18. Rebecca Martin

Director of the National Geographic Society's Expeditions Council

Rebecca Martin     Photo: Joe Ciardiello

Controls The keys to the Nat Geo kingdom

If you’re an explorer and want to be the next Galen Rowell or -Michael Fay (see “How the Nomad Found Home,” page 104), you’ll eventually come under the gaze of Rebecca Martin. A 54-year-old former staffer at the yellow book, she has been the gatekeeper for Nat Geo’s deep chest of sponsorship cash for the past 13 years. Not only has she helped green-light some of the most exciting explorations of the modern age—like Fay’s 15-month Megatransect of Africa and Ed Viesturs’s quest to climb the 14 highest peaks on earth—she’s also the head of Young Explorers Grants, which sends 18-to-25-year-olds into the field.

By the Numbers $2.8 million: grant money given away by the Expeditions Council in 2010

Second Opinion “Every time I have a problem or need money, Rebecca goes to bat for me and makes it happen,” says Fay. “She’s not widely known. She’s like an éminence gris, and she doesn’t look for credit.”

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