As Conservation International’s President, Jennifer Morris draws on decades of experience in conservation and economic development to ensure the organization’s programs deliver the best impact possible. That path started with an important discovery.
Almost thirty years ago, Jennifer was teaching in Namibia, with an eye on a career in public health. Years of working and living in a small community on the coast showed her that the health of each individual and each family was inextricably linked to the health of the environment. She decided to serve both through working in economic development, and went on to receive a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University with a focus on business development and microfinance. Her first step after grad school: Conservation International.
Over the next three decades, Jennifer developed some of Conservation International’s most enduring programs and partnerships, and innovative strategies using business development as a tool to protect nature for the well-being of humanity.
She started on the conservation enterprise team, where she helped small businesses in rural communities earn income while using nature sustainably. She later oversaw the Global Conservation Fund, which helped protect more than 80 million hectares around the world investing more than US$ 350 million towards conservation efforts, and the Verde Ventures program, whose business partners today employ nearly 60,000 local people in 14 countries with half a million hectares of important lands protected or restored. Jennifer also took on leadership of Conservation International’s Center for Environmental Leadership and Business, which partners with corporations to amplify conservation efforts and increase sustainability throughout supply chains. Over time, she rose to be the organization’s chief operating officer, adding organizational operations to her portfolio of conservation efforts, and led the organization through significant growth in budget and staff.
Today, Jennifer serves as President. She oversees all of Conservation International’s programs across 29 countries and more than 600 million hectares of protected land. She leads the more than 1,000 scientists, policy experts and passionate conservation professionals implementing cutting-edge initiatives and working with more than 2,000 diverse partners – from Indigenous communities to multinational corporations. She serves on the boards of several organizations including the Conservation Strategy Fund, Natural Capital Coalition and Nia Tero, an organization working to secure Indigenous guardianship of vital ecosystems around the world. She is a frequent presenter at international conferences, corporate events and universities on issues related to conservation finance, corporate engagement and climate change and women’s leadership.
Jennifer lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and daughter.