CI Taps Conservation Finance Expert to Lead Operations
– Conservation International (CI) is pleased to announce the promotion of Jennifer Morris to Chief Operating Officer. The appointment is effective September 22. Morris is among the youngest and first female Chief Operating Officers of a major environmental organization. She will report directly to Conservation International’s president, Gary Edson.
Prior to this announcement Morris led the organization’s conservation investment and business engagement initiatives as Executive Vice President for Ecosystem Finance and Markets, managing five diverse funds, with US$330 million under management, as well as CI’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business.
“Jennifer is among the most thoughtful and innovative executives in the field of conservation,” said Peter Seligmann, CEO and Chairman of Conservation International. “CI is incredibly fortunate to have talent of this caliber amidst our ranks, and we are confident Jennifer’s leadership in this role will be a tremendous asset to CI as we strive to place our global society on a path of sustainability.”
“I have had the immense privilege to learn from some of the most brilliant conservationists on the planet,” said Morris. “I am thrilled to have this leadership opportunity on a team that is truly changing the business of conservation.”
Morris joined CI in 1998 as an expert in microfinance. Her work focused on assisting local community groups in Africa, Asia and Latin America develop community-based businesses. These partnerships established through these efforts have been among CI’s most lasting and influential.
“Jennifer has an unparalleled track record of pioneering solutions for some of the most complicated conservation challenges our world faces,” said Gary Edson, president of Conservation International. “I have the utmost confidence that her leadership of our operations will make Conservation International an even more effective force for change.”
Among Morris’s accomplishments include her oversight since 2006 of the Global Conservation Fund, which was made possible by a $100 million gift from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2001. The Global Conservation Fund designs and supports innovative long-term financing mechanisms for the effective management of protected areas. Since its creation, the fund has supported the protection of more than 80 million hectares (197 million acres) around the world, invested US$ 66 million and generated more than $1 million in wages for local economies.
Morris was also responsible for the creation and growth of Verde Ventures, an investment fund managed by Conservation International to provide support for businesses that deliver environmental, socioeconomic and financial benefits. Verde Ventures’ investments have led to the employment Verde Ventures business partners employ almost 60,000 local people in 14 countries and protection and restoration of more than half a million hectares (1.2 million acres) of important lands.
Prior to joining CI, Morris was a business development consultant with a micro-finance institution and has lived and worked in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Morris has a bachelor's in political science from Emory University and a master's in international affairs with a business development and micro-finance focus from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.