Sophia Wood – CEO and Co-Founder
Sophia Wood is a political scientist and entrepreneur focused on supporting and centering rural and indigenous communities in conservation efforts around the globe. Originally from Seattle, Sophia has lived in Latin America for nearly four years, splitting her time between Santiago, Chile, and the Ecuadorian Amazon, where she leads research expeditions with Friends of Wallacea partner, Operation Wallacea.>
She co-founded Friends of Wallacea in 2019 to develop sources of sustainable income for communities living near or within areas of high biodiversity to support year-round conservation efforts in these areas. She has previously worked as a venture capital investor in Latin American tech companies, as well as researching sustainable tourism extensively across Africa and Latin America.
Mădălina Marian – Romania Country Manager
Mădălina Marian is a biologist from Sighișoara who manages all Friends of Wallacea operations in Romania through a local tour operator, Angofa Wildlife Tours. Prior to joining Friends of Wallacea, Mădălina was a translator and scientist on Operation Wallacea’s expeditions to Transylvania for three years.
She is passionate about Transylvanian wildlife and heritage, acting as an ambassador for conservation efforts that empower agrarian communities surrounding the region’s popular Saxon villages.
Dr. Tim Coles OBE – Co-Founder
Dr. Tim Coles is the founder and Director of Operation Wallacea (Opwall), a UK-based biodiversity research organization that has published over 500 papers in peer-reviewed journals since 1995. Opwall runs long-term monitoring projects in 13 countries, which are funded by tuition fees from high school and university students who travel to learn from academics in the field each June-August.
Tim co-founded Friends of Wallacea to provide further support to Opwall’s local partners, creating income that enables year-round monitoring and conservation efforts at several field sites. He holds a PhD in fisheries management and has extensive experience setting up and managing research and sustainable businesses in remote sites around the world.
Matea Jarak – Croatia Terrestrial Manager
Matija Drakulic – Croatia Marine Manager
Olger Licuy – Sani Lodge General Manager (Ecuador Site)
CEO, BIOTA (Croatia Terrestrial Side)
Advisors & Partners
Alex Tozer – Advisor
Alex Tozer is the Director of Operations at Operation Wallacea, where he has led and managed field expeditions since 2004. He is also the Vice Chairman of the EPA (Expedition Providers’ Association) – a membership organisation who establish and set the standards for best practice in the overseas expeditions industry.
Alex sits on the board of Friends of Wallacea and serves as a key advisor in finance, logistics, and expedition management.
Brian T. Mullis – Advisor
Brian T. Mullis is a destination management, development and marketing specialist. He previously served as the Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) from 2018-2020, in which time the country became globally recognized as a leading sustainable destination. Prior to leading the GTA, he founded and led Sustainable Travel International for 14 years.
Brian supports Friends of Wallacea with 25+ years of experience of using tourism to generate positive socio-economic and conservation outcomes. He also advises the Friends of Wallacea team on partnership opportunities to build a network of net-positive impact destinations.