© Daniel J. Cox/NaturalExposures.com

About Us

Polar bears are what we’re about, entirely.

Polar Bears International is the only organization dedicated solely to wild polar bears. We know polar bears--their habits, their ecology, their threats--and are recognized leaders in their conservation.

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. Learn more about our work and what makes us different.

© 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/Polar Bears International

Strategic Objectives

Core Values

 

© BJ Kirschhoffer/Polar Bears International

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.

Full Time Staff


Betsy Jasper

Betsy Jasper

Member Services

Betsy has 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.

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.

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.

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.

KT Miller

KT Miller

Media and Outreach Manager

Kt began working with Polar Bears International as an intern in 2011. Her experience in photography, videography, extreme sports, and expeditions to remote regions led her to become involved in PBI’s media, communications, and field operations. Kt loves adventure and has traveled the world photographing ski expeditions. Her images have appeared in National Geographic, Powder, and Backcountry Magazine. She is a professional member of the American Avalanche Association and has been guiding in southwest Montana since 2009. Kt assists with media projects, launched PBI’s Instagram page, and manages the operations of PBI’s field season in Churchill, Manitoba. Kt is deeply passionate about the conservation of wild places in Arctic regions and beyond.

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

Manager of Donor Relations

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.

Part Time Staff


Jurnee Bignell-Blair

Jurnee Bignell-Blair

Summer Student Intern

Jurnee has lived in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada for nine years and has had many diverse experiences there, including hunting and trapping. Her extracurricular activities have taken her across Canada, from playing volleyball across Manitoba to participating in Junior Rangers in British Columbia. In 2018, Jurnee was the inaugural recipient of the SHAD-Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation Scholarship, which allows an Indigenous student with a passion for STEAM disciplines to attend a one-month program at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. Her eventual goal is to attend the University of Minnesota where she wants to play volleyball and major in criminology on her way to becoming a lawyer so she can help others. Jurnee has worked for PBI as a summer student intern for three years, assisting with education and outreach and providing operational support.

Kieran McIver

Kieran McIver

Field Assistant

Kieran McIver assists PBI during field seasons in Churchill, helping with the Polar Bear Cam during the fall season and the Beluga Boat Cam in the summer time. His knowledge of the region’s wildlife, remote landscapes, and ability to fix almost anything has proved invaluable to the team. Kieran ran his own stone mason business in Alberta and took a break to travel to Churchill, Manitoba, inspired by his love of wilderness & animals—specifically whales. Kieran spent an entire winter on a remote trapline outside Churchill, enhancing his knowledge of the region and giving him an array of unique experiences and stories to share. He is a native of Alberta with a passion for conservation and wildlife in Canada’s North.

Madison Stevens

Madison Stevens

Education Media Specialist

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.

Susan Wallis

Susan Wallis

Winnipeg Events and Logistics Coordinator

Susan is a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba—gateway to Churchill and the polar bears—with a special affinity and respect for the nature, wildlife, and indigenous people for which her province is known. Her career includes 22 years as a school teacher and more than 10 years in the hospitality and retail industries. She has been involved with PBI for more than 15 years, first through her hotel work, then as a volunteer, and then as a part-time staff member. Her current position includes helping to coordinate events in Winnipeg, such as PBI’s fundraising gala. She also helps with logistics, from ordering supplies for the polar bear season in Churchill to managing volunteers. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Calgary. Her interests include curling, cross-country skiing, kayaking and other sporting activities.

Board of Directors


Kevin D. Spreekmeester

Chair

Kevin Spreekmeester is a senior marketing executive with a background in advertising, marketing, photography, and photojournalism. From 2008 to 2017, he served as chief marketing officer for Canada Goose, during which time the company gained global recognition as a leading maker of luxury apparel. Kevin joined PBI’s board in 2014 and was appointed chair in 2017. He brings with him a passion for the Arctic and polar bears, combined with a strong desire to ensure their future. Married with two children, he is an award-winning photographer and photojournalist, outdoor enthusiast, runner, and adventure traveler whose compass often points north. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

John Kelleher

Vice Chair

John joined PBI's board 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 & Secretary

Dick joined our board of directors in early 1999 and has served at two different times as CFO and currently as secretary as well. 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.

Patrick Keeley

The president of Inukshuk Capital Management, Patrick has over 25 years of experience in the investment industry managing assets for high net worth clients and institutional investors. He was named one of Canada's Top 40 Under 40 in 2006 and is an active member of the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO). In addition to his position on PBI's board, he has also served as a Director of the Canadian Stage Company and as a member of the Development Committee of the Princess Margaret Hospital and the Advisory Board of the Simon Fraser University Global Asset Management MBA Program.

Amana Manori

Amana Manori is the Managing Partner and Chief Legal Officer for Introduction Capital Inc., a global alternative investment firm. With over 15 years of experience in global capital markets, she also has a strong background in fundraising, finance, legal and corporate governance. She is deeply committed to philanthropy, with a special focus on women, children, and the environment. Her commitment to raising awareness for Arctic, conservation, and climate science drew her to PBI, where she provides guidance on fundraising and financial issues. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Amy Moore

Amy Moore, executive director of PAWS of Jackson Hole, brings a range of skills to PBI along with a passion for nature and wild places. Her background includes expertise in board management, organizational administration, fundraising, marketing, program development, community outreach, and events planning. Her concern about climate change and ensuring a future for polar bears inspired her to become involved with PBI. She lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Dani Reiss

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.

Robert L. Tapper Q.C.

Robert practices law in Winnipeg, Manitoba at the firm of Tapper Cuddy, with a practice restricted to civil litigation. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1991. Since 2006, he has been mentioned every year in “Best Lawyers in Canada” in the categories of personal injury and medical malpractice, and media/defamation litigation. He has been admitted as a Fellow to both the Litigation Counsel of America and the American College of Trial Lawyers. His professional activities include serving as a frequent contributor to Bar Admission classes and as an occasional lecturer at Law School, among others. Robert was appointed to PBI’s board in 2017, drawn by his concern for the future of Canada’s polar bears and belief that lawyers have an obligation to give back to their communities.

Founders


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.

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.

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