Cristián T. Samper

Bezos Earth Fund
Nonprofit organization executive; Research institution founder; Cultural institution administrator; Biologist
Leadership, Policy, and Communications
Scientific, Cultural, and Nonprofit Leadership

Cristián Samper is the Managing Director and Leader of Nature Solutions at the Bezos Earth Fund. He is responsible for a grants portfolio that includes the protection and restoration of nature, as well as the transformation of food systems. He designed and leads the Protecting Our Planet Challenge, a coalition of private foundations that has pledged to invest $5 billion to protect 30 percent of the planet by 2030, the single largest pledge for nature conservation. Before joining the Bezos Earth Fund in 2021, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Samper is a tropical biologist and international authority on conservation biology and environmental policy, and has dedicated his career to understanding and protecting the Earth's biological diversity. He began his tenure as President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in 2012, after serving for a decade as Director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. He also served as Acting Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 2007-2008 and was deputy director and staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. He was the founding director of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute, the national biodiversity research institute of Colombia. He served as Chair of the science advisory body of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and was one of the leaders of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and led the adoption of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Samper currently serves on the boards of the Carnegie Institution for Science, the New York Botanical Garden, the Joyce Foundation, and the Summit Foundation. He also serves on the advisory boards of the Stanford Woods Institute, the Wilson Center, and the Explora Museum in Colombia.  He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy in 2015, and served as a member of its project, The Public Face of Science and currently serves as the Chair of the Scientific, Cultural, and Nonprofit Leadership (Class V, Section 5) Section Panel.

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