Kris Tompkins

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Kristine McDivitt Tompkins
2015 KrisTompkins by JamesQMartin.jpg
Tompkins in 2015 photographed by James Q Martin
Kristine McDivitt Wear

June 1950 (1950-06) (age 71)
Santa Paula, CA
OccupationConservationist, Businesswoman
OrganizationPatagonia, Tompkins Conservation
(m. 1993⁠–⁠2015)

Kristine McDivitt Tompkins (born in 1950) is the president and co-founder of Tompkins Conservation, an American conservationist, a UN Patron of Protected Areas[1] and former CEO of Patagonia, Inc.[2] For nearly thirty years, she has committed her career to protecting and restoring Chile and Argentina’s wild beauty and biodiversity by creating national parks, restoring wildlife, inspiring activism, and fostering economic vitality as a result of conservation.[3] Having protected over 14 million acres of parklands in Chile and Argentina through Tompkins Conservation and its partners,[4] Kristine and Douglas Tompkins, her late husband who died in 2015,[5] are considered some of the most successful[6] national park-oriented philanthropists in history.

Early life[edit]

Born in southern California, Kristine McDivitt Wear spent most of her childhood on her great-grandfather’s ranch, which was formative in fostering her connection to the natural world. She spent some early years in Venezuela, where her father worked for an oil company.[7] At age 15, she met and befriended rock climbing legend and equipment manufacturer Yvon Chouinard; he gave her a summer job working for Chouinard Equipment. Wear attended college at the College of Idaho in Caldwell,[8] where she ski-raced competitively.

At Patagonia, Inc.[edit]

Beginning in 1973, Wear returned to California and worked for her friends from her teenage years, Yvon and Malinda Chouinard, eventually helping to build Patagonia, Inc. She helped Yvon Chouinard turn his fledgling piton business into Patagonia, Inc.[9] Wear became the company’s CEO and collaborated with the Chouinards to build Patagonia, Inc into a renowned “anti-corporation” and a leader in the outdoor apparel industry. In 1980, Patagonia started to donate 10 percent of their profits to environmental organizations such as Earth First! In 1984, the company formed the "One Percent for the Planet Club", which donates either 1% of sales or 10% of profits—whichever is greater—to environmental causes.[2]

Conservation work[edit]

In 1993, Wear retired from Patagonia, Inc, married Doug Tompkins (founder of The North Face and co-founder of Esprit), and the couple left their careers as business leaders of iconic American brands to devote their funds, time, and passion to mitigating the climate and extinction crises. The Tompkins decided to focus their efforts on national parks as they represent the “gold standard” of conservation—offering a unique set of ecological, cultural, and economic benefits, while also guaranteeing long-term conservation. Their conservation work has been carried out through a suite of nonprofits, including, Conservation Land Trust and Conservacion Patagonica. Tompkins Conservation now works to rewild the Americas, working closely with strategic allies and offspring organizations - Rewilding Chile and Rewilding Argentina.

Their first project was the creation of Pumalin Park, a public-access 964,000-acre (390,000-hectare) nature reserve in Chile’s Los Lagos Region. The park, a project of the Conservation Land Trust, is a private initiative to create a public-access nature preserve in the threatened Valdivian temperate rainforest. The Tompkins later launched conservation efforts in the Iberá Wetlands of Northeastern Argentina. In the wetland ecosystem, they have launched projects to reintroduce extirpated species, such as the giant anteater.[10]

After years of collaborating with governments, local organizations, scientists, philanthropists, and communities, in January 2018 Kris, on behalf of Tompkins Conservation, and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed decrees to create five new national parks in Chile and expand three others, adding a total of more than 10 million acres of new national parklands to Chile. For scale, that is more than three times the size of Yosemite and Yellowstone combined, or approximately the size of Switzerland. With one million acres of land from Tompkins Conservation and an additional 9 million acres of federal land from Chile, this has been billed as the largest donation of land from a private entity to a country in history.

As the president of Tompkins Conservation, Kristine Tompkins currently oversees a multitude of projects in Chile and Argentina working toward creating parklands, marine conservation areas and fighting the extinction crisis via rewilding, the process of protecting and restoring land and waters, wildlife, and natural systems.

Tompkins serves in various positions of global leadership in conservation, including as Chair of National Geographic Society’s Last Wild Places campaign. She was the first conservationist to be awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. In 2018 she was named the United Nations’ Global Patron for Protected Areas. Her 2020 TED Talk, entitled Make the World Wild Again, discusses the critical role we all have to play to heal the planet.

Conservación Patagónica[edit]

Conservación Patagónica (CP) was founded by Tompkins in 2000 as an NGO focused on creating new national parks in Patagonia that protect and restore wildlands, biodiversity, and communities. CP's first project was the establishment of Monte Leon National Park, Argentina’s first coastal national park. In 2001, CP purchased Estancia Monte León, one of the oldest sheep ranches in Argentine Patagonia, located on the southern Atlantic shoreline a few hundred miles north of the Strait of Magellan. Monte León had long been one of the priorities for Argentine National Parks because of its richness and diversity of species, including Magellanic penguins, sea lions, elephant seals, leopard seals, and several migratory seabirds.[11] CP purchased this 155,000-acre (63,000 ha) estancia, crafted a master plan for its transition to a national park and, in 2002, donated the property to the Argentine National Parks Administration, creating the Monte León National Park, the first coastal national park in Argentina.[12]

