Our Team


Board of Governors Program Collaborators Advisory Panel



Luisa Maffi

Luisa Maffi, PhD (UC Berkeley, 1994), is co-founder and Director of Terralingua and spearheads Terralingua’s program of work. Trained in linguistics, anthropology, and ethnobiology, Luisa is one of the pioneers of the concept of biocultural diversity. Her interest in the relationships between language, culture, and the environment and between linguistic, cultural, and biological diversity led her to co-found Terralingua in 1996 and to launch the organization’s activities with the interdisciplinary conference “Endangered Languages, Endangered Knowledge, Endangered Environments” (Berkeley, California, USA, 1996).

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She was President of Terralingua from 1996 to 2006 and has been its Director since 2007. Since 2010 she has also been an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences at Royal Roads University, as well as an International Fellow of the Explorers Club.

Luisa has conducted extended fieldwork in Somalia (1979–1985) and Mexico (Chiapas, 1988-1993; Chihuahua, 2000–2008) and has carried out research in China and Japan. She has written on a variety of topics ranging from Somali and Mayan linguistics to color categorization, ethnomedicine, traditional ecological knowledge, language maintenance and revitalization, Indigenous peoples’ linguistic and cultural rights, culture and conservation, and the relationships between linguistic, cultural, and biological diversity.

Among her key publications on biocultural diversity are the edited book On Biocultural Diversity: Linking Language, Knowledge, and the Environment (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001), the co-edited volume Ethnobotany and Conservation of Biocultural Diversity (New York Botanical Garden Press, 2004), and the co-authored book Biocultural Diversity Conservation: A Global Sourcebook (Earthscan, 2010).





Board of Governors


Jessica Brown, MA


biocultural diversityJessica Brown, MA (Chair, 2023-2024; At-Large, 2023-2026), focuses on stewardship of biocultural landscapes, civic engagement in conservation and governance of protected areas. Her concern with biocultural diversity grows out of this work, recognizing that the landscape is both source and expression of the biocultural diversity of life. Over the past two decades, she has worked with community-based conservation projects in countries of the Caribbean, Mesoamerica, Andean South America, Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

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Jessica is Executive Director of the New England Biolabs Foundation, an independent, private foundation whose mission is to foster community-based conservation of landscapes and seascapes and the bio-cultural diversity found in these places. Prior to that she was Senior Vice President for International Programs with the Quebec-Labrador Foundation/Atlantic Center for the Environment (QLF), responsible for its capacity-building and peer-to-peer exchange activities in diverse regions, and a founding partner of the US National Park Service’s Conservation Study Institute.

She is currently consulting with the UNDP/Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Programme and its Community Management of Protected Areas for Conservation (COMPACT) initiative. A member of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), Jessica chairs its Protected Landscapes Specialist Group, a global working group that advises on policy and management issues related to biocultural landscapes and serves as a platform for qualitative research and dissemination of case-study experience.

Recent publications include The Protected Landscape Approach: Linking Nature, Culture and Community, and the launch of a new series on Values of Protected Landscapes and Seascapes, exploring the agro-biodiversity, wild biodiversity, cultural and spiritual values of these areas. She received an MA in International Development from Clark University, and a BA in Biology and Environmental Studies from Brown University.




Christopher P. Dunn, PhD


Christopher P. Dunn, PhD (Secretary-Treasurer, 2021-2023) is Executive Director of Cornell Botanic Gardens, a position he has held since 2014. Prior to coming to Cornell, Dr. Dunn was Director of the Lyon Arboretum at the University of Hawaiʻi. He previously served as Executive Director for Research at the Chicago Botanic Garden, where he managed one of the largest botanic garden research programs in the country. 

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Dr. Dunn is a botanist and conservation ecologist who has considerable experience studying the relationships between peoples and place, and human impacts on the landscape. Recently, he has been focusing his attention on the relationship between biological and human cultural diversity, particularly in the US, Central Asia, and Taiwan.

He serves on the boards of several organizations that are working to preserve the world’s biological, cultural, and linguistic diversity, including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)–U.S., and the Center for Plant Conservation. He is Chair of the IUCN National Committee for the US and is North American Councillor for the International Association of Botanic Gardens. He is a past President of the American Public Gardens Association.




Susan Fassberg


biocultural diversitySusan Fassberg (At-large, 2022-2024) contributes 30-plus years of expertise in marketing, business development, and public relations to the Terralingua Board. Her lifelong curiosity about the insights foreign languages and traditions offer has drawn her to our mission of safeguarding cultural and biological diversity.

