Polar Bears International

© Daniel J. Cox/NaturalExposures.com

About Us

Polar bears are what we’re about, entirely.

We feed off the endless horizon, and stand tall on the front lines—curious, critical, and passionate in our search for ways to inspire change in the world.

Our Story

Made up of a small group of passionate conservationists, scientists, and volunteers­­, PBI exists to help secure a future for polar bears across the Arctic.

Our commitment to innovation, science, and technology fuels our day-to-day, but our hope sustains our vision. We persevere through our inherent optimism. Collaborative by trait, we push to move beyond borders, silos, and bottom lines to prove the phenomenal impact we can have together as a global community.

We share what we know and leave our doors wide open, unifying with a broad cross-section of people who help us in our mission.

Our partners range in size and strength, but they all value the two things we know for certain: knowledge is a catalyst for change and inspiration is more powerful than fear.

Our story moves beyond the plight of the polar bears, because we know that humans are not adverse to the visible threats to our global ecosystem. The final act is unwritten and we use every resource we have to facilitate action; to combat the belief that it’s too late; and to unify the world into action.

© Daniel J. Cox/NaturalExposures.com

Vision

We envision the long-term survival of polar bears and the unique part of the world they call home. We see this iconic species roaming the sea ice for generations to come.

Mission

Our mission is to conserve polar bears and the sea ice they depend on. Through media, science, and advocacy, we work to inspire people to care about the Arctic, the threats to its future, and the connection between this remote region and our global climate.

© BJ Kirschhoffer/polarbearsinternational.org

Strategic Objectives

  • Serve as the global resource for information regarding polar bears and their habitat.
  • Be the leading voice on climate warming impacts to polar bears and their Arctic home while actively seeking solutions through education, advocacy, and action.
  • Conduct, support, and share scientific research that informs polar bear conservation.
  • Educate an international audience about polar bear conservation and provide mentorship for the actions that will help ensure their survival.
  • Proactively and effectively communicate science-based information on polar bears and their conservation.
  • Maintain transparency in fiscal management and sound business policies and practices.
  • Follow best environmental practices as an organization, including minimizing our greenhouse gas footprint.
© BJ Kirschhoffer/polarbearsinternational.org

Our Team

Senior Management


Dr. Steven C. Amstrup

Dr. Steven C. Amstrup

Chief Scientist

Steven is chief scientist for Polar Bears International. He also is an adjunct professor at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. He earned a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Washington (1972), a M.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of Idaho (1975), and a Ph.D. in Wildlife Management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (1995). Prior to joining PBI, he led polar bear ecology research in Alaska for 30 years. He is a past chairman of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group and has been an active member of the group since 1980. He has authored or co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed articles on movements, distribution and population dynamics of large mammals, and is the senior editor of a recent text on population estimation methods. In 2007, he led a USGS research team in production of nine reports that became the basis for the 2008 decision by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to list polar bears as a threatened species. More recently, Dr. Amstrup led an effort showing polar bears are not unavoidably doomed. In the December 2010 paper issue of Nature, he and his co-authors showed that preserving polar bears is all about controlling human-caused temperature rise. In 2012, Amstrup was selected as the recipient of the Indianapolis Prize and a Bambi Award for his efforts in conservation.

Krista Wright

Krista Wright

Executive Director

Krista has worked with nonprofit organizations that focus on building environmental literacy and a conservation ethic for more than 20 years. Her expertise includes strategic planning, environmental education, and nonprofit management and development. She is a visionary thinker who is skilled at establishing partnerships with entities, including government agencies, other nonprofits, educational groups, universities, and the business sector. She has also volunteered as a consultant for a variety of non-profit organizations, offering expertise in development and strategic planning. Wright previously held positions with Montana Outdoor Science School, Big Sky Ski and Summer Resort, and Colorado Outdoor Education Center. She received a B.S. in outdoor education from Kansas University and later studied elementary education at Montana State University. Wright began volunteering with PBI in 2008 and joined the staff as COO and Executive Vice President in 2009. She is a passionate conservationist who is deeply concerned about the effects of global warming on polar bears, the Arctic, and the planet.

