Meet Our Chief Executive Officer


 

Michael Zellner joined the Sonoran Institute as chief executive officer in October 2020. Mike has 30 years of experience building award-winning collaborations for global organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, Dow Jones & Co., and Euromoney. At The Nature Conservancy, Mike collaborated with international, regional and local stakeholders to conserve more than 450,000 acres, raise more than $30 million, build advisory boards in Latin America, and secure the largest corporate partnership in the history of the organization.

Before joining The Nature Conservancy, Mike worked for more than two decades as a business journalist in Mexico and the Americas. He helped to launch the editorial operations of AméricaEconomía (Dow Jones & Co.) and LatinFinance (Euromoney) in Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and Miami. At the end of the 1990s, Mike made the shift from editor-in-chief to owner, buying Miami-based business magazine Latin Trade. Mike led the publication to 27 editorial awards in seven years, and promoted the growth of the Bravo Business Awards into the premier awards ceremony in the Americas.

Mike studied Economics at Tufts University and speaks English, Spanish, and Portuguese fluently. Mike, his wife, artist and photographer Eugenia Vargas-Pereira, and their dog Batuco enjoy trekking, travel, and cooking.

 


ALL Tucson Phoenix Mexicali
Celedonia Alvarado Camacho
TREE PLANTING AND PROPAGATION SUPERVISOR
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 107

Celia has been part of the Sonoran Institute since 2009 and serves as supervisor of tree planting and production in the Colorado River Delta program. Her main responsibilities are the collection and production of native riverside species, as well as the planting, irrigation, and maintenance of restoration sites. She is originally from Río Verde, San Luis Potosí, where she grew up surrounded by the nature she loves, cares for and appreciates, so she defines herself as a country woman. She is a talented birdwatcher and founding member of the group “Wings of the Delta.” Her favorite birds are falcons, which she watched as a child in her homeland. Celia dreams of seeing the Colorado River again with water, birds, native trees and a lot of harmony between humans and their environment. 

Antonio Avila
HYDROLOGY ASSISTANT
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 105

Antonio Avila is our hydrology assistant and his main activities are based on the acquisition, processing, analysis and interpretation of hydrological data. He is a civil engineer who graduated from the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC). Since 2018, he has worked on local and binational impact projects collaborating with government, academic and private sector organizations to conduct hydrological studies, topography, preparation of engineering plans and surface water modeling. Antonio enjoys kayaking, observing nature, and the company of his loved ones.

José Luis Cabrera Negrete
FIELD ASSISTANT
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 107

José Luis joined Sonoran Institute in April 2012 and serves as a field assistant in the Colorado River Delta program, where he supports restoration efforts such as the clearing, collection and production of native riparian species, planting, irrigation, maintenance and support for ecological monitoring activities at restoration sites. Before joining the team, he worked as a driver with Sonoran InstituteHe is originally from the state of Guanajuato and lives in the Poblado Francisco Murguía since 2010. José Luis enjoys open spaces and has dedicated his life to fieldwork and harvesting vegetables sown on his properties. José Luis also masters the welding trade and runs a workshop in his village. 

José Tadeo Caracoza
HYDRAULIC TECHNICIAN
+52-686-582-54-31

José Tadeo serves as a hydraulic technician. José is responsible for surface water monitoring, coordination, administration and supervision of water deliveries at catering sites and monitoring in irrigation modules. He is a Civil Engineer who graduated from the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC). Since 2016, he has worked on civil works projects, surveying, and work plans in government and private sector units. José enjoys aquariums at home and being with his family.

Luke Cole
Associate Director for Resilient Communities and Watersheds
520-290-0828 ext 1002

Luke became the associate director for Resilient Communities and Watersheds upon joining the Sonoran Institute in 2018. Luke manages the ongoing projects on the Santa Cruz River, working with staff and collaborators to restore and enhance this Living River in the heart of southern Arizona and northern Sonora. Prior to joining the Sonoran Institute, Luke worked for the Washington, D.C. city government tracking the District’s green infrastructure and water quality improvement programs with a focus on coordinating tree planting programs and policy. Luke has a Ph.D. in environmental sciences from the University of Virginia, an M.S. in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island, and a B.A. in biology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Abigail Clarke
Development Associate
520-290-0828 ext 1003

Abigail joined the Sonoran Institute in 2020 as a development associate. She assists with managing Sonoran Institute’s growing fundraising department and data entry. Prior to working at Sonoran Institute, Abigail has worked as the Patron Services and box office manager at Scottsdale Arts. She also worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. She holds a master’s degree in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts in art history from the University of Arizona. She enjoys spending time outdoors, baking, singing, and making art using postage stamps.

