Patty occupied various leadership roles at Conservation International between 2009 and 2015, directing the Amazon Program and serving as the Director of Governance and Policies. She has worked extensively with NGOs, governments, and conservation networks to advance conservation on the ground. She has been leading Island Conservation’s projects in the United States since 2016, including the rat removal on Lehua and the planned mouse removal on Midway. Patty received her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her doctoral work focused on the evolution of phenotypes in seabirds and she has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Galapagos Islands and in Brazil.
Penny received a BS in Biology from Willamette University and a PhD in Wildlife Management from the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Her graduate research focused on the conservation, genetics, and behavior of African wild dogs in collaboration with Smithsonian Institution. In addition to her time in South Africa, she has lived, traveled, and worked internationally, including spending several years in Tanzania. Penny settled back in the U.S. Pacific Northwest in 2011 and worked at the Department of Fish and Wildlife for 9 years focused on recovering at-risk wildlife species and keeping common species common. Penny has wide-ranging conservation and research experience working on topics and species as diverse as coastal community initiatives, seabird diets, pygmy rabbit reintroductions, wildebeest behavior, orca recovery, and fisher re-establishment, among others.
Penny also has a passion for learning and practicing leadership around the human aspects of conservation issues. She has experience building cooperation across diverse people for natural resource challenges and developing the social, political, and resource support necessary to achieve conservation of at-risk species. Her experience establishing partnerships with government agencies, non-government conservation organizations, interested citizens, and industries for wildlife is a major asset to the Island Conservation team. Penny joined Island Conservation in January 2020.
Jose Cabello is a wildlife Veterinarian and earned his Master in conservation and management of natural resources in sub-Antarctic environments.in the University of Magallanes.
Jose has a strong background in Conservation from several approaches, since he has worked in three main areas during his professional training, covering the Public, Private and academic areas. Jose worked for the government of Chile for eight years, as regional coordinator for a program to control invasive species in Patagonia directing two pioneer projects for Chile that involve control and management of invasive mammals. These projects, among other things, allowed him to develop his management skills and work with an interdisciplinary group of professionals and technicians
Jose has also been an advisor to the government and private companies in matters of conservation and control of invasive species, as well as being present in the academy teaching undergraduate courses in ecology and wildlife management.
He has directed a variety of research and advisory projects, with a strong emphasis on conflicts between humans and wildlife, and many other control programs for government and private owners with different species. All this experience gained in the fields of capture and professional hunting, government administration and research on socio-ecological systems has given him the opportunity to act as a link between decision makers, scientists and hunters and that have allowed him to better see the big picture about human conflict and wildlife.
Monica has a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from the National University of Costa Rica, a Master´s degree in Conservation and Sustainable Development from the University of Edinburgh and studies from the University of Tasmania in management and conservation.
She has more than 15 years of experience working in conservation, most of this time she has lived in her hometown, Galapagos, where she becomes passionate about Conservation. Monica was part of the research team at the Charles Darwin Foundation that defined the marine biodiversity baseline of the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Working as coordinator of WWF’s Galapagos Protected Areas Program, among others, has been part of the technical advisory group for the management of the Marine Reserve and was actively involved in the preparation and implementation of its New Protected Areas Management Plan and the corresponding zoning system. She has experience working with government institutions too, the Galapagos Government Council and the Galapagos National Park implementing new environmental policies and coordinating regional activities with CMAR (Marine Corridor of the Eastern Tropical Pacific), UNESCO activities and management of the Galapagos Protected Areas.
Karl has a PhD from the University of Queensland, Australia. As part of his doctoral work, he developed advanced procedures for Judas goats, involving sterilization, pregnancy termination, and hormone therapy, which he applied to increase the effectiveness of Judas goats in large-scale island restoration campaigns he was managing in the Galápagos Islands. Karl has more than twenty years of island restoration experience and has served as field manager of two of the world’s largest island restoration projects on Isabela and Santiago Islands. He is experienced in planning, budgeting, and implementing large-scale projects and leveraging technology to increase their cost-efficiency. Advanced restoration expertise combined with his management skills make him invaluable in island conservation projects.
