Founders & Directors

Executive Director

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. 

PBI Board of Directors

Dani Reiss, Chair, PBI USA
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.

Richard P. Beck, CFO
Dick joined our board of directors in early 1999 and has served at two different times as CFO. 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.

John Kelleher
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.

Geoff Watson 
Geoff joined PBI’s board in 2011 after leading mission-driven organizations for several years and being inspired by his children's interest in wildlife and the environment. He's a results-oriented leader with experience in private educational services, technology, and consumer goods. In addition, he’s a passionate advocate for the importance of cross-cultural and youth-targeted educational experiences, most recently, serving as President of Intrax Cultural Exchange. Geoff, his wife, and three boys are actively involved with their community in Oakland, California, where he coaches youth soccer and volunteers with local education organizations.

Founders

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.

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.

Directors Emeritus

With great respect and gratitude, we recognize past board members whose contributions were immeasurable.

Hon. James L. Buckley
An original board director of PBA, Jim Buckley served until 2009. Jim is a former U.S. senator and retired U.S. circuit court judge. His fascination with the Far North, including its wildlife and peoples, dates to the 1960s. Jim has traveled extensively throughout the Arctic and has visited Antarctica as well.

Marcia Guravich-Hoadley
Dan’s wife, Marcia Guravich-Hoadley, was a  founding director and the first secretary of PBA. Marcia died in 2005, but the work that Dan started and she supported go on today, in part, because of their generous bequest and the invaluable resources of the Guravich Library of historic photographs and papers.

Downs Matthews
Downs is a founding director of PBA and the award-winning author of five books, including two on polar bears. He served on the board until 2003. Downs has traveled worldwide to write about and photograph his subjects. In 1992, he and PBA founder Dan Guravich were the first western journalists to visit and document polar bears on Russia's Wrangel Island following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He is proud to be a third-generation Houstonian.

Leeann Myers  
Leeann joined PBI's board of directors in 2006 after serving as an Advisory Council member for two years. She served on PBI's board until 2011. A marketing writer and editor for an international software company, Leeann is skilled at presenting complex information to a lay audience. During her tenure with PBI, she served as our director of corporate relations and contributed articles to our quarterly newsletter. She lives in Arcata, California.

Tom Ocasek
Tom joined the board in 1998, became vice president in 2006, and served until 2009. Tom is a retired business executive who built and operated businesses ranging from fashion merchandising and retailing to real estate development and tourism. He is a committed conservationist who uses his polar bear slide shows to educate youth wherever he travels.

Patricia L. Wessinger
Pat was a founding director and served until 2006. An avid birder and nature enthusiast, she was also a founding member of Portland's Oregon Zoo and served as state co-chairman of the Oregon chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Pat’s interest in polar bears began after traveling to Cape Churchill with the late Dan Guravich on a photography tour.

Bob Williams, Chair, PBI Canada
Bob joined PBI's board of directors in 2004. He was elected chairman of the board of PBI Canada in 2008 and served through 2013. A Canadian native, he is a highly successful residential and commercial property developer based in Winnipeg, as well as a champion for anything to do with Winnipeg and Manitoba, including its Assiniboine Zoo. Naturally, he lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the birthplace of the genuine Winnie-the-Pooh.

Robert J. Wilson
Bob is a founding director and served until 2010. He has served as president, CFO, and chairman at different times. He is a retired attorney with extensive experience with issues surrounding marine mammal and is active in marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation efforts. Bob is also an avid photographer specializing in marine mammals, including polar bears.

Before PBI ... There Was PBA

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.

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