Daniel Cruz González
HYDROLOGY TECHNICIAN
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 105

Daniel Cruz serves as hydrology technician. He is responsible for coordinating surface and underground monitoring campaigns (Colorado and Hardy River). He is a geologist engineer who graduated from the National Polytechnic Institute and is in the process of obtaining a Master of Science degree from the Institute of Geology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico in the area of groundwater and mathematical modeling. During his professional training, he has participated in projects focused on hydrogeological modeling, hydrogeochemical interpretation, statistical analysis of data, as well as analysis and petrophysical interpretation in deep exploration in the Mexico Basin.

Rosa Elizabeth Díaz
ESTUARINE ECOLOGICAL MONITORING COORDINATOR
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 110

Elizabeth Díaz is the estuarine ecological monitoring coordinator. She collects information on ecological environmental parameters to understand and establish the health of the monitoring sites, as well as to determine scientific processes and methodologies that can be implemented through public policies. She studied biology at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM), holds a degree as a chemical laboratory technician, and a master’s degree in health sciences from the Autonomous University of Baja California. What she likes the most is playing the violin and cello, listening to music and going to concerts. She really enjoys her work and seeing that the knowledge generated contributes to environmental and social well-being.

William Dueñas Ramos
FIELD ASSISTANT
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 107

William Dueñas serves as a field assistant in reforestation and monitoring activities. William is proactive in the activities he performs, learning both in the nursery and in the monitoring of fish, sensors, and zooplankton. William is enthusiastic about automotive mechanics and enjoys fishing on the river and open sea. 

Kim Egita
Chief Finance and Administration Officer
520-290-0828 ext.1004

Kim joined the Sonoran Institute in 2019 and serves as the chief finance & administration officer. Her primary responsibilities include all aspects of financial operations, financial reporting and forecasting, budgeting, and leadership among the finance and administration team both in the US and Mexicali. Kim earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Arizona and is a Certified Public Account. She also holds a certificate in management and organizations from the University of Arizona, Eller College. She has worked in the non-profit field for over 16 years in Tucson. In her previous roles, some of her significant accomplishments included handling the financial components of a merger, facilitating software conversions, and managing capital campaigns. Outside of work Kim enjoys hiking, traveling, walks with her dog, spending time with family, and is passionate about making choices to reduce her ecological footprint. She finds value in being an active community member and has been involved with Handi-Dogs as a board member and treasurer since 2014.

Angelica Cruz Favela
Associate Director, Finance
520-290-0828 ext 1004

Angelica Favela, associate director, finance, joined in 2016. Her primary responsibilities include compliance, monitoring and financial reporting, budgetary review, and invoicing funders. She works closely with Program Directors and staff to insure that grant budgets and financial reporting needs are met. Angelica earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining SI Angelica was with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe from 2007-2016. During her time at the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Angelica worked in the Finance Department in several accounting fields, which included Accounts Payable, Enterprise Fiscal Analyst and Senior Grants & Contracts Accountant. Angelica is a proud member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe she loves to garden, ride in El Tour de Tucson and spend time with her family.

Guadalupe Fonseca Molina
FIELD MANAGER
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 107

Guadalupe Fonseca serves as field manager and has worked at Sonoran Institute since 2004. He is responsible for supervising all field staff, monitoring the implementation of restoration activities and acting as a liaison between the field and office personnel. He is a member and founder of the Bird Watching Group “Wings of the Delta”. Guadalupe is distinguished by his great sense of humor, as well as being the best early riser on the team. He likes his work and always accompanies his travels from the Valley to Mexicali with his classic salted pumpkin seeds. 

