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Ya-Wei (Jake) Li works at Defenders of Wildlife, where he uses law, policy, and science to conserve species under the Endangered Species Act. He focuses on making implementation of the Act more effective and efficient, especially through advocating for methods to improve listing decisions, recovery planning, habitat protection, and conservation of species at risk of imperilment. He also works with other non-profit organizations, federal and state agencies, and industry to find common ground on contentious endangered species issues.

Before working at Defenders, Jake was an environmental lawyer in private practice, where he counseled clients and litigated cases relating to endangered species, air and water contaminants, pesticides, chemical regulation, and renewable energy. He holds a J.D. from Cornell Law School and a B.S. from Drexel University. At Cornell, Jake also completed coursework in conservation biology and herpetology. He has volunteered as a zookeeper aide at the Reptile Discovery Center in the Smithsonian National Zoo. He is obsessed with snakes and has been working with them for over 20 years.