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Currently calling San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, her home, Susan continues to develop her Spanish skills while maintaining an active consultancy with stateside clients in need of innovative marketing materials and engaging website copy. In her downtime, she delights in a good book, a long hike, a journey to anywhere new, and lending a supportive hand to local friends embarking on new business ventures.

Previously, Susan held the position of Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley. This acclaimed Center probes the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and is dedicated to cultivating the skills necessary for a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society. Susan has also held senior roles at Salon.com and AskJeeves.com and offered her research services to LAMagazine and a wide array of TV productions both in the US and abroad (including NDR, ZDF, and RTL+).

With fluency in German, French, and Spanish, she ventured into the greeting card industry a few years ago with a unique focus: celebrating endangered languages and Indigenous wisdom. For many years, she served on the Board of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and was proud to contribute marketing know-how to the Denver-based Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.



Lara Koerner Yeo, JD


Aboriginal knowledgeLara Koerner Yeo, JD (At-large, 2022-2024) is a lawyer and women’s rights activist based in Toronto, Canada. She is an associate at JFK Law LLP where she practices in the areas of Indigenous rights and Aboriginal law, constitutional law, and administrative and human rights law.

Previously she has worked and/or volunteered in law offices and women’s and human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Justice for Girls, the West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund, Citizens for Global Solutions, and Physicians for Human Rights.

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Lara’s graduate level research centered on improving state response to the crisis of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada and applying a human rights framework to the crisis. Lara has also participated in ethnographic fieldwork in Tibet and Mongolia that focused on the material culture of pilgrimage and the role that technology plays in changing nomadic peoples’ relationship to the land, livestock, and urban centres. Lara approaches her work with an appreciation of the deep interconnectedness between peoples and place and the need to attend to and protect the relationships between human cultural and biological diversity. 

Lara holds a JD from the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, an MA in human rights and humanitarian action from SciencesPo, and a BA in political science and women’s and gender studies from Wellesley College. Lara also serves as a volunteer advisory member of We Dance For Life – Pima’tisowin e’mimtotaman – Dancer pour la vie. 



Thomas Hou, JD


Thomas HouThomas Hou, JD (At-large, 2023-2026) currently serves as Executive Director, Associate General Counsel at Iveric Bio, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel treatments for retinal diseases. At Iveric, Thomas has a broad practice counseling the business and the board of directors, including key areas such as corporate governance, communications and financings. Before Iveric, Thomas worked in several national law firms (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Covington & Burling), advising clients on various corporate transactions. Thomas graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in Health & Societies with a minor in Hispanic Studies, and received his J.D. from Columbia Law School.

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Thomas has volunteered with many nonprofits through providing pro bono legal advice and non-legal consulting services. He is especially interested in caring for the environment, and learning about and getting to know people and cultures across the world. Thomas was born in China, and speaks fluent Mandarin and has working knowledge of Spanish. He lives in New York City with his wife, two sons, and corgi.



J,SIṈTEN John Elliott, PhD (Hon.)


J,SIṈTEN John Elliott, PhD (Hon.) (At-Large, 2020-2022) is a respected Elder of the Tsartlip (W̱SÁNEĆ, Coast Salish) First Nation. Inspired by the efforts of his late father, David Elliott, to preserve the SENĆOŦEN language, John has devoted himself for over three decades to the revitalization of First Nations languages. He teaches SENĆOŦEN in the W̱,SENĆOŦEN IST Diploma of Indigenous Language Revitalization, a partnership program between the Saanich Adult Education Centre and the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

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In 1999, he co-founded FirstVoices, a suite of web-based tools that supports language archiving and learning and that is now used worldwide.

John is the Chairman of the W̱SÁNEĆ Native Heritage Society and an Elder advisor of the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, a legal governing body of three W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations (Tsartlip, Tseycum, and Tsawout). He serves on the Advisory Committee of the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC) and previously served for six years as a Director on the FPCC Board. He has been conferred honorary doctorates by Maharishi University of Management (2009) and the University of Victoria (2019) for his work in language revitalization. In 2018, he was one of the recipients of the Guiding the Journey: Indigenous Educator Awards given by Indspire, a Canadian Indigenous organization.



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Program Collaborators


Biocultural Diversity Education Initiative


biocultural diversityCarla Paciotto, EdD, is currently an associate professor at Western Illinois University, where she teaches about culture, language and education in the contexts of Indigenous and immigrant populations. Her research centers on language maintenance and shift and language education policy and planning, focusing on the role of native language instruction in the revitalization of endangered and lesser used languages. Her studies span from Mexico to the US, Italy and Slovenia.

