2023 Annual Report

A Message From Our Executive Director

Dear friends and supporters,

Your generosity and commitment enable us to advance our mission daily, by collaborating with our Indigenous partners to protect their rights and the rainforests they call home.

Despite ongoing crises in the Amazon and Central America in 2023—from record-breaking heat and flooding to severe fires that devastated an area the size of the state of Tennessee in Brazil—we remain hopeful. We are continually inspired by the tireless efforts of our Indigenous partners to protect their communities and combat climate change, with support from donors like you.

While of course no single organization can protect the Amazon on its own, I am both humbled and proud of the significant impact our work has had. Though our team is small, our impact is substantial. In 2023 alone, we partnered with over 200 communities and helped protect 19.5 million acres of forests (an area nearly the size of South Carolina). This success is rooted in our unwavering commitment to collaborating closely with our Indigenous partners, prioritizing their needs, and championing their rights—a mission we have upheld for the past 35 years.

Strategic Impact

The climate crisis and our efforts to fight it are nuanced and complex. For instance, a recent report indicated that deforestation rates—a significant driver of carbon emissions and fires—were down 42% in some parts of Brazil through most of 2023, marking a six-year low. Yet, despite this progress, fires continued to ravage the region. In fact, 26.4 million acres of Brazil’s Amazon were scorched in 2023, a 35.4% increase from the prior year. The bottom line is that healthy forests don’t burn. And Indigenous peoples are uniquely equipped to safeguard their rainforests. Therefore, protecting their rights isn’t just ethical, it’s essential.

A few highlights stand out from the past year, all of which you can read about in the following pages. In Guyana, we supported communities to advance titling efforts across 6.6 million acres, an area comparable to the size of Massachusetts. An innovative program in Peru resulted in 17 new land titles for 37 communities, protecting 105,000 acres—roughly twice the size of Washington, DC. This collaborative approach is an affordable, effective, and scalable climate solution to the climate crisis.

We launched a groundbreaking paralegal training program in Guyana to ensure Indigenous communities are well-informed about their rights. Our Tech Camps in the Peruvian Amazon, supported by the U.S. Embassy, scaled up community-led conservation strategies and showcased new technologies derived from Indigenous science.

We continued our support for the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC), representing 35 million Indigenous peoples from 24 countries and who collectively defend over 2.3 billion acres of their lands.

Renewed Determination 

With your continued support, we have ambitious plans to advance our work in our three strategic priorities: land rights, territorial protection, and strengthening organizations. 

We are expanding our programs in Brazil, broadening our efforts in the state of Roraima and the Xingu region. Deforestation outside these lands has shot up in recent years, so we are working closely with Indigenous organizations on developing integrated monitoring programs focused on addressing these drivers of deforestation and building our partners’ organizational capacities.  

In Peru, where Indigenous peoples have been fighting for legal ownership of their ancestral lands for decades, we are supporting Indigenous federations in scaling up their efforts to secure land titles for their communities. These titles safeguard their cultural heritage, enable them to defend their territories better, and pave the way for their future security, autonomy, and sustainability. 

Our team members continue to advance our institutional strengthening programs, working closely with partner organizations to enhance their capacities in governance, administration, management, communications, and advocacy, by providing strategy, resource development, and on-the-ground support. 

None of this would be possible without our donors. On behalf of everyone at Rainforest Foundation US, thank you for your generosity, passion, and commitment to our cause. Together, we are making a difference, one tree, one community, and one step at a time.

