Team

Meet the experts who make up our team!

Management And Administration

Suzanne Pelletier
Executive Director

Luz Del Alba Sánchez
Operations Manager

Elizabeth Dechant
Grant Accountant

Julia Sperry
Bookkeeper

Programs

Christine Halvorson
Program Director

Josh Lichtenstein
Program Manager

Cameron Ellis
Senior Geographer

Maryka Ives Paquette
Program Advisor

Laura Piccoli
Program Coordinator

Peru Program

Margoth Quispe
Legal & Policy Analyst

Wendy Pineda
Project Coordinator

Plinio Pizango Hualinga
Policy Analyst & Capacity Building Specialist

Daniela Anazgo
Administrative and
Logistics Coordinator

Andrea Tirado
Communications Coordinator

Jaime Cardenas
Loreto Information Coordinator

Kathya Castillo
Social Specialist and
Project Facilitator

Henry Harrison
Assistant Coordinator

Astrid Ramirez Perez
Regional Coordinator

Development

Kim Chaix
Director of Strategic Impact

Marina Zelle
Head of Donor Relationships

Viviana Briseño Márquez
Development Operations Manager

Jessica Rogers
Institutional Giving Manager

Sophia Rokhlin
Engagement Associate

Sofiya Krasotina
Development Assistant

Ziv Stern
Development Assistant

Jeremy Kundtz
Environmental Education Intern

Communications

Beth Duncan
Senior Communications Manager

Adam Janos
Writer and Editorial Manager

Olivia Ferrari
Communications Associate

Karen Osorio
Communications Associate

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Suzanne Pelletier has served as the Executive Director of the Rainforest Foundation US since April 2009. Formerly, Suzanne was the Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the National Audubon Society. Suzanne holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Columbia Business School and a Master’s of Environmental Studies from the Yale School of Forestry.

Luz del Alba Sanchez

Luz Del Alba Sánchez
Operations Manager
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Luz del Alba Sánchez manages Rainforest Foundation US’s administrative and operational systems, bringing over 10 years of experience in nonprofit operations and finance. Born and raised in Queens, NY to Dominican immigrant parents, Luz del Alba is passionate about improving the lives and opportunities for marginalized communities in and outside of the US. Luz del Alba holds a Master’s in Nonprofit Management with specializations in Leadership & Change as well as Gender & Sexuality Studies from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School. She is fluent in Spanish.

As RFUS’s Grant Accountant, Elizabeth looks forward to applying her accounting and grants management expertise to further the goals of Rainforest Foundation US. She has 15 years’ experience in accounting in various industries, including 5 years of fiscal management for government contracts, from budget proposal through closeout and audit. Elizabeth is a certified public accountant (CPA), and has a Master’s in Accountancy from DePaul University. She is fluent in English and Spanish.

Julia Sperry is responsible for performing all aspects of day-to-day bookkeeping, and assists the operations manager in upholding RFUS’s policies, procedures, and grant requirements to ensure the integrity of all financial systems. She has more than 10 years’ experience working with a national CPA firm, where she gained an appreciation for the importance of teamwork, trust, and reliability. Prior to working in the accounting field and becoming a certified bookkeeper, Julia spent more than 15 years working for national parks and natural history museums across the United States, where she specialized in paleontological and geologic exhibits and field research. She lives with her husband in Montana and enjoys skiing, hiking, and gardening in addition to spending time with family and friends.

Christine Halvorson oversees Rainforest Foundation US’s partnerships in Brazil, Guyana and Panama and brings extensive expertise in institutional strengthening, land management planning and titling, policy and campaigning. Prior to joining RFUS in 1999, she was a director of Amanaka’a Amazon Network. She has worked on issues connecting the environment and social justice for nearly thirty years, both in the Amazon as well as locally in New York City where she serves on the board of ABC No Rio, a cultural center in the Lower East Side. She holds a Master’s in Anthropology from The New School for Social Research. She is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish and also speaks rusty French.

Josh Lichtenstein provides policy, negotiation and management guidance to Rainforest Foundation US’s Panama and Guyana programs. Josh has been a rights and environment activist for almost thirty years, working with community, indigenous, women, farmer and conservation grassroots organizations and NGOs to advance their initiatives in both the US and internationally. Prior to joining RFUS, he served as the Latin America and Forest Program Manager and then as Campaign Director at the DC-based Bank Information Center, where he was also one of the CSO Observers to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Josh holds a Master’s in International Economics from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and is fluent in Spanish.

Cameron Ellis manages mapping and field operations for Rainforest Foundation US’s work in Central America and the Guiana Shield. He is also a skilled multimedia artist. Cameron has been working with indigenous communities for over fifteen years, supporting them to map, manage, articulate and advocate their own vision for a prosperous and sustainable future. Cameron has a Master’s in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico and is fluent in Spanish.

