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Kristen Walker
Vice President, Social Policy and Practice
Talk to me about: Indigenous Peoples, Community Engagement
Location: U.S. - D.C./Virginia
Languages: Mapudungun, English, Spanish
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Kristen Walker Painemilla is Vice President for Social Policy and Practice at Conservation International and Executive Director of CI’s Indigenous & Traditional Peoples Program ( ITPP). Ms Painemilla created ITPP in 2003 to consolidate and review CI’s work with indigenous and traditional people and to continues to strengthen CI’s commitments to indigenous and traditional peoples and support the vital role of their territories in conservation landscapes. Guided by CI’s “Principles for Partnership,” ITPP works directly with CI programs and partners, local leaders, communities, conservationists, indigenous organizations and other critical players to build a common agenda for the conservation of biological and cultural diversity at local, national and international scales. The program’s activities strengthen the collaboration of these groups and expand the abilities of communities to effectively manage their lands and resources while also maintaining their livelihoods and their natural and cultural patrimony.

Prior to her work on the Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Program, Kristen was the Senior Director of Program Strategy in the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) at CI from 1999 through 2005. She arrived at CI with the onset of CABS and was integral in its development, spearheading the strategic direction of the Center’s activities and development of new programs within CABS. Ms. Painemilla  also lead several initiatives within CABS such as, Defying Nature’s End, CABS Bushmeat Initiative.

Prior to joining CI, Ms. Painemilla conducted field research in Chile funded through the Fulbright Commission. .  Her primary area of research has been with indigenous Mapuche Indians in Southern Chile and their relationship to the natural environment, most recently with ecotourism on the Chile –Argentine border with the Pehuenche communities. While in Chile, she hosted former First-Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Mapuche territory on an official visit during the 1998 Summit of the Americas. She holds her degree in Latin American Studies and Anthropology from George Washington University.  She was Cotlow Scholar in 1996, a U.S. Fulbright Scholar 1997-1998 and is a Senior Fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program.  Ms. Painemilla serves/served on several boards including the Equator Initiative, the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force and  the Chol-Chol Foundation, a non profit-making organization, whose principal aim is to provide integral education for the women of indigenous rural communities with limited resources. She resides in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband, Fabian,a Mapuche Indian from Chile and her son, Linkoyam.

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