Ya'axché Conservation Trust

Ya'axché alumni

Former employees and long-term volunteers with Ya'axché are presented on this page. Volunteer staff are indicated by an asterisk.
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Lisel Alamilla (Executive Director)
Lisel joined Ya'axché in 2008 as the Executive Director. She was previously program director of Fauna & Flora International country program in Belize.

With more than fifteen years of experience with some of Belize's most important conservation, development and tourism organizations, Lisel has worked as an educator, consultant, project manager and director. She has extensive experience working in southern Belize, alongside other local NGO partners and community organizations, and in collaboration with government and other national level institutions.

Committed to the principle of community participation and consultation, she values the importance of traditional knowledge and cultural values. Lisel participated in numerous advocacy campaigns that promoted the inclusion of community leaders in decision-making, especially in regards to issues that will have negative impacts on the ecological integrity of natural areas and undue economic hardship.

Lisel left Ya'axché in 2012 after she was appointed Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development in the Government of Belize.

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Bartholomew Teul (Community Liaison Officer)
Bartholomew Teul was a founding member of Ya’axché in 1998 and has been with the organization ever since. Having been the point person of Ya’axché as programme coordinator for the last nine years, thereafter being the program manager for the advocacy and Community Outreach and Livelihoods program (COL) and now Community Liaison Officer. His keen interest is in community well being, linking conservation to development and empowering local community leaders. He is also a strong advocate for indigenous peoples’ rights over lands and resources.

Bartolo retired from Ya'axché in August 2016. He maintains a close relationship with Ya'axché's work, staff and alumni.

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Ekaterina Alexandrova* (Operations Manager)
Ekaterina joined Ya'axché in 2010 after a background in research and environmental consulting. With a degree in environmental science and policy from Barnard College - Columbia University her past research experience focused on ecological contamination, particularly of groundwater, and its relationship to livelihoods and health.

As Operations Manager, Ekaterina oversaw all Ya'axche's internal operations, including development, coordination between programs, and human resources.

Ekaterina went on a leave from Ya'axché in 2012 to undertake a two-year master of science degree in Conservation Leadership. The MSc is a joint program between Colorado State University and El Colegio de la Frontera Sur in Mexico.

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Lee Mcloughlin (Protected Areas Program Director)
Lee joined Ya'axché in 2010 after two years in Queensland, Australia completing a Masters in Protected Area Management and consultancy work. The experience he built in directing the Protected Areas Management Program, formulating strategies for the management of the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the protected areas of the Maya Golden Landscape and leading the ranger team and science branch contributed considerably to his professional development. During this time Lee designed, developed, piloted and implemented holistic compliance management activities and built up a considerable network of government and civil society contacts to find solutions to the most significant conservation threats at a district and national level. Also of note is Lee’s leading role in the development of the needs assessment, curriculum and implementation of the Belize Ranger Training Academy. This academy, a part of the National Training Program for Protected Area Managers, trained marine and terrestrial protected areas (PA) rangers from 14 different PA’s in enforcement, practical skills and conservation theory.

Currently with Wildlife Conservation Societies Mesoamerica and Western Caribbean Program and Belize Program as Program Officer and Terrestrial Program Coordinator respectively, Lee is working on the scaling up of enforcement capacity and cooperation to combat wildlife trafficking networks and increasing protected area compliance in Mesoamerica, in addition to supporting community forest management initiatives and watershed management.

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Nick Wicks* (Sustainable Landuse Program Manager)
Nick joined Ya'axché in June 2004 as a volunteer for Fauna & Flora International to set up a biodiversity monitoring system. He had previously graduated from Imperial College with an MSc in Advanced Methods in Biodiversity from Imperial College, London before briefly working for the British Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

His role soon expanded to that of a Programme Manager, overseeing the organisation's protected area management, capacity building of field staff, conservation management planning and spearheading the integrated landscape management approach. One of his greatest strengths was in building close working relationships between Ya'axché and its partner organizations including the Forest Department, TIDE and the Ministry of National Security. As Lisel stated, Nick "was key in helping to establish Ya'axché as one of the leading NGOs in Belize".

Nick left Ya'axché in October 2010 for personal reasons. He remains in close touch with many of Ya'axché's staff and alumni.

