The Openlands 2020 Annual Luncheon

Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Avenue

Co-Chairs, Michael Keiser and Connie Keller

The Openlands 2020 Annual Luncheon acknowledges and celebrates two extraordinary women in conservation and their leadership in large landscape preservation here and around the world. 

Conservation Leadership Award Recipient: Dr. Debra Moskovits

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Avecita Chicchón


About Dr. Debra Moskovits

Dr. Moskovits received her PhD in Biology from The University of Chicago and joined the Field Museum in 1985. Over the next 34 years, she held different positions at the Field, finding ways for the Museum to put its science to work for conservation and quality of life through its collections, scientific inventories, and exhibition halls. She launched what is now the Keller Science Action Center, and today conservation is integral to the Museum’s mission. After an impactful tenure, she retired in 2019 from her role as Vice President for Strategic Science Initiatives. Dr. Moskovits was also a founding member of Chicago Wilderness, a regional conservation alliance that currently boasts 250 institutional members implementing a common vision of a vibrant landscape where people and nature thrive together, promoting diverse communities, economic vitality, and well-being for all.


About Dr. Avecita Chicchón

Dr. Chicchón leads the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Andes-Amazon Initiative, which aims to secure the biodiversity and climatic function of the Amazon biome. Since the initiative began in 2001, it has helped conserve and improve management of over 170 million hectares in the Amazon, nearly one-third of the original forest cover. She also led the team that developed the foundation’s forests and agricultural markets work.

Dr. Chicchón has over 30 years of experience in natural resource use, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean. She currently serves on several committees and boards, including the Funders of the Amazon Basin, Strategic Steering Committee for the Andes Amazon Fund, the Amazon Biodiversity Center advisory board, and the program team for the Climate and Land Use Alliance. Before coming to Moore, Dr. Chicchón served as the executive director of the Latin America program at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), where she led conservation programs in 15 countries. Some of many contributions included strengthening WCS’s work in the Western Amazon region, the establishment of a private protected area in Tierra del Fuego (Karukinka, Chile) and consolidating wetland and species conservation approaches in Cuba. Previously, Dr. Chicchón was a program officer at the MacArthur Foundation, where she developed the initial strategies on the North and Southern Tropical Andes and was responsible for conservation and sustainable development grantmaking in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Conservation International’s first country program director in Peru. While at Conservation International, she led a team that, with a social science perspective, used novel participatory approaches to help establish millions of hectares under permanent protection and management in the Tambopata watershed and Vilcabamba cordillera regions of the Peruvian Amazon.

Dr. Chicchón earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Florida. Her dissertation focused on natural resource use by the Tsimane people of Beni, Bolivia. She has degrees in social sciences from the University of Cincinnati and from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. In 2004, she was awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa degree from the Universidad de la Amazonia Peruana, and in 2017, a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Florida.

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Scenes from the 2019 Annual Luncheon: