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Amazon Watch Staff

Leila Salazar-Lopez, Interim Executive Director

Leila became the Program Director at Amazon Watch and oversaw the organization's 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 Campaign Director of Rainforest Action Network's Agribusiness Campaign and the coordinator of Amazon Watch's Clean Up Ecuador Campaign between 2002-2007. 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 graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is a proud Chicana and mother of two.
Follow Leila on Twitter: @LeilaSalazar10

Paul Paz y Miño, Director of Outreach and Online Strategy

Paul joined Amazon Watch in 2007. He has an MA in International Affairs from George Washington University. Since 1995, he has volunteered as Colombia Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA 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 served on the board of Peace Brigades International USA.
Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulpaz

Karen Rodriguez, Director of Finance and Operations

Karen Rodriguez has served the Bay Area nonprofit community for almost 20 years, and was most recently Chief Financial Officer for Cal Humanities in San Francisco. She holds a BA in International Relations from San Francisco State University and was also formerly Fiscal Manager of Glide Memorial Children's Program, as well as Finance Manager for the Leukemia Society of America (Northern California). In her spare time, she loves to read, travel, and sing.

Caroline Bennett, Editorial Director / Chief Storyteller

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, an innovative "fair trade, fair story" venture. She brings an arsenal of multimedia munitions, commitment to leveraging storytelling for change and passion for working for the forests and our changing climate to the mission to defend the Amazon and its peoples.
Follow Caroline on Twitter: @carobennett

Sarah Freeman, Executive Assistant

Before joining our team, Sarah spent a year volunteering with our Brazil program, assisting with communications and translations on the ground in Altamira and in the Oakland office. Prior to Amazon Watch she worked as a project manager at a cultural center in rural Southern India and as a Natural Chef. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science from UC Berkeley in Conservation and Resource Studies with a focus of Urban Agriculture, Conflict Resolution, and City Repair.  For the past 9 years she has been dedicated to issues around health and sustainability. 
Follow Sarah on Twitter: @earthphilic

Irma Gogiashvili, Foundations Manager

Irma was born and raised in Georgia (Former USSR), a small diverse country in the Caucasus Mountains, where Europe and Asia meet. She worked for years in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, dedicated to strengthening human rights and democratic processes around Eastern Europe. After moving to the United States, Irma worked in Silicon Valley, until she had a chance to pursue her dream and continue her education in International Development and Conflict Resolution. Irma is passionate about social and environmental justice and is involved in several projects that honor and preserve indigenous knowledge around the world. Prior to joining Amazon Watch, Irma worked with the Asia Foundation and Give2Asia, including an assignment in Kabul, Afghanistan. Irma holds an MA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and she's fluent in Georgian, English, Russian and French. And she's learning Spanish. She is a mother, daughter, granddaughter, and worshipper of our Mother Earth, with much to share with the world.
Follow Irma on Twitter: @IrmaGogy

Allison Hanes, Development Officer

Allison is a trained biologist and veterinary technician with a passion for conservation medicine (one health), which seeks solutions that simultaneously promote human, animal and environmental health. Completing her MSc in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University Allison worked closely with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Conservation Through Public Health researching disease transmission risks between humans and mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Allison served as the Executive Director of Art of Conservation, an international NGO using the arts and creative learning to teach children and their families one-health conservation while assisting create the offshoot Rwandan nonprofit Conservation Heritage - Turambe. Allison serves on the board of the Bay Area Tropical Forest Network.
Follow Allison on Twitter: @allihanes

Maíra Irigaray, Brazil Program Coordinator

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

Kevin Koenig, Ecuador Program Coordinator

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 Miller, Advocacy Director

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

Jessica Yurasek, Media and Communications Manager

Prior to Amazon Watch, Jessica worked as a brand strategist and creative director supporting several innovative nonprofits that promote truth through storytelling and work to empower communities through self-sustaining journalism. Jessica holds degrees from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the University of Michigan. She has traveled to over 40 countries on six continents and is committed to preserving environmental and human rights using strategic communication and visual storytelling.
Follow Jessica on Twitter: @missjessrose

Adam Zuckerman, Environmental and Human Rights Campaigner

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 Poirier, Brazil-Europe Advocacy Director

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.

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

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.

Daniela Meltzer

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

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.

Jonas Minton

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 Mahiri

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.

Ahmed Rahim

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.

Atossa Soltani (President)

Founder and former Executive Director of Amazon Watch, Atossa Soltani is the Hillary Institute of International Leadership's 2013 Hillary Laureate and serves as the chair of the board of trustees of The Christensen Fund, board member of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs, advisor to the Peruvian organization, The Arkana Alliance, and advisor to the InterAmerican Clean Energy Institute. Since 1991, Atossa has been leading international campaigns in defense of the world's tropical rain forests. Before founding Amazon Watch in 1996, Atossa directed campaigns at the Rainforest Action Network to end logging in endangered ecosystems. Download her full bio here.
Follow Atossa on Twitter: @asoltani

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

Peter Coyote (Honorary Board Member)

Executive Director's Leadership Council

Megan Wiese (Chair)

Suzanne West

Amazon Watch Ambassadors

Benjamin Bratt

Daryl Hannah – @dhlovelife

Bianca Jagger

Q'orianka Kilcher – @qorianka

John Quigley

Zöe Tryon – @zoetryon


Yes, I will donate to protect the Amazon!

"The work you do is vital, and I am happy to support it."
– Charlotte R. A.