Galápagos Conservancy

Team of Galápagos Conservancy

Meet Our Team

The Team of Galápagos Conservancy is under the distinguished leadership President, Dr. James Gibbs, whose remarkable vision and unparalleled dedication have been pivotal in driving the organization towards its noble goals. Alongside him stands the General Director, Washington Tapia, a visionary whose strategic acumen and resolute commitment have propelled the Galápagos Conservancy to new heights of excellence and impact.

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Galápagos in Your Inbox

Barbara Arizaga Director of Communications

Barbara Arizaga

PHILANTHROPY OFFICER

Barbara Arizaga joined the Galápagos Conservancy in June 2022 with the intention of contributing to the global awareness of the distinctive ecological and social circumstances of the Galápagos Archipelago and of involving the general public and donors in the work of the Conservancy itself through written and visual storytelling on the Conservancy’s website and various social media platforms. Barbara came to us from Ecuador where she worked in the academic, political and non-profit sectors by producing a wide range of digital and printed communications. Barbara has a degree in Intercultural Communications, a Minor in Nonprofit Administration, and a passion for introducing people to the wonders of nature. Barbara’s ultimate goal is to keep spreading her enthusiasm and love for conservation to anyone who will listen in the hopes that she can assist in safeguarding this green planet for a very long time.

Chauncey Blade

Chauncey Blade

ASSISTANT MEMBERSHIP OFFICER

Chauncey Blade joined Galápagos Conservancy in 2023. His worK in fundraising began at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and he is excited to be a part of the Galápagos Conservancy team. He holds a BA in linguistcs with a concentration in Sub-Saharan African Languages from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and an MM in Voice & Opera from the New England Conservatory of Music. His passion and care for all walks of life began at a young age and continued to grow, showing itself in his first job at the age of sixteen at a small animal hospital in his rural hometown, to the esteemed MSPCA & Angell hospital in Boston, MA where he worked as a Community Animal Welfare Specialist, and now with the Galápagos Conservancy. In addition to his work with Galápagos Conservancy, Chauncey maintains a
private performance practice as a vocalist. He currently lives in Chicago with his partner.

Dr. Jorge Carrión Director of Conservation

Dr. Jorge Carrión

DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION
Dr. Jorge Carrión joined Galápagos Conservancy in May 2021 to oversee our rewilding programs. Jorge worked for the Galápagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) from 2012 to 2020, including a two-year term as Director from 2018 to 2020 during which he oversaw all aspects of the management of the Galápagos National Park and Galápagos Marine Reserve. Concurrently with his GNPD role, he managed migratory species protection efforts as Secretary of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor. Jorge holds a PhD in conservation biology from the Universidad de Sevilla in Seville, Spain, and was a professor at the Central University of Ecuador in Galápagos.
Willians Castro Galápagos Conservation Assistant

Willians Castro

GALÁPAGOS CONSERVATION ASSISTANT
Willians Castro brought with him 30 years of operations and logistics experience when he joined Galápagos Conservancy in 2017. We benefit from his experience gained in 12 years with Ecuadorian civil aviation in Guayaquil before being recruited as head of maintenance for the Charles Darwin Foundation, a post he held for 12 years, later managing the largest Galápagos taxi cooperative for four years as well as his own small scale enterprises in catering, equipment sales and as a qualified electrician. If it needs fixing or sorting out, there is only one person to call: Willians Castro. Between Willians, his wife and their adult children in professional posts in Galápagos, the support network available to Galápagos Conservancy in the Islands and mainland Ecuador is incomparable.
Our Team Galápagos

Xavier Castro

OUTREACH COORDINATOR

Xavier Castro serves as the Outreach Coordinator and journalist for Galápagos Conservancy. With a bachelor’s degree in social communication, Xavier boasts over 20 years of experience in writing and reporting on conservation and sustainable development in the Galápagos Islands. He has successfully developed and implemented communication strategies for various organizations, including the Galápagos National Park, the Galápagos Governing Council, the Communication Secretariat of the Ecuadorian Government, as well as several NGOs and International Cooperation Agencies from Spain and Japan such as Araucaria and JICA.

