Our Team

Erika Vohman

Erika Vohman, Founder and President. Erika started working with Maya Nut in Guatemala in 1997 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and Dr. Oscar Murga. Erika founded the Maya Nut Institute in 2001. Erika has a fierce dedication to rainforest conservation and also to improving wellbeing and status of rural and indigenous women. Her steadfast commitment to women despite the extreme misogyny and exclusion of women in Latin America earned her the nickname “the Tractor”.

Dr. Cecilia Sanchez-Garduño, Founder and President of Ramon Nativa, S.A. has worked with Maya Nut since 1997. She wrote her PhD dissertation on Maya Nut ecology at the Imperial College of London. Cecilia works in 15 states in Mexico (Campeche, Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa Tamaulipas, Veracruz y Yucatán) to promote Maya Nut as an alternative for income and food for rural and indigenous families. She is currently devoting most of her time toward recuperating ancestral knowledge about Maya Nut to more rural communities in Mexico, because this is the best mechanism to motivate forest conservation and improving family nutrition. Cecilia participated in the exhibition of the Maya Nut tree at the Children’s Museum in Mexico City, which receives 2000 visitors daily and is an excellent opportunity to educate people about the historical and modern importance of the Maya Nut Tree. Cecilia is dearly loved and respected in the communities where she works.


Gladis Rodriguez, President of Alimentos Nutri-Naturales, S.A. Guatemala. (ANSA). Gladis and her colleagues founded their business in 2006 after receiving a Maya Nut cooking and processing workshop from Erika. ANSA produces Maya Nut Certified seed for distribution through Maya Nut Institute. ANSA works with more than 100 rural women harvesters and directly employs 6 women in the ANSA processing plant.

Erika Barrera

Erika Barrera founded Ramon Femenino, S.A. Guatemala in 2014 to support ANSA and Maya Nut Institute with the Maya Nut School Lunch program (Healthy Kids, Healthy Forests), reforestation programs, production and export. She continues to work tirelessly to restore Maya Nut to the menu in Guatemala and to the forests through reforestation.

Zorayda Leiva

Zorayda Leiva founded Casa del Ojoche, S.A. Nicaragua in 2016. She is an agronomist and has developed some of our appropriate technologies for determining dry seed moisture content and for forest monitoring and sustainable harvest planning. Zorayda played a key role in developing the recipe for Maya Nut SuperCereal for use in school lunch programs throughout the region. She also works with rural women’s cooperatives to produce Maya Nut Certified Maya Nut for sale regionally and internationally.

Nidia Lara

Nidia Lara has worked with Maya Nut Institute since 2007 in El Salvador, starting with Associacion AGAPE and working closely with the Ministry of the Environment. Nidia was instrumental in developing the Healthy Kids, Healthy Forests Maya Nut School Lunch Program, and also the Participatory methodology for forest inventories and Maya Nut Sustainable Harvest Plans. Nidia expanded the Maya Nut Program to Colombia in 2017.

Alejandra Osorto has worked with Maya Nut Institute since 2007 in Honduras. She was instrumental in expanding the program to very remote sites in Honduras, including the. Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve, La Mosquitia, and Choluteca.

Rosa Orozco and Josefina Cuevas Soto work in Chulavista, Nayarit, offering workshops for women and producing Maya Nut (Capomo) coffee and powder for local sale. “For us, working with Capomo has been an incredible adventure of women, trees and community. We love sharing knowledge of the ancestors and helping mother earth. Teaching women about free, nutritious food for their families is a joy”.

Flavia Esmirna Vazquez Rivera

Flavia Esmirna Vazquez Rivera works in the Sierra Norte de Totonacapan, Municipio of Coxquihui, Veracruz educating indigenous women about the nutritional value of Maya Nut and producing small quantities for local sale. 

Florencia Temoxtle Rosales (in the green apron) has worked since 2016  in Veracruz and Oaxaca, Mexico offering Maya Nut (Ojite) workshops for women in Spanish and Nahuatldel. She has an MSc in Forestry and is a valuable asset to our programs.