With gratitude and hope for the future,

Suzanne Pelletier

Suzanne Pelletier
Executive Director
Rainforest Foundation US

Impact at a Glance

0 M

Acres of rainforests monitored and protected through Indigenous-led monitoring programs

0 +

Indigenous and local communities supported in the Amazon and Central America

0 M

Acres of lands rights advanced and protected through mapping of community boundaries and development of land management plans

Map in Numbers

Central America & Mexico

26 Communities Served
$593,200 in Direct Finance Secured


12.2 Million Acres Monitored
6.6 Million Acres Land Rights Advanced


10 Communities Served
4.1 Million Acres Monitored


80 Communities Served
1.86 Million Acres Monitored
8,006 Acres Land Rights Advanced 
105,000 Acres Titled


$828,300 in Direct Finance Secured


43 Communities Served
1.6 Million Acres Land Rights Advanced

Our Mission

The mission of Rainforest Foundation US is to support Indigenous and traditional peoples of the world’s rainforests in their efforts to protect their environment and uphold rights by assisting them in: 

How We Work

Three strategic priorities guide our work to support our Indigenous partners in protecting their rights and their rainforests:

Land Rights

Mounting evidence shows what we’ve known since our founding—that rainforests protected by Indigenous peoples are healthier and store more carbon than even national parks. But without legal recognition of their lands, it’s difficult for Indigenous peoples to safeguard their forests. Protecting Indigenous peoples’ land rights is not only ethical, but also imperative to protecting rainforests, our climate, and ultimately, our planet.

Rainforest Protection

Deforestation is a major driver of the climate crisis. In fact, it’s the second leading cause of carbon emissions, and it’s a key factor pushing the planet to an ecological tipping point. Through our territorial monitoring work, we provide the tools, training, technology, and resources necessary for Indigenous communities to curb illegal deforestation in their rainforests.

Strengthening Communities

Organizations with strong governance and administration are better able to manage and protect their forests. They’re also better able to receive and manage direct global funding to continue the essential work they have always done to safeguard forests. Our institutional strengthening programs ensure Indigenous peoples and local communities and their organizations are resilient, sustainable, and better able to manage and defend their forests—and their rights. 

2023 Highlights From Our Three Strategic Priorities

Land Rights: Legal, Technical, & Advocacy Support

If we don’t know our own borders, how can we know what we are defending? Many loggers take advantage of communities without land titles and, what’s more, we have seen deforestation rates drop when a community gains legal title.
Roni Da Silva
Roni Da Silva
Ticuna Community Forest Monitor Trainer with the Federation of Ticuna and Yahuas Communities of Bajo Amazonas (FECOTYBA)

Supported Indigenous Communities’ Land Titling Efforts across 10.9 Million Acres of Rainforest in the Amazon and Central America

Land titling is a complex process throughout Central and South America. It can require surveying and mapping vast and remote territories, obtaining and advocating for requisite government approvals and registrations, engaging with neighboring communities to clarify or negotiate boundaries, and enlisting legal representation. All of this can take many years, but it is always worth it in the end: Land titles are the most powerful tool an Indigenous community can have to defend their forests against illegal deforestation

Historic Land Rights Success in Peru 

Through our partnership with a national federation of Indigenous peoples in the Peruvian Amazon (the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest or AIDESEP), we helped secure a historic 17 land titles in Peru. Communities received title to their lands in record time due to this strategic partnership, which employed a new methodology that streamlined the titling process. As part of this process, AIDESEP entered into a four-year agreement with the regional government of Loreto, which has agreed to contract the necessary soil specialists, lawyers, and Geographic Information System (GIS) specialists to join Indigenous communities’ titling teams funded and equipped by RFUS. This collective approach not only sped up the process but also helped resolve internal disputes between communities and enabled them to present a united front in negotiations with the Peruvian government. Because of this grassroots approach, communities received these titles in 10 months, a process that normally takes years or even decades due to the complex and bureaucratic nature of the land titling process in Peru. It’s an inexpensive and scalable solution that AIDESEP and RFUS plan to implement throughout the region.

Land Titles Advanced For 6.6 Million Acres in Guyana

Throughout 2023, RFUS worked closely with Indigenous organizations in Guyana—one of the most densely forested countries in the Amazon—to advance conservation management plans for three critical ecosystems within Guyana. These areas are outside of currently titled Indigenous lands, and as such, they are particularly vulnerable to threats. These plans represent steps towards Indigenous peoples having increased control of these regions.

