Paso Pacifico

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Our Team

Paso Pacífico’s successes are a result of the hard work of its dedicated staff, its active Board of Directors, and numerous scientists, professionals, and interns who volunteer their time. Together, we are working towards realizing our dream of creating viable wildlife corridors along the Pacific Coast of Central America.

 Staff in the US - Staff in Nicaragua - Associated Scientists & Professionals

Staff in the US

Sarah Otterstrom

Executive Director - Sarah Otterstrom, PhD

Sarah is an ecologist with over 17 years experience in Central America where she has lived and worked as a student, scientist, and leader in biodiversity conservation. After learning first-hand of the unique beauty of tropical dry forests and pacific coast habitats, she became determined to dedicate her life to protecting them. Otterstrom received a Ph.D. in Ecology, in the area of emphasis of Human Ecology, from UC Davis. Her scientific research has focused on the ecological impacts of fires in tropical forests and the cultural practices that influence tropical fire regimes. As a conservation scientist she serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Biotropica. She has also served on the Association for Fire Ecology and the Sociedad Mesoamericana para la Biología y Conservación. Sarah was named an Ashoka Fellow in 2015.

Director of Conservation Science – Kim Williams-Guillén, PhD

Kim is a conservation scientist whose main interests involve the role of agricultural and human-managed lands in tropical mammal conservation. She coordinates Paso Pacífico’s long-term biodiversity monitoring programs and the application of conservation science for target species such as migratory birds and spider monkeys. Kim received her Ph.D. in 2003 from New York University. Currently, she recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan where she worked with Dr. Ivette Perfecto on the role of bats and in agricultural systems in Mexico. Kim is an adjunct professor at the University of Washington, Bothell.

Accounts Manager – Nicole Salazar

Nicole started at Paso Pacífico in 2010 as an administrator at the US office. Nicole's experience and degree in sociology and business management has helped her to adapt her skill set to the needs of Paso Pacifico. Working here has been a good fit because helping and teaching has been a consistent part of her work, from working as an English teacher in Taiwan to teaching people healthy living at Weight Watchers.  As an amateur photographer, her favorite subject has always been nature. As an observer and lover of nature, she has enjoyed working with Paso Pacífico by providing administrative and accounting support to further their causes.


Intern - Jacob Farner



Staff In Nicaragua

Liza Gonzalez

Country Director – Liza González, Msc

Liza has been a leading conservationist in Nicaragua for over a decade. As an ecologist trained at the Universidad Centroamericana in Managua, she has worked in varying capacities for non-governmental organizations, on community-based conservation projects and in leadership positions within the Nicaraguan ministry of the environment. In recent years she was director of the National Protected Areas System, overseeing the management of 76 protected areas and also served as the Director of the Biodiversity Program, an agency charged with evaluating and protecting the nation’s biodiversity. 
Education Specialist - Julie Martínez

Julie leads our environmental education program, sharing the wonders of our natural world with children at six different schools across the Paso del Istmo. She studied biology at the Universidad Nacional de Nicaragua in Managua. Since joining Paso Pacifico in 2006, Julie has been instrumental in organizing many community workshops and school events. She especially enjoys helping students to gain hands-on learning in the forests and beaches in their neighborhood.

Entrepreneurship Project Coordinator & Environmental Leadership for Geo-tourism- Maritza Rivera C, MSc.

Maritza has a degree in Ecology, an MA in Economics with emphasis on investment projects in the Central American University (UCA). She has over 20 years experience in planning and management of natural resources, environment and rural development, preparation of environmental impact studies, population resettlement processes and social equity. Maritza, was Director of Environmental and Social Impact of the Millennium Challenge Account (2006-2011), prior to this post (1999-2006) served as Environmental Officer USAID (United States Agency for International Development). She spent ten years at MARENA (Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources) serving as Head of Public Use Program, Director of Masaya Volcano National Park and Project Director in 4 protected areas of the Pacific-Nicaragua. Recently she has been a consultant for UNDP, LuxDev. and Chemonics on issues of adaptation to climate change and food security.

