Founding Executive Director, Smithsonian Conservation Commons
Ruth Anna Stolk is founding Executive Director of the Newly forming Smithsonian Conservation Commons. The Commons will convene scientists from all over the Smithsonian to create a stronger conservation science vision, improved mechanisms for collaboration, and greater impact on conservation practice in the U.S. and worldwide. Stolk has a long career as an advocate and promoter of linkages between arts and science as a team builder among experts in multiple organizations. Her career has included not only service to SI in this capacity, but also the Institute of International Education, USAID's Higher Education for Development, International Council on Monuments and Sites, and as an adviser to a number of conservation and academic NGO’s.
After earning her Master's Degree in English Literature (UNC-Chapel Hill/University of Leiden, Netherlands, 1983), she served as a liaison for the US Delegation to the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in the Hague, and then joined the Smithsonian National Associates Program in 1987, to develop and promote member education programming worldwide. She then had several positions at the National Zoo, including serving as Executive Director for New Opportunities in Animal Health Sciences (NOAHS), where she launched award-winning science education programming and built a donor base for conservation science, and then as Director of Development for the Zoo. She returned to the central SI to help promote pan-institutional science initiatives as External Affairs Director of an earlier "Institute for Conservation Biology.” After this she spent seven years running her own consultancy, which included advisory services to SI, to Smithsonian Magazine, and to a number of international educational and conservation organizations. She returned to SI seven years ago to serve on SCBI's senior team to help develop strategy, in particular for the Front Royal SCBI facility's relationship to the region. One outcome is a new and growing bridge for our science into regional conservation practice called "Virginia Working Landscapes."