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Yael Heller Jekogian, Managing Director

Yael is a hands-on advocate and leader in the women's rights movement, has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, and is an accomplished environmental engineer. She has designed municipal and hazardous waste landfills, and implemented remedies for soil and groundwater contamination at Superfund and brownfield sites. Yael has served as a Board Member, Director of Development, consultant and volunteer for many nonprofits including Women's Campaign Fund, Women's Way, New York Women's Foundation, and Transport Group Theatre Company. She has a MS and BS in Civil Engineering from Drexel University, lives in New York City, and enjoys exploring the world with her husband and two daughters who are making their own discoveries along the way. Yael joined the WINGS WorldQuest leadership team in 2015.


Beth Nixon runs a photography business in Greenwich, CT, where she serves on a number of local boards.  She previously worked as a producer/field producer for such news media as MainStreet Media and the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour in Chicago and Looking East and One World in New York. She also has worked in Tokyo, Hong Kong, China, Greece, France and Australia. With her husband and two college-age daughters, she has hiked and rafted 22 US National Parks and a numerous National Monuments. She holds a BA from Princeton University, an MA from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and a Certificate in Language and Literature from Peking University (PKU).





Hara Woltz is an environmental artist, scientist, and activist. Utilizing a variety of media, she addresses aspects of the destruction and conservation of ecological systems. Through her work, she reveals patterns, connects disciplines, and examines interactions between humans and the environment. She has exhibited her work throughout the east coast for over 15 years, recently at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington, DC, and Sotheby’s International offices, New York, NY. As an undergraduate, she studied studio art and biology at Duke University. She has an MA in landscape architecture from the University of Virginia, and an MA in conservation biology from Columbia University.

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Ann Bancroft is one of the world's preeminent polar explorers and an internationally recognized leader who is dedicated to inspiring women and girls around the world to unleash the power of their dreams.Through her various roles as an explorer, educator, sought-after speaker and philanthropist, Ann believes that by sharing stories related to her dreams of outdoor adventure, she can help inspire a global audience to pursue their individual dreams.

Ann's teamwork and leadership skills have undergone severe tests during her polar expeditions and provided her with opportunities to shatter female stereotypes. The tenacity and courage that define her character have earned Ann worldwide recognition as one of today's most influential role models for women and girls. She has been named among Glamour magazine's "Women of the Year" (2001); featured in the book Remarkable Women of the Twentieth Century (1998); inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame (1995); named Ms. magazine's "Woman of the Year" (1987); and honored with numerous other awards for her accomplishments.


Dr. Maya Tolstoy is a marine geophysicist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Science at Columbia University. She is an alumna of the University of Edinburgh and received her doctorate from the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Tolstoy’s research interests include mid-ocean ridge earthquakes, the links between earthquakes and life (particularly at mid-ocean ridge hydrothermal vent systems), seafloor instrumentation and the impact of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals. She was named both a WINGS Woman of Discovery (Sea) and a WINGS Fellow in 2009. Dr. Tolstoy has served on the Board since 2011.


Kathy Kukula is an editorial project manager, editor and writer with experience creating content for print and the web. She has worked for national consumer magazines, special interest publications, custom publishers, non-profits and more. Currently, she is the writer/editor at AmeriCares, a non-profit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization. Kathy recently reported on AmeriCares work from Sri Lanka and Mumbai; rafted and hiked along the Futaleufu River in Patagonia, Chile; and toured the Eastern Tibetan Plateau (Kham) where she herded yak, spent the night with 80 Buddhist nuns and explored botany on the roof of the world.




Linda Plym is an artist and producer. She has developed documentary films for National Geographic Explorer, PBS and Discovery Channel, as well as video content for major broadcast networks. Passionate about Art, nature, travel, and adventure, she is a staunch believer in the need for universal primary education and gender equality. She attended the Art Institute of San Francisco and is a graduate of Skidmore College. After being inspired by the courageous woman of WINGS, she joined the board in 2013. She resides with her husband and two daughters in Brooklyn. 

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Isabelle Silverman, a native of Switzerland, is an environmental consultant who works on various projects such as energy efficiency in buildings and the enforcement of New York City's anti-idling laws. She graduated magna cum laude from the Law School of the University of Zurich, Switzerland and earned her Masters of Law (LL.M.) in Environmental Law from Pace University Law School in the United States. She was a Senior Attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund where she successfully spearheaded clean air projects such as the phase out of highly polluting heating oils in New York City and the retrofitting and accelerated replacement of old, polluting school buses. Silverman lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters, ages 14 and 16.  


Claire Werner is a graphics designer and owner of a design boutique in Connecticut. Claire holds a BFA from Parsons School of Design and has donated her time and professional expertise to a number of nonprofit organizations, including The Garden Education Center of Greenwich, YWCA and local schools and community institutions. She joined the WINGS WorldQuest Board in 2009 and has served as Secretary since 2012.




Karen is a photographer who focuses primarily on event photography and private client work. Fine arts trained, she has exhibited worldwide. A passionate; traveler, sail racer and expert skier; she is also a keen side-kick on her partner John’s vintage motorcycles, and an adventurous mom to her young son. Karen became involved with WINGS in 2003 when she donated her services to photograph the Annual Gala. She was inspired by the extraordinary women she met and has been deeply involved with WINGS ever since.  Zieff attended RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) - BFA, Brown University, and Studio Arts Center International, Florence, Italy. She joined the board in 2011 and became the board chair in 2012.