Executive Director, Rasmussen Family Foundation
A wildlife enthusiast since grade school, I have spent my career dedicated to furthering wildlife conservation. Born in Australia and educated in the UK, at the age of eight, I met Sir David Attenborough and became enthralled by international wildlife conservation. By age 14, I was managing a nature reserve in London and traveling across the UK birding and volunteering. At university, I led eight major research expeditions (each 2-3 months long with 10+ people) across Colombia that culminated in the creation of a national park and a network of private nature reserves. The expeditions were also successful in discovering many new species for science (birds, amphibians, ants, and plants). I described four bird species new for science, including the Chocó Vireo. In 1998, I co-founder of Fundación ProAves in Colombia, which is one of the most effective bird conservation groups in South America. After graduating with a Ph.D. from the University of Oxford, I received a Darwin Initiative grant to undertake a post-doctoral fellowship at The Natural History Museum and Conservation International. In 2002, I inherited a townhouse in central London and, despite student debts, donated the entire house to a UK non-profit to benefit international conservation. From 2005, I moved to the U.S. to run the International Program of American Bird Conservancy. In 2008, I joined Rainforest Trust as the Director of Conservation and was appointed the CEO in January 2012. Under my leadership, Rainforest Trust grew from three staff and annual budget of $1 million (2012) to $49 million and 45 staff (2018). As CEO, I raised $118 million and allocated $105 million in project funding to create new protected areas across 40 million acres of critical wildlands to save endangered species in 60 countries. In 2017, I helped establish the IUCN US National Committee. In 2018, I was selected as a Henry Arnhold Fellow.
Paul is currently the Executive Director of the Rasmussen Family Foundation.