Avecita leads the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Andes-Amazon Initiative, which aims to secure the biodiversity and climatic function of the Amazon biome. Since the initiative began in 2001, it has helped conserve and improve management of over 170 million hectares in the Amazon, nearly one-third of the original forest cover. Avecita also led the team that developed the foundation’s forests and agricultural markets work.
Avecita has over 30 years of experience in natural resource use, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean. She currently serves on several committees and boards, including the Funders of the Amazon Basin, Strategic Steering Committee for the Andes Amazon Fund, the Amazon Biodiversity Center advisory board, and the program team for the Climate and Land Use Alliance. Before coming to Moore, Avecita served as the executive director of the Latin America program at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), where she led conservation programs in 15 countries. Some of many contributions included strengthening WCS’s work in the Western Amazon region, the establishment of a private protected area in Tierra del Fuego (Karukinka, Chile) and consolidating wetland and species conservation approaches in Cuba. Previously, Avecita was a program officer at the MacArthur Foundation, where she developed the initial strategies on the North and Southern Tropical Andes and was responsible for conservation and sustainable development grantmaking in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Conservation International’s first country program director in Peru. While at Conservation International, she led a team that, with a social science perspective, used novel participatory approaches to help establish millions of hectares under permanent protection and management in the Tambopata watershed and Vilcabamba cordillera regions of the Peruvian Amazon.
Avecita earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Florida. Her dissertation focused on natural resource use by the Tsimane people of Beni, Bolivia. She has degrees in social sciences from the University of Cincinnati and from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. In 2004, she was awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa degree from the Universidad de la Amazonia Peruana, and in 2017, a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Florida.