US ECOLIFE Team

BILL TOONE

BILL TOONE

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & FOUNDER - BTOONE@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Bill always dreamed of being an ornithologist and working for the Zoological Society of San Diego.  He started applying for jobs when he was 8 years old.  Hired to pick up trash when he was 16, Bill spent his time at work quietly observing birds and their behavior.  He left to study causes of reproductive failure in endangered birds.  In 1979, Bill graduated with a master’s degree from the University of California where his work focused on the reproductive behavior of the highly endangered California condor. He was hired by the Zoological Society of San Diego and was simultaneously appointed to the federally mandated California Condor Recovery Team.

 

 

 

After rising through the ranks to the level of Curator of Birds, Bill became disillusioned by traditional efforts in conservation.  He was allowed to launch a new division in Applied Conservation and ultimately left the zoo as the Director of Applied Conservation Programs.  In each of these positions he traveled extensively and ultimately worked in over 30 countries including Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Paraguay, Cameroon and Madagascar.  He worked with animal species from the birds of paradise, iguanas, Chacoan peccaries, giant armadillos, elephants and gorillas.

Through all this work there seemed to be an association between impoverished resources and impoverished people.  Hoping to find a more successful path in conservation Bill co-founded ECOLIFE Conservation in 2003. In 2008, Bill resigned from the zoo to devote full-time effort to seeing ECOLIFE succeed. 

ANNE MIDDLETON

ANNE MIDDLETON

OPERATIONS DIRECTOR - AMIDDLETON@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Anne Middleton joined the ECOLIFE team as Director of Operations in August, 2017. She oversees staff and helps develop and implement ECOLIFE’s projects at home and abroad.

Originally from Montana, Anne moved to San Diego in 2014 from Cameroon, after having finished a contract with Taylor Guitars on legal and sustainable ebony wood procurement for guitar manufacturing. In Cameroon, she managed multiple projects including supply chain transparency, raw materials supply, and community, public and governmental relations at local and international levels. In San Diego she was also employed by Sustainability Matters, a local greenbuild firm, and the San Diego County Water Authority.

Prior to her tenure in Cameroon, she worked for a non-profit organization in Washington DC, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), whose focus is to investigate international wildlife crime and lobby for legislative solutions. EIA’s investigations in Madagascar led to the first criminal case for the amended U.S. Lacey Act, a ban on trade in illegal wood.

Anne has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Oberlin College and a master’s degree of Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara. Having non-profit, public, and private sector experience, Anne brings a unique set of skills to the team at ECOLIFE. In her free time she enjoys cooking, taking her dog to the beach, and playing guitar.

KAIT COLE

KAIT COLE

AQUAPONICS PROGRAM MANAGER - KCOLE@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Kait is a San Diego native who is passionate about creating positive change in our food system. She pursued her degrees in Psychology and Communication, where she graduated with honors from San Diego State University. At ECOLIFE, Kait manages the Aquaponic Educational Programs, where she leads sustainable agriculture, STEM, Next Generation Science, and environmental education programs. She spends her free time with loved ones, playing music, practicing yoga, traveling, cooking, gardening, tasting new food, crafting, and focusing on self development.

MARTIN NIWINSKI

MARTIN NIWINSKI

AQUAPONICS TECHNICIAN- MNIWINSKI@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Martin is a San Diego native who earned his BA in Sustainability from San Diego State University. Soon after, he built his first aquaponics system and discovered his passion for growing. Throughout his career he has helped design, build, maintain, and consult on a variety of systems from backyard to commercial. Martin strives to be on the cutting edge of aquaponic innovation and is dedicated to teaching others how to grow nutrient dense food in a sustainable manner.

His other interests include horticulture, sustainable design, and food production technology. In his free time, Martin enjoys traveling, cooking, playing music, and working on his food forest where he grows over 50 kinds of rare fruit.

CONNOR LEONE

CONNOR LEONE

AQUAPONICS EDUCATION COORDINATOR - CLEONE@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Connor is pursuing his degree in Environmental Science at California State University San Marcos. At ECOLIFE, Connor is responsible for maintaining and building our ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Kits. Additionally, he provides a variety of assistance to teachers involved in ECOLIFE’s education program.  He is passionate about bringing awareness to environmental challenges through education.

