Antigua & Barbuda, Anguilla, and St. Kitts
Mykl has worked on environmental conservation projects in the Caribbean for more than a decade. She is now based on the island of Antigua as an independent consultant. She works primarily in the areas of wildlife conservation, sustainable tourism, and project management. Mykl is also an active volunteer with local NGOs and community organizations. She holds a master’s degree in coastal management from York University, Toronto.
Marcio Halla is an agronomist who graduated from Sao Paulo State University (Brazil) in 1996, and earned a master’s degree in Territorial Planning at Santiago de Compostela University (Spain) in 2014. He has participated in the Environmental Leadership Program at the University of California at Berkeley and in LEAD, a two-year sustainable management training program with sessions in China and Canada.
Since 1997, Marcio has carried out integrated sustainable development projects, working close to riverine and coastal traditional communities in the Atlantic Rainforest and the Amazon region, as a coordinator of NGO programs and as a consultant. He has participated in projects on topics including sustainable management and ethical trade of forest, agroforestry and organic agriculture and aquaculture products; community based ecotourism; strengthening associations and cooperative institutions; participatory methodologies; forest certification; and ethical biotrade verification.
Claudio earned his bachelor’s degree in marine biology from the Universidad Austral de Chile and studied the Integrated Management of Coastal Zones at Guadalajara University in Mexico. Since 1998, he has led various projects concerning the conservation biology of coastal zones. From 1999 to 2003, Claudio was coordinator of the Biodiversity Program for Comité Nacional Pro Defensa de la Fauna y Flora’s Valdivia regional office. He led private land conservation initiatives and implemented the first private protected coastal area in the region.
In 2003, he founded Conservación Marina, a Chilean NGO promoting the protection of marine biodiversity along the Chilean coast. As the organization’s director, Claudio has led projects related to marine mammal research, conservation of migratory shorebirds on Chiloé Island, and planning for the sustainable use and conservation of Mocha Island. He has led nine conservation planning processes and has trained many professionals and conservation practitioners from private and governmental agencies in Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, and Cuba.
He lives in Valdivia with his two children and wife. Claudio loves hiking, mountain biking, and sea kayaking.
Ximena, born and raised in Colombia, is a marine scientist with broad experience in fisheries research and a strong background in ocean management in Latin American countries. Among other projects, she has developed population genetic studies in marine top predators and evaluated how regional fisheries management policy in the Caribbean affects sustainable development in coastal communities. She was the associate director of Ocean Doctor’s Cuba Conservancy Program, working to develop successful scientific collaboration between Cuba and the United States, and helped develop Seacology’s first project in Cuba.
Ximena holds a master’s in environmental studies and policy from the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) and a Bachelor of Science in biology – marine sciences from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. She is a certified scuba instructor and an experienced diving instructor and marine ecology educator.
A native of the Caribbean, Leida has always been attracted by colors and sound: The colors and sounds of nature; the colors and sounds of people; the chatter of tropical birds and frogs; the song of humpback whales; and the beat of Salsa and Son. Leida loves nature and people, so you can say she is a nature lover and a people person.
That is why she works in the sustainable management of natural resources with local people to facilitate their engagement with their natural environment and improving their livelihoods. Leida has an master’s in landscape and environmental planning from Germany and over 25 years’ professional experience in the intergovernmental and not-for-profit sectors, working on sustainable and social development issues. She consults on land-use planning, civil society strengthening, sustainable livelihoods, gender equity, respect for cultural and ethnic diversity, empowerment and skills training for grassroots groups, and international development and conservation. Most recently her focus has been on biodiversity conservation, coastal and marine management, and climate change mitigation.
Tyrone has extensive experience in Grenada and the region as an advocate for environmental protection, community development, and children’s rights. After working with the Grenada Planned Parenthood Association for 10 years, he was coordinator of the Inter-Agency Group of Development Organizations and the Grenada National Coalition on the Rights of the Child. These umbrella agencies grapple with a host of social issues, primarily poverty, education and training, domestic violence, and social and legal needs. He is now the director of the Legal Aid and Counseling Clinic, the island’s leading social justice agency.
