Board of Directors
David is the Founder, CEO and Chairman of the Investment Committee of Gryphon Investors, a San Francisco-based, middle-market private equity (“PE”) firm with over $5 billion of equity investments and capital under management. Gryphon has been consistently recognized on a quarterly basis on Preqin’s esteemed “most consistent performer” list of less than two percent of all North American PE firms. Previously, David was a Managing Director/Partner of Oak Hill Partners in New York, which was the private equity investment vehicle for Texas billionaire Robert M. Bass. Over his 30-year career, David has served on the board of directors on behalf of the controlling shareholder entity for nearly 50 companies in a broad range of industries within the business services, consumer, healthcare and industrial growth sectors.
David founded Gryphon at the age of 33 with the vision of building a leading middle-market PE firm focused on helping already good companies become very good or great through utilizing the best management and operational practices of much larger firms. Gryphon is widely recognized as being one of the true pioneers in building out an in-house operations groups, consisting of successful former operating company CEOs and functional specialists, including the often-overlooked discipline of organizational development. Core to Gryphon’s strategy and David’s drive is an uncommon commitment to building high-performance teams through proven personal and team development frameworks and proactive executive coaching. With Gryphon’s increased scale and PE brand, David is increasingly focused on helping individuals in both for-profit and non-profit organizations achieve “Self-Actualization Through Personal Development, Professional Excellence and Societal Contributions.”
David’s current philanthropic activities are focused on global warming, U.S. Veterans, orphans and wildlife conservation, in addition to the schools of his two daughters and his alma mater. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys most sports, including tennis, golf and snow and water skiing. David earned an B.A., J.D. and M.B.A. from Stanford University.
Wendy Benchley is an ocean conservationist, marine policy advocate, and renowned global voice for protecting sharks and safeguarding our seas. She is the 2014 recipient of the International SeaKeepers Award, which is given annually to an individual or an organization that has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to ocean conservation. Based in Washington, D.C., Wendy is actively engaged in the marine policy community and supports many of the world’s leading ocean and environmental philanthropies. She was president of the board of Shark Savers and was instrumental in helping to merge the organization into WildAid. She is also an advisory board member of Ocean Champions, a non-profit political organization that supports pro-ocean congressional candidates and lobbies members of Congress on behalf of the oceans. Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Wendy worked on many environmental issues as a trustee of Environmental Defense Fund. She is currently a trustee on the EDF’s advisory board. Wendy started her environmental and political career in the ‘70’s in her home state of New Jersey as a co-founder and trustee of the New Jersey Environmental Federation. She was elected to the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders and was elected as a Princeton Borough councilwoman for three terms. Among many legislative accomplishments, she worked on smart growth and sustainability issues, playing a leadership role in bringing to fruition a prize-winning downtown development and expanding affordable housing. Wendy was married to Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws and a well-known voice for ocean conservation through his numerous books, articles and documentaries about the wonders of ocean life and its many threats.
Chris is director of environmental initiatives at Apple where he leads a team overseeing strategy, forecasting & accounting for Apple’s 2030 carbon neutral goal, as well as standards and prioritization for climate and circular economy. Chris and his team established Apple’s Restore Fund, and direct nature based climate solutions investments globally. In addition, Chris’ team oversees Apple’s environmental grants portfolio. Prior to joining Apple, Chris served in the Obama Administration as a policy advisor at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Chris holds Master’s degrees from Columbia University and the London School of Economics.
Meredith graduated from Miami University with degrees in business and botany. She worked in healthcare for many years, starting in pharmaceutical sales and then in the cardiac transplant space in many roles, including forming, training and managing sales organizations, developing international marketing programs, and creating physician and nursing education at a series of small cardiovascular device companies and genomics start-ups. She now applies her time and enthusiasm to causes that resonate with her. Meredith has served on the board of Meals on Wheels of San Francisco, and in response to the 2017 Sonoma fires, she began a project called Re-Source — committed to getting items to those impacted by the fires. It is run 100% on volunteer effort and has zero overhead. Together with her husband Barry, she avidly supports programs that provide access to education for disadvantaged communities. WildAid is a perfect marriage of many things important to Meredith — passion for conservation of land and creatures, sustainability, and pragmatic, economically viable solutions to urgent difficult problems. She loves flora, fauna and wine. In her spare time, she loves to cook with local and sustainably grown produce. She has a dog that is bigger than she is.
