The US conservationists Kristine Tompkins and Douglas Tompkins (1943–2015) achieved an unprecedented philanthropic triumph. After just over a quarter century of working toward the creation of National Parks and the recuperation of wildlife and natural habitats, Kris and Doug helped protect more than 14 million acres of land in Chile and Argentina, in collaboration with both country’s governments and with other philanthropists.

Kristine Tompkins

Kristine Tompkins, former CEO of the clothing company Patagonia, is the co-founder and president of Tompkins Conservation. She was the key figure behind the creation of Patagonia National Park in Chile and Monte León National Park in Argentina. Alongside her husband Douglas Tompkins, Kris participated in various other conservation projects and introduced a new agro-ecological framework to organic farms in Chile and Argentina. Kris holds various leadership positions in the conservation field globally and serves as the president for the “Last Wild Places” campaign for the National Geographic Society. In 2017, Kris received the Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy, and in 2018, she was named ambassador for protected areas by the United Nations Environment Programme.

Born in southern California, Kris spent most of her childhood at her great-grandmother’s ranch, a setting that helped cultivate her connection with the natural world. After graduating from the University of Idaho, where she competed for the ski team, Kris returned to California. There, she began working for her longtime friends Yvon and Malinda Chouinard, helping them launch their recently formed outdoor brand, Patagonia, Inc. Kris eventually became CEO, transforming Patagonia into an industry innovator in the outdoor space and helping forge its “anti-corporate” model. In 1993, Kris retired from Patagonia and married Doug Tompkins, co-founder of The North Face and Esprit. The two focused their entrepreneurial talents on the protection of the natural world.

Watch Kris’s TED Talk:

Douglas R. Tompkins

Douglas R. Tompkins (1943–2015) was an activist, defender of nature, mountaineer, organic farmer, philanthropist, and conservationist. For many years, he worked in the business world, co-founding The North Face and the clothing company Esprit. An accomplished mountaineer and river kayaker, Doug trailblazed routes and completed first paddle descents on various continents. After he left behind the business world, Doug decided to devote his time, resources, and energy to conservation. He became one of the most important philanthropists in history through his purchase and donation of land for the creation of National Parks in Chile and Argentina. For decades, Doug worked alongside his wife, Kristine Tompkins, restoring degraded land and establishing new protected areas. Deeply dedicated to biocentric activism, Doug financed and was a key strategist for various groups and campaigns. The cultivation methods he used on his farms pushed the boundaries of contemporary agricultural practice. Doug passed away in 2015 after a kayaking accident in Patagonia.

Watch the documentary about Doug’s life: