Holly Million started as the International Iguana Foundation’s new Executive Director on September 15, 2023. She takes the reins from Executive Director Emeritus Rick Hudson, who will be retiring at the end of 2023.
Holly is a filmmaker, nonprofit leader, shamanic artist, teacher, speaker, and writer whose personal passion is empowering people to change their world. She reconnects people and organizations with their own inner wisdom and guidance, fostering their self-sufficiency. Holly has three decades’ experience in nonprofit management, has been a consultant, director of development, executive director, and board member for scores of organizations. She was the founder of the nonprofit organization Artists United, which empowers individual artists and unites artists across disciplines worldwide for collective good. Holly also has over two decades’ experience fundraising for films. In addition to securing funding for A Story of Healing, which won a 1997 Academy Award, she has raised money for documentary and dramatic films that have aired on PBS, HBO, and other broadcast outlets. Holly has an MA in Education from Stanford University and a BA in English from Harvard University.
Q&A with Holly
What draws you to want to work with wildlife conservation?
I am a life-long animal, plant—all of NATURE—lover. I worked for a nonprofit organization called Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek, CA, where I had red-tailed hawks and owls just a few feet away from my desk, and I loved that. I’m also a passionate champion of environmental protection because environmental issues affect all of us here on Earth.
Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who embody their values, who walk their talk. I’m especially motivated by people who harness their creativity to bring more beauty, order, and love into our world. I’ve always been a very artistic, creative person, and I love uniting with others to put our combined creativity together to solve shared problems.
What book or film has influenced your or made a strong impression?
Since I worked for 25 years as a professional documentary filmmaker and producer, selecting one film would be much too hard for me! I am an avid reader and was an English major in college. While I love fiction, some of the books that have most influenced me have been about Buddhism, psychology, etc.—I especially loved the book Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who is a psychologist and folklorist and combines the retelling of famous folktales that particularly empower women. And folktales usually involve a lot of animals.
What is one of the coolest experiences you’ve had in your career so far?
I’ve worked in the nonprofit field for 32 years and have worked for so many different types of organizations. Throughout that time, fundraising has been a core passion and focus of mine. I have had exhilarating experiences transforming nonprofit fundraising programs—including the time I took an organization with $4,000 in the bank and turned it into an organization with an annual budget of $1 million. That was fun!
Why do you care about iguanas and their habitats? What is most interesting to you about iguanas?
I really love all animals, warm blooded or cold blooded. I think iguanas are interesting because they are like mini dinosaurs, a living relic of an ancient time on Earth. They are also very charismatic ambassadors for the ecosystems they are part of, and they help people connect with all the life in those places. That means iguanas are influential and powerful creatures we all should care about!