The Smithsonian Conservation Commons is an action network within the Smithsonian Institution (SI), highlighting the relevance of science and innovative interdisciplinary approaches across science and culture to on-the-ground conservation worldwide. The Commons scales up the reach and impact of the wealth of scientific information regarding conservation produced and managed by its 9 research centers, 19 museums and the National Zoo. By taking advantage of SI’s ability to transform complex scientific research into powerful communication tools, the Commons is rapidly becoming a unique platform for public education and awareness.
Although the overall trend in the natural world is still negative, there is reason for optimism — new and tested approaches that are working, and the rise of new generations with a fresh outlook in search of visionary and inspirational leadership.
The Conservation Commons, as part of the Smithsonian’s broader Strategic Plan, is harnessing the might of the Smithsonian and major partner institutions to build a global community of practice that breaks down barriers to:
human attitudes towards nature and conservation
engaging communities more effectively with science to manage sustainable landscapes and seascapes
tracking the movements of species to better conserve them
building more integrated approaches to food production and consumption
Researchers, administrators, educators, and other experts from across the Smithsonian Institution supported by:
Ruth Anna Stolk – Executive Director
Matt Lutkenhouse – Deputy Director
Kate Christen, PhD – Senior Manager
Brian Coyle, PhD – Program Manager
Erin Chapman – Operations Manager
Melissa Songer, PhD – Chief of Field Conservation Science
Sulema Castro – Operations/Project Manager
Molly Dodge – Program Manager, Working Land and Seascapes
Bathsheba Bryant-Tarpeh, PhD – Mellon/ACLS Fellow
Gavin Scott – Intern for Sustainable Food Systems
Core Plus Team
Tom Akre, PhD, Environmental Sciences and Public Policy, Working Land and Seascapes Secretary Scholar, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI)
Christine Buckley, Community Relations Advisor, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)
Steve Canty, PhD, Environmental Science and Sustainability Studies, Seascapes liaison, Smithsonian Marine Station (NMNH-SMS)
Jennifer Collins, Lead, Earth Optimism and Teen Education Coordinator, National Museum of Natural History (NMNH)
Jessica Deichmann, PhD, Biological Sciences, Field Program Advisor for Working Land and Seascapes, USAID BRIDGE Liaison, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI)
Linette Dutari, Communications Lead, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)
Britta Garfield, International Partnership Advisor, Office of International Relations (OIR)
Marshall Jones, Government Agency Liaison, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI)
Nancy Knowlton, PhD, Coral Reef Biology, Sant Ocean Chair, Thought Leader for Earth Optimism
Kim LaPierre, PhD, Climate Change Ecology and Ecosystem Conservation, Advisor to Movement of Life and Working Land and Seascapes, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)
Melanie McField, PhD, Coral Reef Ecology, Director of Healthy Reefs Initiative, Senior Advisor Working Land and Seascapes, Smithsonian Marine Station (NMNH-SMS)
Matt Ogburn, PhD, Environment, Whole Systems advisor to Working Land and Seascapes and Movement of Life, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)
Isabella Roden, Communications Resource, Office of International Relations (OIR)
Suzanne Sine, Administrative Management, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI)
Brandie Smith, PhD, Population Genetics, Advisor, National Zoological Park (NZP)
Jared Stabach, PhD, Ecologist, Movement of Life Program Coordinator, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI)
Steve Monfort, PhD, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (NZP/SCBI) – Chair
William Pitt, PhD, Deputy Director of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (NZP/SCBI)
Autumn-Lynn Harrison, PhD, Research Ecologist, Migratory Bird Center, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (NZP/SCBI)
Anson Hines, PhD, Director of Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)
Kim LaPierre, PhD, Global Change Ecologist, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)
Molly Fannon, Director of the Office of International Relations (OIR)
Aviva Rosenthal, Senior Advisor, Office of International Relations (OIR)
Melanie McField, PhD, Director of the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative, National Museum of Natural History – Smithsonian Marine Station (NMNH-SMS)
Michael Braun, PhD, Research Scientist, Dept. Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History (NMNH)
Gary Krupnick, PhD, Head of the Plant Conservation Unit, National Museum of Natural History (NMNH)
Matt Larsen, Director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)
Linette Dutari, Associate Director for Communication, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)
Carol LeBlanc, Senior Vice President, Smithsonian Enterprises (SE)
Bill Allman, Chief Digital Officer, Smithsonian Enterprises (SE)
Michael Mason, Director of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH)
Sabrina Lynn Motley, Folklife Festival Director, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH)
Carol O’Donnell, PhD, Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC)
Where do we work?
Visit Smithsonian Global to discover how our people and programs are making a difference across the world.
Why is this idea necessary?
Globally, billions of dollars are aimed at mitigating, offsetting, or recovering from environmental damage caused by human impacts, too often without robust backing from evidence-based research science. Smithsonian, with diverse, deeply-rooted expertise and unparalleled outreach impact, is uniquely positioned to effect and support transformations in human attitudes and approaches applied towards outcomes benefitting nature and conservation, forging lasting solutions addressing the Global Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030.
What are the Conservation Action Areas?
The Conservation Commons catalyzes and facilitates programming to impact conservation all over the world. A growing set of Conservation Action Areas advances this work:
Movement of Life
Sustainable Food Systems
Working Land and Seascapes
Who should be involved?
Conservation Commons has opportunities for everyone! We invite you to:
Participate in our yearly Earth Optimism events held around Earth Day, April 22