Cristal Galindo Jimenez
FIELD SUPERVISOR
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 107

Cristal joined Sonoran Institute in 2007 performing restoration work in Laguna Grande, since the beginning of the Colorado River Delta program in Mexico. Today she serves as Field Supervisor and is responsible for coordinating restoration activities such as the clearing, collection and production of native riparian species, planting, irrigation, maintenance and support for ecological monitoring activities at restoration sites. Cristal’s favorite activity is spending time with her young son while watching cartoons together. 

Toni Garcia-Bullington
Executive Assistant to the CEO
520-290-0828 ext 1000

Toni joined the Sonoran Institute staff in 2016 and serves as the executive assistant to the chief executive officer. Her responsibilities include being the primary point of contact for all matters pertaining to the CEO. She also serves as liaison to the board of directors and senior management teams; and oversees special projects.

Edgar Gómez
GUARD
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 107

Edgar Gómez serves as a guard at Sonoran Institute. His responsibilities are to safeguard the area and restoration sites where machinery, tools, and part of the equipment used for the work of the organization are located.

Rosa María González Gómez
FIELD ASSISTANT
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 107

Rosa María joined Sonoran Institute in 2015 and serves as a field assistant in the Colorado River Delta program, where she supports restoration efforts such as the clearing, collection and production of native riparian species, planting, irrigation, maintenance and support of ecological monitoring activities at restoration sites. Rosy used to devote herself to household chores before working in the field, and since then enjoys working along her teammates, tree watering and learning about the nature around her, especially with plants. In her free time, she likes to spend time with her family and children.

Gabriela González Olimón
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND RESEARCH COORDINATOR
+52 686-582-54-31 Ext. 104

Gabriela is the environmental education coordinator. Since 2015, Gaby has been promoting ecological restoration in the communities surrounding the Delta, coordinating workshops and talks with schools and communities, guiding interpretive walks on our restoration sites, and developing the environmental education program. Gaby graduated as a biologist from Baja California Autonomous University and has implemented environmental education programs in Grand Canyon National Park and an ecology school in Maine. While exploring the forests and deserts, climbing rocks for fun, she became passionate about the furry creatures from an early age. Gaby also has experience in monitoring wildlife, such as the threatened California condor and bats. Gaby wants to inspire youth to go out into the wild, loves exploring new places and cooking.

José Guadalupe Gutierrez Luna
Security
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 107

José Guadalupe works as a guard at Sonoran Institute. His responsibilities are to safeguard the sites where machinery and tools are located.

Rabí E. Hernández Perez
COMMUNICATION AND PROMOTION COORDINATOR
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 104

Rabí supports the development, design and implementation of communication and promotion strategies of Sonoran Institute. He previously worked as a freelancer in the promotion, marketing and corporate design of small businesses, event photography, community management, generation of audiovisual material for educational, government, religious and CSOS institutions. He also has experience as a graphic designer, speaker and journalist. He graduated as an electromechanical engineer from the Instituto Tecnológico de Tapachula and obtained a bachelor’s degree in communication and media from the University of MontemorelosRabí was born in Chiapas in a small tropical village of Tuxtla Chico. He enjoynature, playing the piano, singing and believes in community development. 

Ezequiel Hernández Cardenas
FIELD ASSISTANT
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 107

Ezequiel joined the Sonoran Institute in 2014 and serves as a field assistant in the Colorado River Delta, where he supports restoration efforts such as the clearing, collection and propagation of native coastal species, planting, irrigation, maintenance and support for ecological monitoring activities at restoration sites. He is native to the Mexicali Valley and lives in the Ricardo Masón Guerrero settlementAt a young age, he enjoyed the countryside, which he learned to appreciate thanks to his grandfather, from whom he learned to make constructions with natural materials such as the cachanilla. In his spare time, Ezequiel builds colorful benches, tableschairs, and even figurines of animals using salt cedar branches, which are all part of the attraction of Laguna Grande.

