Team and Advisors

Environmental Finance

Leslie L. Durschinger - Founder, CEO, CIO

Conservation Finance, Sustainable Landscape Program Development  
Leveraging 20 years of experience and a proven track record in the financial services industry, Ms. Durschinger founded Terra Global Capital in 2006 to promote results-based approaches to community-led forest and land-use emission reductions programs. Ms Durschinger is recognized as a pioneer and innovator in alignment of development values and financially viable approaches to sustainable landscape management. Terra is now the leader in forest and land-use emission reductions program development, GHG analytics and finance, providing technical expertise and investment capital to their global client base of governments, NGOs, and private companies in a collaborative and participatory manner. Prior to Terra, Ms. Durschinger held senior management positions in the areas of derivatives trading, investment management, algorithmic trading, risk management, and securities lending. She is a member of the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) AFOLU Steering Committee, REDD+ Social & Environmental Standards Committee, VCS JNR Permanence Work Group, Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse (C-AGG) Advisory Committee and W+ Standard Advisory Council. Ms. Durschinger and her family make small production olive oil on their farm in Mendocino County. Among her previous employers are JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Barclays Global Investors and Charles Schwab.

Terry Vogt - Managing Director, Finance Advisor

Latin American Investment Banking  
Experienced in international finance and private equity investments; directed a program on conservation finance at The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; former Deputy Director General of IICA, a multi-lateral organization dealing with rural sustainable development and agriculture in Latin America; founder of a boutique investment bank focused on Latin America; director of global funding and head of international investment banking at Wells Fargo Bank. Member of the foundation board of CATIE, Central American graduate school and research institution in agriculture, sustainable development, and climate change. He has a degree in Latin American History from Harvard, an MBA in Operations Research from the University of Colorado, is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, and in 1996 was awarded the Order of Rio Branco by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil.

Sierra Chappell, Principal

Corporate Finance, Contracts and Trust Fund Administration  
Joined Terra Global Capital in May 2009. Sierra manages Terra’s financial operations including the management of project budgets. She also manages Terra’s Human Resources department for its offices in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. She brings to Terra Global a strong background in administrative and financial workflow, data research and analysis and business development. Prior to her work with Terra Global Capital she was in consulting and worked on business cases for communities and hospitals implementing health information systems. She earned an undergraduate degree from The George Washington University in International Affairs and Contemporary Cultures and Societies.

Kevin Brennan, CFA - Finance Advisor

Investor Networks, Carbon Fund Management  
Kevin first trained as a portfolio management analyst at Merrill Lynch Investment Managers — now BlackRock — before moving into Institutional Sales and Product Specialist roles, including working on the initial capital raising for the BlackRock New Energy Technology Fund. Influenced also by the early development of emissions markets, Kevin was drawn to sustainability and pursued a Masters in Environmental Management, focusing on climate, environmental and natural resource economics. Subsequent roles combined project finance at HSBC with further product specialist work at the London-based fund-of-hedge-funds International Asset Management. Kevin has further experience with emissions reductions projects globally, working on the launch and portfolio structuring of the Natsource Carbon Asset Pool (multi-sector) in London and the Terra Bella Forest and Land-Use Carbon Fund at Terra Global Capital in San Francisco. The Terra Bella Forest and Land-Use Carbon Fund was selected for an anchor commitment from OPIC, the US development finance bank, in a competitive tender in 2011. Kevin's role at Equilibrium Capital gives him the opportunity to work across diversified sectors in capital raising and the structuring of investor-operator partnerships across real asset classes. Kevin completed his BCom bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business at the University of Edinburgh, including an exchange year at one of France’s leading business schools, Ecole Superieure des Affaires in Grenoble. He completed his Masters in Environmental Management at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Nicole Rossell - Co-head Terra Latin America, Senior Portfolio Manager Terra Bella Colombia Fund

Conservation Finance, SME Development  
Ms. Rossell has over 19 years experience in the financial sector. Before joining Terra she worked at the Inter American Development Bank, responsible for designing & supervising over 63 local and regional projects for Central America in the following thematic areas: Rural Economic Development, Micropensions, Microinsurance, Financial Inclusion, Institutional Development for Micro Small & Medium Enterprises, Poverty Score Card, Factoring, Strengthening Public & Private Financial Institutions, Design of Green Finance Products for REDD+ projects, Cleaner Production, Forest Management, Clean and Efficient Technologies, Solar Energies. Ms. Rossell led the preparation of MIF Country Strategy in Guatemala, aligning it to government priorities and serving as a Strategic Advisor. She possesses an MBA with a concentration in Strategic Direction and Development; BA in Economics with a Concentration in Finance from Fordham University. Currently Ms. Rossell serves as a Board Member and Cofounder of Regional Microfinance & Rural Financial Inclusion Banking Committee; Board Member at Namaste Guatemaya; Member of the Technical Committee for the green finance portfolio at FIDOSA.