Xavier specializes in designing communication strategies, environmental journalism, audiovisual production, photography, filmmaking, and graphic design. His passion lies in contributing to the creation of a well-informed society, raising awareness about the fragility of the Galápagos ecosystems. Leveraging his extensive experience and skills in communications, he strives to promote a sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Walter Chimborazo Field Assistant

Walter Chimborazo

FIELD ASSISTANT
Walter Chimborazo has worked as a field assistant since 2015. His primary responsibility is to collaborate in the management of the Fausto Llerena Giant Tortoise Breeding Center on Santa Cruz Island with the Galápagos National Park Directorate. A native galapagueño, Walter has demonstrated great dedication and patience in working with giant tortoises over the years. He follows in the footsteps of his father, Alfredo Chimborazo, who worked in the Santa Cruz tortoise center for more than a decade in the 1980s and 1990s.
Team Galápagos Adrian Cueva

Adrian Cueva

FIELD ASSISTANT

Adrián Cueva, although not born in the Galápagos Islands, has lived in this fascinating archipelago, known as the Enchanted Islands, for most of his life. This experience has allowed him to deeply engage in various conservation activities in the island environment. From a very young age, his parents instilled in him a profound love and respect for nature, enabling him to appreciate the true value of this unique and diverse place.

His passion for conservation began after finishing high school in the islands when he volunteered at the National Park nursery. There, he gained extensive knowledge about endemic plants. Subsequently, he worked at the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF), restoring endemic gardens, which allowed him to delve into the vast plant world of the islands. Later, he served as a phytosanitary technician at the Galápagos Biosecurity Agency (ABG), where he learned about the biosecurity threats facing the delicate and complex ecosystems of the islands.

In 2021, he was offered the opportunity to work as a field assistant in the Pink Iguana project, a species he had encountered years earlier while working for the CDF. This opportunity allowed him to further contribute to the conservation and restoration of the islands. With the goal of continuing his academic preparation, he obtained a technical degree in Environmental Protection.

Since 2022, he has worked as a field assistant for Conservando Galápagos, supporting the organization’s main projects such as the Galápagos Initiative. This work involves collaborating with key island species such as giant tortoises, land iguanas, and waved albatrosses. Additionally, he investigates and collects crucial information about plants and their role in the ecosystems, which is vital for the organization’s expeditions.

Adrián is deeply excited to be part of an organization dedicated to conservation and environmental education. This experience represents a great opportunity to contribute to the protection and preservation of the Galápagos for future generations.

Amy Doherty

VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS
Amy Doherty joined Galápagos Conservancy in 2013 and oversees all aspects of Galápagos Conservancy’s operations, both in the United States and Ecuador. She has over a decade of professional experience in the non-profit sector, as well as experience in the private and public sectors prior to that. She was a triple-major in Environmental Studies, Spanish, and Anthropology and has traveled, studied, and worked in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and the Pacific. She has a personal passion for conservation and in her free time enjoys a wide range of outdoor activities in addition to volunteering with another non-profit organization working to increase women’s leadership and participation in the outdoors.
Our Team Galápagos

Dr. James Gibbs

PRESIDENT

James P. Gibbs has been involved in research in the Galápagos Islands since 1981, living and measuring finches for many months on Daphne Island and then again for many more on Genovesa Island. Some 70 trips to Galápagos later, James now serves as President of Galápagos Conservancy and helps oversee the Iniciativa Galápagos — Galápagos Conservancy’s program focused on wildlife restoration. He has proudly served as “Wise Sage” with the Prometeo Program of the National Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation of Ecuador (2012-2014). In addition to work in Galápagos he has worked extensively on conservation projects in many other parts of the world including Tanzania (endangered amphibians), Russia (snow leopards and argali), and Brazil (river turtles). He remains a Distinguished Professor at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse.

Cristian Gil Jaramillo Technical Assistant

Cristian Gil Jaramillo

TECHNICAL ASSISTANT
Cristian Gil Jaramillo, born in the Galápagos, graduated in Environmental Science from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. As part of his thesis, Cristian studied the terrestrial invertebrate collection at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Then in May 2022 Cristian joined Galápagos Conservancy with the goal of helping manage giant tortoises at the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center on Isabela Island. He strongly believes that fostering an island culture is the key to achieving harmony between the environment and the people of Galápagos.
Alexa Goldstein

Alexa Goldstein

OUTREACH OFFICER

Alexa Goldstein joined Galápagos Conservancy in September 2022. After having a varied career path in the arts and communications, she decided to switch careers to the non-profit sector to contribute to the conservation of Galápagos and the natural world. She hopes to raise awareness about socio-cultural and environmental issues through visual storytelling and social media. Alexa holds a bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Fordham University and a master’s degree in Creative Business Leadership from Savannah College of Arts and Design. Her passion for nature and storytelling weave together seamlessly to push Galápagos Conservancy’s mission forward. 

Team Galápagos Estefania Jativa

Estefanía Játiva

OPERATIONS OFFICER

Estefanía Játiva Espinosa was born in Quito, Ecuador and studied International Relations and Law. She has gained professional experience from working in several public and private institutions in Quito.

