About Us

For over a decade, CANA Foundation has worked through science-backed education to create legislation that will ultimately help to effectuate rewilding initiatives. Through these efforts, we can not only change the lives of horses across the United States but better the environment, making for a healthier future for all. Through our work with partner organizations, including the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University, the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC) at the American Museum of Natural History, and scientists at various institutions, we initiate research studies to support rewilding initiatives with wild horses.

Image

Executive Team

Founder & CEO

Manda Kalimian

Manda Kalimian is the founder and president of the CANA Foundation, which for over a decade ago has worked to rewild America’s wild horses and land to promote environmental and climate sustainability. Through CANA, Manda has not only raised awareness of issues surrounding America’s wild horses and environmental destruction, she’s also led major change in Washington, including the effectuation of rewilding language for managing America’s wild horses in the FY2020 Interior Appropriations budget bill. A frequent speaker, she’s presented about horse and environmental topics at Cambridge University at the Cambridge Conservation Forum in England. She’s appeared in leading media, including on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Through her production company, White Feather Productions, she’s spearheaded music videos, TV spots, Times Square Billboards and live events to share the message about wild horses globally. She also founded a wellness line of skincare products, Naturally Considerate, whose profits go back to equestrian and environmental causes. Manda is also a founding member of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell, a nonpartisan institute that seeks to elevate the discourse and deepen understanding of volatile political and global events.

On her private farm on Long Island, she works with animal rescues ranging from horses to goats and welcomes visitors to learn through special workshops and exclusive events at her Rewilding Space. Manda is a passionate advocate for preserving the Native American culture and supports educational and health initiatives benefiting indigenous communities.

Acting Executive Director and CFO

Jacqueline Kapur

Jackie is a founding partner at Ignition Capital and a former divisional CFO at a multi-billion-dollar, privately-held global firm based in New York. Through her 15-year corporate finance career, Jackie has a proven track record of formulating and executing strategies & budgets for both start-ups and established businesses. She is a thoughtful and experienced leader in finance, business development, operation, marketing, and HR across industries including information technology, news, research, data, financial services, and consumer products. Excellent communication and people skills with significant experience navigating C-level management through major strategic changes.

Science Advisor | Board Member

Dr. Ross MacPhee

Ross MacPhee Ph.D., is CANA’s scientific advisor and a curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Ross is a biologist specializing in mammals that are now extinct, especially those that lived in recent prehistory (last 2 million years). He has searched for recently-lost species all over the world, seeking to explain not only their biological relationships but why they died out. Using both fossils and modern genomic methods, he and his colleagues are seeking to show that all modern horses, whether domestic or wild, have ancestries that ultimately originated in North America. He was curator of the AMNH exhibition The Horse (2008) and the author of End of the Megafauna (Norton, 2019), an account of species disappearances worldwide after the end of the last Ice Age–– including the mysterious loss of the horse in North America.

American Indian Liaison

Moses Brings Plenty

Moses Brings Plenty works to secure large tracts of private and reservation land to rewild the tens of thousands of wild horses currently standing in BLM holding facilities. As a Lakota, Moses works through a vision of the future of tribal America to share best practices and cultural understanding with CANA and CANA constituents. A gifted musician and actor, Moses’ credits include Paramounts “Yellowstone,” AMC’s “The American West” BBC’s “Custer’s Last Stand” and more.  He is a tribally enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Lakota Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. He is a direct descendant of Brings Plenty.

Legislative Advisor

Steve Israel

Steve Israel was a Member of Congress for sixteen years and currently serves as CANA Foundation’s legislative advisor. He also heads the non-partisan Cornell University Institute of Politics and Global Affairs in New York City. A regular political commentator on MSNBC, Steve appears regularly in The New York Times, The Atlantic Magazine, as well as The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. He wrote the popular books “Big Guns” & “The Global War On Morris” and is a regular at horse shows and events with his children and grandchildren, as well as being a horse lover and advocate.

Legal Advisor

Michael Connor

Michael Connor is a partner at the WilmerHale law firm where he advise clients seeking to initiate projects and activities involving the use, development, or conservation of public lands, water resources, the outer-continental shelf and federal infrastructure, to effectively address the statutes and regulatory requirements managed by federal, state and local agencies.  With more than two decades of government experience, Mr. Connor is well equipped to provide clients with strategic advice regarding regulatory, public policy and legislative matters related to natural resources and Federal Indian law.  Michael served as Deputy Secretary of the US Department of the Interior, addressing some of the most complex natural resource issues facing federal agencies across the nation. Mr. Connor earned a reputation in government as an authority on water resources law and policy, and is a trusted source for legal advice and policy support regarding water resource use and sustainable development.

