Meet our DOI-ITAP Team

U.S. Map of DOI Lands and Tribal Areas with ITAP Staff



Photo of Barbara Pitkin, ITAP Chief

Barbara Pitkin
Division Director
Washington, DC

Barbara Pitkin founded DOI-ITAP and has been at its helm since inception. Barbara grew ITAP from a one-person pilot program with $300,000 in seed funding to a fully institutionalized global program with 22 staff and an annual revenue stream of +/- $12 million. In 2022, she received the Department's Distinguished Service Award -- the highest honorary recognition bestowed by DOI – for her work with ITAP.   

Previously, Barbara worked for the World Wildlife Fund, the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the National Wildlife Federation. Barbara has lived and worked in Liberia, West Africa, and spent a year of her graduate studies in Bologna, Italy. She authored a foundational book on training in Sub-Saharan Africa: Training Needs and Opportunities among Protected Area Managers in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa; helped draft Sub-Saharan Africa: From Crisis to Sustainable Growth, a comprehensive long-term development strategy for Africa published by the World Bank; and co-authored an article entitled Searching for Food Security in Africa in the International Monetary Fund's Finance and Development magazine.

Barbara received her M.A. in International Affairs from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where she concentrated on International Economics and Social Change and Development, and graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University, where she majored in Geological Sciences. She conducted her geological fieldwork in Iceland. Barbara is proficient in Italian and has studied French and Spanish.



Cynthia Perera
Deputy Division Director
Team Lead, Latin America & the Caribbean
Washington, DC

On board since 2000, Cynthia Perera is the Deputy Chief, supporting all management aspects of DOI-ITAP, serves as the Team Lead for the DOI-ITAP Latin America and Caribbean, and manages the Guatemala-Belize project. In earlier years, Cynthia managed diverse DOI-ITAP regional programs in Central America and the Andean Amazon, as well as single country projects in Tanzania, Kenya, and the Philippines.

Cynthia initially joined DOI in 1992, working for the National Park Service to help bring its operations nationwide into compliance with environmental regulations.  Before her government service, Cynthia worked in the private sector as a program manager for an environmental consulting firm, Versar, Inc. For two years prior to that, Cynthia served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala. A native Spanish speaker, she has strong ties to Latin America through her parents, originally from Guatemala and Chile, and having lived most of her formative years in Panama and Chile.

Cynthia received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Zoology from Duke University and a Master of Science Degree in Environmental Science and Engineering from the Virginia Tech School of Engineering. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three children, enjoys sports, the outdoors, and reading.

Budget & Travel


Kaimy Marks
Management Analyst 
Clancy, MT

Kaimy Marks joined DOI-ITAP as a Management Analyst in August 2021. Prior to joining ITAP Kaimy worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 6 years, Veterans Affairs for 2 years, and the Montana Army National Guard as a Personnel Services Specialist for 22 years.  Kaimy received a B.A. in Business with a Marketing emphasis from Montana State University. 

Kaimy assists with ITAP operations and to include budget, travel, time and attendance, charge card maintenance, staff training and all facets of administrative support. She lives in Clancy, Montana and enjoys camping, boating, hiking, and snowmobiling with her husband and two daughters.



Jamie Hansberger
Travel Coordinator 
Washington, DC

Jamie Hansberger joined ITAP in February 2019 as a travel coordinator detailee. After 13 months on detail, she officially started her position in April 2020. Jamie started her Federal Government position at the age of 16 with the Food and Drug Administration. She spent most of her career with the National Park Service doing administrative work. 

In her free time, she enjoys shooting pool and spending time with her family and husband. Jamie has 1 son and 2 stepchildren. 



Tabitha Anderson
Travel Coordinator 
Washington, DC

Tabitha Anderson joined the DOI-ITAP Budget, Admin, and Travel team in January 2020 as a Travel Coordinator, having previously worked within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Washington Office from 2015-2020. Tabitha has a wide range of experience, holding various supportive roles that focus on ensuring mission-critical tasks are successful. She served as the Administrative Assistant for Eastern States BLM, Human Resource Assistant for the BLM Washington Office, as well as a Management Analyst and Protest Coordinator for the Division of Decision Support, Planning, & NEPA.

Prior to her civil service commitment, Tabitha worked as a Human Resources Specialist & Transportation Coordinator in the United States Army. Tabitha has a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management from the University of Maryland University College.

Africa & Europe


Ethan Taylor
Team Lead
Washington, DC

Ethan Taylor is the Team Lead for DOI-ITAP's Africa/Europe portfolio. From 2011-2019, Ethan worked as a Senior Policy Advisor in DOI’s Office of International Affairs (INT) where he served as the primary liaison on regions of strategic importance for Departmental and U.S. foreign policy objectives, including Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Before joining INT, Ethan worked as a Senior Program Officer at DOI's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of International Conservation, where his responsibilities included grant-making and other international cooperation on conservation initiatives across Latin America and the Caribbean. From 2003-2008, Ethan worked at Peace Corps Headquarters as a Country Desk Officer for the Central America sub-region, helping to launch the Peace Corps program in Mexico.   

Prior to federal service, Ethan worked at World Wildlife Fund from 1998-2003 as the organization's first-ever Community Outreach Coordinator, designing and implementing conservation and education initiatives in pilot communities and partner institutions across the country. He also worked as an adjunct professor for American University’s Washington Semester Program.

Ethan was a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Panama from 1993-1995 where he served as an environmental educator and teacher trainer. He has a master's degree in environmental studies from the University of Oregon and a bachelor's degree in Spanish and environmental science from the University of Virginia. Ethan currently resides in Silver Spring, MD with his partner and two children. He is an avid collector of molas (intricate textiles made by the Guna Indians in Panama) and colorful Fiestaware.



Elizabeth Boynton
Senior Project Manager
Washington, DC

Elizabeth Boynton joined DOI-ITAP as a Project Manager in December 2020. As a former Presidential Management Fellow of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Energy and Environmental Industries, she specializes in the nexus of international trade and natural resource management. She also has a background in sustainable development, having previously designed and implemented reintegration programs in post-conflict Liberia for a Swedish non-profit organization.

Elizabeth received her Bachelor’s in Development Studies and Political Science from Lund University and her Master’s in International Economics and Conflict Management from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Her research focused on energy security in Sub-Saharan Africa and climate adaptation in the Pacific Islands.

After five years in Scotland, Sweden, and Italy, Elizabeth returned to Washington D.C. to pursue a career in federal service. She enjoys running, hiking, and enjoying live music with her husband, and speaks intermediate Swedish, Spanish, and Italian.



Cara Steger
Project Manager
Ithaca, NY

Cara Steger comes to ITAP from a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University, where she studied collaborative approaches to forest management in southern Senegal. She holds a PhD from the interdisciplinary Ecology program at Colorado State University. Her dissertation used geospatial models of land change to support community-based conservation in the Ethiopian highlands. Cara’s overarching goal as a scientist is to advance equitable and sustainable decision-making about the environment.

Following her B.S. in Forest Science at the University of Illinois, Cara served for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal (2010-2012). She then received her M.S. in Environmental Informatics from the University of Michigan, with a thesis that tested the reliability of data produced by tourists as citizen scientists near Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. These experiences inspired a career dedicated to merging the goals of conservation and development in the U.S. and abroad.

Cara grew up next door to one of the last functioning dairy farms in the suburbs of Chicago, which her family helped convert into an interactive museum on local farming history. She now lives in Ithaca, NY with her husband and son. Cara enjoys gardening, hiking, and painting in her free time.



Dhaval Vyas
Project Manager
Denver, CO

Dhaval Vyas joined DOI-ITAP’s Africa – Europe Team as a project manager in July 2023. He received his B.A. in Animal Behavior from Bucknell University where he studied primate cognition. He then lived in Tanzania for a year studying elephants for his M.S. in Biology from Georgia Southern University. For his Ph.D. in Ecology from Colorado State University, Dhaval downsized from elephants to parasitic wasps that thankfully only attack caterpillars. Outside of work, Dhaval can be found birding, cooking, drinking rare craft beers, or reminiscing about his days as a competitive eater. 

