Senior Fellows

Dr. Ganesan Balachander currently serves as a Director on the newly constituted Consortium Board of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). He is also working on a book dealing with conservation and development issues and initiating a green business venture. He was the Ford Foundation’s South Asia Representative for six years until late 2008. Prior to joining the Ford Foundation, he was the Director for Asia Programs at The Mountain Institute in Washington, D.C.. He also served as Regional Director and then as Director of the Biodiversity Conservation Network, a USAID-funded program for promoting conservation of vulnerable ecosystems in Asia. Before charting a career in conservation and sustainable development, he worked for many years in the banking sector, holding senior positions with Citibank and Marine Midland Bank in New York and Standard Chartered Bank in Europe and in Chennai, India. He holds an MBA from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Rutgers University. He was also a post-doctoral Bullard Fellow at Harvard.

Edwin Bernbaum holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley, where he is a Research Associate. A scholar of comparative religions and mythology focusing on culture and the environment, he worked with TMI on a program in the Indian Himalayas to involve pilgrims in reforestation, and he initiated TMI's project to develop interpretive materials for US National Parks based on the cultural and spiritual significance of mountains. He is the author of the award-winning Sacred Mountains of the World, the basis for a photographic exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution, and The Way to Shambhala, a study of Tibetan myths of the hidden valleys resembling the fictional Shangri-La of Lost Horizon. He has climbed and conducted research in mountain ranges throughout the world, and he leads seminars and lectures on mountains, leadership, culture, and the environment for organizations and audiences such as the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Wharton School, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Bob Davis, Joining TMI in 1979, Bob Davis held numerous leadership positions at The Mountain Institute in his thirty-three years at the organization. He served as TMI’s CEO from 2004 to 2009 and has worked in many of the organization's programs and regional projects over the years. He has extensive international conservation and development experience.  Bob holds an M.S. in Organization Development from American University, and an M.A. in Religious Studies from Yale University. He currently teaches organizational development and management courses at Eastern Mennonite University, and serves on the board of directors of a number of non-profit organizations.  Bob is long time resident of Pendleton Country, West Virginia.

Rodney Jackson, Ph.D., is Director of the Snow Leopard Conservancy and spends most of his time in the Himalayas, where he is conducting a population count of this rare and beautiful species, described poignantly in the best-selling book "The Snow Leopard" by Peter Matthiessen.

Wendy Brewer Lama holds an MES from Yale University, and has worked in ecotourism development throughout Asia for the past twenty years. While living in Nepal from 1984 to 1999, she managed TMI’s Langtang Ecotourism Project and co-authored Community-Based Tourism for Conservation and Development, built upon the Appreciative Participatory Planning and Action (APPA) framework. With the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Wendy led some of the first ecotourism planning in China at Wanglang panda reserve in Sichuan; introduced Community-Based Tourism (CBT) to Kyrgyzstan; and brought eco-adventure tourism to Mongolia with USAID. From 2002-07, she advised the UNESCO Cultural and Ecotourism in Mountain Regions of Central and South Asia program. As owner of KarmaQuest Ecotourism and Adventure Travel, she organizes ecotours that support wildlife conservation and community-based conservation and operates academic travel programs for Stanford and other universities. At home in Half Moon Bay, California, Wendy introduced ecotourism to farmers, fisher-people, and Main Street entrepreneurs. Wendy is a former California Coastal Commission planner, and she enjoys bicycling and backpacking.

Johan Reinhard received his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna, Austria and was a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence (1999-2013). While making over 200 ascents over 17,000 ft in the Andes, he led expeditions resulting in the discovery of more than 50 high-altitude Inca ritual sites. In 1995 and 1999 Time Magazine selected his finds of Inca frozen mummies in Peru and Argentina as among “the world's ten most important scientific discoveries” of those years. Museums in Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia have been built to exhibit the archaeological finds made during his expeditions. In the Himalayas his studies included shamanism, the "hidden lands" of Tibetan Buddhism, and culture change among one of the world's last nomadic hunting and gathering tribes. He has directed Nepal Peace Corps Training Projects, and while mountaineering in the Himalayas, he participated in the successful 1976 American Everest Expedition. He has also undertaken underwater archaeology projects in six countries, including in some of the world's highest lakes. His research has been featured in several TV documentaries, including those of National Geographic, BBC, NOVA, PBS, the History Channel, and Discovery. In 2001 the Ford Motor Company chose him as one of twelve "Heroes for the Planet" and in 2002 he was awarded the Explorers Medal of the Explorers Club of New York. He has authored more than 70 publications, including The Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods, and Sacred Sites in the AndesMachu Picchu: Exploring an Ancient Sacred CenterThe Nazca Lines, and Inca Rituals and Sacred MountainsHis web site is

