In my last letter as the organization’s head, I am delighted to introduce my successor, CNF’s new Executive Director George (Geof) Giacomini.
Geof is ideally suited to lead CNF’s next phase. An experienced director of programs and people, he spent much of the last 15 years directing regional and country programs for Save the Children in the Caucasus and, most recently, in Egypt. Quite coincidentally, like me, Geof is an American, was raised in California and developed there a keen interest in other cultures and languages. Unlike me when I began, Geof’s interests are relevant to our work—he knows the Caucasus well, speaks excellent Russian, and will undoubtedly be speaking all three local languages before long.
CNF is planning a strategic shift in its center of gravity which makes Geof’s experience in and commitment to the region crucial. While we are a German foundation and will always have a strong tie to Europe, the great majority of CNF’s stakeholders—including the national parks and other protected areas we support, most of our program support partners and of course our central government partners are now in the Caucasus. Geof will therefore be locally based, commuting as necessary to Europe and elsewhere, rather than vice versa.
Finally, Geof has the passion for nature and biodiversity that is necessary to propel CNF forward as we push to both deepen our impact and expand our reach. Under my tenure we established ourselves as a reliable partner, and there are budding signs of our impact in the parks we have supported so far. Geof’s job in this new phase for CNF will be to make those buds blossom and to ensure that all of the region’s fantastic parks can flourish, thus sustaining one of the world’s great biodiversity treasures.
To all of CNF’s friends and partners—and to my many personal friends among them—I would ask that you open your doors to Geof as you have done for me. Geof is just the person to tend our garden, and on behalf of CNF’s board I would like to wish him luck and success in his important new position.