Asia, Pacific Islands, & the Arctic


Jason T. Riley
Team Lead
Morro Bay, CA

Jason T. Riley has managed projects in Southeast Asia and Latin America with DOI-ITAP since 2009. His work has focused on protected area management, wildlife trafficking, CITES implementation, regulation of the mining industry, and environmental safeguards for infrastructure development. He joined DOI as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2008 and completed assignments in the National Park Service/Budget Office and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office.

From 2002-2006, Jason worked on environment and natural resources policy as a legislative aide in the California State Legislature, where he was selected as a Jesse Unruh Assembly Fellow. During that time, he took a year off to travel through seven countries in Latin America, volunteering with parks and wildlife and studying Spanish. He got his start in conservation during college as an intern at the San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research.

Jason earned a Masters in International Affairs at UC San Diego in 2008 and a BA in Communication from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2002, and studied abroad in Indonesia. Jason speaks Spanish and resides in Morro Bay, California. He loves to surf, camp, and climb with his wife and two children.



Claire Shields
Project Manager
Bethesda, MD

Claire Shields originally joined the DOI in 2010, working for the National Park Service across a range of positions in natural resources management, administration, partnerships, and communications. Prior to joining the NPS, Claire led the Visit Wales office in New York where she was responsible for managing all marketing, communications, and development activities for Wales tourism in the US. She previously held positions in tourism research, strategic planning, and policy development, and managed the British Tourist Authority’s international research and evaluation program.

Claire holds an M.Sc. in Park and Resource Management from Slippery Rock University, and a Master of Tourism Administration degree, specializing in Sustainable Destination Management, from the George Washington University School of Business. Originally from Wales, she also holds a BA(Hons) in Geography from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Following graduation, Claire started her career working in community engagement with rural Welsh villages in protected areas.

Claire lives with her family in Bethesda, Maryland where they enjoy exploring the many cultural and natural attractions the DC area has to offer. She is also an avid soccer supporter and player, enjoys hiking, and exploring state and national parks.


Photo of Laura Frydman, Project Manager (APIA)

Laurie Frydman
Project Manager
Madison, Wisconsin

Laurie Frydman joined DOI-ITAP’s Asia, Pacific Islands, and Arctic team as a Project Manager in November 2023. She has over 20 years of experience and a diverse background in environmental planning, strategic communications, and program management―both domestic and abroad. Prior to joining DOI-ITAP, Laurie was the Partnerships Coordinator and Mission Environmental Officer in the Regional Environment Office at USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia based in Bangkok. She also worked for the U.S. Department of State covering the environment, science, technology, and health portfolio at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya. Stateside Laurie managed the environmental compliance and regulatory permitting for a wide variety of natural resource management projects in California. 
Laurie received her Master of Urban Planning degree with an environmental planning specialization from the University of Washington and her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She currently lives in Madison with her husband and two kids. 



Kimberly Crisafi
Project Manager
Seattle, Washington

Kim joined ITAP in March 2023 as a member of both the Asia, Pacific Islands, and Arctic and Budget Teams. Prior to joining ITAP, she was working at the Environmental Protection Agency where she acted as a funds control officer, led her office’s Justice 40 initiative, and created a budget services intranet site. She was previously a Community Economic Development Specialist in Peace Corps Peru where she taught financial education to women, students, and native communities.

Kim is from the central coast of California and received a B.S. degree in Business with a Management emphasis from San Diego State University. She lives in Seattle, Washington, and loves hiking, traveling, and visiting national parks.



Julia Welch
Assistant Project Manager
McCall, ID

Julia joined DOI-ITAP in 2021 as a member of the Asia and Pacific Islands team. Her previous work experience includes conservation-based jobs as a wildlife biologist, naturalist, and environmental educator throughout the United States and Canada. 

She graduated from Antioch University New England with a Masters in Conservation Biology, and she completed her undergraduate degree at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry with a BS in Wildlife Science.

