A founding member of Native Future, Julian became interested in working with indigenous peoples as a result of his Peace Corps experience in Panama. Living in the rainforest in a Wounaan village and working side by side with the locals, he saw firsthand the issues that affect their lives and land. His main projects there were aimed at dealing with some of the local priorities; the development of a small ecotourism venture, the construction of a new water treatment system, and the expansion of the market for the local artists’ crafts.
After leaving Panama and working for two years with The Nature Conservancy as a Peace Corps volunteer in theRepublic of Palau, he moved to the Coral Reef Research Foundation-Palau (www.CoralReefResearchFoundation.org), where he currently works as a biological technician and collection manager.
Cameron Ellis holds a BA in Political Science from UCLA and an MSc in Evolutionary Anthropology from the University of New Mexico. He grew up partially in central Mexico and has worked extensively in tropical Latin America. He began working in Panama as the Assistant International Programs Director for The Peregrine Fund. He is currently the GIS and Creative Projects Manager at the Sonoran Institute and owns Groundtruth Geographics (www.groundtruthgeographics.com) strategic mapping and multimedia firm. In 2008 he traveled to Panama with Native Future co-founder Julian Dendy to map the boundaries and illegally deforested areas within the Wounaan territories of Rio Hondo and Platanares. Since then, he has been working with Native Future on mapping, GPS training for indigenous people and media production for Native Future’s advocacy work.
Sara grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch farming country, north of Philadelphia, an area from which she was happy to flee in 1962 to attend college. Upon graduation she worked, in those early heady days of Peace Corps, as a literacy volunteer in Bogota, Colombia, and later with her husband, trained volunteers for other Latin American countries. Ultimately they settled in Maine, where Sara enjoyed an active community life with many volunteer positions in rural Mainewhile raising her two sons.
In 2000, Sara rejoined the Peace Corps as an agroforestry volunteer and served two years with the Ñgäbe-Buglé indigenous peoples of Panama in the isolated Nurun village of El Jacinto. Sara supported the activities of her village communal farm, as well as regional women’s and farmer groups, teaching practices of composting, planting of tree nurseries, rice and fish tank farming – plus more. Sara returned toPortland, Maine in 2002, where she currently works at the Maine Historical Society as Executive Administrative Assistant.
While in Panama Sara helped start a scholarship fund with the El Jacinto Bugle families working in the cooperative farm: shoes and uniforms are purchased for participants’ elementary children, tuition is paid for their few high school children. A reciprocal relationship has developed between Sara, who raises the funds, and her extended family in El Jacinto and beyond, who nourish her when she returns for two weeks every year to support the work of the scholarship fund. Sara is eager to work with Native Future in the fulfillment of the education component of its mission, while expanding and bringing more sustainability to the Ngabe Bugle scholarship program.
Marsha joined the board of Native Future in January 2007 and is happy to have an active role in supporting the organization’s mission and the indigenous of Panama. For more than ten years, Marsha has been working as a consultant on conservation and development projects for non-profit organizations such as the Rainforest Alliance and CARE, and on USAID-funded projects managed by private firms. Her work sends her to native lands in the Americas and Africa where she has worked with and learned from native peoples such as the Huarani of Ecuador, Maya of Guatemala, Boki tribes of Nigeria, and Mescalero Apache of New Mexico. Marsha is a natural resources planner with background in cross-cultural communications and facilitation. She works with community, government and non-governmental groups to develop action plans, make land use decisions, and to manage conflict over natural resources. She’s also a trainer and environmental assessment specialist.
A native Vermonter and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Panama 1992 – 1994) Marsha currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she happily roams the southwest desert with the roadrunners and her companion, Doug Erb.
Janice is a native rural Californian living in Massachusetts since 1971. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Rural Community Development in Dominican Republic 1966-1968 and has professional experience in sales and marketing for small private companies to Fortune 100.
She was Peace Corps Country Director-Panama 1997-2002 and has served as a FEMA Disaster Assistance Employee working in hurricanes Charley, Ivan, Jeanne, Katrina, and Rita in Disaster Field Training Operations and Individual Assistance in Disaster Recovery Centers. Janice also works as a gender consultant inLatin America and is an avid birdwatcher and basketball fan.
For more than 30 years, Allen has helped forest communities explore new relationships with the wider world. He helps local folk speak out more strongly in public decisions and deal more effectively in the marketplace. On his two most recent long-term projects, in Nigeria and Liberia, Allen has worked with indigenous communities, local NGOs, traders, and government agencies to conserve the remnants of a tropical rain forest that once spread across all of West Africa. Earlier, he helped develop co-management of protected areas in Nicaragua, Peru, and Sri Lanka. In the 1990s, Allen directed a project for The Nature Conservancy that strengthened community-based natural resource management by indigenous communities from Panama to Belize. From 1988 to 1995, he pioneered community forestry in Nepal. Allen holds degrees in Anthropology from Yale University and International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University.
Born inVermont and raised inCalifornia, Allen’s early experience includes commercial beekeeping, ethnobotanical research among Mayan groups in Chiapas, Mexico, and four years as a Peace Corps volunteer inThailand and the Dominican Republic—where he met Minga, his wife of 35 years.
Megan joined Native Future in November 2009, while living in New York, where she worked at The New York Botanical Garden. She has since relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she and her husband enjoy the many hiking trails. Megan grew up in small towns at the edge of wild places in underpopulated states in the western US. She and her family had many wilderness adventures in these beautiful places. This upbringing instilled in her a love of nature and exploration, which led her to become an ecologist . . . and to travel. Megan has a BS in conservation science from The College of Santa Fe in New Mexico and an MSc in Tropical Ecology from James Cook Universityin northeastern Australia. Her professional experience ranges from environmental consulting in the American Southwest to research on international conservation and land use mapping projects. She recently traveled to Papua New Guinea for a mapping project in the country’s first national conservation area. In addition to her work with Native Future, Megan has previously volunteered on projects with the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners and on university field research projects in northern Australia and northern California. As an ecologist, Megan sees that the conservation of biodiversity is inextricably linked to the conservation of both natural and cultural resources, and she believes in and is happy to be working to help support Native Future’s mission.