Victor holds a BS in education, with a mention in ecology and environment from “Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial.” He is currently studying for a masters in environmental engineering at the Atlantic International University. He worked for the Galápagos National Park Service for more than twenty years leading restoration programs in the archipelago, including directing the invasive species eradication program and recovery programs of endangered species. He also worked for the Biosecurity Agency of Galápagos (ABG), where he directed the prevention program. Victor brings regional experience and on-the-ground project skills to Island Conservation.
Luis is from Quito, Ecuador and has a degree in agricultural engineering which he complemented with an MBA in Sustainable Development from INCAE Business School in Costa Rica. Luis has a vast experience in managing projects related to environmental management and sustainable development. He has also collaborated widely with public institutions, non-governmental organizations and private companies in Ecuador and Costa Rica, among others with the Galapagos Government Council. Luis is profoundly committed to the conservation of Galapagos and the sustainable development of Latin America. His hobbies include fishing, hiking, and traveling.
Paula is a wildlife veterinarian with a MSc in conservation medicine and a background in raptor medicine and island restoration. Since 2013, she has been working in the Galápagos Islands with Island Conservation, providing technical assistance to the Galápagos National Park to prevent extinctions and restore Galápagos ecosystems. Currently she is involved in the Floreana Island Ecological Restoration Project as a Native Species Specialist and coordinates all environmental aspects of the project, including species reintroduction.
Eliecer brings with him a career of conservation in the Ecuadorian government as the former Minister of the Galapagos Governing Council (CGREG), Director of the Galápagos National Park, Director of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Vice- President of the Charles Darwin Foundation, and Governor of the Galápagos Islands. Cruz was born and raised on Floreana Island and has an unparalleled passion for this birthplace.
As Director of the Galápagos National Park, he created a marine reserve, banned industrial-scale fishing within the reserve, and ensured that tourist revenues would support conservation. During his tenure with the CGREG, he worked with the Galapagos National Park and the Galapagos Agency for Regulation and Control of Biosecurity and Quarantine to prevent the introduction of invasive species that damage ecosystems, agriculture, economies, and human health on the islands. Throughout his career, Cruz has used his advanced degrees in biology and environmental management to develop strategies focused on protecting the unique life of the islands, spectacle of life and beauty of his hometown.
Loyola Darius earned her BA in Cultural Anthropology and Communication at the University of Hawai’i, Hilo in 2003. Her passion for community development and culture preservation led her to work at the Bureau of Arts & Culture. After three years of gaining experience in the cultural sector, she decided to pursue her studies in how to promote and at the same time preserve historical sites. She conducted her studies at Kobe University, Japan where she attained her MA in Intercultural Studies in 2011. Loyola returned to Palau and became a lecturer at the Palau Community College from 2011 to 2017. In her free time, she cultivates her taro patch and also enjoys going fishing with her family.
Julia received her BA in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz. Her passion for island restoration along with experience supporting a diversity of conservation projects make her an asset to the team. Her volunteer experience has taken her from Montserrat Island in the Caribbean to the islands of Southern Thailand, and back again to Santa Cruz where she interned at NOAA and the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. In her free time, Julia enjoys spending time with friends and family outdoors, scuba diving, hiking, playing soccer, and wrestling with her dog, Pooka.
