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Founders & Board of Directors

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Alison J. Lipman, Ph.D., Co-Founder, President, Board of Directors
Alison J. Lipman, co-founder of SELVA International, currently works as CEO of the organization. She spent much of the past 12 years directing conservation and research projects in South America. Much of this time was spent living and working in Amazonian villages, in Bolivia and Brazil. Her 15 years of experience working with indigenous groups, non profit organizations (NGOs), and governments in South America and the U.S. laid the groundwork for formation of SELVA. Past research investigated life histories, decline, and threats to endangered species (e.g., northern spotted owl, Palos Verdes blue butterfly, South American river turtles); toxicity effects of cleaning products; methods and effectiveness of habitat restoration; propagation and conservation of California native plants; land-use effects of subsistence-based livelihoods; community-based natural resource management; and stream water quality and bioassessment. She has worked under contract with UCLA, the University of Georgia, the U.S. National Park Service, the California Dept. of Fish & Game, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, various NGOs in the U.S. and South America, as a private consultant, and with the Bolivian National Park Service. She has managed protected areas owned by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy and the U.S. Navy, on which she instituted the first off-site reintroductions of the endangered Palos Verdes blue butterfly. She is an active member of the IUCN and Species Survival Commission Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group and has managed and written management and reintroduction plans for conservation projects, including the Palos Verdes blue butterfly Project in California, and the Parque Machía Wildlife Refuge and South American river turtle project in Bolivia. She teaches ecology courses at UCLA and has taught at the University of Georgia and in South America. In addition to publishing in scientific journals, she is currently writing a popular-science conservation book. Dr. Lipman earned her Ph.D. in ecology at the Odum School of Ecology, at the University of Georgia.



Mer-Mer Chen, M.S., Co-Founder & COO
Mer-Mer Chen is co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of SELVA International. She is an avid outdoor adventurist and has spent much of the past 15 years traveling throughout North America, Latin America, Asia, Europe. and Africa. Her love of the outdoors and concern for the environment led her to join Alison Lipman in the creation of SELVA. Aside from conservation, her other main interests are health, fitness, and martial arts. For many years she managed Champions Martial Arts in Los Angeles, where she designed and implemented martial arts, fitness, and character development programs for adults and children, and directed and maintained all aspects of company finances, customer service, computer systems, and hiring and management of employees. Mer-Mer is a graphic designer, and in addition to years of freelance work to private businesses, she designed all advertising pieces (e.g., art work, layout, copy, print/publish, web) for Champions and SELVA. She is a Black Belt in martial arts, specializing in and teaching Chinese wushu, kung fu, kickboxing, and self-defense. She has worked as a stunt person for various movies and television shows, including the popular children's series, the Power Rangers, and as the character "Princess" in WMAC Masters. Mer-Mer has her teaching credential with the State of California. She teaches at Paul Revere Middle School, where she directs the Go Green Club in an effort to educate and promote conservation and environmental responsibility on a local level. Mer-Mer graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she studied fine arts and mathematics, and completed the Management Development for Entrepreneurs Program at the Anderson School of Management. She also has her Masters in instructional design and technology.



C. Ronald Carroll, Ph.D., Secretary, Board of Directors
C. Ronald Carroll, former Director of the University of Georgia, Institute of Ecology, is currently a Professor in the Odum School of Ecology and a faculty member in the Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development program, which he established. He is a founder and Co-Director for Science of the River Basin Science and Policy Center at the university. He helped initiate the Choco-Andes Corridor project in Ecuador, which embraces over a million hectares and is one of the largest conservation and sustainable development projects in South America. He has been principal investigator on conservation and research projects throughout the tropics, sub-tropics, and U.S., including projects funded by the U.S. Energy Research Development Agency (ERDA), National Science Foundation (NSF), Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Noyes Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Rockefeller Foundation, U.S. Agency for International Development, UNESCO, USAID, and the World Bank, among others, totaling grants of more than $19 million. Dr. Carroll is a reviewer for the journals Ecology, Ecological Applications, Environmental Entomology, and Conservation Biology, and he is a reviewer of grant proposals for the NSF, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, National Forest Service, Australian Research Council, and several private foundations. Among innumerable professional services, he serves on the Strategy Implementation Committee for the GA Dept. of Natural Resources, Ossabaw Island Foundation Board, Global Cause Science Advisory Board and served on the Board of Trustees of the Georgia Conservancy, Executive Committee of the Organization for Tropical Studies, National Planning Committee at the Smithsonian Institution, and the Editorial Board of the journal Conservation Biology. In addition to over 60 journal publications, many book chapters, and over 30 book reviews, he co-authored the largest selling graduate-level textbook on conservation ecology. Dr. Carroll earned his Ph.D. in population biology at the University of Chicago.



