Nature and Culture’s mission is what motivates our talented team of dedicated professionals in Southern California. Having seen the work in Latin America first hand, our operations team understands the importance of Nature and Culture’s work and that supporting our projects with funding and outreach is critical to Nature and Culture’s success.

U.S. Operations Team

President and Ceo

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Matt started with Nature and Culture in 2015, as an advisor in the Loja, Ecuador office. For seven years prior to that, he was the Executive Director of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, a conservation organization in his native Portland, Oregon and also served as treasurer on the board of an Oregon-wide network of conservation entities. Additionally, he’s worked extensively for Native American tribal governments in the US, supporting their treaty fishing and water rights. Matt first fell in love with Latin America — its vibrant cultures, stunning landscapes and incredible biodiversity — while in Honduras in the 1990s as a Peace Corps volunteer. He has a BA from Stanford University in English Literature and Human Biology and a Master’s in Environmental Management from Yale University.

Silvia Usuriaga

 Senior Program Manager

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Now based in the Del Mar, CA office, Silvia served as the staff director for our programs in the Peruvian Amazon for three years, working closely with governments, communities, donors, and the private sector to develop and manage our programs to protect the Amazon rainforest. Born in Iquitos, a major city in the upper Amazon, Silvia is a former international business manager whose personal experience led her to devote her talents to the conservation of ecosystems and ancient cultures. Read her article in the Huffington Post here.

Karina Copen

 Director of Foundation and Strategic Partnerships


Karina joins NCI bringing over 15 years of experience working with international nonprofits in the US and Central America. Her passion for environmental sustainability in conjunction with sustainable development comes from spending over a decade supporting local communities living amongst the mangrove forests of El Salvador. Karina spent over 10 years living and working in Central America as a Program Officer for Humanitarian Preparation and Response with Oxfam America where she coordinated projects throughout Central America. She earned a Master’s degree in International Affairs and a Master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University.

Mariah Banks

Marketing Development coordinator


Mariah brings experience in environmental and ocean sciences, public outreach and communication, and a strong desire to protect biodiversity and empower communities. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of San Diego in May 2016 earning a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Business Administration. Her passion for environmentalism and conservation led her to work on environmental research projects, including a leatherback sea turtle conservation project in Costa Rica, and for 1to1 Movement, a San Diego-based nonprofit focused on sustainability and food systems education.