SERVIR-Amazonia and partners invited to a virtual webinar to discover the leadership vision of women in environment & geospatial fields.

More than 50 leaders and aspiring leaders joined an online conversation on June 23, 2021 and learned from women who are playing prominent roles in three of the region’s foremost organizations in environmental science and geospatial technology. Words of introduction from the internationally renowned scientist and diplomat Frances Colón sparked and stimulated a lively conversation among the panelists.

Speakers and Quotes

The session opened with words from Dr. Frances Colón, who is Senior Director for International Climate Policy at the Center for American Progress where she leads a program to drive international ambition and action to meet global mitigation goals. Colón is the former Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State where she promoted integration of science and technology into foreign policy dialogues, global advancement of women in science, and climate policy for President Obama’s Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas.

Frances Colón invited the panelists to address three lines of thought: 1) Early influences that determined the career path; 2) Vision of leadership based on experiences; 3) Pressing challenges for leaders in environmental sciences.

” After 15 years of career I perceive my leadership in 3 dimensions: Technical leadership in scientific and environmental issues, Leadership in politics so as to have influence in the decisions that affect my community, Leadership to train new leaders and give back to others what I have received and achieved.”


Panelists included Carmen Josse. Carmen is the Executive Director of Fundación EcoCiencia, and holds a PhD in Biological Sciences with a specialty in vegetation and biogeography. Her experience lies in producing and managing information on biodiversity to support its planning processes, management and conservation policies. Carmen handles methods and products for classification, mapping and evaluation of ecosystems at the national level and throughout Latin America. She has experience with georeferenced tools for evaluating the adaptation of ecosystems to climate change, quantitative analysis of threats and monitoring of conservation objectives.

Allowing myself to have self-esteem was key to carrying out my career and making it useful.”
I am interested in direct interaction with society, being a voice in favor of environmental conservation to reach decision makers.”
New geospatial technologies can be harnessed to improve the lives of communities. To achieve this we must understand what these communities can do with the information. Empowering communities is the challenge that I dedicate most of my time to.”
Have respect for others and listen more than talk, and above all be self-critical!

We also welcomed Dr. Marcela Quintero, a leader within the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. She is the Research Director of the Multifunctional Landscapes Research Area.  Dr. Quintero is Ecologist and holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Agronomy at the University of Florida. With 20-years of  experience, her core work has focused on research project implementation in thematic areas related to environmental incentives, watershed management, environmental impacts in agricultural landscapes, and adoption determinants of sustainable land use-based options. Recently she has worked on environmental impacts and adoption determinants of conservation measures, including mixed crop-livestock systems and conservation measures. She has worked as well with organizations building sustainable development like GIZ, CONDESAN and Forest Trends.

In the early stages of my career, the support of my mentors, who did not have a stereotypical view of science or leadership, was key.”
I have 3 learnings from my experience as a leader: The excellent cannot be the enemy of the good. I learned to be efficient to keep sufficient time for my family. I learned to prioritize and give others opportunities to grow.”
Technological and social innovations have to go hand in hand. It motivates me to generate science that makes landscapes sustainable but also to achieve more social inclusion.”
Learn to listen and observe others! Do not forget to be sincere in the investigation, and to do quality science! Learn to communicate well!

Finally, Joice Ferreira joined the panel. She is an ecologist, researcher at Embrapa Amazônia Oriental, and the co-founder and researcher of the Sustainable Amazon Network (RAS). Joice has been carrying out socio-ecological research in the Amazon for about 20 years, covering the search for solutions to reconcile environmental conservation, agriculture and forests. Postgraduate professor at the Federal University of Pará, member of the board of the Brazilian Society for Ecological Restoration (SOBRE) and of the coordination of the Alliance for Restoration in the Amazon. She is also a scientist at the Coalition Science & Society.

We women have to work harder and make our voices heard with much more determination. Mine comes from my childhood spent on a farm and my mother of strong character who was a teacher.”
It is important for me to have a safety net, people to whom I can express doubts or seek help, and feel encouraged to take on a leadership role.
Make sure you have joy and passion in your work, so you overcome doubts! Take risks and find tools and partners that can help you.

This webinar was part of a series of activities under the program, Advancing Women’s Prosperity in the Workplace through Technical and Soft Skills in Environmental Science and Geospatial Technologies. Read more

Forthcoming webinars in this series:

  • July: Perspectives from Indigenous Women
  • August: Networking and Mentoring Approaches

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About the organizers

These activities are implemented through a partnership between SERVIR Global and SERVIR-Amazonia led by the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and supported by researchers from Arizona State University. SERVIR is a joint development initiative of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). These activities are funded through grant USRA#80MSFC17M0022: 03605-06.