The fund was born from listening.
As an Indigenous-led philanthropic vehicle we work to ensure the resilience of our Peoples in the face of cultural appropriation, environmental extractivism, human rights violations and climate change.
Partnering with funders globally, informed by robust ecological and community-based assessments, we build alliances with organizations on-the-ground, fund their efforts and do strategic engagement with leaders of each bio-culture.
The Conservation Committee is the strategy and decision-making body of the IMC Fund.
CONSERVATION COMMITTEE (Peyote)
Lucy Benally, Dine (aka Navajo) from the Dine Nation, located in the 4-Corners area of the United States of America. She is of the Tabaaha (Edgewater) Clan, born for the Ashihii (Salt) Clan, Maternal Grandftaher is of the Taachiinii (Red Streak running into the water) Clan and her paternal grandfather is of the Bit’ahnii (Folded Arm ) Clan. Married to Steven S. Benally with three children and three grandchildren. With a BS. Degree in Education, M.A. in Bilingual Education, and as a Retired Educator, she is a founding member of the Youth Committee with Azee’ Beenahagha of Dine Nation in educating Dine Youth on Peyote conservation, reconnection and instilling essential life skills and information on Peyote way of life for their sustainability, stability and security. A firm believer in the conservation, protection and preservation of sacred plant medicines.
Maître Moubeyi Bouale
Conservation Committee (Iboga)
Lawyer of the Bar of Gabon. Grand Master of the Bwiti Missoko Rite. Director of the National Association for the Preservation of Bwiti Missoko "Maghanga Ma Nzambé". Honorary Member of BOTF Gabon. Special Advisor in charge of Moral Order
Conservation Committee (Ayahuasca) & Co-Executive Director
Miguel Evanjuanoy Chindoy is a member of the Inga people from Putumayo, Colombia. He was born in a beautiful hilltop village part of an Indigenous territory named Yunguillo, where the local cosmovision and collective work are the pillars of community life. Miguel is a community leader and environmental engineer and has been devoted follower of yagé (ayahuasca) medicine since his childhood years. He acts as a spokesperson for the Union of Indigenous Yage Medics of the Colombian Amazon (UMIYAC). Specifically, his work focuses on the role that Indigenous spirituality plays in territorial defence and environmental conservation. He is also interested in how yage medicine practiced by local, Indigenous traditional healers contributes to peacebuilding, the improvement of community health, and the reconstruction of the social fabric in war torn rural Colombia.
Recently Miguel has been speaking internationally about the impact that development models based on extractive economy and on the depletion of earth’s vital resources are having on the Amazonian biocultural ecosystems. On behalf of his organization and community, he is also taking a stand against cultural appropriation and the indiscriminate commercialization of Indigenous practices and sacred plants, with the claim that this “marketed spiritualty” is negatively impacting both Indigenous peoples and urban users alike.
Ana Maria Ortiz
Technical Committee (Toad)
Anny is a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Human Ecology. Over the past 20 years she worked in a variety of therapeutic programs including a treatment center in Baja, Mexico that was using ibogaine to aid in the treatment of substance use disorders. At this treatment center, she introduced the use of 5-MeO-DMT derived from the Sonoran Desert toad (Incilius alvarius) as a complement to ibogaine. Doing this work was deeply meaningful given the positive impact it had on mental health and wellbeing of the program participants, but also personally troubling given how it contributed to the exploitation of the toad populations in her native Sonora. Seeing first-hand the therapeutic effects of the 5-MeO-DMT experience motivated her to pursue graduate school to research this therapeutic potential in an academic setting, advocate for the development of synthetic 5-MeO-DMT as an approved psychiatric treatment, and to connect with an interdisciplinary team of experts to explore avenues for toad conservation and protection in its endemic habitat. With support from the IMCF she has been conducting a toad population study to update its ecological status both in Mexico and internationally through the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red list to reflect the species current status. She will be graduating from UW-Madison in the summer of 2023 and begin working with Usona Institute, a non-profit medical research organization that is investigating in rigorous clinical trials the therapeutic potential synthetic 5-MeO-DMT may have as a mental health treatment. This, she believes will greatly alleviate some of the pressure toad populations have been experiencing over the past 10 years given the demand for toad secretions, while also helping individuals in need of the beneficial impacts 5-MeO-DMT may have on mental health
Conservation Committee (Peyote)
Mona Polacca is of Havasupai, Hopi and Tewa tribal lineage. She is an educator/facilitator on indigenous water issues and culturally appropriate health treatments for Native Americans. She is a founding member of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, an alliance upholding and protecting Indigenous spiritual practices and beliefs. Her spiritual practices are grounded in the Havasupai, Hopi and Tewa Original Instructions and the Native American Church.
