Ya-Wei Li

VP of Endangered Species Conservation
(202) 772-3219
yli@defenders.org

Jake Li

Ya-Wei (Jake) is an environmental lawyer who specializes in endangered species law, policy, and science.  He leads the Endangered Species Conservation Department, which focuses on developing innovative and pragmatic strategies to improve how the Endangered Species Act is implemented.  This work includes endangered species consultations, habitat conservation plans, recovery planning, listings and critical habitat designations, candidate species conservation, and funding.  Jake and his team are highly interdisciplinary, using data analytics, remote sensing, geographic information systems, and emerging technologies and techniques.  He also works closely with other conservation organizations, federal and state agencies, scientists, congressional offices, and industry to find solutions to complex or contentious endangered species issues.

Before joining Defenders in 2010, Jake practiced environmental law at Latham & Watkins, LLP.  There, he worked on regulatory counseling and litigation relating to endangered species, air and water contaminants, pesticides, chemical regulation, environmental assessments, and renewable energy.

Jake holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Drexel University and a J.D. from Cornell University Law School.  At Cornell, Jake also completed graduate coursework in conservation biology and herpetology.    

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Where We Work
From our headquarters in Washington, D.C., Defenders works directly with federal agencies, members of Congress, and other government officials to advocate on behalf of wildlife and wild places across the U.S. and around the world.
Wildlife trafficking, © John and Karen Hollingsworth/USFWS
In the Magazine
U.S. consumer demand fuels illegal wildlife trade, jeopardizing imperiled species around the globe
Endangered Species Act
Wildlife is once again at a crossroads, and the need to speed up recovery efforts could not be more urgent.