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About Earth Optimism

The global conservation movement has reached a turning point. We have documented the fast pace of habitat loss, the growing number of endangered and extinct species, and the increasing speed of global climate change. Yet while the seriousness of these threats cannot be denied, there are a growing number of examples of improvements in the health of species and ecosystems, along with benefits to human well-being, thanks to our conservation actions. Earth Optimism celebrates a change in focus from problem to solution, from a sense of loss to one of hope, in the dialogue about conservation and sustainability.

We encourage you to join #EarthOptimism on social media, take our free online workshop, or plan a sister event and celebrate what’s working in conservation with us.

About Conservation Commons

The Smithsonian Conservation Commons unites scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, National Zoological Park, and Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, as well as the Smithsonian’s rich cultural programs and long standing external partnerships, to tackle complex conservation problems on a global scale.

This collaboration builds upon Smithsonian strengths in four strategic conservation areas where our science, cultural assets, and convening power will have the greatest impact:

  1. Sustainable Food Systems
  2. Movement of Life
  3. Working Land and Seascapes
  4. Earth Optimism

Frequently Asked Questions


Earth Optimism Advisors

Molly Fannon, Director, Smithsonian Office of International Relations
Tuck Hines, Director, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Kirk Johnson, Sant Director, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Dennis Kelly, Acting President, Smithsonian Enterprises
Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair of Marine Science, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Matthew Larsen, Director, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Michael Mason, Director, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Steve Monfort, John & Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Sabrina Motley, Director, Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Chris Palmer, American University Center for Environmental Filmmaking
Kathleen Rogers, President, Earth Day Network
David Skorton, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian Team

Management Unit: Conservation Commons/Earth Optimism
Ruth Anna Stolk, Executive Director
Matt Lutkenhouse, Deputy Director
Erin Chapman, Operations Manager
Sulema Castro, Operations and Program Manager
Kate Christen, Senior Manager
Brian Coyle, Program Producer/Manager

Earth Optimism Program Committee
Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair of Marine Science, National Museum of Natural History
Steven Monfort, Mars Director, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Chair, Conservation Commons

Earth Optimism Operations Advisors
Bill Allman, Smithsonian Enterprises
Pamela Baker-Masson, National Zoological Park
Halle Butvin, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Alison Cawood, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Molly Dodge, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Marshall Jones, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Virginia Kromm, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Carol LeBlanc, Smithsonian Enterprises
Alison Leithner, Smithsonian Enterprises
Carolyn Martin, Office of Public Affairs
Melanie McField, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Fort Pierce Marine Station
Kristen Minogue, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Jaqueline Moen, Smithsonian Enterprises
Jordan Rutter, Digital Media Advisor, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (Migratory Bird Center)
Suzy Sine, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Smithsonian Conservation Commons Science Working Group
Halle Butvin, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Pierre Comizzoli, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Jessica Deichmann, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Brian Gratwicke, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Jeff Hall, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Autumn-Lynn Harrison, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Anson (Tuck) Hines, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Nancy Knowlton, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
John Kress, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Gary Krupnick, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Pete Marra, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Steven Monfort, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (Chair)
Patrick Jansen, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Melissa Songer, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Ruth Anna Stolk, Smithsonian Conservation Commons (Lead facilitator)


Coming soon!