|Staff and Board|
Matthew Watherston travelled to the Amazon in the beginning of 2007 and saw how the impact of westernization and industrial development was destroying the traditions of the indigenous people and the environment across the Amazon at large. He founded Alianza Arkana partnering with indigenous people to help them preserve their environment, rights and traditions. Before coming to the Amazon, Matthew worked as operations director for a large property developer and real estate company in Spain. After a profound experience in the Amazon his life changed dramatically and his heart called him to leave behind his business career. His previous management experiences have enabled him to have successfully developed Alianza Arkana, minus the competitive and ego-driven environment. He has built an organization that has brought together like minded people - from Peru and overseas - who are committed to finding solutions to the widespread problems faced here in the Amazon.
Brian Robert Best is an anthropologist from the University of Nebraska, specializing in environmental issues. Brian first arrived to the Amazon in 2004 to carry out research in rural development. Since then, he has been working on researching and developing waste management programs geared to small Amazonian communities. In 2008, Brian led the execution of a pilot waste management program in the community of San Francisco. This pilot project has now expanded outover the last 5 years into 16 Shipibo communities across the Ucayli River and continues to grow. His goal is that all Shipibo communities in the future will live in a clean and healthy community with zero waste, sustainable farming practices and total self sufficiency.
Paul Roberts has been involved in education all his life. His primary school education was reasonably enlightened but secondary school introduced him to the injustice of the English public school system, and left him with a lifelong desire to transform educational practices. He has a degree in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University, a Masters in Human Resource Development from South Bank University, London, and a Doctorate from the Center for Action Research at Bath University. He lived for seven years in Mexico, working as a Professor at the University of Guadalajara. He first visited the Peruvian Amazon in January 2010 where he was amazed at both the richness and diversity of the natural environment and the extraordinary culture and cosmovision of the Shipibo people. In the summer of 2011, he moved to Pucallpa, Peru to be Director of Education for Alianza Arkana.
Amanda Garratt comes to Alianza Arkana with a strong background in environmental and social justice. She came to Peru as a Fulbright scholar in 2009 where she began working with the Shipibo for the first time on a photography project that documents environmental injustices facing these communities. Before this she worked in Washington DC on a USAID Amazon Conservation project and also in Detroit, Michigan where she worked with the Environmental Justice Initiative on environmental health community research. Amanda has a joint Masters degree from the University of Michigan in Natural Resources and the Environment and Macro Social Work, in which she focused on community organizing around environmental justice.
Reagan Kuhn works in online strategy for Alianza Arkana. Having worked in online communications for Human Rights First in New York City, she came to the Amazon on an exploratory trip to study environmental and human rights issues. Originally from the United States, she has lived in Paris, Vietnam, and now Peru, studying and working in international development, environmental issues, and human rights for various research, funding, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including WWF, GRET, Ford Foundation, and others. She has an undergraduate degree from Boston University in English and Ancient Greek and Latin and a Masters Degree from Sciences Po Paris in International Affairs.
Before coming to the Peruvian Amazon, Stefan Kistler worked for 3 years for the Rainforest Foundation Norway as a programme coordinator in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has much experience with forest management issues, indigenous and forest peoples rights, advocacy and civil society activism. He holds a Bachelor degree in Development Studies from the University of Oslo and a Master of Science in International Environmental Studies from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Ås. He started as a consultant for Alianza Arkana's Environmental Justice program last year and is currently coordinating the program
Debbie Rivett is an independent producer, director, camera operator, presenter, educator, and musician. Having entered the industry in South Africa in 1997, she has extensive experience in film and television both in front of, and behind the camera. Her work tends to incorporate culture, development, art and creative mediums, human rights and social political issues. Her passion is working with indigenous people and their issues, utilizing the power of film to empower, educate and inform.
Marcos Urquia is from the Shipibo community of Nuevo Panaillo. He received a degree in agronomy from the University of Tingo Maria, and then in 1995 took a permaculture course, with permaculture specialist, Ali Sharif. Fascinated by the topic, Marcos completed a degree at the Permaculture Insittute of the Amazon in Manaus, Brazil in 2003. Since then, Marcos has worked on several permaculture projects with indigenous communities in the Amazon. He is currently implementing a permaculture plan at our intercultural school in Puerto Firmeza, as well as developing plans for three other communities on the Ucayali River through our Community Based Solutions Program.
Board of Advisors
Atossa is the Founder and Executive Director of Amazon Watch - a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. In partnership with indigenous peoples, Atossa has been leading campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability and the preservation of the Amazon's ecological systems. Atossa is the chair of the board of trustees of the Christensen Fund and serves on the board of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs. Before Amazon Watch, Atossa directed campaigns at the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) to end logging in endangered ecosystems. Atossa began her environmental career in the late 1980's as Conservation Director for the City of Santa Monica where she designed and directed an award-winning resource conservation program.
Lily La Torre
Lily La Torre was born in the Peruvian Amazon and received her law degree from the Catholic University of Peru. She serves as legal advisor to the Legal Defense Program of Amazon Indigenous Organizations and the Interethnic Association for Development of the Peruvian Jungle. In 1995, she co-founded Racimos de Ungurahui, a non-governmental organization promoting the rights of indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon. She is the author of "All We Want is to Live in Peace," published in 1999, in which she shares lessons learned over 15 years working with the Achuar and other indigenous communities in Peru seeking to protect their lands from polluting oil companies.
Albert Bates is the author of 14 books including The Biochar Solution: Carbon Farming and Climate Change, The Post Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook, and Climate in Crisis: The Greenhouse Effect and What We Can Do. A former environmental rights lawyer, he has lived at The Farm, a pioneering intentional community in Tennessee for the past 40 years. He has taught courses on permaculture, eco-village design and natural building for over 30 years. Albert appears frequently as a public speaker, commentator and on podcasts, and is a regular blogger and tweeter. He is the co-founder of three organizations, including Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology (which he has headed for 35 years); the Ecovillage Network of the Americas and the Global Ecovillage Network. GVI channels resources to forward-looking social movements worldwide, including a peace-through-permaculture project in Israel and Palestine, a municipal landfill arts project in Mexico, and the Sail Transport Network, moving fair trade goods along coastal routes.