As the elder daughter of the Fund’s founders, Carmen and Allen D. Christensen, Diane has been actively involved with the Fund since initially becoming a Trustee in the early 1970s. She took over from her father as its Executive Director and board chair in 1988 and served as such until Ken Wilson’s arrival as ED in 2002. During this time, she directed the foundation’s transformation from an operating foundation loaning its extensive non-Western art collections to museums in the U.S. and Australia to a private foundation making grants. She oversaw the transfer of its extensive collections to a number of U.S. and overseas museums and universities in the 1990s and early 2000s, and transitioned the foundation to a self-governing board of trustees no longer controlled by the founder’s family. Diane did her undergraduate work at Stanford and her graduate work at Columbia in African and Latin American History, researching the economic history of Angola in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She taught African history at Tufts in the 1970s where she also served as an Assistant Academic Dean, later co-founding and directing for ten years the Christensen Research Institute, a biological research facility in Papua New Guinea focused on conservation-related research. She currently oversees her family’s asset management firm while serving on several nonprofit boards, including the Wildlife Conservation Society; Stanford University’s Archaeology Council; the Director’s Advisory Board of the Cantor Center for the Arts at Stanford; and the board of trustees of the California College of Arts, where she currently serves as board chair. Diane travels widely and is fascinated by animals & wildlife, non-Western & comparative history, the visual arts, and Papua New Guinea, E. Africa and Afghanistan.
Walt Coward holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Iowa State University. His career has combined five years in Laos with International Voluntary Services and serving as research director for the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction in the Philippines with an academic career first briefly with Pennsylvania State University and then sixteen years at Cornell. At Cornell University he served as Professor of Rural Sociology and Asian Studies, Chair of the Department of Rural Sociology and Director of the International Agriculture Program focusing in human ecology and the connections between rural social organization and natural resource management most notably in irrigation in Montane Asia. Walt then spent nine years with the Ford Foundation as Director of the Foundation’s Rural Poverty and Resources Program and later as the Senior Director of the Foundation’s Asset Building and Community Development Program. At Ford he played a particular role in building a global field of environment and development, integrating it with the Foundation’s grantmaking in Rural America and especially the American Southwest. After retiring from Ford, Walt rejoined Cornell to inaugurate a research program on environment and development issues in mountain regions. Walt has played a significant role in reforming the international agricultural research institutions (CG system), and serves on the board of Hispanic Leadership in Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Texas, San Antonio (UTSA).
Theresa Fay-Bustillos is the President and CEO of Community Initiatives, an incubator for ideas, programs, and collaborations that do not have non-profit status by providing expert guidance, financial services; grants management; human resources, payroll and benefits management; insurance; and online donations through fiscal sponsorship to individuals, groups, foundations, philanthropic organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies. She began her career as a civil and human rights lawyer prior to her current engagement with social non-profit entrepreneurs. She is the former founder and Managing Director of Ideal Philanthropy & Sustainability, a global consultancy specializing in strategic planning, measurement and evaluation for social change-focused philanthropists and in break-through sustainability initiatives such as true cost accounting for the private sector. Theresa is a former Vice President, Worldwide Community & Corporate Citizenship for Levi Strauss and Co. and the Executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation. Over her eight years there, she led the company’s sustainability efforts globally and with the team supported organizations in 35 countries in the areas of workers’ rights, financial services – asset-building, HIV/AIDS prevention and environmental sustainability. While at Levi’s, Theresa was also the chief legal officer for the foundation addressing issues of governance, self-dealing, endowment management and the USA Patriot Act. Since leaving Levi Strauss Theresa has designed, led or evaluated a number of major philanthropic and multilateral programs in the US and internationally. Theresa received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley and her law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles. She serves on several boards including the California Women’s Foundation, Fair Trade USA, MALDEF, and CREA. She is the former (and founding) Board Chair for the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples, and has been selected as one of the Most Influential Women in San Francisco by the San Francisco Business Times. Theresa has been commended and recognized in resolutions by the City of Los Angeles, the California Senate, and by the Levi Strauss Foundation.
Winona LaDuke is a rural development economist who lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota. She is the Executive Director of Honor the Earth Foundation, an Indigenous led advocacy and regranting organization with strategic initiatives on Native environmental issues and the survival of sustainable Native communities. She is also the Founding Director of White Earth Land Recovery Project, working for two decades on the land issues of the White Earth Reservation, including litigation over land rights in the 1980s. She has written extensively on Native American and environmental issues. Her books include: Last Standing Woman, All Our Relations, In the Sugarbush (children’s non-fiction), The Winona LaDuke Reader, Recovering the Sacred, and her latest, The Militarization of Indian Country, released in 2011. A graduate of Harvard University, with a graduate fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Community Development), and a Masters in Rural Development from Antioch University, Winona is a two time vice presidential candidate for the Green Party, and serves on several advisory boards.
