Debbie Ethell

Executive Director

Debbie Ethell has followed a group of more than 400 elephants since she was eight years old. As a conservation research scientist she realized how important it was to share what she learned with others.

In 2015 she founded The KOTA Foundation for Elephants as a way to teach people in the United States all of the extraordinary things she learned about elephants as a way to support positive outcomes for their survival.

The Will of Heaven written by Debbie Ethell is the first in a three-part series. It is the powerful true story of how she overcame a debilitating addiction -- rising from the courtrooms of her past to the grass plains of Kenya as a conservation research scientist where she could finally fulfill her lifelong dream of working with wild elephants.

Debbie Ethell vividly captures her serendipitous journey as she discovers her inner strength -- not unlike that of the elephants whose stories she tells. Part biography, part revelation, this story will inspire others to reach further than they ever thought they could. Above all, it conveys a strong message of hope, both for the elephants fighting to survive poaching and for alcoholics to survive addiction.




Debbie has worked as a consultant for several court cases including the Nonhuman Rights Project in their on-going court battle to give "personhood" rights to elephants; one of the most significant elephant court cases in American history. Their first case regarding chimpanzees was ground-breaking and garnered world-wide attention. It is portrayed in the film "Unlocking the Cage" which appeared on HBO in the Fall of 2016 and is currently available on Netflix.

Her blogs have been featured in both national and international publications including Mother Nature Network, Africa Geographic, and Grapevine as well as several scientific research publications.