Darcy Hill
Senior Director of Development and Marketing
480-407-7254

Darcy joined the Sonoran Institute as the senior director of development and marketing in 2020.  She is responsible for creating and implanting a full-scale strategy for fundraising and donor relations at the organization, including our Hummingbird Circle and corporate partnersDarcy’s passion and career has consistently been focused on bridging the gap between philanthropy and environmental conservation, serving as the philanthropy officer for Grand Canyon Conservancy and campaign manager for Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. She is a graduate of the Association of Fundraising Professionals mentor program and has extensive experience with prospect research and donor stewardship. When she’s not working Darcy can be found hiking in the Superstitions, spending time with her husband, Pierre, son Pierre Jr., dog Benjamin, and reading anything she can get her hands on.  

Waverly Klaw
DIRECTOR FOR RESILIENT COMMUNITIES AND WATERSHEDS
720-340-0020

Waverly joined the Sonoran Institute in 2019 and is director of Resilient Communities and Watersheds. She leads the Institute’s Colorado-based initiatives, including its Growing Water Smart program, climate resilience work, and water conservation efforts.

Throughout her career in the nonprofit and public sector, Waverly has worked closely with local governments, watershed coalitions and other civic organizations to increase the resilience of the built and natural environment to the impacts of climate change. Waverly was formerly a senior planner for the State of Colorado, where she spearheaded the State’s award-winning Planning for Hazards guide. She also served as a program manager for River Network, supporting riparian and watershed restoration efforts across the country.

Waverly is an accredited planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). She holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Colorado Denver as well as a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Syracuse University.

Alma Lidia Merendón Cerega
FIELD ASSISTANT
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 107

Alma Lidia joined the Sonoran Institute in 2012 and serves as a field assistant in the Colorado River Delta program, where she supports restoration efforts such as the clearing, collection and production of native riverside species, planting, irrigation, maintenance and support for ecological monitoring activities at restoration sites. Her favorite activities at work is dismounting, as it entertains her to tear down salt cedar and other shrubs with the shovel and beak. Lidia enjoys attending parties and dancing cumbia rhythms and romantic songs.

Corinne Matesich
Marketing Communications Manager
520-290-0828 ext 1003

Corinne came to the Sonoran Institute in 2017. She works to highlight the mission and vision of the Sonoran Institute, and raise awareness of the projects and programs that improve Western lands, rivers and communities. She helps to develop campaigns, print materials, e-newsletters, and maintains the web and social media. Prior to joining the Sonoran Institute, Corinne was a graphic designer at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum where she worked with marketing and development staff as well as exhibits. She has also worked for the San Francisco Arts Commission funding artists and non-profits. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Arts Management from the University of San Francisco. She spends free time enjoying the arts and nature. As a native Tucsonan she seeks to spend time in the desert and mountains whenever possible—especially if the creeks are flowing. 

Angela Melendez
GIS Coordinator
+52 686-582-54-31

Angela is the Geographic Information Systems coordinator. She joined the Sonoran Institute in 2016, as a program associate in Phoenix, and moved to Mexicali in 2018 to continue her work with a GIS focus. She works in the integration, analysis, presentation and management of spatial information generated in the organization, with an emphasis on the ongoing projects in the Water and Ecosystem Restoration team, as well as also collaborating closely with the Sustainable Landscapes and Communities team. Angela was born in Los Angeles and lived in Mexicali for much of her life, where she received her bachelor’s degree in architecture and her master’s in sustainable planning and development, from the Autonomous University of Baja California. Outside of work she loves music, painting, and advocating for social and environmental justice.

Mariana Miranda Castillo
PUBLIC POLICY COORDINATOR
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 106

Mariana Miranda is public policy coordinator, responsible for the management of procedures, applications and authorizations, as well as for planning and implementing management activities in the wetlands: Ramsar sites 814 and 1822. Mariana holds a degree in administration with a specialization in finance from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana campus Azcapotzalco. She has 13 years of experience in the federal environmental sector and has basic and intermediate technical knowledge in air quality, waste management, climate change, ecosystem restoration, etc. In addition, it has advanced knowledge in environmental planning, management and public policies. Mariana is an avid reader of novels and essays, is a runner in the background (from 5 km to 42 km) and enjoys outdoor activities whenever the weather permits.