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Her dissertation, “Bilingual Education for Chihuahua’s Tarahumara Children: A Study of the Contexts of an Emerging Program,” won the National Association of Bilingual Education Dissertation Award and the Italian Award for Studies Related to Bilingualism and Multilingualism and was published in in the volume Il bilinguismo tra conservazione e minaccia. Esempi e presupposti per interventi di politica linguistica e di educazione bilingue(Franco Angeli 2004). She has recently contributed articles to the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism and Language Policy. Carla has collaborated with Terralingua on the Sierra Tarahumara project since 2007, with a focus on bilingual education for Rarámuri community, particularly women and children.


Index of Linguistic Diversity


biocultural diversityDavid Harmon, MSc, is co-Principal Investigator on Terralingua’s Index of Linguistic Diversity project. Dave is Executive Director of The George Wright Society (GWS), an association of parks and protected areas professionals. He co-edits the Society’s journal, The George Wright Forum, and helps plan the GWS’s biennial conferences, the largest protected area meetings in North America. Dave co-founded Terralingua in 1996 and has been active with the organization ever since. He holds degrees from Grinnell College and the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

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Dave is the author of In Light of Our Differences: How Diversity in Nature and Culture Makes Us Human (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002) and co-edited The Antiquities Act: A Century of American Archaeology, Historic Preservation, and Nature Conservation (University of Arizona Press, 2006), The Full Value of Parks: From Economics to the Intangible (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), and Managing Mountain Protected Areas: Challenges and Responses for the 21st Century (Andromeda, 2004), among other books.


biocultural diversityJonathan Loh, MSc, is co-Principal Investigator on Terralingua’s Index of Linguistic Diversity project. He works on measuring and monitoring trends in global environmental change, natural resource use and biodiversity. Jonathan studied Biology at Sussex University and Environmental Technology at Imperial College, University of London. He has worked since 1994 for WWF International, and is an Honorary Research Associate at the Institute of Zoology, part of the Zoological Society of London.

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His work with WWF includes writing and editing the yearly Living Planet Report. Before WWF, Jonathan worked for TRAFFIC International, investigating wildlife trade in Taiwan, and as an environmental consultant based in London and Hong Kong. He has lived and worked in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Switzerland, and carried out numerous projects in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.



Vitality Index of Traditional Environmental Knowledge (VITEK)


Stanford Zent, PhD, is Principal Investigator on Terralingua’s project “Methodology for Developing a TEK Vitality Index (TEKVI): An index of the status and trends of Traditional Environmental Knowledge”. Stanford holds a degree in Anthropology from Columbia University. He has conducted long-term fieldwork among the Piaroa, Jotï and Eñepa Indigenous groups of the Venezuelan tropical forest since 1984.

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He works as a Researcher and Professor in the Anthropology Department of the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research, Caracas, Venezuela. His research interests include ecological anthropology, ethnobiology, traditional environmental knowledge, biocultural conservation, and native cultures of lowland South America.


Global Sourcebook on Biocultural Diversity


biocultural diversityEllen Woodley, PhD, was Coordinator of Terralingua’s project “Global Source Book on Biocultural Diversity,” and is co-author with Luisa Maffi of the book Biocultural Diversity Conservation: A Global Sourcebook (Earthscan, 2010). Ellen received her doctorate in Interdisciplinary Rural Studies from the University of Guelph in Canada. She is currently an independent consultant working on the integration of culture and traditional ecological knowledge in natural resource management and sustainable development. 

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She has worked in the South Pacific (Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea), Indonesia, West Africa (Ghana, Nigeria), and with First Nation communities in Canada. Research interests include the integration of Indigenous Peoples’ ecological knowledge in resource management.




Executive Assistant and Customer Care


Elena Oslopova provides Executive Assistance and Customer Care to the Terralingua and Langscape Magazine team. Elena brings decades of high level Executive Administration background as well as top level special events management experience from her many years inside a cybersecurity powerhouse in Toronto, Ontario.

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Elena has a background in child psychology as well as the Healing Arts, which allows her to have a deep capacity for compassion towards all humanity, especially for the children around the world. Elena is a dedicated and passionate mother to her three sons, and they reside in the beautiful Southern Gulf Islands.





