One of 35 global biodiversity hotspots, California sustains unparalleled diversity of creatures and habitats. All are imperiled by climate change and drought, invasive species and pesticide proliferation, habitat destruction and wildfire. We must act.

Fortunately, there are solutions. Some are difficult, others straightforward and simply underappreciated. Our cause is to advance solutions, change outdated systems, and develop new approaches for saving and sustaining California’s wondrous biodiversity, today, forever.

We believe California is blessed with organizations doing good work, but also spending on “metabolic overhead” — fundraising, growing staff and managing internally instead of transforming externally. There is a need for coordination among organizations and across silos, to focus our shared efforts on those with greatest impacts. As a platform for change, the California Institute for Biodiversity sustains a lean team to better invest in expanding resources for the larger ecosystem of biodiversity advocates.

Our theory of change holds that CIB can catalyze transformation by:

  • Listening to scientists, conservationists, communities, and educators to identify the greatest threats and most powerful solutions.
  • Convening and cohering various and disparate partners with the commitment and ability to advance those solutions.
  • Boldly acting to advance structural and policy change; secure game-changing funding for networks of partners; and via regranting and sponsorship growing the community advancing change.

In 1995, scientists and educators founded the California Institute for Biodiversity (CIB). They were driven by the realization that California was on track to lose much of its remarkable biodiversity, and the world lose one of Earth’s most remarkable biodiversity hotspots. To turn the tide they focused on helping Californians understand what was at stake, and expanding opportunity for all Californians to be included in the effort to save it.

Dr. Carol Baird and other CIB leaders saw a new approach to invigorate K-12 science education by providing all California’s teachers with field-based, hands-on, environmental education. They believed that, as a global hotspot for natural and human diversity, California offers a remarkable opportunity for all students to learn fundamental scientific concepts and discover personal environmental values in the context of the natural world around them.

For two decades CIB scientists and instructors helped to implement Next Generation Science Standards in diverse districts across the state. In partnership with Fresno State and CSU East Bay, CIB delivered classes that awarded academic credit to teachers from communities far and wide. The Cal Alive! product line supported teachers with curricula, activity books, DVDs, and interactive online media. Dozens of multi-day workshops empowered hundreds of teachers, who returned to schools throughout California to inspire thousands of young minds. One classroom at a time, child by child, they built a movement. Today we all are beneficiaries of that effort.

In 2020 the California Institute for Biodiversity celebrated 25 years of success, and entered a period of strategic assessment to evaluate outcomes, needs, and refocus as required. In conversation and scoping exercises with leaders in California biodiversity, as well as stakeholder engagement and strategic planning, Directors and Advisors have identified new opportunities for transformational change in biodiversity education, research, and action. Opportunities have changed since 1995, but the mission remains the same: share wonder, advance opportunity, and include all Californians in saving this magnificent land we call home.

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  • Carol Baird, PhD
  • Shannon Bennett, PhD
  • Eric Berlow, PhD
  • Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown, Jr
  • Jack Dangermond
  • John Geraci
  • Daniel Gluesenkamp, PhD
  • Eric Goode
  • Jessica Green, PhD
  • Mary Ellen Hannibal
  • Paul Hebert, PhD
  • Tegan Hoffman, PhD
  • Lisa Micheli, PhD
  • Scott Miller, PhD
  • Ryan Phelan
  • Peter Raven, PhD
  • Stuart Weiss, PhD


  • Daniel Gluesenkamp, PhD (President, Executive Director)
  • John Geraci (Secretary)
  • Eric Berlow, PhD (Treasurer)
  • Natalie Musick (At-Large)


  • Carol Jo Baird, PhD
  • Elizabeth Breunig
  • Carolyn Brown
  • Rosi Bustamante
  • John Carlstroem
  • Jim Clark
  • David Edwards
  • Jennifer Erskine-Ogden
  • Phyllis Faber
  • Lloyd Goldwasser
  • Alan Harper, PhD
  • John Jackson
  • Samantha Johnson
  • Steve Laymon, PhD
  • Richard Lowden
  • William (Sandy) McCoy, JD
  • Mike McGuire
  • David Moragne
  • Bernice O’Brien
  • Diane Owyang
  • Richard Roos-Collins
  • Lester Rowntree
  • Samuel Schuchat
  • Susan Smartt
  • Jesse Stonewood
  • Jerry Valadez, EdD.
  • Pam Williams

California biodiversity is imperiled by a variety of threats and a multiplicity of wicked problems. Finding solutions requires a genuine commitment to diversity, openness to new ideas, and a willingness to strive and fail and try again.

The California Institute for Biodiversity is dedicated to recruiting and supporting individuals, organizations, and movements that reflect the varied dimensionality of human diversity in California — race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability status, religious or political affiliation, educational and economic backgrounds. We strive to overcome racist and colonialist systems that exclude most Californians, and advance workforce development so individuals from diverse backgrounds can bring the richness of their lived experience to finding innovative solutions to our most pressing challenges.

Not seeing the position you want? Please contact us with your experience, your vision, and how you believe CIB can help you realize it.

Current Open Positions:

There are no positions open at this time

We celebrate the many Californians who strive to portray and share the beauty of California’s biodiversity. We give special thanks to those who have allowed the California Institute for Biodiversity to share their work.

Images on this website and in other CIB materials are thanks to:

Our logo celebrates the circle of life, constant and continuous. United but distinct, bands represent the powerful elements that create and sustain biodiversity: stardust, water, and the sky that connects us to a greater universe. Intersectional interplay of union and individuality speaks to the challenges our society faces in growing toward change, reminding us of the important role each individual plays in saving and celebrating our state’s wonderful diversity.