Staff & Board
Amazon Watch Staff
Atossa is the founder of Amazon Watch. Since 1991, Ms. Soltani has been leading international campaigns in defense of the world's tropical rainforests. Before Amazon Watch, Ms.Soltani directed campaigns at the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) to end logging in endangered ecosystems. Ms.Soltani began her environmental career in the late 1980's as Conservation Director for the City of Santa Monica where she designed and directed an award-winning resource conservation program. She is fluent in Spanish.
Follow Atossa on Twitter: @asoltani
Stephanie brings many years' experience in organizational development and management, working for the promotion and protection of human rights. She spent ten years at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International in London, most recently responsible for resource and operational support to Amnesty offices and projects across the Global South. Prior to joining Amazon Watch as Deputy Director, Stephanie was Operations & Finance Manager for Mujeres Unidas y Activas, a social justice organization of the Latina immigrant community. Stephanie is fluent in French and Spanish.
Paul has an MA in International Affairs from George Washington University. He has spent the last 12 years as Amnesty International USA's Colombia Country Specialist and was the Guatemala/Chiapas Program Director at the Seva Foundation for seven years. Paul has lived in Chiapas, Mexico and Quito, Ecuador, promoting human rights and community development and working directly with indigenous communities. Paul is also an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and until recently served on the board of Peace Brigades International USA.
Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulpaz
Leila is the Program Director at Amazon Watch overseeing its programs and campaigns to defend the Amazon and advance indigenous rights. She has over 15 years of experience working on international campaigns to defend the world's rainforests, in particular in the Amazon and Indonesia. Previously she was the Director of Rainforest Action Network's Rainforest Agribusiness Campaign and the coordinator of Amazon Watch's Clean Up Ecuador Campaign. She has also worked as an organizer at Global Exchange, an international human rights organization, and is a graduate of Green Corps, the training school for environmental leaders. She is a native Spanish speaker and a proud mother of two.
Follow Leila on Twitter: @LeilaSalazar10
Prior to diving into the organizational side of communications, Caroline worked as an Ecuador based photographer and multimedia journalist telling award-winning stories that shed light on social justice, cultural and environmental conservation, and the human condition. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Little Places, a "fair trade, fair story" venture. She brings an arsenal of multimedia munitions, commitment to visual storytelling and deep passion for the forests to the mission to defend the Amazon.
Branden has moved from activism to marketing to design to management to business and back to activism over the last 20 years. Having started in advocacy with Greenpeace as a crewman on the Rainbow Warrior and the MV Greenpeace, Branden has devoted his life to being in service to our planet's ecosystems and to environmental justice. Having been part of the leadership team at Rainforest Action Network for five years and a board member at Amazon Watch, he now dedicates himself to the growth and resilience of the organization as a full-time staff member with a commitment to increased capacity and empowerment for the organization.
Follow Branden on Twitter: @brandenb
Prior to joining Amazon Watch, Maíra worked as an international Human Rights and environmental attorney, helping to take the Belo Monte dam case to the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights. Maíra also holds a Masters from University of Florida in Comparative Law, where she won a book award for trade & human rights. For the past eight years she had worked as campaigner for the non-profit sector, and as a manager of the Environmental Education Center at the Environmental State Agency for the Brazilian government. She is a native Portuguese speaker and is fluent in English and Spanish.
Follow Maíra on Twitter: @mayirigaray
Prior to joining Amazon Watch, Kevin worked as the Ecuador Researcher/Organizer with the Rainforest Action Network as part of the Beyond Oil campaign. He has lived and worked in Ecuador for nearly seven years, collaborating with indigenous and environmental NGOs on oil and gas issues. He is fluent in Spanish.
Andrew brings two decades of human rights activism and international field experience to his work as Amazon Watch's DC Advocacy Director. Since 2007, he has collaborated closely with indigenous partners from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, facilitating rights-based advocacy at Washington DC-based institutions such as the multilateral banks, U.S. executive offices, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He travels regularly to the Amazon region and offers frequent commentary to media such Al Jazeera English, CNN en Español, and the BBC World Service. Previously, he held several positions at Amnesty International USA, served as an "unarmed bodyguard" in Colombia with Peace Brigades International, and led capacity-building efforts for southern Sudanese community-based organizations through Mercy Corps.
Follow Andrew on Twitter: @AmazonMiller
Prior to working in organizational development, Onyi worked in the legal sector and is a 2008 graduate of University of Denver Sturm College of Law. While in law school, Onyi focused her work and studies on intellectual property and conflict resolution, mainly working with musicians. After law school, she worked with artists and non-profit organizations mediating legal and contractual disputes. Onyi transitioned out of the legal sector into the government sector, working as a contracts and grants analyst with UCSF before joining Amazon Watch as the Grants Manager.
