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Board of Directors

These are the current members of our Board of Directors:

President, Ran Smith

Originally from Austin, Texas, Ran has lived in Monteverde with his family since 2004. He is a local businessman with a particular interest in promoting green and sustainable tourism and has worked closely with the MVI Traveler's Philantrophy Initiative. He works to facilitate collaborative sustainability efforts in the community and is active in local schools and non-profits. Ran has been on the MVI board since 2008.

Vice President, Shirley Murillo Ulate

Shirley Murillo is a Natural Resource Manager who moved to Monteverde 20 years ago. Besides her formation in natural resources she has studies in ecological tourism and education. She is currently living in Santa Elena with her family and several pets.

--Shirley Murillo Ulate es una Administradora de Recursos Naturales que eligió vivir en Monteverde desde hace 20 años. Además de su formación en recursos naturales  tiene estudios en turismo ecológico y educación. Actualmente vive en Santa Elena con su familia y varias mascotas. Forma parte de la Junta Directiva del Instituto Monteverde desde la vicepresidencia.

Secretary, Rene Seitz Burgos

Renée Burgos is originally from the United States. She moved to Monteverde with her family in 2011 and has worked as an educator at the Cloud Forest School during her time here. She also teaches on-line courses for a teacher education program in the United States. She loves living in the natural surroundings of Monteverde, as well as doing things with her family and reading.

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

Vocal II, Gloria Waissbluth

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, Tim Sales

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