Meet our vibrant and powerful International Rivers Staff and Board! We have staff members across the world from Bangkok and Melbourne to  Pretoria and Brasilia. Each member of our team brings a unique background and skill set to the work of river protection and human rights.

All staff photo during the 2019 convergence in South Africa
Staff photo from 2019

Management Team

Darryl Knudsen


Darryl oversees all aspects of International Rivers’ management – strategy, programs, operations, and finances.  He seeks to unleash the greatness of the International Rivers’ staff, board, partners, and stakeholders to further our mission of healthy rivers and communities.  In more than 30 countries, Darryl has 20 years’ experience channeling the power of civil society movements to create enduring, positive change toward social and environmental justice for the underrepresented.  Ever mindful that life simply cannot exist without water, he has learned that the power of the river is as unstoppable as the will of the people.  Darryl holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University and a BA from Dartmouth College. 

Maureen Harris

Senior Director of

Maureen works with people’s movements and civil society partners to protect vital transboundary rivers in the region from destructive dams and other developments. Prior to joining International Rivers, Maureen worked as Mekong Legal Director for EarthRights International based in Thailand and with the Australian Human Rights Commission on human rights and judicial reform projects in China and Vietnam. Maureen holds Bachelors’ degrees in Arts and Law from the University of Sydney and a Master of Laws (Human Rights and Social Justice) from the University of New South Wales.

Samir Mehta

Chief Financial

Samir works to ensure supporters, management, and staff receive the timely financial information they require for planning, budgeting, and forecasting. Previously, he served as the South Asia Program Director. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School. Samir’s work is driven by his passion for environmental justice.

Isabella Winkler

Director of

Based in Chicago, Isabella works with the development team to ensure financial support for International Rivers’ mission. She brings over 20 years of leadership experience to her work, including a decade in nonprofit development and communications. Before joining IR, Isabella led US fundraising for the London-based Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and served as executive director for a start-up in K-12 education. She also previously taught women’s studies at Antioch College. Isabella holds a BA in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in comparative literature from the University at Buffalo. She is passionate about IR’s coalitional, movement-building, human-rights-based approach to environmental justice.

Regional Leadership

Pianporn (Pai) Deetes

Regional Campaigns and Communications Director, Southeast Asia

Based in Thailand, since 2002, Pai’s work focuses on Mainland Southeast Asia’s major rivers; the Mekong and Salween. The work is on the protection and restoration of rivers ecosystems and rights of local communities. Her focus has been in particular on Thailand’s role as dam developer and financiers, and intended market for the hydroelectricity. Before joining International Rivers in 2010, Pai spent 7 years working with a Thai NGO Living River Siam (SEARIN), to empower riverine communities to protect their rivers. Pai has a BA in English and is an Ashoka Fellow.

Flavio Montiel staff photo

Flávio Montiel da Rocha

Interim Amazon Program

Flávio brings 25 years of experience working with civil society organizations and social movements in the protection of rainforests and traditional populations. He contributed to the drafting of several laws such as the Environmental Crimes Law and the Law on the Brazilian National System of Conservation Units. When he was Director of Environmental Protection at the Federal Environment Agency, he was co-author and responsible for implementing the Plan for Preventing and Combating Deforestation in the Amazon, which contributed to the significant drop in the annual deforestation rates in the Amazon. Flávio has a degree in sociology from the University of Brasilia and a specialization in sustainable development in the Amazon basin from London University, England.

Gary Lee

Southeast Asia Program

Gary oversees International Rivers’ Southeast Asia Program. He has over 13 years experience providing technical and advocacy support to – and strengthening collaborations between – civil society organizations and river networks in the Mekong region. Prior to joining International Rivers, Gary was a policy advisor for Oxfam’s Mekong Water Governance Program. Gary has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Economy with Honors in Geography from University of Sydney.

Monti Aguirre

Latin America Program

Monti works as part of International Rivers’ Latin America program to support local movements for the protection of rivers and to develop strategies for legally protecting rivers permanently. She has also been a tireless supporter of the people affected by Chixoy Dam in Guatemala. Monti has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a Master’s degree from New York University in Environmental Education and Conservation.

