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 NCI’s work and that supporting our projects with funding and outreach is critical to NCI’s success.

U.S. Operations Team

Jill Gartman

Executive Director of U.S. Operations


Jill joined us in January 2017 with a renewed sense of urgency to do her part to protect nature and our planet. After working in management in the for profit world for many years, she has turned to non-profit work and specifically NCI to fulfill her desire to be a part of an organization that is not only conserving some of the most spectacular places on the planet but having an impact on the critical issue of Climate Change. Jill has a bachelors degree in Speech Communication from The University of Texas where her course studies emphasized organizational communication and teamwork. She also serves as Secretary for NCI’s Board of Directors.

Christine Andersen

 Director of Development


Christine is a conservation professional with over 15 years of experience focused on securing funds to protect the world’s biodiversity. She has served as the Programs Director for ECOLIFE Foundation, where she coordinated conservation projects in Mexico, San Diego and Africa, and supported the fundraising plan to grow this emerging non-profit. Prior to ECOLIFE, Christine worked for the Zoological Society of San Diego’s Conservation Education department, working on projects in Latin America and Southern California. She graduated from the University of Santa Cruz in Psychobiology, with honors, and San Diego State University with a Master’s in Educational Leadership.

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

 Grants Manager


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.

Jamie Reinhardt

 Development Associate

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Jamie is an MBA graduate with a special concentration in Sustainable Business. Her passion for conservation and the nonprofit world led her to work for the Clinton Global Initiative and the Rainforest Alliance before coming to NCI. She holds a B.A. from UCSB in Global and International Studies, has a background in international logistics, and has lived and worked in Brazil. Jamie’s passion for conservation also extends to sustainable agriculture and farm-to-table eating.

Mariah Banks

 Development ASSISTANT


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.