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Ruth Anna Stolk

Guest Speaker

Professional affiliation

Executive Director of the Smithsonian Conservation Commons

Full Biography

Ruth Anna Stolk is founding Executive Director of the Smithsonian Conservation Commons, which is building stronger connections between scientists and cultural experts to impact conservation practice in the US and worldwide. She is also Executive Lead for the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism, a strategic Action Area of the Commons, which is changing attitudes toward conserving the natural world.

Ruth led the scientific and logistics teams who developed the Inaugural Earth Optimism Summit in 2017, which convened more than 40 global organizations to gather stories on what is working in conservation.  The initiative is now expanding to involve hundreds of organizations globally. 

Stolk has a long career as a team-builder and integrator, and as an advocate to multi-sectoral partners and funders.  She has served different parts of the Smithsonian, the Institute of International Education, USAID's Higher Education for Development, International Council on Monuments and Sites, Council of American Overseas Research Centers, the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, and multiple conservation and academic NGO’s.  She holds a Master's Degree in English Literature (UNC-Chapel Hill/University of Leiden, Netherlands, 1983).