Sarah joins Amazon Watch with a background in fundraising, community outreach and event planning at various environment and human rights organizations throughout North America. She recently moved to San Francisco from the tropical city of Toronto, and credits her educational background in Cultural Anthropology and Community Development with inspiring her to focus her career on fighting inequality through meaningful partnerships.
Adam comes to Amazon Watch with a background in human rights advocacy. He spent years organizing with activist diaspora communities, and most recently worked for American Jewish World Service, an international human rights nonprofit. Adam speaks fluent Spanish and has worked in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Christian is a senior member of Amazon Watch's team. Having coordinated the Brazil Program since 2009, Christian now leads the organization's initiative to encourage a shift of Brazil's electricity matrix toward energy efficiency and clean renewable energy. He has over thirteen years experience in the fields of international development and advocacy focusing on environmental, agrarian, and social justice issues. Prior to joining Amazon Watch, Christian assisted Brazil's Landless Workers Movement and managed rural development and micro enterprise projects in West Africa. He is fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.
Gregor recently spent seven years in Peru where he co-founded the organization Shinai, a Peruvian non-profit that builds land rights capacity in Amazonian indigenous communities. He is fluent in Spanish and has attained conversational ability in Nahua and basic Achuar. Gregor holds a Masters degree in Leadership in Sustainable Development from Middlesex University.
Prior to joining Amazon Watch, Mitchell worked in Chiapas, Mexico, coordinating a regional human rights investigation which sought to document and expose the effects of militarization on the collective human rights of indigenous communities. He has spearheaded several international fundraising campaigns to support indigenous autonomy in Chiapas. Mitchell has also worked as a freelance journalist and is a certified Spanish-English interpreter.
Follow Mitch on Twitter: @MitchNAnderson
Based in New York City, Han is a long-time human rights and environmental activist. As Program Director of The Ruckus Society, Han trained thousands of grassroots activists in effective nonviolent action and played a key role in the historic 1999 demonstrations against the World Trade Organization in Seattle. Han also serves on the board of Students for a Free Tibet and is proud to have been banned from China for his outspoken activism. Han is also a photographer and producer for Rikshaw Films, an independent production company that creates award-winning documentary films and issue-driven content for television and the web.
Follow Han on Twitter: @coldmtn
Board of Directors
Andrew Beath (Treasurer)
Andrew is Founder and Executive Director of EarthWays Foundation, Founder and Board President of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE), and Author of Conscious Activism. He has been a board member since 1997.
Michelle Chan (Vice-President and Secretary)
Economic Policy Program Director of Friends of the Earth, founder of BankTrack, an international NGO network. Michelle has served on the Board of CERES, the Council for Responsible Public Investment, and the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment. Founding member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index Advisory Committee, she has been a board member since 2009.
Lily la Torre
Lily is Founder and Director of Racimos de Ungurahui, Peruvian indigenous rights organization. She is an attorney with more than 25 years of experience defending the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. She has been a board member since 2008.
Jeff Leifer is a strategist, social entrepreneur and leading reformer with over 30 years experience at the intersection of technology, media and finance. Jeff recently launched Circadian Media Lab, a values-driven strategic consultancy and interactive media company that frames scalable, transformational stories across the digital landscape. Jeff formed a boutique venture advisory firm (Sustainable Capital Group), providing resources and strategic mentoring to high-tech start-ups.
Director of Marketing at Veronique Events, Colombian Activist, and Alumna of the Global Ecology Program at Monterey Institute for International Studies. She has been a board member since 2002.
Jeff Mendelsohn (President)
Founder and President of New Leaf Paper, a company he created with the mission of driving a fundamental shift toward sustainability in the paper industry. He is a member of the Social Ventures Network and has been a board member since 2004.
Senior Water Policy Consultant at Planning and Conservation League, an environmental advocacy organization. From 2000 to 2004 he was Deputy Director of the California Department of Water Resources. He has been a board member since 2005.
Ana Maria Murillo
Director of the U'wa Defense Project from 2002-2006, Ana is of Indigenous Colombian ancestry. She has over ten years of experience working with Native communities in the Americas, focused on Indigenous-led community development and cultural survival. She has been a board member since 2006.
Co-founder, CEO and alchemist behind Numi Organic Tea, the largest organic, fair trade tea company in North America. Before starting the Numi business in 1999, Ahmed studied Theater and Psychology and then spent a decade living, working and traveling throughout Europe as a professional film maker and photographer and made documentaries of impoverished areas and war zones across the world.
Founder and Executive Director of Amazon Watch, Board of Trustees of the Christensen Fund, Board Member of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs, Advisor to International Funders for Indigenous Peoples. She has been a board member since 1997.
Richard Wegman (Chair)
Chief Operating Officer at Global Green, Previously Chief Operating Officer of TreePeople, a local community environmental non-profit. Richard has served as a consultant to many environmental and social justice organizations in the Los Angeles Area. He has been a board member since 2009.
Follow Richard on Twitter: @rfwegman