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.
“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.
“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.