James serves as the Environmental and Social Safeguards Manager for the The Nature Conservancy's Global Institutions and Equity in Conservation teams in Portland. His career in conservation started at eighteen years old fighting wildland fire for a tribe in Oregon to help pay college tuition. In this role, he travelled the United States fighting fire, conducting prescribed burns, and engaging on-the-ground in restoration fuel treatments. Witnessing the disproportionate impact of catastrophic fire and resource disparity on disenfranchised communities inspired James to move to Washington, D.C., where he served as a staff person to U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and U.S. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. He holds a Masters degree in Forestry from Yale University, where he started a wildland fire labor rights organization and led several environmental justice-centered research projects.