Additionally, Mr. Connor supports Native American tribes seeking to gain legal recognition of long-standing rights, assess opportunities for the sustainable use of their land and water resources, develop projects to provide services and economic development opportunities, and protect their interests in government proceedings that could affect their rights and interests. He is an enrolled member of the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. 

Before joining WilmerHale, Mr. Connor held an array of positions within the federal government, including high-level positions in the Obama Administration. As noted, he served as Deputy Secretary of the US Department of the Interior from 2014-2017, as well as Commissioner of the US Bureau of Reclamation from 2009-2014, leading efforts to develop strategies, build coalitions and implement actions to carry out President Obama’s energy, natural resources, conservation, climate change and Native American policies. He previously served as counsel to the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which included managing the Water and Power Subcommittee. In this position, he developed, negotiated and enacted legislation involving water resources, energy, and Native American issues. Mr. Connor also served as director of the Indian Water Rights Office at the Department of the Interior.

Mr. Connor previously served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law.

Funding & Strategic Development

Dr. Simon Mills

Dr. Mills is a serial entrepreneur and a founding partner at Ignition Capital. With a background in media, marketing, music, digital communication, advertising, software platform development, brand architecture, tech startups, enterprise software deployment, writing, web development, system design, graphic design, finance, and business, he is well suited to lead deal and capital procurement activities with Ignition Capital.

Executive Chairman

Cello

Every organization has a boss above the boss. Cello lives at the Rewilding Headquarters on Long Island and constantly reminds everyone what they need to be doing.

Science Advisory Board

Science Advisor | Board Member

Dr. Ross MacPhee

Ross MacPhee Ph.D., is CANA’s scientific advisor and a curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Ross is a biologist specializing in mammals that are now extinct, especially those that lived in recent prehistory (last 2 million years). He has searched for recently-lost species all over the world, seeking to explain not only their biological relationships but why they died out. Using both fossils and modern genomic methods, he and his colleagues are seeking to show that all modern horses, whether domestic or wild, have ancestries that ultimately originated in North America. He was curator of the AMNH exhibition The Horse (2008) and the author of End of the Megafauna (Norton, 2019), an account of species disappearances worldwide after the end of the last Ice Age–– including the mysterious loss of the horse in North America.

Professor of Anthropology and Biochemistry McMaster University. Cana Science Advisory Board

Dr. Hendrick Poinar

A Professor of Anthropology and Biochemistry, a Canada Research Chair in Paloegenetics and a senior fellow in the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Hendrik Poinar is an interdisciplinary scientist with training in evolutionary genetics, molecular biology and genomics. He has a deep passion for uncovering the minute traces of organic molecules (DNA, RNA, proteins) buried deep within fossils and sedimentary records, which he has been studying for 25 years. He trained broadly at various institutions in California, Germany, the UK, Italy, France and now directs the McMaster Ancient DNA Centre at McMaster University in Hamilton Canada. He’s an advocate for communicating complex science in meaningful and comprehensible terms to all ages (K-senior) having given numerous interviews to various media outlets (PBS, CNN, NBC, NYT, BBC, CBC). His lab’s work has appeared in many international documentaries and he’s a TED speaker on the topic of de-extincting the woolly mammoth. Currently his group is mining the tiny traces of DNA buried in teaspoon amounts of frozen sediment from our North to investigate why so many large animals went extinct 10,000 years ago at a period of climatic instability and fluctuation and yet how, surprisingly, some giant creatures may have unexpectedly survived into much more recent times than previously thought.

Co-Founder, Rewilding Europe Program Manager, GRAZELIFE

Wouter Helmer

Wouter Helmer is the co-founder of Rewilding Europe and Programme Manager of GRAZELIFE, a project at the request of the European Commission to come up with recommendations for effective grazing systems regarding climate adaptation, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services. He brings to CANA’s Science Advisory Board over 30 years of experience with rewilding projects on this continent.

Archeological scientist specializing in ancient DNA Cana Science Advisory Board

Dr. Tyler Murchie

Dr. Tyler Murchie is currently working as a postdoctoral fellow at the McMaster University Ancient DNA Centre in Hamilton, Canada with Professor Hendrik Poinar, with whom Tyler did his Ph.D. research on ancient environmental DNA recovered from the Yukon Territory. Tyler has been developing new techniques for recovering and utilizing sedimentary ancient DNA from permafrost and lake sediments to understand the environmental turnover and mass extinction of ice-age megafauna such as woolly mammoth, horse, and steppe bison during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition (11,700 years ago). Through the techniques Tyler has developed, a new scale of environmental DNA resolution has been made possible, wherein the simultaneous transition of plants and animals can be observed solely through the molecular remnants those organisms left behind on ancient landscapes. Moreover, Tyler’s work has hinted at the late survival of ice age horses and mammoths in the Yukon thousands of years after their last dated fossil remains, and highlights the potential to recover genomic-scale information from many diverse organisms simultaneously, solely through environmental DNA preserved for millennia in sediments and soils.

