Board of Directors
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.
Fiona Bensen grew up in New Zealand. After college, she traveled extensively before eventually settling in London, where she worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers, the international accounting firm, specializing in bankruptcy, corporate turnaround and insolvency. It was while in London that she met her late husband, Tod Bensen, former WildAid Chairman and Board Member. In 2006, after 21 years in London, Fiona and Tod relocated to California to pursue other professional and personal interests. Fiona trained as a yoga teacher and now teaches yoga at Stanford University and various studios in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since becoming involved as a passionate supporter of WildAid , Fiona has had the pleasure of travelling to the Galapagos, Mexico, India and Africa to see the work it is undertaking first hand. She is delighted to join the Board to continue its mission to save endangered wildlife.
Xochi Birch co-founded the social networking site Bebo, with her husband Michael, in January 2005, and sold it to AOL for $850 million in 2008. Previously, Xochi had cofounded a series of internet businesses, which include BirthdayAlarm.com and Ringo.com, the latter was sold to Tickle.com in 2003. She is currently the co-founder of Monkey Inferno, a personal incubator in San Francisco. The incubator is launching multiple new innovative consumer internet and mobile ideas, starting with BirthdayAlarm.com and a newer version of the same called Zuno.com, along with Jolitics.com, a website aimed at encouraging open constructive yet entertaining debate in politics, and WaterForward.org, a charitable venture on behalf of Charity:Water.
Mike Dinsdale is currently the CFO of San Francisco-based “Gusto!”. Prior to DoorDash, Mike was formerly CFO of DocuSign, where he was a key part of the team that built the company to a value of over $3 billion while raising over $500 million. Mike also held other CFO roles since moving to the Bay Area in 2001, when he switched careers from engineering. He earned a BS in engineering from the University of Western Ontario and an MBA from McMaster University. Mike also holds the CFA designation.
David Dossetter is the senior managing director at Bernstein Global Wealth Management in San Francisco and is responsible for the firm’s west coast offices. He joined the company in 1992 as a financial advisor and was responsible for a substantial private client practice in the Bay Area, assuming management of the San Francisco office in 1997. Prior to joining Bernstein, David was a senior sales representative for Sybase, Inc., general manager of the west coast and Asia for Alcar Group, Inc., and a product-marketing engineer at Intel Corp.
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.
PAMELA STEDMAN FARKAS
An active philanthropist, Pamela S. Farkas has served as a member of the advisory council of The Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History since the council’s founding in 1993. A strong supporter of the center’s mission to mitigate critical threats to global biological and cultural diversity, she has been an advocate of extending this mission to marine environments, and has participated in sea turtle research at the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife refuge. A longtime member of the board of trustees of the International Center of Photography in New York, Ms. Farkas chaired ICP’s Infinity Awards from 2003 to 2011 in support of its mission of “Concerned Photography.” She is also an active supporter of the Jane Goodall Institute in Arlington, VA and the Oxbow School in Napa, CA. A graduate of Harvard College, Ms. Farkas holds an MBA from Columbia University. She resides in New York City with her husband, Andrew Paul, and their three daughters.
ROBIN FERRACONE, CHAIR
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 six 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.
Victoria grew up in the family cattle ranching business in west Texas, where rescuing, raising and releasing all types of animals was a way of life. After college, she lived in Dallas for over 20 years and worked in the medical billing industry and in aviation sales. In 2016, Victoria married her husband Michael at their home in Pebble Beach. While Michael is in the middle of his 5th start-up company, she enjoys investing in start-up companies with focus on oil & gas and early stage technology, as well as working with their Fitzpatrick Foundation. Other passions include tennis, snow-skiing, thrill-seeking, and occasionally dabbling in golf. Throughout her life, Victoria has never lost her aspiration for the protection of animals. She is thrilled to join WildAid in the fight to help stop the illegal trade of wildlife.