In October 2022, Estefanía moved to the Galápagos Islands, which gave her a unique opportunity to appreciate the importance of the archipelago’s biodiversity for Ecuador and the world. This experience has inspired her to use her knowledge and skills to support the conservation and protection of the Enchanted Islands.

As a member of Galápagos Conservancy team, Estefanía is dedicated to preserving the fragile ecosystems of the islands. She is honored to be part of this organization and to work towards creating a sustainable future for the Galápagos. Estefanía is excited to contribute her expertise to this vital mission and to make a positive impact on the conservation of this natural wonder.

David Liberio Communications and Conservation Officer

David Liberio

FIELD JOURNALIST

David Liberio has lived and experienced firsthand the effort and passion involved in conserving the natural beauty of the Galápagos Islands. This experience led him to pursue a university education that would enable him to capture and transmit the essence of life in the Galápagos.

In 2011, David graduated from the Christian Center for Communications in Quito, in conjunction with the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minesota, with a degree in Communication and Multimedia Production. He specialized as a visual artist and has a strong commitment to life and conservation that he believes is for a lifetime.

David is passionate about raising awareness and engaging new generations in the care of the Galápagos Islands. He believes in telling life stories that serve as examples of good living and promote the preservation of this natural wonder. The Galápagos Islands are David’s home, and he is dedicated to their protection and conservation.

Team Galápagos Jenny Macias

Jenny Macías

PEDAGOGICAL ADVISOR FOR THE SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION PROGRAM

Jenny is an experienced educator with a master’s degree in psycho-pedagogy, specializing in early childhood and primary education with a focus on psycho-pedagogical intervention. She also has extensive knowledge and expertise in inclusive practices for children with autism spectrum disorders. In her role as a consultant and designer, she has provided invaluable guidance to teacher training institutes in the Galapagos Islands. Her contributions to education also include authoring a comprehensive methodological guide for the contextualization of the curriculum for the Initial and Preparatory Sub-levels for the Galapagos Islands. Previously, she worked as an English teacher at the Tomás de Berlanga Educational Unit for children in the initial level. Since 2010, she has been serving as the director and coordinator of the Acuarela Child Center, where she oversees the education and care of young children aged 2 to 4 years.

Our Team Galápagos

Joshua McCoy

VICE PRESIDENT OF OUTREACH AND PHILANTHROPY

Josh brings more than twenty years’ experience ranging from reinventing membership and annual giving programs, creating data-driven pipeline management systems, planning, and implementing multi-billion-dollar comprehensive campaigns, to securing transformational seven, eight, and nine figure gifts.
Josh has traveled to Mexico to observe the overwintering Monarch Butterflies, watched for Resplendent Quetzal birds in the cloud forests of Monteverde in Costa Rica, and walked in the footsteps of Charles Darwin in the Galápagos Islands. He lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with his wife, three children, rescue dog, and his small but mighty organic garden.

Roger McDonough Philanthrophy Officer

Roger McDonough

PHILANTHROPHY OFFICER

Roger McDonough joined Galápagos Conservancy in November of 2022 after more than a decade in public radio journalism. Previously, he worked as a communications and fundraising specialist for organizations focused on the conservation of tropical ecosystems. He holds a BA from the University of Utah and an MA in policy and development studies from both Georgetown University and the Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina. He brings with him an enduring passion for protecting wild spaces and the systems that sustain our rich and complex web of life. In his free time, you can find Roger hiking, kayaking, and photographing the birds in his neighborhood — and in the wild.

Judith Moreira Administrative Assistant

Judith Moreira

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
Judith Moreira has a degree in Commerce and Administration Sciences and has worked for the Galápagos National Park as Financial Assistant and later with the Charles Darwin Foundation in the Accounting department and support in the Archive and itineraries area. She firmly believes that Galápagos is a paradise, that it is a privilege and responsibility to live on the islands, and that it is critical to take care of them and keep them unique. She is now part of the staff of the Galápagos Conservancy to support administrative activities that allow scientists to carry out their conservation work on the unique species of the Islands.
Team Galápagos Jessica Proctor

Jessica Proctor

EXECUTIVE CONSERVATION ASSISTANT

Jess Proctor joined Galápagos Conservancy in 2024. As a conservation scientist, she has always deeply admired the Galápagos Islands and is excited to be a part of the Galápagos Conservancy team. Jess completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Conservation Biology at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY. While she was formally trained as a research scientist, she is passionate about science communication and strives to build connections for effective collaborative conservation. Previously, Jess worked with landowners to restore private properties and taught herpetology courses in the Adirondacks. In addition to working with the Galápagos Conservancy, Jess is a licensed Wildlife Rehabber in New York State and volunteers at a local animal rescue. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and wildlife photography as well as spending time with her small “collection” of rescue animals.

