. As a data-driven tactical planner, she increases organisations’ donations and earned revenue, while building strong, diverse partnerships and promoting robust leadership development. She is dedicated to effective and inclusive storytelling, diversified fundraising approaches, and advancing strategic and critical thinking to mobilise resources for social impact organisations. She is a justice-oriented and authentic communicator — building and maintaining effective relationships through strong collaborative and analytical talents, born out of experience and evidenced by a large and growing network of collaborations and partners. From large, international and national nonprofits to small community-based organisations, she has discovered firsthand that the voices of those being served and strong relationships are at the heart of successful fundraising campaigns.

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Samuel Gachuhi

Junior Data Scientist

Samuel Gachuhi is a researcher, GIS/remote sensing specialist, and data scientist – united by a passion for data's power in environmental insights. Before joining Natural State, he honed his skills for two years at Climate & Energy Advisory, providing environmental reporting and scoping services. 

Samuel's contributions there were impactful. He helped define private sector engagement in REDD+, mapped solar energy financiers across Eastern Africa, and analysed Kenya's Green Strategy projects. At Natural State, he ensures impeccable data collection and visualisation to inspire investor confidence and build robust impact monitoring tools. He holds a B.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of Nairobi and a Data Science & Machine Learning certificate from Udemy. Samuel is committed to using data as a catalyst for impactful conservation. 

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Seleina Shurake

HR & Research Centre Manager

Seleina Shurake has over 12 years of expertise in Human Resources. Her passion lies in empowering individuals to thrive within their roles. Hailing from the Maasai community, she witnessed firsthand the impact of environmental degradation on wildlife and nature's balance.

Driven by this experience, Seleina brings a unique blend of HR expertise and ecological knowledge to her role as Research Centre Manager. She's dedicated to restoring natural habitats, reintroducing wildlife, and fostering harmonious coexistence between human activity and environmental conservation. 

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Stephanie Lemaiyan

Senior Specialist, Education

Stephanie is a researcher, science educator, and passionate conservationist. Her professional career has been focused on wildlife research and communicating the importance of that research to a wide variety of stakeholders, ranging from municipal governments to private citizens and civilian interest groups. She has worked on various community-based conservation programs and research projects around Kenya since 2002 and spent 10 years as a research scientist at Cornell University before moving to Kenya full time. She currently oversees the Natural State Research Centre and field team. She holds a M.S in Natural Resource Management from The Ohio State University, and a M.S Ed from the State University of New York- Binghamton.

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Susan Kiringo

Training Centre & Partnership Coordinator

Susan has over 7 years of experience in Project Administration and Management, Community Development, Business Development, and a strong background in Liaison experience.  
She holds a Master's degree in Business Administration (Sustainable Development Option), a Bachelor's in Commerce (Management Science Major) and a certificate in Project Management (Monitoring and Evaluation).  

Previous experience includes working with the Cooperative Bank of Kenya and conservation and charity non-governmental organisations. Susan is highly skilled in project administration and management, communications and community engagement, NGO operations and Policy Development.

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William Korosian

Field Botanist

William Korossioan is an environmentalist and passionate botanist born in a remote village rich in flora and fauna. William, growing up, used this as a class and shaped his hobby of plant identification into his career. He started his career journey as a wildlife ranger in Lewa Conservancy, where he gained knowledge of wildlife behaviour and their different habitats, including vegetation. He joined the Lewa research department as a botanist where he conducted different vegetation surveys and advised the rangelands department at different levels of decision-making. He later joined Natural State as a field botanist. He holds a certificate of botany from the National Museums of Kenya and aspires to pursue a diploma in Botany in the future. 

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Puppy

Born in Subuiga, NATURAL STATE's resident Puppy is keenly interested in birds and insects. Puppy is part of our team and reminds us to slow down, sniff the wildflowers, and appreciate the wonders buzzing and chirping around us.

Team

INTERNS

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Immaculee Namahirwe

Field Research Intern

Immaculee Namahirwe is a passionate conservationist and aspiring entrepreneur pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurial Leadership at the African Leadership University. Born in Rwanda, Immaculee's commitment to protecting wildlife is evident in her work as a field research intern at NATURAL STATE. 

Her internship has been instrumental in shaping her understanding of conservation technology and field research methods. Through hands-on experience with audio moths, camera traps, and acoustic sensors, Immaculee has developed a keen interest in utilising technological advancements to support wildlife monitoring efforts. Moreover, her involvement in pitfall trapping, tree sampling, and soil carbon sampling has solidified her foundation in ecological research and conservation practices. 

 

Immaculee's time at NATURAL STATE has fostered personal growth and professional development, thanks to the supportive and encouraging environment. Inspired by her experiences, she is eager to apply her knowledge and skills to future endeavours in wildlife conservation. 

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Lilian Akal

Research Centre Intern

Lilian Akal is a dedicated young advocate from Isiolo County with a deep focus on environmental preservation. She established and leads the Environmental Club at Kenya Methodist University in Meru, where she is currently studying Project Management. Her professional life is devoted to safeguarding at-risk ecosystems and advocating for sustainable practices, making a significant impact through her work. 

Lilian's influential contributions have earned her various accolades and features in numerous publications, including Nation Media. A popular public speaker, she frequently addresses environmental conferences and recently participated in the National Geographic Slingshot Challenge. Her commitment to environmental issues is demonstrated by advocating for youth involvement, guiding aspiring conservationists, and organising educational programs.  

Currently an intern in the herbarium at NATURAL STATE, Lilian's internship has enhanced her academic skills and practical knowledge, motivating her further in her passion for environmental conservation. She is eager to share her insights and experiences with the larger community, setting an example of how young leaders can actively protect the environment for future generations. 

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Madol Abraham Kuol

Field Research Intern

Madol Abraham Kuol is pursuing an Honours degree in Software Engineering at the African Leadership University and is a proud Mastercard Scholar. 

The NATURAL STATE internship has given him invaluable hands-on experience in conservation, allowing him to apply his software engineering skills to real-world environmental challenges. It also enhances his understanding of the interconnectedness between technology and nature crucial for his future capstone project on conservation education. Moreover, this opportunity provides a platform for networking with professionals in the field, fostering potential collaborations and career opportunities. 

 

Madol is actively involved in various projects at NATURAL STATE that merge technology with environmental conservation. He participates in field ecological data collection using specialised software to monitor biodiversity and carbon levels. These experiences have enhanced his technical skills and broadened his perspective on how technology can drive sustainable development. His work aligns with his mission to inspire a culture of environmental responsibility, developing effective digital platforms for conservation education, and networking with experts and peers to build connections essential for his growth as a leader in conservation technology. 

PARTNERS

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