Juan David Dueñas, MGA Portfolio Manager Terra Bella Colombia

Agriculture and Fishery Value Chains, Rural Development  
Juan David Dueñas has over 6 years of experience in the field of sustainable development. With a bachelor’s degree in Government and International Relations and a Master’s degree in Environmental Management, he has had the opportunity to work in the development of responsible value chains of fish and fishery products in the Chocó region (Colombia). He has significant experience in field working with communities, as well as strengthening small producer’s organizations. He has worked for Instituto Sinchi in the development of a portfolio of economic and legal instruments for conservation within the framework of Vision Amazonia Program. Juan Dueñas had the opportunity to coordinate WSPA’s efforts within South American countries (except Brazil) for Rio+20, pushing forward sustainable and humane livestock production; he implemented the Knowledge Management program for the same organization and worked in the elaboration of several business intelligence studies for Bogota’s Chamber of Commerce. Juan Duenas holds a Magister en Gerencia Ambiental (MGA) from Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá.

Juan Pablo Bonilla G., MBA Portfolio Manager Terra Bella Colombia

Agricultural Finance and Commercialization  
Bonilla has 15 years’ experience in managing sustainable development projects. Expertise in formulating, planning, structuring and implementing sustainable business plans and innovative companies with high development impact, social and environmental responsibility. Bonilla has led NGOs as Managing Director and coordinated Government programs at a national level for green growth projects with income generating strategies for vulnerable communities (indigenous, afro, small farmers). Bonilla formulated the following public policies: National Green Business Plan (non-timber forest products, organic agriculture, sustainable use of biodiversity, climate change, etc.) also developed the five Regional Green Business Programs contributing to the conservation of the environment as natural resource support in developing the territory. Bonilla has designed and implemented market access strategies at a national and international level for small holder producers; coordinated international cooperation on environmental issues for Colombia; College Professor for Masters Programs and winner of several Entrepreneurship and Sustainable development proposals.

Natural Resource Management

John Lewis, Ph.D. - Managing Director

Rural Development, Agriculture and Food Security  
Dr. John Van D. Lewis has worked for over 40 years combining his discipline, ecological and economic anthropology (Ph.D. Yale 1979), with international development management experience. By 2000, he had completed a 22-year career with USAID, retiring after six years as the Agency Senior Agriculturalist and Director of its central Office of Agriculture and Food Security. From that Senior Foreign Service vantage point Dr. Lewis brought several international agribusiness corporations to collaborate with US AID field programs. Serving in Senegal, Mali, Cameroon, Egypt, Tunisia, and then Haiti, Dr. Lewis was able to design and implement path-breaking new approaches to community-driven sustainable development in rural settings. Immediately following his retirement from the Agency, he became Executive Director of the Near East Foundation and then Pro-Natura USA, both in New York City. He has been a Managing Director at Terra Global since 2007.

Erica Meta Smith, M.F., RPF - Principal

Foresty, Field Training, GHG Quantification  
Erica Meta Smith, M.F., RPF. Forest Carbon Field Development Specialist, Joined Terra Global Capital in 2009. Erica provides technical forestry knowledge, on-ground carbon quantification expertise, and specializes in forest mensuration programs. Erica has firsthand knowledge of a forestry-based income the experience of depending on natural resources as a livelihood. Before working with Terra Global Capital Erica worked in forest policy and on forestry technical operations. Erica received her undergraduate in forestry and Master of Forestry from University of California-Berkeley in 2005 and 2007. Her master’s work reviewed California Climate Action Registry’s Forestry Protocols and implications of carbon markets in California. Erica is a Certified Ecologist through the Ecological Society of America and a Registered Professional Forester in the State of California. Erica has worked extensively in the REDD+ sector training communities and working with in-country experts for excellence in MRV across Africa and Asia.

Montague W. Demment, Ph.D. - Science Advisor

Global Livestock  
Dr. Demment is Vice President for International Development at APLU, former Director of the Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program, a program funded by USAID and the US university community, and professor emeritus of ecology at the University of California, Davis. In his position at APLU he has been involved in advocacy for higher education support for Africa, been instrumental in the creation of APLU’s Africa U.S. Higher Education Initiative and organized the process by which the research community provided input to the FTF strategy. Dr. Demment conducts research on nutritional ecology of herbivores and nutrition of children in developing countries. He is past president of AIARD (Association for Agriculture and Rural Development) and chaired then NASULGC’s International Agriculture Coordinating Committee that advocates for international issues in agriculture. Demment served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia. A native of New York, Dement earned his BA from Harvard in Architectural Sciences, his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Zoology. He received an NIH postdoctoral fellowship to study animal nutrition at Cornell before arriving at UC Davis in 1982.

