Anaïk is Unearthodox’s Innovation Research Specialist, supporting our innovation portfolio with research, implementation and monitoring. With a strong focus on the reframing and ideation phases of Unearthodox’s innovation value chain, Anaïk ensures that sufficient time and space are allocated to take a step back, learn (and unlearn), reflect and rethink problems collaboratively and in a systemic way.
With expertise and background in political science, international relations and conflict resolution, Anaïk is passionate about conservation, regeneration and innovation, and seeks to be an enabler in identifying and unearthing meaningful and innovative solutions for all life on Earth. Before joining Unearthodox, Anaïk worked for five years at the Luc Hoffmann Institute. Prior to that, she worked in communication at the United Nations Office in Geneva and as a consultant for the CITES Secretariat.
Curious, enthusiastic and hopeful, Anaïk enjoys exploring the world, acquiring new abilities and meeting new people. Outside of work, she is a singer and guitar player and can often be found exploring nature in her camper van. Attend a Zoom meeting with Anaïk and you are likely to meet her cat, Freddie, who always steals the show.
B.A. International Relations Global Studies Institute, Switzerland
M.Phil International Peace Studies Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Anca is Unearthodox’s Director of Innovation, leading the planning, development and implementation of our innovation programme. Anca unearths individuals and ideas that could lead to novel and more equitable and sustainable approaches in conservation. Her strong focus is on using systems thinking and future thinking to uncover the root causes of long-standing conservation problems and bring together diverse teams to identify innovative solutions.
Anca is an interdisciplinary scientist and practitioner with a background in economics, social science and complex environmental problems. Before joining Unearthodox, Anca worked for five years at the Luc Hoffmann Institute and UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Prior to that, she was a community and livelihoods coordinator for Fauna and Flora International and an environmental consultant in the European Parliament. Anca continues to be an expert evaluator for the European Commission and sits on the board of a Romanian environmental NGO centred on old-growth forest conservation, which she helped set up in 2009.
Kindness, empathy and empowerment underpin Anca’s mantra of leadership. She believes the keys to enabling meaningful discussions are to harness a broad range of human talent and to recognise and empower all kinds of diversity, including gender, age, geography and Indigenous knowledges.
Vibrant, inquisitive and calm, Anca always tries to keep an open mind. She looks for the best in others and enjoys meaningful connections with people and nature. Outside of work, Anca is happiest when discovering the world with her young family and loves adventures in the terrestrial and marine worlds, especially snowboarding and scuba diving.
Ph.D. Human Geography | University of Cambridge, UK
MSc Environmental Protection | University of Edinburgh, UK
M.Sc. Economics | Université d’Artois, France
B.A. Finance and Economics | Academy of Economic Studies, Romania
Based in Cambridge, UK, Andrew provides administration, logistics, events and general project support to the institute.
Andrew holds a BSc in ‘Marine Biology with Biodiversity & Conservation’ and has recently graduated with his MSc in ‘Marine Environmental Management’ from the University of York.
For several years, Andrew has worked for the emergency neurosurgery service at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Andrew views his role at the Luc Hoffmann Institute as an opportunity to combine his prior work experience and educational background, and a first step in his conservation and sustainability career. Andrew has an affinity for area-based conservation which was the core theme of his Master’s thesis. His research experience includes lab-based work on nematodal genetics and marine fieldwork using the coral micro-fragmentation technique to restore Hawaii’s threatened corals.
Cyrie is a conservation leader and biodiversity policy specialist with long experience in international environmental governance and the science-policy interface.
Cyrie was formerly Global Director of IUCN’s Policy and Programme Group. She is a biologist by training, with a master’s (M.Sc.) degree and a PhD in Zoology from the Free University of Brussels (Belgium). Her career has focused on natural resources management, encompassing both research and development perspectives. She previously worked at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, where she was responsible for biodiversity and biotechnology issues in the framework of the programme to support the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In 1998, she moved to Montreal, Canada, to head the Biosafety Programme at the CBD Secretariat. In that capacity, she coordinated the final round of the negotiation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and its subsequent implementation. In 2006, Cyrie joined CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research) as Regional Coordinator for the Central Africa Regional Office, based in Yaoundé, Cameroon. She joined IUCN in September 2010 where she served until the end of January 2021.
Cyrie is the author and co-author of many publications on environmental issues and is a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science. She has also served on a number of prestigious international scientific panels, committees and initiatives. Cyrie was born and grew up in Rwanda and holds dual citizenship of both Rwanda and Canada.
