We sat down for five minutes with Maria Celes Abragan who supports Environmental Incentives’ International Practice. She tells us more about her role, her interest in the Conservation Standards, and the food she can’t live without!
How would you describe your role?
I am an Associate working on the Measuring Impact II (MI2) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). MI2 aims to help USAID leaders and Mission staff promote evidence-based and adaptive management approaches across USAID’s biodiversity portfolio.
Specifically, I work with MI2’s project management team to provide coordination, operational, and administrative support to implement the project. I also provide technical support to other teams in cross-mission learning groups, enabling conditions working groups, and direct field support. For example, I work with the Wild Meat Cross Mission Learning Group to promote cross-sectoral learning about unsustainable wild meat consumption and how it relates to biodiversity, food security, and global health.
What was your dream job growing up?
I wanted to be a psychiatrist. I was interested in helping children and youth overcome behavioral issues and mental illnesses. But when I went to college, I was exposed to environmental issues including climate change, which I consider one of the biggest existential threats to humanity. I decided to invest my time in this field to address these broader environmental issues.
What drew you to work at Environmental Incentives?
I was drawn to work at Environmental Incentives because of my interest in the Conservation Standards (CS). I learned about CS during college. I really like the approach of having a common language and processes that help practitioners around the world communicate and problem-solve for conservation. EI is one of the few companies that adhere to CS, so I knew it was a great opportunity to work at the company.
What is your favorite part about working for Environmental Incentives?
Environmental Incentives has a very supportive work culture that prioritizes employees’ well-being, satisfaction, and professional growth. I love that EI put a lot of effort into our justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion initiative. As a person of color and a foreign worker from a very diverse background, I deeply appreciate this effort to recognize and dismantle systemic barriers to resources and opportunities and to create an environment that is inclusive and respectful of everyone’s differences.
I also love working in the international development space, especially with USAID. As someone who grew up in the Philippines, I find it meaningful to contribute to USAID’s work, because I am indirectly helping developing countries become more resilient and self-sufficient.