Jo Thompson, PhD. President / Executive Director and Lukuru Project Director
Since 1992 Jo has worked in the DRCongo focusing on bonobo conservation in the Lukuru Project. Her principal species of effort is the Bonobo (Pan paniscus) but she also devotes energy to the Congo Clawless Otter, Congo Peafowl, and other distinctive wildlife of special conservation concern. In 1998 when war was officially declared in the DRCongo, Jo organized a pioneering international effort to support conservation work int he national parks, led a one-of-a-kind mission of top Congolese conservationists to meet with Security Council member state ambassadors at the United Nations in New York City, worked tirelessly for biodiversity conservation in central Africa, pioneered a 'human-needs' approach to conservation, and continued field activities under the most challenging condition. In 2004 she was presented the Rolex Awards for Enterprise Associate Laureate award. In 2003 she received the Michael Brinkman Fellowship to participate as a guest panelist on the Special Congo Basin Forum. Particularly special to Jo, in 2002 she was honored when a Bonobo born at the Columbus Zoo was named "Jo-T" in recognition of her contributions in the study of Bonobos in the wild. The following year, a newly discovered insect "Niphetophora thompsonae" was named by the local staff of the ICCN, Lubumbashi, DRCongo, "in homage to her tireless devotion in favor of the National Parks of Congo" (quoted from the article where the insect was scientifically described - the journal 'Entomologia Africana' 2003). Jo received her Doctorate degree from the University of Oxford, England; her Master's degree from the University of Colorado, Denver; and her Bachelor's degree from Wittenberg University, Ohio. In 2010 she accepted a faculty position with The Ohio State University. She is a contributing author to several books and has published articles in peer-reviewed and popular wildlife and conservation journals and magazines.
Nestor Lubuta Mbokoso, Lukuru Projet Point Focal et Foundation Facilitateur avec ICCN
Lubuta has been partnering with Jo Thompson for the past decade, formalizing that working relationship in 2004. He has a leading role in the management of the Lukuru Project. For the Foundation program, his unique, firsthand personal experience in the challenges and accomplishments of conservation across DRCongo's protected areas, as well as his expertise in diplomacy and protocol, make him a valued asset to the organization. Lubuta has a strong foundation of experience as a financial controller, accountant, and administrator since 1978. Additionally, he spent nearly a decade in charge of Public Relations and Protocol for ICCN. Simultaneous with his current role with the Foundation, Lubuta holds positions as Directeur-Auditeur Financier for ICCN and is an Assistant à l'Université du Cepromad, Kinshasa. Lubuta is a widower with four children (two sets of twins).
Bibyche Ilanga, Sectetaire National
Bibyche has been a part of our administrative team in Kinshasa since 2008. She began her conservation and research efforts in the field working as a Team leader in the Programme Socio Economic under John Hart and the Wildlife Conservation Society in the Parc National de la Salonga during the period 2004-2005. In 2002 Bibyche earned her graduate diploma in Math and Computer Sciences. She is married and has two children, a 5 year old daughter and a 6 month old son.
Terese Hart, PhD Administrateur National and TL2 Project Director
Terese joined the Lukuru Foundation in 2006 as Director of the TL2 Project. She (along with John Hart, her husband) was committed to exploring that important but unknown forest block. With special skills of diplomacy and communication, she formally took on the critical role of the Foundations in-country Administrateur National in 2010. Having spent the vast majority of her time living and working in the country since 1974, Terese is internationally recognized for her far-reaching involvement and commitment to conservation of DRCongo. After serving as manager of numberous field projects in the Ituri Forest, she held a leadership position in the presence and activities of the Wildlife Conservation Society for more than a decade. She and John were instrumental in the creation of the Réserve de Faune á Okapis, a World Heritage Site inscribed in 1992 zoned for multi-use. She and John built the Centre de Formation et de Recherche en Conservation Forestiére (CEFRECOF) Reserve de Faune aux okapis, Epulu, for which she served as Co-Director. Terese received both her Doctorate degree and Master's degree from Michigan State University; and her Bachelor's degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Her extensive achievements have earned her multiple honors, including the 2010 Parker Gentry Award for Conservation from the Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois; the 2004 Jane and Whitney Harris Distinguished Speaker award; the 1997 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Carleton College Alumni Association; the 1996 Presidential Award from the Chicago Zoological Society. Simultaneous with her other duties, Terese served as the Facilitator for the Alexander Abraham Conservation Award in DRCongo, acted as an environmental consultant for numerous international endeavors, organized international meetings in DRCongo, as well as developed and authored her project blog. She is a contributing author to several books and has published articles in peer-reviewed and popular wildlife and conservation journals and magazines.
