Conservation International Names Newest Fellow: Monica Medina, Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and Ocean Advocate

June 5, 2024

Medina joins as 7th Arnhold Distinguished Fellow

ARLINGTON, Va. (June 5, 2024) – Conservation International will welcome Monica Medina as the newest member of its Arnhold Distinguished Fellowship Program, effective June 5. As an Arnhold Fellow, Medina will continue her career-long focus on policy and advocacy surrounding climate change, biodiversity loss, oceans and plastic pollution.

Joining from her most recent role as the President and CEO of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Medina previously served at the highest levels of U.S. government: as the first ever U.S. Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources; as the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs; and through leadership positions at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Defense (DoD). She also founded Our Daily Planet, an environmental newsletter focused on climate and biodiversity challenges and solutions.

Through her role as an Arnhold Fellow, Medina will advance Conservation International’s continued commitment to protect and conserve the world’s oceans. She will focus her work in support of the U.S. Foundation for International Conservation Act, high-integrity carbon markets, climate and nature-based solutions and biodiversity finance, among other institutional priorities. 

“I’ve worked in both the nonprofit and public sectors throughout my career, and this role as an Arnhold Fellow at Conservation International will allow me to draw equally from both of these deep wells of experience. I’m honored to join the existing group of Arnhold fellows, whose leadership and commitment to conservation I greatly admire,” said Medina. “Healthy oceans are integral to addressing the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, and they also feed and fuel the livelihoods of billions around the world. It’s crucial that we invest in their longevity.”

“We’re thrilled to welcome Monica to our cohort of Arnhold Distinguished Fellows,” said Conservation International CEO Dr. M. Sanjayan. “Monica and I have been friends and collaborators for many years to generate financing and support for nature and the most pressing global conservation issues. I look forward to now having Monica as a colleague as her expertise, commitment to inclusivity and career-long dedication to this work make her an exceptional talent for Conservation International.”

To date, the Arnhold Distinguished Fellowship Program has welcomed only six other leaders. This unique fellowship program enlists visionaries to elevate the climate and conservation dialogue to the highest levels of government and industry, helping to create the political space for diplomacy and bold action on some of the most pressing challenges of our times. Named for one of Conservation International’s most dedicated and beloved Board members, Henry Arnhold, the Program was established in 2018 to honor Arnhold’s memory and his lifelong dedication to peace, human rights and conservation.


About Conservation International: Conservation International protects nature for the benefit of humanity. Through science, policy, fieldwork and finance, we spotlight and secure the most important places in nature for the climate, for biodiversity and for people. With offices in 30 countries and projects in more than 100 countries, Conservation International partners with governments, companies, civil society, Indigenous peoples and local communities to help people and nature thrive together. Go to for more, and follow our work on Conservation NewsFacebookTwitterTikTokInstagram and YouTube.