Fabio is Unearthodox’s Innovation Engagement Manager, supporting our innovation portfolio with integrated communication and engagement activities. Focused on developing and getting across clear and actionable messages, he helps the Unearthodox innovation team to effectively engage with a variety of stakeholders, to reframe existing issues and to co-create transformative solutions.
A communication and public affairs professional with experience in issue- and stakeholder management for multinational energy companies, Fabio is passionate about dialogic practices and their power to enable people to think and move forward together. He enjoys working in multicultural and interdisciplinary teams, exploring new perspectives, listening to different opinions and supporting the development of concrete steps towards change.
Before joining Unearthodox, Fabio worked for the Luc Hoffmann Institute, Shell, GE Oil and Eni in a variety of roles, both at the project and corporate levels, in media, government and NGO relations, public affairs, issue and crisis management, and internal and change communication. He has extensive experience in communicating environmental and social issues for large energy and industrial projects.
Outside of work, Fabio leads a pretty ordinary life – he likes cats, walking in nature and reading newspapers.
M.A. Law and Diplomacy Fletcher School, Tufts University, USA
Jessica Villat Director of Engagement & Development
Jessica is Unearthodox’s Director of Engagement & Development, designing and facilitating strategic engagement and development for the organisation worldwide. As part of Unearthodox's Senior Management Group, she provides advice on positioning the organisation as a thought leader, as well as inspiring and enabling strong networks and relationships with key stakeholders. She acts as a strategic partner to the CEO and as the primary media spokesperson.
With expertise in strategy and engagement, Jessica is passionate about co-imagining regenerative futures beyond sustainability in collaboration with civil society. She has over 20 years of experience in the USA, Japan and Switzerland in various strategic and programme positions across the financial, cultural, and non-profit sectors. Her work and life experiences have brought her close to nature and to many Indigenous peoples and local communities, whose struggles have seeded her desire to enable social innovation for nature including people.
Before joining Unearthodox, Jessica worked for four years at the Luc Hoffmann Institute and spearheaded the sustainability strategy and nature writing-in-residence programme at the Jan Michalski Foundation. Prior to that, she worked for a decade in various strategic marketing and communication advising roles for global financial institutions, including UBS, Swiss Re, and Zurich Insurance and spent a few formative years teaching languages and producing Japanese cartoons. She speaks English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Italian and a bit of Russian.
A positive, empathetic, and brave systems-thinker, Jessica loves history and exploring interlinkages in human and environmental struggles across millennia. You might find her hiking in the mountains, writing by the fire, or testing regenerative farming practices.
M.A. Sustainability | Harvard University, USA
M.A. English - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages | San Francisco State University, USA
B.A. History | University of California, San Diego, USA
Melanie is the CEO of Unearthodox, leading its international team in unearthing solutions to nature challenges through innovation, collaboration and co-creation, with an emphasis on inclusivity and diversity. An interdisciplinary expert in systems science and collaborative design, co-creation and partnership are core to her values and she is deeply committed to global conservation collaboration, fostering network formation, advancing new thinking, and empowering new kinds of leadership.
Prior to the founding of Unearthodox, Melanie joined the Luc Hoffmann Institute in 2015 and filled many roles including Head of Programme before being appointed Director in 2021. With over twenty years experience, she has developed, led and scaled collaboration across the world with actors such as United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, WWF, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Thiess Engineering, Pernod Ricard, University of Cambridge, as well as community and education programmes in rural and local contexts. Melanie has previously worked on global collaboration for integrated landscape and river basin planning in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America, as well as the eWater cooperative research programme, International River Foundation, and the Queensland Government in Australia.
Melanie believes deeply in the power of human curiosity, humility, and the abundance of talent around the world. She is passionate, perseverant, and optimistic, endeavors to remain open-minded, and always seeks to find solutions that are collaborative, fair and inclusive. She enjoys spending time with her young family and cat, as well as practicing yoga, hiking, traveling, and reading, especially anything related to philosophy.
M.Sc. Environment and Sustainability (with distinction) University of Southern Queensland, Australia
B.A. International Relations and German (First Class honours) University of Southern Queensland, Australia
Michelle is Unearthodox’s Finance and Contracts Manager. In addition to ensuring the smooth running of financial and contractual functions, Michelle supports accountability to all stakeholders. She enjoys new challenges and is always ready to listen and bring fresh ideas to the table that will help deliver operational efficiencies and effectiveness. With a strong focus on problem solving, no undertaking is too big or too small for her.
