Paula J. Ehrlich, DVM, PhD, is president and CEO of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, whose purpose is to inspire informed collective action to save the biosphere. Paula pioneers innovation, leads strategic activities, and fosters collaborations that support worldwide protection of biodiversity. She leads a diverse team of scientists, educators, and communication leaders who share a moral conviction to protect biodiversity as one of humanity’s transcendent goals.
Paula is cofounder of the Half-Earth Project, which is the leading voice for E.O. Wilson’s call to protect half the land and sea to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity. The Half-Earth Project is playing a significant role in ensuring that we leave no species behind, through research that provides scientific leadership in service of a resilient planet, education that fosters an intergenerational commitment to stewardship of the earth, and engagement of a global community that perceives and celebrates the inherent value of nature.
She has led the development of the Half-Earth Project Map, raising over $20 million to create a global, spatially explicit, and taxonomically comprehensive map of species for public engagement and decision-making. Recent updates inform how well-conserved places are protecting species and identify priorities for future conservation.
Paula is founder of Half-Earth Day, now in its eighth year, which brings together people from around the world and across disciplines to share perspectives and thought leadership on how to achieve Half-Earth goals and ensure the health of our planet for future generations. Half-Earth Day has been held in Washington, DC; New York City; Berkeley; London; and Montreal as well as virtually, attracting thousands of participants from around the globe.
Paula has over 30 years' strategic scientific management and research expertise as well as diverse academic, nonprofit, and corporate leadership experience. As CEO of the nonprofit Drug Discovery Center of Innovation, she fostered strategic innovation in early drug development for unmet medical needs. At Merck, she led initiatives to establish imaging biomarkers and proofs of concept for over 12 lead compounds, which are in clinical trials.
A keen adventurer and explorer, Paula is an avid hiker and has reached the summit of Mount Rainier. She has been an equine surgeon at universities in three countries and worked to empower women’s cooperatives in South Sudan. Always driven by challenge and a desire to make a difference in the world, her current work embodies the hopes of the greatest naturalist of our time, E.O. Wilson.