SHANNON O’LEARY JOY
Shannon grew up on a farm in rural Michigan then studied political science at UC Boulder. After college, she traveled and had various jobs, including a sheet metal worker for industrial construction and roasting coffee beans in Hawaii. Joy spent three years working and living in the home of the late artist Robert Rauschenberg in NYC, which was an amazing gift of beauty and exposure to the world of visual arts, dance and creative innovation. She studied at the National Holistic Institute, Berkeley, has worked for two decades in the healing arts, and raised two children as a single mother. She and her husband Bill have spent the past five years designing and building the energy efficient sailboat Ethereal, at the Royal Huisman Shipyard in Holland. Bill and Shannon have four children. She is now directing the Joy Foundation, whose primary focus is the protection of our marine ecosystems and the biodiversity and conservation of our oceans. She has also photographed and worked with groups in Cambodia, such as Dr. Nancy Hendrie of The Sharing Foundation and Scott Neeson of the Cambodian Children’s Fund.
PETER KNIGHTS, CEO
Peter Knights was formerly a program director working on illegal wildlife trade with Global Survival Network and a senior investigator for the Environmental Investigation Agency. He specialized in conducting global on-site investigations and campaigned against the trade in wild birds for pets and the consumption of endangered species in traditional Chinese medicine, such as bear gallbladder, rhino horn and tiger bone. In 1996 while working across Asia, he created the Active Conservation Awareness Program, the first international program aimed at reducing demand for endangered species products. The program used sophisticated advertising techniques, donated airtime, and celebrity spokespeople with the message, “When the buying stops, the killing can, too.” He received an Associate Laureate of the Rolex Award for Enterprise for this work. Peter holds a B. Sc. in Economics from the London School of Economics.
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.
Helen is the CFO of Google [X] and the leader of finance globally for all of Google’s emerging business areas including Google [X] (self-driving cars, balloon powered internet), life sciences, and robotics initiatives. She partners with product leadership and the Alphabet CFO to drive business acceleration, determine optimal resource allocation and manage risk across the emerging business portfolio. Helen has been with Google since 2003, most recently as senior finance director, global marketing (2012-15). Helen formerly worked with BCG in San Francisco (2001-3) and Morgan Stanley in London (1996-99). She received her degrees from Oxford (Economics) and Harvard Business School (MBA, 2001).
Shireen Santosham is a tech optimist. She built her career on using technology to create change. As Chief Innovation Officer of the City of San José, Shireen launched the Smart City Vision initiative and has led programs that help residents interact with the city through technology. She is the visionary behind the San José Digital Inclusion Fund, which will deploy 5G technology and close the digital divide for 50,000 San Jose residents. Prior to joining the city, she led GSMA’s research into internet access for women in the developing world, helped to launch the Center for Government while at McKinsey & Company, and helped start up the Allen Institute for Brain Science while an investor at Vulcan Capital. Shireen holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, an M.P.A in International Development from Harvard Kennedy School, and a B.S. and B.A. with honors from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a fellow at the Young Leaders Forum hosted by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and previously a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations and Global Governance Futures Fellow at the Bosch Foundation.
Jim Shaughnessy has more than 25 years’ experience as a strategic legal executive for leading technology companies. Since 2011, Jim has served as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of Workday, the leading cloud platform for human capital management, financial management and analytics. He is a director of BSA, The Software Alliance, the leading trade association for the software industry. Before Workday, Jim served as senior vice president, chief administrative officer and general counsel at Orbitz Worldwide. Earlier positions include senior vice president and general counsel at Lenovo Group, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary at PeopleSoft, and deputy general counsel for Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Computer Corp. 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. He serves on the University of Michigan Law School Development and Alumni Relations Committee. An avid offshore sailor, Jim is awed by the majesty of the earth’s oceans and is committed to promoting their heath through programs to reduce pollution, stop overfishing and protect sensitive marine habitats.
PETER SOLVIK, CHAIR
Pete is a founding partner of Jackson Square Ventures. He was the CIO of Cisco during an incredible growth phase of 100X over 8 years to a total of $20B in annual sales. Before that, he was an IT exec at Apple for 11 years and oversaw the Apple Online Services group. Pete is second to none in understanding the mind of an enterprise software buyer.
Concerned about the plight of whales as a teenager, Bev’s passion for wildlife conservation and environmental protection began at a young age. She has continued her dedication to this cause throughout her life and been an integral part of the WildAid board for 8 years. Having worked for 30 years in the fashion industry, Bev brought her idea for an annual WildAid gala to fruition in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. She continues to be an instrumental part of the design process and overall success of WildAid’s gala, which has become the organization’s largest fundraising event.