Before joining Unearthodox, Michelle worked for fifteen years at WWF International providing management, oversight and operational expertise for the effective coordination of WWF projects and programmes, including five years supporting the Luc Hoffmann Institute. Prior to this, she worked for the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and coordinated the engagement and representation of the private sector at Global Fund board and committee meetings, as well as other initiatives to fight the three diseases.
Outside of Unearthodox, together with her husband, Michelle is raising two young daughters, Vivienne and Eleanore, otherwise known as Harry Potter and Peter Parker. Their curiosity and imagination have no end and they inspire Michelle to think differently and to see a world and a future where the impossible is possible.
MBA with Specialization in International Organizations University of Geneva, Switzerland
B.A. Spanish University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
Richard is Unearthodox’s Director of Operations and Finance, serving as the all-around lateral thinking problem solver. Richard leads our budgeting and fiscal functions, oversees our operations and advises on strategy and governance.
After leaving school at the tender age of 16 and ending up as an actuarial clerk, Richard switched to academia a few years later. Having turned down the option of studying art history at Goldsmiths University, he instead opted to study commerce, geography and eventually political ecology in London.
That was enough to persuade Richard that academic life was definitely not for him (despite his one and only academic paper having well over 100 citations, and still growing). So, he switched to running value-for-money audits of multi-billion pound public projects on behalf of the UK Parliament, which he did for 15 years before changing tack yet again by becoming a policy analyst, then strategy advisor, and then head of operations for the Luc Hoffmann Institute.
Outside of work (when it happens), Richard can be found winning (mostly) at billiards, playing keyboard in jazz and funk bands or shooting music videos for friends. He claims to have Berlin’s most well-stocked spice cabinet (his 20-spice chicken and roasted pepper curry is something to behold).
Ph.D. Political Ecology King’s College London, UK
M.Sc. Geography (Distinction) King’s College London, UK
B.Sc. Commerce (First-Class Honours) Napier University, Edinburgh, UK
Saša is Unearthodox’s ad-interim Administrator, providing logistical and administrative support to our team and CEO. With a strong passion for working in international and multicultural environments, she is a service-oriented multitasker who enjoys a varied workload.
Born in Switzerland, Saša was raised in Slovenia by her grandparents and uncles. After compulsory school, she initially studied sports education at university. With many years of varied work experience, Saša has a strong background in administration. She previously worked in two international companies in which she was responsible for a wide variety of administrative, accounting and documentary tasks. She also previously worked for an English family as an office administrator and personal assistant. After a career break, she spent time on further-education courses and in a mix of fixed-term contract roles, including as an administrative assistant in the IP department at Bobst Mex SA, before joining Unearthodox.
Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, Saša is easy-going, open-minded and sociable. She tries to learn something new every day, loves to research and is interested in many different subjects, including human psychology, health, foreign languages, sports and more. She could not live without music and dancing, and anywhere there’s music playing, you’ll probably find her ‘chained to the rhythm’.
CFC Employée de Commerce Ecole Lémania, Switzerland
Accounting Levels 1 and 2 Ecole Jeuncomm, Switzerland
Claire is Unearthodox’s Innovation Portfolio Manager, leading and guiding changemakers and their projects to reach their maximum potential and achieve greater impact within the conservation ecosystem. She works across strategy and operations, from ideation to scaling and learning phases. Focused on creating open spaces for innovation, she designs and delivers tailored processes and tools to stimulate the emergence of solutions, pathways to impact and approaches to some of the most pressing conservation challenges.
Claire is a seasoned innovation professional driven by social impact. She has worked at the forefront of humanitarian innovation in the UK and Switzerland. During her time as Elrha’s Innovation Manager, she delivered a range of grant-management, advisory and thought-leadership roles and oversaw pioneering innovations for gender-based violence and humanitarian innovation scaling. More recently, she managed H2H Network’s most comprehensive portfolio to date in response to the global pandemic. Claire brings a well-honed skillset in the governance of multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral partnerships, including with UN agencies, NGOs, research institutions, social enterprises and private companies, as well as strategic partners like institutional donors and governments.
A trained architect, Claire is a strong believer in problem-led approaches, breaking down large, systemic problems into well-defined actionable challenges. ‘Fall in love with the problem, not the solution’ is her professional motto. Her personal motto is, ‘You might be given a cactus but you don’t have to sit on it’. In her spare time, chances are you will find her strolling around flea markets, playing ukulele, gardening and looking after her young family.
M.Sc. Sustainable Management and Innovation University of Paris-Saclay, France
M.A. Architecture and High Environmental Quality Lyon School of Architecture, France
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