Our team

Meet the Earth Team Staff

Manuel Alonso

Executive director

Born in Spain, Manuel is an anthropologist and archaeologist interested in the protection of cultural and biological diversity. He has been working with environmental non-profit organizations for more than 25 years in Europe, Central, and South America and the United States. Manuel has been with EarthTeam since 2013.

Little Known Fact: Manuel loves to hike in the wilderness with his two (or three!) big golden retrievers. He was the founder of the TUVA Foundation, (United Lands of Neighbors for the Environment) and acted as its Executive Director for 11 years, from 1990 to 2001. As a local nonprofit headquartered in the town of Puerto Jimenez, TUVA launched collaborative community-conservation initiatives in a highly conflictive area that in 1989 had the highest deforestation rate in the world, finally saving over 5 million trees in a 20,000-acre buffer zone around Corcovado National Park, in southern Costa Rica. TUVA’s pioneering “working landscapes” approach built a coalition of stakeholders including local residents, landowners, government agencies, eco-tourism operators, illegal loggers, gold miners, indigenous groups and a wide network of over 50 local, regional and international organizations. TUVA also played a key role in the Stone Container campaign in 1990, a transnational industrial forestry project that threatened the integrity of local forest ecosystems. In 1990 TUVA also started the Osa Sea Turtle Study, a community-based effort to protect several endangered species of sea turtles. TUVA’s story was featured in NPR’s Living on Earth Top Story in 198.

This 10- year effort resulted in groundbreaking agreements that successfully protected cultural and biological diversity in an extensive “working buffer zone” around Corcovado National Park, conserving landscapes and providing new economic alternatives to local residents, including the beginnings of the Smart Wood certification program to support sustainable local communities. According to National Geographic, Corcovado National Park’s 150,000 acres contains the richest rainforests in the world and is the “most biologically intense place on Earth”. Today, TUVA’s legacy continues and has expanded under the management of a new organization, Osa Conservation, that took over operations in 2005.

Healey Cayabyab

Senior Project Manager

I graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Sustainable Energy. In my journey, I became very invested and interested in the environment through a program in my old high school. The program was called Week Without Walls, and from there was able to join a group for backpacking. Since then, I have always the environment and wanted to keep the natural beauty of the world the same. During my last year at San Jose State University, I was an intern for the California Native Garden Foundation to help support learning and acitivites for children under the ages of 10. I was also an intern for San Jose State University’s Center for Developmental Recycling where I assisted and expedited residents of Santa Clara County’s household waste to dispose of it correctly. From these two experiences, it spurred my love to educate as well as research ways to use our energy more efficiently. 
My love for sustainability leads me to make changes in my daily life as well as educating others the importance of implementing sustainable practices to limit our own carbon footprint on the Earth. Happy to be a part of Earthteam to not only work with aspiring young environmental leaders, but as well as cultivating the next generation.

Naomi Lichtenstein

Campus Coordinator

Naomi graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in environmental science and policy. She focused her studies on global climate policy and environmental justice research, primarily focusing on including marginalized communities in decision making when it comes to larger scale development projects. While living in D.C., Naomi interned for the State Department in environmental defender research and worked in environmental education at the White House Visitor Center through the National Park Service. Naomi also worked as the Internship Coordinator after graduating from college for an international nonprofit focusing on engaging youth in animal awareness and connecting young professionals to environmental careers. Naomi wishes to use her experience to work in global science diplomacy one day and engage in conscious negotiations, considering all parties affected, to make a difference in sustainability and equality.

