Meeta Vyas ’84 has a sobering message for nature enthusiasts who believe in wildlife preservation at all costs: “You can’t tell someone who depends on forests, rivers or oceans for their family’s survival that they can never use those resources. Sustainable use is the only viable option.” Vyas presided over the Indian arm of the Worldwide Fund for Nature as CEO for more than two years before taking charge of the Audubon Society’s marine conservation program in August 2002.
The former general manager of General Electric’s cooking appliance division served as CEO of Signature Brands (known for the Mr. Coffee brand) before relocating to New Delhi to work in a field she cared deeply about. She faced enormous challenges practicing conservation in a country 10 times as densely populated as the United States. Nevertheless, Vyas views the time she spent in her ancestral homeland as a conservationist’s dream. “India is one of the most biodiverse places on earth,” she explains. “Like the U.S., it has an incredible trove of wildlife worth saving for future generations.”