News & Publications

Endangered Species Expert Joins Environmental Policy Innovation Center to Launch Biodiversity Program

Washington, D.C. – Ya-Wei (Jake) Li is joining the Environmental Policy Innovation Center as Director for Biodiversity. In this role, Li will grow the Center’s program to develop innovative policies that improve the speed and scale of endangered species conservation. Li is a nationally-recognized expert in the Endangered Species Act. 

“I joined the Innovation Center because it’s the only organization that embraces the kind of bold innovations I think are needed in endangered species law, policy, and practice,” said Li. “It’s the best place I can think of to advance the next generation of conservation for our changing world.”

“Jake Li is a rock star in wildlife conservation,” said Timothy Male, Executive Director of the Innovation Center. “Jake is one of the most creative policy experts in Washington DC. America's the most effective country in the world at restoring endangered species – I'm convinced Jake can make our policies substantially better at preventing extinction, driving recoveries and bringing greater prosperity to the communities that live side by side with rare wildlife.”

Li joins the Innovation Center from Defenders of Wildlife, where he spent eight years growing the endangered species policy program. As both a Vice President and a Director at that organization, Li launched new uses of data science to improve how the Endangered Species Act is implemented. This work included the most comprehensive analysis of the Act’s consultation program. He also led the first-ever collaboration with agricultural and chemical manufacturing businesses to find common ground on improvements to how pesticides are evaluated under the Act. Li will expand those and other lines of work at the Innovation Center and continue pursuing partnerships with nontraditional allies. Before joining Defenders, Li represented the regulated community as an environmental lawyer at Latham and Watkins, LLP.


About the Environmental Policy Innovation Center

The mission of the Innovation Center is to build policies that deliver spectacular improvements in the speed and scale of conservation for water quality and biodiversity. Timothy Male founded the Innovation Center in 2017 after serving at the White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Obama. The Innovation Center focuses on several discrete strategies to advance its mission. These include improving policies that encourage private sector funding and stewardship, and transforming government policies to focus on what matters – outcomes. The organization’s website is

Inno Low 5