CLEMENCIA TORO

CLEMENCIA TORO

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT - CTORO@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Originally from Colombia, Clemencia pursued university studies in England, France and in New Zealand. She worked as Administrative Assistant in the banking industry in Colombia and for the Department of Statistics in New Zealand. While living in New Zealand, she also majored as a Professional Pastry Chef. In the past she volunteered her time as a bookkeeper for the Escondido Children’s Museum. She loves her job and feels very proud to be part of the ECOLIFE team. She loves hiking, cooking, adventure traveling and exploring new places.

BELLA GUERRA

BELLA GUERRA

EVENTS MANAGER - BGUERRA@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Originally from San Francisco, Bella received a BA in Communication Studies from San Francisco State University. She has several years of non-profit experience from first coordinating her first event for a homeless shelter at the age of 15,  to working with a substance abuse recovery center, typical and special needs children, and fundraising for her sorority, Alpha Phi’s, philanthropy throughout her college career.

 

 

Aside from her passion for non-profits, she is highly driven by helping others and enjoys coming up with new and creative ways to give back to the community. Bella strongly believes we live to positively impact others and the world around us so when she’s not at the office, she’s devoting her time serving on the youth ministry at her local church, C3, feeding the homeless, outdoors, or at the gym.

ALEC STRANSKY

ALEC STRANSKY

COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR - ASTRANSKY@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Raised on the East Coast, Alec attended Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Environmental Studies. Originally pursuing a career in corporate finance, his passion for nature and the awe-inspiring outdoors redirected his course towards activism, engaging with environmentally focused organizations, and attempting to redefine the relationship between business and the environment. Alec has created and led a campaign against single-use plastics, chartered and led a University chapter of Surfrider Foundation, and worked in a collaborative team to analyze building energy data for the City of Boston. When not attempting to save the planet, he is enjoying his time relaxing in the ocean, hiking and biking in the mountains, and lounging with his two Labrador Retrievers.

LINN SPLANE

LINN SPLANE

MULTIMEDIA COORDINATOR - LSPLANE@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Linn is a Southern California native and a grad student studying Conservation Biology. She earned her bachelor’s in Anthropology at UCLA, where she alternated between taking classes on campus and working on archaeological digs. Linn is studying under Miami University and the researchers at San Diego Zoo Global, and is concentrating her work on resilience in social-ecological systems.  She has long harbored a passion for making the sciences accessible to the general public, and has several years’ experience creating videos for science and innovation. Her overall aim in outreach is to appeal to audiences resistant to scientific thinking and to promote a shift in society’s perception of humanity’s relationship with the environment.  Linn‘s other interests include dancing, Golden Age films, archery, piano, and travel.

NIKKI

NIKKI

AQUAPONICS PROJECT COORDINATOR - NADAMS@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Nikki is a student at Cal State University San Marcos, pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies. She is president of the newly-formed CSU Garden Club and finds passion in topics surrounding plants, food forests, and sustainability. As such, she’s incredibly excited about her position as Project Coordinator, piloting cutting edge aquaponic technology and programming to propagate native plants for habitat restoration with students at Helix High. Nikki loves spending time in nature and frequently finds opportunities to hike, camp or go to the beach. When she’s not doing that, she is practicing her ukulele and spending time with her dog Marley.

CHRIS GOERING

CHRIS GOERING

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE EDUCATOR - CGOERING@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Chris is a student at San Diego State University finishing up his BA in Sustainability. Throughout his collegiate experience, he has been deeply involved with the Enviro-Business Society (e3) where he developed a passion for sustainable urban agriculture and environmental education. Chris is assisting with the educational programming and aquaponics maintenance at the Earth Lab, where he inspires passion for sustainability in our future generation. When he’s not working on school or ECOLIFE, you can find him at a farmer’s market, in waves, or on a mountain. Chris holds his family, the earth, and mindfulness as his core values and wishes to share that with his community.

Mexico ECOLIFE Team

ALEJANDRO TAVERA

ALEJANDRO TAVERA

MEXICO PROGRAM MANAGER - ATAVERA@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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 Alejandro is from Morelia, Michoacán, México, graduated in 2009 from the bachelor in Industrial Design, at UANL. Alejandro has worked in different parts and areas, but his specialty is the management of ecotechnological projects and programs, as well as ecodesign, where he has been able to explore and generate products such as improved wood cook stoves and efficient kilns for pottery and artisana brick production. Alejandro seeks to improve himself day after day, he is motivated to improve the situation in his country and be a changemaker.

