Leadership Team

Nita Gonzales


Expertise: Community Engagement and Justice, Education, Fundraising, Nonprofit Management

Background: Born and raised in Colorado, Nita is a nationally- recognized leader in education and community justice and equality. She was President/CEO of Escuela Tlatelolco Centro de Estudios, a model for Chicano/ Mexicano and indigenous education. Nita had primary responsibility for fundraising to provide scholarships for over 8,000 students. She has managed successful, statewide political campaigns and worked with a wide range of nonprofit organizations. Nita received her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Masters in Education from Antioch University.

Paul Hellmund


Expertise: Green Infrastructure, Greenway Planning, Conservation Planning, Ecological Design, Green Urbanism, Process Facilitation

Background: Born and raised in Panama, Paul brings decades of professional experience developing innovative conservation and community planning solutions in the western United States and Latin America. He brings together diverse people and expertise to solve complex conservation problems, especially those involving underserved communities. He has co-authored two books: Designing Greenways: Sustainable Landscapes for Nature and People (2006) and the award-winning Ecology of Greenways (1993). For ten years he was president and professor at the Conway Design School. Paul was educated at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and at Colorado State University, where he teaches in the School of Global Environmental Sustainability.

Jorge Figueroa

Principal, 2017-22

Expertise: Innovation Processes, Market-Based Solutions for Conservation, Natural Resources Planning and Policy

Background: Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Puerto
Rico, the Jorge’s work focuses on crafting environmental policies and solutions
for governors, mayors, federal, state, and municipal agencies, foundations and

non-profits that are more representative of the people they serve; advancing cli-
mate resilient food-energy-water systems; and protecting and restoring the West’s

rivers and landscapes for future generations. Prior to co-founding El Laboratorio.