Meet the People of
Friends of Calakmul
Brief bios of our founders,
research team, legal team, friends and partners.
Dr. Gerardo Ceballos
Chief Biologist and Founder of
Friends of Calakmul. Gerardo is one of the foremost ecologists and
conservationists in Mexico. His outstanding career includes work in
population and community ecology, biogeography, macroecology, and
management, and conservation of vertebrates. He has published 80
scientific and popular papers and 15 books on endangered species,
wildlife management, and reserve design. He is a professor at the
Institute of Ecology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
and a member of the National Council for Protected Areas. He is
currently on sabbatical in Stanford University, working with Dr. Paul
Dr. Sandra Kahn and David Leventhal
Co-founders of Friends of
Calakmul and citizens of the world committed to habitat conservation.
David and Sandra provided instrumental seed funding to initiate the
project and raise funds on a continual basis in order to sustain the
long-term viability of the Calakmul land trust. Sandra is an
orthodontist with practices in Pacifica and Redwood City, California.
David works in a high-tech firm in Silicon Valley. Sandra, who was born
in Mexico City, came to the United States to obtain her Masters Degree
in Orthodontics, whereupon she met David. They are now married and have
two children, Ilan and Ariella.
Dr. Alberto Szekely
Legal Counsel of Friends of
Calakmul. Alberto is one of the most renowned experts in environmental
law in Mexico. He ensures the legality and the long-term security of the
land conservation easements negotiated with local community landowners.
Dr. Szekely's outstanding record includes the implementation of several
major reserves in Mexico including the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere
Reserve, the legal defense of the gray whale sanctuaries in the state of
Baja California, and international agreements for the conservation of
natural resources. He is an honorary member of the United Nations and
represents Mexico on water use negotiations with the United States.
negotiations with the US on water use rights.
Lisa Antillon Kantrowitz
Donor relations for Friends of Calakmul. Lisa studied a BA in
International Relations in the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico
and a Master of Science in International Relations in Georgetown
University with a specialization in International Development. Her work
experience includes Regional Manager for Latin American financial
institutions for The Advisory Board Company in Washington, DC; the
creation of a network of Latin American microfinance institutions and
U.S.-based multilateral and donor organizations in Consorcio
Latinoamericano para Capacitación en Microfinanciamiento (COLCAMI) in
Mexico City; Partner and Director of Government and Development Programs
in ASISA, a Mexico City-based GIS solutions company. Asked why she chose
to work for FOC she says "A small organization with practically no
overhead and a focus on signing land-easement agreements per acre
conserved is sure to stretch every dollar received to the max."
Ximena de la Macorra
Ximena studied International Relations at the Universidad Iberoamericana
in Mexico City and has a very impressive résumé related to conservation:
She has opened Sierra Madre stores (specializing in environmentally and
socially-responsible products) in four beach resorts in Mexico;
organized the First Unidos para la Conservación Photography of Mexico
Contest along with World Wildlife Fund, Agrupación Sierra Madre and The
Body Shop; founded and presently directs the National Association of
Natural Private Reserves (of Mexico), ARENA; works as director of
international cooperation of the Mexico-Guatemala-Belize Calakmul-Peten
alliance; and collaborates with Dr. Gerardo Ceballos in several projects
concerning the Calakmul rainforest.
Cheri Sugal has worked in more than 25 countries with indigenous people, governments and local landowners, helping to create more than 100 million acres of new protected areas world-wide. In 2001, she helped create the one-hundred-million dollar Global Conservation Fund with funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, for Conservation International in Washington, DC. In 2002, she became Executive Director of World Parks (www.worldparks.org), a non-profit brokering conservation deals with private landowners in areas identified as the last remaining habitats for the world's most critically endangered species (www.zeroextinction.org.). In addition to serving as Executive Director of Friends of Calakmul, Cheri is also currently an advisor to the Natural World Museum (www.naturalworldmuseum.org), the first museum in the world dedicated to educating the public about conservation, and a board member of Costa Rica Conservation Trust (www.conservecostarica.org), an organization helping to create sustainable practices in the central pacific valley of Costa Rica.
Heliot studied Biology at National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
His research has focused on management and conservation of mammals;
specifically in the application of GIS and spatial analyses to
environmental problem solving in terrestrial research and wildlife
management. He has conducted research in southern Mexico, mainly in the
tropical forests of Chiapas, Campeche, and Quintana Roo. For his
Master’s thesis, Heliot worked on a Mexican jaguar project. His research
determined the habitat use of jaguars in human-dominated landscape and
modeled the suitability of habitat for this species in the Mayan forest
in the southern Yucatan Peninsula. Currently, he is collaborating with
Dr. Gerardo Ceballos in several research projects including a jaguar
project in Calakmul.
