Board of Governors

Jessica Brown, MA

Jessica Brown, MA (Chair, 2019), 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.

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.

biocultural diversity

George N. Appell, PhD

George N. Appell, PhD (Vice-Chair, 2019-2021) holds an AB, MBA, and an MA from Harvard University, and a PhD in Anthropology from Australian National University.

Along with his wife, Laura, he has done fieldwork among the Dogrib First Nation of the Northwest Territories of Canada, the Bulusu’ of Kalimantan Timur, Indonesia, and the Rungus of Sabah, Malaysia. The work with the Rungus continues. George and Laura and co-founded the Sabah Oral Literature Project in 1986. George also is co-founder and president of the Borneo Research Council, a membership organization that includes scholars in the social, medical, and biological sciences.

For as long as he can remember, he has been concerned with the plight of Indigenous peoples. Because Indigenous societies are almost universally denigrated and ridiculed, and because change is introduced among them without full understanding of the social consequences, his and Laura’s approach has been instead to honor Indigenous cultures and provide their societies with insight on their sociocultural organization, so that they can make informed choices for their own futures (see for example the Anthropologists’ Fund for Urgent Anthropological Research, which they established).

In addition to field research and ethnographic reporting, George’s research and writing have focused on the plight of Indigenous peoples, including their loss of access to their natural and cultural resources. He has written several articles on Indigenous land tenure and is completing his book Understanding Resource Tenure and Property Relations: Theory and Method.

He has researched and written on the ecological significance of sacred groves and sacred places and how their destruction has environmental consequences. He has also written on how the unthinking application of the basic human rights documents can do more harm than good to indigenous societies.

In 1999, George and Laura established the Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research. One of its goals is to record the vanishing arts and sciences of indigenous peoples. For this purpose, the foundation provides Fellowships for the Collection of Oral Literature and Traditional Ecological Knowledge. There are now over 60 such projects in the field. For this work, the foundation prepared a draft of The Collection of Oral Literature and Traditional Ecological Knowledge: A Field Guide, which was tested in the field and is in the process of being revised.

Christopher P. Dunn, PhD

Christopher P. Dunn, Ph.D. (Secretary-Treasurer 2018-2020) is The Elizabeth Newman Wilds Executive Director of Cornell Botanic Gardens, a position he has held since 2014.  He is also adjunct professor of horticulture and a faculty fellow in the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, both at Cornell University.

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, and as Director of Research at The Morton Arboretum.

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.

He serves on the boards of several organizations that are working to preserve the world’s biological, cultural, and linguistic diversity, including Terralingua (Secretary-Treasurer), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)–U.S., and the Center for Plant Conservation.  He is also 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

Susan Fassberg (At-large, 2019-2021) brings 20-plus years of experience in marketing, business development and public relations to the Terralingua Board.

Most recently, she held the position of Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. The GGSC studies the psychology, sociology and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills for a thriving, resilient and compassionate society.

Previously, Susan held senior positions with and and consulted for LAMagazine and numerous TV productions in the US and overseas (NDR, ZDF, and RTL+). “Linking people with ideas with people with ideas…” is Susan’s passion.

Fluent in German, French and Spanish, she launched, a greeting card company celebrating linguistic diversity, endangered languages, and Indigenous wisdom. Susan also serves on the Board of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and consults to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, based in Denver.

biocultural diversity

Lara Koerner Yeo, JD

Lara Koerner Yeo, JD (At-large, 2019-2021) is a lawyer and women’s rights activist based in Toronto, Canada. She is an associate at Cavalluzzo 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 the Crown Law Office Civil, Human Rights Watch, Justice for Girls, the West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund, and Physicians for Human Rights.

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 on the board of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA), an organization committed to the domestic implementation of international women’s and Indigenous women’s rights standards.

Aboriginal knowledge