Board of Directors

Luis Eduardo Varela Clement, President

Luis Eduardo Varela Clement

Luis is a member of an industrious Panamanian family with Azuero roots. He obtained his civil engineering degree, with honors, from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., U.S.A., which he followed up with postgraduate studies there and in Stockholm. For 13 years he worked in the construction sector in Nicaragua, and upon his return to Panama joined the insurance sector in the area of technical insurance, securities and bonds, to which he dedicated the length of his career. In his retirement, he advises insurance companies in his areas of expertise and has acted as mediator, arbiter, and expert witness in disputes involving the insurance and construction sectors. He is an avid nature lover, birdwatcher and collector of historical Panamanian maps. Luis has been married over 50 years, and together with his wife Marta Cardenal, heads a family that to date includes 24 children and grandchildren.

Vernon Scholey, Vice president

Vernon ScholeyVern has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Fisheries Biology from the University of Washington. He has worked in the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, Washington State, Japan, Ecuador and since 1985 has been the Director of the Achotines Laboratory at the southern tip of the Azuero Peninsula. Investigations at the Achotines Laboratory, a field station of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, focus on the ecology and biology of tuna. Research is carried out at sea and on land where simulated ocean conditions allow scientists to work with eggs and larvae provided by captive spawning yellowfin tuna. Achotines Laboratory also hosts a number of research scientists in other marine and terrestrial disciplines as well as University short courses and field trips.

Alfa Garcia Montenegro, Secretary

Alfa, was born and raised in Las Tablas, where she has resided permanently since 6 years ago with her husband and daughter.
Social communicator and professional film maker with more than 20 years experience in the audiovisual industry in Panama and Spain where she lived and work for over 10 years in television and film. Her professional experience has been in production, part of the technical team in cameras, and in the last few years as wardrobe artist in several Panamanian advertising campaigns, and important cinematographic productions. She is also an active member in the Club de Leones Las Tablas and co founder of Festarte Las Tablas.

Dr. Maydelin Iveth Pecchio Millán, Member

Dr. Maydelin Iveth

Dr. Maydelin IvethPanamanian, lives in the county of La Enea, in Guararé, Los Santos. Medica by profession, Internal Medicine specialist with a Sub-specialization in Infectious Diseases. He works at Gustavo Nelson Collado Hospital in Chitré, Herrera.
As part of his academic training he worked as an associate researcher in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Research for 5 months in 2016, University of Louisville Hospital, Kentucky, USA. He also has a Postgraduate Degree in Higher Education (2013) School of Higher Education, University of Panama.
She currently belongs to the Panamanian Society of Internal Medicine since January 2014 and to the Panamanian Society of Infectology since October 2016 where she is a member of the board of directors as spokesperson for the Society. His interest at the community and hospital level is research, which is why he is part of the Institute of Medical Sciences of Las Tablas, with the aim of collaborating in investigations of infectious causes, whether community or hospital.
Her other motivation is reforestation and environmental sustainability. In Tumáco, Los Pozos de Herrera, is carrying out the reforestation of 19 hectares, in order to make a farm agro tourist “Finca Melina”, while providing education to employees about reforestation.

Ruth Metzel

Ruth has a Master of Forestry and MBA from Yale University, and a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University. In addition to working with the Azuero Eco Foundation, she has been a part of The Forests Dialogue, the International Society of Tropical Foresters, and the Governance, Environment and Markets Initiative at Yale. Ruth has written about Azuero in publications such as “Manejo de Nutrientes y Seguridad Alimentaria en Huertos Caseros Mesoamericanos” (2015) and “Farm to Forest: Factors Associated with Protecting and Planting Trees in a Panamanian Agricultural Landscape” (2015). Her field experience includes research projects with the Smithsonian in Panama, along with work in Costa Rica, Cuba, Honduras, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Peru, Venezuela and the United States. If she is not in the office, you can find her dancing típico, kayaking, hiking or in a “junta de embarre.”

Rossie Pope-Meyer

Rossie Pope-Meyer

Rossie Pope-Meyer is a Panamanian American living in the Hudson Valley, New York. She is a nutritionist, educator, and environmentalist. She currently leads yoga retreats in Panama and New York that support positive environmental impact and engagement. With a holistic approach focusing on the human and soil microbiome and their connection to human health, she promotes ecological stewardship that prioritizes animal wellbeing, soil regeneration, ocean health and sustainable living practices. Rossie is an active member of Rachel’s Network, a community of passionate, ecologically minded women funders committed to a safer, healthier, and more just world for all.