Together, we developed conservation management plans in partnership with district councils by documenting the traditional customary use of these areas, establishing visions, strategies, and rules around the use of resources, and supporting efforts to gain legal title for these lands. The management plans confer additional justification for 12 land title requests and advance protection of nearly 6.6 million acres of untitled traditional lands, an area close in size to the state of Massachusetts.

Rainforest Protection: An Integrated Approach

Combined New Technology With Indigenous Knowledge to Monitor and Protect 19.5 Million Acres of Rainforest

Deforestation is the second leading cause of carbon emissions—reinforcing why it is critical to provide Indigenous peoples on the frontlines of forest protection with the tools, training, and resources to monitor and safeguard their forests. With our partners, we brought together 70 participants—Indigenous partners from across the Amazon basin, US organizations, government officials, including the US Embassy in Peru, and academics—for two “tech camps” in 2023. These trainings were designed to scale up Indigenous-led conservation strategies and showcase new technologies that can be used by Indigenous partners to protect their rainforests. 

Two particularly exciting and innovative technologies presented by allies included a World Forest ID sampling system and the Mapbuilder Tool. World Forest ID is a technology through which tree samples are entered into a catalog to help trace the origin of wood through DNA and chemical analysis. This will enable people around the world to purchase wood products responsibly and governments to prosecute illegal logging activity more effectively. The Mapbuilder tool is a powerful software that allows Indigenous communities to turn their spatial data and imagery from geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing technologies into an immersive story with interactive maps.

As a result of these gatherings, three Indigenous organizations were equipped with data visualization tools to champion forest defense; forest monitors from Sumac Allpa and San Fernando communities received specialized training to become forestry sample collectors; and 15 new alliances were forged between Indigenous communities, donors, and academic institutions who now have defined roadmaps to protect their forests.

The contribution of Indigenous peoples to science is crucial for understanding forested lands as well as the traceability and origin of timber—this knowledge reduces the risks of illegal logging.
Rolando Rodriguez Arevalo
Rolando Rodriguez Arevalo
RFUS Technology Transfer Specialist and technical advisor to the Regional Organization of Eastern Indigenous Peoples (ORPIO)

Built and Expanded Data Hubs to Enable Real-Time Rainforest Monitoring in Peru

Rainforest Foundation US significantly advanced rainforest protection efforts by enhancing the data monitoring infrastructure of Indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon. Working alongside the Organization of the Indigenous Peoples of the Eastern Amazon (ORPIO) in Loreto and the Regional Organization of AIDESEP in Ucayali (ORAU), RFUS upgraded two regional data hubs that we helped establish several years ago through our Rainforest Alert program, and we established two new smaller local hubs. These data hubs are essential for centralizing data management and enhancing decision-making, optimizing the allocation of funds, and prioritizing areas for intervention based on real-time data analysis. 

This expansion has broadened monitoring coverage, which strengthens regional rainforest protection capabilities through improved infrastructure and targeted training in geospatial technologies. This network of 64 Indigenous communities of the Kichwa and Huitoto peoples now monitors their territories and helps protect nearly five million acres of forest adjacent to their communities as well. And through a successful ‘train the trainer’ program, RFUS trained Indigenous leaders to use advanced geospatial tools like the Global Forest Watch platform to identify deforestation in real-time. These trainings had the added benefit of enabling trainers to pass these forest monitoring skills on to other local communities.

Strengthening Indigenous Organizations: Investing in the Future

Provided Legal Training for Rainforest Defense and Advocacy

With strategic guidance and financial support from RFUS, our partners at the South Rupununi District Council in southwestern Guyana launched a pilot program to train a team of 10 community paralegals. These Indigenous paralegals—experts in the local context and culture—serve as grassroots legal advocates who understand and use the law to defend their rights. These paralegals fill a vital role in providing legal access to Indigenous communities in remote regions whose interests are often impacted by government decisions, but who are rarely included in the decision-making process. Specifically, the 10 trained paralegals rotate through 21 communities to build community capacity around legal issues, including the reform of the Amerindian Act, and engagement with carbon markets.

