International Operations Team
President and CEO
Matt started with Nature and Culture in 2015, as an advisor in the Loja, Ecuador office. For seven years prior to that, he was the Executive Director of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, a conservation organization in his native Portland, Oregon and also served as treasurer on the board of an Oregon-wide network of conservation entities. Additionally, he’s worked extensively for Native American tribal governments in the US, supporting their treaty fishing and water rights. Matt first fell in love with Latin America — its vibrant cultures, stunning landscapes and incredible biodiversity — while in Honduras in the 1990s as a Peace Corps volunteer. He has a BA from Stanford University in English Literature and Human Biology and a Master’s in Environmental Management from Yale University.
Chief Conservation Officer
Renzo is one of NCI’s founders. In 1996, he and Ivan Gailer established the San Francisco Scientific Station, home to the world’s largest tropical mountain forest ecology research program. Under Renzo’s direction, NCI’s first conservation projects were developed in Ecuador. Renzo has broad experience in the field of conservation. He served as coordinator of the United Nations Geo-Loja report and was president of the Regional Council of the Catamayo-Chira River Basin. In recognition of his efforts, Renzo received the Podocarps Award from Loja’s Provincial Council for his conservation and environmental management efforts. He holds a Master’s in Zootechnics from the People’s Friendship University in Moscow.
Chief Development Officer
Karina joins Nature and Culture bringing over 15 years of experience working with international nonprofits in the US and Central America. Her passion for environmental sustainability in conjunction with sustainable development comes from spending over a decade supporting local communities living amongst the mangrove forests of El Salvador. Karina spent over 10 years living and working in Central America as a Program Officer for Humanitarian Preparation and Response with Oxfam America where she coordinated projects throughout Central America. She earned a Master’s degree in International Affairs and a Master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University.
Chief Financial Officer
Keryn is a UC San Diego graduate of dual majors in Economics and Spanish Literature and has an MBA from San Diego State University. She lived in Mexico and Spain during her education, greatly increasing her appreciation for Latin America and its culture. She comes to Nature and Culture with extensive experience as a CPA, having served as Controller and CFO for privately-held and publicly traded companies, as well as accountant for the Spreckels Organ Society during her public accounting tenure. Her love for nature has been enhanced by longtime membership in the San Diego Zoological Society, and she has long desired to work for an organization dedicated to nurturing the environment.
Head of Finance in Latin America
Based in Ecuador, Priscila has been with Nature and Culture for nearly 20 years. Working closely with offices in the U.S. and Latin America, she supervises all financial tasks of the organization and ensures we use resources effectively. Priscila previously worked at financial institutions in Loja, Ecuador, including Filanbanco, Banco del Austro y Banco de Loja. Priscila holds a Doctorate in Accounting and a diploma in auditing.
Director of Marketing
Kristen holds a Master of Arts in Conservation Biology from Miami University, with a focus on how digital content and storytelling can create positive behavior change for conservation. Her passion for adventure and wild places, combined with her marketing and communications background, have taken her across Latin America. From big cat tracking in the cloud forest of Costa Rica to documenting remote villages in Mexico and Brazil, Kristen is committed to using digital media as a force for good. Kristen’s short documentary “Los Osos Anteojos” about spectacled bear conservation efforts in Peru’s dry forest was selected as a 2017 finalist in the American Conservation Film Festival. Prior to joining Nature and Culture, Kristen produced content for Nat Geo, Discovery, BBC, and PBS and has also worked as a volunteer marketing & communications consultant for several local nonprofits in the San Diego area.
Director of Individual Giving
Laura comes to Nature and Culture with nine years of higher education fundraising experience. Laura graduated from Tulane University with a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies and Spanish and a Master’s degree in Liberal Arts. She has lived in Panama and Spain and traveled extensively throughout Latin America. An avid nature lover based in New Orleans, Laura spends her weekends kayaking in Louisiana’s wetlands, trying to find sneaky swimming spots without disturbing the alligators.
Manager of Annual Giving and Donor Engagement
Lauren joins Nature and Culture with an overwhelming passion for birds and the important ecosystems in which they reside. As an experienced aviculturist, naturalist educator and non-profit development professional, she has dedicated her career to working for their celebration and protection. Lauren is especially proud to have spent eight fulfilling years working with Free Flight, an exotic bird sanctuary, in a wide variety of roles from avian care to program management. She focused her undergraduate work in Latin American studies, Spanish and religious studies – an experience that linked her indelibly to both the natural and cultural landscapes of Latin America. Having lived briefly in both Mexico and South America, Lauren considers the areas safeguarded by Nature and Culture to be her second home.
Latin America Communications Coordinator
Now based in Quito, Ecuador, Valeria joins Nature and Culture with experience in sustainability and environmental communication. Her passion for nature led her to pursue a career in environmental journalism. She graduated magna cum laude from the San Francisco University of Quito in June 2015 with a degree in Environmental Communication. After her undergraduate studies, she worked with local communities in Ecuador on environmental communication and education. Over the past five years, she published several environmental articles in national and international media outlets. To complement her communication skills, she obtained a Master’s degree with merit in Sustainable Resource Management from the Technical University of Munich. During her studies, she specialized in landscape management, climate change, and protected areas and wildlife management. Valeria is eager to share her love and passion for nature, and motivate others to protect wildlife and wild places in Latin America.
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Heather graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics and French. Her fascination with language and love of other cultures led her to teach in Brazil, volunteer on an organic farm in France and independently study Portuguese and Spanish. She has a Master of Business Administration, with a focus in International Business, from the University of San Diego, where she was fortunate to intern and study in China, Vietnam and Guatemala. In 2021, she received a Digital Marketing Certificate from UCSD and is highly curious about the array of potential in digital communications and technology. Prior to joining Nature and Culture International, Heather worked in non-profit communications and customer experience. She comes most recently from I Love A Clean San Diego, a San Diego based environmental non-profit.
Daniel graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Business with an emphasis in French and minor in Latin American studies. Daniel’s passion for cultures and languages led him to pursue study abroad programs in Mexico and France. Daniel has joined local groups in San Diego to continue to improve his Spanish and French. Prior to Nature and Culture, Daniel worked as a legal assistant in various types of law such as Immigration, Family Law, and Real Estate with focus on sustainability in the Northern San Diego area. Daniel spends his free time taking care of his citrus trees, chili pepper plants, and berry plants.