The Tenure Facility is governed by a Board of Directors composed of leading individuals from Indigenous Peoples, community organisations, civil society, international development and the financial sector. The Board is the foundation’s highest decision-making body and guides strategy, policies and budgets.
Myrna Cunningham (Chair)*
Dr. Myrna Cunningham is a leading indigenous authority on women’s rights. She serves as the Chair of the guiding committee of the Pawanka Fund, an indigenous-led grant making effort supporting Indigenous Peoples initiatives engaged in promoting and protecting traditional knowledge, well-being, rights and self-determined development. Dr. Cunningham served as Chair of the Permanent UN Forum on Indigenous Issues until 2012. In 2014, she was appointed as Special Ambassador for FAO, and she served as Adviser to the President of the UN General Assembly for the World Conference of Indigenous People.
A Miskitu from the Wangki river region of Nicaragua, Dr. Cunningham served as governor of the North Atlantic Autonomous Region and as a Member of the Nicaraguan Parliament and member of the Regional Autonomous Council of the North Autonomous Region from 1990 to 1997. Dr. Cunningham currently advises the Alliance of Indigenous Women of Central America and Mexico, the International Indigenous Women’s Forum, and the Disability Rights Fund. She is the founding Chancellor of the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast. Dr. Cunningham received her medical degree from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua. She also holds an honorary doctorate from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Don Roberts (Treasurer)
Don Roberts is CEO of Nawitka Capital Advisors Ltd, a firm which provides advice on strategic direction and raising capital for companies in the Renewable Energy, Clean Technology & Forest Products Industries. Prior to starting Nawitka in 2013, Mr. Roberts was a Vice-Chair of Wholesale Banking, and Managing Director in Investment Banking with CIBC World Markets Inc. In addition to his work with Nawitka Ltd., Mr. Roberts is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Forest Resource Management at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver), and he serves in an advisory capacity for a range of government, industry, and NGO groups.
Augusta Molnar (Secretary)*
Dr. Augusta Molnar is a cultural anthropologist who has focused her career on forest and mountain communities, their tenure and rights, resources, and livelihoods. She is retired from the World Bank since 2006, having served as a project manager for land, forest, agriculture, and indigenous peoples grants and loans in Mexico and Central America and as a social specialist on forestry projects in South and Southeast Asia. She is a co-founder of the Rights and Resources Initiative, retired as Sr. Director of Country and Regional Programs since 2014. Dr. Molnar currently serves as the chair on the board of The Mountain Institute and is based in Colorado.
Joan Carling is an indigenous activist from the Cordillera, Philippines. She has been working on indigenous issues at the grassroots to international levels for more than 20 years. Her field of expertise includes human rights, sustainable development, environment, and climate change, as well as on the principles and application of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). She was the Secretary General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) – a coalition of 50 indigenous organizations across Asia, from 2008 to 2016. Ms. Carling was appointed by the UN ECOSOC as an expert- member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFii) for 2014-16. She is currently the co-convenor of the Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group (IPMG) for Sustainable Development and works directly with indigenous organizations and networks across the globe.
Eleni Kyrou is a development practitioner with a background in social development and urban development policy and planning, with 20 years of working experience across most of the global South. She currently serves as Senior Social Development Specialist for the European Investment Bank. Eleni has worked for civil society organisations, research institutions and multilateral/international agencies in the context of urban development and urban governance; access to housing for low income population groups at scale; participatory resettlement and relocation of informal settlers; relief aid and post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation. She holds a particular interest and associated experience in promoting socially just development; rights-based approaches to development; collaborative/participatory planning; and, gender in development. She is multilingual – with proficiency in English, Greek, Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese.
Carl is an independent economic advisor. He grew up outside Gothenburg and studied Forestry and Business at university. Later on, he moved to Stockholm and started on what was intended to be a short period at KPMG and stayed for over 30 years ending as chairman. He has an MBA from Warwick University and a bachelor’s degree in geosciences, and an on-going master’s studies in Hydrology as well as Climate Change at Stockholm University. After leaving KPMG in 2013 he directed his efforts into trying to pay back to a world, which involves everything from global issues (climate change, children’s rights, etc.) to individual projects (a school in Tanzania, mentorship etc.)