Jamela Neslie Ntsame Mboumba
Iboga Technical Committee
Jamela Neslie Ntsame Mboumba lives in Libreville, Gabon. She lived and studied in Gabon and also in Ghana, where she graduated in management and marketing, so she is fluent in both French and English. Jamela was initiated in the Mbiri and Dissoumba traditions when she was eight years old. Since then she has been a practitioner and dancer in the Dissoumba tradition, having performed in several countries. Jamela has been collaborating with the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund since 2022.
Technical Committee (Iboga)
Ricard Faura is Catalan and lives in the forests of Barcelona, Spain. He is an advisor to the IMC Fund for issues related to iboga and ayahuasca biocultures mainly. He has a PhD in Social Psychology, with extensive training in Anthropology and Psychology, and he has been a professor of Psychology and Humanities at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) for 20 years. In addition, he is a bridge weaver at ICEERS, where he has been working for years on issues related to biocultural conservation of Indigenous medicines and knowledges.
After years of personal work and collective growth with natural medicines, plants, mushrooms and psychedelics, and together with diverse communities around the world, he became personally committed to the conservation of different ancestral knowledges that, despite being full of great wisdom, have been fiercely attacked by the expansive global society and are at risk of disappearing. This commitment to ancestral knowledges reaffirmed his determined support for the processes of Indigenous peoples and communities and the ecosystems that have traditionally stewarded them, understanding that this collective work of conservation can also have very positive impacts for the rest of the human communities and for our planet as a whole.
Technical Committee (Ayahusca)
Claude Guislain is Peruvian, spending most of his time in the Peruvian Amazon and in Brazil. He is a member of the Ayahuasca Conservation Committee and an advisor in relationships with Indigenous leaders and healers. He trained as an anthropologist in Belgium but very rapidly he realized he had much more to learn and give by being closer to Indigenous systems than to academia. His journey brought him close to different masters from the Shipibo, Arhuaco, Tubu, Yawanawa, among others. After many years of quest, his role revealed itself to be a Bridge between worlds. He has been an Ayahuasca retreat facilitator since 2008 and an advocate for the Indigenous cause in different domains. The extraordinary possibilities he has witnessed from his teachers’ mastery - the healings, the teachings, the stories, the medicines, the technologies, the messages… - gave him the firm conviction that a true Alliance between Ancestral Indigenous Wisdom and modern Science is the key for overcoming the great challenges of our Time. His calling is “People are United”.
Katherine Criss Ruiz Ochavano-Wasan Jabe
Technical Committee (Ayahusca)
Katherine is a member of the native community of Amaquiria, a Shipibo-Konibo community. She is currently concluding her studies in law and political sciences at the Universidad Nacional de Ucayali. She is a passionate activist defending women's rights and dedicated to causes protecting the environment.
Technical Committee (Ayahuasca)
Riccardo Vitale is an Italian anthropologist with twenty years of continuous working experience in Latin America. He earned a PhD from Cambridge University with a thesis about the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico. His expertise covers human rights, anthropology in armed conflict, social movements, indigenous politics, gender relations, sustainable development, resilience, climate change adaptations. Riccardo has worked as an advisor of a plethora of international organizations such as: Oxfam America, the UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council, ICG and GIZ.
Since 2016 Riccardo works as a fulltime adviser for the Union of Indigenous Yagé Medics of the Colombian Amazon (UMIYAC). His tasks within UMIYAC range from fundraising to advocacy, to capacity strengthening, and non-extractive (“the-other-way-around”) anthropological research, aimed at “reinforcing indigenous communities, rather than taking from them”. His current areas of interest include: the use of indigenous spiritual practices and yagé (ayahuasca) as peacebuilding tools; local use of yagé to heal war traumas; the role of spiritual medicine in territorial defense; and the effects of the cultural appropriation and commercialization of traditional knowledge and practices.
Grants & Operations Manager
Brooke Rodriguez, a dedicated Borikua Táino mother residing in Munsee Lenape territory, holds key roles as the Grants and Operations manager for the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund, co-founder of The Grinding Stone Collective, co-owner of Buffalo Jump NYC, a Native food catering business, and Board President of the Borikua Taino Foundation. As Grants and Operations Manager at IMC, she oversees financial compliance for the organization and ensures the grants, payments and contracts are handled with care. Serving as the executive director of The Grinding Stone Collective for the past three years, Brooke spearheads initiatives to uplift Indigenous communities through impactful events, workshops, classes, and the development of databases for traditional ecological knowledge sharing. The First Foods Program, the centerpiece of GSC's efforts, champions native food culture and food sovereignty through education, reciprocity, and action. As a founding member of the Borikua Taino Foundation, Brooke is committed to preserving the unique cultural identity of Borikua Taíno through traditional education, land preservation, and re-indigenization. Recognized for her contributions, she was awarded a fellowship in Solve MIT’s Indigenous Communities cohort in 2022, showcasing her commitment to innovation within the Native Solver community. GSC is also a proud member of FAO’s North American Urban Indigenous Food Systems Group. With academic roots in agriculture, animal husbandry, biology, and anthropology, Brooke brings over 20 years of experience to her advocacy for Indigenous justice, education, and coalition building.
