Redefining How NGOs Operate

Think strategically and develop an effective business model.

When I applied for Kinship, I didn't work directly with market-based incentives for conservation, but the whole concept had a great appeal to me and it seemed like something that could be applied in Latin America.

My background is in biology and ecology and I have a master's degree in wildlife sciences and natural resources. I moved to Brazil in 2003 to transition from ecology work into international conservation efforts. As a consultant for The Nature Conservancy and Pro-Natura, I evaluated transboundary conservation areas and opportunities in Latin America.

Kinship provided a broad toolkit of valuable conservation strategies. It defined the different tools and the different market-based incentives and, of course, gave me more background in economics. I found it interesting to consider economics as a tool to promote natural resource conservation and saw “market-based solutions” in a new light. This perspective redefined how I believed NGOs could and should operate. I learned it was necessary to think strategically about an organization’s vision and mission, and how to perform within an effective business model.

Until recently, I worked for the Rio State Fisheries Institute where I used a variety of strategies to promote sustainable fisheries. My work included community outreach, education, political advocacy and development of scientific information, in part to elevate the level of awareness about the needs of fishing communities. Through strategic partnerships and messaging, I have helped to build social and political momentum for stronger fishing regulations and the development of marine protected areas in critical regions, so that local fisheries could be certified as sustainable, increasing their value in international markets. The things I learned at Kinship carried over in terms of coming up with strategies, putting together programs, and thinking about how we could step into the fisheries of Rio de Janeiro and try to promote conservation.

I returned to Ithaca, NY last year to coordinate a Cornell-based research institute that works on invasive species issues. In my work right now, it’s the leadership training that is proving most helpful: bringing together an organization around a mission and the whole idea of evolving into leadership roles. Kinship came at a time in my career when I didn't have a vision that I could be in that kind of role; now it feels more natural.

I also valued the support of other Fellows in my cohort. Through the interactions, I felt like that sense of a community of conservation professionals really did help give that boost and confidence to move forward and try new ideas.


“Through strategic partnerships and messaging, I have helped to build social and political momentum for stronger fishing regulations and the development of marine protected areas in critical regions, so that local fisheries could be certified as sustainable, increasing their value in international markets.”