Ya-Wei Li

Director, Center for Conservation Innovation (CCI)
(202) 772-3219

Jake Li

Ya-Wei (Jake) specializes in endangered species law, policy, and science.  He leads the Center for Conservation Innovation, which focuses on developing innovative and pragmatic strategies to conserve endangered and at-risk species.  This work includes endangered species consultations, recovery planning, listings and critical habitat designations, and funding.  Jake and his team are highly interdisciplinary, using data analytics, remote sensing, geographic information systems, and emerging technologies and techniques.  He also works closely with other conservation organizations, federal and state agencies, scientists, congressional offices, and the regulated community to find solutions to complex or contentious endangered species issues.

Before joining Defenders in 2010, Jake practiced environmental law at Latham & Watkins, LLP.  There, he worked on regulatory counseling and litigation relating to endangered species, air and water contaminants, pesticides, chemical regulation, environmental assessments, and renewable energy.

Jake holds a B.S. from Drexel University and a J.D. from Cornell University Law School.  At Cornell, Jake also completed graduate coursework in conservation biology and herpetology. 

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Green Sea Turtle, Photo: NOAA
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April 2015 - In less than 40 years, this population of sea turtles has gone from nearly vanishing to laying thousands of successful nests on our beaches every year.
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October-December, 2013 - The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service held several public hearings on their proposal to delist most gray wolves in the U.S. And at each one, Defenders was there in force.
Karner blue, © USFWS
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All butterflies look dainty and delicate, but the strikingly beautiful and endangered Karner blue measures only an inch across — about the size of a postage stamp — and lives only about a week.