Rainforest Foundation US was there at the beginning, when the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities began to build its governance, and they continue alongside us as a key player and our fiscal sponsor.
Juan Carlos Jintiach
Juan Carlos Jintiach
A leader from the Shuar people in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Executive Secretary of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC), and shortlisted for a 2023 Nobel Peace Prize

Supported Indigenous Organizations to Build Strong Foundations and Reach New Heights

Direct Financing, Development, & Administrative Capacity

Historically, Indigenous organizations and communities have received less than 1% of climate-related funding, despite the fact that more than one-third of the world’s remaining pristine forests are on Indigenous peoples’ lands and deforestation is responsible for as much as 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions each year, contributing significantly to climate change. 

RFUS is working to ensure more funding goes directly to Indigenous organizations on the frontlines of forest protection. RFUS supported the fundraising efforts of our Indigenous partner organization, the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC), helping them increase their annual revenue by over 175% in 2023. These additional funds were critical to helping GATC build out the vision for their Shandia platform, which connects donors and Indigenous-led funding mechanisms that serve frontline communities. In addition to helping them access direct funding, we supported GATC in developing strategic plans and priorities and strengthening administration and financial capacities for their member organizations to enable them to better advocate for their rights. We provided logistical, technical, and administrative support for GATC members to participate in and present at numerous global events such as New York Climate Week and COP 28 in Dubai, as well as national and regional events. As a result of participating in these high-profile events, they were able to showcase their Indigenous-led financing mechanisms and advocate with global leaders about issues confronting their constituents. The GATC represents 35 million people living in forest territories within 24 countries, and together they defend over 2 billion acres of land.

On a regional scale, in collaboration with partners throughout Central America and parts of the Amazon, we held several in-person workshops on governance, administration, and financial management to support Indigenous organizations in strengthening their ability to protect their forests and rights and to receive and manage international funding. These workshops increase the impact, sustainability, and resilience of Indigenous organizations when facing challenges and their ability to secure funding to implement their initiatives. For example, in partnership with local Indigenous-led organization GeoIndigena, RFUS held a five-day workshop in the Guna Yala region of Panama where we engaged 12 local Indigenous representative organizations and the national Indigenous coordination (COONAPIP). The workshop covered topics such as strategic planning, project development, and fundraising, and each organization developed its own project proposal to submit to potential funders.  

During the three-day training, we saw tons of progress. We used to go out and monitor [our territories] without knowing how to record or take pictures, but now it will be easier.
Beria Macedo Macedo
Beria Macedo Macedo
A community forest patroller in the Ticuna Indigenous community of Santa Rosa del Caño and participant in RFUS’s  community journalism workshops

Using Community Journalism Skills To Advance Rainforest Monitoring

RFUS held a series of workshops in 12 remote Amazonian communities over the course of nine months in 2023 in coordination with ORPIO, audiovisual production company Sachacine, and four local Indigenous federations. These workshops, led by Indigenous trainers, highlighted Indigenous projects, issues, and solutions and fostered an interactive, egalitarian learning environment. This unique approach establishes a platform where tech firms and Indigenous communities collaborate as equals, each contributing to solutions for forest protection. In total, 188 community forest patrollers participated in the training on how to use drones and camera phones to document deforestation in very remote parts of Peru, and many were supplied with microphones and tripods. This form of visual documentation provides important details that can support legal action against deforestation claims. 

Disaster Risk Management 

It’s well documented that the people who live closest to and rely most on nature are most impacted by the climate crisis. As natural disasters such as flooding, fires, and drought become more frequent across Central and South America, RFUS has expanded its capacity-building programming to encompass community disaster risk management. 