Cielo is conducting her doctorate in the Ecology and Evolution Program at the University of Puerto Rico. Her dissertation research is based on Mona Island and focuses on the Mona Island Rock Iguana and involves evaluating differences in habitat use and reproduction in this species. Cielo owes her interest and enthusiasm for both reptiles and amphibians to a summer internship in the Costa Rican rainforest working with Poison Dart Frogs and Freshwater Turtles. She started working with Island Conservation in 2012 as part of the Desecheo Island restoration efforts and since then has supported several projects including Mona, Monito and Desecheo islands, and Palmyra Atoll. As a field biologist, she has spent over 10 years working in conservation and restoration efforts in Caribbean islands focusing on rare and endangered flora and fauna species, invasive species impacts and distribution, and more specifically, on the Recovery Program for the Mona Island Rock Iguana, an endangered species severely impacted by invasive vertebrates on the island. Cielo has also been actively engaged in initiatives from the Iguana Specialist Group (IUCN) and Kew Gardens: Millennium Seedbank Partnership in the UK, collaborating in their current projects. Cielo is based in Puerto Rico where, in her free time, enjoys scuba diving, music, photography, hiking, and traveling.
Richard received a BSc in physics from Victoria University, a postgraduate diploma in environmental science from Canterbury University, and an MSc in ecology from Lincoln University, New Zealand. Between 1997 and 2011 he worked for the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC), leading species recovery, island restoration, island biosecurity and pest control, and eradication programs. He was a member of DOC’s Island Eradication Advisory Group and was the leader of the Stitchbird Recovery Group between 2000 and 2007—leading the species successful reintroduction to the New Zealand mainland after a 120-year absence. He was also extensively involved in the re-establishment of seabird populations on islands and was part of the team that confirmed the reappearance of the New Zealand Storm Petrel previously considered extinct. Richard has led notable island restoration projects including the removal of rats from Little Barrier Island and the removal of eight invasive species from Rangitoto and Motutapu islands in New Zealand. As a result of the Rangitoto and Motutapu project, Richard and DOC won the Parks Forum Environmental Award in 2010. The project’s innovative approach also earned Richard a position as a finalist for the 2010 Kenton Miller Award. Richard works for Island Conservation based in New Zealand. He leads a team of project managers and island restoration specialists whose focus is preventing extinctions. In the four years he has been with Island Conservation, he and his team have successfully removed invasive species from more than twelve islands, resulting in significant benefits to plants and wildlife.
Tommy earned his BS in biology from California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo, where he worked on a variety of biology and ecology projects. Traveling with his father in the mountains of California and around the world served as the catalyst for igniting Tommy’s passion for preserving the beauty of natural ecosystems. As an avid outdoorsman, Tommy enjoys fishing, hunting, surfing, and backcountry snowboarding. A skilled photographer, Tommy captures photos of native island species and their habitats; his images play an important role in communicating Island Conservation’s mission and can be seen throughout our website and outreach materials. Tommy’s scientific background combined with his advanced skills in the field make him an essential member of Island Conservation’s Conservation Operations team.
Project Director Chad Hanson, B.S., has worked on a suite of invasive mammal eradication project for the last fifteen years. He has extensive experience in assessing feasibility, developing plans, budgeting, implementing and confirming the eradication of a suite of species, including feral goats, cattle, horses, buffalo, cats, macaques, rabbits and rodents in several countries. Before joining Island Conservation, Chad played a predominant role in the world’s largest goat removal on Santiago Island, Galápagos, applying his management and training skills to a team of over 40 field staff. He co-chairs Island Conservation’s Eradication Advisory Team and has led the development of Island Conservation’s internal project management process.
Ulf is a certified Galápagos National Park Naturalist Guide and has a PhD in Natural Sciences from Albert – Ludwigs University in Germany. Ulf has spent more than 13 years working for the conservation and environmental protection of the Galápagos. He has set up the integrated waste management system on Santa Cruz Island, with recycling and composting accounting for more than 50% of overall waste recovered. He has also created the first environmental department at the Municipality of Santa Cruz and was appointed as its Director for two years. Ulf was also one of the driving spirits behind the first plastic bag ban in the Galápagos. When he’s not at the office, he spends most of his time with his kids on the beach or surfing.