Siziwe Mota

Africa Program

Siziwe works to protect Africa’s rivers, campaign against destructive dams and their negative impacts on communities and promote sustainable energy solutions. She has worked on environmental, social justice and human rights issues in Africa, has supported communities impacted by extractives industries and engaged policy-makers in pursuit of energy justice. Holding a degree in Social Science, her goal is to champion environmental protection and human rights.


Aqeelah Hassen

Africa Program Communications/

Aqeelah works on communications and campaigns for the Africa Program. Prior to joining International Rivers, she worked with a number of human rights and civil society organizations across South Africa, including Lawyers for Human Rights and the Parliamentary Monitoring Group. She graduated with a degree in International Relations and a Law degree, from the University of Cape Town and is dedicated to working at the intersection of environmental and human rights.

Ayesha DSouza

South Asia Program

Ayesha is fiercely passionate about work on gender and micro hydropower. She helped organize the first global Women and Rivers Congress in 2019. In the past, she worked on wildlife conversation education and climate change movement building. She is enthusiastic about trainings exchange of knowledge between communities we work with. Rivers are a lifeline to almost a quarter of the worlds population here, it is crucial we enhance the efforts to keep them protected.

Bonnie Barclay


Bonnie oversees International Rivers’ global communications working alongside the regional teams. She has over 20 years of experience working in environmental and social justice movements. Before joining International Rivers, Bonnie worked with Greenpeace, MoveOn, and the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Bonnie holds two Bachelor degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; the first in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, and the second in Environmental Science with a concentration in Policy and Watershed Management.

Josh Klemm


Josh is based in Washington, DC, where he leads campaigns targeting the policies and practices of some of the world’s largest banks and companies in the energy sector. Josh previously headed the Africa Program at the Bank Information Center (BIC) where he campaigned against destructive World Bank projects. Josh has led successful campaigns to keep the World Bank and climate finance mechanisms from financing destructive dams. His favorite river is the Niger.

Kirk Barlow

Kirk works to protect key rivers and promote higher environmental and social standards for infrastructure projects. He has worked directly with Chinese energy and financial firms while at KPMG, and also brings a strong background in sustainable agriculture and food systems. He has helped bridge grassroots movements around the world to impact policy developments at the UN’S FAO and in understanding China’s infrastructure work along the Belt & Road Initiative.

Margaret Zhou

Senior Partnerships

Margaret provides a wide range of partner and donor relationship management. Since joining International Rivers in 2014, she has helped communicate the importance of rights-based and locally-led river protection movements to garner new forms of support, and helped lead the organizing committee for the Women and Rivers Congress. She holds a B.A. from UC Berkeley where she studied Comparative Literature with an emphasis in Chinese, and Development Studies.

Penelope Malepe

Africa Program Bookkeeper and Administrative

Penelope began her career in the accounting and auditing sector at Mehlala Chartered Accountants and Registered Auditors(SA). In her previous roles, Penelope successfully completed several duties such as compiling financial statements, ensuring compliance mandates, and advised on several mergers and acquisitions transactions. She holds a Bcom Accounting degree and she provides bookkeeping support to all regions with budgeting and financial competency.

Phairin (Rin) Sohsai

Thai-Mekong Campaign

Rin works with community and civil society networks in Thailand to protect the Mekong River and advocate for greater accountability of investors in hydropower in the Mekong region. Prior to joining International Rivers, Rin worked closely with people’s networks in Thailand, including those impacted by the Rasi Salai dam and Assembly of the Poor. Rin has a bachelor’s degree in Community Development and a Master’s degree in Development Management and Governance.

Sandie Hum


Sandie works at the intersection of operations, administration, human resources and finance. She collaborated on a cash flow tracking system to give the organization a window into its cash flow. Before joining International Rivers Sandie worked in human resources at a sailing club and school in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a degree in American Civilization from Mills College. She is inspired by the beauty and wonder of water.

Sanita Auttopakorn

Southeast Asia Program

Sanita provides administrative, financial, and programs management support for the implementation of the Southeast Asia Program’s work in Thailand. She oversees broader regional agenda and the team-wide communication systems. Prior to joining International Rivers, Sanita worked at the Research and Development Center at an International University in Bangkok. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and a Master of Language and Communication.