The projects funded by TOP not only include direct orangutan conservation, such orangutan rescue, rehabilitation and release programs, but also forest habitat protection and regeneration, education,research and local community partnerships. Tying funding to direct outcomes for the species has enabled TOP to partner with the majority of orangutan conservation projects operation on the ground today in Borneo and Sumatra. Find out more about the leaders who run our TOP Projects
Scott M. Gilbert is a Vice President with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) with responsibility for risk monitoring and examinations of U.S. broker-dealers, having joined the organization in 2013. From 2004 through 2013, Scott held various roles at UBS Financial Services Inc. including Executive Director and Head of Compliance for the Wealth Management Advisor Group, with responsibility for compliance matters and policies relating to the broker-dealer’s financial advisors. From 2006 through 2010, he was Senior Associate General Counsel and head of the group responsible for internal investigations and disciplinary recommendations at UBS. In that role, he advised the firm's management in all aspects of issues related to employee compliance with firm policies and industry rules, regulations and laws. From 2000 to 2004, Scott was Vice President and Senior Counsel with Merrill Lynch & Co., where he was responsible for global regulatory matters and internal investigations. Prior to that, he was a trial counsel with the Division of Enforcement of the New York Stock Exchange, responsible for enforcing the rules of that self-regulatory organization, investigating customer complaints and prosecuting disciplinary actions. Scott was at the NYSE from 1995 to 2000. He also was a litigation attorney in private practice from 1990 to 1995, with a focus on complex commercial litigation and securities class actions. Scott is a graduate of Columbia University and New York University School of Law.
Since 2019, Lauren Gilbert has been the Senior Manager for Public Services at the Center for Jewish History in New York City. She spent the prior 19 years working in leadership positions at various public libraries on Long Island. Lauren holds a B.A. in art history from Columbia University and an MLS from the Palmer School of Long Island University with a Certificate in Archives and Manuscripts. She is a lifelong orangutan advocate who visited Borneo in 2017 and Sumatra in 2018 with The Orangutan Project founder Leif Cocks.
The Orang Utan Republik Foundation (OURF) was established in 2007 by Dr. Gary Shapiro who began his involvement with orangutans 43 years ago in the field of primate cognition and learning. He was the first person (1973-1975) to teach a symbolic communication system to an orangutan and the first person to have taught sign language to orangutans in the species’ natural environment (1978-1980; 1981 Indonesian Borneo) . During his time in Borneo, Shapiro assisted in the rehabilitation efforts of dozens of ex-captive orangutans and monitored the phenology of local rain forest ecosystem.
Shapiro received his doctorate in Zoology in 1985 from the University of Oklahoma then returned to Indonesian Borneo (1986) to conduct freshwater ecology studies. Shapiro’s interest in the freshwater ecology of Borneo was an extension of the research projects he conducted while being employed by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (1982-1985). He was also employed for nearly 27 years with the state of California as an emergency planner and an emergency responder (1988-2014).
Shapiro was the co-founder and vice president of the Orangutan Foundation International from 1986-2004. He has authored or co-authored numerous papers on orangutan linguistics, cognition, conservation and ethics. In late 2004, Dr. Shapiro and his Indonesian wife, Inggriani, were inspired to create the Orang Utan Republik Education Initiative (OUREI) and in response to the education needs underscoring the crisis facing orangutans today, particularly in Sumatra.
The Orangutan Project was established in 1998 by founder and world-renowned orangutan expert, Leif Cocks, as a result of his almost 30 year career working with orangutans. Leif is a passionate campaigner for orangutans and has been the leader of The Orangutan Project since its inception.
Leif’s years in the field have earned him respect within the conservation field. He has been a key player in developing conservation plans for orangutans and influencing positive change for orangutan protection and survival. This includes the first ever successful reintroduction of the zoo-born orangutan. This respect has given The Orangutan Project world standing in conservation.
A small population biologist and curator by trade; Leif has several academic qualifications, including a Masters of Science studying orangutans. He is a seasoned public speaker and has published several papers on orangutans in peer-reviewed journals. Leif is also the author of the books Orangutans and their Battle for Survival (2002) and, Amazon best seller, Orangutans My Cousins, My Friends(2016) and Finding our Humanity (2019).
Amongst many roles, Leif is currently: a Technical Advisor for PT Alam Bukit Tigapuluh (a company leasing and protecting rainforest), Head of International Elephant Project, head of International Tiger Project, Vice President of Orang Utan Republik Foundation and on the Advisory Board for Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh.
In respect to his professional, animal, human and financial management skills, Leif has been the longest standing member of the Australasian Species Management Program; a Quarantine-Approved Assessor; Zoo Husbandry Adviser; Zoo Accreditation Officer; UN GRASP in-country point of contact, an International Species Coordinator, International Studbook Keeper and the Chair of a World Aquarium and Zoo Association global conservation program.