U.S. Board of Directors

Dr. Nancy Turner, President

Nancy Turner

Dr. Nancy Turner, Distinguished Professor and Hakai Professor in Ethnoecology at the University of Victoria, is an ethnobotanist whose research integrates the fields of botany and ecology with anthropology, geography and linguistics, among others. She is interested in the traditional knowledge systems and traditional land and resource management systems of Indigenous Peoples, particularly in western Canada.

Nancy has worked with First Nations elders and cultural specialists in northwestern North America for over 40 years, collaborating with indigenous communities to help document, retain and promote their traditional knowledge of plants and habitats, including indigenous foods, materials and medicines, as well as language and vocabulary relating to plants and environments. Her interests also include the roles of plants and animals in narratives, ceremonies, language and belief systems.

Currently, Nancy is working on several research and writing projects. In 2011, she was named Hakai Chair in Ethnoecology and was awarded a $1.25 million grant from the Quadra Island-based Tula Foundation to support her ongoing work. This funding and new role allows her to participate more fully in community-based learning and research, especially pertaining to critical issues facing Canadians today on the importance of sustaining biocultural diversity in an ever-changing world. She remains active in organisations including The Hakai Institute, Society of Ethnobiology, Society for Economic Botany and Slow Food International. She took on the role as President of the GDF-US Board of Directors in 2010. [source: University of Victoria website]


Dr. Rick Stepp, Secretary

John Richard SteppDr. Rick Stepp is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Latin American Studies at the University of Florida. He is a core faculty member of the Tropical Conservation and Development Programme and the Land Use and Environmental Change Institute. He is also an affiliate faculty member of the School of Natural Resources and Environment and the Florida Museum of Natural History. For the last decade, Rick has conducted ethnobiological research with the Tzeltal Maya in Highland Chiapas, Mexico.

Rick currently coordinates an interdiscplinary research programme in the Maya Forest of Belize, Guatemala and Mexico. He received funding from the National Science Foundation for a comparative project with Q’eqchi’ and Mopan Maya communities in Southern Belize. He also works with Garinagu in coastal Central America. His research explores persistence, change and variation of traditional ecological knowledge and ethnobotany. Other research interests include medical anthropology, visual anthropology, GIS and land use change and human ecosystems theory. Along with his graduate students, he is developing a global GIS database for biocultural diversity with support from The Christensen Fund. He is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-STAR and David L. Boren fellow. He has been on the GDF-US Board of Directors since 2006. [extracted from University of Florida website]


Darcie Houck

Darcie Houck (USA) joined Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP in 2005 and became a partner in 2007. She holds a J.D. (1998), M.S. (1998) and B.A. (1994) from the University of California, Davis, and a Land Use and Environmental Planning Certificate. Darcie represents Indian tribes in the United States on a wide range of issues including environmental and resource protection, nuclear regulatory proceedings, water rights, land claims, energy development, tribal governance, cultural resource protection, coastal marine spatial planning and sovereignty/human rights matters. She works with Tribal governmental entities facing critical decisions on how to utilise resources to promote economic development, protect the environment and preserve the social and cultural structure of the communities impacted by these decisions. Darcie is of Mohawk and Ottawa heritage. Darcie joined the Board in 2016.


Dune Lankard

Dune Lankard, an Eyak Athabaskan Native of the Eagle Clan, is a strategic and guiding force for the Eyak Preservation Council (EPC). His stances in his community have shown vision and courage, even though they have not always been popular and understood.  He is ancestrally from, and a lifelong resident of, Cordova. The morning he found his homelands covered with oil from the Exxon Valdez disaster he turned from commercial fisherman to dedicated community activist. Since that day, he has been recognised for his abilities to link cultural and environmental solutions. In 2006, he was named an Ashoka Social Entrepreneur Fellow; in 2007, his non-profit business idea for the Cordova Cold Storage and Cookery was awarded a Marketplace Alaska award by the Alaska Federation of Natives. He was awarded a Hunt Alternatives Fund-Prime Movers Fellowship: Cultivating Social Capital Award. He sits on the boards of the Bioneers, EPC, the NATIVE Conservancy, REDOIL, is on the advisory board of the Seva Foundation and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, and is Senior Alaska Representative for the Center for Biological Diversity. Dune contributes in all of EPC’s organising and strategies, and is a lead strategist in the Bering River Coal Conservation Opportunity and the Shepard Point campaigns. He is also one of EPC’s Copper River Wilderness Raft guides. He joined the GDF-US Board in 2017. 


Norma Ketay Asnes

Norma Ketay Asnes is President of Ketay Asnes Productions in New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature/Letters from Barnard College. Norma previously held the role of Board of Governors Vice Chair for the Joint Centre for Political and Economic Studies in Washington D.C. She sits on GDF’s Board of Trustees UK (since 2000) and Board of Directors US (since 2006).


Dr. Octaviana Trujillo

Octaviana TrujilloDr. Octaviana Trujillo is a Professor at Northern Arizona University. She has worked over the past three decades in the area of educational programme development for Indigenous Peoples. She was the founding Director of the American Indian Graduate Center at the University of Arizona, where she later was Assistant Professor in the Department of Language, Reading and Culture and affiliated faculty with American Indian Studies. In 1994, Octaviana became the first woman to become chairman of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona. Octaviana became a GDF Board member in 2012.



Yolanda Lopez-Maldonado

Yolanda Lopez-Maldonado is a Human Ecologist and Geographer (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU) specialised in freshwater resources. She is a successful indigenous researcher and practitioner with extensive experience in indigenous and traditional peoples, human-environmental systems, community-based conservation, participative action-research, system analysis and transdisciplinary approaches. Born and raised in Yucatan, Mexico, she has been a visiting researcher at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain, and the Natural Resources Institute – University of Manitoba, Canada. Yolanda was selected as a Young Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (2015), Austria, and the Beijer Institute, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (2016-2019), Stockholm, Sweden.

In her professional career, Yolanda has focused on issues such as social aspects of nature conservation, indigenous peoples, stakeholder involvement in conservation, community based conservation, and women’s involvement in natural resource management. She has worked for international academic and non-academic organisations at different levels in social issues and science fields, and collaborated with communitarian organisations in Mexico towards groundwater conservation. She is a member of the Specialist Group: Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, the Ramsar Culture Network, and Member of the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP). Yolanda has been a Delegate at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) United Nations Headquarters, New York. In her home country, Mexico, she is working towards solutions by combining natural and social sciences with traditional ecological knowledge, which respects indigenous knowledge.