Edlin Nuñez
Human Resources and Administration Manager
520-290-0828 ext. 1004

Edlin joined the Sonoran Institute in 2019 as our human resources & administration manager. A native Tucsonan, she is a graduate of Grand Canyon University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She has spent her career serving with community-based organizations, including seven years with CODAC Health, Recovery & Wellness. She has also worked with United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Arizona and Leman Academy of Excellence. Her focus is in human resources, and she specializes in personnel planning, operations, project management roles, including facilities, and customer service management.

Humberto Pacheco
FIELD ASSISTANT
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 107

Humberto has been part of the Sonoran Institute since July 2018 as a field assistant. Some of his main responsibilities are providing security at Laguna Grande restoration site, and supporting monitoring in the Colorado River estuary. Humberto is originally from Sinaloa, Mexico. He expertly enjoys the art of fishing doing it whenever possible. 

Alfredo Ramos Tolento
Restoration Assistant
+52-686-582-54-31
Carlos Eduardo Restrepo Giraldo
MONITORING SPECIALIST
+52 686-582-5431 Ext. 105

Carlos Restrepo serves as a monitoring specialist. Carlos is responsible for supervising the institution’s various monitoring teams: riparian ecological monitoring, estuarine ecological monitoring, hydrological monitoring and GIS-based remote sensing monitoring. In addition, Carlos is responsible for integrating monitoring and restoration data to study and propose adaptive management strategies of the restoration sites managed by the Sonoran Institute, within the framework of the Science Team of Act 323. Carlos is a Colombian biologist from the University of Caldas in Manizales (Colombia), and obtained his master’s degree in biological sciences from the Institute of Ecology A.C. in Xalapa, Veracruz (Mexico). During his scientific and professional training, sensorial ecology was what caught his eye the most, so he ended up specializing for more than 7 years in the study of the biosonar of neotropic insectivorous bats. Thanks to this, Carlos developed several skills and abilities in the monitoring of wildlife and their natural habitat, taking charge of various fauna and habitat monitoring projects in wind and photovoltaic developments throughout the Mexican territory. Carlos enjoys warm country days and starry desert nights. 

Tomás Rivas Salcedo
RESTORATION SPECIALIST
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 110

Tomás Rivas is a restoration specialist for the Colorado River Delta and since 2012 has collaborated with Sonoran Institute. Tomás oversees the restoration activities of the riparian corridor and in the estuary of the Colorado River Delta. He graduated in 1999 as a marine biologist from the Autonomous University of Campeche with an emphasis on ecology and has implemented water quality monitoring and coastal zooplankton in the Gulf of Mexico. He has experience in the management of conservation and restoration projects in southeastern Mexico and has training in the management and restoration of coastal and estuary ecosystems. He also has experience in monitoring fauna, especially insects phylogenetic, taxonomic, and systematic analysis. 

Alejandro Cruz Rosas Palafox
HYDROLOGICAL MONITORING COORDINATOR
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 105

Alejandro Cruz Rosas Palafox serves as coordinator of Hydrological Monitoring and Spatial Analysis and is responsible for hydrological monitoring. He is a Geophysical Engineer and graduated from the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, later obtaining a master’s degree in applied geosciences from the Potosino Institute of Scientific and Technological Research. During his professional training, he has specialized in hydrogeology, geophysical exploration and geographic information systems applied to Earth sciences and geomarketing. Alejandro enjoys contact with nature, hiking and craft activities.

Enrique Rosas
FIELD ASSISTANT
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 107

Enrique began at Sonoran Institute in mid-2017 and serves as a field assistant in the Colorado River Delta, where he supports restoration efforts such as the clearing, collection and production of native coastal species, planting, irrigation, maintenance and support of ecological monitoring activities at restoration sites. Enrique has nearly ten years of experience working in the fields of the Mexicali Valley where he used to collect and pack vegetables. Today he says he enjoys coexistence and companionship during his current work. Every day he rides his bike to stay in shape and to appreciate the surrounding landscape, besides playing baseball and football.