Tyrone has had internships and working experiences in North America, Europe and Africa. He currently serves on various regional and international social justice boards and committees, as well as on expert panels in U.N.-specialized agencies.
Marcos Leonardo Terete Toj, born in Antigua, Guatemala, is a primary school teacher and a teacher of Spanish as a second language. He has taught at the Rural Mixta San Miguel Milpas Altas public school for 20 years. He has a long history of promoting projects that improve living conditions for his students and provide much-needed support for his school. He is very interested in the sustainable development as a way to conserve the natural beauty of Guatemala, which is known as the Land of Eternal Springtime.
Marcos joined Seacology as a project monitor in June 2019.
Crystal Vance Guerra is a historian, journalist, and organizer who has found her niche in the environmental conservation work taking place in Honduras. She is a Chicago native, with roots in Mexico, who has worked on Honduras’ Bay Islands for three years in environmental education, co-managing projects and communications. A graduate of Brown University, Crystal joined Seacology in 2019.
Krishna is an attorney at law and a natural scientist with a postgraduate degree in marine management. He spent eight years working for the Government of Jamaica as their technical adviser on coastal issues. During that time, he led numerous interdisciplinary teams responsible for natural resource management and regulating physical development. Krishna spent a number of years working as an environmental consultant, using his experience to help formulate policy and contribute to management plans while he studied law. His work included a short stint in London, where he worked in sustainable development for an inner London borough. He is now back in Jamaica, where he is working for a major law firm in downtown Kingston. Krishna enjoys photography, scuba diving, playing squash, and camping out with friends.
Marisol Rueda Flores was born in Cuernavaca, Morelos and moved to La Paz, B.C.S. in 2005 to do her master’s in science on Marine Resources Management with blue whales. Since then she has been working in environmental education and conservation programs in La Paz, B.C.S., Costa Rica, and the Galápagos Islands. Her work has involved cetaceans, marine invertebrates, sea turtles, and tortoises, among others. In 2010, she moved to Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, and became Mexico’s Coordinator for the Healthy Reefs Initiative, focusing on the conservation of the Mesoamerican Reef.
Marisol’s passions are scuba diving and traveling around the world to get to know new places and cultures. Whenever she has free time, you can find her exploring the bottom of the ocean.
Enrique is an expert on South American camelids and other wildlife. He has traveled widely in Peru, working with rural communities and learning their traditional knowledge. Working in the field for 15 years, he has done work in the mountains, rainforest, and coastal hills, searching for guanacos (Lama guanicoe), and leading the rural development program of OIKOS, a nonprofit conservation organization in Peru.
Enrique graduated from the Veterinary School of San Marcos National University in Peru and now leads postgraduate short-term courses there in wildlife conservation and biodiversity management. He also teaches about indigenous ancestral knowledge, adaptation to climate change, and sustainable conservation for rural communities.
Cecilia’s approach to conservation has been shaped by exposure to a wide range of environmental challenges. Working in an NGO, Vida Silvestre Uruguay, gave her a broad knowledge of national and local needs. She worked at the local level with communities near the Río Uruguay, promoting monitoring actions with fishermen, and with communities near the Atlantic Ocean in an environmental education program. At the national level, she was part of the team that was in charge of realizing the goals and the spatial design of the National System of Protected Areas for 2015-2020. Currently, she is working with the private sector to promote actions that conserve biodiversity.
Cecilia has a bachelor’s degree in biological science, with a specialization in ecology, from the Universidad de la República in Uruguay. She also holds a diploma in management and conservation of natural resources (Ducks Unlimited Mexico, with the endorsement of the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mexico). She is working toward a master’s in agricultural science with a social science focus at the Universidad de la República.
Marilen says she has often felt the need to give something back to the seas and oceans, and in Seacology found the ideal path to that goal. She joined Seacology as our field rep for Spain in 2019.
