Meet The Director

Jennifer Castner is Director of The Altai Project.

Jennifer Castner advances The Altai Project’s mission, builds partnerships, and drives fundraising efforts. She brings decades of experience in non-profit strategic development and planning, environmental action and awareness, Russian language translation and interpreting, and expertise and ally-ship with Indigenous peoples. She has traveled extensively in Eastern Europe, Siberia and the Russian Far East, Ukraine, Mongolia, and beyond.

Jennifer’s early career path reflects her life-long commitment to serving international grassroots communities. After graduating from Bryn Mawr College in 1993 with a Bachelor’s (A.B.) in Russian language and linguistics, Jennifer worked for American Councils for International Education in Ukraine and in the United States, a jobs counselor for Russian-speaking and Bosnian refugees at Jewish Vocational Service (San Francisco), and operations director at Heart to Heart International Children’s Medical Alliance. Prior to joining The Altai Project in 2006, Jennifer Castner served as Russia program director at another international conservation organization with a long-standing program in Russia.

In addition to directing The Altai Project, Jennifer provides Russian-English translation/interpreting services and consults on grants administration and the Russian environmental and Indigenous movements for nonprofits and foundations. Jennifer supports the Central Asian Regional Information Network website, housed at the Center for Global Change & Earth Observation at Michigan State University. She lives in mid-Michigan with her husband and son, and a menagerie of critters. She rides horses, bakes, knits, gardens, and volunteers in her community.

Selected publications

Community is Power, Earth Island Journal, Spring 2021 (author)
Snow Leopard Population Monitoring Guidebook, WWF-Russia, 2020 (translator)
Shor Shamanic Epic Folktales: Traditional Siberian Shamanic Tales, Arbachakov, L. & Arbachakov, A., 2019 (translator)
Russian Indigenous Defenders Movement: a Briefing for Funders, International Funders for Indigenous Peoples, May 2018 (co-author)
In Putin's Russia, Environmentalists Face Stiff Repression, Earth Island Journal, Summer 2015 (author)
Encyclopedia of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East of the Russian Federation, Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North, 2011 (translator)


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Why Altai?

The Greater Altai Ecoregion is of global importance. Within that system, Russia’s Altai Republic is linked with Kazakhstan, China, and Mongolia.

Complex structure for a strawbale at Bobrovka

Our History

Throughout 17+ years of its existence, The Altai Project has constantly refined and adjusted its work to protect nature and strengthen communities in Altai.

Altai Alliance 2011

Altai Alliance

In 2008, the Altai Project and over twenty US nonprofits, individuals, and donors formed an international alliance to protect Russia’s Altai region.

Volunteer at Bobrovka

Interns & Volunteers

We are often able to develop rewarding internships and volunteer projects for enthusiastic and independent-minded volunteers.

We may be able to create a virtual internship for you wherever you are or we can help you find a suitable placement in Altai with a local non-profit group there.

Russian language skills are helpful for program-related work, but if you have other specific skills and time to give, such as grant-writing, donor development, web/graphic design, etc. then we'd be happy to put you to work!

Contact Us for more information!

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