Tyler has also been working on various other archaeological applications of environmental DNA aimed towards understanding human-ecological interactions in deep time. Beyond ice age environmental DNA, Tyler has contributed to published research on the population history of ancient Romans with palaeogenomics and stable isotopes, as well as northern plains archaeology with ancient DNA and projectile point systematics during his masters and B.Sc. (hons) degrees at the University of Calgary.

General Advisory Board

Cultural Liaison / Photographer​

Karla R. LaRive

Karla R. LaRive is a long-time advocate for preserving the legacy of wild horses and the vanishing American West. She comes to CANA Foundation with a background in photography, communications and marketing. In 2006, Karla formed her production company, PK Productions, LLC with a focus in media and music production and cultural awareness. As producer, Karla was nominated for a Grammy for “Best Regional Roots Album “Generations” in 2015. She served 10 years as Communications Director for the Institute of Range and American Mustang, working alongside wild horse conservation pioneer, the late Dayton O. Hyde, at his 11,000 acre wild horse sanctuary in western South Dakota. Karla is an advocate in Government and Tribal relations on behalf of wild horses in South Dakota and around the country.

Founder—Wild Horse Education

Laura Leigh

Laura Leigh has joined the board of CANA in an advisory capacity. Laura has a deep understanding of the law and over a decade of on-the-ground experience on public lands. Her work includes the only cases in history against abuse during capture of wild horses. One of her First Amendment court rulings, to open the world of wild horses to public scrutiny, is now used to protect civil rights nationwide. Her work on the range, and in the courtroom, has been featured in several books and countless news features. Laura’s experience blends well with CANAs mission to protect wild places and wild horses through the concepts of rewilding.

Wild Horse Liaison

Judy Fuson

Judy advises CANA Foundation on wild horse behaviors and is a gifted teacher, author, and horse trainer with over twenty years of experience in “talking with animals.” She works with pet owners on behavior problems, illness, and unsoundness in dogs, cats, horses, and other animals. She is the author of “Wagging Tails, Swishing Tails, Fluffy Tails, and Other Tales,” a book about animal communication. A lecturer at Whole Life Expos, Victory of Light Expo in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Universal Light Expo in Columbus, Ohio, she has also been a presenter at Equine Affair in Columbus, Ohio. Popular in the media, she’s been a guest on radio shows including Transitions Radio Magazine in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and currently appears with Jill Reynolds on Critter Chatter in Boulder, Colorado.

Federal Agency Consultant

Gayle Hunt

Originally from rural Western Oregon, Gayle has spent the last 30 years in Central Oregon––a world apart. The desert and pine forest ecosystems of the drier climes east of the Cascades were the logical landscape for a career in the U.S. Forest Service and a commitment to the preservation of America’s wild horses and burros.  

As witness to the weak approach of Federal Agencies to the management of wild equines, Gayle founded the Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition to consolidate the random interests of area citizens into a more formidable, solution-based advocacy front. Particular areas of emphasis, in addition to protection of the Forest Service-managed Big Summit herd, are the Native Species status of the Horse in North America; the potential contributions of equines to the restoration of Western rangelands; the strengthening of legal protections of wild equines and universal adherence to those protections; and the creation of partnerships with Veterans and underserved communities to accomplish on-range work which keeps wild herds intact on their homelands.

Workforce Policy / Wild Horse Advisor

Elise Lowe-Vaughn

Elise Lowe-Vaughn serves as the CANA Workforce Policy Advisor. In her day job she is the Colorado Director of Workforce Programs and oversees a large portfolio of federal and state workforce programs. She is an appointed member to several national workforce associations and serves on several state and county boards. Elise has testified before a Congressional subcommittee and presented internationally on challenges facing the future workforce. She uses her knowledge of western issues facing communities, and her expertise in policy and legislation to promote an integrated wild horse advocacy strategy for our wild horses and their legally designated lands with a goal of ecological balance so all can thrive. Her two horses continue to be her teachers and guides.

Advisor

Darrell Marcus Kills In Sight

As a Lakota, Darrell works through a vision of the future of tribal America to share best practices and cultural understanding with CANA and CANA constituents.