Emily earned a degree in Zoology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. As a student, she discovered that she had a passion for the conservation of endangered species and their ecosystems. Her background in informal education allowed her the opportunity to share her passion for animals with others, something she seeks to continue doing while working with the Island Conservation communications team. In her spare time, Emily enjoys exploring the amazing hiking trails found in Santa Cruz and spending time with friends.
Jose Luis earned a MS in biology from the University of Puerto Rico, conducting research with the amphibians and reptiles composition in the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge at Vieques Island in Puerto Rico. Before joining IC in 2011, Jose Luis held various positions related to natural resources conservation, including working with Envirosurvey Inc, a conservation and wildlife organization based in Puerto Rico, conducting forest and wildlife assessments and outreach campaigns promoting conservation practices in partnership with state and federal governmental agencies. For two years he worked with to manage sea turtle nesting habitat and hatchlings and has conducted additional ecological work with amphibian and reptile species as a private consultant or volunteer. From 2009 to 2010, Jose Luis started working on Desecheo Island with the UCSC Conservation Measures Program, doing surveys for a single-island endemic gecko and assisting the ecosystem restoration project on Desecheo through the removal of invasive predators. At Island Conservation, he supports and leads various restoration work on islands such as Desecheo, Juan Fernández, Cabritos, Alto Velo, Antipodes and Mona for the benefits of threatened and unique species. Jose Luis is currently serving as the Point of Contact for the Island Conservation’s activities in Puerto Rico, the U.S Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic.
Wes received his degree in wildlife science with a minor in biology from Utah State University. He has held a variety of conservation jobs ranging from studying bats in southern Utah to working on a silviculture crew in Alaska. Wes joined Island Conservation in 2009 as part of the team dedicated to the restoration of San Nicolas Island, California. He has served various roles on Island Conservation’s projects in the US, Ecuador, Chile, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic. Since being promoted to project manager in 2013, Wes has supported various projects and led two. First he focused on saving the IUCN-listed Critically Endangered Ricord’s Iguana and six other Vulnerable species by restoring Cabritos Island, which is located in Lake Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic. Since 2017, he has led Island Conservation’s efforts to restore Sand Island on Midway Atoll to protect the nesting habitat of Laysan Albatross and many other avian species.
Mele Khalsa received a Bachelor’s degree in environmental biology with an emphasis on botany and a minor in geology from Occidental College in Los Angeles. Prior to Island Conservation, Mele worked at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens (NTBG) where she did invasive species control of animals and plants within the Limahuli Preserve on Kaua’i. She is a trained native plant botanist and has worked with many rare and endangered species on forest restoration projects. She was raised camping and backpacking on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast where she gained a profound appreciation for native ecosystems, and particularly the plants and birds of Hawai’i. Prior to her time at the NTBG, Mele worked for the State of Hawaii doing predator control within Hono O NaPali Natural Area Reserve seabird nesting colonies. Mele is also skilled in GIS mapping and data management, which helps fulfil her deep-down nerdiness. Mele is based on Kauai where, in her free time, she enjoys extreme sports such as roller derby, kite surfing, and rugby.
Heath holds a MA in philosophy and social policy from American University in Washington, DC, and bachelor’s degrees in biology and philosophy from State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego. Heath, a conservation professional since 1997, brings decades of marketing and strategic communications, fundraising, policy, and government and public relations experience to Island Conservation. Heath has served as field director for the National Wildlife Refuge Association; a groundfish observer in the Bering Sea, Alaska; Washington state policy director for National Audubon Society; and director of legislative and external affairs for the Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources and the independently elected Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands. He has worked on endangered and invasive species issues for most of his career and is an “accidental birder.” When he’s not busy finding new and compelling ways to recruit new friends, partners, and supporters to Island Conservation, Heath can be found running, biking, hiking, camping, sailing, writing, playing music, gardening, or winding down the day with good food and drink.
