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.
Boris Arevalo, PhD
Assistant Country Director Terrestrial
Boris Miguel Arevalo is a Belizean wildlife biologist, with many years of experience in applied natural resource management and conservation research. In 2021, he joined WCS Belize as the Assistant Country Director-Terrestrial. Prior to joining WCS, Mr. Arevalo worked for over 10 years in the Chiquibul Forest with Friends for Conservation and Developing spearing heading the Biodiversity Research and Monitoring program. He has a Master of Science degree in management and conservation of tropical forests and biodiversity from The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), Costa Rica and a PhD in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. During his PhD, he studied factors affecting nest success, resource use, and habitat suitability of the endangered northern sub-species of scarlet macaws in Belize and the broader Selva Maya region. Mr. Arevalo work interest range from protected areas management, landscape ecology, GIS for natural resource management, conservation and management of species, and agricultural practices to enhance biodiversity conservation in a human dominated matrix.
Deseree Cain-Arzu, MSc.
Communications Coordinator
Since joining the team at WCS in March 2016, Deseree has been working tirelessly to achieve one of the organizations strategic goals of raising its public profile, not just in Belize, but also regionally and internationally. Important achievements, activities, marine and terrestrial research work have been highlighted via social media, and traditional media outlets, locally, regionally and internationally. Deseree has also written several newspaper articles on WCS’s work, which have been published in The Reporter, Guardian, and San Pedro Sun both print and online; and online in Ambergris Today and Breaking Belize News. Her most recent research article on conch was published online via Earth Journalism Network; and blog on the Fisheries Resurces Bill on She has participated in numerous outreach and educational events to showcase the work of WCS; as well as hosted a number of events in which WCS has participated, including Earth Hour, Commemoration of Belize being Removed from WHS Danger List; and the Green Globe Panel Discussion. In her capacity as WCS’s Communications Coordinator, Deseree has also been instrumental in supporting the launch of Seasons 2 and 3 of the 2-time Award-Winning Punta Fuego Radio Drama, which is the communications component to WCS’s Replenishment Zones Initiative. She also previously served as the communications focal point for the Fish Right Eat Right Initiative, and secretary for the Belize World Heritage Advisory Committed, commissioned in January 2018. Before joining the dynamic team at WCS Belize Global Program, Deseree Arzu spent close to two decades working in the media as News Director, Radio Personality, Remote Broadcast Manager, and Journalist at the now defunct Broadcasting Corporation of Belize, and more recently, Krem Radio, where she spent a total of 12 years. She later moved on to the Public Utilities Commission where her role focused on consumer affairs and public relations. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Belize; and a Master of Science in Communications and Media Technologies from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Deseree’s main desire is for Belizeans to see conservation, not as a job for NGO’s and/or government, but, as a collective initiative that involves and requires each and every one’s interest and participation.
Gianelie Cuellar, BSc.
Finance Manager
Gianelie Cuellar-Mai received her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Belize in 2006. Since then she has served in both private sector and in international organization for the productive sector development of Belize. She has been onboard WCS's Belize Program since 2014 as the Finance Manager and has brought her experience and positive can do attitude to the Belize field office. Her role has allowed her to work with various donors and budgets allowing her to expand her 14 years of technical experience along with introducing new ideas to the Finance department. She fervently believes in proper procedures and fairness to all her colleagues. As time has elapsed Gianelie has grown within the organization as has her responsibilities. Gianelie appreciates the importance in the work that WCS has accomplished and is proud to be a part of the change.
Julio R. Maaz, A.S.
Technical Coordinator Sustainable Fisheries
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.
Myles Phillips, MSc.
Technical Coordinator, Marine
Myles Phillips joined the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Belize Program as a Technical Coordinator for Marine Research in 2018. He completed an MSc in Natural Resources Management (Coastal and Marine Resources) at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. Since 2009, Myles has held technical posts in Barbados, The Bahamas, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada in various capacities related to marine research, marine resource monitoring and protected area management. His role with WCS comprises leadership of marine monitoring programs, database management, conducting marine training sessions and workshops for stakeholders, development of outreach materials, and service as a delegate on several national committees. Myles stands at the helm of several of WCS's monitoring programs, and coordinates them through the data collection, archival, interpretation and reporting phases to inform management activity and planning by the Belize Fisheries Department. He has also been responsible for the aggregation of these annual datasets into congruent time-series of data, which have been used for the production of highly impactful peer reviewed articles on Belize’s most economically important fisheries. In his previous role with The Nature Conservancy’s Eastern Caribbean Program, Myles trained stakeholders across that region in marine monitoring according to the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Protocol, and spearheaded reef surveys and habitat mapping exercises in multiple countries in collaboration with the Healthy Reefs Initiative. He also worked with the Senior Program Manager to implement a series of stratified stakeholder meetings in six countries to collect baseline information for regional marine spatial planning efforts by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Yahaira Urbina, MSc.
Maya Forest Corridor Site Manager
Yahaira Urbina joined WCS-Belize in 2021 as the Maya Forest Corridor Site Manager. She holds a Master of Science in Natural Resources and Rural Development with an orientation in Management and Conservation from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Mexico. Her MSc thesis focused on relative abundance index and activity patterns of five mammalian species within the Belize River Valley. She previously completed a postgraduate diploma in International Wildlife Conservation Practice from Oxford University as a Kaplan scholar and a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources Management from the University of Belize. She has been working on the ground in the MFC for approximately 12 years. Yahaira was a field technician in the ground-truthing of the Maya Forest Corridor led by the NGO Panthera. Subsequently, she worked at the University of Belize, Environmental Research Institute, and Panthera as a junior wildlife biologist focusing on human-wildlife conflict in and around the Maya Forest Corridor. She was responsible for establishing experimental farms with anti-predation strategies, conducting questionnaires among farmers and hunters, and establishing camera trap surveys within the Belize River Valley and the experimental farms. She also led two national surveys focused on the level of wildlife law awareness and wildlife trade within Belize. Yahaira worked closely on collaborative work between UB ERI and WCS to understand wildlife use, agriculture activity, forestry extraction, and tourism within communities in and around the Maya Forest Corridor (MFC). One of her main interests is understanding the interface between humans and wildlife interactions.
Yamira Celeni Novelo Fuentes, Bs.
Counter Wildlife Trafficking Technical Coordinator
Yamira Fuentes joined the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in July 2016 as an intern and later occupied a full time position as WCS Technical Assistant, Terrestrial. She recently completed her undergrad studies at the University of Belize (UB) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources Management and also holds an Associate’s Degree in Environmental Science. Yamira works on the training and implementation of the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool for partner organizations and government; as well as conducts Hicatee research in the Belize River Valley Area. She previously worked at the UB Environmental Research Institute with the wildlife team on Jaguar research and conflict; and the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute assisting with manatee monitoring.

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