D&R Greenway Land Trust
D&R Greenway Land Trust is central New Jersey's non-profit land preservation organization, founded in 1989 through the collaboration and vision of four organizations: the Stony Brook - Millstone Watershed Association, Friends of Princeton Open Space, Regional Planning Partnership, and the Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission. D&R Greenway permanently preserves watershed lands and large-scale landscapes, thereby preventing the loss of open space to development. Their operating region consists of over 1,500 square miles, encompassing portions of the Delaware, Raritan and Millstone River watersheds and the Delaware & Raritan Canal. This includes all of Mercer County and parts of Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex, Burlington and Monmouth counties. They have a staff of 6 full-time and 6 part-time professionals.
D&R Greenway Land Trust's mission is to:
Preserve and protect a permanent network of natural lands and open spaces, creating the conditions for a healthy and diverse environment to flourish
Provide the public with appropriate access to these areas, encouraging active lifestyles and a greater appreciation of the natural world
Inspire a conservation ethic promoting policies, educational programs and partnerships that result in a public commitment to land preservation
Since 1989, D&R Greenway Land Trust has preserved 8,633.47 acres of land valued at over $179 million. They have preserved 153 different properties and serve as the continuing steward of 35 preserves and 46 conservation easements.
Friends of Calakmul and D&R Greenway partnered in recognition of our shared objective to protect both summer and winter habitats for over 100 species of neotropical migratory birds which depend on both geographical areas for their species' survival.
Specifically, there are some 65 neotropical migratory birds that winter in the Calakmul region, that use the Sourland mountains as their breeding habitat. A successful partnership will have broad potential impact as an international model for land preservation, education and stewardship that can be replicated by the 1,400 land trusts that currently exist in the U.S. Our initial project is to collaborate on funding and building a biological research station in Calakmul, Mexico that will support data collection on neotropical migrant birds.
Global Heritage Fund's mission is to enable successful long-term
preservation of mankind's most important and imperiled Global Heritage
cultural sites in developing countries with acute pressures and without
resources for preservation and planned development. GHF is partnering
with Friends of Calakmul to help preserve the archeological and
biodiverse wealth of the Calakmul area. GHF is working on saving the
archeological sites in Mirador Basin in Guatemala, this area is adjacent
to Calakmul just across the border in Guatemala. FOC and GHF are
pursuing a strategy of cross border cooperation. The Global Heritage
Fund is a private, California non-profit organization based in the San
Francisco Bay Area.
David Leventhal. Founder and Board
President, Friends of Calakmul.
David Leventhal, Co-founders, Friends of Calakmul in the US and Amigos
de Calakmul in Mexico. David is also co-founder of Dexterra, Inc. a
venture funded mobile enterprise software company based in Seattle,
WA.He leads their business development and manages resellers and other
key partners. David had a similar role in the internet company
Buzzsaw.com, which was a spin-off from Autodesk. His background is both
in software and media having worked also with Home Box Office and
Whittle Communication in various sales and marketing roles. As a
co-founder of Friends of Calakmul, David set up the organizational
infrastructure and much of its innovative use of technology including
the web and ASP CRM solutions to acquire and manage a high level of
members. Additionally, he raised the initial funding and established
organizational structure. David lives in San Mateo, California with his
wife Sandra and two children. David and Sandra are embarking on their
next project, a sustainable and renewable resort development on 100
acres south of Zihatanejo, Mexico.
Robert Levitan. Board Secretary,
Friends of Calakmul.
CEO & Founder. Flooz.com. Robert Levitan is co-founder and CEO of
Flooz.com, the creator of the world's first on-line gift currency for
consumers and businesses, sent by e-mail and accepted as a branded form
of payment at the Web's best stores. Prior to founding Flooz.com,
Levitan was a co-founder of iVillage.com and a consultant to America
Online. At iVillage, Levitan was responsible for developing the
company's innovative sponsorship sales strategies. Levitan created
integrated online marketing programs for companies such as Kimberly
Clark, MGM, Toyota, Starbucks, Johnson & Johnson, IBM, and Glaxo
Wellcome. Levitan also created a new online publishing model with Intuit
and Charles Schwab to launch a financial planning site for iVillage
called the Armchair Millionaire. In recognition of his accomplishments
in developing new online sponsorship models, Advertising Age proclaimed
Levitan a "digital media master." Levitan served as President of
iVillage's Better Health web where he formed a strategic relationship
with Intel to develop new interactive health applications such as the
Personal Health Report.