Vineeta has a Ph.D in cultural geography and has done research on traditional lifestyles of indigenous people in remote areas. She was awarded fellowships from the East-West Centre in Hawaii, the Australian Federation of University Women, and the Norwegian Research Council. Her quest to understand traditional, sustainable use of ecological resources led her to live among Trans-Himalayan nomads, Lakshadweep Islanders, and the Sámi reindeer herders in the Arctic. She is the author of the book, Living on the Move, the Bhotiyas of the Kumaon Himalayas.
She is a founder and trustee of the Centre for Action Research on Environment, Science and Society. CARESS tries to help stem the rapid loss of cultural and natural biodiversity and focuses on the revival of traditional values among island and mountain people. Vineeta coauthored The Children’s Perception of the Environment: a teachers toolkit for coastal and marine areas in Asia, published in 2009 by IUCN. Vineeta has been at the heart of coral reef affairs involving island communities in South Asia since 1997. She is the regional coordinator for the Global Socioeconomic Monitoring Initiative for Coastal Management (SocMon) South Asia and the lead author of the SocMon SA guidelines.
Erik has been working in Madagascar every year since 2000, studying the behavioral biology and conservation of one of the most critically endangered primates in Madagascar, the silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus). He earned his Ph.D. from Cornell University and his master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Currently, he is the Conservation Program Director for Lemur Conservation Foundation. He previously served as the project director of Duke Lemur Center’s SAVA Conservation Project. Erik is also a member of the Madagascar Primate Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Since 2014 he has served as an executive editor of the journal Madagascar Conservation and Development.
Erik’s fieldwork has garnered considerable media attention, including televised feature films (BBC, Dan Rather Reports, Animal Planet) as well as newspaper and magazine coverage. In 2010, his “Saving the ‘Ghosts’ of Madagascar” made the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. He has been Seacology’s Madagascar field representative since 2009.
Leela Padmini Batuwitage is a chartered civil engineer with a Ph.D (The Netherlands) and three master’s degrees: Master of Engineering (Sri Lanka), Master of Science (Ireland), and Master of Public Administration (Harvard University, USA). She has been actively involved in sustainable development issues over the last 23 years at local and global levels. She was the Additional Secretary (Environment & Policy) of Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Environment when she retired in 2011. After retirement, she continued her professional career as a consultant in the field of sustainable development. She believes that learned societies should sustain efforts towards complete synchronization to see a healthy planet with smiling people everywhere in the world.
Tuaine is a conservation advocate from Mangaia Island. In 1999, she and her husband founded the Mangaia Tanga’eo Environmental Rangers, an award-winning NGO promoting environmental awareness and education among Cook Island children. Formerly trained as a nurse, Tuaine now manages her family’s bakery. She continues to work with local environmental groups as an adviser and mentor to support conservation issues.
Pettine was born and raised on a copra plantation in Fiji. After living abroad, she is happy to be back at her family home, just outside the small township of Savusavu on Vanua Levu Island, bordering the ocean. She has a passion for both the land and the sea and is an ardent protector of both. She is an entrepreneur and administrator with experience in both government and the private sector. Pettine is the only woman ever elected to the Savusavu town council, where she led initiatives to improve land use and protect the environment.
Simon has degrees in marine biology and fisheries from Edinburgh and Louisiana State Universities and has worked in this field since 1990. He moved to Micronesia in 1997 and has traveled extensively in the region supporting conservation and aquaculture projects. From 2002-2006 he was the marine program advisor for the Conservation Society of Pohnpei, a leading grassroots NGO.
Currently, Simon is director of the Marine and Environmental Research Institute of Pohnpei, an NGO dedicated to developing sustainable aquaculture in rural communities in Micronesia. In this role, he travels through the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau working with conservation groups and communities. Simon has been the Seacology representative for Micronesia since 2004.
