People

Meet our team and directors

Ara Manzanillo Project Team



Ara Manzanillo relies on a small and dedicated staff for our day-to-day operations. The staff is composed of young local community leaders that have been with the project for several years. They have been trained in bird husbandry, forestry, tree climbing skills, and community outreach activities. Throughout the year staff are joined by dozens of volunteers from around the world who learn about the birds in their care, and monitor them in the wild. Learn more about our wonderful staff below:

Duaro Mayorga Hernández - Manzanillo Site Manager
Duaro is a certified naturalist guide, native indigenous Bribri from the local Kekoldi indigenous territory in Talamanca. From a young age Duaro worked on his family’s agro-forestry farm and was particularly dedicated to their project breeding and caring for the endangered Green Iguanas. They were reproduced for release into forested areas as hunting had severely diminished the species. He has worked as a local ecotourism Nature guide for 10 years and assisted visiting US ornithologists for 6 seasons at the Kekoldi Hawk Observation post, counting, netting and attaching ID bracelets during hawk migrations North and South. Duaro was the youngest member ever elected to preside over the governing board of the Kekoldi Development Association for a 2-year post. He was sponsored and trained in parrot husbandry at the Hagen Avicultural Research Institute (HARI) in Quebec, Canada. He is also certified from numerous training courses, including tree climbing safety techniques and canopy rope skills from the National Training Institute (INA) and the National Tourism Institute (ICT).
Tirza Morales - Education and Outreach Officer
Tirza joined The Ara Project in 2015. She was born, raised and studied agroecology in Talamanca and has been promoting local rural ethno-tourism and environmental education for years. She has also been recognized as a young woman community leader, is an avid Nature lover, an admirer of the macaws and deeply committed to the Ara Manzanillo conservation work. Tirza is actively involved in many community initiatives, including recycling, the Blue Flag program, school parents’ group and is a craftsperson. Her native language is Spanish, she is also conversant in English, Bribri and Mekatelyu (local Creole).
Simone Bryan Donley - Communications
Simone has recently joined the Ara Manzanillo project. She is a biologist graduated from the University of Costa Rica, a Nature enthusiast, cycler and mother. A native of the South Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, she has contributed to local recycling efforts, ecotourism projects and small local businesses. Simone is bilingual Spanish/English and is honored to be an integral part of the Ara Manzanillo conservation effort in her hometown.
Volunteers

Ara Manzanillo is very fortunate to regularly receive energetic and dedicated people, from around the world and all walks of life, who donate their time to work with our Ara Manzanillo team. Volunteers stay for a minimum of one month, however, many participate for 3-6 months or longer and often return in subsequent years. Volunteers contribute an absolutely vital part of the organization’s efforts and work hard in tasks including the day-to-day care and maintenance of the birds and infrastructure. We also receive interns and specialized volunteers who work within their disciplines, such as visiting vets, biologists, builders, landscapers and graphic designers. Volunteers live onsite and enjoy the rewarding experience of hands on conservation of Great Green macaw survival, but also the rich cultural exchange of living in rural Costa Rica amongst people from diverse backgrounds.

Board of Directors



Ara Manzanillo is a Costa Rican licensed, government-supervised, conservation organization operated by the non-profit organization Asociación El Proyecto Ara. The Board of Directors is comprised of hands-on professionals who oversee the association, including the following members:

President: Enrique Pucci C.
Management consultant, specializing in industrial and construction projects. Enrique is a longtime promoter of sustainable development initiatives in the South Caribbean region of Costa Rica. Landowner and on-site supporter of the Ara Manzanillo reintroduction site, as well as founding member of the on-profit association, he contributes a significant amount of time to the project as he is now semi-retired.
Vice-president: Yasmin Granados
Costa Rican attorney specializing in human rights and environment. Yasmin has worked as a legal consultant with various non-governmental entities and for the Ministry of the Environment on wildlife issues. Her research has focused on indigenous rights and conservation in Peru, Mexico and Costa Rica. She is presently finishing her Masters in Sustainable Development and Conservation with an emphasis on indigenous communities at the University of Costa Rica.
Treasurer: Steve Milpacher
Operations Director of the World Parrot Trust, Steve Milpacher is a dedicated conservationist who has kept and bred parrots for over 30 years, and has traveled extensively in Central America and the Caribbean to study parrots in the wild. He completed undergrad studies in biological sciences and received a certificate in Endangered Species Management from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (UK). He is a speaker at international conferences and has published articles in parrot-related magazines and journals. In his spare time, Steve is an enthusiastic wildlife photographer whose pictures have been published in magazines, books and calendars.
Secretary: Emily Yozell
Emily is a US trained attorney living and working in Central America, based in Costa Rica for 30 years. She has investigated and litigated human rights violations in Latin America, and promoted the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment. She co-founded the first public interest environmental litigation project in Central America, Justicia para la Naturaleza, in 1994 that established many important environmental legal precedents. Emily resides in the South Caribbean region of Costa Rica where she has established conservation easements and other mechanisms to protect valuable eco-systems and local land rights. She is a dual national US/CR, a founding board member and property owner at the Ara Manzanillo reintroduction site.
Wendy Solís Hernández
Costa Rican biologist, with a Masters in Sustainable Development majoring in Conservation of Biological Resources from the University of Costa Rica. Her master’s dissertation was “Gene flow across a fragmented landscape in the hummingbird pollinated timber species Symphonia globulifera (Clusiaceae) and its implications for sustainable development”. Wendy was in charge of the Biology Department’s Genetics Laboratory at UCR where she performed standardized DNA extractions, quantifications, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), prepared samples and interpreted and analyzed results. She presently resides in Sweden.
Luis Fernando Arias
Fernando is an Agricultural Engineer with broad experience. He successfully developed and directed the Center for Food Technology at the University of Costa Rica; he is a landowner and supporter of the Ara Manzanillo release site for the Great Green Macaw reintroduction activities and founding board member. He has been active nationally in numerous sustainable development initiatives.
James Gilardi, Ph. D.
Executive Director of the World Parrot Trust, Dr. Gilardi is a conservation biologist specializing in behavioral and physiological ecology with special focus on tropical forest birds and marine vertebrates. Following undergraduate studies at the University of Washington and UC Santa Cruz, he earned a Ph.D. in Ecology from UC Davis studying parrot social behavior, foraging ecology, and soil eating in Southeastern Peru. He has studied wild parrots for more than 25 years and is active in WPT’s fieldwork, conserving parrots around the world.
Cristiana Senni

Joining the World Parrot Trust in 1997, Cristiana volunteered as a translator for PsittaScene, WPT’s quarterly magazine. Over time Cristiana became the Trust’s representative in Italy, and in 2000, became a WPT Trustee.

Cristiana’s work with the Trust has focused on researching the issues related to the wild-caught trade, along with representing the WPT at bird-trade related meetings with the EU Commission, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and CITES. Her latest role at the Trust is as the Social Media Coordinator / Bird Trade Specialist where she uses her talents to manage WPT’s social networks – Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – as well she helps to facilitate all aspects of WPT’s efforts to end the international trade in wild-caught birds.