Staff and Board

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Leadership Team

Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director

Leila (she/ella/ela) is a mother; proud Chicana-Latina woman; and passionate defender of Mother Earth, the Amazon, Indigenous rights and climate justice. Since 2015 she has served as the Executive Director of Amazon Watch, leading the organization in its work to protect and defend the bio-cultural and climate integrity of the Amazon rainforest by advancing Indigenous peoples’ rights, territories, and solutions. For 20+ years Leila has worked to defend the world’s rainforests, human rights, and climate through grassroots organizing and international advocacy campaigns at Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network and Global Exchange. She serves on the Governing Council of the Amazon Emergency Fund, is a Greenpeace Voting Member and a Global Fund for Women Advisor for Latin America. In April 2019, she was acknowledged in Make it Better Media’s “17 Bay Area Environmentalists Making a Difference.” She is a 1998 graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara. Leila lives in San Francisco, CA with her husband and two young daughters.
Follow Leila on Twitter: @LeilaSalazar10

Paul Paz y Miño, Associate Director

Paul (he/él/ele) 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

Christian Poirier, Program Director

Christian (he/él/ele) is a senior member of Amazon Watch's team. Having coordinated the Brazil Program since 2009, Christian also led the organization's efforts to encourage a shift toward non-hydro energy alternatives in Brazil's electricity matrix. While managing Amazon Watch's Paris office, he partnered with European NGOs on Corporate Social Responsibility campaigns. He has over sixteen 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, Portuguese, French, and Spanish.
Follow Christian on Twitter: @cpeartree

Kathy LeMay, Director of Philanthropy

Kathy (she/ella/ela) LeMay has worked as a global social change fundraiser and philanthropic advisor for more than 25 years. She started her work in 1993 when she traveled to the Balkans where worked with women survivors of rape-genocide camps. She returned home and traveled the country sharing the stories of what women and children were enduring in the war and as a volunteer helped to raise a quarter million dollars for food, medical care, trauma counseling and for women to testify at the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague. Since then, Kathy has traveled the world, raising $175M for global social change, with an emphasis on supporting grassroots women leaders. She’s a published author, sought-after public speaker, and in her spare time, an alpaca farmer.

Joseph Kolb, Controller

Joseph (he/él/ele) has over 25 years of accounting experience. Prior to joining Amazon Watch he was the CFO at Xinet Inc. in Berkeley. He holds a BS in Humanities and studied Poetics at the New College of California.

U.S. Staff

Lindsay Allen, DC Advocacy Associate

Lindsay (she/ella/ela) recently served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique and subsequently co-founded Decolonizing Peace Corps, an organization consisting of mostly returned Peace Corps volunteers of color that seeks to critically analyze the organization from an intersectional, anti-imperialist perspective. Hailing from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Lindsay has a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies. Through studies abroad in Costa Rica and Chile, she learned about Indigenous peoples, their livelihoods, and the ways in which they were being threatened. Lindsay loves radical politics, social and political ecology, reading, YouTube, animals, and her friends and family.
Follow Lindsay on Twitter: @Lindsayallen96

Moira Birss, Climate and Finance Director

Moira (she/ella/ela) brings over fifteen years of human rights and social justice advocacy, campaigning, and field experience to her work at Amazon Watch to hold the financial industry accountable for its contributions to Indigenous rights abuses, Amazon deforestation, and climate change. She has worked on researching community-based models of alternative economies, advocating for affordable housing, and promoting environmental protection, and spent several years as a human rights observer in Colombia. Moira has a BA in Latin American Studies from the University of Michigan and an MA in International Relations from Tufts University.
Follow Moira on Twitter: @moira_kb

Mariola Fernandez, Executive Assistant/Board Liaison

A native of Santiago, Chile, Mariola (she/ella/ela) spent much of her early childhood living in exile with her family in Canada surrounded by musicians and political activists. Her family returned to Chile when she was nine years old. She earned a masters degree in business from Universidad de Chile in 1998 and worked as a Financial Analyst until she immigrated to Berkeley, CA, in September of 2002. She started volunteering for La Peña Cultural Center and joined its staff as Operations Manager in October of 2004 until August of 2013. She also worked as an Assistant Producer for the documentary film Archeology of Memory: Villa Grimaldi.