Alejandro considers his work as a great opportunity to create job opportunities for others and support people, environment and public health, working on their mindset, and is an avid enthusiast of organization and planning.

Alejandro’s interests are traveling, cooking and gastronomy, playing sports such as soccer, basketball or rugby, reading, designing and building furniture.

MARÍA DE LA LUZ VALENCIA SÁNCHEZ

MARÍA DE LA LUZ VALENCIA SÁNCHEZ

PROMOTION COORDINATOR - LVALENCIA@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Luz is from Tepalcatepec, Michoacán, México; and graduated in Engineering in Community Development from the Higher Technological Institute of Coalcomán. Currently it is developed within ECOLIFE in the position of  Promotion Coordinator. Her job is to coordinate the promoters of the stoves and supervise that the possible beneficiaries comply with the necessary requirements for the installation.

Working at ECOLIFE means a space where she can learn, grow, but above all leave a legacy as a changemaker. She loves taking care of the environment, the health of the people, generating work for the communities where she works and having the opportunity to travel, to know places and to know new people.

Luz is interested in improving herself in all aspects of her life, offering the best of her every day, both in the work and personal aspects. She likes to listen to music, visit new places and learn its gastronomy, go to the movies, ride her bicycle, and sometimes to play board games and volleyball.

ADRIÁN CATANA GARCÍA

ADRIÁN CATANA GARCÍA

HEAD OF SUPPLIES AND CONSTRUCTION - ACATANA@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Adrián is originally from Zitácuaro, Michoacán, México; and graduated in Bachelor of Sustainable Development from the Intercultural University of the State of Mexico. His next academic goal is to pursue a master’s degree in Sustainability. He is currently working within ECOLIFE as Head of the Supplies and Construction Department.

His job is to coordinate all the elements and processes that are carried out for the construction of Patsari stovesd in the communities of the beneficiaries. He always had the interest in collaborating with the care of the environment and the health of the people, the projects that are carried out within ECOLIFE go hand in hand with these two actions. He is interested in perfecting the work done by ECOLIFE in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve; and in generating sources of employment in rural localities and native peoples.

Adrián likes to travel, go to the movies, rodeos, and dances. He also has many hobbies, including listening to music, watching soccer games, reading, playing the guitar and playing with his pets.

EDUARDO RAMÍREZ MENDOZA

EDUARDO RAMÍREZ MENDOZA

CONSTRUCTION COORDINATOR

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Eduardo is from Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico; and graduated in the Degree in Environmental Sciences with an area of ​​deepening in Ecotechnology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. His next academic goal is to pursue a master’s degree in energy efficiency in construction, industry and transport. Currently it is developed within ECOLIFE in the coordination of the Department of Supplies and Construction.

His inclination to collaborate in ECOLIFE arises from his academic training and interest in solving environmental problems. It seems very important and exciting to him how the good application and use of a technology, however simple it is, can be the point of union that allows avoiding or attacking a set of economic, social and environmental problems, improving the quality of life of the people and the conservation of natural resources. This organization allows him to explore this type of strategy more thoroughly.

Eduardo has always led a life full of sports, but for a few years, he has dedicated himself completely to practicing Triathlon. He likes to travel, be outdoors, go out with his friends, and go to the gym.

BRENDA LOURDES PINEDA MENDOZA

BRENDA LOURDES PINEDA MENDOZA

PROMOTION AND MONITORING OFFICER - BPINEDA@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Brenda is originally from Tacámbaro, Michoacán, México; and graduated in the Degree in Environmental Sciences with an area of ​​deepening in Ecotechnology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

She made her professional internships at ECOLIFE and since then he has been part of the organization. Currently, she develops the post of Promotion and Monitoring Officer, her job is to promote the use and acquisition of Patsari stoves, as well as to obtain the geolocation of each one of them to later carry out studies of adoption and impact of their use in the communities. She likes ECOLIFE because it is a way to support Mexicans, protect the environment, and help empower women. She is interested in promoting awareness regarding the care of the environment through ecotechnologies and other friendly alternatives to nature.

Among her tastes are practicing several sports, mainly soccer and rugby. She enjoys spending time with her family since it is very important to her.