John Hart, PhD Directeur Scientifique et Technique
John brought more than three decades of central African field conservation experience when he joined the Lukuru Foundation in 2006. Having led research in the Salonga NP, Kahuzi-Biega NP, Itombwe, and the TL2 forest blocks, he contributes vast expertise in methodology, research, analysis, and evaluation covering both plant ecology, animal life, and the indigenous community interface. he first came to DRCongo in 1973 to live with and document the ecology of the Mbuti Pygmies in the southern Ituri Forest. In 1980 John and Terese Hart began a rigorous study of the Okapi which led to a pivotal position with the Wildlife Conservation Society. Together they were instrumental in the creation of the Réserve de Faune á Okapis, a World Heritage Site inscribed in 1992 zoned for multi-use. Over nearly a decade, he and Terese built the Centre de Formation et de Recherche en Conservation Forestiére (CEFRECOF) Reserve de Faune aux Okapis, Epulu, for which he served as Co-Director. His breadth of knowledge and experience led him to establish and coordinate the CITES program, Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) in five central African countries. John received both his Doctorate degree and Master's degree from Michigan State University; and his Bachelor's degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. His extensive achievements have earned him multiple honors, including the 2010 Parker Gentry Award for Conservation from the Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois; the 1997 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Carleton College Alumni Association; the 1996 Presidential Award from the Chicago Zoological Society. he is a contributing author to several books and has published articles in peer-reviewed and popular wildlife and conservation journals and magazines.
Cleve Hicks, PhD Bili Project Director
Cleve began working in the RDC in 2004 as the Lead Scientific Director of the Bili Apes Project under The Wasmoeth Wildlife Foundation after gaining field experience in République centrafricaine. Since 2010 he has been a Post-doctoral Guest Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. In 2011 Cleve joined the Lukuru Foundation as the field director of the Bili Project. Cleve received his Doctorate degree from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands; his Master's degree from the Central Washington University; and his Bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to the Bili project, Cleve studied the behavior of a diverse range of primate species: ring-tailed lemurs at Duke University, rhesus macaques at Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico, bonobos at the Planckendael Zoo in Belgium, and western lowland gorillas and central chimpanzees at the Mondika and Ngotto field sites in the Central African Republic. He is a contributing author to a recent book on field stories of researchers studying African Apes. He has published a number of articles in peer-reviewed journals.
Jeff Harr, CPA, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer
Jeff serves as the Foundations Treasurer as well as our Board's Chief Financial Officer. He graduated from The Ohio State University in 1978 with a BSBA and a major in Accounting. Jeff is the President of Balestra, Harr & Scherer, CPAs and the firm's Director of Auditing and Quality Contorl. he was employed for nine years by an international CPA firm before joining a smaller CPA firm and eventually forming the predecessor firm to Balestra, Harr & Scherer, CPA's in August 1994. He has taught numberous auditing courses for international CPA firms as well as Balestra, Harr & Scherer, CPAs. He has been responsible for directing all phases of client services for many organizations, including financial and compliance audits, agreed-upon procedures engagements and consulting for businesses in many different industries, including agribusiness, utility, manufacturing, construction, not-for-profit, and governmental. Jeff's professional affiliations include the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives, the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
Balestra, Harr & Scherer, CPAs is also a member of Polaris International, an international association of carefully screened CPA firms, of which Jeff is a member of the Board of Directors for the North American Region.
Jeff is also active in his home community through involvement with the Circleville Sunrise Rotary Club (past President), the Pickaway County YMCA Board of Directors (past Chairman of the Board), and is a member of the Board of Directors of a local bank. Jeff is a former member of the Circleville City Schools Board of Education, where he served for 12 years (4 as President) and the Pickaway County Health Board. Jeff and his wife, Ann, have been married for nearly 40 years and reside near Circleville, Ohio. They have 10 children and seven grandchildren.
Joy Myers, PRP, CPP-T, Secretary
The Board's Secretary, Joy is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian accredited by the National Association of Parliamentarians and a Certified Professional Parliamentarian-Teacher accredited by the American Institute of Parliamentarians (one of only 27 who hold this level of certification in the United States). She serves as a Board of Directors member of the National Association and is Chairman of the Education Resources Committee. Joy works with many state and national organizations. She provides service as a parliamentarian, trainer, presiding officer, bylaws consultant, opinion writer, election consultant, or meeting manager.
David Harr, Accountant
David has served as the Foundation's Accountant since 2003 responsible for all tax returns, general bookkeeping, and banking through Balestra, Harr & Scherer, CPA's. David earned his degree in Accounting from Ohio University. He is currently working on a second degree (Electrical Engineering) at The Ohio State university with a specialty in energy efficiency for building/modifying residential homes and commercial buildings to make them energy self-sufficient. David is married and has a 3 year old son.