Kevin Koenig, Climate and Energy Director

Kevin (he/él/ele) is a leading expert on resource and rights conflicts in the western Amazon basin, having worked for over two decades with Indigenous peoples in the defense of their territories and rights throughout the region's rainforests. From the frontlines to the corporate boardroom, Kevin has collaborated with Indigenous peoples in challenging the extractive industry, government development policies, finance for mega-infrastructure projects, and demand-side U.S. oil consumption, winning important victories and setting legal precedents. He has also worked to advance climate solutions, including working for Ecuador's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in launching the historic Yasuni-ITT proposal that sought to leave almost 920 million barrels crude permanently in the ground. He lives with his wife and children in West Marin.
Follow Kevin on Twitter: @kevinmkoenig

Pendle Marshall-Hallmark, Climate Campaigner

Pendle (she/ella/ela) brings a background in human rights advocacy and community organizing to her role as a Climate Campaigner at Amazon Watch. She has extensive field experience in the United States and Latin America. Before joining the AW team she worked as an International Human Rights Accompanier with activists in Colombia, and later completed a Fulbright scholarship in Mexico City exploring socially and environmentally responsible business practices. Pendle lived in Philadelphia before moving abroad, where she worked as a community organizer around issues of immigration, health and economic justice. She studied Sociology at Swarthmore College and has completed Master's level coursework in Business Administration at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.

Angela Martínez, Amazon Defenders Fund Director

Angela (she/ella/ela) has three decades of activism and international field experience accompanying Afro-descendant, LGTBIQ, Women, Youth, and Indigenous-led movements in Latin America and the Caribbean. She has worked on natural resources rights and environmental justice, civil and political rights, and sexual health and rights through grantmaking, ethnographic and participatory for action research, advocacy, and capacity building.

Andrew Miller, Advocacy Director

Andrew (he/él/ele) brings three decades of human rights activism and international field experience to his work as Amazon Watch's DC Advocacy Director. Since joining Amazon Watch in 2007, he has provided strategic accompaniment to Indigenous partners from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, facilitating rights-centric advocacy at Washington DC-based institutions such as U.S. executive offices and Congress, the multilateral banks and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He travels regularly to the Amazon region and offers commentary to media such as CNN, Democracy Now, 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

Amanda Moran, Grantwriter and Foundations Administrator

Amanda (she/ella/ela) joined Amazon Watch from the arts sector, where she managed artists and performing groups, with a particular interest in supporting performance that pushes social, political and physical limits, and that articulates the environmental and human rights challenges of our times. She brings to Amazon Watch decades of fundraising and management experience. In her arts career, Amanda had the pleasure of working with a range of artists including writer/performers Eric Bogosian and Spalding Gray in New York, West Coast iconoclasts Guillermo Gomez Pena and Culture Clash, and as Managing Director of vertical dance company Bandaloop. Amanda has been an environmentalist since she was a child, forcing her family to recycle before that was a thing, and campaigning for Citizens for a Better Environment in the dark times of poisoned drinking water in Silicon Valley. Amanda is a working mother of two, a member of the board of Zaccho Dance Theatre in San Francisco’s Bayview, and an advanced certified Jivamukti Yoga teacher, with a side project of helping stressed out urbanites relax.

Ada Marisol Recinos, Communications Manager

Ada (she/ella/ela) has worked at the intersection of social justice, communications, and fundraising for grassroots nonprofits for over seven years. She utilizes digital fundraising and organizing to redistribute wealth and power for the benefit of the environment and communities of color. In her spare time, she can be found tending to her growing collection of rare indoor plants.
Follow Ada on Twitter: @MsAdaRecinos

Elena Maria Teare, Digital Storytelling Strategist

Elena (they/she) started off with an interdisciplinary background in human ecology and international development before pivoting to Indigenous and human rights research and advocacy. She holds a MA in International Affairs from The New School where she dabbled in political ecology, media studies, and documentary film-making. You'll find that she is passionate about most things, but holds a special place for her herb garden and dog, Charlie.
Follow Elena on Twitter: @maria_teare

Ana Paula Vargas, Brazil Program Director

Paula (she/ella/ela) has been working for more than twenty years with communications and culture, human rights, and social justice in Brazil. She has collaborated with the press, local NGOs, the Brazilian government, and international institutions to support and promote projects from popular associations, social movements, and grassroots organizations. In the United States as a member of the US Network for Defend Democracy in Brazil, she denounced threats to human rights and to the Amazon rainforest and Indigenous people, organizing rallies in alliance with other organizations and activists and fighting for climate justice.