Juan Antonio Martínez
Juan Antonio has over twenty-five years of experience with Multilateral Financial Institutions (FMIs) mainly the Interamerican Development Bank (current) and The World Bank (from 1995-2014) on the practical application of social policies in Bank investment lending and trust funds; social assessment and management policies, social safeguards policies, and policy and technical support, mobilising funds for the most vulnerable communities; mainly Indigenous Peoples. Vast knowledge of social and environmental risk management and analytical work in social inclusion in the areas of empowerment, transformation of institutions and mainstreaming social development in Bank operations.
Abdon Nababan is a leading indigenous authority on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. He formerly served as the Secretary General of Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) of Indonesia, and now serves on the National Council of AMAN, representing Sumatra region. Mr. Nababan was the Coordinator of the Steering Committee at Network for the Defense of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (JAPHAMA) and serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Yayasan Setara/NTFP, Chairman of the Council of Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI), and Advisor at the Samdhana Institute. A Toba Batak from North Sumatra, Indonesia, Mr. Nababan has led successful campaigns to earn greater recognition for Indigenous Peoples’ rights, with a special focus on land and forest rights.
Samuel Nguiffo is a Cameroonian lawyer who specialises in community rights and land tenure in Cameroon and the Congo Basin. He is the Secretary General of the Center for Environment and Development in Yaoundé, which he created in 1995 with the specific aim of realising sustainable management of Central Africa’s forests. Mr. Nguiffo was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1999 for his work to protect the tropical rainforests of Central Africa. He currently sits on the Board of Directors at the Washington-based organisation, Rights and Resources Initiative. He is based in Cameroon.
Dr. Margaret A. Rugadya is a natural resource economist, rights activist, and scholar, with more than twenty years of continuous contributions to land tenure, resource governance, and gender equity. Currently, I serve as the Global Practice Leader, on Gender, Land, and Resource Tenure at Resource Equity, a US-based INGO. Previously she served as a Program Officer – Natural Resources and Communities at the Ford Foundation in Kenya. Dr. Rugadya coalesced land rights activists, civil society organizations, and rural populations into a countrywide movement for pro-poor land law reforms, benefiting women and rural communities in Uganda. For this groundwork, she received two distinguished awards for outstanding contribution to law and policy reforms from the government and civil society organizations in Uganda. As researcher and scholar with expertise in natural resource governance, Dr. Rugadya has authored a compelling collection of authoritative research papers, journal articles, and book chapters focusing on socio-economic groups with fragile property rights. She serves on several Ph.D. committees as a reviewer, and as a judge for candidates’ final oral examination. She edits and peer reviews for academic and professional journals. She has designed courses to train government agencies and non-state actors on land and natural resource policies that impact native communities and women. She holds a Ph.D. (Economics) from Maastricht University and a Master of Arts (Sociology) from Makerere University.
Andy White is Coordinator of the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). He also serves as President of the Rights and Resources Group, the nonprofit coordinating mechanism of the RRI Coalition based in Washington, D.C. Prior to co-founding RRI in 2005, Andy served as Senior Director of Programs at Forest Trends and Natural Resource Management Specialist at the World Bank, as well as worked as a consultant to the International Food Policy Institute, Save the Children Federation, and the Inter-American Foundation. He has worked extensively in Haiti, Mexico, and China. As Coordinator of RRI, he advises policy research, advocacy, and engagement in Asia, Latin America, and Africa and leads initiatives and networks to advance RRI’s mission. His research and publications have focused on forest tenure and policy, forest industry and trade, as well as the role of forests, communities, and institutions in climate change. Andy has a PhD in forest economics, a M.A. in anthropology from the University of Minnesota, and a B.S. in forestry from Humboldt State University.
*Founding Board Members