Meet The Team

  • Macaw Recovery Team
  • board of directors
  • advisors/honaray

Our dedicated staff run day-to-day operations and ensure that our programs are running smoothly. Throughout the year, they are joined by dozens of volunteers from around the world. In all areas of our work our team are continually expanding their knowledge whether that’s about the birds, their conservation or non-profit management.

  • Sam Williams, PH.D.


    Sam Williams, PH.D.

    Director Dr. Sam Williams is from Yorkshire, England. Having kept and bred parrots at home he got his first taste of fieldwork at the age of 16 working with Echo Echo Parakeets under Professor Carl Jones at the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation. He completed his undergraduate degree in ecology at The University of Stirling in Scotland and went on to study Lear’s Macaws in Brazil. Supported by the World Parrot Trust Sam went on to Bonaire to help the conservation of the island’s Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrots. Over the next years he completed his doctoral studies on Bonaire and then launched Echo, a non-profit conservation organization. Sam joined The Ara Project as Executive director at the beginning of 2015. He brings immense energy, scientific expertise, good humour and a passion for conservation to the fight to save wild Macaws. Sam is a founding board member of the Macaw Recovery Network, where he is also serving as chair.

    Development Director & Volunteer Coordinator


    Development Director & Volunteer Coordinator Beginning in 2011, Dutch born Sarah led the communications and education programs for Echo, a nonprofit working with Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrots in Bonaire. Together with her husband Sam, she relocated to Costa Rica in 2015 to lead overall development and communications for The Ara Project. She now serves as a founding board member of the Macaw Recovery Network and continues in her role as the Development Director & Volunteer Coordinator. Sarah is a physical therapist by training and a competitive cyclist who speaks six languages.

    Administration Manager


    Administration Manager After graduating in 2010 with a biology degree from the University of Costa Rica, Maricela made a point of collaborating with educational and conservation nonprofits. She became a teaching assistant for study-abroad programs with the School for Field Studies and Council in International Educational Exchange, taking the opportunity to teach about the tropical forests, human impact and conservation while traveling throughout Costa Rica. In 2014, she joined The Ara Project to work with the Volunteer Program and bookkeeping department. Currently, she is responsible for financial management and she contributes to the development and maintenance of the sites, providing logistical support when needed.

    Great Green Macaw Field Leader


    Great Green Macaw Field Leader

    Mario was born on March 3, 1996, in Limón, Costa Rica; his family was living in a small community called Manzanillo south of Limón and later they moved to the city of Limón. Mario is now a graduate student in the Forest Management and Wildlife Department of the National Technical University (UTN). He currently holds the position of Field Manager of the Research Station of the Great green Macaw with MRN.


    Community Outreach Officer & Scarlet Macaw Field Ranger


    Community Outreach Officer & Scarlet Macaw Field Ranger Similarly to his brother Jesus, Albert previously worked with CREMA for several years. He is passionate about conservation and enjoys making the link between humans and species that are in need of help. Having contributed to Macaw conservation for many years, Albert joined the team fulltime in January 2018. Most of his time is spent collecting data and supporting the released Scarlet Macaw population in Punta Islita. Albert is also a certified nature guide and enjoys educating children, which makes him extremely suitable for his role as Community Outreach Officer. He hopes that through is work, not only himself but all local children will become protectors of these amazing birds and therefore, enable the Macaws to repopulate and prosper. Albert and Jesus are brothers, who are from the neighboring village Corozalito.

    Program Assistant at Punta Islita Breeding Center


    Program Assistant at Punta Islita Breeding Center Fabio worked on his family’s coffee farm in southern Costa Rica before moving to the Guanacaste region in 2005. He worked for 10 years at Hotel Punta Islita, where he assisted with carpentry, maintenance, gardening, construction and forestry. He came to The Ara Project in 2015, where his diverse skills, experiences and knowledge of the local environment have made him an invaluable team member. To help him in his work he is current learning English and how to drive a car.

    Field Teams Program Manager


    Field Teams Program Manager

    Jack joined the team in early 2017. As our lead field biologist he lead the field work and population monitoring of Scarlet and Great Green Macaw populations in Costa Rica. He is now managing our Great Green Macaw recovery program. Jack has an MSc. in global wildlife health and conservation from the University of Bristol in the UK and a life-long history of supporting wildlife conservation programs. In 2015, he was part of the emergency investigation team that investigated the sudden die off of the Saiga antelope in Kazakhstan.


    Programs Manager


    Programs Manager

    Inspired by a trip to our Islita site in 2016, Brittany decided to leave her 5-year position as a Senior Trainer with Zoo Knoxville’s Bird Show to join our team as an Apprentice in 2017. She was keen to work in conservation and learn a different side of bird management. When her apprenticeship was over, she chose to stay on as our Bird Manager and later moved into the role of Programs Manager. Before working with birds, Brittany received a BS in Journalism from The University of Tennessee in 2010 and continues to write and share her observations on animals, people and the natural world with others.


    Bird Manager - Punta Islita


    Bird Manager - Punta Islita

    After volunteering for Macaw Recovery Network in early 2019, Darby took on the role of Bird Manager at the Punta Islita Breeding Center. She oversees the daily care of the center’s captive birds and provides mating pairs with favorable conditions for reproduction. She has worked in parrot breeding and rehab across Central America and has bred critically endangered corvids and honeycreepers in Hawaii. She graduated in 2017 from Furman University in her home state of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Studio Art.


    PHD Great Green Macaws


    PHD Great Green Macaws

    Tom has been involved with us since 2015, starting as a release site manager, then growing into the program’s Manager role in Punta Islita. In 2018, Tom started his PhD on wild Great Green macaws in collaboration with Macaw Recovery Network. After completing his degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton, he travelled to the island of Mauritius to join the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. After working on a number of species recovery projects in the UK and abroad, he completed an MSc in Endangered Species Recovery and Conservation at Nottingham Trent University, UK.



    The Macaw Recovery Network is very lucky to have energetic and dedicated people from all over the world donate their time to work with our Macaws. Volunteers stay a minimum of one month, though many stay a lot longer. They are an absolutely vital part of the organization and work very hard! Regular tasks for our volunteers include the day-to-day care and maintenance of our birds and their environments. However, we also have people who work within their specialties, including veterinarians, biologists, builders, landscape gardeners, tour guides and graphic designers. Volunteers live on-site and enjoy not only working up close with our magnificent Macaws but also engaging with people from all over the world in a cultural exchange in rural Costa Rica

    Check out our volunteer opportunities here.




Become a Volunteer

The Network’s conservation sites could not exist without the dedicated volunteers that join our teams year round. We offer various Volunteering and Apprentice positions which give you an opportunity to get hands-on experience with the conservation of two threatened species of Macaw. .

Learn More