Geoff York

Geoff York

Senior Director of Conservation

Geoff has 20 years of Arctic field experience, including 14 consecutive years of polar bear capture and handling efforts in the Chukchi and Southern Beaufort Seas. Prior to joining PBI, Geoff was the Arctic Species and Polar Bear Lead for WWF’s Global Arctic Program. While at WWF, Geoff immersed himself in international policy issues and was fortunate to work on field projects in Canada, Norway, Russia, and Alaska. Prior to that, he worked as a biologist and program manager for the U.S. Geological Survey's Polar Bear Project, the leading polar bear research team in the U.S., headquartered in Anchorage, Alaska. Since joining PBI, Geoff has continued his interest in field-based work across the Arctic. He is a member of the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the U.S. Polar Bear Recovery Team, is current Chair of the Range States Conflict Working Group, and sits on the advisory board for the International Polar Bear Conservation Center in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He has a M.S. in biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame—the perfect combination for communicating science. Geoff has dedicated his career to the conservation of polar bears and their Arctic home. He is based at PBI Headquarters in Bozeman, Montana.

Meagan Hainstock

Meagan Hainstock

Senior Director Canada

Meagan “Meg” Hainstock has devoted her entire career to wildlife, and she’s approached this passion from many angles for over two decades. She started by chasing a childhood dream of being a wildlife photographer and writer, completing her first degree in fine arts and English. Then, wanting to protect the creatures that crossed her lens and page, she studied animal behavior for her Masters of Science degree. Her research continued—studying everything from honeybees in Nova Scotia to beluga whales in sub-Arctic Churchill— and Meg now walks a strategic line between science and art. She believes in translating what we learn from science into vivid stories that compel others to conserve wildlife. PBI’s approach to science-based storytelling and conservation drew her to us, and she is proud to lead PBI operations in Canada. Prior to joining PBI, Meg worked for Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Fleming College School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband—a fellow wildlife enthusiast and PBI collaborator—Stephen Petersen, the Head of Conservation and Research at the Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Center.

Full Time Staff


BJ Kirschhoffer

BJ Kirschhoffer

Director of Field Operations

BJ began working with PBI's remote broadcasting needs in Churchill in the fall of 2007 and quickly proved himself an invaluable member of the team, able to trouble-shoot technical problems in extreme conditions with no corner hardware store. He now ensures the smooth working of our field operations, from our Maternal Den Studies in Svalbard and Alaska to our Tundra Connections Webcasts, which link scientists in the field with people around the world. BJ also works to test and refine new technology that aids in polar bear research and contributes to cutting-edge fieldwork. He also oversees our Polar Bear Cam with explore.org, as well as the Beluga and Northern Lights Cams. BJ has a degree in wildlife photography from Montana State University.

Marissa Krouse

Marissa Krouse

Programs Manager

Marissa has a B.A. in psychology with a focus in animal behavior. She worked in a zoo setting for nine years, specifically in the fields of animal husbandry and conservation education. As a keeper, her passions are animal nutrition, training and enrichment, and community outreach. She is the co-author of a Polar Bear Diet Trial publication in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine (2014) and has published in the American Association of Zookeepers National Conference Proceedings (2010, 2011). Marissa is a motivated conservationist who values teamwork and is dedicated to helping others lead their communities. She believes in the legacy she will leave behind and works to leave a healthy planet for future generations.

Alysa McCall

Alysa McCall

Director of Conservation Outreach and Staff Scientist

Alysa has a B.Sc. (Hon.) in Animal Biology from Thompson Rivers University and an M.Sc. in Ecology from the University of Alberta where her thesis focused on the polar bears of western Hudson Bay. She gained hands-on experience with polar bears from multiple fall and spring field seasons in Tuktoyaktuk and Churchill, and she has been heavily involved in the collaring and tracking of Hudson Bay polar bears. Prior to joining PBI's staff, Alysa volunteered for several years in multiple capacities, including being a panelist on the Tundra Connections program and assisting with the Polar Bear Tracker. She is passionate about science education and polar bear conservation, and is dedicated to ensuring that future generations inherit a healthy planet. She lives in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

Barbara Nielsen

Barbara Nielsen

Director of Communications

Barbara is a professional writer whose articles on nature, wildlife, travel, and gardening have appeared in a number of national magazines. She is the author of Hummingbird Gardens, Night Creatures, and Great Barrier Reef and a former field editor for Better Homes & Gardens and its garden magazines. Barbara saw her first polar bear while on assignment in Churchill in 1983. Her article for Modern Maturity on the polar bear migration there, with photos by PBI founder, Dan Guravich, helped jump-start the town's tourism industry. She has remained passionate about the bears ever since. She holds a bachelor's degree in English. She has been involved with PBI since the organization was founded in 1992. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Emily Ringer

Emily Ringer

Marketing and Communications Manager

Emily holds a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Comparative Religion from Tufts University and has pursued a post-grad path of self directed learning through enrollment in ecology and website development courses. Emily has a diverse sphere of environmental and communications experience ranging from being a field technician to a wildlife research assistant to a development and communications manager. She is passionate about conservation communication and creating powerful media to accurately illustrate the importance of addressing climate change and working towards a sustainable future for all.