Rudolf H. T. Mattoni, Ph.D., Treasurer, Board of Directors
Rudi Mattoni is currently Editor for the Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera, the leading international professional journal in its field, and president of the Lepidoptera Research Foundation, Inc. Throughout his career he founded and directed various corporations (Biological Systems Divisions, NUS Corp.; International Microbiological Products, Inc.; Agri Science Laboratories, Inc.; and Agresearch, Inc.); where he personally standardized protocols for over 600 standard assays including laboratory quality control; established the first use of a microcomputer in a non-medical laboratory; directed the first California laboratory certified in chemistry, microbiology, and bioassay of water (1975); and performed contract work for the USDA-APHIS, FDA, USDAS-ARS, USAF, city and county agencies, and over 100 regular clients. He developed and implemented plans to restore the severely damaged ecosystems of the Los Angeles coastal sand dunes and adjacent habitats; designed and obtained permits for the Playa Vista sand dune restoration segment of the Ballona Wetlands project; and developed and implemented habitat conservation plans for endangered species at San Pedro, Palos Verdes Peninsula, and Delhi sand dunes sites (U.S. Navy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), in California. He wrote Species Recovery Plans for the endangered Palos Verdes blue butterfly, which he rediscovered after it was believed to be extinct, and the Delhi Sands giant flower-loving fly. He was principal investigator for the NASA Biosatellite program, member of the Los Angeles county Environmental Review Board, and Professor and Lecturer at CSULA, CSUN, and UCLA, where he developed several institutes and classes for teachers for the UCLA-Graduate School of Education and Information Science. He has authored over 50 papers, 150 reports, and edited a series of field guides for the greater Los Angeles and Buenos Aires areas. Dr. Mattoni earned his Ph.D. in Zoology, Genetics, and Ecology at the University of California, Los Angeles.



Rebeca Justicia , Ph.D., Board of Directors
Born in Ecuador and educated in England, Holland, and the United States, Dr. Rebeca Justicia is a seasoned ecologist with over 20 years of experience designing and administering conservation and sustainable development projects in Ecuador and the United States. Her particular area of interest is in the development of effective conservation methods to measure accountability and sustainability of conservation projects. She has provided strategic leadership to science-based conservation and development projects with multimillion-dollar investments and multicultural partners from communities, funding agencies, NGOs, governments, businesses, and scientists from all over the world. She has successfully managed conservation and development projects for international donors such as the GEF/World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, US Fish and Wildlife Service, UK's Overseas Development Administration, USAID, German Technical Corporation (GTZ), IUCN, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Butler Foundation. She has raised and managed more than $6 million in grants and matching contributions and participated in partnerships to leverage over $25 million for conservation and biodiversity projects. She co-founded the Maquipucuna Foundation, which, under her leadership, implemented the first land purchase for conservation in Ecuador with a debt-for-nature swap, established three award-winning ecotourism operations, initiated the first conservation corridor initiative, and designed and implemented the first Kyoto approved carbon offset project of Land Use and Land Use Change (LULUC) in Ecuador. She initiated the US-Ecuador environmental education program "Our Shared Forests," and as a business entrepreneur she co-founded the US-based specialty coffee business "1000 Faces Coffee, LLC." She has authored an extensive list of scientific publications, reports, seminars, and field representations, both nationally and internationally. Dr. Justicia earned her Ph.D. in ecology at the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia.

Board of Advisors

Jimena Valdivia


Jimena Valdivia, M.A., AEP Co-Director & Cultural Director

Jimena Valdivia holds a master degree in international education from the School for International Training (SIT) in Vermont. Over a seven year period, she developed and administered educational exchange programs and partnerships among universities in in the U.S. and Latin America. As the previous director or public and cultural affairs at the Bi-National Center in Bolivia, she was in charge of coordinating a number of cultural events and outreach programs for U.S. official visitors with the U.S. embassy; reaching over 17,000 participants in four years. JImena was also an EducationUSA advisor (a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State). One of her main duties was to serve as a liaison between bi-national centers in Latin America, U.S. Embassies, and international educational institutions. One of her major achievements professionally includes an increase (75% in four years) in the number of Bolivian students pursuing higher education opportunities in the United States. During her time at Hampshire College as Assistant Director of the World Language Enrichment and Acquisition Office, Jimena co-developed, promoted and implemented the Amazon Exchange Program (AEP).


Veronica Limpias


Veronica Limpias, AEP Logistics Director

Veronica Limpias is the logistics director for SELVA's Amazon Exchange Program. Since 2002, she has developed tourism projects for various tour operating companies in Bolivia. From 2002 to 2005, she developed tourism programs in Noel Kempff Mercado National Park (PNNK) for the tourism agency Neblina Forest. From 2005 to 2007, she worked as the Director of Eco-Tourism for the Friends of Nature Foundation, where she developed and directed all the logistics and tourism operations in Noel Kempff Mercado National Park. In 2008, through a contract with The Nature Conservancy and funded by UNESCO, she developed the Eco-Tourism Program for Noel Kempff Mercado National Park. In 2009, she worked as the commercial manager for the private tour agency Tourist Operations Jenecheru Tours. From 2009 to the present date, she works as an independent consultant developing sustainable projects in developing communities in Bolivia for the state government of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.




Charlotte Stevenson, M.S.
Charlotte Stevenson is currently the Communications Specialist for University of Southern California (USC) Sea Grant, a nationwide network administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of 32 university-based programs that work with coastal communities. The Sea Grant Program at USC has served the Southern California coastal region since 1972, funding research, transferring results to govern-ment agencies and user groups, and providing information about marine resources, recreation and education to the public. Charlotte has a Masters of Science from Stanford University in Marine Biology in the field of toxicology. In 2006 she was awarded a John A. Knauss National Sea Grant Fellowship in Washington, D.C, where she worked for the Natural Resources Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, concentrating primarily on the reauthoriztion of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. After working as a scientist for Heal the Bay, Charlotte now is USC Sea Grant’s Science Communications Specialist. She writes Sea Grant’s quarterly newsletter, the Urban Mariner, is helping to redesign Sea Grant’s website, and contributes writing and design skills to other ongoing Sea Grant projects. She is also currently an M.F.A candidate in Photography at the Academy of Art, San Francisco. In her free time she enjoys rock climbing and hiking in Joshua Tree and Taquitz.



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