Management Team

We are currently actively recruiting for our Advisory Board. If you are interested in joining our team, please send a cover letter and resume/CV to Ryan Lynch, Executive Director.


Ryan L. Lynch, M.S.

Position: Executive Director
Ryan has a B.A. in Ethnobiology and an M.S. in Wildlife Ecology & Conservation. Previous to joining TMA, Ryan spent years traveling and working across Ecuador on a variety of biological research projects.  Working out of the Yanayacu Biology Station in the Eastern Andes in 2005, Ryan studied the nesting ecology of a variety of birds, diversity and natural history of Lepidopterans, and tri-trophic interactions across an elevational gradient spanning from the Amazon all the way up to the high Andes. Ryan also has a special interest in reptiles and amphibians after spending years working with frogs, alligators, crocodiles, and the notorious Burmese python in the Florida Everglades. Ryan joined the TMA team as Executive Director in 2014 after spending two years working with partner NGO The Biodiversity Group. Ryan's current goals include the dramatic expansion of the Jama-Coaque Reserve via a conservation corridor and to grow the international conservation recognition of TMA. Curriculum Vitae


Nick 1

Nick Slobodian

Position: Director of Agroforestry
With a B.A. in Agroecology and Latin American Studies from UC Santa Cruz, Nick has been working in Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Education for the past seven years. He studied permaculture design at the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, CA and received his Permaculture Teaching Certificate from the Southern Oregon Permaculture Institute. For the past two years he has worked as a Horticultural and Vocational Therapist for adults with the developmental disabilities, designing and facilitating an individual learning plan in edible landscaping, land management, and construction for a young man with Autism and a Project Leader for an Aquaponic Farm that serves as a job training program for adults with disabilities. Nick is excited to continue to enhance the Permaculture Design Course and contribute to the overall Agroforestry Plan at the Jama-Coaque Reserve. Curriculum Vitae


Mike Ellis

Mike Ellis, M.S.

Position: Director of Research
In 2012, after several years of traveling, working on various research and education initiatives, and chasing birds, Mike got his first taste of the Jama-Coaque Reserve. An initial two-month stay as a reforestation intern quickly snowballed into a full year spent surveying birds and designing research projects. Afterwards, Mike briefly joined a migratory bird banding station in New York before pursuing an M.S. in wildlife science at Oregon State University. His thesis research uncovered precipitous declines in riparian obligate bird species and has important implications for the conservation of birds and riparian zones in a changing climate. Mike rejoined Third Millennium Alliance in 2016 and is throwing himself into all things science, conservation, and bird-related. When not walking around with binoculars or a camera pressed to his face, Mike can usually be found plucking away at one instrument or another.



Shawn McCracken, Ph.D

Position: Director of Educational Research & Program Development
Shawn has a PhD in Aquatic Resources from Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas. Shawn's research interests lie in identifying evolutionary and ecological drivers of biodiversity in tropical forests through observation of system perturbation effects on these factors at local and landscape scales. Shawn's dissertation work was conducted in the Ecuadorian Amazon where he looked at the environmental quality effects and the ecological context of a rainforest canopy bromeliad fauna. Currently Shawn is a Research Assistant Professor at Texas State University in the Department of Biology, where he teaches Herpetology and leads a Tropical Ecology study abroad course in Ecuador, which is co-lead by TMA staff. Shawn is excited to join the TMA team and spend more time studying Ecuador's coastal forests and teaching students about their importance and conservation status. Curriculum Vitae


Betty Estupinan

Betty Estupiñán Aguirre

Position: Executive Secretary
Born and raised in Quito, Ecuador, Betty has been working in Office Coordination, Management and Administrative Assistance most of her life. Before joining the TMA team, Betty initiated and worked on a variety of Temp Agencies and Human Resource Groups - Grupo CASESFAL, Cia. Ltda. Betty spent many years working as General Manager and Senior Associate in ProApoyo Empresarial Cia. Ltda., Percapej Cia. Ltda. and in 2003 she co-founded CASESFAL Cia. Ltda. In 2000 Betty also opened Rainbowtours Cia. Ltda., a Tour Operator in Quito, Ecuador. Other jobs that Betty has held during her career include: SITA (Societé Internationale de Telecomunicationes Aeronautiques), FUNDAGRO (Fundación para el Desarrollo Agropecuario del Ecuador/USAID), Escuela Politécnica del Ejército (ESPE), and The Universidad Técnica “Luis Vargas Torres” Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias Esmeraldas, Ecuador. Bringing all of her great experience to TMA, Betty is excited to help the organization continue to grow well into the future.



