Has a deep seeded love for nature and the outdoors, sparked in his childhood when he began spending time with his family in San LuisPotosi, Mexico. His goal is to help the community interact with the Chesapeake Watershed in a fun and equitable manner and to help Defensores de la Cuenca create lasting memories for the youth of the DMV. It is his long held belief that we must advocate for the conservation of our watersheds and protect them. He is grateful for the opportunity to serve the DMV community and to partner with the fantastic team at Defensores.
A member of the National Parks Conservation Association’s Government Affairs team. Melissa helps guide onshore and off-shore oil and gas, energy and clean air federal policy work. She believes in a just and equitable energy transition, holding industry and gov’t accountable, and that access to land, clean air and water are basic human rights. Her biggest accomplishment to date is not having lost her grandmotherly and adventurous dog on a single hike in their 17 years of friendship.
Worked in the environmental consulting field for 15years and later operated as an independent consultant. As a volunteer in her Catholic parish, she spearheaded several environmental and social justice programs that engaged fellow parishioners to live out their faith inaction -- and later made this into a career as the Executive Director of Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. Over 7 years she has increased IPC's impact on watershed restoration in Maryland and is now leading an expansion into Pennsylvania.
Member of the Board
Juan Lazo Baustita
Manager of Environmental Leadership Program's CoreFellowship Programs. Previously, Juan worked with USDA Forest Service supporting partnership development where he led a national program to engage diverse communities in conservation education action projects and increase access to their public lands. Juan also has experience in labor organizing, youth development and immigrant rights work. He is a graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, receiving a B.A in InterdisciplinaryStudies with a focus on environmental sustainability. For fun, Juan enjoys leading "nature bathing" walks, connecting people to nature, themselves and others through sensory experiences of their natural environment.
Board of Directors
Meet The Team
Director, Community Liaison
Founding Board Member
For more than 30 years, in Guatemala, Maryland, and the DC Region, Lam has put his time and talent to the service of community and social good projects within the Catholic Church and the Latino community. He is excited to extend his community connections to the Defensores de la Cuenca to help promote environmental awareness through experiences and education, train leaders to serve as educators themselves and promoters to Care of our Common Home.
A climate change professional, certified in the territorial management of forests and watersheds, he is an expert in beekeeping and has extensive experience in coffee growing, propagation, and crop maintenance. Morales has a strong passion for the environment and loves being out in nature.
Araceli Muñoz Chaira
Araceli is an enthusiast of all things outdoors. She has 3,000+ miles of long distance hiking experience, including the iconic Appalachian Trail stretching from Georgia to Maine. Traveling by foot through communities and ecosystems in the United States has had an impact on the way she views life today. She is interested in creating opportunities for outdoor spaces to become more accessible to all.
With a background in administration, finance, trail management, hospitality, and live events, Araceli hopes to further Defensores de la Cuenca’s mission to connect the Latino community to the outdoors and protect the Chesapeake Watershed. When Araceli is not hiking, you can find her rock climbing, running, gardening or cycling.
An advocate and policy expert by training, Olivo is excited about his role in bringing more resources and opportunities to the Latino community in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. A board member of the Audubon Naturalist Society, an alumni from The Ohio State University, and an advocate for a greener, healthier world, Olivo looks to bring more Latin@s into the environmental space as an education interest, personal experience and career choice.
Elicet Rosas Gaspar
Elicit is a faithful admirer of nature and passionate about its landscapes and its natural environment. Originally from Puebla, Mexico, she dedicated part of her life advocating for people with disabilities and supporting her Hispanic community. She is excited to be able to connect the Hispanic community and enjoy the benefits and resources of nature. Elicet has a great love for butterflies and hugging trees!