Thomas K. Seligman
Upon his recent retirement from Stanford University after twenty three years, Tom Seligman became the John & Jill Freidenrich Director Emeritus of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University. Prior to becoming the first full-time Director in the museum’s history, Tom was a deputy director and Curator of the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, where he served for twenty years. Tom served as a trustee of the Association of Art Museum Directors, the American Federation of Arts and The American Association of Museums International Council of Museums (AAM/ICOM). He is founder of the Friends of Ethnic Arts. From 1988-92, Mr. Seligman served on the President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee, which reviews requests from other countries for assistance under the terms of the law implementing the 1970 UNESCO Cultural Property Convention. He is a specialist in the arts of Africa. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa in the 1960s, he taught at Cuttington College and directed a museum of African art. He subsequently specialized in the arts and culture of the Tuareg people of the central Sahara and recently has been researching jewelry makers in Rajasthan and Gujarat, India in preparation for an exhibition and publication.
Atossa Soltani is the founder and board chair of Amazon Watch. Founded in 1996, Amazon Watch is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending the rights and the territories of indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin (www.amazonwatch.org). Since 1991, Atossa has been working to support indigenous peoples in their efforts to protect their rights to self-determination, territories, natural resources, culture, and way of life. Prior to founding Amazon Watch, Atossa directed campaigns at the Rainforest Action Network (1991-1996). Atossa has worked on documenting and publicizing human rights abuses and environmental disasters caused by extractive industries and large scale infrastructure projects throughout the Amazon. She has led successful campaigns challenging oil companies and international financial institutions to adopt stronger environmental and social standards globally. Atossa is a skilled media strategist, photographer and filmmaker and has produced a number of short educational films about this subject. Atossa serves on the board of directors of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs, and has served as the Energy and Water Conservation Program Director for the City of Santa Monica from (1988-91). In her free time, she serves as a photographer for Project Bandaloop, a non-profit aerial dance company. Atossa holds a B.S. in Public Policy Management from the University of Akron, Ohio. She is fluent in Spanish and Farsi.
Richard Williams (Secretary)
Richard B. Williams (Oglala Lakota/Northern Cheyenne) is a passionate and committed advocate and fierce champion of Native peoples in the United States. From 1997-2012, he has served as president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, a national non-profit scholarship fundraising organization for American Indian students attending tribal colleges and universities which provide culturally based education and are run by the tribes. Rick was the first American Indian to graduate from the University of Nebraska Lincoln, receiving a B.A. (magna cum laude) in 1975. Concurrently, he finished an independent study program at the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) in Boulder, Colorado, where he continued his work as a paralegal after graduation. In 1987, Rick completed a M.A. in educational administration at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. Rick has dedicated himself to the goal of American Indian education throughout his career. At CU-Boulder, he directed several initiatives, including the American Indian Upward Bound Program, as Director of Minority Affairs and the University Learning Center (now the Student Academic Service Center). Rick also helped to establish the White Antelope Memorial Scholarship that provides financial assistance to American Indian students. He directed a summer initiative, Tribal Resource Institute in Business, Engineering & Science (TRIBES), a privately funded program that augmented university resources for students. At the American Indian College Fund, Rick has raised more than $200 million for scholarship support for Native students and support for the Tribal Colleges and Universities since 1997, including helping 17 faculty members complete their doctorates. In 2007 he received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island for his work in Native education. Rick serves on the board of the Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribe Endowment Trust. He is a devoted father of four children and grandfather of six grandchildren. He resides in Broomfield, Colorado with his wife, Sally Carufel-Williams (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe/Dakota).
MNY is a visual artist working in a wide range of materials from sheets of paper to sheets of steel. While this practice reaches out across the cleavages between Indigenous Peoples and Settler populations it is grounded and informed by his own ethnic ancestry, a Haida from their north Pacific island home. Samples of that artwork can be seen at www.mny.ca. MNY has worked in the contemporary application of historically recognized Indigenous Title and Rights in Canada, most notably in the establishment of the Gwaii Trust, a culturally diverse community and consensus controlled interest generating fund and the biologically significant Haida Heritage Site also known as the Gwaiihaanaas National Park Reserve. He also serves on the Advisory Board at the Museum of Anthropology at University of British Columbia.
Bill Dempsey is the Chief Financial Officer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a U.S.-based labor organization of 2-million members, where he also Co-Chairs their $2 billion pension fund. He has 25 years of experience developing new strategies to empower under-served communities and advance sustainable economic and racial justice. Bill has served as the Chief Financial Officer and Program Director of the Nathan Cummings Foundation where he oversaw grants, managed their shareholder action program, started an impact investing program and supervised the investments of a $450 million endowment. He has led reform campaigns that changed the boardrooms, executive pay and/or governance policies at dozens of S&P 100 companies. Bill ran Capital Stewardship Programs at the United Food & Commercial Workers and SEIU, working with public and private sector pension funds with billions of dollars in assets. His career in investor activism began as a teenager in the 1980’s when he founded the Marquette University South Africa Coalition, questioning his campus endowment’s reliance on high-risk, apartheid-era investments, an effort opposed by a fellow student named Scott Walker, who went on to an interesting career of his own.