Our Mission

Circumpolar Conservation Union (CCU) works to protect the ecological and cultural integrity of the Arctic. CCU does this by: promoting understanding and cooperation among Arctic indigenous peoples, environmental organizations and other diverse interests; raising public awareness of the importance of the Arctic; and advocating policies and institutions that will protect the environment, promote sustainability, and respect the human rights of Arctic communities and peoples.

CCU is one of two environmental non-profit organizations registered as an Arctic Council Observer

Our History

Founded in 1995, CCU has long been the only nonprofit organization to focus solely on the ecological and cultural preservation of the Arctic. In 1996, CCU advocated for the creation of the Arctic Council, a vital intergovernmental forum that promotes cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic states, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues. CCU remains an active, accredited observer within the Arctic Council, but supports the Arctic’s peoples and ecology outside the Arctic Council arena as well.

CCU is proud to have launched a ground-breaking report on persistent organic pollutants in the Arctic. The report contributed to the support of the Stockholm Convention (a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods).

In 2005, CCU organized the Arctic Voices Tour, a nationwide media tour of Arctic indigenous leaders. The tour traveled through U.S. battleground states in a fight for climate-change legislation. CCU has consistently pushed for greater funding and resources for Arctic peoples and has built strong links between indigenous organizations and the global philanthropic community.

CCU board members continue active advocacy through the Arctic Council on a variety of fronts and welcome new opportunities to partner with diverse organizations that are looking to support the Arctic and its peoples.

Our Board


Iva Kaufman

Board Chair

Iva has built institutions and coalitions throughout her career in non-profit management, and advising in philanthropy. Iva has advocated for CCU since 1995, when she served as Program Director of the Sun Hill Foundation. She played an active role in positioning the Arctic within the work of the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP) and other affinity groups of the Council on Foundations. Presently, Iva staffs the American Sustainable Business Council’s Working Group on Women, represents the Guide to Impact Investing by Julia Balandina and is the Principal at Iva Kaufman Associates. She serves on the board of the People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning and the Peace Development Fund, and is a member of Bolder Giving. Iva holds a Bachelor of Arts in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago.



Whit Sheard


Whit has worked with and for nonprofit organizations dedicated to environmental conservation and human rights since 1993. His roles have included attorney, board member, program manager, volunteer and consultant. Whit has worked for the League of Wilderness Defenders, Cascadia Wolf Project, the Western Environmental Law Center, The Ocean Conservancy, Alaska Conservation Foundation, University of Oregon, Alaska Pacific University, Alaska Marine Conservation Council, Oceana, Pacific Environment, and the Denali Citizens Council. Whit holds a JD/MS University of Oregon and a BA Miami University. In addition to his CCU commitment, he also works for Ocean Conservancy as the Director of the International Arctic Program.



Lisa Speer


Lisa directs the International Oceans Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental organization dedicated to protecting natural resources and public health with offices in the United States and China. Her work currently focuses on conservation and management of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction and promoting integrated, ecosystem based management in the Arctic Ocean. Ms. Speer has served on a number of U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ Committees on the Arctic and marine issues, and served a six year term as a member of the Academies’ Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology. Ms. Speer received her Master’s degree from Yale University and her bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College.



Paul Haible


Paul has thirty years experience working with the Public Foundation movement, serving in all the roles: staff, board member, advisor, consultant, volunteer and grant committee member. He is a co-founder of the Funding Exchange, worked for Vanguard Public Foundation for twelve years, served on boards of several of the Funding Exchange funds, as well as the board of Seva Foundation. He worked for five years for the Indigenous Environmental Network, serves as a key advisor to the Flying Eagle Woman Fund, and is a United Nations delegate for the Rigoberta Menchu Tum Foundation. From 1979 – 1986, Paul was involved in the commercial Halibut Fishery in the North Pacific. He holds a BA from Middlebury College and an MS CED from Southern New Hampshire University.


Advisory Board

Jim Ayers
Sarah Burt
Brock Evans
Faith Fjeld
Ester Fjellheim, M.D.
Becca Gisclair
Anna Kertulla, Ph.D.
Shawna Larson
Pratt C. Remmel, Jr.
Erika Rosenthal
Larry Ruth
Brooks B. Yeager
Oran R. Young, Ph.D.

Our Partners