Benjamin De Loenen
External Advisor (Fundraising, Relationships and Communication)
Benjamin De Loenen is a Belgian born, living in Spain. He studied audiovisual media in the Netherlands where he graduated with his documentary Ibogaine - Rite of Passage (2004) which introduced him to the globalization of plant medicine. This led him to founding the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research & Service (ICEERS) in 2009, which he serves as Executive Director.
In the 12 years leading the organization he became more and more aware of the vital importance of indigenous peoples, their communities, territories and knowledge in the moment of crisis we are living in as a humanity, which led him to deepen his relationship with indigenous leaders since 2017. Benjamin supports the development and management of the IMC Fund in the capacity of interim co-director. Benjamin is the father of a young daughter.
PROGRAM MANAGER & AYAHUASCA TECHNICAL COMMITTEE
Tanya Kammonen is a Canadian living in the Amazon in Peru. She works primarily in the ayahuasca part of the IMC Fund’s projects, in addition to behind-the-scenes support. She is trained as a molecular biologist and naturopathic doctor, and worked in ayahuasca integration and retreat facilitation before diving into a more interculturally informed investigation into self, then healing, and ayahuasca. This inquiry led to an appreciation that the ceremonies we use in the West are still very active parts of the traditional cultures that kept them alive for generations, and she thinks conserving and protecting those cultures is essential for true integration and healing at a level that goes beyond self.
Tanya is a mother of two small kids in an intercultural family, raising them in a way that integrates their ancestral language and traditions with her own Western roots.
Sandra Suasnabar Alberco
EDUCATION COMMITTEE CHAIR AND FACILITATOR
Sandra Suasnabar Alberco is an Expressive Arts Therapist and Community Worker of Andean, Indigenous ancestry, originally from Peru. She holds an MA in Expressive Arts Therapy and Psychology, and has 15+ years of experience supporting diverse communities affected by complex inter-generational trauma, violence, and systemic oppression. Sandra describes her professional path as both unique and generous. Through the diversity of her experience and the communities she has served, Sandra has contributed to and been influenced by a wise textile of wisdom.
Sandra’s practice has taken place in community-based, non-profit, social justice, education, and health-based settings in Canada. She has worked as a a therapeutic counsellor, advocate, manager, educator, and consultant; with each role being deeply informed by her lived experience and intersecting identities. In recent years, Sandra and her family have lived and worked in rural-northern Indigenous communities. Sandra remains deeply connected to her ancestors’ knowledge, culture and worldviews as she contributes to her community and raises her new baby.
Ivan Sawyer García
Cultural entrepreneur, media producer and indigenous rights activist. Among other things he has been involved in different cultural exchange, sustainability and indigenous knowledge preservation initiatives in different parts of North and South America for over a decade. Collaborating with different organizations such as the Global Ecovillage Network, NuMundo.org, Four World International Institute, Global Alliance of Territorial Communities and with events such as the Consejo de Visiones – Guardianes de la Tierra in Mexico.
Ivan is the founder of Voces de Amerikua, a collaborative media laboratory that supports and promotes the voices of indigenous peoples of North, Central and South America and their efforts to protect their Culture, Land and Rights, using impact campaigns, social media and documentaries.
Social Media Manager
Micaela Montsserrat Arroyo Escajeda was born in Torreon, Coahuila and raised in Sonora, Mexico. She is a certified yoga and meditation teacher as well as a holistic therapist, having studied in Rishikesh, India. With over 15 years of experience as a video journalist, Micaela joins the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund as social media manager. Passionate about nature and of recognizing herself as an intricate part of it, learning about the self through self-expression, Mica believes that every experience offers opportunities to learn and grow. Inquisitive and insightful, Mica is a keen observer of human behavior and enjoys helping others connect with their inner wisdom. Believing that everyone can heal themselves, Mica is committed to supporting individuals towards their own process of growth. Mica is excited about the possibilities created by new media technologies and social networks, these tools can be used to create powerful connections and to disseminate useful, empowering information to aid the healing, growth and expansion of all.
Miriam Volat M.S.Co-Director of Riverstyx Foundation, is an educator, organizer, facilitator and ecologist with a passion for soils and nutrient cycles. She works Nationally and Internationally to increase health in all systems. She is dedicated to the biocultural conservation of Peyote and other medicines supported by the IMC Fund, and works in any way she can to ensure the conservation of these medicines for Indigenous communities and their precious ways of life. As a mom, she is fortunate her daughter, Cora, also supports her work.