The ASAP Secretariat is responsible for facilitating and supporting the work of the Partnership through implementing the strategy. The Secretariat is presently made up of five staff: a full-time Director, a part-time Partnerships and Communications Manager, a full-time Partnership Officer, a part-time Species Advisor and a part-time Strategic Advisor.

Nerissa Chao


Nerissa is a conservation biologist with nearly 20 years of experience managing and implementing conservation field programmes. She began her career in Botswana as a research assistant, before working in Gabon, Rwanda and Kenya for international and local NGOs, both within protected areas and on community land. During this time she worked on a wide range of conservation issues including species conservation, protected area management, human-wildlife conflict, community-based conservation, and ecotourism.

Nerissa moved to Asia in 2014, and was based in Viet Nam where she was overseeing conservation projects in the Mekong Delta. Now based in Singapore, Nerissa has been leading the IUCN SSC Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP) since 2016, a conservation partnership platform created to address species extinctions in Southeast Asia. During this time, ASAP has grown to be a network of nearly 200 Partner organisations and has developed programmes to support ASAP Partners including grant giving and capacity development.

Vicki Guthrie

Partnerships and Communications Manager

Vicki has been working for environmental NGOs for 10 years, where her work has been focused on building partnerships, developing funding streams and crafting communications. Whilst working for a UK-based marine conservation charity, Vicki managed the largest partnership with a corporate funder the charity had ever had which was with a major highstreet retailer. The partnership was worth more than £1 million and engaged employees from over 600 stores.

Since joining the Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP) in 2018, Vicki has focused on raising the profile of the more neglected threatened species to showcase the urgent threats they face and the essential conservation work being done to save them. She manages the partnership of almost 200 organisations, seeking ways to establish networks and co-learning opportunities.

Elizabeth Zhang (Wei Qing)

Partnership Officer

Elizabeth is an aspiring conservationist and ecologist. Driven by her love for animals and wildlife, she pursued a degree in Life Sciences focusing her studies mainly in environmental biology. Inspired by Sir David Attenborough and Sylvia Earle, her mission is to protect the planet and its biodiversity for her generation and beyond.

Born and raised in Singapore, she hopes that one day she will be able to work overseas in the field. She kick started her career in conservation when she joined the National Parks Board as an intern under Coastal and Marine Branch. With a couple of successful internships under her belt, she has embarked on a journey with the Asian Species Action Partnership to further her experiences in backend conservation work.

Madhu Rao

Strategic Advisor

Madhu RaoMadhu is a conservation scientist with over 25 years of experience with designing and supporting the implementation of conservation field programmes across Asia. She has a Master’s and PhD degrees from Duke University conducting her field research in Indonesia and Venezuela respectively. She is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

She has engaged in policy relevant research on topics ranging from protected area policy and threatened species conservation to human wildlife conflict, conservation prioritization and governance.

Her core strength at the science-policy interface is complemented by practical, field implementation experience in Bangladesh, China, India, Mongolia, and across the ASEAN region with protected area creation and management, working on approaches to address human-wildlife conflict and wildlife trafficking. She has engaged in capacity development for protected area management with Southeast Asian Government agencies and institutions and recently co-led the development of a programme to build conservation leadership in the ASEAN region.

She has been involved with ASAP since 2014 supporting its early conceptualization and development and is currently Strategic Advisor to the partnership. She is a candidate for the position of Chair, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas.

Will Duckworth

Species Advisor

Dr William Duckworth is a wildlife surveyor and conservation advisor, focusing on birds, mammals and their habitats in Southeast Asia. He has over 35 years of conservation experience, first working in Southeast Asia in 1986 carrying out a bird survey in Malaysia. He has also carried out biodiversity surveys in Madagascar, Ecuador, Ethiopia and Abu Dhabi. Since then, Dr Duckworth has carried out wildlife surveys in countries including Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam. His long-term positions have included working as a Technical Advisor to the Wildlife Conservation Society Myanmar Programme and as the protected area advisor to a UNDP-GEF project. Across the years he has been focusing on wildlife surveys, protected area management planning and awareness programme design and implementation. He has also worked on environmental assessments related to hydropower projects, mining and other landscape-changing proposals in the region. He has been involved with the IUCN SSC Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP) since 2011 and as the ASAP Species Advisor since 2012.

He brings with him a vast body of knowledge and experience working to direct and realize conservation action on the ground. His focus has been on the Lao PDR and surrounding countries, understanding which birds and large mammal species and habitats are most in need of conservation assistance, why, and how they may best be conserved. He has strong relationships with a number of ASEAN governments, understanding the conservation priorities and needs in their countries, and has a strong network and knowledge of regional conservationists. He has particular interest in generating and collating records of little-researched species that may be of conservation concern to help propose species conservation priorities. His strengths lie in deep knowledge of species conservation issues, specifically the threats facing species and their conservation needs, along with the understanding of the realities and constraints of implementing conservation on the ground.

Dr Duckworth works with a number of donors and organisations, carrying out multiple reviews and assessments of project proposals, and advising donors on species conservation needs in Southeast Asia. He is on the Board of Directors for Asian Arks and is currently a member of 14 IUCN SSC Species Specialist Groups, one of only two Scientific Advisors for the IUCN SSC Otter Specialist Group and acts as the IUCN SSC Red List Authority Coordinator for Small Carnivores. He has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK, and has over 150 scientific publications.