Leah is passionate about the interconnection between social and environmental issues and finding solutions that contribute to environmental sustainability and human well-being. She works as a Post-Doc/Ecologist with the Natural Capital Project (NatCap), a partnership between Stanford University, University of Minnesota, the Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund, which focuses on developing strategies and tools to ensure that natural capital (or nature’s benefits) are included in decision making. With NatCap she works closely with The Nature Conservancy on Latin American Water Funds to develop and implement monitoring programs to evaluate how upstream conservation investments impact hydrological services, biodiversity, and human well-being. Her work is part of a larger effort to improve the efficacy and efficiency of water fund investments to enhance and protect ecosystem services, biodiversity, and human well-being.
In addition to her position with NatCap, she also works with University of Hawai’i, where she is originally from, to adapt and develop ecosystem services tradeoff models suited to the unique biophysical, socio-cultural, and economic context of Hawai’i and other Pacific islands. Similar to the goals of NatCap, this project aims to provide mechanisms to incorporate natural capital into planning and decision-making.
Leah holds a PhD in Geography from UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State University where her international research focused on the ecological and socio-economic outcomes of Payment for Ecosystem Services targeting highland ecosystems in Ecuador. Prior to her doctoral work, Leah worked in a diversity of arenas including: conservation, environmental education, and community development in San Diego, Washington, Hawai’i, New Zealand, and Australia. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and a M.S. in Conservation Biology from Victoria University of Wellington and Macquarie University in Sydney. Leah has received grants through the Fulbright and Rotary Foundations, among others. She also enjoys yoga, trail running, biking, surfing (in warm water), and backpacking.