Lhakpa Norbu Sherpa received a Ph.D. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. He is the first person from the Sherpa community to receive a doctorate. He began his education from the Sir Edmund Hillary Schools in Nepal's Khumbu region. His higher education was achieved through a Colombo Plan scholarship to Lincoln University in New Zealand followed by a Fulbright student scholarship to the United States. Dr. Sherpa joined the Government of Nepal in 1980 to work as Park Superintendent in Rara Lake and Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Parks. He collaborated with TMI in 1989 to carry out planning of the Makalu-Barun National Park, and later joined TMI on a full time basis as Manager of the Qomolangma Conservation Program in the Tibet Autonomous Region (China). He also served as Co-Director of The Mountain Institute's Himalayan Program from 2005 to 2009 during which he developed and implemented an integrated cultural conservation and livelihood improvement project in the Sagarmatha National Park. Presently, Dr. Sherpa is a Visiting Fulbright-Post Doctoral Fellow at Yale University, USA and a Senior Fellow with The Mountain Institute.

Ang Rita Sherpa has over 22 years of experience in the management of protected areas, eco-tourism, community-based tourism, and sustainable and livelihoods development, most of which is with TMI's Himalayan Program. He also has extensive experience in project design, development, monitoring, and evaluation and has facilitated many workshops on ecotourism and sustainable development in Nepal and in Central Asia. He is a native of the Khumbu region at the foothills of Mt. Everest. He has a Masters Degree in Protected Landscape Management from the University of Wales, UK, and an undergraduate degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism from Lincoln University, New Zealand. He has also served as a volunteer for the National Park Service in the USA, where he spent nine months working in Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Shenandoah and Smoky Mountain National Parks both before and after he joined The Mountain Institute in 1988. He is currently the Chairperson of the Himalayan Trust in Nepal, which Sir Edmund Hillary established in 1964.  Ang Rita was awarded the 2011 Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal as chartered by Sir Edmund Hillary in 2003 for his remarkable services in the conservation of culture and nature in mountainous regions. In 2004, he received TMI's “Hero of Conservation” award.

Miriam Torres Angeles:  Former Protected Areas and Ecotourism specialist with the Andes Program, joined TMI in 1995. She graduated from the National Parks and Wildlife Management program of Peru's National Agrarian University in 1987. Her professional history includes working with mountain protected areas in Peru, particularly conducting participatory management plans. Miriam was a member of the team that produced the first management plan of Huascaran National Park in 1990, the lead in developing its Ecotourism Plan in 1997, as well as the lead on the second Management Plan initiative and the National Master Plan for the Peruvian protected areas system in 1995. Before joining TMI, from 1988 - 1995, she was a staff member of Pro Naturaleza, supporting several of Peru's protected areas. She is a member of the Andes Chapter of the International Mountain Society (IMS) and the IUCN Commission on Protected Areas, Mountain Areas and Non Material Values.

Robert Wampler, Ph.D., has worked on U.S. foreign policy, federal R&D and technology transfer strategies, and high technology business development issues. His current research interests include sustainable development and design, community- and regionally-based environmental protection and management, and ecological restoration. He plans to pursue these interests in support of The Mountain Institute's programs, particularly in connection with TMI's Major Mountains of the World initiative; sustainable development, environmental conservation, and cultural preservation for mountain towns and cities; and TMI's overall education and training program. 

Brian Peniston worked with The Mountain Institute (TMI) from 1996 through mid 2014, directing a national park, Himalayan Regional programs, and Innovation and Livelihood programs. He has experience in rural enterprise, protected area and natural resource management, food security, climate change adaptation, operations research, primary health care, community development, mountain agriculture, cultural restoration, and community-based tourism. Starting in 1975, Brian worked in Nepal (24 years), Indonesia (6 years), Malaysia (2 1/2 years), Thailand-Cambodia border (1 year) and Peru (1 year). Brian also helped design integrated conservation, development, and livelihoods projects in Bhutan, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Tibet Autonomous Region of China, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Brian’s work experience includes Wildlife Fund, USAID, Plan International, CARE, GIZ, American Refugee Committee, Britain Nepal Medical Trust, and US Peace Corps. Currently Brian is Director of Markets and Communities, Inc and is the US Representative of Ennovent Ltd, both seeking to promote and accelerate impact investing and innovation in developing country markets.  Brian has Masters degrees in Forestry (Yale University, 1992), Public Health (University of Hawaii, 1982) and an undergraduate degree in Philosophy (Connecticut College, 1974).