Board Members


Johann Besserer
Co-Founder and President

Why IOI: Because I started it  See my story for how it all began…

My IOI role: I am the President and the Executive Director of IOI.

Life prior to IOI: Born and raised in land-locked Germany, 3 years EMT and Business undergrad back in Germany and a Marine Policy Master in Miami that brought me to Galapagos.

Just me: All I ever wanted was to make a difference in this world. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to try and live such dream.


Dawn Shirreffs
Chair of the board

  • Why IOI: On my first visit to Isabela it became clear that IOI is about empowering local families to build safe and sustainable future for themselves and their environment.

    My IOI role: I am part of the team that helps support staff and provide leadership on how to achieve our goals and advance our mission.

    Life prior to IOI: I have spent over 10 years restoring the Everglades ecosystem... 

    Just me: I am a New York transplant to Miami’s paradise... 

Team IOI


Amanda Marie Lyons
International Coordinator

Why IOI: Growing up in Long Island and living the hustle and bustle lifestyle, sitting in traffic just wasn’t my cup of tea. Isabela is like a breath of fresh air.

My IOI role: I organize the visas, accommodations and logistics as well as prepare you for your amazing adventure.

Life prior to IOI: Before IOI I was living what I like to call my “Rock Star” life. I graduated from New York Institute of Technology as a TV production major.

Just me: Most of the Galapaguenos have nick names. Mine is “Betty Boop”! I guess that’s because of my fashion sense and upbeat, enthusiastic and incredibly friendly personality.


Juan Fernando Meza Vera
Local Coordinator

Why IOI: I have always had a passion for conservation and education and IOI works at the heart of both of these important local factors.

My IOI role: I started working as a maintenance man, doing bits and pieces wherever needed. I was then promoted (due to growth and local need) to ‘Local Coordinator.’

Life prior to IOI: Originally from Manta in the South of Ecuador I came here to Isabela as fisherman initially and then moved into tourism as numbers and needs grew.

Just me: I am hugely passionate about photography and sports! I am a serious adrenaline junky and will give everything a go once.

Nuria Ladera
Social development and public health

Why IOI: I decided to become a Clinical Psychologist to help those who need it the most and not only those who can pay hundreds of dollars a week.

My IOI role: I am in charge of the Social Development-Public Health Department, where we work to improve the personal, familiar and social wellbeing in the community offering individual and family counseling and psychotherapy.

Life prior to IOI: Right before starting with IOI I was just visiting some friends in Ecuador trying to figure out where to find a job that I liked.

Just me: Me? Well, everyone that knows me a bit says that I am hyperactive, very talkative and an extremely fast speaker, with a lot of energy and my mind full of questions and new ideas.

Sarah Heidke
English Teacher

Why IOI: I started teaching ESL as a volunteer to the immigrant and refugee community in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania back in 2010.

My IOI role: I will be starting my work at IOI in August 2013 as an English teacher for a class of high school students as well as community classes for adults.

Life prior to IOI: Being drawn to the helping profession, I worked for several years as a foster care social worker. I transitioned into the legal field and spent a few years working as a paralegal.

Just me: I like learning about different cultures and places and am enjoying the challenge of learning Spanish. Since being in Ecuador, I have discovered how much I enjoy hiking.

Marc Martorell
Conservation Coordinator

Why IOI: I wanted to come to the Galapagos to help the community and work in the area of conservation for this paradise.

My IOI role: I started off as a volunteer for IOI working for the Local government in risk management and natural disaster.

Life prior to IOI: I was born in the beautiful island of Mallorca (Balearic Islands), and I have always loved the islands in general.

Just me: I don’t like to describe myself. I consider myself a good person, with good and bad characteristics.

Astrid Krause
Director of Communications and Marketing

Why IOI: Since a non-profit organization has to reinvest all the money they make, IOI doesn’t have to …

My IOI role: Communication, marketing, video editing, photography, social media, website maintenance, everything multimedia plus fixing computers and the IOI network.

Life prior to IOI: I did my senior year of high school in the States, I worked for Big Brother and other TV shows in Germany...

Just me: I don’t like traveling.