Team

Meet the experts who make up the Rainforest Foundation US team!

Management And Administration

Suzanne Pelletier
Executive Director

Francisco Larra
Director of People & Culture

Elizabeth Dechant
Grant Accountant

Alexandra Aviles
Accounts Payable Specialist

Andrea Tirado
Program Administration Coordinator

Programs

Christine Halvorson
Program Director

Kim Chaix
Director of Strategic Impact

Josh Lichtenstein
Advocacy & Policy Director

Cameron Ellis
Field Science Director

Maryka Ives Paquette
Policy & Advocacy Senior Program Manager

Victor Gil
Capacity Strengthening Senior Program Manager

Laura Piccoli
Program Manager

Peru Program

Wendy Pineda
General Project Manager

Plinio Pizango Hualinga
Head of Technology Transfer

Kathya Castillo
Gender & Inclusion Specialist

Kadir Zevallos
Indigenous Economy Development Specialist – Loreto

Jaime Cardenas
Technology Transfer Specialist – Loreto

Rolando Rodríguez
Technology Transfer Specialist – Loreto

Joseph Zegarra
Technology Transfer Specialist – Loreto

Henry Harrison
Coordinator of Economic Capacity Strengthening

Withman Sanchez
Regional Coordinator – Ucayali

Jannett Salas
Regional Administrative Coordinator – Loreto and Ucayali

Alaciel Flores Sanchez
Logistics Coordinator

Development

Julie Hudson
Director of Development

Viviana Briseño Márquez
Development Operations & Annual Giving Manager

Jessica Rogers
Institutional Giving Manager

Melissa Tomlinson
Donor Relations Advisor

Ziv Stern
Donor Engagement Associate

Sofiya Krasotina
Development Associate

Communications

Beth Duncan
Director of Communications

Zoë Dutka
Communications Strategist

Camila Rossi
Communications & Media Advisor

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.

Francisco leads the Culture and People department at Rainforest Foundation US. He has over 20 years of experience in Program Management, Finance & Operations, and Human Resources in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Francisco has worked with local, national, and international organizations in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean supporting marginalized communities on issues of employment and labor rights, immigrant integration, environmental, vulnerable and at-risk youth, and with multi-stakeholder partnerships promoting social change.
Francisco has Bachelor’ degrees in Education and Psychology and a Master’s degree in Integrated Management Systems of Quality, Environment, Occupational Health & Safety, and Corporate Social
Responsibility. Francisco is an SHRM – Senior Certified Professional and Certified Labor Relations Professional with English – Spanish – Portuguese proficiency.

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.

Alexandra Aviles Dechant
Accounts Payable Specialist
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Alexandra Aviles works as RFUS’s Accounts Payable Specialist. Prior to joining RFUS, Alexandra worked in finance for five years as an Accounting & Administration Coordinator. She also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity for four years. Alexandra has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Muhlenberg College, is fluent in Spanish, and is currently learning Portuguese.

Andrea is an international business administrator specializing in the management of nonprofit organizations. Previously, she worked for the Canadian Embassy for Peru and Bolivia (in Peru), where she provided administrative and project support to the International Trade division and officers. Since 2020, she has collaborated with RFUS, visiting Indigenous communities in the Amazon, and recently joined Rainforest Foundation US in a full-time capacity to provide administrative and logistical support to the Programs team. She speaks Spanish, English, French, and is currently learning Portuguese.

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.

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.

Josh provides policy, negotiation and management guidance to Rainforest Foundation US’s Mesoamerica, Amazon and Global programs and leads the RFUS Policy team. 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 directs mapping and field operations for Rainforest Foundation US. Cameron has been working with Indigenous communities for over 20 years, learning from them and helping build the tools, teams, evidence and strategies for long-term land security. Cameron has a MSc in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico and is fluent in Spanish.