Janet Stringer

Janet Stringer

Development Associate

Janet is a native Montanan with over a decade of experience working to protect grizzly bear populations in the lower 48 states. Janet earned a BA from Montana State University in film and has worked on multiple projects highlighting the importance of wildlife and wildland protection. She is a passionate advocate for animals everywhere, and dedicates her free time toward local spay/neuter projects in Southwest Montana.

Tara Kramer

Tara Kramer

Operations Manager

Tara's love of wide expanses and broad horizons began during childhood in the cornfields of eastern Iowa. She has since spent nearly a decade working in field operations for the U.S. Polar Programs at remote research sites in Greenland and Antarctica, devoting long periods of time to paddling, climbing, and fishing, and exploring quiet spaces both abroad and in the States. She studied writing at the University of Iowa, speaks French and Spanish, and works as a freelance writer for a variety of outdoor and literary publications including Patagonia and Alpinist. Tara’s reverence for the vast polar ecosystems and the profound experiences she’s encountered there inspire both her work in Arctic conservation and as a writer. Continuously torn between far away adventures and a strong cup of coffee in her own kitchen, she's currently based in Bozeman, Montana with her long time love, Nick.

Part Time Staff


Madison Stevens

Madison Stevens

Education Media Specialist and Logistics Coordinator

Madison has interned and worked for PBI on projects related to outreach and education since 2012, including PBI’s iTunes U channel and our transition to a multilingual website. She holds a BA in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies, with minors in Political Science and Environmental Science from Franklin University, Switzerland, and has published research on indigenous land rights through the School for International training. She has worked and volunteered for climate change initiatives all over the world, including an international conference on conservation in Antarctica with 2041, and research on sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa. Madison is an avid outdoors-woman who is passionate about conservation and the impacts of climate change on humans and wild ecosystems alike.

Betsy Jasper

Betsy Jasper

Member Services

Betsy comes to Polar Bears International with a multi-faceted background in administration. Her position in member services includes fulfilling adoptions, processing donations, shipping, and other tasks that help the Bozeman office run smoothly. She embraces being part of the PBI team with her versatile behind-the-scenes skills. Betsy originally hails from Massachusetts and loves traveling back East to reconnect with her family there. She is learning to play the flute and is on a never-ending quest for better fitness. She finds happiness in the Rockies with her adult kids, long-time friends, her stubborn but very sweet bassett hound/beagle, and a spunky West Highland terrier.

Board of Directors


Dani Reiss

Chair, PBI USA

Canadian native Dani Reiss joined the boards of PBI Canada and PBI USA in 2007 and was elected chairman of the board of PBI USA in 2008. He is the third generation owner and operator of his family’s company, Canada Goose, manufacturer of the world's best and warmest parkas and extreme outerwear. Dani has a passionate commitment to polar bears, the Far North, and the preservation of all wild creatures and places. He lives and works in Toronto, Ontario.

John Kelleher

Chair, PBI Canada

John joined the boards of PBI Canada and PBI USA in 2014. Born and raised in Brandon, Manitoba, his love and appreciation for the North goes back many years. The owner of several Ford dealerships in Manitoba—including one of the most energy-efficient in all of Canada—he became interested in polar bears through work-related visits to Churchill and has been on bear-watching trips there several times. The most recent was as the co-chair of the YPO/WPO Polar Bear Experience. He has completed two Ironmans and loves to swim, run, bike (then repeat), and snowboard. He has been married for almost 30 years and has two daughters.