Emilio A. Laca, Ph.D. - Science Advisor

Rangeland Ecology  
He received his Ph. D. in Ecology in 1992 from the University of California Davis and holds a M.S. in Range and Wildlands Science and B.Sc. Agricultural Engineering. He has research and teaching experience in multivariate systems and modeling, physiological basis for grazing management and ecology and conservation of natural resources. His recent work has covered statistical protocols for measuring carbon flux, carbon sequestration in the rangelands of Central Asia and, quantification of CO2 exchanges using tower measures, modeling and remote sensing. He serves as chair for three committees in Environmental Sciences and Ecology at the University. He is the Associate Editor Rangeland Ecology and Management and serves to review manuscripts and proposals from multiple international journals and funding agencies. He manages a team of 17 Ph.D. and MS students who are engaged practical applications of carbon measurement research and field science.

Susan L. Ustin, Ph.D. - Science Advisor

Spatial Technologies and Remote Sensing  
She received a Ph.D. in Botany from the University of California Davis in 1983 in the area of plant physiological ecology. She became interested in remote sensing research as a post-doctoral fellow when she had the opportunity to participate in the first stage of development of imaging spectroscopy at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her research since this time has focused on developing and testing methods for retrieving ecological information from remote sensing data at spatial scales from microscopic to global and encompasses both theoretical and applied research. She has served on a wide range of state and federal panels and committees, most recently an NRC review of 50 years of NASA Earth Science Research and NPOESS Science Advisory Board for Northrup-Grumman. She manages the Center for Spatial Technologies and Remote Sensing (CSTARS) laboratory of about 25 people.

Steven De Gryze, Ph.D. - Science Advisor

Soil Science, GHG Quantification  
Ecosystem scientist and software engineer, focusing on carbon and nitrogen cycling and greenhouse gas emissions from terrestrial systems at a regional scale. He has developed and used advanced ecosystem models to forecast carbon changes for the past 10 years. He completed his B.Sc. majoring in Bio-engineering Sciences, his M.Sc. in Environmental Technology (in collaboration with the Natural Resource and Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland), and a second M.Sc. in Statistics and his PhD in soil conservation from the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium). Steven is a recognized leader of methodology and protocol development at the project and jurisdictional level for REDD+ and has developed protocols for numerous market standards for low emission agriculture. Steven lead of the carbon analytics team at Terra Global and currently employed as a Scientific Software Engineer at The Climate Corporation.

Shahira Esmail M.S. - Principal

Agronomy, Climate Smart Agriculture  
Ms. Esmail brings extensive knowledge and experience in the development of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the agricultural sector. In particular, she specializes in the development of GHG methodologies and developing projects to encourage the adoption of these activities on agricultural fields. Prior to joining Terra, she worked as a project manager at ClimateCHECK, where she contributed to the adaption and implementation of a nutrient management protocol in the American Midwest and to various extension programs across Canada for the adoption of the 4R’s Nutrient Stewardship Principles. She conducted her Master’s research in Costa Rica investigating the impact of climate change on the growth of tropical agroforesty tree seedlings and on soil microbial community dynamics, receiving a Masters degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Guelph.

Glenda Lee - Co-head Terra Latin America

Forestry, FSC Certification  
Ms. Lee has more than 20 years experience in forest management and forest certification and 12 years experience in Carbon Markets and Finance working in various countries throughout Latin America. Ms. Lee has a background in Natural Renewable Resources, Engineering and Post Graduate studies in business environmental strategies and specialized studies in Forest Certifications in Sweden and South Africa and a Specialization in Forest Governance in Indonesia. She developed biomass allometric equations to estimate carbon stocks in 3 broad leaves forests in Guatemala. Ms. Lee was the Ecobusiness Manager at Grupo Agroindustrial Occidente, leading carbon market platforms for forestry, agro forestry and renewable energies in Latin America. Advising on developing the financial products through an IDB/RAINFOREST ALLIANCE/FIDOSA project designed to target Forestry Concessions in the Petén, Guatemala. Ms. Lee also assessed the performance of the financial products developed from a technical point of view based on FSC Certification. Ms. Lee possesses experience and good relationships and coordination with multi-stakeholders among Public and Private sectors. She is currently the Chairman of the board for the National Sustainable Forest Management Standards Council of Guatemala as well as the Network Representative for the Forest Stewardship Council International Network.

Anthony DiBiase, M.S. - Associate

Remote Sensing, GIS and GHG Quantification  
Tony is a geospatial data analyst with a strong background in using GIS and remote sensing analysis to quantify land-use impacts for conservation of forests and habitat. He excels at data visualization, geospatial programming, multivariate statistical analysis, spatial analysis, as well as designing visually compelling, statistically robust map products. Prior to joining Terra, his past employers included TetraTech, NASA Ames Research Center, and Marstel-Day, where he worked on a wide variety of projects ranging from habitat classification on U.S. Marine Corps installations, prioritizing protected land on U.S. Air Force properties, modeling wildfire at Glacier National Park, and analyzing ecosystem connectivity in North Carolina. He holds a Masters in Environmental Management and a Masters Certificate in Geospatial Analysis from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, with a B.S. Society and Environment, Minor in Forestry and Natural Resources from University of California at Berkeley.