Communications and Digital Marketing Coordinator


biocultural diversityCoreen Boucher, BSc, supports Terralingua and Langscape Magazine with communications, marketing, and fundraising using a strategic planning approach, from campaign planning, implementation, through to evaluation. She works with a team of collaborators to bring stories of biocultural diversity to Langscape readers and blog posts from director Luisa Maffi to Terralingua’s followers through various communications channels.

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Her academic background is in creative writing, geography, and environmental studies, but studies in copy editing and public relations helped her combine all of her studies into meaningful work with Terralingua.


Editorial Coordinator / Copy Editor


Akshara SangiorgioJadwiga (Akshara) Sangiorgio works with Terralingua’s Langscape Magazine as the editorial coordinator, copy editor, and proofreader. She assists with Langscape production and publication online and in print. For many years, she has been living and working in different parts of the world for an NGO based in Kerala, India.

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She has a double major in Environmental Studies and English from the University of Victoria, BC. Her home base is Cortes Island, BC, Canada.




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Advisory Panel


Our Advisory Panel is comprised of distinguished persons from around the world who are involved in academic or professional fields relevant to Terralingua’s work. They support our mission and provide advice on matters of research, education, policy, and practice, and on how our work can better contribute to realizing our vision of a just, equitable, sustainable world in which biocultural diversity is valued, protected, and perpetuated for generations to come.

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Current Advisory Panel members are:

  • Anvita Abbi, PhD – Former Professor of Linguistics, Jawaharlal Nehru University (India); Visiting Professor of Linguistics, Simon Fraser University (Canada)
  • E. Annamalai, PhD – Former Director, Central Institute of Indian Languages (India); Visiting Professor, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago (U.S.A.)
  • Marie Battiste, PhD (Mi’kmaq) – Professor of Educational Foundations, University of Saskatchewan (Canada)
  • Richard Benton, PhD – Former Professor of Linguistics, and Honorary Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Waikato (Aotearoa/New Zealand
  • Tirso Gonzales, PhD (Aymara) – Researcher, Interculturality and Environment, INTE-PUCP (Peru)
  • Stephen Neyooxet Greymorning, PhD (Arapaho) – Professor of Native American Studies, University of Montana (U.S.A.)
  • David Harmon – Terralingua Co-founder; Executive Director, The George Wright Society (U.S.A.)
  • James (Sákéj) Youngblood Henderson, JD (Chickasaw/Cheyenne) – Professor of Aboriginal Law and Research Director, Native Law Center, University of Saskatchewan (Canada)
  • Johnson Ole Kaunga (Maasai) – Director, Indigenous Movement for Peace Advancement and Conflicts Transformation (IMPACT) (Kenya)
  • Michael Krauss,† PhD – Terralingua Co-founder; Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Former Director, Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska at Fairbanks (U.S.A.)
  • Martha Macri, PhD (Cherokee) – Former Professor of Native American Studies, and Director Emerita, Native American Language Center, University of California at Davis (U.S.A.)
  • Ole-Henrik Magga, PhD (Sámi) – Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, Sámi University of Applied Sciences and Former President, Sámi Parliament (Norway); first Chairman, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
  • Jeffrey A. McNeely – Former Chief Scientist and Senior Scientific Advisor, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (Switzerland)
  • Aroha Te Pareake Mead (Maori) – Former Chair, Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN-CEESP); independent researcher, Indigenous biocultural heritage (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
  • Peter Mühlhäusler, PhD – Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, University of Adelaide (Australia)
  • Gary Nabhan, PhD – Author; Research Social Scientist, Southwest Center, University of Arizona (U.S.A.)
  • Melissa Nelson, PhD (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) – President/CEO, The Cultural Conservancy; Professor of American Indian Studies, San Francisco State University (U.S.A.)
  • Andrew Pawley, PhD – Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, School of Culture, History & Language, Australian National University (Australia)
  • Robert Phillipson, PhD – Professor Emeritus of English, Copenhagen Business School (Denmark)
  • David J. Rapport, PhD – Former Eco-Research Chair and Professor of Ecosystem Health, University of Guelph (Canada); Principal, EcoHealth Consulting (Canada)
  • Priscilla Settee, PhD (Cree) – Professor of Indigenous Studies, University of Saskatchewan (Canada)
  • Tove Skutnabb-Kangas,† PhD – Terralingua’s first Vice-President; Former Associate Professor of Languages and Culture, Roskilde University (Denmark) and Associate Professor of Education, Åbo Akademi University (Finland)
  • Victor M. Toledo, PhD – Professor, Research Institute on Ecosystems and Sustainability, National Autonomous University of Mexico; Minister of Environment and National Resources, Federal Government of Mexico (Mexico)

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