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Leadership News Briefs

WILD ELEMENTS Foundation Invests in Women Conservation Leaders

New community-focused funding model disrupts male-dominated philanthropy dollars.

WILD ELEMENTS recently launched its mission in action, the WILD ELEMENTS Foundation. The brainchild of social entrepreneur Nikki Eslami, WILD ELEMENTS is a purpose-first platform dedicated to accelerating conservation efforts and scaling global environmental change. It aims to accomplish this by promoting and protecting humankind, animalkind, and plantkind. WILD ELEMENTS Foundation is a nonprofit that invests in change through advocacy and philanthropy. It does this in a wild, new funding model infusing resources into planet-saving efforts led by women, indigenous individuals and people of color.

Centering women conservation leaders

Far too often marginalized in the environmental space, women-led efforts only receive .02 percent of total global foundation funding. So to change that trajectory, WILD ELEMENTS Foundation is launching with an initial investment of $3 million in sustainability and conservation organizations, which are predominantly female-led. Heeding the United Nations urgent call to action on fully implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), WILD ELEMENTS Foundation will invest at least $10 million by the 2030 SDGs deadline. It will prioritize funding for women-led and community-focused work that has the most impact. WILD ELEMENTS Foundation is flipping traditional philanthropy on its head and disrupting giving models in an effort to decolonize it. With more women in decision-making roles, we can more quickly shift power and resources to scale change.

“We are wildly different by design,” said WILD ELEMENTS Foundation Board Member and CEO of WILD ELEMENTS Nikki Eslami. “Women are on the front lines in the fight to save our planet. We can and must disrupt the status quo by finding ways to feed into their work which is directly impacting local communities for the better. Plus, by partnering women innovators with women advocates, we can elevate solutions through education, inspiration, and activation.”

Conservation through storytelling

WILD ELEMENTS Foundation will use the power of storytelling to raise the voices of women pioneers paving their own sustainable path forward. These woman are changing the world one brilliant program at a time. Deemed WILD Innovators by the Foundation, ten women-led projects from across the globe will be partnered with WILD Advocates (artists and influencers) who will utilize their digital platforms to bring much-needed awareness to new audiences. Together, they will accelerate change by sparking conversations, forming the foundation of a conscious community and building a movement. Each WILD Innovator is receiving a two-year, $100,000 grant for her work. Each WILD Advocate is donating her time and voice to raise awareness. (See below for the inaugural list of WILD Innovators and WILD Advocates.)

Beyond these initial investments, WILD ELEMENTS Foundation is also making grants to seven conservation programs at world-renowned organizations pursuing narrative, cultural and policy change. Initial partners include MIT Solve (2021 Resilient Ecosystems Global Challenge), National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)’s Rewrite the Future ProgramOne EarthThe Recycling Partnership, the Rodale InstituteWomen’s Earth Alliance and Wildlife Conservation Network.

The WILD ELEMENTS Foundation is led by President and Board Member, Heidi Nel, alongside its Board of Directors which includes WILD ELEMENTS Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Nikki Eslami, WILD ELEMENTS Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder, Rob Sebastian, National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) President and CEO, Nick Tedesco and former Deputy General Counsel for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Brandi Colander.

For more information on the WILD ELEMENTS Foundation, including planned charitable activities, visit foundation.wildelements.com, and visit WILD ELEMENTS on social media @wildelements.

WILD Innovators and WILD Advocates:

(Visit here for full program details)


  • Richelle Thomas, United States (Protect Medicinal Plants at the University of Arizona)
  • Abigail Williams and Jayne Goss, United Kingdom (Farm Urban)  
  • Erika Allen and Laurell Sims, United States (Urban Growers Collective)
  • Dr. Krithi Karanth, India (Centre for Wildlife Studies)
  • Genesis Butler, United States (Youth Climate Save)
  • Sheila Funnell, Kenya (Grevy’s Zebra Trust)
  • Rosamira Guillen, Colombia (Proyecto Titi)
  • Resson Kantai Duff, Kenya (Ewaso Lions)  
  • Dr. Adriana Verges, Australia (Operation Posidonia at UNSW Sydney) 
  • Dominique Goncalves, Mozambique (Gorongosa National Park Elephant Ecology Program)


  • Nathalie Kelley and Blu Hunt 
  • Radhi Devlukia Shetty 
  • AnnaSophia Robb
  • Stefanie Giesinger   
  • Leona Lewis  
  • Marisol Nichols 
  • Isabella Gomez 
  • Elizabeth Gillies 
  • Jamie Chung


The WILD ELEMENTS Foundation, a conscious catalyst for change, accelerates efforts to restore our global ecosystem. The Foundation is fueled by the Power of Three—a symbiotic union between Animalkind, Humankind, and Plantkind™, because one can’t thrive without the other. 

Intentionally designed to disrupt philanthropy, the Foundation aims to shift power and vital resources to women, indigenous communities, and people of color on the frontlines of conservation. By diversifying funding and leveraging creative storytelling, the Foundation makes every grant exponentially more impactful–advancing and scaling environmental change.

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