Kristine McDivitt Tompkins:
“I'm not an urban girl.”

A fourth-generation Californian from a ranching family, Kris's life has always revolved around a passion for the outdoors. As a teenager, she worked summers at what would become Patagonia, Inc. and, after graduating from college in Idaho, joined the company full-time, eventually becoming its long-time CEO alongside Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard. During her tenure the outdoor manufacturer became known as the "anti-corporation" for its environmental efforts. In 1994 Kris retired and married climber/entrepreneur Douglas Tompkins, the founder of The North Face and co-founder (with his first wife, Susie) of Esprit. Working together Kris and Doug achieved unparalleled results in national park creation from a quarter century of ecological philanthropy and activism.

Kristine McDivitt Tompkins is an American conservationist and former CEO of Patagonia, Inc. Since 1993, she has worked to create new national parks, recover imperiled wildlife, and operate organic farms in South America. Kris and her late husband Douglas Tompkins (who died in 2015) are frequently lauded as the most ambitious and successful national park-oriented philanthropists in history, helping to secure millions of acres of new parklands in Chile and Argentina. Kris was born and raised on a ranch in southern California, except for a three-year stint in Venezuela with her family. At age 15, she met and befriended rock climbing legend and equipment manufacturer Yvon Chouinard. After graduating from the College of Idaho, where she ski-raced competitively, she helped build Patagonia, Inc. During her 20 years as CEO, Kris worked with Yvon to build Patagonia into a renowned “anti-corporation” and a leader in the outdoor apparel industry. In 1993, Kris retired from Patagonia, married Doug Tompkins (founder of The North Face and cofounder of Esprit), and turned her talents to saving nature’s beauty and diversity. In 2000, Kris founded the nonprofit Conservacion Patagonica to create national parks in Patagonia that save and restore wildlands and wildlife, inspire care for the natural world, and generate healthy economic opportunities for local communities. Conservacion Patagonica’s first project was the establishment of the 155,000-acre Monté Leon National Park, which protects a 25-mile expanse of Atlantic coastline in Santa Cruz Province and was the first coastal national park on the Argentine mainland. In 2004, Kris and the Conservacion Patagonica team launched the Patagonia National Park project to establish a new 722,000-acre national park in Chile’s Aysén Region; the private lands assembled during this initiative will ultimately be donated to the Chilean government. For her conservation work, Kris has received Scenic Hudson’s Visionary Conservationist Award, the African Rainforest Conservancy’s New Species Award, and many others. In October of 2016 Kris received the Lowell Thomas Award from The Explorer’s Club, and in November 2016 accepted the 2016 World Tourism Award at the World Tourism Market in London as well as the BBVA Foundation’s Biodiversity Conservation Award of Latin America in Madrid, Spain.


“Do something fierce for those things that call to us, for those things that we love.”

Through a suite of nonprofit entities they established, Kris and Doug have given roughly $350 million to acquire conservation land, save wildlife, and support grassroots activism. Their national park-oriented philanthropy is unprecedented in scale, leading Outside Magazine to write that they had "protected more land than any other individuals in history." Kris is quick to note that conservation is inherently a collaborative activity, and that the Tompkins Conservation team’s success results from partnerships with governments, fellow philanthropists, other NGOs, and like-minded conservationists.

More about Kris and her team’s work »


“We’ve always felt a sense of urgency... but since the accident, it just adds fuel to the fire to get our projects done.”

While grieving the loss of her husband and conservation partner, Kris has forged ahead, accelerating the work that she and Doug had underway. "It's very hard to imagine a life without Doug as my husband, but I know that the work that we started we're going to finish," she said in January 2016. "The idea of stopping, slowing down or changing our plans never occurred to me." In September 2016 Kris met with Argentine President Macri to sign a land donation pledge to prompt creation of the new Iberá National Park. She and her team are currently working with President Bachelet’s government to dramatically expand Chile’s national park system with an unprecedented gift of privately assembled conservation land combined with adjacent government lands leveraged for protection.


Kris Tompkins on Facebook





In a world as damaged as the one modern humans are making, ecological restoration is a necessity—both to prevent human-caused extinction of other species and also to support human well-being. For more than two decades, the conservation projects that Kris has lead have included major efforts to heal past damage and help wildlife and natural processes recover. These initiatives include several ambitious projects to reintroduce missing species such as giant anteaters and green-winged macaws to their native habitat. For more information, click here.
Park Creation
Kris and Doug Tompkins have devoted their time, energy, and wealth to making parklands in Argentina and Chile. Why focus on national parks? Because they are the oldest, most durable, and best loved mechanism for permanently protecting exceptional landscapes. They provide indispensable ecological, cultural, and social values, from personal recreation and spiritual renewal to helping develop widespread public support for conservation. They highlight the best attributes a country has to show the world—outstanding beauty, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and noteworthy cultural/archaeological sites. And, as Kris often says, national parks are a democratic institution, open to all regardless of economic or social standing. Rather than keeping privately assembled conservation lands in private ownership, donating them to the national park systems of Chile and Argentina, she says, “establishes these parks for all people, adding to the natural heritage or patrimony of the country.” For more information on Tompkins Conservation’s parklands efforts, click here.
Kris believes deeply that everyone has an obligation to fight for a saner, more just, more beautiful world. As she says, “Whoever you are, wherever your interest lies, whatever you’ve fallen in love with, you get out of bed every morning and you do something. You act, you step into the fray, and you fight for a human society that is in balance with the natural world. We have no choice. Otherwise we might as well kiss our beautiful planet goodbye.” For more on Tompkins Conservation activism, click here.
Ecological Agriculture
Through support of NGOs leading the way toward sustainable agriculture (such as the Land Institute) and their own farm restoration projects, Kris and Doug Tompkins have been deeply involved in ecological agriculture. Through farms and ranches in Chile and Argentina, Kris and Doug pioneered organic farming practices while maintaining extensive areas of wildlife habitat. For more Kris Tompkins’s dedication to ecological agriculture, click here.