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Nathaniel Miller (Protected Areas Manager)
Nat joined Ya’axché in 2008 just after receiving a Master’s degree in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. With Ya’axché’s appointment of Co-manager to the Bladen Nature Reserve Nat filled the new position of Protected Areas Manager, where he administered conservation management activities of Ya’axché’s two protected areas.

Nat ‘left’ Ya’axché in 2010 to begin work with the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, a network of protected areas on the six Dutch Caribbean islands. He remains close with many of the rangers, other staff and alumni of Ya’axché.

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Rachael Carrie* (Freshwater Ecologist)
Rachael Carrie joined Ya'axché in 2008 as a Freshwater Ecologist to apply previous experience to the development of stream monitoring and assessment in the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor. She has more than a decade of experience working as an aquatic ecologist in the private and public sectors in temperate and tropical environments.

Rachael 'left' Ya'axché in 2009 to begin PhD research at Lancaster University, UK with the aim of exploring scientific and local knowledge to develop bio-assessment methodologies for the streams of the MMMC. Through this project she continues to work closely with our team of Freshwater Rangers to facilitate stream management in the region.

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Jaume Ruscalleda (Sustainable Land-use Manager)
After completing his BSc in Biology at the University of Barcelona, Jaume decided to get involved in Conservation through an MSc in Biodiversity: Evolution and Conservation (University of Barcelona) and an Msc in Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing (CREAF, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona). He has worked in conservation related projects in Nepal, Vietnam and Belize, starting his work with Ya'axché Conservation Trust in May 2011.

As Sustainable Land Use manager, Jaume participated in both programs (PAM and COL), linking them through the use Geographic Information Systems and spatial data management. He was in charged of the on-going satellite based Land Use/Land Cover Change monitoring, which helped Ya’axché locate priority areas within the Maya Golden Landscape for the promotion of sustainable land use as well as for targeted Protected Area Management intervention. Jaume left Ya'axché in 2016.


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James Lord* (Development Officer)
James joined Ya'axché in 2011 as a Development Officer. He was responsible for applying to donors for funding to support Ya'axché's program areas and also worked with colleagues to develop innovative project concepts. James has been involved in environmental sciences and plant sciences research. For his PhD, he developed an organic technique for controlling agricultural pests using green manures.

In 2012, James left Ya'axché to go work with Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE), another Belizean organization.

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Sergio Rejado* (Project Manager)
Sergio graduated in Environmental and Agricultural Biology from the University of Navarra in Spain. He spent the last year of his studies in Norway, writing a Bachelor thesis in the ecology of the deep-sea shrimp. After, he has worked in Madagascar, Belgium and Kenya, in different roles and positions related with conservation and natural resource management.

Sergio managed the Neotropical Migratory Bird Habitat Conservation project, an integrated project financed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, helping the local communities to know more about the role birds can play as indicators of ecosystem health in their territories in the Maya Golden Landscape.

Sergio left Ya'axché in 2012 to pursue a Master's degree in Europe.

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Bridget Barry* (Project Manager)
Bridget joined Ya'axché in 2009 after an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a member of the community outreach and livelihoods team, Bridget helped coordinate an OAS project that diversified income-generating strategies among Ya'axché's target communities. Under the guidance of experienced community outreach leaders, Bridget directly interacted with the communities and shaped efforts to expand markets for organic agriculture in Southern Belize.

With the community management skills Bridget learned at Ya'axché, she was able to continue community development work in Guatemala after leaving Ya'axché in 2010. She then received a Master's in Urbanisation and Development from the London School of Economics. She is currently conducting research in rural and sustainable development with the United Nations Development Programme's International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.

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Erik Hammar* (Marketing & Communications Coordinator)
Erik has been involved in practical nature conservation for more than ten years as an employee of the NGO Norrtälje Nature Conservation Fund and Euphrasia HB, a nature consultancy in the Stockholm region of Sweden.

Erik studied at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala and Cranfield University, United Kingdom. He received two MSc degrees from SLU, one in Biology and one in Agriculture (specializing in plant/soil science). He also received an MSc degree in Land Management (specializing in ecological conservation) from Cranfield University. Before joining Ya'axché, Erik volunteered with WWF Mongolia where he worked on a review of donor projects focusing on sustainable pasture management and improving the livelihoods of herders.