Michael Zap, Web Manager

Although he'd often rather be digging ditches than in front of a computer, Michael (he/él/ele) is a practical activist who sees the internet as a valuable tool to level the informational playing field and allow people who would ordinarily be silenced to speak out and be heard. He's fluent in Spanish, Javascript, and PHP.

International Field Team

Nina Gualinga, Women Defenders Ambassador

Nina is a mother and international advocate for the rights of women, Indigenous peoples and climate justice. She is Swedish and Kichwa from the Sarayaku community in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Nina began advocating for Indigenous rights at an early age, after an oil company violently entered Sarayaku. Since then, she has been involved in local, national and international efforts to raise awareness and address the injustices occurring in the Amazon, particularly related to extractive industries and climate change. Nina is a spokeswoman for Mujeres Amazónicas, a collective of Indigenous women in the Ecuadorian Amazon defending their lives and lands, and fighting against systematic violence against Indigenous women. She is currently culminating her studies in Human Rights at Lund University in Sweden. Nina is also a board member of Amazon Watch-Sweden.

Ecuador

Carlos Mazabanda, Ecuador Field Coordinator

Carlos has spent more than a decade working for the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon. He works closely with the communities and their organizations and supports them to build up their capacities via workshops and trainings on themes related to human rights and the environment. He carries out investigations of public works and policies, such as as fossil fuel and mining projects, that violate the rights of Indigenous communities, such as the right to free, prior, and informed consent, free speech and association, and environmental rights. These investigations have been presented in international forums such as the Interamerican System of Human Rights and the United Nations.
Follow Carlos on Twitter: @Carlos_San11

Sofía Jarrín Hidalgo, Ecuador Advocacy Advisor

Sofia (ella/she/ela/isotopía) collaborates with various organizations and research networks that work on the impacts of external financing, projects of investment and abuses of corporate power in Latin America. She supports Indigenous organizations and peasant communities affected by development projects, infrastructure and extractive industries, with advocacy and reporting strategies that make it possible to expose and demand mechanisms for comprehensive reparation and access to justice against systematic violations of human rights and the rights of nature.

Alejandra Yépez Jácome, Ecuador Communications Advisor

Alejandra (she/ella/ela) acknowledges her cross-border background, with a Colombian mother and Ecuadorian father. She has supported the work of human rights organizations and developed academic research on Indigenous peoples of the Andes, youth, and migration for six year. She studied Social Communication and Cultural Studies, and for the last three years she has accompanied a group of Afro-descendant workers who denounced modern slavery conditions at the Furukawa abacá hemp company on the Ecuadorian coast. She believes in weaving the word to build new realities.
Follow Alejandra on Twitter: @alejayj

Peru

Vladimir Pinto, Peru Field Coordinator

Vladimir is based in Lima, he works directly with Peru's Amazonian Indigenous peoples in the defense of their rights and in support of their organizations. He is a lawyer with a Masters Degree in political science and for the last twenty years has been working on issues of extractive industries, Prior Consent as a right of Indigenous peoples, the right to territory and isolated Indigenous peoples. He has served as a legal advisor to various Indigenous organizations, as well as Program Coordinator for Oxfam, within the German Cooperation, the Andean Community of Nations, and within various Peruvian non-governmental organizations. In his free time, he enjoys literature, chess, and cooking.

Ricardo Perez, Peru Communications Advisor

Ricardo is based in Lima, Peru. He holds a degree in Social Communication from San Marcos University, he has worked to strengthen Indigenous peoples' organizational capacities to reach public opinion and decision makers with their own demands, proposals and worldview. During his career, Ricardo has published reports and campaigned internationally about Indigenous defenders, Amazon deforestation, multilateral development banks and climate policies.