Karen Poiani, PhD was appointed as Island Conservation’s CEO in July, 2016. Karen came to IC with 25 years of experience in conservation organization management, fundraising, board engagement, international and local partnership development, and conservation science research.
Karen’s diverse leadership and management experience includes roles as chief conservation strategy officer, director of science, evaluation and learning director, conservation program director, gender and diversity leader, and courtesy assistant professor. She spent 17 years with The Nature Conservancy and served with the organization’s global executive team. Most recently, Karen served as director of evaluation and learning at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, where she gained invaluable understanding of the philanthropic giving sector.
Karen earned a BS in Environmental Science from Stockton State College, New Jersey, an MS in Botany, and a PhD in Ecology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. She has dozens of peer-reviewed publications and has been a big fan of Island Conservation for many years. Karen is proud to be leading the organization’s next phase of growth in preventing extinctions.
Maddy received her AB cum laude in biology and Romance languages from Bowdoin College. After graduating, she taught English at an engineering school in Nantes, France. Maddy spent her summers working seasonal field jobs in remote areas of Mexico, Maine, and the Canadian Maritimes. After deciding to pursue ecology full time, she spent a number of months working in Mauritius to protect the Endangered Pink Pigeon from the threat of invasive species. Maddy’s combined passions for unique species, islands, and foreign languages make her an invaluable component of the Island Conservation team. Maddy loves to get out and observe plants and animals in the wild while camping, hiking, or kayaking. When confined to more urban settings, she enjoys biking, baking, and making a strong cup of tea.
Royden Saah holds a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and a Master of Science in Microbiology from North Carolina State University, USA. Royden coordinates the Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Rodents Partnership (GBIRd) to safely, effectively, and ethically develop and evaluate the suitability of engineered mice with the potential to control, or even eradicate, introduced, damaging (invasive) populations on islands. Royden has a wealth of experience in multifaceted projects that includes leading the construction of a children’s’ hospital lab in Monrovia, Liberia during the West African Ebola outbreak and managing a multi-agency health-preparedness effort during a 2012 national political convention. He has spoken at the White House Conference Center and at United Nations Conventions on the importance of this technology investigation and the required safety mechanisms needed during development. Royden is a molecular microbiologist by training and has been recognized by the directors of both the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Sara was born and raised in the Juan Fernández archipelago. Since 2001, Sara has spent much of her free time working in the field on Robinson Crusoe Island in invasive plant control, endemic Juan Fernández Firecrown conservation and restoration, and hummingbird nest sighting and monitoring. After witnessing firsthand the problem of invasive species in the archipelago and seeing that it is possible to protect endemic island species, Sara realized that she could better benefit threatened species by fully dedicating her time, skills, and experience to field work in the archipelago, the land of her birth. Since joining Island Conservation in 2013, she has been working on the control of invasive species and monitoring of native and endemic species in the archipelago, recently participating in a monitoring trip to the Galápagos. When Sara is not looking for hummingbird nests, she enjoys playing volleyball and running and looks forward to the rare occasions when her son—a member of the Chilean navy—can return to the island for a visit.
Sandra was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. During her BA in Law from Universidade Candido Mendes/Centro – Rio de Janeiro, she spent time traveling thru Venezuela, Colombia, and Russia. She moved to United States to do her MBA with an emphasis in Public Administration and her Master in Science/Criminology from University of Phoenix. Sandra has many years of experience in compliance and regulatory system with a strong background in International Law and Human Resources department. Sandra’s favorite hobbies include traveling, meeting new people, and experiencing new cultures.
Carolina is an attorney at law, with a minor in litigant, financial and corporate law, from Universidad de los Hemisferios. She has over six years experience managing cases that link administrative law with environmental law. She is a member of the Assembly of the Ecuadorian Center for Environmental Law (CEDA) and the International Trans-disciplinary Academy of Environment (ATINA). In the conservation field, she has been the lead attorney of the Galápagos National Park Directorate (GNPD). During her period at the GNPD, she managed environmental issues regarding recent vessel wrecks on San Cristobl Island as well as environmental cases in the Galápagos.