In 2023, RFUS partnered with the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB)—an alliance of 10 Indigenous and local community organizations representing over 50,000 people across six countries in Central America and Mexico—and the Mesoamerican Leadership School to promote community resilience in the face of natural disasters. Supported by a three-year, $2 million grant from USAID, the “B’atz program” brought together youth and community leaders from diverse organizations and communities along with experts in risk management. Through interactive sessions and practical exercises, participants shared experiences and emphasized the importance of collaboration in developing effective disaster response strategies. Notably, the project surpassed its goal by initially training 196 individuals, with a strong emphasis on women and youth. Ultimately, 25 communities in Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico developed and validated Disaster Risk Management Plans, and they are beginning to implement them through advocacy and engagement with local government officials.

Indigenous Partners

Partners in Brazil

CIR – Conselho Indígena de Roraima

Hutukara Associação Yanomami

APIB – Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil

Seduume Ye’kwana Association

AIWA – Associação Indigena Wai Wai da Amazonia

APIWX – Associação Indigena Wai Wai de Xaary

ISA – Instituto Socioambiental

ATIX – Associação Terra Indigena do Xingu

Partners in Guyana

APA – Amerindian Peoples Association

SRDC – South Rupununi District Council

NPDC – North Pakaraimas District Council

UMDC – Upper Mazaruni District Council

MDC – Moruca District Council

Partners in Peru

AIDESEP – Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana

ORPIO – Organización Regional de los Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente

ORAU – Organización Regional Aidesep Ucayali

FECOTYBA – Federación de Comunidades Ticunas y Yaguas del Bajo Amazonas

FECONAMNCUA – Federación de Comunidades Nativas del Medio Napo, Curaray y Arabela

ORKIWAN – Organización Kichwaruna Wangurina del Alto Napo

FECONATIYA – Federación de Comunidades Nativas Ticunas y Yaguas

FEPYRA – Federación de Pueblos Yaguas del Río Apayacu

Saweto-Alto Tamaya

Partners in Ecuador

Pueblo Originario Kichwa de Sarayaku

Board of Directors

John W. Copeland
Managing Partner, Wealth Partners Capital Group, LLC

S. Todd Crider, Esq.
Vice Chair
Partner, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP; Member Executive Committee (founding Chair), The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice

Brett Odom
Retired Finance Executive

Jenny Springer
Director, Global Program on Governance & Rights at IUCN

Becky Yang
Founder, Lin Lane; Partner, The Fund

Steven Kemler
Principal & Managing Director, Stone Arch Group

Christian Lelong
Director, Natural Resources at Kayrros

S. James Anaya, J.D.
Distinguished Professor & the Nicholas Doman Professor of International Law, University of Colorado Law School

Our Vision

A world where the rights of Indigenous peoples are respected and rainforests flourish.

Revenues & Expenses

Your support has helped to strengthen Indigenous peoples’ organizations in their capacity to fight deforestation, the effects of climate change, and the systemic violation of their rights. RFUS and our partners couldn’t make such a substantial impact without you. Thank you!

2023 Revenue & Support

Pie chart showing 28% Individual Contributions, 62% Foundations & Other Orgs, 8% Government Grants, and 2% Other Income; total $8,756,439

2023 Expenses

Pie chart showing 81% Programs, 11% Fundraising, and 8% Administration; total $9,740,283
Assets 2022 2023
Net Start of Year $5,513,142 $7,747,941
Change in Net $2,234,799 $(360,953)
Net End of Year $7,747,941 $7,386,988

All financial figures past and present can be found on Rainforest Foundation US’s fiscal year 990 filings on our Financials & Transparency page.

Rainforest Foundation US is committed to the highest standards of moral and ethical behavior and employs specific practices to combat the risk of financial irregularities. RFUS policy requires internal controls to prevent financial irregularities, including authorization, segregation of duties, reconciliation, monitoring, and safeguarding of assets in accordance with best practices. Additionally, all RFUS employees are encouraged to report any known or suspected financial irregularities, and have access to do so anonymously as outlined in our whistleblower policy.

