Our People

John Thomas



John is a Director in the Philanthropic Services Practice at CEA. Based in New York, John supports foundations, family offices, nonprofits, and impact investors with research, strategic planning, and program design. John primarily works on ocean, water, and climate issues, with an emphasis on the human dimensions of environmental challenges and experience using the tools of policy advocacy, market-based solutions, and social science to improve conservation and well-being outcomes. Clients have included The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, Oceankind, Oak Foundation, Oceans 5, the Walton Family Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund.

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 waves at Rockaway Beach, Queens. If he’s lucky, the dolphins and whales will come out to join.