Cristián Samper is the President and Chief Executive of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a non-profit organization saving wildlife and wild places, with headquarters in New York and field programs in 60 countries. He was Director of the Smithsonian National Museum Natural History (NMNH) in Washington, overseeing the largest museum collection in the world and hosting seven million visitors a year. He was the founding director of the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute in 1995, Colombia’s national biodiversity research institute. For his contributions, he was awarded the National Medal of the Environment and the Order of San Carlos by the President of Colombia. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS).
Dr. Samper has been involved with the CGIAR for almost two decades, as a board member of CIFOR, Bioversity and CIAT, and he also served as the Chair of the Bioversity Board for three years. He serves on the boards of the Carnegie Institution for Science and the Woods Institute at Stanford University and has also served on the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Nature Conservancy, among others. He also served as Chair of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), where he helped develop a global strategy for plant conservation and launched the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
Dr. Samper grew up in Colombia and studied biology at the Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia. He earned his Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in Biology from Harvard University, where he was awarded the Derek Bok Public Service Prize for excellence in teaching.
He lives in New York with his wife and two children.