Rodrigo Samayoa Valiente

Executive Director

Rodrigo joined FUNZEL in 2002 as a volunteer, to then serve as a Research Associate involved in several projects that resulted in scientific publications and feasibility studies for future initiatives of the Foundation. In 2008 he is inducted as Founding Member and then was appointed as Vice President of the Board of Directors for the 2008-2010 period, during which he worked with the technical team in the development of proposals which were subsequently funded by USAID, NFWS, NOAA, HSI and The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. During 2010, Rodrigo developed the “Guide for better beach management” and “Indicator System for the conservation of mangroves and wetlands”, two protocols that would later serve on the technical and financial development of the “Conservation of Sea Turtles and improvement of the Quality of Life of Coastal Communities Program” that began in 2011. During the first two years of this Program, Rodrigo was responsible for Monitoring and Evaluation and in April of 2013, at the request of the Board, he assumed FUNZEL’s Executive Direction. Rodrigo is also the founder of the Working Group of Mastozoology of El Salvador and “Territorios Vivos” (Live Territories) Association of El Salvador, he is also President and CEO of the consulting firm “Industrias Verdes” (Green Industries) of El Salvador, and a member of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB), the International Sea Turtle Society (ISTS), and member and Vice President of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation (El Salvador’s Chapter, 2012-2014). Rodrigo is a graduate biologist from Costa Rica’s Latin University and obtained his Masters Degree in Protected Natural Areas in the Autonomous University of Madrid (Cum Laude) where he was granted a Scholarship from the BBVA Foundation/Carolina Foundation. Rodrigo is a PADI accredited Dive Master.



Mauricio Velásquez

Project Biologist

Mauricio is responsible for the management of the hatcheries of Sea Turtles located in the Eastern part of the Salvadoran coast. In addition to his experience in the management of protected natural areas and coastal marine ecosystems, Mauricio has worked in environmental projects to support community development. He is a founding member of the “Association of Athletes against AIDS in El Salvador” – (ATLECSES, in Spanish), created in 2003 by a group of federated college athletes from different sports and academic disciplines. Mauricio is a graduate biologist from the University of El Salvador.


Salvador Peralta

Project Biologist

Salvador has worked in various sea turtle conservation programs for the past seven years. He is currently responsible for the management of the sea turtle hatcheries located in the Midwestern part of the Salvadoran coast, and he has performed an indispensable role in the local capacity building process within the Community Development Program currently being run by FUNZEL, which has resulted in the formation of four Community associations for sea turtle conservation. Salvador has worked in various areas related to biology such as scientific research and production of aquatic species in inland and marine areas, and also in environmental sanitation. Salvador studied at the Western Multidisciplinary Faculty of the University of El Salvador and graduated as a Biologist.


Isabel Contreras

Veterinarian, Wildlife

Her career in wild life began in 2007 working in a dolphinarium in Quintana Roo, Mexico; studying about ethical management and medical behavior in aquatic mammals.
In the following years she study a masters in wildlife management at the University of San Carlos, Guatemala; doing a research study with WCS Guatemala.
Today is the veterinarian responsible for ensuring the welfare and health of the animals that come to our foundation with the purpose of being released and reintegrated in to the wild.



Teresa Villalta

Accounting & Finances

Teresa is responsible for the administrative and financial areas in FUNZEL, and also for the Human Resource Management.

Yanet Mejía

Sales, Events, and Volunteer Management

Yanet is responsible for the coordination of events and promotional sales, and she also manages the Sponsorship of Nests and the Neonates Turtle Releasing Activities, both public and private.


Boris Quijano

Community Manager

Boris came as a volunteer in 2010, working in different areas of the Foundation. Currently, he has joined as support in the technical area and communications.