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Board of Directors

We are grateful and honored to include the following on our Board of Directors:

Dr. Marc Bekoff | Webb Blessley | Patricio Robles Gil | Dr. Jane Goodall | Dr. Rick Hopkins | Robert W. Koons | Cara Blessley Lowe | Thomas D. Mangelsen | Corinne E. Rutledge, Esq | John E. Swallow | ADVISORS

Please support the Cougar Fund by visiting our Donate page, or by shopping in our Store. Thank you.

Dr. Rick Hopkins : President

[+ ZOOM] Rick Hopkins, Director, The Cougar FundImage of Rick Hopkins, Director, The Cougar Fund

Dr. Rick Hopkins is co-owner and Senior Conservation Biologist at Live Oak Associates, Inc., an ecological consulting firm in California. He holds a Ph.D. in Wildlands Resource Ecology from University of California, Berkeley and an M.A. in Biology at San Jose State where he conducted a 12-year study on the cougar in the Diablo Range.

While Dr. Hopkins is a broadly trained ecologist with experience with several wildlife species, he has dedicated the last 35 years to the study of mammalian carnivores. He has focused most of his research efforts on conservation biology; population ecology; movements of wildlife, particularly mammalian carnivores; conservation of threatened and endangered wildlife species; and the integration of robust spatial tools to focus conservation at landscape scales relevant to large carnivores (e.g., cougars).

Dr. Hopkins has participated in several efforts in California and throughout the region to identify the important landscape linkages for a number of target wildlife species. Presently he is using theoretically and statistically robust spatial tools in the development of a multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan for the 190 km2 Elk Hills Oil Field, a cougar habitat management plan for nearly 40,000-km2 region of Southern California, and developing conservation strategies for utility-scale solar projects in the central to southern San Joaquin Valley and Panoche Valley.

Dr. Hopkins has supervised interdisciplinary teams of biologists characterizing the biological setting of project sites and planning areas, determining project impacts, and developing conceptual mitigation plans consistent with the requirements of CEQA and NEPA for over 2000 projects during the last 22 years.

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Thomas D. Mangelsen : Co-Founder, Vice-President

[+ ZOOM] Tom Mangelsen, Co-founder and Director, The Cougar Fund © Thomas D. MangelsenImage of Tom Mangelsen, Co-founder and Director, The Cougar Fund

Tom Mangelsen is one of the most widely recognized natural history photographers in the world and his work is frequently seen in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian, Time Magazine, GEO, and Life.

Tom's extensive film and photographic record of a family of mountain lions during their unprecedented 42-day reprieve on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, Wyoming culminated in the book Spirit of the Rockies: The Mountain Lions of Jackson Hole, the first and only publication of its kind to depict the behaviors of mountain lions in the wild. Currently in its second printing, this book served as the timely inspiration for what has become The Cougar Fund. (You may purchase this book in our store.)

Mr. Mangelsen's photographs are represented through his Images of Nature galleries in sixteen locations across North America, and his books include the bestselling Images of Nature: The Photographs of Thomas D. Mangelsen (1988); Polar Dance: Born of the North Wind (1996), which won the BEA Award for Best of Small Press of 1997 and was featured on Good Morning America and The Today Show. Tom is the recipient of the BBC Nature Photographer of the Year and NANPA Photographer of the Year. Acknowledging his efforts for conservation of the environment and wildlife, Tom was awarded Conservation Photographer of the Year in 2011. Tom is an ambassador for Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance and sits on the boards of Stewards of the Platte, Polar Bears Alive!, and Vital Ground.

