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Alexander Tewfik, Ph.D
Senior Conservation Scientist
Alexander Tewfik completed his Ph.D. in Biology at McGill University, Montreal, Canada examining the impacts of disturbance in Caribbean seagrass communities. This followed earlier research on Queen conch (M.Sc. work field at Pedro Bank, Jamaica) and Spiny lobster populations and fisheries, teaching marine ecology and resource management as well as investigating offshore production of Queen conch in the Turks and Caicos Islands. His research experiences include investigating seagrass restoration and impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on sandy beaches of Florida, holistic investigations of changes in seagrass and coral reef ecosystems in the context of invertebrate fisheries (conch and lobster) in the Bahamas, and broad-ranging coastal community assessments, livelihoods diversification and habitat restoration in Indonesia and the Solomon Islands. Dr. Tewfik's main interests lie in understanding how natural and anthropogenic disturbances impact community structure and trophic dynamics. Dr. Tewfik has used a number of approaches to investigate these questions including direct quantification of sub-tidal populations, functional group abundance and size structure, experimental manipulations using enclosures, collection of fisheries-dependent data, analysis of basal resource and consumer stable isotopes and isotope based diet mixing models. Such efforts are arguably at the center of ecological research and seemingly providing the most fertile area for exploring the critical links between biodiversity, functionality and persistence of ecosystems in the wake of anthropogenic induced changes in the environment. The results of his research and collaborations have been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals including Ecology, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Marine Ecology, Aquatic Conservation and Restoration Ecology. However, the ultimate purpose of his research, teaching and project leadership efforts has always been to assist with the sustainable management and conservation of marine ecosystems and, perhaps most importantly, the ecosystem services on which existing and future generations of humankind depend.
Deseree Cain-Arzu, MSc.
Communications Coordinator
Deseree Arzu is a veteran communications leader and media expert. Deseree joined WCS in 2016 as the Communications Co-ordinator. As WCS-Belize’s Communications Co-ordinator, Deseree is responsible for the day-to-day coordination of the communications component of this program. She is the primary communications focal point for collaboration with NGO, creative teams, and government agency partners. She is also responsible for assisting with the implementation of a Belize Replenishment Zones Expansion Communications and Outreach Strategy, which includes the design, production, and distribution of an Entertainment-Education radio drama, and community engagement activities and campaigns. Prior to working with WCS-Belize, Deseree was the Public Relations and Consumer Affairs Officer at the Public Utilities Commission, Belize, where she helped to launch the first ever Mobile Application Workshop for young people ages 12-18 in 2014. She also worked for almost two decades as a news director, producer, and radio personality at major radio stations in Belize, winning the MVP award for her work as a news producer at Krem Radio in 2008. The recipient of the 2014 OAS scholarship, Deseree has a M.S. degree in Communication and Media Technologies from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Belize. Her desire is for WCS to become a household name in Belize and the region.
Gianelie Cuellar, BSc.
Finance Manager
Gianelie Cuellar-Mai completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Belize in 2006. She has served under the capacity of Assistant Accountant for over 6 years, where she gained her technical experience. She was also previously employed for the International Regional Organization for Health in Agriculture (OIRSA) as the country’s Office Administrator/ Accountant.
Julio R. Maaz, A.S.
Community Fisheries Coordinator
Julio Maaz is the Community Fisheries Coordinator. He works closely with local fishers to promote responsible fisheries management concepts and is a very active member of the technical team supervising the managed access program. Prior to joining WCS, Julio worked for six years with the Belize Fisheries Department, where he supervised the enforcement branch, which extended to prosecutionof fisheries offences. He is leading WCS's innovative program on the use of technology to improve national enforcement at sea. Julio has an associates's degree in biology and chemistry.
Kenneth Gale, A.S.
Operations Manager, Glover's Reef Research Station
Kenneth graduated from the Belize College of Agriculture in 1997 with an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science. He worked for a number of Government and Non-Governmental organizations in various capacities. He was employed by the Belize Fisheries Department as reserve manager for the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, and the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve. Kenneth also served as the Turneffe Islands Spawning Aggregation Marine Reserve project manager for the World Wildlife Fund, as park director at Blue Hole and Halfmoon Caye Monument for the Belize Audubon Society, and most recently as station manager for the University of Belize's Calabash Caye Field Station.
Lee Mcloughlin, MSc.
Technical Coordinator - Belize Program Officer - Mesoamerica and Western Caribbean
Lee Mcloughlin joined WCS in 2016 as the Terrestrial Program Coordinator. Lee is developing a terrestrial conservation program for Belize and supporting the development and expansion of WCS' Mesoamerica and Western Caribbean program.  Lee holds a MSc in Protected Areas Management and has developed an in-depth understanding of Belize's National Protected Area System over 6 years as Protected Areas Program Director for Ya'axche Conservation Trust, this followed Habitat Network Planning in Australia's Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.  Lee has also led the development and delivery of the Belize Ranger Training Academy and numerous protected area management plans.
Natalyia Denisson, BSc.
Senior Administrative Assistant
Natalyia Dennison joined the WCS Belize Marine team on August 8, 2007 as the Administrative Assistant; she was then promoted to Sr. Administrative Assistant in 2013. Ms. Dennison has a Bachelors Degree in Business Management from the University of Belize; and has 13 years working experience in Administration.
Nicole Auil Gomez, MSc.
Director, Belize Country Program
Ms. Auil Gomez joined WCS in 2016 and brings a wealth of experience from both NGO and government sectors. She has served as Executive Director of Belize's Southern Environmental Association (SEA), worked in technical positions at the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Wildlife Trust Belize, and undertaken manatee research in conjunction with Sea to Shore. She holds a Master's in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University, with a research focus on coastal zone management and expertise in the endangered Antillean manatee. She also has ample experience in management, fundraising, politics, and policy, and is a Whitley award winner.
Ralna Kay Lewis, MSc.
Assistant Director, Belize Country Program
Ralna is the Assistant Country Director for the WCS Belize Country Program. Ralna completed her MSc in Natural Resource and Environmental Mangement specialising in Coastal and Marine Management at the University of the West Indies. She is integrally involved in the national expansion of replenishment zones program which looks at strictly protecting at least 10% of Belize’s territorial sea. Ralna also leads WCS’s communications and outreach work that aims to increase knowledge and promote positive attitudes and behaviours regarding marine and fisheries conservation strategies. Ralna has worked extensively with community based organizations throughout the country of Belize in an effort to strengthen their institutional capacities in the areas of organizational, financial and project management in an effort to improve the management of Belize's protected areas.
Sandra Zelaya
Programme & Administration Manager
Sandra Zelaya joined the WCS Belize program on 8 August 2005 as the Program and Administration Manager. Ms. Zelaya came to WCS with an extensive 29 years of work experience in the administration of conservation and development projects as well as NGOs. She has worked throughout the country of Belize at various institutions. Ms. Zelaya has worked on projects funded by organisations such as UNDP, DFID, IDB, TNC, WWF, Oak Foundation, EU, and ITCF.

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