Julia feels at home in the forest foraging for berries, mushrooms, and medicinal plants. In her free time, you can find her paddling, biking, and backpacking in the Mountains of Idaho she calls home. 



Energy & Middle East 


Colleen Castle
Team Lead
Washington, DC

Colleen Castle manages the Energy and Middle East programs for DOI-ITAP. Colleen has over ten years of experience navigating international affairs and joined DOI-ITAP as an assistant for the Jordan Parks Project in 2010. Since then, she has overseen protected areas management projects in Georgia, Oman, and Morocco, and counter-wildlife trafficking projects throughout Africa. Colleen also served as the Counter-Wildlife Trafficking and Biodiversity Advisor to USAID/Kenya and East Africa during an assignment in Nairobi, Kenya.

Prior to joining DOI-ITAP Colleen worked as a production assistant for public radio programs focused on international relations, economic, and environmental issues. While in school, she interned with the U.S. House of Representatives and the Council on Foreign Relations. Colleen earned an M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University in 2011 and a B.A. in Political Science from McGill University in 2008. She speaks French.



Olivia Y. Sierra
Senior Project Manager 
Washington, DC

Olivia Y. Sierra joined the DOI-ITAP team in December of 2014 as a Project Manager with the energy portfolio under her purview. Olivia manages and coordinates activities related to the safe, sustainable, and environmentally responsible development of conventional, non-conventional, and renewable resources.

A native of Mexico City, Mexico, Olivia started her federal career in 2005 with DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Las Vegas District Office, where she became involved in a variety of public land management issues ranging from GIS, lands and realty, minerals, and natural resources.  From 2010-2014, Olivia served as the BLM’s International Affairs Office lead and developed bureau wide policy, guidelines, and procedures for the international affairs program. Olivia studied communications and animation and is fluent in Spanish and conversational French.  She practices snowboarding, scuba diving, hiking, and enjoys the outdoors.



Kossivi Amegan
Project Manager
Washington, DC

Kossivi Amegan joined DOI-ITAP in 2014 as a Pathways Intern. He co-manages the CITES and Protected Area management projects in Morocco and Jordan and supports DOI-ITAP’s energy program in South Africa. During his first years with the office, he worked on the Land Cover for Climate (LC4Climate) capacity building project in West Africa and Southeast Asia.

Kossivi received a B.S in Environmental Management, a M.S in Biotechnology–Regulatory Affairs, and a Master of Business Administration from University of Maryland Global Campus. He is a U.S Army Reserve veteran, and he currently serves with a Veterinary Unit in Richmond, Virginia. Kossivi is a native French speaker.



Nicholas Bruscato
Project Manager
Chicago, IL

Nick Bruscato is a Project Manager with ITAP's Energy and Middle East Team. He is also a chapter author for the Fifth National Climate Assessment for the Tribe and Indigenous People’s Chapter. Prior to joining DOI Nick was Tribal Risk Analyst and Tribal Liaison with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He worked closely with Tribes and Indigenous communities on climate data development, adaption projects, and capacity building activities. Having served in Catmon, Cebu, Philippines, Nick is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who worked in Coastal Resources Management. He received a Master of Science from the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, focusing on Environmental Justice. His capstone focused on the impacts of climate change and tourism on equitable access to coastal resources in the Philippines. Nick has a BA in Modern Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a BA in Italian Cultural Studies from Columbia University.

Nick was born, raised, and currently lives in Chicago with his wife, who he met in the Peace Corps. They love to hike, camp, and travel with their dog Ruthie. During warm summer days Nick enjoys Chicago Cubs baseball at Wrigley Field, while winter evenings can be spent singing Bisayan ballads on bidyoke (karaoke).

Latin America & the Caribbean


Cynthia Perera
Deputy Division Chief 
Team Lead
Washington, DC

(see above)


Christina Kish
Senior Project Manager 
Washington, DC

Since 2013, Christina Kish has managed DOI-ITAP technical assistance projects in Central and South America, the Caribbean, and in support of the Central American and Dominican Republic Wildlife Enforcement Network.  Christina previously worked with the U.S. Department of Justice (1991-1998) in law enforcement, living in the U.S. and South America. She had numerous temporary duty assignments throughout Latin America. Christina worked with the Australian National Crime Authority on an Organized Crime Task Force group in Australia (2001-2002).