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Cara Blessley Lowe : Co-Founder, Treasurer

[+ ZOOM] Cara Blessley Lowe, Co-Founder and Director, The Cougar FundImage of Cara Blessley Lowe, Co-Founder and Director, The Cougar Fund

Author Cara Blessley Lowe co-founded the Cougar Fund with Tom Mangelsen in 2001 after the publication of her first book, Spirit of the Rockies: The Mountain Lions of Jackson Hole. Her documentary short of the same name was picked up and excerpted as a feature story on ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, leading to nationwide attention on the issues facing the elusive cat. Years after running The Cougar Fund from an 800-number in her guest bedroom, she teamed with Marc Bekoff to compile Listening to Cougar (University Press of Colorado), a collection of 15+ essays on the personal experience of Puma concolor. Cara also works in film and television advertising as a script supervisor for clients including Ford Motors, GAP, McDonald's, Southwest Airlines, Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo and Covergirl. She lives in western Wyoming with her daughter, husband and Irish terrier and blogs at

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John E. Swallow: Secretary

[+ ZOOM] John Swallow, Director, The Cougar Fund © Tom MangelsenImage of John Swallow, Director, The Cougar Fund

John Swallow developed an early love and respect for nature on family camping and fishing trips. In 1972, he worked with the American Cetacean Society to educate people about the endangerment of the California Gray Whale. Swallow has trained and handled big cats, primates, and elephants for Marine World in Redwood City, California. John collaborated on the production of The Ocean Symphony, a series of PSAs for the Ocean Conservancy and various partner conservation groups. John also sits on the board of Vital Ground, an organization working with both private and public concerns to protect and preserve North American grizzly bear populations and habitat.

John has also pursued artistic expression since receiving his degree in Design and Photography from California State University. As a current member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Visual Effects Branch and a result of his experience working with Aogee Productions, Pacific Data Images, and his current position as Executive Vice President of Production Technology for Universal Pictures, Swallow has been fortunate to be a pioneer in the field of Visual Effects. John lives with his wife Lori in Los Angeles, California.

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Dr. Marc Bekoff

[+ ZOOM] Marc Beckoff, Director, The Cougar FundImage of Marc Beckoff, Director, The Cougar Fund

Marc Bekoff is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado and a former Guggenheim Fellow. In 2000, he was awarded the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society for major long-term contributions to the field of animal behavior, and in 2009 he was presented with the Saint Francis of Assisi Award by the Auckland (New Zealand) SPCA. Marc has published more than 300 scientific and popular essays and twenty-two books including Minding Animals, The Ten Trusts (with Jane Goodall), The Emotional Lives of Animals, Animals Matter, Animals at Play: Rules of the Game, and Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals. Other works include The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint, and two editions of the Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, the Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, and the Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships. In 2005, Marc was presented with The Bank One Faculty Community Service Award for the work he has done with children, senior citizens, and prisoners as part of Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots program. His websites are and, with Jane Goodall,

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Webb Blessley

[+ ZOOM] Webb Blessley, Founding Director, The Cougar FundImage of Webb Blessley, Founding Director, The Cougar Fund

Webb Blessley has over twenty-three years of experience in the corporate venture capital and real estate fields. An architectural engineer by education, Webb retired from McDonald's Corporation as Vice President of Real Estate and Construction Worldwide in 1995. In 1991 he renewed a long-time relationship with WalMart by installing over 2000 McDonald's in the retailer's stores and establishing a blueprint for their Worldwide expansion program followed to this day. In addition to his developments in business, Webb was the founder of the Ronald McDonald Camp for Children at Eagle Lake and has served on numerous scholarship boards.

Currently Webb is associated with Powerski International, XS City and New Media's portfolio of companies, among them MoonCrescent Studios, Whiz-Bang Labs, FlipDog.Com, Talk To and TeleSuite.

Post-retirement, Webb returned to his architectural roots and is now a sustainability consultant in which he works to foster alternative building, solar-power technology, and the use of ecologically-sound materials such as straw bales to maximize energy efficiency. He and his wife Donna divide their time between Laguna Beach, California, and the straw bale home they built in the Mojave desert in southern Nevada.