Levitan serves on the Board of Directors of New York Cares, a service
organization that coordinates volunteers who work with children, the
homeless and the elderly in New York City. In 1997, Levitan and his two
brothers climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and visited CARE project sites in
Africa as part of a fundraiser for CARE, the international relief
organization. He is also a board member of HEAVEN, a non-profit
organization providing youth with the technology training and tools they
need to succeed and lead. Levitan graduated from Duke University with a
B.A. in history and public policy studies. Levitan lives in New York
Natan Zaidenweber. Board
Treasurer, Friends of Calakmul.
Mr. Zaidenweber is an industry expert in stakeholder engagement and
triple bottom line reporting with over 10 years of relevant experience
in the field of corporate social responsibility, working with companies
like Royal Dutch Shell. He has over 9 years of entrepreneurial
experience. Formerly a Director of a Multinational research project with
The World Bank and The Mexican Government, he holds a Masters degree in
international development policy from Stanford University.
Advisory Board Members
Protected Area Management and Monitoring
University of International Cooperation
Bill is responsible for landowner negotiations and uses his naturalist expertise toward D&R Greenway Land Trust stewardship activities. Since 1980, Bill has owned and operated Hunterdon Turf Farm, a third generation family farm. He is currently working with his family on a permanent preservation plan, and can speak to landowners from their perspective. Bill is a founding trustee of the Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance, and served for 12 years as Chairman of the Kingwood Township Environmental Commission. Bill has been involved since 1995 in the South Branch Watershed Association Biological Water Monitoring Program and in 1997 received their Annual Conservation Award for work on conservation of the region's waterways. He has a BS in Marine Biology from Farleigh Dickinson University.
Linda joined D&R Greenway Land Trust as Executive Director in July of 1997 and is responsible for major fundraising and land protection strategies, and for all facets of land trust management. She has over 20 years of experience managing multi-faceted nonprofit programs and structuring complex land preservation transactions. She has been active in the development of several projects that have achieved federal recognition and spearheaded the establishment of one of the first multi-million dollar county open space funds in southeastern Pennsylvania. Linda has collectively secured well over $100 million to support land preservation.
Under Linda's leadership, D&R Greenway Land Trust has experienced phenomenal growth resulting in name recognition throughout the State and top dollars from the NJ Green Acres Program. Linda's vision and partnering abilities have led to formation of new initiatives and have resulted in leveraged funding and public/private partnerships. In June 2002 Linda was awarded the prestigious International Paper Conservation Partnership Award from The Conservation Fund, a national conservation organization, at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Linda holds a BS in Environmental Planning from Rutgers University.
On-line Infrastructure and Fundraising
Kevin Gottesman has bought, sold, written and produced advertising for twenty years, the last ten online. He is currently the Advertising Director for Donordigital where he plans and buys fundraising and advocacy campaigns online for clients like Earthjustice, Amnesty International, Humane Society the ACLU and many others. He has previously worked for Citysearch, SONY, 24/7 Media, eGroups, Lighthouse for the Blind, as well as Al Gore's and John Kerry's presidential campaigns. An alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he lives in San Francisco with his wife, Jennie Lee. He enjoys disc golf, tennis, guitar, travel and super shuffle mode on his iPod.
President & CEO
Private Client Services
Devinix Global Headquarters
Crossover Capital (Life Capital Corporation and Vengo – Video Exchange Network)
Policy Coordinator, Center for Conservation Biology
Anne H. Ehrlich is a senior research scientist at Stanford; she has carried out research, taught courses on environmental policy, and written many articles on population, environmental protection, and environmental consequences of nuclear war. She has coauthored ten books, including The Stork and the Plow, Betrayal of Science and Reason, and One With Nineveh. She also served as a consultant to the White House Council on Environmental Quality's Global 2000 Report, a commissioner for the Greater London Area War Risk Study (GLAWARS), and on the boards of Friends of the Earth, the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, the Ploughshares Fund, and the Sierra Club, among others. She currently serves on the boards of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Environment, Development, and Security and the New-Land Foundation.
CSF Founder & President, Board Chairman
Conservation Strategy Fund
Before founding CSF, John established and managed Conservation International’s largest field program in Brazil, a successful effort to expand forest protection along the country’s Atlantic coast. He has conducted policy and economic assessments on such topics as forestry, cattle ranching, road development and biodiversity prospecting in a number of countries, including Brazil, Suriname, Guatemala, Bolivia and Papua New Guinea. Subsequent to his work at CI, he served as Policy Director for the Pacific Forest Trust, where he chaired the Forest Stewardship Council’s Pacific Coast Working Group. John is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish, speaks French and holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University.