Papua New Guinea
Sam is from Kui Village in the Huon Gulf District, Morobe Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and is currently Greenpeace’s forest campaigner in PNG. He joined Greenpeace after working as a conservation and community development officer with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and as a community and health educator with the Foundation for People and Community Development Inc. (FPCD).
Sam trained in theatre arts at the University of PNG. He started out working in community theatre projects for FPCD, using storytelling and theatre to educate people about health issues like HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB. He also worked as a logistician ensuring health supplies were delivered to remote communities in Bougainville for the Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia & the Pacific. As a community development worker with WWF, Sam ran workshops with landowners on sustainable management of their forest and alternatives to selling logging concessions, such as butterfly and vanilla farming. Sam began helping out with Seacology’s Bosavi project in 2003 on a volunteer basis. In 2008, Sam was named as Seacology’s field representative in PNG.
Since March 2007, Sione has been the executive director of the Tonga Community Development Trust, a nonprofit that works with disadvantaged communities to foster self-reliance. Tonga Trust projects range from health, water, and sanitation to disaster preparedness, environmental protection, climate change adaptation, good governance, democracy, and voter education. Before joining Tonga Trust, Sione was a national project coordinator in Tonga’s Department of Environment for two consecutive regional projects. First, the Ha’apai Conservation Area Project under the South Pacific Biodiversity Conservation Program from 1995-2001. Second, the Nukuhetulu Waste Reduction Pilot Project under the Strategic Program for the International Waters of the South Pacific from 2002 to 2007. Both programs used a community-based participatory approach to conservation. In 1994 Sione obtained a Master of Arts in sociology from the Australian National University in Canberra.
Farwiza is a passionate forest and marine conservationist. Born and raised in Aceh, Farwiza graduated as a marine biologist from University Sains Malaysia in Penang, followed by a master’s in Environmental Management from University of Queensland. In 2012, she co-founded and served as the chairperson of Yayasan HAkA, a local nonprofit working to conserve, protect, and restore the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia. In 2016, she received the Whitley Award for her grassroots activism work and in 2017 was selected as a Future for Nature Award winner. She was also featured as one of the experts in Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary about climate change, “Before the Flood.”
An environmental activist, journalist, and farmer, Irman lives in his home village of Mandalamekar, where his conservation efforts earned him the 2011 Seacology Prize. He holds a Bachelor of Economics from Sam Ratulangi University, in North Sulawesi. He worked for Conservation International in the Raja Ampat Islands as a campaigner and educator. Today he helps rural communities like Mandalamekar create resource management and cost-sharing plans to protect their natural resources. He also serves as Chairman of the Indonesian Community Radio Network.
Chris grew up in a small coastal town in Australia and has loved the ocean all his life. He received a bachelor’s degree in development studies and cultural change from the University of Macquar in Sydney. He then worked in sustainability and community engagement around Australia. Later, he began collaborating on research projects with local NGOs in Malaysia. Since then, his passion for the region, its environment, and its cultural diversity has led him to a range of projects focusing on sustainability, renewable energy, and cultural development. He has also been passionately involved in climate change activism. The Guardian named him as “one of the top young campaigners to watch” before the 2016 Paris Climate Conference.
Ferdie has been Seacology’s Philippines field rep since 2007. A scuba instructor since 1990, Ferdie teaches SCUBA every now and then, but his primary occupation is managing the family farm in Tanay. Ferdie also writes a blog which, among other things, discusses his visits to Seacology projects.
Ferdie worked in the Philippine Senate from 1998 to 2004, assisting technical working groups on the Senate Committee on the Environment. In that time he saw the passage of landmark laws, such as the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and attended the College of Law at the University of the Philippines.
Pisit Charnsnoh is well-known in the environmental movement for his work to protect mangrove forests in his home country. A winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2002 and one of the cofounders of the Mangrove Action Project, he was one of the early high-profile advocates of defending mangrove forests. Since the mid-1980s, Pisit has worked to unite disenfranchised fishing communities in Thailand. His persistence in this mission has resulted in meaningful government action to promote local management of mangroves and other vital coastal resources.