In 2003, CP had the opportunity to purchase Estancia Valle Chacabuco, a historic sheep ranch in Chile's Aysén Region. The Chilean National Parks had made this ranch their number-one conservation priority for more than 35 years because it sits between two existing National Reserves, namely Jeinimeni and Tamango, together 460,000 acres (190,000 ha). This area is prime habitat for the endangered huemul deer, one of Chile's national animals. After developing a public-access infrastructure system, including a trail system, visitor center, campgrounds, lodging, and a restaurant, CP donated Patagonia Park to the Chilean park service. Along with the two adjoining National Reserves, this became the Patagonia National Park, a flagship park for Latin America. Stretching between two of the country's largest lakes, Lago General Carrera and Lago Cochrane, the park contains an impressive diversity of landscapes: arid Patagonian steppe, Southern Beech forests, wetlands, high peaks, alpine lakes, and streams. As the president of CP, Tompkins was heavily involved in every aspect of this project, from landscape restoration to infrastructure construction.[13] Tompkins and her team are some of the few throughout the world currently practicing this movement.[14]


Awards and honors received by Kristine Tompkins[edit]


  • 2019 Selected for WOMEN: The National Geographic Image Collection
  • 2009 Honorary Degree, College of Idaho


  • 2021 Rachel Carson Award, National Audubon Society[15]
  • 2019 AFAR Vanguard Award for travel visionaries [16]
  • 2019 Foundation Credicorp Capital 2019 Award (Chile)
  • 2018 Recognition for Lifetime Contribution to the Chilean wilderness, Chilean-North American Business Bureau [17]
  • 2018 Luis Oyarzún Award granted by the Universidad Austral de Chile [18]
  • 2017 Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, Woodrow Wilson Center[19]
  • 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival Legacy Award
  • 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy [20]
  • 2017 Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal, Garden Club of America
  • 2017 Outdoor Inspiration Award, presented by Adidas Outdoor at Outdoor Retailer
  • 2017 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year (nominee)[21]
  • 2016 Lowell Thomas Award, The Explorers Club
  • 2016 World Tourism Award, World Travel Market
  • 2016 BBVA Foundation Award for Biodiversity Conservation in Latin America[22]
  • 2016 David R. Brower Award, American Alpine Club[23]
  • 2016 Sustainability Leader, “Uniting Global Philanthropy Inspiring Action For The Planet,” East-West Sustainability Summit, IUCN World Conservation Congress
  • 2016 Recyclápolis Award, Fundación Recyclápolis (Chile) [24]

Awards received by Douglas and Kristine Tompkins[25][edit]


  1. ^ "Kristine McDivitt Tompkins named UN Environment Patron of Protected Areas". UN Environment Program. May 18, 2018. Retrieved July 14, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ a b Kris Tompkins, Former Patagonia CEO: "Impact is What Counts" – The Wharton Journal Archived January 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "We believe the world can be more wild, beautiful, and equitable".
  4. ^ "Explore Our Work". Tompkins Conservation. Retrieved July 14, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Abrams, Rachel; Southall, Ashley (9 December 2015). "Douglas Tompkins, 72, North Face Founder, Dies in Kayaking Accident". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "The Entrepreneur Who Wants to Save Paradise". The Atlantic. 15 September 2014.
  7. ^ Edward Humes, Eco Barons (New York: Harper Collins, 2009)
  8. ^ "Leadership, Patagonia-style: Changing the Criteria for Success". Knowledge@Wharton. 31 October 2007. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  9. ^ XX Factor: Visionaries Archived 2010-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ The philanthropists 'paying rent' to planet Earth in Argentina – CNN
  11. ^ Patagonia Land Trust Current Projects
  12. ^
  13. ^ Patagonia Environmentalism: Essay
  14. ^ "Conservacion Patagonica :: Creating the Future Patagonia National Park in Chile". Retrieved 2016-05-01.
  15. ^ "Archived Event - 2021 Audubon Women in Conservation Celebration".
  16. ^ Button, Sara (2019-10-02). "AFAR Travel Vanguard 2019 | AFAR". Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  17. ^ "100th Anniversary Gala Dinner 2018". North American Chilean Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  18. ^ "Kristine Tompkins recibió Premio "Luis Oyarzún" entregado por la UACh". El Heraldo Austral (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  19. ^ "Latin American Program Gala | Wilson Center". Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  20. ^ "Medalists: 2017". Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  21. ^ Geographic, National. "National Geographic Announces 2017 Adventurers of the Year". Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  22. ^ BBVA (2016-12-07). "The Biodiversity Conservation Awards warn about the need to look for environmental solutions | BBVA". NEWS BBVA. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  23. ^ "David R. Brower Award". The American Alpine Club. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  24. ^ "Premiación Recyclápolis 2018" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  25. ^ "Tompkins Conservation | Awards". Retrieved 2016-08-30.
  26. ^ "Honoring Visionary Conservationists | Scenic Hudson". Archived from the original on 2015-12-21. Retrieved 2016-08-30.
  27. ^ "Home - ARC". Retrieved 2016-08-30.
  28. ^ International, BirdLife. "BirdLife Conservation Achievement Awards recognise outstanding work for species, sites and habitats | BirdLife". Retrieved 2016-08-30.
  29. ^ Preserve, Mohonk. "Mohonk Preserve Honors Leading International Conservationists At New York City Benefit Gala". Retrieved 2016-08-30.
  30. ^ "2015 Global Economy Prize". Retrieved 2016-08-30.
  31. ^ "2017 Winners Announced for Seventh Annual Outdoor Inspiration Awards Presented by Adidas Outdoor". Retrieved 2017-03-08.