Originally from San Francisco, Suwanna grew up in Brazil and Europe. A formative experience with a jaguar tortured by poachers in the Brazilian rainforest sparked her early connection to the environment. After pursuing her undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate degrees in France and Switzerland, she began consulting for wildlife conservation organizations, assisting them with strategic planning for direct protection to wildlife in danger. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Suwanna worked on dolphin protection with the marine conservation organization Earthtrust to obtain a ban on drift netting in the South Pacific and to firm up an agreement with Heinz Corporation to produce certified dolphin-free tuna. In 1994, Suwanna joined forces with Global Survival Network to save the Amur (Siberian) Tiger in the Russian Far East, bringing the population from only 80 individuals in 1994 to nearly 400 individuals by 2000. In India, Suwanna worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society of India to reverse the drastic decline of the Olive Ridley turtle along the coast of Orissa. Nestings were brought back from an all-time low of 8,700 in 1998 to 600,000 in 1999 and over 1 million in the year 2000. In Ecuador, responding to the government’s international appeal for help in 1998, Suwanna assisted with the expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve from 5 to 40 nautical miles by providing three years of technical assistance, training and equipment to conduct high seas law enforcement operations, and constructing two additional land bases in the northern islands.
At the same time, Suwanna founded and managed The Gauntlett Group, an environmental consulting firm for multi-national corporations, from 1989 to 2000. A pioneer in sustainable development, The Gauntlett Group brought environmental management training to over 100 North American companies and consulting services to such large corporations as Alcoa, Fujitsu, Pfizer Chemicals, Procter & Gamble, Xerox, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), the City of San Francisco and Nike. Read more