Mauricio Rosero Engel Webmaster

Mauricio Rosero Engel

WEBMASTER

Joins Galápagos Conservancy in June 2023 to complement the organization’s communication team, focusing primarily on the technology area. With his extensive background and experience as a webmaster, his professional goal within the organization is to effectively position, promote, and highlight all of the organization’s actions on the web, ensuring they are properly disseminated to the world. Mauricio works diligently every day on his personal growth, driven by his passion for life, balance, and the never-ending nature of continuous learning. He always seeks to acquire the best knowledge, particularly in the field of technology. As a professional, he has led and managed various projects in both the private and public sectors. Currently, he is thrilled to be part of a team of wonderful individuals with incredible initiatives and talents, sharing his experience and contributing to collective success.

Liza Saracina Membership Officer

Liza Saracina

MEMBERSHIP OFFICER
Liza Saracina’s love of the Galápagos Islands started as a young child when she was introduced to the Galápagos Tortoise. Her career in fundraising began at her alma mater, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and she is excited to now bring her expertise to Galápagos Conservancy. In her work with the conservancy, she hopes to be the voice of the voiceless by bringing awareness to the unique animals on the Galápagos Islands that greatly need our support. In addition to her passion for conservation, Liza is also an accomplished oboist who has received a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and artist diploma in music performance. In her free time, she plays with several orchestras in the Midwest, spends time with her wife, dog, Hermann’s tortoise, and pea pufferfish, and loves to make homemade gnocchi to celebrate her Italian heritage.
Our Team Galápagos

Jana Stotler

ACCOUNTANT

Jana Stotler joined Galápagos Conservancy in 2023 and is responsible for all financial aspects of the organization. She has over thirty years of experience directing financial and administrative operations for numerous nonprofit and public higher education organizations. In 2022, Jana moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, after living eleven years in the Costa Rican rain forest. While in Costa Rica she catalogued hundreds of birds in her yard, slothfully watched sloths, and protected iguanas, agoutis, and monkeys in her yard from her six rescued street dogs. She also volunteered with animal rescue organizations and was particularly involved in saving street animals and working with vets in the area to get them medical care. Jana lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico with her husband and five dogs.

Washington Tapia General Director

Washington Tapia

GENERAL DIRECTOR
Washington (Wacho) Tapia is the Galápagos-based General Director. A Galápagos native and reptile expert with decades of field experience, Wacho has been working for Galápagos conservation since volunteering at the tortoise and land iguana breeding and rearing centers at the Charles Darwin Research Station following high school. He completed his graduate thesis on the giant tortoises of Cinco Cerros on southern Isabela Island under the supervision of Dr. Cayot. He then worked for the Galápagos National Park Directorate for 15 years, leading their science program and technical group. In April 2014, Wacho joined the staff of Galápagos Conservancy to direct the GTRI. His work involves constant collaboration with the Galápagos National Park Directorate. He coordinates and leads all fieldwork and plays a vital role in ecosystem conservation work in Galápagos.
Ivonne Torres

Ivonne Torres

CONSERVATION PARTNERTSHIPS COORDINATOR

Ivonne has been in love with the Galápagos Islands since she was a child. She is a tourism specialist. The islands and their protection have led her to work as a naturalist guide, being able to communicate to our visitors the importance of Galápagos and preserving it as one of the most unique places of the world. Her experience is varied. The Charles Darwin Foundation hired her as a liaison between the scientific and tourism sectors of the islands, allowing her to show the importance of science for conservation. She also worked, for several years, as Director of Sustainable Development for the City of Santa Cruz, Galápagos. This gave her the opportunity to work hands-on with the Fishing, agricultural and tourism sectors and their role on the sustainable balance of the islands. Ivonne is now our Conservation Partnership Coordinator.

Team Galápagos Gabriela Vivas

Gabriela Vivas

DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Gabriela is an economist and joined the Galápagos Conservancy team in November 2021 as the Operations Manager, directly supporting the coordination of local activities in Galápagos. She worked for the Galápagos National Park Directorate from 2013 to 2018, serving as Administrative Financial Manager (2013-2015) and Director of the Isabela Technical Operational Unit (2016-2018); and for Island Conservation in the execution of the GEF Project “Safeguarding Biosecurity in the Galápagos Islands” (2019-October 2021), a project that developed support activities for the Ecological Restoration Project on Floreana Island prior to its implementation. In the GEF project, she started as a Technical-Financial Assistant and later became a Restoration Specialist, which allowed her to acquire knowledge in the development of projects related to conservation and become more involved in the work of Galápagos Conservancy in the Galápagos Islands as a co-executor of the GEF project.