ROBIN A. FERRACONE
Robin is the founder and CEO of Farient Advisors, an executive compensation and performance consultancy. Prior to founding Farient, Robin held senior leadership roles at Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC), Mercer (a subsidiary of MMC), SCA Consulting, a firm she cofounded, and Booz Allen & Hamilton. Robin is an expert in corporate governance and compensation. She is the author of “Fair Pay, Fair Play: Aligning Executive Performance and Pay”, published in 2010. She also has been named to the Directorship 100, a list of the most influential people in the boardroom, for the past ten years. Robin received her MBA from the Harvard Business School and her BA from Duke University. Robin has been active in animal welfare and conservation for over 20 years. She was the founder of A Breed Apart Veterinary Services, a best in class veterinary hospital for companion pets and exotics, and is on the board of directors of Trupanion, Inc., a publicly-traded pet health insurance company. She is an avid supporter of WildAid, as well as numerous other animal protection organizations.
Donna is a wildlife conservationist, community volunteer, philanthropist, and backyard farmer. She has degrees in Hospital Administration, Veterinary Technology, and Animal Husbandry. Her work transitioned from the veterinary and wildlife rehabilitation fields to not-for-profit environmental conservation in the 90s. Board positions with an international marine wildlife organization and local community nonprofits soon followed. Donna brings 15 years of nonprofit board experience to WildAid and is thrilled to be a part of an organization which promotes change of mindset. She believes that scientific study and local protection of threatened species are crucial, but insufficient to conserve biodiversity. For wildlife to thrive in the long-term, human perception of the importance of wildlife must be changed. Donna and her husband are deeply committed to several projects around the globe that protect vulnerable species and restore balance to habitats and ecosystems for animals, plants and people.
Carol has had a lifelong love of animals and the ocean. She served as Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning for the Animal Hospital Division of VCA, Inc. There she oversaw strategy and marketing, pricing, and training initiatives for over 500+ animal hospitals. She also developed operational “Best Practices” and led the integration of large multi-unit acquisitions. Prior to VCA, Carol was a partner and COO of a veterinary start-up. Earlier in her career, she was a Vice President in the Corporate Finance Department of The First Boston Corporation and began her career at Bankers Trust Company financing Mexican companies. Carol earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School and an AB in Biology from Cornell University. She and her husband raised their two children in Los Angeles where you can often find Carol rowing among the sea lions and pelicans. Inspired by her interest in conservation, Carol and her family have created a small wildlife sanctuary near their home in north Idaho. She was drawn to WildAid because of the organization’s unique strategies for protecting both land and sea creatures, and their habitats.
Kristan is Vice President of Product Management at Capital One, where he and his team work to revolutionize banking through technology. Prior to Capital One, Kristan worked in strategy for Meta and Google. Before transitioning into tech, Kristan specialized in military policy and geopolitical strategy for the RAND Corporation and Northrop Grumman. He holds a B.A. in Economics, B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, M.B.A. and M.S. in Industrial Engineering. A scuba instructor and sailor in his free time, Kristan has witnessed first hand the impact of global warming and our demand for wildlife products on biodiversity and ecosystems. WildAid’s unique mission of reducing the demand for wildlife products instantly resonated with Kristan as it is a sustainable and scalable strategy to protect earth’s ecosystems.
Rob is a conservation ecologist with a B.Sc. from UC Irvine, and Ph. D. from University of Oregon who has more than 25 years of professional experience working in over 40 countries on issues related to: wildlife trafficking; biodiversity conservation; ecosystem restoration; protected areas management; climate change; and empowerment of civil society organizations and communities. He currently serves as Managing Director of the Laguna Ocean Foundation. Previously, he served in executive and senior science positions at the National Geographic Society, Wildlife Conservation Society, and UNESCO. He has held faculty positions at the City University of New York and George Washington University, and board positions with other conservation organizations. He serves on scientific and conservation commissions including: IUCN Species Survival Commission; World Commission on Protected Areas; and Commission on Environmental, Economic, and Social Policy.