Darius Roffee

Campus Coordinator

Darius Roffe graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in International Relations, with plans to pursue a Master’s degree in International War Studies.
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Darius fell in love with the outdoors, hiking in Tilden regional park and exploring California’s national parks.
This passion was supported by the courses he was able to take throughout his elementary and middle school with the edible schoolyard programs run in the Berkeley public schools. There, he got a hands-on education in how we interact with our environment and what we as people can give and take from and our planet.
Darius went through Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC) youth leadership training and volunteered as a kayak guide on countless trips for people with disabilities and at-risk youth.
With ETC, he learned how to guide and follow leave-no-trace and mindfulness practices in the outdoors.
While attending university, he continued to pursue a passion for the outdoors by working at REI, gaining knowledge and experience and a love for sharing the outdoors with others. His favorite thing to do when not working is getting outdoors, hiking, backpacking, kayaking and sharing those experiences with others.
After completing his undergraduate studies, he wanted to find a way to combine his love for the outdoors and a desire to make a positive impact on his community, and found the perfect place to start at Earth Team.

Noah Slager

Program Associate

Noah graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Earth Science and Anthropology. As an undergraduate, he performed research on paleoclimate variability in the Italian Dolomites and led an outreach project which provided resources and supplies to those struggling with housing in the Morningside Heights community. During his sophomore year, he joined The Farmlink Project, an organization founded during the pandemic to connect farms with surplus produce to food banks in need.Noah spent the past two summers leading backpacking and service trips for high school students in Maine and Alaska. These experiences brought him to the frontlines of some of the world’s most pressing climate and conservation challenges and led him to seek out ways to use outdoor education to inspire young people to become environmentally conscious leaders. He is committed to fostering resilience, self reliance, and a passion for conservation in students by bringing them into contact with the power and potential of the great outdoors.

Manuel Smythe

Systems administrator

Manuel joined Earth Team in 2017 as Logistics Coordinator and in 2019 he was promoted to Information Technology Manager, in charge of hardware and software.  He manages our Salesforce system, Form Assembly forms, maintains the Drupal webpage and handles our office network and servers. 

He coordinates the internship registration and Outdoor explorers trip reservation systems, and helps managing student transportation to our outdoor weekly and weekend events.

Manuel is part of the Bay Area Green Corps, helping The Watershed Project with local green infrastructure projects.  Before joining Earth Team he was running his own business, and prior to that he worked with Dobl, a software technology company and with La Peña Cultural Center as a tech assistant to Oscar Autie (Warm Audio), a top sound engineer and Latin Grammy winner.

Joelle Alley

Consultant

Joelle graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with a degree in Environmental Studies. She focused her studies on environmental policy, primarily in relation to agriculture and water resource management. While living in Santa Barbara, Joelle worked as an outdoor educator at a local sustainable agriculture nonprofit called Fairview Gardens. She also worked as the regional intern at the Ventura, CA office of California Trout. During her last year as a student, Joelle spent the majority of her time researching for and writing her thesis about the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in California. Joelle hopes to use her background as an educator and her passion for community engagement in environmental issues to make a difference in her childhood home, the wonderful East Bay.

Itzel Gomez

Consultant

Itzel graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in Environmental Engineering. In college, she developed an interest for topics in hydrology and water resources as well as environmental justice issues related to water quality and conservation. During her time as a student she served as Outreach Chair for the UCSD Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) where she was able to foster her passion for encouraging youth of color to pursue careers in STEM fields. Itzel was born and raised in San Pablo, CA and knows the East Bay to be her home. She is excited to be joining Earth Team this year and have the opportunity to work with young leaders of the next generation to give back to the communities she grew up in. She recognizes the severity of climate change effects within underrepresented communities, both locally and globally, and is passionate about educating others towards implementing more sustainable practices in their daily lives.

Jenna Topper

COnsultant

Jenna graduated from Sonoma State majoring in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on conservation and restoration with a minor in Biology. She has been interested in wildlife from a young age and has worked along side a variety of animal rehabilitation and protection agencies. Throughout college her love for wildlife uncovered deeper intrinsic values she holds for nature and all it has to offer. She is inspired to use her background and experiences to promote environmental awareness throughout the community and to provide opportunities for youth to engage in environmental pursuits and sustainable actions.