Our People

John Thomas



John is a Senior Associate in the Philanthropic Services Practice at CEA. Based in New York, John supports foundations, nonprofits, and impact investors with research, strategic planning, and program design— with an emphasis on integrating social science into conservation initiatives. John has led engagements on topics as diverse as water pollution, environmental health, environmental psychology, ecolabels and sustainability certifications, sustainable finance, and fisheries. Clients have included the Walton Family Foundation (in partnership with Learning for Action, a social justice consulting firm), Fair Trade USA, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Impact Capitalyst (now Akipeo) and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. John was recently one of four lead authors on a year-long global investigation, the 2020 Global Landscape Review of Fishery Improvement Projects, that involved intensive consultations and research with fishers, the seafood industry, government, and NGOs in over 11 countries.

Prior to joining CEA John was an outdoor guide, leading day trips to connect New Yorkers with the lands, waters, and natural areas of our region. Previously he was a Senior Program Associate at the Rockefeller Foundation, where he developed environmental initiatives in marine conservation and sustainable agriculture that sought to achieve environmental goals in tandem with goals for human well-being, equitable growth, and resilience. After graduate school, John developed a social enterprise in Cambodia that designed ultra low-cost agricultural products and services for low-income farmers.

John has a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology and a Master’s of Science in Earth Systems (Anthrosphere concentration), both from Stanford University.

On Sunday mornings you can find John awake at an unreasonable hour to surf the first waves of the day at Rockaway Beach, Queens. If he’s lucky, the dolphins and whales will come out to join.