Maryka Ives Paquette provides strategic and operational advising in support of Rainforest Foundation US’s programs and facilitates government engagement and special initiatives. She brings to this role over 10 years’ experience, including five years at the UN, advancing climate, forest, and development policy with particular focus on indigenous peoples’ rights, advocacy, and engagement. She holds a Master’s of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy with a focus on indigenous peoples’ rights from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs as well as a Master’s in Indigenous Mind. She speaks Spanish, rusty Italian and is learning French.

Laura coordinates Rainforest Foundation US’s grant reporting and institutional metrics. She joined the organization as an intern in May 2020, and worked with the communications team before transitioning to programs. She holds a Master’s in Global Affairs from New York University, with a concentration in Energy and Environment Policy and a specialization in Data Analysis. Before pursuing her Master’s, Laura earned her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is an associate member of The Rude Grooms, a Queens-based theater company that brings free and low-cost productions of Shakespeare to underserved communities. She is eagerly working on her Spanish.

Margoth Quispe

Margoth Quispe
Legal & Policy Analyst
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Margoth Quispe works as a liaison with governmental agencies and counsels indigenous communities on applying for land titles. Since 2014, Margoth has represented the indigenous Ashaninka community of Saweto in their active murder prosecutions of prominent indigenous leaders and to obtain the legal title to nearly 81,000 hectares of their ancestral land. Margoth is a trained human rights lawyer and formerly served as the Human Rights Ombudsman in the eastern Amazonian Department of Ucayali. She is a native Spanish language speaker.

Wendy Pineda is a territorial management tools specialist using Geographical Information Systems (GIS), mapping, geographic and environmental engineering, satellite remote sensing and project management techniques to create participatory tools and training methodologies for communities working to protect and manage their ancestral lands. Since 2007, she has collaborated with many indigenous peoples’ organizations in the Peruvian Amazon on community monitoring, ethno mapping and technology transfer initiatives. She is a native Spanish language speaker.

Plinio Pizango Hualinga

Plinio Pizango Hualinga
Policy Analyst & Capacity Building Specialist
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Plinio Pizango Hualinga is an indigenous Kampu Piyawi specialized in training communities on strategies and policies to protect their forests against deforestation and securing climate change mitigation resources. Previously, he worked with AIDESEP, a national indigenous peoples’ organization providing technical advising and analysis on forest and climate change policy. Plinio holds a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a specialization in Public Policy focusing on climate change mitigation and adaptation from the National University of San Marcos. He is a native Spanish language speaker.

Daniela Anazgo

Daniela Anazgo
Administrative and Logistics Coordinator
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Daniela supports the overall administration and financial and operational management of Rainforest Foundation US’s work in Peru, with a recent focus on supporting the program’s COVID-19 response. Prior to joining Rainforest Foundation, Daniela was a supervisor at the Casa Andina hotel network in Peru, providing staff and management oversight of large teams. She holds a Master’s in Business Management from the Universidad San Martin De Porres. She is a native Spanish language speaker and is proficient in English.

Andrea Tirado

Andrea Tirado
Communications Coordinator
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Andrea supports communications and logistics across a broad range of projects for the Peru program. Andrea previously worked in private and public organizations since 2014, including the Canadian Embassy in Peru, Canadian Commercial Corporation, and El Dorado Investments. She is dedicated to elevating the voices and messages of Peru’s indigenous peoples and organizations. She holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the Universidad del Pacífico and a Certificate in International Business Management from Greystone College. She is a native Spanish language speaker and is fluent in English and French.

Jaime Cardenas
Loreto Information Coordinator
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Jaime works directly with the Organization of the Indigneous People of the Eastern Amazon (ORPIO) and indigenous communities in Loreto to systematize and manage data on environmental crimes to support community-led reforestation projects. Jaime holds a degree in Tropical Forest Ecology from the Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana (UNAP) in Peru. He is a native Spanish language speaker and is also fluent in Portuguese.

Kathya Castillo

Kathya Castillo
Social Specialist and Project Facilitator
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Kathya is a Social Specialist and Project Facilitator, working to implement projects with a focus on gender, social inclusion, and interculturality. She brings experience with artisan cooperatives, economic alternatives, women’s empowerment, and indigenous autonomy in the Peruvian Amazon. She holds a Bachelor’s in Anthropology from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. She speaks Spanish and basic English.

Henry is supporting the scale up planning of Rainforest Alert within Peru. Previously, he worked for four years with the National Parks service of Peru identifying and developing sustainable financing opportunities for Peruvian Protected Areas and local community allies. Working with indigenous communities in the Amazon and supporting their autonomy and sustainable economic development is incredibly important to Henry, and he feels privileged and humbled to be working with Rainforest Foundation US to achieve that. Henry received his Bachelor’s in Economics from Willamette University, where he found his passion for international development. He is a native English speaker who is also fluent in Spanish.

