Our Vision

Women across the Pacific Islands and Australia supporting each other to lead their communities towards a bright, secure and sustainable future.

Robyn James (TNC Conservation Director for Melanesia) with women leaders from the Solomon Islands.

    Our Story

Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) now works in 72 countries worldwide. Our approach is pragmatic, solution-based, transparent and guided by science.

We have worked in the Pacific for over 20 years, and in northern Australia for nine years. Our experience shows that, when women are given the opportunity to design and lead environmental programs, there are long-lasting benefits for people and nature. We are fortunate to partner with many extraordinary women, pioneers in their own right.

The time is right to bring these women leaders together to learn from each other, to support each other, and to showcase their remarkable work. We know that women are keen to learn and increase their involvement in natural resource management. Already, women are finding their voice, forming groups, learning new skills, shaping and leading environmental projects.

Nature's Leading Women is a new initiative, but it draws on many years of experience.


  Meet the Team from The Nature Conservancy

From Brisbane to Bougainville, we are excited to work on such a worthwhile initiative.


Robyn James

Conservation Director, Melanesia

Robyn has worked with TNC in Melanesia since 2010. She is now spearheading much of the organisation's work on gender and conservation. "I am so proud to be working with TNC to support women from the Pacific. These women are quietly (and sometimes not-so-quietly!) demanding to be part of the biggest development decisions their communities have ever faced."

Marla Edwards

Director of Development

Marla has been with TNC since 2015 and leads the Australia Development program. Her career spans startups, business development, not-for-profits, and the arts in New York City and Australia. "As they say, 'If we empower a woman, the whole village is empowered'. That is what is so powerful about this unique program, this partnership with our supporters, Global Sisters, and the women of northern Australia and the Pacific."

Kate Cranney

Communications Coordinator

Kate has began with TNC in late 2016, after completing her last Masters of Science subject with our team. She has worked as a scientist, artist and science communicator. "I am so looking forward to meeting all of the women, and to hear, first-hand, about the amazing work that they are doing in their communities."

Laura Whitford

Director of Development Policy and Partnerships

Laura has been with TNC since 2008. "I've seen, first-hand, the positive impact of empowering women. I've seen how networking and training builds the capacity and confidence of women to make a positive difference in their communities."

Barbara Masike

Country Director, Papua New Guinea 

Barbara has been with TNC for over 11 years. Trained as a journalist, she is now PNG's first female country director. "It is critical that women share their stories and help one another. As a child, I often heard my grandmother counsel my family members not to cut down too many trees near streams and rivers, and not to dig up all the turtle eggs. Women of the Pacific have always been involved in conservation; it's part of our cultural practice."

Kate Bolton

Business and Project Support Officer, Australia Program

Kate is new to TNC, starting in March 2017.  “I am so proud to be contributing to a project that’s goal is empowering women.  This team is a just one example of what can come from strong women empowering each other, and I cannot wait to see what the future brings for the amazing ladies we partner with.”

Berna Gorong

Partnership and Communications Coordinator, Micronesia Program

Berna began with TNC in 2015. She provides support to our key partners in Micronesia. Berna has been a consultant mentor on climate adaptation since 2011. She also established a NGO (Yap Networker) that raises awareness about women, community and youth issues. "In Yap, women are the left side of the coconut leaf and the men are the right side. Together, the coconut frond is complete. That is reflected in how all communities carry out their tasks."

Jodie Jansen

Director of Public Policy, Australia

Jodie began with TNC in 2017. “It’s been really inspiring to meet some of the indigenous women caring for country as part of my work at the Conservancy. Just imagine what could be achieved for nature and people if the largest source of untapped talent in the world - women and girls – were supported to reach their full potential and empowered to contribute all their intelligence and creativity! I feel very privileged to play even a small part in bringing that vision to life.”

Ally Catterick

Development Communications Specialist

Ally began with TNC in 2015. "I am thrilled to be involved in Nature’s Leading Women, helping support our sisters in northern Australia and the Pacific. Focusing on gender equality is good for women, and great for all humans. Respecting the contributions of others is so important, and the stories of these women are nothing short of inspirational."

Amanda Hernandez

Volunteer Intern, United States of America

We were very fortunate to have Amanda help us for 10 weeks as part of a volunteer internship. "I love that this work is bringing together women from diverse backgrounds to work towards a common goal; our shared vision unites incredible women who might otherwise not meet and gives us the opportunity to learn from each other."

  Meet the Team from Global Sisters

We are very fortunate to work with a team of exceptional business leaders and entrepreneurs from Global Sisters, who will co-run the three-day workshop for the women from the Pacific and northern Australia.


Mandy Richards

CEO/ Founder

Mandy is a social entrepreneur who is fiercely passionate about human rights, eradicating poverty and empowering women which led her to establishing Global Sisters in 2014. Mandy's diverse career path over the past 20 years has spanned the commercial and not-for-profit sectors, where she has worked internationally on government business incubation programs, and high profile charities. She is currently completing a Masters in Human Rights Law.


Heather Thompson

Chief Operating Officer

Heather is a microfinance and community development specialist, committed to microfinance being delivered in a way that empowers women and brings families out of poverty permanently. Heather has 15 years’ experience in microfinance, having worked with Opportunity International throughout Asia. Heather has run her own consultancy and worked with various government and not-for-profits.


Charlotte Mellis

Accelerator Lead, Sydney

Charlotte's studies in Psychological Science and continued postgraduate education in Behavioural Neuroscience drive her passion for creating positive social impact through lucrative business. Charlotte has nearly ten years industry experience developing start ups, global corporations and not-for profits. Charlotte celebrates equality and believes that empowerment through education is one of the most powerful tools.

  Meet the Team from Queensland Trust for Nature

We are also lucky to work with Queensland Trust for Nature (QTFN), who will run field trip to Aroona and Koala Crossing Nature Reserves, before the three-day workshop.

Tanya with Koala detection dog

Tanya Pritchard

Conservation Manager

Tanya Pritchard joined QTFN in 2014 to coordinate QTFN's Nature Refuge Certification program and the assessment and management of land owned by the Trust. Tanya has more than 25 years experience working across the conservation and land management industry. She is committed to the protection of Queensland's wild places, and hopes to make a big difference in the conservation of Australia's native wildlife. She is pictured here with one of the koala detection dogs used by QTFN!


Felicity Shapland

Conservation Officer

Felicity has over five years’ experience working in the conservation and land management industry, having delivered projects at with a variety of state and local agencies both in Queensland and overseas. Felicity has been with the Trust since February 2015, working as an Ecologist and Conservation Project Manager.  She is proud to be working with QTFN and loves the diversity of her work, which can have her tagging turtles one day and negotiating covenants the next.

Our women partners: read more about the remarkable women who work with The Nature Conservancy.

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