Our People

Catherine Burns

Managing Director, Impact Management, NatureVest

Santa Cruz, California

Catherine Burns head shot


Areas of Expertise

Environmental science, freshwater conservation

Media Contact

Andrew Tingley
ph. +1 917-270-1313


Dr. Catherine (Cat) Burns leads the efforts to bring TNC’s expertise in conservation science and practice to inform institutional investment partnerships focused on forestry, agriculture, and tourism investments—aimed at delivering conservation impact alongside returns.

Cat directs the Impact Management team, with the following key objectives:

  • Establishing minimum standards for investments to avoid negative environmental impacts
  • Identifying opportunities for investments to deliver impact alongside returns
  • Advising on best practices for land and water management
  • Measuring climate and biodiversity outcomes
  • Cat is currently focused on establishing direction for the team and building out the team to meet new programmatic needs.

    Two key focus areas are:

  • Building and sustaining strong relationships with fund partners and TNC regional teams
  • Setting measurable goals at investment and fund levels for each of the team’s priority projects
  • Cat joined TNC in 2010 and previously served as the Senior Conservation Director for NatureVest, leading a team focused on providing conservation science to inform TNC’s investment partnerships to maximize conservation impact. Cat also served as Associate Director of TNC California’s Water Program, and as the Director of Science for TNC’s North Carolina Chapter.

    Prior to joining TNC, Cat held Ecology faculty positions at Duke University and the University of Maine.

    Cat has lived and worked doing conservation on four continents, including North and South America, Africa and Australia

    Education and Designations:

  • PhD in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Yale University
  • National Science Foundation Fellow: Forest Management and Small Mammal Ecology
  • BS in Biology, Emory University, summa cum laude
  • Publications and Media:

    Conservation research: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ecology, Biodiversity and Conservation, and other scientific journals.

    Learn more about NatureVest.

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