Astrid Ramirez Perez

Astrid Ramirez Perez
Regional Coordinator
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Astrid co-leads local implementation of Rainforest Foundation US’s initiatives in partnership with indigenous partners in the Ucayali region of Peru. Previously, she worked for the Environmental Assessment and Enforcement Agency (OEFA) and as a health and safety supervisor for private businesses in the country. Astrid sees the role of indigenous communities in forest protection as crucial not only for climate change mitigation, but also for sustaining their worldview. Astrid holds a Bachelor’s in Environmental Engineering, and a Master’s in Environment, Sustainable Development, and Social Responsibility from the National University of Ucayali. She also holds a certificate in Environmental Auditing and Inspection from the College of Engineers of Peru – Ucayali. Astrid speaks Spanish, basic English, and basic Quechua Chanka.

Kim Chaix

Kim Chaix
Director of Strategic Impact
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Kim oversees key aspects of the organization’s fundraising, and communications activities and spearheads strategic partnerships and new initiatives. Previously, Kim served as the Director of Virunga Fund, a US non-profit dedicated to the protection of Africa’s oldest and most biologically diverse national park. He also founded The Charcoal Project, a non-profit dedicated to bringing better biomass fuels and technologies to populations that depend on wood and traditional charcoal in sub-Saharan Africa. Kim’s first career was as a television news producer and wildlife documentary film-maker. As a French-Nicaraguan, Kim is a native Spanish and French speaker.

Marina Zelle

Marina Zelle
Head of Donor Relationships
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Marina Zelle ensures that Rainforest Foundation US’s donors are connected and engaged with the organization’s programming, and that programming is aligned with donors’ interests. Marina was first introduced to the organization in 2012 as a donor herself after a visit to the Amazon. She believes the climate crisis is the most urgent global problem we are collectively facing today and that RFUS’s work is a logical approach to protecting forests in a way that respects the people and wisdom that they hold. Marina has an entrepreneurial background and has founded several companies, including a matchmaking service in NYC. Her passions lie in exploring consciousness, music and art, and she lives in Brooklyn with her pets.

Viviana Briseno Marquez

Viviana Briseño Márquez
Development Operations Manager
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Viviana Briseño Márquez manages the planning and operational optimization of Rainforest Foundation US’s fundraising efforts. A passionate visual communicator and committed animal rights activist, she co-founded the Fundación de Protección Animal (FUPA), a Mexican organization committed to animal welfare, where she volunteers as a digital consultant. She holds a Master’s in Conservation and Education from Miami University. Born and raised in Mexico, she is a native Spanish speaker and is learning German.

Jessica Rogers

Jessica Rogers
Institutional Giving Manager
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Jessica manages institutional giving relationships for Rainforest Foundation US, connecting with foundation and corporate partners to elevate and expand the organization’s critical work in Central and South America. She brings nearly 10 years of nonprofit experience to the role, including work advancing equitable workforce development, food and health care access, and voting rights. She holds a Master’s of Public Administration from American University and lives in Rhode Island.

Sophia Rokhlin facilitates community engagement at Rainforest Foundation US, connecting purpose-driven businesses and individuals to the critical mission of protecting the world’s tropical forests and their human cultures. Sophia has lived and worked in the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon, partnering with NGOs and grassroots organizations on regenerative agriculture programs and indigenous peoples’ rights campaigns. She holds a Master’s in Ecological Economics from the University of Barcelona-ICTA, and is a co-author of When Plants Dream (Watkins, 2019) on the global popularity of Amazonian plant medicines. Sophia is an amateur ethnobotanist and an avid bird watcher. She speaks fluent Spanish, dusty French, and rusty Portuguese.

Sofiya Krasotina

Sofiya Krasotina
Development Assistant
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Sofiya supports Rainforest Foundation US’s general fundraising operations, data collection and analysis, as well as assisting with various special projects. As a trained early childhood educator and an independent filmmaker, Sofiya is passionate about solving environmental problems through educational initiatives, experimental pedagogical approaches, and intercultural dialogue. Prior to joining Rainforest Foundation US, Sofiya held various administrative positions in film production. She studied Humanities in Moscow, Russia and has a Bachelor’s in Film Direction from the School of Visual Arts in New York. She is currently working towards a Master’s degree in Coastal and Marine Management at the University of Akureyri, while teaching and developing environmental curriculums for elementary school students. She is fluent in English and Russian.