Maryka Ives Paquette

Maryka Ives Paquette
Policy and Advocacy Senior Program Manager
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Maryka manages Rainforest Foundation US’s policy and advocacy program and is supporting partners to advance their priority agendas concerning climate finance and carbon markets. Prior to joining RFUS, Maryka supported Indigenous peoples and local communities to advocate for their rights in a range of climate, forest, and development policy initiatives at local, national (United States), and international levels. 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.

Victor Gil 
Capacity Strengthening Senior Program Manager 
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Victor oversees Capacity Strengthening support for Rainforest Foundation US’s Indigenous partner organizations. For 15 years, he has been dedicated to supporting Indigenous peoples and local communities in strengthening their organizations, promoting their rights and exercising control over their territories. Victor holds an MSc in Social Anthropology and a BSc in Geography, and is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Laura supports project implementation in Rainforest Foundation US’s Guyana and Global programs. She joined the organization as a communications intern in May 2020, and later transitioned to the programs team to support grant administration and institutional metrics. 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. She also earned a certificate in Tropical Forest Landscapes: Conservation, Restoration & Sustainable Use from Yale’s Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative in 2023. Before pursuing her Master’s, Laura earned her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is diligently working on her Spanish.

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 organizations in the Peruvian Amazon on community monitoring, ethno mapping and technology transfer initiatives. She is a native Spanish language speaker.

Headshot of Plinio Pizango

Plinio Pizango Hualinga
Head of Technology Transfer
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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.

Kathya is a Gender and Inclusion Specialist 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.

Kadir Zevallos
Indigenous Economy Development Specialist – Loreto
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Kadir is a specialist in strengthening and facilitating sustainable economic activities for our Indigenous partners in Peru. Before joining Rainforest Foundation US, Kadir worked on capacity strengthening for productive development in rural areas, overseeing the implementation of projects for natural resource management and conservation projects, and advocating for local productive initiatives that align with sustainable development principles in Indigenous peoples’ territories in the Peruvian Amazon. Kadir, a Forestry Engineer, is an advocate for the circular economy and the dissemination of ancestral Amazonian agroforestry knowledge. He is currently completing his postgraduate studies in Rural Development at the National University of the Altiplano and is a native Spanish speaker.

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.

Rolando Rodríguez
Technology Transfer Specialist – Loreto
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Rolando is a specialist in technology transfer and training for Indigenous communities in Loreto, working directly with the Regional Organization of the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon (ORPIO). Previously, he worked on projects for the recognition and titling of Indigenous peoples’ territories, also in Loreto. His work includes the organization, systematization, and management of data regarding environmental crime, as well as identifying threats, strengths, and opportunities within Indigenous peoples’ territories in the region. Rolando holds a degree in Tropical Forest Ecology from the National University of the Peruvian Amazon (UNAP) in Peru. He takes great satisfaction in contributing to the strengthening of Indigenous territorial governance and the mitigation of threats in these areas. He is a native Spanish speaker and is also fluent in Portuguese.

Joseph Zegarra
Technology Transfer Specialist – Loreto
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Joseph holds a degree in Biology from the National University of the Peruvian Amazon and has over ten years of experience working with Indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon, collaborating with both governmental and non-governmental organizations. He is deeply passionate about the conservation of the Amazon rainforests, dedicating his time to volunteer with various groups and organizations. He has also contributed to research projects on climate change in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in the Loreto department, overseeing the wildlife research area with a focus on ornithology and larger mammals. Currently, he is pursuing a Master’s degree in Tropical Forest Ecology. A native Spanish speaker, Joseph has an intermediate proficiency in English and is learning Portuguese.

Headshot of Henry Harrison

Henry Harrison
Coordinator of Economic Capacity Strengthening
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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.

Withman holds a degree in Forestry Engineering and works in the planning and management of climate projects with an intercultural approach, strengthening the capacities of our Indigenous partners from the Regional Organization AIDESEP Ucayali (ORAU). Boasting over 20 years of experience, he has collaborated with Indigenous organizations and international technical cooperation projects in both the public and private sectors. He is a specialist in community forest management, forest governance, and technology-driven forest monitoring. He is a native Spanish speaker.

