Mingma was one of my heroes. I\'m not sure if he ever knew that. In 1995, he gave me - an idealistic and quite ignorant young man - the chance of a lifetime, and it has continued to affect me to this day. Mingma hired me as a country consultant at the WWF Nepal Program when it was a small office just on the cusp of initiating a number of large programs, including projects in Bardia, Shey Phoksumdo, Sagarmatha National Parks. Mingma gave me incredible latitude to become involved in these projects and included me in decisions large and small. I watched him grow this small organization into something quite marvelous, and he had a gift for recognizing people\'s talents and leveraging them for effective conservation work. Observing him work was a continual lesson.
Mingma seamlessly operated in a number of realms that were socially very complex and, in many ways, biased against people like him. On the one hand, he was a Sherpa maneuvering in a Nepal still governed according to caste and social stratification.
But Mingma never let this phase him, and he treated everyone with respect, forthrightness, and consummate diplomacy. Mingma skillfully operated between the worlds of international NGOs, national bureaucracies, and local politics, and brought people together, cutting through needless social distinctions. He was also one of the first of his generation to be educated abroad - something many Nepalis take for granted today, but was truly a leap of imagination and daring in his day. Mingma would have excelled at anything he chose. Yet he chose conservation, and a very deep commitment to the kind of mountain communities from which he hailed. And Mingma was incredibly effective. I can only imagine how many people inspired, how much money he helped WWF raise for conservation, how many minds he turned to their better selves.
The incredible legacy that Mingma leaves behind, of ecosystems conserved and communities empowered, speaks for itself. Mingma is irreplaceable, a man of the highest character and dignity. Let us hope that we can turn this irredeemable loss into some kind of good, a rededication of our own efforts to treat others and,
indeed, our planet with greater dignity.