She returned to the U.S. in 2002 and worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Office of Law Enforcement's Intelligence Unit for 10 years, five of those as the Supervisor, supporting domestic and international wildlife investigations and inspection efforts. She provided training on a variety of wildlife and related enforcement topics at the FWS National Conservation Training Center, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and international law enforcement gatherings.

Christina earned a B.A. with the Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas in Austin, concentrating in Latin American studies and political science. Christina is fluent in Spanish.



Mariam Tahir
Project Manager 
New York, NY

Mariam Tahir joined DOI-ITAP in 2022 as a member of both the Latin America and Caribbean and the DOI-ITAP Communications Teams. She began her federal service with the National Science Foundation, within the Molecular and Cellular Biology directorate, where she refined her skills in project management, financial analysis, and graphic design. Prior to that, Mariam served in the Peace Corps for two years in Costa Rica, where she taught financial literacy, and led Girls-in-STEAM [science, technology, engineering, arts & design, and math] and a local eco-tourism group. Following graduation, she started her career as a financial analyst at a startup veterinary management company.

Originally from New Jersey, she earned her degree in Economics from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, and is continuing her studies, pursuing a certificate in Environmental Policy and International Development. She is a certified Project Management Professional.

Mariam speaks Urdu, Spanish, Arabic and is learning American Sign Language. She enjoys painting, tennis, salsa dancing, hiking, and live music in her free time. She is passionate about culture, history, art, design, sustainability, BIPOC [black, indigenous and people of color], and gender justice.



Sarah Fanelli
Project Manager 
Houston, TX

Sarah Fanelli joined ITAP in 2022 as a member of the Latin America and Caribbean team. Her career has focused on cultural heritage management and sustainable tourism. Previously, she worked for Mexico’s National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (FONATUR) and oversaw the Culture Division for an infrastructure, territorial planning, and community engagement project across five states of southeastern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula. Prior to this, Sarah was a Historic Preservation Planner at the City of Houston Planning and Development Department. Additionally, Sarah has worked as a cultural tourism consultant planning the management of archaeological sites and historic monuments in various communities around Mexico.

Sarah holds a dual MA in Heritage Management awarded by University of Kent and Athens University of Economics and Business; her MA Field Study Project thesis comprised the creation of a heritage trail for sustainable cultural tourism on the Greek island of Chios, based around the tangible and intangible heritage tied to the agricultural product mastic gum (mastiha). She also holds a BA in Spanish with a minor in Art History from University of St. Thomas, Texas. 

Sarah is bilingual, speaking Spanish fluently, and has studied Italian as well as Modern Greek. She enjoys hiking, tennis, and cooking and tasting local cuisine in her native Texas and Louisiana, as well as exploring cultural landscapes in the United States and around the globe. 



Juan Diego Hernández White
Assistant Project Manager 
North Augusta, SC

Juan Diego Hernandez joined DOI-ITAP in January 2022 and supports projects and communications with the Latin America & the Caribbean Team. Currently, he serves in the ARMY Reserves in Augusta, GA. 

He was born and raised in Guatemala City, Guatemala to American-Guatemalan parents. He is an English & Spanish Bilingual, is proficient in French and knows some Slovak and Quechua. 

From 2019-2020 Juan Diego served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru. Although his service was interrupted by COVID-19, in 2021 he continued participating in two Virtual Service Pilot Programs as a Training Specialist in soft skills development with the Social Development Cooperation Fund and the Ministry of Social Inclusion, as well as the Program for the promotion of water quality control through social networks and mass media with the Regional Health Directorate of Ancash.

He graduated with a double Bachelors of Art in Political Science and International Relations at Florida International University, obtaining a certificate in European and Eurasian Studies during his time at Sciences Po Aix, France.

Juan Diego considers himself to be an avid adventurer, traveler and loves to play sports. Soon he wishes to become an airplane pilot. 

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