Helen Salazar Arteaga
RIPARIAN ECOLOGICAL MONITORING COORDINATOR
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 103

Helen Salazar Arteaga has been the riparian ecological monitoring coordinator at the Sonoran Institute since April 2017. She has participated in monitoring fish, birdszooplancton and vegetation in the Colorado River Delta area, as well as in managing collected data. Helen is a Biologist graduated from the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos and a Master of Science at the Institute of Ecology, A.C. in Xalapa, Veracruz. Prior to joining the Sonoran Institute, she participated in vegetation sampling in southeastern Mexico and bird monitoring in the Tehuantepec Isthmus. Helen likes to dance, swim, play ultimate frisbee and all kinds of outdoor activities.

Israel Mateo Sánchez Leyva
ESTUARINE ECOLOGICAL MONITORING TECHNICIAN
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 110

Israel Sanchez serves as estuarine ecological monitoring technician. Israel is responsible for collecting and analyzing physicochemical parameter data at monitoring sites. He graduated from bioengineering at the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC), and later obtained a master’s degree in life sciences with a specialization in marine biotechnology from the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education of Ensenada, B.C. (CICESE) During his professional training he has specialized in environmental microbiology, microbial detection techniques and bioinformatics analysis. Israel enjoys extreme sports such as surfing, skateboarding and mountain biking, as well as practicing the bass in his free time.

Edith Santiago Serrano
Associate Director - Colorado River Delta Program
+52-686-582-54-31

Edith Santiago is an associate director for our Colorado River Delta work and has been working in the program since 2005. Edith is responsible for overseeing the operation of the field office in Mexicali, including the administration and implementation of projects. She supports the Program in establishing work plans, identifying funding needs with foundations and private donors. She has experience managing conservation and restoration projects in Mexico and training in estuarine and coastal ecosystems restoration and management. Edith speaks Spanish and English and some French. She holds a master’s degree in integrated environmental studies from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom and studied oceanology at the University of Baja California in Ensenada Baja California with emphasis in water quality.

John Shepard
Senior Adviser
520-290-0828 ext 1002

John Shepard is the senior adviser at the Sonoran Institute, responsible for strategic initiatives and partnerships that help align the organization’s programs with the mission and vision of the organization. John advises staff in program planning, implementation, and evaluation, and assists with fundraising at the organizational and program level. Over his 25-year tenure at the Sonoran Institute, John has launched the Institute’s renewable energy program, as well as training programs on community land-use planning for rural western county commissioners, integrating conservation into master-planned communities for developers, and partnership building for public land managers and gateway communities. He also established Building from the Best of Tucson, a project that promotes development consistent with Tucson’s building traditions and appropriate for a desert community. Before joining the Institute, John worked for seven years in resource development at The Wilderness Society and for five years conducting a series of investigative reports on federal health and safety programs for a consumer advocacy organization.

Amanda Smith
Program Coordinator
520-290-0828 ext 1002

Amanda Smith is a program coordinator working on our Growing Water Smart program, as well as the Santa Cruz River and assorted open space planning projects. She joined the Sonoran Institute in 2017. She is excited to support the power of collaborative partnerships necessary for protecting open landscapes and planning smart cities that foster a high quality of living. Having been raised in Wisconsin, living all over the United States, and now a resident of Arizona since 2012–she has lived in the common ground between diverse cultures. Inclusive planning is a priority. Her background combines a master’s degree in urban planning and water policy with several years as a wildlife biologist and volunteering in disaster recovery. She likes to spend time in the wilder parts in and around Tucson.

Shane Stanzel
Marketing Intern

Shane joined the Sonoran Institute in 2020 and serves as our marketing intern. His responsibilities include delivering and managing online content for the organization’s various communications channels as well as assisting the marketing communications manager. Shane has a Bachelor of Arts in Information Science and eSociety from the University of Arizona. He previously worked as a marketing assistant at the University of Arizona where he managed social media accounts and helped organize student events. Outside of work he enjoys singleplayer gaming, listening to tech podcasts, and spending time with his dog. 

