Avecita Chicchón, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

TITLE: Program Director

FUNDING AREAS: Andes-Amazon, sustainable agriculture

CONTACT: info@moore.org, (650) 213-3000

IP TAKE: Chicchón's career revolves largely around biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, with a strong geographic focus on the Amazon. Organizations that protect forests and build up local capacity to sustain their protection are right up her alley.

PROFILE: When Chicchón joined the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to head up its Andes-Amazon Initiative in 2011, she brought with her a veritable treasure trove of experience and knowledge. Over the course of her career, Avecita Chicchón has also managed conservation programs in 15 countries around the world, with substantial experience in the Amazon and Latin America lends well to heading up the Moore Foundation's Andes-Amazon Initiative. She also has a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she concentrated on natural resource and conservation issues—an enormous benefit for working in the Amazonian rainforests, which are losing an average of 20,000 square miles per year.

Chicchón's background spans the South American continent and includes extensive work with not only the ecosystems, but also the rural and indigenous communities that depend on them. From 2003-2010, Chicchón served as the executive director of the Latin America and Caribbean Program at Wildlife Conservation Society. She also worked as a program officer for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Conservation and Sustainable Development program. Chicchón additionally served as the first country director in Peru for Conservation International, where she designed, implemented and managed conservation-based development projects in the Tambopata, Vilcabamba, and Cóndor regions of Eastern Peru in the Upper Amazon.

Chicchón is very serious about environmental conservation and biodiversity. If your organization is looking for a grant from the Andes-Amazon Initiative, the first step is to impress program staff enough to make a connection. Moore is highly involved with grantees, so they don't accept proposals exactly, invited or otherwise. Instead, it's more of a cooperative process between selected organizations and foundation staff to figure out common goals, and then work out a strategy to get there. Once funds are awarded, program staff continue to monitor progress and adjust course if the original strategy isn't working. 

The Andes-Amazon Initiative works with governments, businesses, and nonprofits to halt the ongoing destruction of the Amazon’s rainforests. It funds not only efforts to protect threatened areas through land-use planning that includes the establishment of conservation areas, but also initiatives to foster economic growth—for example, helping communities transition from unsustainable clear-cutting and farming practices to ecologically sensitive alternatives.

Big-name nonprofit groups receive plenty of support from the foundation, but Chicchón also keeps a constant lookout for native NGOs to support. Groups founded in Brazil, Peru, and other Amazon nations constitute a large chunk of her grant recipients. Regardless of the organization's size, Chicchón’s grant giving hews strongly toward local capacity-building and long-term systemic change. Chicchón’s program recently granted $15 million over five years to the World Wildlife Fund to ensure the protection in perpetuity of 15 percent of the Brazilian Amazon Biome.  The foundation also recently supported Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales with nearly $1.7 million over two years for land use planning and protected areas in Loreto, Peru, as well as more than $800,000 for two years to Aliança da Terra in support of transparent supply chains of responsible soy and beef in Brazil. On a smaller scale, but also right within Chicchón’s wheelhouse, the foundation granted $150,000 to Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia to create fiscal and tax incentives from protected areas and indigenous lands in the Brazilian Amazon.

The key to securing funding from Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's Andes-Amazon Initiative is making sure your organization's work closely aligns with Chicchón's grantmaking sensibilities and specific areas of interest, and developing a relationship. As with all of the foundation's grantmaking, aligned goals and strategy are important, and they view it as a joint process, as opposed to reviewing and selecting proposals.