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 the Wildlife Conservation Society and the California College of Arts.


Theresa Fay-Bustillos

Theresa Fay-Bustillos is the Chief Program Director for Blue Shield of California Foundation. In this position, she leads the grantmaking and strategy for the foundation which focuses on systems change to improve health, well-being and safety for the most vulnerable in California. 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. She is the former founder and Managing Director of Ideal Philanthropy & Sustainability, a global consultancy specializing in strategic planning, measurement and evaluation, and sustainability initiatives for social change-focused philanthropists, nonprofits, and the private sector. She also provided stakeholder engagement and human rights guidance for International Finance Corporation, member of World Bank Group. Theresa is a former Vice President, Worldwide Community & Corporate Citizenship for Levi Strauss and Co. and the Executive Director/Chief Legal Counsel 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. 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. Rodolfo runs science education programs for teachers, middle and high school students from under-represented communities in Northern California, and participated in and co-authored the new Framework for K-12 Science Education in the USA.

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.

Christine Smith-Martin

Christine Smith-Martin is the First Nations Community Advisor for the Skeena Wild Conservation Trust, a regional initiative working to make the Skeena watershed in NW British Columbia — one of the last remaining wild salmon ecosystems in the world — a global model of ecological and economic sustainability. She previously served as the Executive Director of the Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services Society, a non-profit agency that provides outreach services to Aboriginal people within the Metro-Vancouver area. Christine has a rich Aboriginal lineage to both Tsimshian and Haida communities and grew up in a small North coast village called Lax kw’alaams. Her upbringing was focused on teaching her the “cultural ways” from both sides of her lineage, and she grew up salmon fishing with her dad. Carrying a jar of traditionally-preserved salmon, Christine recently crashed a media event of the Canadian government to bring the message of her people, challenging the government’s authority to approve a large natural gas project on the ancestral lands of her people without the consent of the traditional title holders of Lelu Island.

Nicole Pierret

Nicole Pierret is the granddaughter of the founders of The Christensen Fund. She spent her early childhood in Papua New Guinea, attended an international high school in Arizona, and graduated from California College of the Arts, majoring in painting. She and her husband are artists and live in Berkeley, CA. Currently she works for local Ceramic artist Bean Finneran.

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 Gwaii Haanaas National Park Reserve. He is also a Shadbolt Community Scholar and serves as a board member for the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation (Vancouver, Canada).