Board of Directors

These are the current members of our Board of Directors:

President, Marshall Cobb

Marshall Cobb was born in Colorado, but spend much of his life in Texas, before moving to Monteverde zone in the summer of 2015. Initially his plan was to take a year – long sabbatical from his pension consulting practice. One thing led to another, and he and his family now call Costa Rica home.

In between regular stints volunteering in local gardens and working as an apprentice at a local mechanic´s shop he follows his first love – writing. In addition to authoring numerous articles for regional publications, such as The Tico Times, he regularly post articles to his own website (www.marshall-cobb.com) and has completed three novels.

Marshall served as the Fiscal for the 2017 Junta before assuming the role of President for 2018. He says he is privileged to be able to serve the Institute as a way to give back to the larger community.

Vice President, Sonia Montiel

Sonia Montiel has retired after working for 40 years in education as a teacher of Spanish and Social Studies. Although she worked in different open schools and high schools, she was part of the Monteverde Friends School for 20 years.  Sonia was 28 years old when she first came to Monteverde and immediately became part of our board of directors for 8 years at that time. She also was part of our staff as a Spanish instructor for 15 years.

Although other occupations kept her away from the Monteverde Institute in recent years, we kept a special space in her heart. Since Sonia is now retired, she can be an active member and part of our board of directors once again.

Secretary, Celia Harvey

Dr. Celia A. Harvey is an internationally-recognized expert in Conservation, Climate Change and Sustainable Development, with 20 years of international experience in Biodiversity Conservation, Ecosystem-based Adaptation,  REDD+, Tropical Agroforestry, Climate-Smart Agriculture and Smallholder Farming Systems in Latin America and Africa. Her experience includes leading high-impact and policy-relevant research, implementing multi-million dollar interdisciplinary projects, teaching graduate-level university courses, building local capacity and engaging policy makers.

Treasurer, Richard Laval

Richard LaVal was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, USA, in 1938, and grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis. He attended Carnegie-Mellon University, and, after serving as a lieutenant in the US Army, he earned a masters degree in vertebrate zoology at Louisiana State University, followed by a doctorate in wildlife science at Texas A&M University. He taught for a year at a small Texas college, then moved to the University of Kansas for two years, before being offered a post-doc to do research on bats in Costa Rica for a year. During this year he met and married his late wife, Meg Wallace. Together, they traveled for a year in Africa doing bat research. They returned to Missouri where both worked for the state Conservation Department on endangered bat research, remaining there for 5 years. In 1980, they resigned and returned to Costa Rica, where Richard still lives. During this 35 years we raised 5 adopted children, 4 of which still live in Costa Rica. We were also active as founders of the Monteverde Institute, The Monteverde Conservation League, and the Cloud Forest School. During part of this time I was an ecotourist guide, traveling all over Costa Rica with groups of foreign tourists interested in birds and the wildlife and forests of the country. Later, Meg and I designed and built the Bat Jungle, where I am still owner and biologist, with my daughter Kelly as manager. I continue to be active in Monteverde Monthly Meeting (the famous Monteverde Quakers).

Vocal I, Karen Gordon

For close to 20 years, Karen's life in Monteverde has been dedicated to the ecological restoration of landscapes and the human heart. Her professional practice at Revive Healing Arts and Samanea Nature Sanctuary interweaves biophilia, spiritual ecology, sacred sabbatical guidance and professional development coursework for educators and healers.

Vocal II, Pedro Belmar

Alternate, Alexa Stickel

Alexa Stickel was born in Geneva, Switzerland and grew up in Miami, Florida. She has worked for the MVI for the past five years as a Course Coordinator and is also a member of our Board of Directors. She originally came to Costa Rica as a student on the University of Georgia’s Tropical Ecology field course in 2008. After graduating with a degree in Psychology and Zoology from the University of Florida in 2010, she returned to UGA’s Costa Rica campus to intern as a Resident Naturalist. She continued studying tropical ecology and became specifically interested in birds, amphibians, and insects. She moved on to become a teaching assistant in 2011, developing lectures, workshops, field modules and student research project designs for semester courses.  She has also co-instructed short field courses in tropical ornithology. Completely fluent in Spanish, Alexa has worked as a professional translator and interpreter and is especially well-versed in the natural sciences.  When she is not coordinating for MVI, she works as a freelance Naturalist and field instructor, guiding multi-day tours in various tropical ecosystems. Alexa has been living in San Luis de Monteverde since July of 2010 and is an active member of the San Luis community.

Fiscal, Maikol Cruz

Maikol has been working as a naturalist guide for 5 years, in Monteverde and other areas of the country. He also collaborates with the Monteverde Institute as coordinator of short courses. Maikol is a sports lover so apart from being an ultra-runner, he is a member of the "Cloud Forest Tree Climbing" group, formed by local climbers who help with technical support in tree climbing and other height related activities. Maikol is part of the Monteverde Institute board of directors since November 2017. For him, this is an opportunity to learn while collaborating with our team.

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