LVDI International Logo (© LVDI International)


LVDI International Incorporated (LVDI) is a tax-exempt 501(c) (3) public charity, registered in the State of California, USA, with headquarters based in San Marcos. Our IRS tax identification number is 47-5038789.

Our motto, “Empowering people, saving wildlife!”, encapsulates our ideals, as the conservation of endangered species cannot be accomplished without improving the lives of humans who share the same habitats. Thus, we prioritize our efforts in places rich in biodiversity where the local people live in poverty due to a lack of educational and economic opportunities. We are dedicated to helping conservationists protect vanishing wildlife and their habitats, while elevating the socioeconomic status of the local people who can and must play an active role in preserving their natural heritage. To this end, LVDI supports conservation initiatives that combine education, with capacity building and research activities. Currently we are engaged in multiple on-the-ground projects worldwide. To ensure our work produces meaningful, lasting outcomes we cooperate with in-country conservationists, nonprofit organizations and governmental entities. We also rely on a team of international partners and supporters to achieve our objectives.



John Andy Phillips, LVDI International, Inc., President and Secretary

In this role, Dr. Phillips provides guidance in determining the organization’s overall conservation education, capacity building and research goals. Prior to forming LVDI, Dr. Phillips was the Deputy Director and Acting Director of Research and Conservation at San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (previously named Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species or CRES). For 15 years he was responsible for developing and administering the international field research programs. Dr. Phillips also established the Institute’s Conservation Education Laboratory. In addition to his scientific oversight duties, Dr. Phillips personally conducted field studies in Belize on iguana populations, in Namibia on savanna monitor lizards and cheetahs, and helped coordinate research on Komodo dragons in zoos and in the wild. Dr. Phillips has been awarded numerous federal and corporate foundation grants, and served as a program director and scientific cluster leader at the National Science Foundation. Dr. Phillips has authored or co-authored more than 100 articles, reports, and abstracts on a variety of topics in both scientific and popular publications.



Chia Tan, LVDI International Inc., Vice President and Treasurer

Dr. Chia Tan, a.k.a. the “Asian Jane Goodall”, is a world-renowned primatologist specializing in the behavior, ecology and conservation of endangered lemurs and monkeys. She is the leading authority on Malagasy bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur and Prolemur) and an expert on Asian leaf-eating monkeys (Rhinopithecus, Pygathrix, Nasalis and Trachypithecus). Over the past two decades she has conducted and overseen numerous cross-disciplinary research and conservation projects, dedicated to enhancing the knowledge and protection of wildlife in Madagascar and Asia. Through collaborations with a diverse array of professionals and institutions in over 20 countries, Dr. Tan has been successful in managing and implementing a multitude of in-situ conservation programs. Her current research endeavors incorporate non-invasive technologies such as camera traps and automated sound recorders to examine the spatial and temporal interactions between wildlife and humans. The capacity-building program, Training in Primatology Series, and the children’s education program, Little Green Guards, are two examples of her integrated partnership efforts. The synergy generated by these programs has been far-reaching, having been replicated by her colleagues in regions where species and habitat conservation are top priorities. In synchrony with these efforts, as a dedicated teacher, Dr. Tan has provided field training and mentorship support to over 175 US and international young scholars. Dr. Tan regularly travels around the world to raise awareness and inspire action toward wildlife conservation. Dr. Tan received her BA in Anthropology from University of California, Los Angeles and PhD in Anthropological Sciences from State University of New York at Stony Brook. She currently serves as an adjunct faculty in the Department of Anthropology at San Diego State University and in the Department of Biology and Chemical Engineering at Tongren University in Guizhou, China. Dr. Tan is a Distinguish Foreign Expert of China’s Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve and a Commission Member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, Primate Specialist Group.



Werner Funk, LVDI International Inc., Chairperson of the Board

Mr. Funk is the CEO and President of Omnitek Engineering Corporation. Using patented diesel-to-natural gas engine technology Omnitek converts diesel engines to natural gas, resulting in greatly reduced air pollution and fuel costs. Omnitek is represented in 12 countries and to date has converted more than 5,000 engines worldwide. Mr. Funk was born and educated in Germany. He holds a bachelor’s degree with honors in automotive technology from Carl-Benz Technical College. His career began at Mercedes-Benz where he held a position as Assistant Crew Chief for the Porsche factory-sponsored racing team. After moving to the United States, Mr. Funk started several successful automotive related companies, including Nology Engineering Inc., the manufacturer of the patented capacitive spark plug wires. Mr. Funk is the inventor/co-inventor on six United States patents for methodologies that contribute to dramatic reductions in polluting engine emissions.



Bruce Engelbert, LVDI International, Inc., Board Member

Mr. Engelbert is skilled in helping people work effectively together and in dealing constructively with differences and disputes. He is a mentor mediator and facilitator, with over 40 years working in the fields of environmental management and conflict resolution. Mr. Engelbert’s career included working for the Department of Energy, the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, and over 30 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. During the first part of his Federal career he held a variety of policy and program management and implementation positions. In the second half he focused on promoting good public participation and alternative dispute resolution. He has extensive experience in the practice of public participation and community involvement at the federal, state and local levels. He holds Masters degrees in both Public Policy and Conflict Resolution.



Mr. Shaug worked in the Southern California aerospace industry for over 30 years as a design engineer. Self-taught and industrious, he was employed by TRW, Hughes Aircraft, and Raytheon Corporation, where his specialty was computer networking during the time of the moon landings. Since retiring his overriding passion has been to give back to society through his involvement with human health and animal welfare charities. Most notably Mr. Shaug has championed facilities that rehabilitate and adopt out retired racehorses, as well as charities that rescue and rehabilitate wildlife. Mr. Shaug is a strong proponent for transparency of fundraising efforts and programmatic effectiveness in non-profit organizations.