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Yellowstone to Yukon Council

The Yellowstone to Yukon Council brings together a core team of individuals with a passion for the Y2Y region, extensive conservation and organizational experience, and the capacity to bring specialized assistance to the Y2Y Board and President.

The Yellowstone to Yukon Council brings together a core team of individuals with a passion for the Y2Y region, extensive conservation and organizational experience, and the capacity to bring specialized assistance to the Y2Y Board and President.

Currently, the Y2Y Council comprises four members — two from each country — with particular expertise in law, investments, science, and conservation implementation.


Joe Lougheed is a Partner in the Calgary office of the global law firm Dentons, where he has practised since 1992 and currently focuses on general corporate matters. An active community volunteer for many years, Joe is currently the Honorary Consul for the Government of Sweden in Southern Alberta. He is also the Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Governors of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and is a Past Chair of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. Joe has also served as a Director of the United Way of Calgary and Area, where he also served as Chair of their Public Policy Committee. Joe is also a former director of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Kids Help Phone (Alberta Advisory Board); the Developmental Disabilities Resource Centre, the Heritage Park Foundation and the Alberta Lung Association. He is also a former member of the Queen’s University Board of Trustees. Joe was educated at Queen's University, the London School of Economics and Political Science and Dalhousie Law School. A fourth generation Calgarian, Joe is proud of his Métis roots with a great-grandmother, Isabella Lougheed (nee Hardisty), who grew up in a Hudson's Bay Company fur trading family in the McKenzie District of the North West Territories. Joe is married to Vivian with two children, James (14) and Cleo (11). His family has a long connection to the creation and protection of parks and conservation in Alberta.

Sarah Palmer is a consultant in environmental law and policy. She provides strategic advice to non-profit organizations on policy analysis, government relations, fundraising, and finding practical, collaborative solutions. Sarah obtained her degree from Dalhousie University and graduated from the Director's Education Program with an ICD.D designation from the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. Currently, in addition to her role as a member of Y2Y's Council, Sarah is a Director with the Alberta Ballet Company and the Chawkers Foundation. Sarah has served on a number of not-for-profit boards in Director, Chair and membership roles including: Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative; the Calgary Foundation, Arts Committee; the Environmental Law Centre; and the Calgary Institute for Humanities, Advisory Committee at the University of Calgary. Sarah is passionate about Alberta's wilderness and mountain parks. She enjoys hiking, cycling and skiing in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Sarah and her husband, Tom Plunkett, live in Calgary with their two sons, Liam and John.

United States 

Charles C. Chester (Council Chair) teaches global environmental politics at Brandeis University and at the Fletcher School of Tufts University. He serves on the board of Bat Conservation International and is Chair of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Council. He is currently building the website,, an online guide to global environmental politics. He co-edited the volume Conservation and Climate Change: Landscape and Seascape Science, Planning and Action (Island Press 2012) and authored Conservation Across Borders: Biodiversity in an Interdependent World (Island Press 2006), which examined the global phenomenon of transboundary collaboration for conservation biodiversity protection, with a focus on the Sonoran Desert (USA-Mexico) and the Northern Rockies of Canada and the United States (Yellowstone to Yukon). He previously served on the board of Root Capital and consulted for the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Henry P. Kendall Foundation. He is currently researching a book on the interwoven histories of gorilla conservation, American taxidermy, European royalty, protected area philosophies, and climate change.

Amy Vedder has worked in applied conservation for more than 30 years, using ecological and social science to conserve wildlife and wildlands. She currently teaches in the graduate program of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, focusing on the practice of international conservation. Formerly, Dr. Vedder served as Senior Vice President for Conservation at The Wilderness Society (TWS), Vice President at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Director of the WCS Africa Program, and senior advisor to the Rwandan Environment Management Authority. Known for her pioneering ecological studies of mountain gorillas in Rwanda during the late 1970s she co-founded the Mountain Gorilla Project with her husband Dr. Bill Weber – an interdisciplinary program that addressed diverse local, national, and international interests. She co-authored the critically acclaimed book “In the Kingdom of Gorillas,” and co-edited “African Rainforest Ecology and Conservation,” published by Yale University Press. While at WCS, she launched the Living Landscapes Program, which focused on the conservation of large and complex landscapes designed to address both wildlife and human needs.