Board of Trustees

C. Diane Christensen (President)

Diane is the elder daughter of Christensen Fund’s founders and has been actively involved with the foundation since initially becoming a Trustee in the early 1970s, serving as its Executive Director (1989-2002) and as board chair till the early-mid 2000s. During the 1990s, she directed the foundation’s transformation from an operating foundation loaning extensive 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 an undergrad degree at Stanford, grad study in African and Latin American History at Columbia., conducted dissertation research on 19th C Angolan history, and taught African history at Tufts while also serving as an Assistant Academic Dean.  Between 1981 and 1989 she served as co-founder and the first executive director of the Christensen Research Institute, a biological research facility in Papua New Guinea focused on conservation-related research. She currently lives in Palo Alto, CA and serves on several nonprofit boards, including that of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Stanford University’s Archaeology Council; the Director’s Advisory Board of the Cantor Center for the Arts at Stanford; and theCalifornia College of Arts.


Theresa Fay-Bustillos

Theresa Fay-Bustillos is an independent consultant specializing in strategic planning, research, stakeholder engagement, human and civil rights, and social and environmental sustainability for nonprofits, philanthropic organizations and corporations. She is the former President and CEO of Community Initiatives, a sponsor of nonprofit initiatives and collaborations—providing financial services, grants management, human resources, payroll and benefits management, insurance, legal review, and social media and strategic planning consulting. 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, stakeholder engagement and human rights research for International Finance Corporation, member of World Bank Group, 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. She began her career as a civil and human rights lawyer where she led public interest litigation and public policy advocacy for over 20 years. 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 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.

Bill Dempsey photo[1]Bill Dempsey

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.

Rodolfo-DirzoRodolfo Dirzo

Rodolfo Dirzo is the Bing Professor of Environmental Sciences at Stanford University (Biology Department), where he teaches ecology, natural history, conservation science and bio-cultural diversity. He holds masters and doctoral degrees in ecology from the University of Wales (UK), having been awarded his BSc in Biology by the Universidad Autónoma de Morelos. He has published more than two hundred articles and scientific chapters in books, mostly on plant-animal interactions, biodiversity and conservation science. He has written or edited seventeen books, as well as numerous research reports and publications for wider publics. He joined Stanford after a distinguished career at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and he has held visiting lecturer positions in many universities in Latin America and beyond. His fieldwork focuses on the tropical ecosystems of Mexico, Costa Rica, Amazonia and Kenya, and he has deep interests in the ethno-ecological knowledge of traditional forest peoples such as the Popoluca in Los Tuxtlas region, the Zapotec in Oaxaca, and the Maya in the Yucatan. Awarded the Presidential Medal in Ecology in Mexico in 2003 and other honors, he has been the Chair of the Biology Section of the Mexican Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Mexican Academy of Sciences, and the California Academy of Sciences. He also runs science education programs for teachers, middle and high school students from under-represented communities in Northern California. He participated in and co-authored the new Framework for K-12 Science Education in the USA. He is current board affiliations comprise CREST (The Center for Responsible Travel), The Whitney Harris World Ecology Center, and Mongabay.

Peter Liu (Treasurer)

Peter Liu works to build companies and organizations that promote sustainable resources for economic growth. Peter is the co-founder of Clean Energy Advantage Partners, a firm that advises global corporations on investment in renewable energy projects. Clean Energy Advantage Partners’ clients include leading global brands that have achieved 100% renewable energy supply through new and additional projects. He also currently serves as strategic advisor to Cowgirl Creamery/Tomales Bay Foods, the iconic and pioneering artisanal cheese maker based in Petaluma, CA. Peter is the founder of New Resource Bank which is based in San Francisco and is the first green commercial bank in the U.S. He is also the co-founder and vice chairman of the China US Energy Efficiency Alliance which since 2004 has coordinated policy and technical collaboration to help China broaden energy efficiencyadoption. Peter currently also serves on the boards of directors for the East Bay Regional Parks Foundation, which funds the U.S.’s largest regional park system as well the boards of the Climate Action Reserve and the Bay Area Open Space Council. Previously, he was a founding board member for Ecologic Brands, an Oakland company which makes fully compostable and recyclable packaging for national consumer product brands. He also served on the clean technology advisory board for the California Public Employees Retirement Systems and the California Teacher’s Retirement Systems. Peter has degrees in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science from UC Berkeley and a graduate degree from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. Peter’s weekly goal is to cycle longer distances than he drives.


Tom_SThomas K. Seligman (Vice Chair)

Upon his recent retirement from Stanford University after twenty three years, Tom Seligman became the John & Jill Freidenrich Director Emeritus of the Iris & BGerald 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

Atossa founded Amazon Watch in 1996 and served as the organization’s Executive Director until 2015. She continues to serve the organization as its Board President. In 2008, Atossa joined the board of Trustees of the Christensen Fund and serves as its current Chair. Soltani is also on the advisory board of the Inter-American Clean Energy Institute. In addition to her board service, she is currently producing The Flow, a feature-length documentary about the art of aligning with the way of nature. Atossa has been leading global campaigns that have resulted in groundbreaking victories for rainforest protection, indigenous rights, and corporate accountability. A skilled media strategist, campaigner and storyteller, Soltani has effectively 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. Soltani was named the 2013 Hillary Laureate for Leadership in Climate Equity by the New Zealand-based Sir Edmund Hillary Institute. Prior to founding Amazon Watch, Atossa directed campaigns at the Rainforest Action Network that lead to key victories including ending clear-cut logging practices in Canada and forcing Hollywood Studios to end their use of rainforest wood in movie sets. She served as the Energy and Water Conservation Program Director for the City of Santa Monica from (1988-91). Atossa holds a B.S. in Public Policy Management from the University of Akron, Ohio. She is fluent in Spanish and Farsi and conversational in Portuguese.

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-head-picMichael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Chair)

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 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.