Gabriela Samaniego

Position: Research & Internship Manager
Gaby studied biology in her home city of Cuenca Ecuador at the University of Azuay. As a student she got involved in the study of birds as an intern and later a field tech for the High Andean Bird Monitoring program in Cajas National Park where she learned how to band and conduct census of the birds of the paramo. To gain further experience she pursued an internship with the Hummingbird Monitoring Network (HMN) in southern Arizona where she improved her banding skills with hummingbirds and learned new field techniques for nest searching and the study of the interaction between hummingbirds and plants. The following year she returned to southern Arizona to work as the intern coordinator at HMN. After returning to Ecuador she was selected as the national volunteer at the Charles Darwin Foundation in the Galápagos Islands where she worked with the Galápagos Land Bird Monitoring project. During her time on the islands she studied the state of the populations of the endemic subspecies of Vermillion Flycatcher. After traveling through South America and working at her family farm she started her new adventure at the Jama Coaque Reserve. She is interesting in learning more about the patterns of reproduction and molt of the tropical birds. Curriculum Vitae



Matthew Franz

Position: Permaculture Operations Manager
Matt's education in agriculture began in early childhood, learning from his grandparents in the family garden outside Tucson Arizona. Although permaculture wouldn't become a widely recognized word for nearly two decades his father taught him many of the basic principles as they constructed rainwater harvesting and erosion control features throughout his childhood. After two years studying architecture and a variety of other things at the University of Arizona Matt switched his focus to archaeology so he could study the agricultural pre-history of southern Arizona. He began working as an archaeological field tech, taking jobs in the southwest United States, Hawaii and Mexico, before taking an internship offer at the Native Seeds/SEARCH conservation farm, where he met his future wife Gabriela (who now also works with TMA.) The following year he worked as a farm assistant with Native Seeds/SEARCH, and at the end of the agricultural season he packed up his things and rode his motorcycle to Ecuador, visiting and volunteering on many farms along the way. Matt and Gaby then traveled together south to Argentina, continuing to volunteer on various small farms and other projects. Once back in Ecuador they began receiving volunteers on Gaby's family farm south of Cuenca, which they managed for a year until moving to work with TMA. Curriculum Vitae


Katherine staff photo

Katherine Theus

Position: Web Design, Social Media
With B.A. in Journalism and Spanish from Boston University, Katherine joined the TMA team in 2013, and spent the majority of the year working from our base in Quito. Originally from Northern California, she manages our donor communications, web content, and social networking. A traveler at heart, she has called many places home, including Ghana and New Zealand, and spent the beginning of 2015 exploring Southeast Asia. Currently in the San Francisco Bay Area, she splits her time between working with TMA, Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center, and exercising horses, including two of her own, Spritz and Houdina. If she's not on a horse, you can find her on her motorcycle!


Uver Vaca, TMA's Field Operations Manager.

Uver Vaca

Position: Manager of Field Operations
Uver was born in the local community of Camarones, earned his high school degree in Quito, and later returned to Camarones to play a central role in TMA's field staff. As Manager of Field Operations at the Jama-Coaque Reserve, Uver oversees wildlife monitoring, trail building and maintenance, and all other field work. In the community of Camarones, Uver is the lead instructor for the PEEK program, jointly implemented with The Biodiversity Group, which teaches local children and youth how to use photography as a means to study and document wildlife, particularly amphibians.


Edilberto Marquez, TMA's Head Park Ranger

Edilberto Marquez

Position: Head Park Ranger
Edilberto was born and raised in the local community of Camarones. He is the Head Park Ranger for the Jama-Coaque Reserve and also leads various other field activities, such as trail design, trail building and reforestation activities. His wealth of knowledge about native plants and wildlife, and his patient and kind demeanor, have allowed him to develop into an excellent field research guide. Edilberto led the construction of the Three Forest Trail and all other trails within the Jama-Coaque Reserve, and was certified as a Nature Trail Guide in 2011.


Dany 1

Daniel Fabricio Murillo Morales

Position: Field Assistant
Daniel (Dany) was born and raised in the local community of Camarones, and works part-time as a field assistant in wildlife monitoring, trail maintenance and park operation, agroforestry and reforestation activities, and sustainable systems/permaculture land management in the Jama-Coaque Reserve. He is a remarkably fast learner and an extremely versatile member of our team, and is part of TMA's youth group in Camarones. He was certified as a Jama-Coaque Reserve Nature Trail Guide in 2011.


Wouter 2

Wouter Hantson

Position: GIS Expert
With an MS from Wageningen University (Netherlands), Wouter is a  Geo-Information expert specialized in high resolution remote sensing and unmanned airborne vehicle (UAV) imagery processing and analysis to support spatial risk modeling at the landscape scale. Wouter develops GIS training courses and teaches geographic information systems for ecology, epidemiology and vector mapping, and is teaching a course at the Jama-Coaque Reserve during the Winter 2015 session.