The Wildlife Conservation Society, at its annual gala tonight, honored Ward W. Woods, Chair of the WCS Board of Trustees, for his dedication and support to global conservation spanning several decades.

The theme of the gala, which took place at WCS’s Central Park Zoo, was Wonders of Southeast Asia.

Woods, a staunch supporter of WCS and conservation around the world, has shown his commitment to wildlife and wild places through decades of support to environmental causes. He has served on the WCS Board of Trustees for 13 years; serving as Chair since 2007.

In addition, Woods serves as Chair of the Advisory Council of The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University; as a trustee of the David & Lucille Packard Foundation; and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Ward Woods has set the standard for an active board Chair, including bringing his seasoned understanding of sound business practices to WCS,” said Cristián Samper, WCS President and CEO. “Ward has visited WCS conservation sites in several nations, most recently in Myanmar, to experience firsthand the challenges faced by our field staff, and he has helped to ensure that WCS is a sound investment – the best investment – aimed at conserving our planet. Ward was one of the original funders of our Madagascar exhibit at the Bronx Zoo and was invaluable in establishing the Karukinka reserve in Patagonia, which now serves as a groundbreaking model of how the private sector can impact conservation. Ward’s dedication has helped WCS to meet the challenges facing wild nature and humanity and to continue our advances toward fulfilling the WCS mission.”

Woods is a former Trustee of Stanford University, Chairman of Stanford Management Company, and a trustee of The Butler Conservation Fund and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Woods has also served as former Governor of The Nature Conservancy, Vice-Chair and trustee of The Asia Society, and a trustee of The Boys Club of New York.

In addition to his active philanthropic activities, Woods is former President and Chief Executive Officer of Bessemer Securities Corporation and Founding Partner of Bessemer Holdings, L.P. (1989-2003), a private equity firm. From 1978 to 1989, Woods was a senior partner and member of the Management Committee of Lazard Freres & Company. Prior to joining Lazard Woods was a Managing Director and a Partner of Lehman Brothers and was co-head of the Corporate Finance Department. He joined Lehman Brothers in 1967 and was elected partner in 1973. Upon graduation from Stanford University in 1964, Woods joined the Fay Improvement Company, an engineering construction and real estate firm in San Francisco and in 1966 became its general manager, acting in that capacity until the company was sold in 1967.

Throughout the evening, WCS highlighted its work in Southeast Asia, one of the planet's most bio-diverse but threatened eco-regions. With a wide array of initiatives helping to establish new protected areas, preventing habitat loss, stopping poaching and nurturing the next generation of Asian conservation champions, WCS is succeeding in saving iconic species such as tigers and Asian elephants, as well as an array of some of the world's most endangered animals, from the Burmese Star Tortoise to the Giant Ibis.

The gala’s honorary chairs were Amie and Tony James; Lisa and David T Schiff; and Mary and Howard Phipps, Jr.