Erik left Ya'axché in June 2013 and is currently working in practical conservation in Sweden, and also running a company importing organic bean to bar chocolate
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Tom Pienkowski* (Development Officer)
Tom joined Ya’axché as a Development Officer volunteer. In May 2012 he completed an undergraduate course in Environmental Conservation in the UK, with a specific interest in the integration of social sciences into conservation. During the last few years he has also conducted his own 12 month research project in Jamaica and worked in Central America assisting on other academic research.

Episode 5 of our Meet the Staff videos features Tom: check it out at Vimeo.

Tom left Ya'axché in June 2013 to pursue a Master's degree.

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Maarten Hofman* (Research Coordinator)
For about 10 years, Maarten has been involved in conservation work, volunteering throughout Europe in projects focusing on a diversity of animals, ranging from large mammals and bats, over birds, to reptiles and amphibians. Equipped with a BSc in Wildlife Management from the Netherlands and a MSc in Ecology from Uppsala University in Sweden, he has been working on landscape ecology and connectivity modeling for the last 1.5 years in his homeland Belgium, before joining Ya'axché to take on the Neotropical Migratory Bird project.

As research officer, he worked together with the Protected Areas Manager to further develop Ya'axché's monitoring activities, conduct ecological research and liaise with national and international academic institutions to initiate biological, socio-economical and archaeological research in Ya'axché's protected areas and their buffer communities.

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Stacy Armbruster* (Conservation Project Manager)
With a degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Management, Stacy's past conservation experience focused on working with local land conservancies, developing baseline documents for protected properties, as well as creating and maintaining community gardens to promote sustainable agriculture and enhance the quality of human life. Most recently, Stacy volunteered with the Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation in Ecuador, where she worked on several conservation projects, specifically involved with the development of sand filtration systems for practical use and application.

Stacy left Ya'axché in September 2013 and went to work as a school garden coordinator in Colorado, USA.

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Gail Stott (Botanist)
Gail joined Ya’axché in January 2011 after completing a Masters in Biodiversity & Taxonomy of Plants at the University of Edinburgh / Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. As Ya’axché’s botanist she focused on devising and implementing a variety of research, inventory & monitoring activities that help to document and safeguard the botanical diversity and resources of the Maya Golden Landscape. With a strong interest in the conservation of rare & threatened plants, Gail spent a lot of time working on issues surrounding rosewood (Dalbergia stevensonii) – one of Belize’s most valuable timber species. While at Ya’axché, she also developed a 3-year project (in collaboration with the Global Trees Campaign) to build capacity for threatened tree conservation in Belize.

Gail left Ya’axché in September 2014 to pursue a PhD at the University of Oxford.

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Patricia Cremona* (Protected Areas Policy & Planning Adviser)
Patricia has five years’ experience of working in conservation at local and international levels, having completed a BA in Biological Sciences from Oxford University in 2008 and an MSc in Wildlife Management and Conservation at the University of Reading in 2010. Following completion of her MSc Patricia worked for the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, UK, where she was responsible for projects supporting the work of the international biodiversity conventions, particularly CITES. Patricia has also previously undertaken practical conservation projects in Indonesia, Cyprus and the UK.

At Ya'axché, Patricia supported the development of a Conservation Agreement with community groups in the Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve for the sustainable management of agroforestry concessions. She also provided input into the preparation of project proposals and review of policy drafts, ensuring that the management of protected areas reflects the best available global knowledge.

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Jean Linsky* (Research Manager)
Jean has a background in botany and conservation science after completing a BSc in Plant Biology at the University of Alberta in 2010 and an MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College London in 2014. She has worked on Neotropical plant conservation assessments with both the U.S. National Herbarium and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and has most recently looked at using field collected survey data to map the distribution of plant species within protected areas and assess IUCN Red List status.

While at Ya'axché Jean managed botanical projects, including the final year of the Global Trees Campaign (GTC) project 'Building Capacity for Conservation in Belize'. She also developed a further project focusing on the conservation of rosewood (Dalbergia spp.) in Belize. She left Ya'axché in 2016 to work on plant conservation in Southeast Asia with Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).