Our Boards



Global Diversity Foundation’s work is guided and supported by two dynamic, diverse and multidisciplinary teams: the UK Board of Trustees and the US Board of Directors.



Dr. John Hemming, Chairman

Dr. John Hemming was educated at Eton College, McGill University and Oxford University, where he received a PhD in Modern History. He was Director and Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), London, from 1975 to 1996, a time of great expansion in the Society’s range of activities, membership and finance. The RGS was particularly concerned with environmental issues in its many conferences and lectures, in papers in its three learned journals, and in its sponsored and supported field research. John was active in launching and organising the Society’s multidisciplinary research projects in Mulu, Sarawak; Karakoram, Pakistan; Kora, Kenya; Wahibah, Oman; Kimberley, Australia; Mkomazi, Tanzania; and Temburong, Brunei. He was co-chairman of the RGS’s Badia Research and Development Programme in Jordan and personally led the Maracá Rainforest Project in northern Brazil. This grew to be the largest research project ever organised in the Amazon basin by any European country, with some 150 scientists and 50 scientific technicians working from 1987 onwards, and an output of 15 books, hundreds of papers and extensive collections and scientific discoveries.

John has also been on many expeditions in Peru and Brazil, including the first exploration and mapping of the upper Iriri River. He has visited or lived with over 40 tribes, four of them at the time of first contact. He is the author or editor of 16 books including The Conquest of the Incas, Red Gold, Amazon Frontier, Die If You Must: Brazilian Indians In The Twentieth Century, The Search for El Dorado, Change in the Amazon Basin and The Golden Age of Discovery.

John has been active in many charitable organisations including serving as Trustee of The British Council, Chairman of the Anglo-Peruvian Society, President of the Rainforest Club and Founder Trustee of Survival. He is currently a Trustee of Earthwatch UK, Hakluyt Society, Cusichaca Trust and Pro-Natura International, among other organisations. He has received numerous awards, including the Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) from the British government, Orden al Mérito (Peru) and Ordem do Cruzeiro do Sul (Brazil); medals and awards from Royal Geographical Society, Boston Museum of Science, Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Explorers Club (New York), Instituto Nacional de Cultura (Peru), Andean Explorers Club; and literary prizes such as the Pitman Prize and the Christopher Medal (New York).  He holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Warwick and Stirling and was named Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. He is currently chairman of Hemming Group Ltd. and of various publishing and exhibition-organising companies.


Isabel Goldsmith-Patiño

Isabel Goldsmith-Patiño - XXIsabel Goldsmith-Patiño (France/UK) is an internationally renowned hotelier with longstanding relationships in the entertainment, social, cultural and business communities of London, Paris, Hollywood and Mexico. Born in Paris, Isabel is the daughter of the late British financier Sir James Goldsmith and the granddaughter of “Bolivian Tin King” Don Antenor Patiño, who developed Las Hadas in Manzanillo where the movie “10” with Bo Derek was filmed.

In 1990, Isabel created Las Alamandas, a luxurious beachfront resort located midway between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo in the fabled “Costalegre” region of Mexico’s Pacific Coast. This world-famous, six-villa hideaway is situated within a 1,500-acre private paradise of lush tropical gardens, exotic wildlife and seemingly endless beaches in their most natural and pristine state. Las Alamandas has become the getaway for many of Hollywood’s biggest stars and the backdrop for many of the fashion world’s most glamorous pictorials. Isabel has long been involved with a variety of philanthropic endeavours, many of which focus on the environment. Most recently, she spearheaded various projects to protect and preserve the Mexican coastline. She became a GDF Trustee in 2006.



Vanessa Branson

Vanessa BransonVanessa Branson has enjoyed a life of working in the arts. From 1986 to 1991, she ran the Vanessa Devereux Gallery championing the work of emerging artists, most memorably being the first gallery to show William Kentridge in the UK. Vanessa is the co-owner of Riad El Fenn, a stunning hotel in the Medina of Marrakech. Her respect and love of North African culture led her to found the Marrakech Biennale (formerly AIM Biennale). It is North Africa’s only trilingual arts festival, comprising visual art, literature and film programs featuring acclaimed international and Moroccan artists.

Vanessa is a trustee of the British Moroccan Society and Virgin Unite. She has been a GDF Trustee since 2012.


William Carey

William CareyWilliam Carey started his career serving in The Blues and Royals. Having completed a short service commission, he then worked for a number of well known investment management companies before co-founding Liontrust Asset Management PLC in 1995, a business successfully listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1999. William continued as Joint Chief Executive until stepping down in 2004. During his time, the business grew to approximately £5 billion of funds under management with a market capitalisation of approximately £150 million. Since 2005, he has been involved in diverse projects ranging from investing in a small hotel business in Morocco to a political website called Hustings.com, that aims to get more people to engage in politics.

William became a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators as an Accredited Mediator in May 2006. In 2008, he was involved in setting up a rally team that enabled two young crew members to compete at a high level where they enjoyed considerable success. His main focus is now photography. William has been a GDF Trustee since 2009.

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.