Richard P. Beck

CFO

Dick joined our board of directors in early 1999 and has served at two different times as CFO. A retired financial officer, Dick serves on the boards of two publicly-held U.S. technology companies. He made his first trip to Churchill in 1998 and returns as often as possible. He also traveled with PBI to Svalbard. He lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Valerie Beck

Val joined PBI's board in 2007 after years of volunteer work. She is a professional copywriter and graphic designer who helps PBI with its marketing communications. A serious amateur photographer, she became impassioned about polar bear conservation after seeing them in the wild in Churchill, Manitoba. She is a champion for all critters, but keeps special the place in her heart and conscience for domestic dogs, polar bears, wolves, moose, and cougars. On the human side of things, she is most passionate about literacy for young children, which spells their future. In addition to PBI, she donates her professional services to Book Trust, a non-profit that funds the choice and ownership of books for children in poverty. She lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Frederica Gamble

One of the original board directors, Freddy served as PBI's vice president through 2005 and remains active on the board. She is a retired human resources consultant who worked with corporations in the publishing industry. A veteran of early bear-watching trips to Cape Churchill, she has a keen interest in nature and wildlife, and has traveled to the Arctic more than a dozen times. She lives in New York City.

Geoff Watson

Geoff joined PBI’s board in 2011 after leading mission-driven organizations for several years and being inspired by his children's interest in wildlife and the environment. He's a results-oriented leader with experience in private educational services, technology, and consumer goods. In addition, he’s a passionate advocate for the importance of cross-cultural and youth-targeted educational experiences, most recently, serving as President of Intrax Cultural Exchange. Geoff, his wife, and three boys are actively involved with their community in Oakland, California, where he coaches youth soccer and volunteers with local education organizations.

Directors Emeritus


Carolyn Buchanan

Carolyn cofounded PBI in 2002 along with her husband, Robert. She also served on the board as secretary of PBI USA & Canada before her retirement in 2013. A skilled communicator with renowned organizing and people skills, she devoted countless hours and limitless talent to PBI initiatives, including events and workshops that focus action on climate change. Her home is in Alaska.

Robert W. Buchanan

A retired marketing director from Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Robert and his wife, Carolyn, founded PBI in 2002, transforming it from a small organization of polar bear enthusiasts (founded in 1992 by Dan Guravich as Polar Bears Alive) to a conservation group with worldwide impact. Robert served as president & CEO of PBI USA & Canada from 2002 until his retirement in 2013. Robert's vision is to help the world understand the importance of the arctic ecosystems and to inspire individuals to take urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to conserve polar bears and countless other species worldwide. His home is in Alaska.

Hon. James L. Buckley

An original board director of PBA, Jim Buckley served until 2009. Jim is a former U.S. senator and retired U.S. circuit court judge. His fascination with the Far North, including its wildlife and peoples, dates to the 1960s. Jim has traveled extensively throughout the Arctic and has visited Antarctica as well.

Dan Guravich

In 1992, wildlife photographer Dan Guravich, a Canadian native internationally known for his work with polar bears, recruited a loose-knit group of polar bear enthusiasts into a conservation organization named Polar Bears Alive. Dan served as the first president and remained chairman of the board until his death in 1997. PBA later underwent a major transformation under the leadership of Robert and Carolyn Buchanan, becoming PBI, with a mission sharply focused on saving polar bears by saving their habitat.

Downs Matthews

Downs was a founding director of PBA and the award-winning author of five books, including two on polar bears. He served on the board until 2003. Downs traveled worldwide to write about and photograph his subjects. In 1992, he and PBA founder Dan Guravich were the first western journalists to visit and document polar bears on Russia's Wrangel Island following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was proud to be a third-generation Houstonian.

Tom Ocasek

Tom joined the board in 1998, became vice president in 2006, and served until 2009. Tom is a retired business executive who built and operated businesses ranging from fashion merchandising and retailing to real estate development and tourism. He is a committed conservationist who uses his polar bear slide shows to educate youth wherever he travels.

Bob Williams

Bob joined PBI's board of directors in 2004. He was elected chairman of the board of PBI Canada in 2008 and served through 2013. A Canadian native, he is a highly successful residential and commercial property developer based in Winnipeg, as well as a champion for anything to do with Winnipeg and Manitoba, including its Assiniboine Zoo. Naturally, he lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the birthplace of the genuine Winnie-the-Pooh.

Robert J. Wilson

Bob is a founding director and served until 2010. He served as president, CFO, and chairman at different times. He is a retired attorney with extensive experience with issues surrounding marine mammal and is active in marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation efforts. Bob is also an avid photographer specializing in marine mammals, including polar bears.

Advisory Council

PBI is fortunate and grateful for the guidance we receive from some of the world's foremost polar bear experts as well as others who bring unique skills in fields that support our initiatives.

Our thanks is not enough.

But the survival of the polar bear species will be.

See Advisory Council

Reports & Publications