February 10, 2017

Staff Profile: Meet Manuela Rodrigues!

If you follow this blog, then you’re familiar with our recently-appointed President and Executive Director. But do you know her backstory? Let’s find out more about Manuela and what makes her uniquely qualified to lead Amazon CARES into a productive new era…

Manuela Rodrigues is no stranger to compassionate endeavors. Drawn to charitable work early in life, she tackled the challenging task of caring for abandoned and abused babies in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she was born and raised. Not long after that, she volunteered in Cape Town, South Africa to help underprivileged children suffering from disease, abuse, and neglect.

In 2004, Manuela moved to the United States and gained her US citizenship. A few years later, she met Amazon CARES’ founder, Molly Mednikow, and heard about her groundbreaking work to reverse the plight of street animals in Peru. Manuela’s love for all creatures, along with her strong drive to assist those in need, compelled her to pitch in as a virtual volunteer in 2008.

From the start, Manuela & Molly shared a passion for helping needy animals.

For a full five years, Manuela worked closely with Molly and her staff. First as a volunteer, and then as a trusted employee, she discovered the challenges and rewards of running a small animal charity in the Amazon River Basin. Despite numerous obstacles, Amazon CARES achieved many milestones during this period, and Manuela played a large part in helping hundreds of needy animals.

Both Manuela and Molly departed from Amazon CARES in 2013. Manuela left in order to start a family, and Molly decided to get her degree in animal law, while still retaining her position as Chairman of the Board.

Two years later, Molly and the board agreed that the Iquitos shelter and clinic required stronger oversight and consistent leadership. In late 2015, they unanimously chose Manuela as the best candidate to take on the challenge of overseeing Amazon CARES in both Peru and the United States.

As Chairman of the Board, Molly praised the change in leadership, saying, “My fellow board members and I are grateful for the fresh infusion of energy Manuela brings to Amazon CARES. We’re 100% confident in her strong management and administrative skills…she is a natural leader and has a genuine passion for animal welfare in developing nations.”

Manuela gets some “snuggle time” with our shelter dogs on a recent trip to Peru.

Manuela expressed gratitude for her new roles as President and Executive Director: “The volunteers, board of directors, and supporters are passionate about the mission of Amazon CARES,” she stated. “I am extremely impressed and proud of the high level of care we provide to each and every animal that comes to us. I look forward to working with such a great group of people, as we continue to provide shelter, care, and love to needy animals in the Peruvian Amazon Region.”

After she accepted her post in January of 2016, Manuela validated the board’s decision by addressing multiple issues and completely restructuring the organization. During her initial six months in charge, she enforced strict employee rules and regulations, oversaw the build-out of a new veterinary clinic, ensured that sanitary conditions were in place at the no-kill shelter, initiated street animal health campaigns, and supervised international vet volunteers who spayed and neutered over 200 community cats. Not a bad way to kick off her first year!

Manuela assists in the clinic as our chief vet, Dr. Edwin Inga, examines a patient.

As she continues to manage multiple responsibilities in both Peru and the United States, Manuela’s many tasks include:
•    Overseeing all budget decisions and purchase orders
•    Managing donations and fundraising efforts
•    Hiring and firing employees
•    Recruiting and managing both on-site and “virtual” volunteers
•    Recruiting and supervising international veterinary volunteers

Again, our founder, Molly Mednikow, says it best: “Manuela is one-of-a-kind…truly the glue that held Amazon CARES together during years of unprecedented growth, and the super-glue that will guarantee even greater success.”

When she’s not working or taking regular trips to Peru, Manuela enjoys life in America, keeping busy with her family, “fur family,” and ongoing philanthropic activities. Named “Changemaker of the Year” by Change.org in 2008 and 2009, and honored with President’s Volunteer Service Awards in 2010, 2011, and 2012, Manuela brings a fierce determination and a wealth of experience to her new roles at Amazon CARES.

Hard-working staff and canine residents pose for a selfie with Manuela.

The results of Manuela’s efforts show plainly in the renewed productivity of our shelter and clinic, and in the faces of countless street animals who receive a second chance at health and happiness!


  1. It is good to meet you Manuela, the work done by Amazon cares is wonderful to see and good leadership counts for a lot.

  2. It sounds like Manuela is doing a wonderful job as president and executive director! I have so much admiration for people who are so dedicated to helping others!

  3. Well done Manuela! It's never an easy task to take on something this challenging. It sounds like you are moving forward in the right direction and making wonderful progress.

  4. Hello, Manuela. Amazon Cares is such a great cause. Glad Manuela is fitting in.

  5. We are honored to meet you Manuela, you are blessed to be helping such an amazing cause, thank you

  6. Wow, Manuela has done so much for others and animals. What a wonderful person to dedicate her life to helping those in need.

  7. Nice to meet you Manuela! What a wonderful organization this is! Clearly you were ready for this role and it sounds like your passion is shining! You've accomplished so much - I'm excited to see what else you will do in 2017!

  8. Lovely to learn more about this wonderful animal care hero! Thanks for all you (and the organization) do for pets! Bravo!

  9. Manuela sounds like an amazing lady with a big heart and tons of talent. Amazon CARES is fortunate to have her. I love writing profiles of individuals with a passion for animals. Thanks for introducing Manuela!

  10. Great job Manuela. My daughter was born in Rio and I volunteered at an orphanage regularly for several years and helped local street kids. We then lived in Chile where I actually fundraised for kid charities and street dogs and I adopted Cookie and Isabelle plus 4 cats. You are doing wonderful work in a challenging environment at Amazon Cares.

  11. Bless our heart Manuela - I'd like to meet you and give you a big "thank you" hug! Your hard work and dedication are beautiful reminders that what we put out there is what we get back - and for our work with animals, that is so very important!

  12. Lovely to meet Manuela. We admire the work she is doing with Amazon Cares!

  13. It sounds like she's had a busy and fruitful first year. I hope her work continues to improve the organization!

  14. I get so emotional when I read about the incredible work being done, all over the world to help animals. Manuela is another hero. I would love the opportunity to visit and lend a hand, I can't think of anything more rewarding than helping the most vulnerable. You do amazing work.

  15. You ladies are both so incredible. I really admire your dedication & all you've accomplished! Manuella certainly hit the ground running as she took on this role. I hope Amazon continues doing great work for many years to come.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  16. Amazing! Manuela is an inspiration and an incredible role model for others. She is doing wonderful work. Thank you for sharing her story.

  17. ... And I have the honor to work with her! ... I Feel VERY LUCKY! :)

  18. And I work with this amazing woman! ... I feel very lucky :)


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