Thank You for Supporting Our Work

Together We Are Creating a More Sustainable Future for Generations to Come

John Copeland

John Copeland
Managing Partner, Wealth Partners Capital Group, LLC

John is Managing Partner of Wealth Partners Capital Group, LLC, which provides capital and strategic support to Registered Investment Advisor firms. Formerly, John was President of AMG Wealth Partners, and served in leadership roles prior to that at Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse First Boston and Goldman, Sachs & Co. John holds Bachelors’ degrees in Economics and English Literature from Georgetown University, a Master’s in Management from the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.

As a child of the ‘70s, John remembers celebrating the first Earth Day. He has been involved in various environmental causes for over 30 years. John has been a RFUS board member since 2009, and is particularly devoted to RFUS given the team’s efficiency and intense commitment.

S. Todd Crider, Esq.

S. Todd Crider, Esq.
Vice Chair
Partner, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP; Member Executive Committee (founding Chair), The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice

As Head of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s Latin America Practice, Todd advises clients in international corporate finance transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and project finance. A leader in pro-bono practice, he is a member of the governing body and executive committee of the Cyrus R. Vance Center of International Justice, where he was founding chair. He also serves as the Vance Center representative to the boards of the Pro Bono Network of the Americas (Red Pro Bono de las Américas) and the Lawyers Council for Civil and Economic Rights of the Americas. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Howard College of Arts & Sciences at Samford University, the board of directors of the Council of the Americas and the board of directors of Equitable Origin. He has acted as counsel to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the context of the Awas Tingni case, an important precedent-setting case related to property rights of indigenous peoples under international law. Todd holds a Bachelor’s in International Relations from Samford University, a License d’histoire from Université de Paris IV Sorbonne, and a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School.

Todd came to issues related to indigenous peoples rights almost three decades ago. As a young lawyer, he represented the Awas Tingni community in Nicaragua in negotiations with the Nicaraguan government and a lumber company. The experience introduced him to the intersection of environmental concerns and human rights, which defines the work of Rainforest Foundation US. Todd has served on RFUS’s board since 2007. He firmly believes that supporting indigenous peoples to protect their rainforests is the most cost-effective solution to forest degradation, deforestation, and related climate change.

Brett Odom

Brett Odom
Retired Finance Executive

As Deputy Chief Compliance Officer for Partner Fund Management, L.P. from 2016 to 2019, Brett ensured the firm met national and international regulations. Formerly, he held leadership roles at Kingdon Capital Management, L.L.C., PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Brett is also a dedicated volunteer, having worked for several years at Animal Haven, where he prepared dogs for adoption. Now retired, he currently volunteers at Sea Turtle Oversight Protection, an NGO dedicated to rescuing disoriented sea turtle hatchlings in coordination with local and state authorities. He earned his Bachelor’s in Accounting from Millsaps College and uses his background in accounting and finance to serve as the Treasurer of Rainforest Foundation US. Brett is dedicated to environmental causes and ensuring that the indigenous populations of Central and South America are entitled to own and manage their own land.

Jenny Springer

Jenny Springer
Director of Equator Group

Jenny Springer is Director of Equator Group, an independent advisory service. For more than 20 years, she has worked to advance rights-based and community-led approaches to conservation, Indigenous and community land rights and community-led climate action. Her previous roles include serving as Director of IUCN’s Global Program on Governance and Rights, Chair of the IUCN CEESP theme on Governance, Equity and Rights, Director of Global Programs at the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and Senior Director for People and Conservation at WWF-US. Across these diverse roles she has led programs supporting Indigenous and community-led conservation, analytical work demonstrating how secure community land rights contribute to global development goals and diverse collaborations on rights-based approaches to the environment. She conducted anthropological field research on community resource governance in South India and the Philippines, served in the Peace Corps in Ifugao (Philippines), and holds degrees from Harvard College and the University of Chicago.

