Staff and Board

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Amazon Watch Staff

Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director

Leila 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 the climate through grassroots organizing and international advocacy campaigns at Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network, Global Exchange, and Green Corps. 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 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 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

Moira Birss, Climate and Finance Director

Moira brings over fifteen years of human rights and social justice advocacy, campaigning, and field experience to her work at Amazon Watch. For six years prior to joining AW, Moira was the U.S. advocacy officer for Peace Brigades International – Colombia and spent two additional years in Colombia as a Human Rights Observer. She has worked on researching community-based models of alternative economies, advocating for affordable housing, and promoting environmental protection. Moira has a BA in Latin American Studies from the University of Michigan and an MA in International Relations from Tufts University. Moira serves on the board of the Latin American Working Group and Peace Brigades International's Colombia Program, and she organizes with Bay Resistance.
Follow Moira on Twitter: @moira_kb

Mariola Fernandez, Executive Assistant/Board Liaison

A native of Santiago, Chile, Mariola 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

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.
Follow Kevin on Twitter: @kevinmkoenig

Joseph Kolb, Controller

Joseph 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.

Sarah Koplowicz, Admin/Database Associate

Sarah brings more than twelve years of experience in database management and program administration to Amazon Watch including her work on zero-waste management and project development, green business consulting and certification, and large-scale special event production. With a B.A. in Religious Studies from UC Davis and a M.S. in Environmental Management from the University of San Francisco, Sarah is committed to working on the intersection of ecological sustainability and human rights advocacy by promoting environmental justice. She currently resides in Oakland with her cat and partner and spends her free time gardening.

Kathy LeMay, Director of Philanthropy

Kathy 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.

Pendle Marshall-Hallmark, Climate Campaigner

Pendle 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 Manager

Angela has three decades of activism and international field experience accompanying social 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, research, advocacy and capacity building.

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

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

Ada Recinos, Communications Manager

Ada 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

Katherine Rothschild, Development Associate

Katherine is a human rights and social justice professional. Prior to joining Amazon Watch she was living with the Shipibo-Konibo in the Ucayali Region of the Peruvian Amazon. She has also lived in Chile and Brazil and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and conversational in Shipibo-Konibo. She previously worked at PEN America where she produced the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. She holds a masters degree from the University of London.

Elena Maria Teare, Communications Associate

Elena 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 Manager

Ana Paula Vargas 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 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.

 

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

Peter Coyote (Honorary Board Member)

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