Jannett Salas
Regional Administrative Coordinator – Loreto and Ucayali
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Jannett is a Certified Public Accountant with a Master’s degree in Public Management and has over 25 years of experience working with Indigenous organizations and in international development. At Rainforest Foundation US, she is the Administrative Coordinator for the Loreto and Ucayali Region. Her responsibilities encompass providing comprehensive administrative support—coordinating with program staff, Indigenous leaders, trainers, specialists, and managing logistics, administration, finances, and accounting—to ensure the seamless operation of administrative and program activities in alignment with the organization’s goals. She is a native Spanish speaker who is currently learning English.

Alaciel serves as Logistics Manager for our Peru program. She holds a degree in Accounting and boasts over 16 years of professional experience within Indigenous organizations. Alaciel has dedicated herself to supporting Indigenous communities in the river basins of the Loreto Region, focusing on administration and logistics. She is a native speaker of Spanish.

Julie Hudson is the Director of Development at Rainforest Foundation US, living in the beautiful hills of western Massachusetts. She has nearly three decades of experience fundraising and advocating for environmental issues from climate change to regenerative agriculture to land conservation. Julie has previously worked as a Development Director for Plastic Pollution Coalition, Mighty Earth, 350.org, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and Center for Food Safety. She has also done policy work and grassroot organizing for Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society, and serves on the Board of Zero Foodprint. Julie has dual Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Environmental Policy and a Master’s of Environmental Public Policy all from The George Washington University.
Headshot of Viviana Briseño

Viviana Briseño Márquez
Development Operations and Annual Giving 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 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.

Melissa is Donor Relations Advisor at Rainforest Foundation US where she engages with supporters to ensure they are empowered with information, opportunities, and communication to support their charitable giving goals. Melissa has nearly two decades of experience with environmental and wildlife organizations. She previously worked for Born Free USA, a wildlife protection organization, the Woodwell Climate Research Center, a scientific research organization that studies climate change impacts and solutions, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, a global nonprofit pioneering innovative ways to ensure all species flourish. She is currently on the board of the Oklahoma Primate Sanctuary, which provides lifetime care for primates who have been rescued from the exotic pet trade, used in research, or put on display. Melissa has an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management and a BA from Wellesley College. She lives on Cape Cod, MA where she spends most of her personal time hiking around the many ponds with her dogs.

Ziv supports Rainforest Foundation US’s fundraising efforts by engaging mid-level donors and volunteer fundraisers. As an Ashkenazi Jew, Ziv is particularly dedicated to cultural preservation for the survivors 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 to support environmental justice, Indigenous peoples’ sovereignty, and the progressive political movement in New York. He holds a Bachelor’s in Linguistics and has studied Hebrew, Latin, and Ancient Greek, among other languages. When not getting excited about language, Ziv enjoys the magic of musical theater and cryptic crosswords.

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.

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.

Zoë ensures that our indigenous partner organizations have the support they need to build and implement diverse communications strategies. Previously, as cofounder of the production company La Mochila Migrante, Zoë partnered with humanitarian orgs and UN agencies to create multimedia campaigns in support of indigenous and immigrant rights in the Amazon border region, where she lived for 13 years. Zoë holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, and is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Camila Rossi provides strategic media advising for Rainforest Foundation US and supports the communications team with content production. With over 15 years of experience as an environmental communications specialist, she has collaborated with organizations such as Greenpeace Brazil, WWF-Brazil, Amazon Watch, and served as a press relations consultant for Burness and the Goldman Environmental Prize in Brazil. Holding an MBA in Sustainability Management, Camila has crafted international media campaigns, facilitated media trips in the Brazilian Amazon, and supported Indigenous advocacy trips in Europe and in the US. She is fluent in Portuguese and proficient in Spanish and also has basic knowledge of French and German.

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 French.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Didier Devers
Chief of Party – USAID Guatemala
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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.

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