We’re thrilled to welcome our new Program and Policy Director Ana Luisa Ahern to the EcoViva family. Read on to learn about Ana and her impressive story, as well as her plans to further our partners’ work in Central America. You can welcome Ana too by making a donation to our 6th Annual Viva Fund campaign to support youth leadership in El Salvador so that we can continue cultivating a strong movement for locally-led sustainable development in Central America.
My name is Ana Luisa Ahern and I am truly honored and excited to announce that I’ve joined EcoViva’s team as Program and Policy Director!
Originally from Washington, DC, I’ve spent almost a decade living and working in Latin America, the majority of that time in Honduras. My family has a long history of international development work in Latin America and I spent my childhood living in the Honduran capital city of Tegucigalpa, developing strong personal ties to the country. Though we moved back to Washington, DC when I was eight years old, I didn’t stay away for very long and returned to the region almost every year.
After completing a liberal arts degree from Barnard College in New York City, I moved back to Honduras and co-founded the Organization for Youth Empowerment (OYE), a community-based nonprofit in El Progreso. Since then, OYE has grown into a dynamic youth development and leadership organization that reaches thousands of marginalized and underserved young people. In November 2015 the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards recognized OYE with the International Spotlight Award during a ceremony hosted by Michelle Obama at the White House.
In addition to more than ten years of professional experience in sustainable development, women’s movement-building, youth leadership development, and science communications, I hold a master’s degree from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation – an interdisciplinary degree combining a wide range of conservation issues including climate change adaptation and mitigation, sustainable fisheries, coastal resources management, economics, governance, ocean law and policy, and the biological sciences. Most recently I worked with the Gulf of California Marine Program and the Burton Lab at SIO conducting research on fish spawning activity in a Mexican marine protected area.
I believe that through strong science, education, and civic engagement, communities can come together to protect their own environment while preserving their cultural heritage and traditions and improving their standard of living. I believe building strong alliances among stakeholders is the best way to create meaningful, lasting, and sustainable change and I will bring my experiences, along with my dedication and passion for the marine environment, to my new role as EcoViva’s Program and Policy Director.
I’d like to thank Nathan Weller, EcoViva’s outgoing Program and Policy Director, for his incredible contributions to the growth of the organization and look forward to working with him in his new role as a member of our advisory board.
EcoViva’s vision for sustainable development, as well as its plan to achieve that vision, is unique and I am eager to help implement it. I share EcoViva’s belief that social justice and economic security go hand in hand with environmental conservation, and I look forward to working with local partners to ensure environmental sustainability, social justice, and peace for communities in Central America.