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Patricio Robles Gil

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In 1989, Patricio founded Agrupacion Sierra Madre and then two years later Unidos para la Conservacion- organizations where he launched initiatives to preserve biodiversity and wilderness. He was a pioneer in Mexico to involve corporations in conservation of the natural world. His latest initiative was to help bring the 9th World Wilderness Congress to Latin America in Yucatan Mexico.

As a photographer he has documented many of the world's remote and wild places. He has produced 37 books about the environment; some, such as “Hotspots: Earth's Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Terrestrial Ecoregions,” have helped to define global agendas.

Since 2010 Patricio has used art as a way to express himself using the human body as a canvas to present environmental issues related to the most endangered species of the planet. In what he calls “Los Rituales del Reencuentro” he uses painting, sculpture and photography as a way to create pieces of art. The most recent piece in this project is “The Human Blue Whale” (

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Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE

[+ ZOOM] Jane Goodall, Director, The Cougar Fund © Thomas D. MangelsenImage of Jane Goodall, Director, The Cougar Fund

Perhaps the most recognizable face of the conservation movement, Dr. Jane Goodall is the world's renowned primatologist-turned-activist who brought the lives of chimpanzees to the forefront of animal behavior studies with her groundbreaking research conducted in the field in Tanzania over four decades.

A longtime champion of animals and their well-being, Dr. Goodall, along with Genevieve, Princess di San Faustino, founded The Jane Goodall Institute in 1977. Today, her international environmental and humanitarian program for young people, Roots & Shoots, has 3000-4000 active groups in more than 70 countries. Dr. Jane Goodall is the author of many bestselling books including her recently published bestselling autobiography: A Reason for Hope.

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Robert W. Koons

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Bob Koons has been the Executive Director of the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust since 2004, creating sanctuaries and undertaking other projects to protect and enhance wildlife habitat. In the 25 years prior he lead the Robert T. Wilson Foundation. He also directed the Grand Canyon Association and Grand Canyon National Park Foundation and has served in leadership roles on the boards of numerous organizations with a conservation focus. We welcome this diverse background and skill set as a complement to the existing talent of the Board and staff of The Cougar Fund.

Corinne E. Rutledge, Esquire

[+ ZOOM] Corinne Rutledge, Director, The Cougar FundImage of Corinne Rutledge, Director, The Cougar Fund

Corey Rutledge of Cheyenne, WY is a litigator with Lathrop & Rutledge and has worked on various legislative matters over the years. She has been with the firm since June 1989 and became a member and shareholder in 1991. Prior to joining the Lathrop & Rutledge firm, Corey practiced as assistant state public defender managing and trying major case felonies. Currently, Corey concentrates her practice in the areas of professional liability defense, principally, medical malpractice defense, and defense of cases involving product liability, catastrophic personal injury claims, commercial and employment disputes, as well as insurance and bad faith litigation. She practices in the federal and state courts in Wyoming, is admitted to practice in the Federal District Court of Colorado, and also in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Corey's father was an officer in the United States Army, and she had the privilege of living in Washington, D.C. for her formative years where she participated in many youth activities related to politics and the arts, as well as a wide range of community service activities. In 1970, Corey left Washington, D.C. for Colorado State University where she focused her studies in political science, art, and natural resource preservation. Corey's first career was in the area of real estate and new home construction. She formed American West Properties, Inc. and specializes in commercial properties and new home construction. Corey completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo and then entered law school at the University of Wyoming.

Corey has served on several non-profit boards and is currently serving on the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Foundation Board, as well as The Cougar Fund. She has been active in professional organizations and has served as the President of the Laramie County Bar Association and President of the Defense Lawyers Association of Wyoming. She has been state chairman for the Defense Research Institute, and currently is a member of the International Association of Insurance and Defense Counsel. Corey and her husband, Kent Rutledge, together have three daughters.

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Dr. Susan G. Clark, Ph.D.
Brett G. Dickson, Ph.D.
Ron Hirschi
Ted Kerasote
Ricky Pires, Florida Gulf Coast University
Linda Sweanor, M.S.

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