Claudio has a degree in communication sciences specializing in marketing and design, but he is a marine biologist at heart. Claudio has contributed to projects involving marine trophic chains and biodiversity in Mexico, turtle conservancy in Mexico and Sri Lanka, coral reef conservation programs in Thailand, and biodiversity conservation projects in the Peruvian rainforest. He implemented a GIS project for the Raimundi-Carr lab at University of the California, Santa Cruz, to track scientific activities in the Baja California peninsula. Claudio has collaborated with various NGOs in Mexico as a consultant for their communication and fundraising campaigns. He is passionate about photography and downhill skateboarding.
María José holds a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary and Animal Sciences from Universidad de Chile. After graduating, she completed two diploma programs in Veterinary Environmental Management and Wildlife Conservation and Management, also from Universidad de Chile. Since 2013 she has participated as a volunteer in Universidad de Chile’s Environmental Management Center, applying environmental management models and tools. María José has been working with Island Conservation since 2016, supporting the Chañaral Island program since its inception and also supporting monitoring on Choros Island. When not working to protect the environment and at-risk wildlife, she enjoys cycling and a good game of volleyball.
Gabriela is an Economist graduated from the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) in Guayaquil and has worked as a Financial Administrative Officer in the Isabela Operational Technical Directorate of the Directorate of the Galápagos National Park. She has served as Director of the Isabela Operational Technical Direction of the Directorate of the Galápagos National Park; worked aboard navigable cruises in Galápagos as Receptionist and Director of Cruises, giving her the opportunity to know these enchanted islands. Gabriela has also worked as an analyst of public purchases in the Ministry of Public Health in the District Office in San Cristobal Island, where she acquired more knowledge about the contracting processes with the state.
Gabriela enjoys working as part of a team and after the office, she spends as much time as possible with her son, Lucciano.
Rachel received a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Middle Eastern Studies from Wellesley College and a Master’s Degree in Art History from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prior to joining Island Conservation Rachel served as the Director of Resources for The Nature Conservancy’s India Program and as Associate Director of Philanthropy for the California Chapter. Rachel’s passion for the natural world fits perfectly with her love for trail running. In addition to covering long distances by foot as an ultramarathon runner, Rachel enjoys road trips, particularly through the West and Southwest.
David received a BS in bioinformatics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has worked with Island Conservation for more than a decade to bridge the gap between conservation managers and technical specialists, ensuring that technical solutions can solve conservation problems in the field. These experiences include implementing technology in the field on more than 15 island restoration projects from the sub-Antarctic to the tropical Pacific, managing a successful restoration project on Desecheo National Wildlife Refuge, Puerto Rico, and maintaining databases that document the importance and impact of island restoration.
Coral earned her MS in conservation biology at the University of Michigan in 2008, studying the foraging behavior of the Juan Fernández Firecrown, an endangered hummingbird, endemic to the Juan Fernández Islands. As the lead for Island Conservation’s Conservation Measures Program, Coral works to advance our scientific understanding of the impact removing invasive species has on island ecosystems and increase the organization’s impact through seabird reintroduction efforts. She has conducted research on islands in North and South America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific and possesses more than ten years of island ecology experience.
Jason received a BS in Wildlife Management and Conservation from Humboldt State University. Prior to, during, and after earning his degree, Jason worked a variety of field jobs ranging from oyster farming to duck club grounds maintenance. The bulk of his experience has been in the field of invasive species control—the latest of which consisted of six years of multispecies vertebrate pest removal throughout the island of Kaua‘i, mostly to mitigate for native bird depredation by introduced predators. Jason has a strong background in conservation fieldwork as well as project coordination and management, including cultivating productive relationships with a variety of collaborating partners. When not working, Jason enjoys the outdoors, cooking, self-subsistence, and most other good times in general.