Ziv supports Rainforest Foundation US’s fundraising efforts with database management and donor strategy. As an Ashkenazi Jew, Ziv is particularly dedicated to cultural preservation for the victims of genocide, and as a colonizer he feels a particular obligation to indigenous peoples of the Americas. Since graduating from Swarthmore College in 2020, he has been organizing with Sunrise NYC and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice to support environmental justice, indigenous peoples’ sovereignty, and the progressive political movement in New York. He holds a Bachelor’s in Linguistics and speaks Hebrew, Latin, and Ancient Greek, among other languages. When not getting excited about language, Ziv enjoys the magic of musical theater and cryptic crosswords.

Jeremy Kundtz

Jeremy Kundtz
Environmental Education Intern
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Jeremy Kundtz is supporting environmental education initiatives at Rainforest Foundation US, in close collaboration with the Communications and Development teams. He has four years of experience in education and communications surrounding environmental issues. Prior to joining RFUS, Jeremy worked in communications at the OECD Environment Directorate in Paris. Before that, he spent two years in Colombia as a Fulbright Grantee. Teaching at universities in the Andes and Amazon, Jeremy was inspired to support the rights of indigenous and rural peoples living in these amazing ecosystems. Jeremy holds a Master’s in Communications and Media Studies from Sciences Po Paris, and a Bachelor’s in Spanish Language and Latin American Studies from The Ohio State University. A native English speaker, Jeremy speaks Spanish at a near-native level, and can get by in Portuñol and French. When he’s not working, he’s practicing yoga, or taking a hike with his dog (and best bud), Kaya.

Beth Duncan
Senior Communications Manager
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Beth Duncan oversees the communications portfolio for Rainforest Foundation US, bringing to the organization over 20 years’ experience in diverse communications roles. Previously, Beth spearheaded development and program initiatives for an indigenous-led nonprofit organization that supports indigenous communities and indigenous Elders from around the globe. Prior to that, she worked in the private sector as a higher education communications and marketing consultant. She also served in the public sector, having served as a diplomat in Shanghai, China, and on special assignments across Latin America. Beth holds a Master’s of International Management from Thunderbird Global School of Management and speaks Spanish and rusty Mandarin. She currently calls Baltimore home.

Adam Janos

Adam Janos
Writer and Editorial Manager
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Adam Janos is Rainforest Foundation US’s lead writer and storyteller, translating programmatic impacts and capturing the human face of RFUS’s partnerships for the organization’s priority engagement needs. He brings over 10 years of professional writing experience to the organization, having contributed to several outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The Budapest Times, and A&E, amongst others. He’s also a published fiction writer and playwright. Adam holds a Master’s in Creative Writing from Rutgers University-Camden. He is bilingual in Hungarian and fluent in Spanish, which he learned while traveling the Pan-American Highway in his early twenties. That’s also when he came to know the rich indigenous cultures of the continent and the stunning forests that house them, ultimately guiding him to this work.

Olivia Ferrari
Communications Associate
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Olivia provides essential support for the communication department’s technical and content needs. Her background is in environmental and social science research, which drew her to RFUS’s commitment to the intersection of environmental sustainability and human rights. She has worked in wildlife research, with a focus on birds, in rainforests across five Latin American countries. She holds a Bachelor’s in Anthropology from Hunter College and a Master’s in Conservation Biology from University College London. She speaks Spanish and intermediate German.

Karen Osorio

Karen Osorio
Communications Associate
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Karen Osorio supports Rainforest Foundation US’s digital communication efforts. Formerly, Karen was the Ecuador Program Coordinator at Global Citizen Year, where she had the opportunity to live and work with Kichwa indigenous communities in northern Ecuador. This experience ignited in her a deep respect for indigenous cosmovisions, and the dedication to deconstructing preconceived ideas of development, wellbeing and human-nature relations. She holds a Bachelor’s in Public Relations from the University Espiritu Santo in Ecuador and a Master’s in Governance and Development from the University of Antwerp in Belgium. She is a native Spanish speaker, fluent in English and currently learning French.

Carlos Doviaza is an indigenous Emberá from the Darien in Panama and coordinates Rainforest Foundation US’s mapping and monitoring work with indigenous peoples across the country and for projects elsewhere in Central America. Previously, Carlos supported the Congreso General de Tierras Colectivas Embera y Wounaan to advance a range of the organization’s initiatives. He holds a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the Universidad Interamericana de Panamá and is currently working on a Bachelor’s in Environmental Risk Management at the Universidad Latinoamericana de Comercio Exterior in Panama. Carlos is bilingual in Spanish and Emberá.

Tom Bewick directs research, forest protection, and legal work as well as fundraising, communication, operations and outreach for Rainforest Foundation US’s Peru program. Tom previously worked as an international tropical timber trade investigator, an environmental services project developer, and as an international human rights observer. Tom holds an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the University of Nottingham and a Master’s in Education from Fordham University. He is fluent in Spanish and Indonesian.