Becky Yang

Becky Yang
Founder, Lin Lane; Partner, The Fund

Becky is the founder of Lin Lane, an advisory and investment firm focused on early stage companies. She is also currently working as Partner at The Fund, a platform of founders and operators investing in the next generation of local entrepreneurs. Before joining The Fund, she worked in global expansion and business development at WeWork, and later served as the Global Director of Growth and Community at Summit. She holds a Bachelor’s from Vanderbilt University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Columbia University.

Becky brings with her over a decade of public and private sector partnerships and fundraising work, including at the Clinton Foundation and Avantage Ventures, which focuses on impact investing. She is committed to aligning these skills with her deep interests in climate change and biodiversity to advance Rainforest Foundation US’s mission.

Steve Kemler

Steven Kemler
Principal & Managing Director, Stone Arch Group

Steve is an entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. He is the Principal of the Stone Arch Group, a private investment firm that funds single and multi-family real estate opportunities and growth stage companies. Steve and Stone Arch also support organizations committed to climate change mitigation, rainforest preservation, education, children’s health, and the arts. Between 2005 and 2016, he was the Co-Founder and CEO of Group of Health Care Training Companies, which built and operated five healthcare training organizations. Formerly, he served as the Managing Director of Fastwired, and as the CEO and Owner of Human-i-Tees. Steve holds a Bachelor’s in Economics from Trinity College-Hartford and a Certificate in Organizational Design for Digital Transformation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management.

In addition to running various businesses, Steve has been involved in environmental advocacy and forest preservation for over twenty years. He is committed to utilizing this experience in helping Rainforest Foundation US effectively fulfill its mission.

Christian Lelong

Christian Lelong
Director of Natural Resources, Kayrros

With more than 20 years of experience working in the natural resources, technology and financial service sectors, Christian leads the development of environmental services based on satellite imagery and advanced analytics at Kayrros. Formerly, he played leadership roles at Goldman Sachs and BHP. Christian started his career as a software engineer and holds a Master’s of Business Administration from INSEAD.

Christian supports the RFUS team by analyzing the risks presented by extractive industries, and finding ways in which indigenous communities can use new technologies to protect their lands and livelihoods. Christian’s life-long devotion to environment issues and interest in supporting indigenous peoples stem from his childhood in Mexico.

S. James Anaya, JD

S. James Anaya, J.D.
Distinguished Professor & the Nicholas Doman Professor of International Law, University of Colorado Law School

S. James Anaya is a University Distinguished Professor and the Nicholas Doman Professor of International Law at the University of Colorado Law School (USA), where he teaches and writes in the areas of international human rights and issues concerning indigenous peoples. Professor Anaya is a graduate of the University of New Mexico (B.A. in Economics, 1980) and Harvard Law School (J.D., 1983).  Among his numerous publications is his acclaimed book, Indigenous Peoples in International Law (Oxford Univ. Press, 1996, 2d. ed. 2004) and his widely-used co-authored textbook, International Human Rights: Problems of Law, Policy and Practice (Aspen, 6th ed. 2016) (with Hurst Hannum and Dinah Shelton).

Professor Anaya served as the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples from 2008 to 2014. In that capacity, he examined and reported on conditions of indigenous peoples worldwide and responded to allegations of human rights violations against them, including through country visits and direct contacts with governments.  In addition, Professor Anaya has litigated major indigenous rights and human rights cases in domestic and international tribunals, including the United States Supreme Court and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Among his noteworthy activities, he participated in the drafting of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and was the lead counsel for the indigenous parties in the case of Awas Tingni v. Nicaragua, in which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for the first time upheld indigenous land rights as a matter of international law.


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Didier Devers
Chief of Party – USAID Guatemala

Didier has been coordinating the USAID-funded B’atz project since joining Rainforest Foundation US in April 2022. He holds a Master’s in Applied Anthropology and a Bachelor’s in Geography. Before joining the organization, Didier worked for 12 years in Central and South America on issues of transparency, legality, governance, and managing stakeholders’ processes in the environmental sector. Prior to that he worked on similar issues in Central Africa. He speaks French, Spanish, and English, and is based in Guatemala.