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We envision our work as a guiding model in wildlife conservation by demonstrating it's benefits to the community, economy and environment.

Founder & Director

Vanessa has been studying sea turtles and the arribada phenomenon at Ostional for over ten years. She is a National Geographic Explorer who strongly advocates for the protection of sea turtles at Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. Through her involvement with the local community, Vanessa has helped form alliances between the tourism sector and the Refuge, in addition to providing scientific data to support wildlife conservation policies. Integrating scientific research into the lives of local communities and visiting travelers is important to her, as she believes it is fundamental to inspiring the behavioral change needed to protect the Refuge and our planet.

Communications Manager

For the past 12 years, Laura has dedicated herself to developing her skills in creativity, copywriting, strategy, and performance marketing, working with local and regional businesses. Her experience includes supporting NGOs within Nosara's community, seeking to create meaningful connections with potential supporters. As our Communications Manager, she brings all of her experience and passion to create engaging educational and promotional content that furthers our mission of wildlife conservation. 

Administrative Assistant

Silvia has a passion for making things happen and developed her commitment to wildlife conservation after living in Nosara for 7 years. As our Administrative Assistant, she is responsible for the logistics and coordination of all projects related to our mission, in addition to generating creative input for process improvement. She is a key player for our organization's overall function, contributing her knowledge and experience managing and executing projects within the local community. 

Vanessa Bézy, Ph.D. Conservation Biologist
Vice President
Melissa Kim
Chief Operating Officer,
Flow Research Collective
Steve Mack

Lawyer & Non-profit Leader
Jane Sabin-Davis
Non-profit consultant
Conservation Strategy
Aimée Leslie
Conservation Director, 
WWF Peru
Stakeholder Engagement
Gabriel Coronado
Co-Founder and Manager, 
Synergy Action Consultants
Organizational Development
Nice Alterman
Organizational Development
Consulting, California Consortium of Education Foundations
Government Relations
Emel Rodriguez
Director of Forestry Programs and Biological Corridors, ACT, SINAC
Community Relations
Ethel Araya
Community Projection & Sustainability Manager,  Harmony Projects
Educational Programming
Jessica Sheffield
Co-founder and Director of 
Sustainability, Del Mar Academy
Fundraising Strategy
Christian Freitag
Executive Director, 
Conservation Law Center
Community Service and Tourism
Jennifer Simmons
Founder and President, Conocer Harmony Projects
Real Estate Advisor
Nathaniel Jackson
Realtor, Wanderlust Realty
Non-profit Operations
Andres Santana
Project Management &
Environmental Consultant

Capital Campaign Advisor
Jennifer Thurman
Director of Development,
Oklahoma Contemporary
Business Advisor
Michel Bézy, Ph.D.
Professor and Associate Director, Carnegie Mellon University-Africa


TortuGuiones: Our Legacy Organization
In 2004, our founder Vanessa Bézy came to Costa Rica for the first time on a study abroad experience that ignited her passion for wildlife conservation. Her work with various sea turtle conservation projects made her realize she wanted to devote her life to the protection of this species. Years later, when she was conducting her Ph.D. research on sea turtles at the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, she founded our legacy organization TortuGuiones, for which she quickly became known as “the turtle lady” in town.

2015: Developing Sustainable Tourism and Wildlife Conservation Initiatives

The increasing interest the area gained as a tourism destination brought masses of tourists onto the beach in September 2015, disrupting nesting sea turtles in an event covered by international media. Something needed to be done on a broader scope to protect sea turtles at this site. After reaching out to colleagues and looking at examples of sustainable tourism and successful conservation initiatives around the world, Vanessa and Steve came up with a plan to develop programming and generate revenue for conservation in the area. 

2018: Wildlife Conservation Association

As a result, TortuGuiones grew into a larger initiative to protect all wildlife by and for the community. The Wildlife Conservation Association was established in 2018 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of sea turtles and other wildlife at the Ostional Refuge through scientific research, community engagement, and educational programs that generate sustainable solutions to local conservation challenges. Since then, many collaborating partners and individuals have joined the cause, making what was once only a dream a reality that many other community members and organizations have embraced.

Our Future: The Ostional Nosara Sustainability Campus

Our ambition goes further. The initiative to establish the Ostional Nosara Sustainability Campus is the result of a collaboration between the WCA, the Nosara Civic Association and the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. Our goal is to create a campus of an integrated system of spaces that help make the refuge's natural capital profitable to promote the construction of a resilient community in balance with nature. Following many other successful examples around the world, we want to establish the Ostional Nosara Sustainability Campus which will fulfill the social, economic, and environmental needs of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding communities. This initiative will enable and strengthen the existing participatory conservation model by promoting collaborative initiatives for sustainable development in the area. The Ostional Nosara Sustainability Campus will provide shared space and facilities for research and local organizations; immersive educational and community programming; mobility solutions to connect Campus sites; sustainable design, construction, and operation. 

Tax-deductible donations can be made in Costa Rica, the United States, and Canada through our fiscal sponsorships with the Guanacaste Community Fund, Amigos of Costa Rica, and the International Canadian Fund for Conservation.
The Wildlife Conservation Association works in close collaboration with individuals and organizations who share our mission and empower us by offering monetary or in-kind support.

Dr. Vanessa Bézy during her PhD research in 2017 with an Arribada at Ostional National Wildlife Refuge.

Steve Mack, Executive Director of the Guanacaste Community Fund