An incredible team of expert staff runs the organization from offices in Montreal and Vancouver (Canada), and in San Juan de Limay and Somoto (Nicaragua).

In Canada

Kahlil Baker
Executive Director and Co-founder

With over 12 years of experience working with farming communities and reforestation projects in Central America, Kahlil has been developing innovative approaches to making community forestry an economically viable land use option for subsistence farmers. With Taking Root, his primary responsibility is to oversee all aspects of forest operations. This involves complying with international forest carbon standards, developing forest inventory and carbon accounting methodologies, and supervising the operational team. Kahlil is also responsible for developing international partnerships to help promote the project. In addition to working for Taking Root, he is pursuing doctoral research in forest economics at the University of British Columbia.

Prior to Taking Root, Kahlil spent many years working in the Canadian silviculture industry. He holds a Master’s degree in forest biometrics from the University of British-Columbia, a degree in economics from Concordia University, a permaculture design certificate from Costa Rica, and a professional specialization certificate in business development. He is fluent in French, English and Spanish.

Sandra Ignagni
Director of Partnerships and Outreach

Sandra joined the Taking Root team in 2016 and with her brought over 10 years of experience in communications and marketing, strategic partnership-building and outreach. Sandra uses storytelling as a powerful tool to encourage environmental awareness and catalyze social change. She is responsible for communicating the environmental, economic and social impact of our program through multiple channels, and is currently working on a documentary film about climate change and deforestation in Nicaragua. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science (York ’12), a M.A. in Indigenous and Canadian Studies (Trent ’04) and has completed advanced training in documentary filmmaking (Maine Media ’16).

David Reilley
Special projects: Public Affairs and Outreach Initiatives

David works with senior staff as Taking Root shifts its focus from developing a new approach to project management to looking for new opportunities to implement that approach in new locations with new front-line partners.
David began his career as executive director of a startup non-profit community agency in Canada. After completing a B.Sc in life sciences at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, he worked as a journalist in British Columbia for two years before embarking on a public affairs career spent largely in the public sector.
His public-sector work includes a variety of senior leadership assignments in provincial-government ministries responsible for issues such as First Nations, land-use and education. He also taught university part-time for ten years in the Corporate Writing Program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.

In Nicaragua

Elvín Castellón
Chief Operations Officer

After a lifetime career in community work, Elvin, an agronomist, represents Taking Root on the ground in Nicaragua. He is responsible for the development of all reforestation projects on an administrative and operational level.

Elvin has spent his professional career working in local development and was a co-founder of FEDICAMP (Federation for the holistic development of Nicaraguan farmers) and APRODEIN (Association of Professionals for the holistic development of Nicaragua), two successful NGOs.

Elsa Gonzales
Head Community Technician and Office Manager, Limay

Elsa is an engineer in agricultural production systems, living in San Juan de Limay. She is responsible for working directly with participating subsistence farmers, helping to ensure the success of their reforestation efforts. She also manages the other community technicians.

Through her work with Taking Root, Elsa hopes to create solidarity among communities, provide opportunities for families to earn extra income, act as a role model for others and build environmental awareness among subsistence farmers. She is originally from the municipality of Condega, in northern Nicaragua.

Randolph Bayardo Castellón Betanco
Technical Assistant and Community Technician

Randolph is an agricultural engineer specializing in Agricultural Production Systems with a degree from the University of Northern Nicaragua. He is in charge of the information exchange between Canada and Nicaragua as well as tree monitoring on the ground. Randolph is pleased to help others and provide economic support for farmers through his work with Taking Root.

Celio Lenin

Celio joined Taking Root from a career in public accounting. He holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration and Financial Accounting.

He has six years of experience as the fiscal manager of various construction projects in the Municipality of Somoto, four years as the warehouse manager at the Bodega Brewing Company of Nicaragua and four years as Head Financial Manager in provincial government.

Zeidy Karina Aguilera Joya
Office Manager and Administrative Assistant, Somoto

Zeidy has a college degree in Business Administration with a concentration in English and digital technologies. She has worked in various commercial and foodservice industry businesses in Somoto, Nicaragua.