The Center for Protected Area Management’s core team of trainers for this seminar include Mrs. Rosa María Vidal, Ms. Erin Hicks., and Mr. Ryan Finchum. Together they have more than 70 years of combined experience living and working around the world with a focus on natural resource management, protected area and watershed management, and sustainable rural development. In addition to the Center’s staff, a variety of professionals, including protected area personnel, conservation NGO staff, and other conservation professionals serve as guest lecturers and provide valuable insights during the seminar.

The center team is supported by researchers Dr. Jennifer Solomon and Dr. Megan Jones on the subject of gender equity in conservation at Colorado State University. In addition, we have a committee of advisers from various institutions involved in issues related to conservation and gender.



CPAM Senior Advisor and Seminar Director

Rosa María Vidal has more than 30 years of experience in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. She is a biologist (UNAM) with certificates in organizational development (CEDPA, Michigan State University), gender and sustainability (UNAM-Gender Program) and leadership (ITESM, Cornell University), as well as knowledge in the areas of economics, climate change, management of protected areas, and wildlife. She is the founder and former director of Pronatura Sur and of the Training Center for Sustainable Development Moxviquil. She was the director of the Governors’ Climate and Forests Fund, Senior Advisor to the Center for Protected Area Management of the Colorado State University, and consultant to the World Bank, the Global Environmental Facility, and Livelihoods-Venture. She has also been an advisor to various international conservation networks. She was coordinator of the population and environment program at Pronatura Sur, analyzing gender, reproductive health and conservation approaches with support from the Mac Arthur Foundation, a member of the Gender and Environment Network of Mexico, consultant for USAID in project evaluation of gender, counselor of the Institute of Women for the State of Chiapas, and evaluator of the program “A Seed to Grow” with BanChiapas, and has collaborated in the integration of gender equality approaches in forestry development and conservation projects. Rosa María brings to the seminar extensive practical experience and understanding of the challenges that women face in organizational leadership, a cutting-edge knowledge in biodiversity and climate change, and an understanding of the challenges that women from rural communities

a portrait of a woman in front of mountains



Erin Hicks, M.Sc., has a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from California State University and a master’s degree in Conservation Leadership from Colorado State University. She is an artist and social scientist with an interest in working with communities in Latin America in relation to sustainable development, conservation, and capacity development. Her professional experience includes studying the perceptions of ecotourism in the Mayan communities around the buffer zone of the Bladen Nature Reserve, supporting the Governors’ Climate and Forests Fund, and working in protected areas and trails with the Conservation Corps of California, the US Forest Service, the California State Parks, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the US National Park Service. She was also an environmental volunteer for the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic and has worked closely with women’s community groups on conservation in Belize and the Dominican Republic.

a man in a blue plaid in the forest


Co-director of CPAM and Seminar Collaborator

Ryan Finchum is co-director of the Protected Management Center at Colorado State University. Mr. Finchum has a degree in Environmental Science and Geography from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in Protected Areas Management from Colorado State University. His areas of interest include ecotourism, environmental communication, planning of protected areas and corridors, the link between conservation activities and sustainable lifestyles, systems leadership, and capacity development. Ryan has worked extensively in Latin America, initially as a Peace Corps Volunteer with the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos Islands, followed by almost a decade of experience as an ecotourism operator in Mesoamerica. He is a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and the Committee on Education and Communication (CEC). Ryan has focused his energy over the past five years on strengthening the sustainability of the Center as an institution, in order to ensure the permanence of long-term training programs.


Jenn Solomon


CSU Faculty Member and Researcher

Dr. Jen Solomon’s research focuses on the interface of development, livelihoods, and the conservation of natural resources. She has evaluated integrated conservation and development projects in Latin America and East Africa. Two decades ago, while evaluating a project in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, she became interested in women’s experiences in conservation and development projects. Her most recent research focuses on barriers and supports for women conservation leaders. She is a professor for the Conservation Leadership graduate program at Colorado State University in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department. She runs undergraduate and graduate programs abroad and teaches undergraduate courses at the Warner College of Natural Resources. She is a Fulbright Scholar, member of the Center for Collaborative Conservation, member of the Executive Committee of the Center for Protected Areas Management, and has served in the United States Peace Corps in Nicaragua. Dr. Solomon has a Master’s in Environmental Policy from Tufts University and a PhD from the University of Florida in Ecology and Wildlife Conservation with a focus on the human dimensions of wildlife conservation and conservation and development in the tropics.


CSU Post-doctoral Researcher

Dr. Megan Jones is a post-doc researcher in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at Colorado State University. As a conservation social scientist, she uses multidisciplinary systems approaches and mixed methods to understand leadership processes and behavioral change in biodiversity conservation. Through her doctorate work, she investigated how women handle gender bias and maternity options to advance to leadership positions in conservation, and how women offer and receive support in their conservation careers. She also studies how urban residents adopt pro-environmental behaviors, such as the use of backyard gardens to create wildlife habitat and promote urban wild landscapes to encourage others to change their behavior.


Director, Adaptive Management and Evaluation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Paulina Arroyo is the Director of Adaptive Management and Evaluation for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and is responsible for supporting environmental conservation initiatives in regards to measuring impacts. Prior to this position, she was a Program Officer in the Foundation’s Andean Amazon Initiative for nine years, leading a portfolio of projects for protected areas and indigenous territories in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia. Before working for the Moore Foundation, Paulina worked for The Nature Conservancy in various management positions including as Director of the Global Strategy for Indigenous Territories. She has collaborated with civil society and governmental organizations in Latin America for more than fifteen years in terms of conservation with equity, natural resource management with a gender perspective, and sustainable development. She collaborates in several working committees, including serving as a member of the Board of Directors for the Conservation Measures Partnership and as a member of the Board of Directors of Planet Women, dedicated to strengthening the role of women in environmental management. She was also co-leader of the Funders of the Amazon Basin and advised the National Wildlife Federation’s Women in Conservation Leadership Program. Paulina has a Master’s in Environmental Management from Duke University and a Bachelors in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo (Canada).