Primate Conservation – Claudia Nohemi Perla Medrano

Julie leads our environmental education program, sharing the wonders of our natural world with children at six different schools across the Paso del Istmo. She studied biology at the Universidad Nacional de Nicaragua in Managua. Since joining Paso Pacifico in 2006, Julie has been instrumental in organizing many community workshops and school events. She especially enjoys helping students to gain hands-on learning in the forests and beaches in their neighborhood. 
  Conservation Scientist – Martín Lezama, Msc

Martín is a wildlife biologist with expertise in wetland conservation, parrots, and migratory birds. Martín taught ecology at the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) for fourteen years. As part of Paso Pacifico's scientific team, Martin is working to understand the threats and status of the endangered Yellow-naped Parrot in the Paso del Istmo. Recently, Martín was an author on the management plan for Nicaragua's largest protected area, Reserva Indio Maíz. He presently serves as the secretary for the Sociedad Mesoamericana para la Biología y Conservación.

Agroforestry & Watershed Restoration Coordinator -

Marcela Lucía Gutiérrez Carrillo

Jaguar Conservation Program Manager -

Marvin Elias Chévez Morales

Transportation Coordinator -

Meyer Antonio Rodríguez


Photo Coming Soon

Office & Administrative Manager -

Carmen Lopez

Graphic Designer/Administrative Assistant -

Jesús Winel Ruíz Morales

Communications Coordinator -

Adelayde Rivas 

Meliponiculture Program Manager - 

Marcos Antonio Calero Pérez

Biodiversity Program Manager - 

Marlon Wilfredo Sotelo Reyes

Amphibian and Bat Conservation Specialist -

Milton Ñamendy 

Spider Monkey Sanctuary Manager -

Jarinton Javier García Paz


Parrot Conservation 

Cristian Bonilla


Fisheries Conservation 

Mercedes Peñalba  


Health Care

Eyda Torrez (dentist)

 Forest Rangers

Hector Luis Espinoza Acevedo

Jose Francisco Vanegas Cortez

Jose Felipe García Mendez

Carlos Jose Chavez García

Turtle Rangers

Felix Pedro Reyes Yubanks

Erick Arturo Guido Vanegas

Jairo Luis Coronado Alemán

Yorlin de Jesús Vargas Collado

Eliéser Antonio Valle Delgadillo

Iraldo Sánchez

Marcos de Jesús Pizarro

Women's Turtle


Maura Antonia Martínez

Liessi Lisseth Calero Jiménez

Darling Idalia Delgado Jiménez

María del Carmen Rodríguez Gutiérrez

Yazmina de Fátima Flores

Elena Yajaira Vargas Martínez

Karen Lacayo


Associated Scientists and Professionals 


Conservation Scientist – Stephanie Spehar, PhD
Stephanie is a primatologist and conservation scientist who received her Ph.D. from New York University in 2006. Her primary interests focus on large-scale ecosystem conservation and the response of “umbrella species” such as primates and other large-bodied wildlife to anthropogenic habitat disturbance, with an eye toward developing effective conservation policy. She is also interested in the ecological role of primates and their effect on overall biodiversity and ecosystem functions. Her dissertation research was conducted with white-bellied spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth) in northeastern Ecuador, and she also has experience working on wildlife-related conservation issues in Asia. She visited Nicaragua in January 2007 to assist in sample collection and project planning, and is currently working with Paso Pacífico to examine the habitat use and behavioral ecology of spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) living in forest fragments in southern Nicaragua.




Conservation Scientist – Suzanne Hagell, PhD

Suzanne completed her Ph.D. with Paso Pacífico and the School of Forestry at Northern Arizona University. Her dissertation used genetic techniques to understand how the endangered Central American spider monkeys interact with the fragment dry tropical forests of the Paso del Istmo. Suzanne found that the monkeys rely on forest restoration and protection to persist in Nicaragua. Suzanne has volunteered for Paso Pacífico for several years training young Nicaraguan biologists, making maps, and participating in primate monitoring activities.

Richard Joyce
Richard is a recent college graduate interested in ecology, sustainable agriculture, and the intersections of nature and culture. He grew up surrounded by tropical forest in Monteverde, Costa Rica and received his BA in Environmental Studies and Spanish from Bowdoin College. In the past, Richard has translated web content for Paso Pacifico, and in the dry season of 2014 he helped advance our meliponiculture initiatives. He now helps contribute to our blog and grantwriting. Thanks Richard for your hard work!


Keep up with news from (and about) the Paso Pacífico team on our blog.

Contact Us

PO Box 1244 • Ventura, CA 93002-1244
Phone: 1-805-643-7044

Carretera a Masaya Km 12.4
Residencial Villas del Prado, Casa No. 7
Managua, Nicaragua
Phone: +505-2279-8423
Phone: +505-2279-7072

© 2006 Paso Pacífico