Gina Méndez

Senior Advisor

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Gina is an environmental lawyer who earned a Master´s degree in International Legal Studies from American University in Washington DC. in 1994.

Originally from Bolivia, she has held both elected and appointed positions at local and national levels. From 2000 to 2001, she served on the municipal council of Santa Cruz, where she introduced 14 ordinances regarding environmental regulation.

In July of 2001 she was voted mayor by the town council due to the leave of absence by the elected mayor becoming the first female mayor of Santa Cruz, where she earned the nickname “eco-mayor” because of her strong commitment to the environment.

In recognition of her accomplishments at the municipal level Gina was elected to the national congress in 2002, when during the first sitting of the congress she was appointed as Minister of Justice and Human Rights by the President of Bolivia.

Among other achievements while serving as Minister she developed the National Center for Citizen Information and Equal Access to Justice, an entity that remains operating to this day with a staff of 60 Human Rights experts.  In 2003 she returned to congress and finished her mandate as congresswoman through 2005.

After a very successful 17-year career in the public sector, in 2016 she chose to pursue her dream of protecting Bolivian forests and launched the environmental platform “El Llamado del Bosque” in Santa Cruz, the epicenter of deforestation in Bolivia and her hometown.

In 2017, Gina started a nationwide campaign called “El Pacto del Bosque” (the Pact for the Forest), a passionate cry to give voice to the forest and a call for an end to the destruction caused by soy, beef, and other extractive industries. More than 400 opinion leaders from all walks of life – including indigenous people, women, academics, prominent journalists, local government officials, civic leaders and former and current parliamentarians – have signed the manifesto.

Gina has a daughter and two sons. Her 7 grandchildren, from 8-month to 15-year-old, are her inspiration to protect forests and wildlife in Bolivia.