Rocío Torres Moguel
Director of the Colorado River Delta Program
+52-686-582-54-31 ext 103

Rocío became the director for Sonoran Institute México in 2019. She oversees operations of the Colorado River Delta programs in our Mexicali office. With 15+ years in project management experience, Rocío has planned and implemented all operations in several programs, including the Sustainable Business Area in the National Commission for Protected Areas in Mexico. She has been a sustainability consultant for the German Cooperation Agency (GIZ) and the United Nations Development Program (PNUD). Rocío has given conferences in Peru and Chile regarding her work with local communities in World Heritage Sites/Protected Areas in Mexico. Rocío studied in Okinawa, Japan, Sustainable Development & Environmental Education for Local Communities sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), she has an M.F.A. on Museum Studies and a B.A. in graphic design from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.

Francisco Zamora
Senior Director of Programs
520-290-0828 ext 1002

Francisco Zamora Arroyo joined the Sonoran Institute in April 2002 to manage activities in the Delta of the Colorado River. Dr. Zamora has more than fourteen years experience working in the Delta as a researcher and project manager. As the senior director of programs he is responsible for integrating community stewardship, applied science, and local values in an alliance to reform water policy, conserve and restore priority areas, and build knowledge and capacity for collaboration between water managers and local leaders. Dr. Zamora has developed close relationships with Mexican and U.S. agencies involved in water and land management, and communicates frequently with regional or national officials dealing with issues in the Colorado River Delta. He spends a good portion of his time in the field working with communities, visiting potential restoration areas, and doing field research and restoration work. He obtained his Ph.D. in resource geography from Oregon State University in October 2002, with a minor in natural resource economics. He also holds a master’s degree in marine resource management from Oregon State University and a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography from Autonomous University of Baja California. He has published his work on ecological restoration, policy, and bi-national collaboration issues in the Delta.

Alfredo Zavala Hernandez
FIELD ASSISTANT
+52-686-582-54-31 Ext. 107

Alfredo has worked at Sonoran Institute since 2014 and serves as a field assistant in the Colorado River Delta program, where he supports restoration work such as the clearing, collection and production of native riverside species, planting, irrigation, maintenance and support for ecological monitoring activities at restoration sites. He is originally from Ciudad Coahuila City and has worked in the countryside all his life. Alfredo enjoys nature and is a great sports fan.

Michael Zellner
CEO
520-290-0828

Michael Zellner joined the Sonoran Institute as chief executive officer in October 2020. Mike has 30 years of experience building award-winning collaborations for global organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, Dow Jones & Co., and Euromoney. At The Nature Conservancy, Mike collaborated with international, regional and local stakeholders to conserve more than 450,000 acres, raise more than $30 million, build advisory boards in Latin America, and secure the largest corporate partnership in the history of the organization.

Before joining The Nature Conservancy, Mike worked for more than two decades as a business journalist in Mexico and the Americas. He helped to launch the editorial operations of AméricaEconomía (Dow Jones & Co.) and LatinFinance (Euromoney) in Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and Miami. At the end of the 1990s, Mike made the shift from editor-in-chief to owner, buying Miami-based business magazine Latin Trade. Mike led the publication to 27 editorial awards in seven years, and promoted the growth of the Bravo Business Awards into the premier awards ceremony in the Americas.

Mike studied Economics at Tufts University and speaks English, Spanish, and Portuguese fluently. Mike, his wife, artist and photographer Eugenia Vargas-Pereira, and their dog Batuco enjoy trekking, travel, and cooking.

Claire Zugmeyer
Ecologist
520-290-0828 ext 1002

Claire Zugmeyer is the lead ecologist and project manager for the Santa Cruz River projects. Joining Sonoran Institute in 2007, she leads a variety of efforts including production of the Living River series that summarizes river conditions, monitoring fish and other parameters along the river, and organization of the annual Santa Cruz River Research Days, an event promoting collaboration and awareness of regional research and conservation efforts. She completed a Master of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology at the University of Arizona, a Bachelor of Science in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution at the University of California, Los Angeles, and has worked on a variety of research and management projects focusing on birds, mammals, fish and amphibians, including Arizona’s endangered Mt. Graham red squirrel.

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