Kathy is the founder and president of a boutique search firm, Kathy Macdonald Associates, Inc., which provides retained search and consulting services exclusively for CEOs nationwide. Prior to creating and establishing her successful firm 23 years ago, Kathy served in top administrative management positions at the international consulting firm of Booz Allen & Hamilton and the worldwide executive search firm of Spencer Stuart. She received her B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Colorado. Born and raised in Hawaii, Kathy developed an early passion for dolphins and ocean conservation. She has been a lifelong advocate for the protection of animals and their habitats. She has served on WWF’s marine leadership committee and has created successful fundraising events for WWF and the American Oceans Campaign.
Katharine Martin is chair of the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (WSGR) board of directors and a partner in the firm, where she practices corporate and securities law. Her practice includes all aspects of public and private company representation, including public offerings, private placements and mergers and acquisitions with an emphasis in technology companies. She has also represented underwriters in public offerings and issuers and investors in private equity financings. Katie joined WSGR after twelve years at Pillsbury Madison & Sutro LLP, where she was a partner. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.
TREASURER / VICE CHAIR
Steve Morgan is a principal at AllianceBernstein. Steve works extensively with entrepreneurs and founders of early stage companies in advance of an exit. He has a particular focus on advanced wealth transfer and tax strategies. Steve has been a wildlife supporter for many years and joined the WildAid Board because it provides an extraordinary opportunity to impact the survival of many of our most iconic species. He holds a BA, cum laude, in Finance from the University of Florida and an MBA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
After earning an undergraduate degree in business administration and a graduate degree in international business studies, Mary O’Malley’s professional experience included market analysis, systems design, project management, large enterprise sales, and international sales management with responsibility for building and managing worldwide distribution networks. Since retiring from business in 2005, she dove with and photographed manta rays and over 30 different species of sharks throughout the world. Mary volunteers her time to shark and manta ray conservation, including acting as co-project lead for the Manta Ray of Hope project that addresses the urgent threat to manta and mobula rays. In this capacity, she co-wrote the WildAid/Shark Savers report, “The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays,” was lead author of “The Direct Economic Impact of Manta Ray Watching Tourism,” which was published in the peer-reviewed PlosONE scientific journal. She also contributed to the drafting of the proposal to include both manta ray species on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as well as documents supporting legal protection for manta rays in their range countries. O’Malley has also worked on numerous shark conservation initiatives, including the Raja Ampat Shark and Ray Sanctuary, the I’m FINished with FINS campaign, protection for lemon, hammerhead and tiger sharks in Florida, and US state shark fin bans. She continues to actively support WildAid’s shark and manta ray programs. Mary previously served on the board of directors of Shark Savers, is an associate director of The Manta Trust, and serves on the steering committee for The Blue Book Building and Construction Network.
ELLIE PHIPPS PRICE
Ellie is an active supporter of many environmental, wildlife and animal welfare causes, but elephants have always had her heart. While working and traveling in Africa for a malaria prevention project, she became aware of the tragedy unfolding for elephants. She is dedicated to making a difference for wildlife by joining WildAid. An avid equestrian, Ellie lives in Sonoma and is the owner of Durell Vineyard and founder of Dunstan Wines. She attended the University of California at Berkeley.
Jim Shaughnessy has over 25 years of experience representing technology companies across public policy and legal affairs. He currently serves as Chief Legal Officer at DocuSign where he is responsible for building, leading, and overseeing legal affairs, government relations, and risk management. Prior to Docusign, he spent 10 years at Workday serving in various roles, including General Counsel and Senior Advisor for Corporate Affairs, where he was responsible for policy and public affairs, including the company’s corporate tech-for-good initiatives. Before that, Jim held General Counsel roles at Orbitz, Lenovo, and PeopleSoft and was Deputy General Counsel at Hewlett Packard.
Jim holds a Juris Doctor degree and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan, as well as a bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University.
An avid offshore sailor, Jim is awed by the majesty of the earth’s oceans and is committed to promoting their health through programs to reduce pollution, stop overfishing and protect sensitive marine habitats.