The International Rhino Foundation has selected Nina Fascione as its new executive director following the retirement of Dr. Susie Ellis, who led the organization for the past 13 years.
Fascione has been a wildlife conservation professional for more than 30 years. She previously served as vice president of philanthropy at Defenders of Wildlife in Washington, D.C., where she oversaw the organization’s efforts to raise funds from major and planned gifts, foundations and corporations for strategic conservation work.
“In these challenging times, rhinos need more help than ever,” said Fascione. “I am excited to work with the IRF team and partners as well as the dedicated community of supporters to help rhinos.”
From 2010 to 2012, Fascione served as executive director of Bat Conservation International, where she guided the Austin, Texas-based organization in its efforts to protect bats and their habitats around the world through innovative programs that blend education, research and conservation.
IRF’s board of directors conducted a national search following Dr. Susie Ellis’ announcement to retire as executive director at the end of February. “Nina has a breadth of experience and life-long passion for wildlife, and we look forward to her leadership as IRF continues to grow, serving as the only organization exclusively dedicated to rhino research and conservation,” said John Lukas, President of the
IRF Board of Directors.
“On behalf of IRF, I would like to thank Susie for her dedicated service, passion and commitment to the organization,” said Lukas.
Over the past 13 years of Ellis’ leadership, IRF has tremendously expanded its global reach, working with all five species of rhinoceros in Africa and Asia. “I have been honored to work with our field teams, staff, board, partners, and donors, and have been blessed with a network of friends and colleagues all over the world,” said Ellis. “I have been most proud of our ability to provide meaningful funding to like-minded partners across the world, through the generosity of our donors.”
Fascione will join the organization at the beginning of May. She is a co-founder and board chair of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders, a leadership training program for early career wildlife professionals. She is also a board member of Ewaso Lions, a conservation organization in northern Kenya.
She has a Master of Applied Anthropology and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Maryland, where she examined the human component of wildlife conservation. Fascione has also authored dozens of journal articles, book chapters and technical reports covering various topics in wildlife science and conservation and edited the Island Press book People and Predators: From Conflict to Coexistence.
“My passion for wildlife conservation and habitat has been with me my entire career. I look forward to joining Team Rhino to ensure a world where rhinos thrive for generations to come,” said Fascione.