Board of Directors

Atossa Soltani (Director, President of the Board, member since 1997)

Atossa Soltani the founder and board president of Amazon Watch and served as the organization's first Executive Director for eighteen years. She is currently a senior strategist for the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative, working to protect one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. Atossa is the Hillary Institute 2013 Global Laureate for Climate Leadership and recipient of the 2014 Hillary Step Prize. She is currently producing her first feature-length documentary film titled The Flow about learning from nature's genius.
Follow Atossa on Twitter: @asoltani

Michelle Chan (Director and Chair, member since 2009)

Michelle is the Economic Policy Program Director of Friends of the Earth and founder of BankTrack, an international NGO network. She has served on the Board of CERES, the Council for Responsible Public Investment, and the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment. She is also a founding member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index Advisory Committee.

Richard Wegman (Director, Treasurer and Vice-Chair, member since 2009)

Richard's activism spans 47 years of volunteering and working for peace, conservation, health, music and the environment. Holding a BS in marketing and an MBA in finance, he brings astute knowledge of business to his work. Currently, he is Development Director for AfricaASAP, an organization that is helping to save Elephants in Africa. He also serves on the Boards of Amazon Heart of Yoga, Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs, and EarthTones.

Adeline Cassin (Director and Secretary, member since 2015)

Adeline Cassin has dedicated her life to merging the art of storytelling with the power of technology to inspire the world about this magnificent planet we call home. Adeline has been an integral leader in the launches of CNN in Latin America, Discovery Kids, Home&Health, and Discovery Digital, educating and engaging millions with the fascinating world we live in. When taking a brief respite from dreaming up the next way to empower audiences into positive action as game changers for our collective future, Adeline can be found in the Amazon, where her heart resides.

Andrew Beath (Director, member since 1997)

Andrew is Founder and Executive Director of EarthWays Foundation, Founder and Board President of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE), and Author of Conscious Activism.

Mario Molina (Director, member since 2020)

Mario grew up in the highlands of Guatemala and has a deeply-rooted respect and relationship with the mountains and outdoor culture. He previously served as international director at The Climate Reality Project, where he designed the organization's climate leadership trainings and oversaw its post-Paris Agreement international strategy. He has spoken widely on climate policy including for the World Bank, IBM, the Mexican Senate, the Brazilian Forum on Climate Change, and various global stages.

Jade Begay (Director, member since 2020)

Jade Begay is a film director, narrative and communications strategist, and a climate and Indigenous rights activist and writer. Jade is also a facilitator and trainer in diversity and inclusion work. At the foundation of Jade's work is her life's purpose to support First Nation communities in restoring ecological balance and protecting their cultures. Her camera, her communications skills, and her passion for justice are her tools for amplifying Indigenous and marginalized people's voices and movements. Currently, Jade is the Creative Director at NDN Collective, an organization dedicated to building Indigenous Power.

Kenneth Greenstein (Director, member since 2015)

Ken has been an environmental and social justice activist for 35 years. As a tenant attorney with his San Francisco based firm Greenstein and McDonald, Ken has been assisting tenants for 20 years, and the firm has helped tenants secure an excess of $70 million. Ken was on the Board of Directors of International Rivers and the National Lawyers Guild and the Advisory Board for the Accountability Counsel. He is a former student body president at UC Santa Barbara.

Antonia Juhasz (Director, member since 2019)

Antonia is a leading energy analyst, author, and investigative journalist specializing in oil. An award-winning writer, her articles appear in Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Harper's Magazine, The Atlantic, CNN.com, The Nation, Ms., The Advocate, and many more. Antonia is the author of three books: Black Tide (2011), The Tyranny of Oil (2008), and The Bush Agenda (2006).
Follow Antonia on Twitter: @AntoniaJuhasz

Ahmed Rahim (Director, member since 2012)

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 filmmaker and photographer and made documentaries of impoverished areas and war zones across the world.

Peter Coyote (Honorary Board Member)

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