A farmhouse sits in the tropical countryside.
Finca A farmhouse in the countryside of the Dominican Republic. © Tim Calver

Caribbean Currents Newsletter

Former Caribbean Trustee Wins TNC Oak Leaf Award

Renowned Dominican Republic conservationist Dr. Rosa Margarita Bonetti de Santana, affectionately known as Doña Pirigua, is the recipient of the prestigious 2023 TNC Oak Leaf Award for Volunteer Leadership. The award was announced during the TNC Volunteer Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., on September 3, 2023. The Oak Leaf Award honors volunteer leaders who embody TNC’s values and whose personal accomplishments have advanced the organization’s mission.

Dr. Bonetti served as a TNC volunteer leader for 10 years (2012-2022). As a TNC in the Caribbean trustee, she demonstrated extraordinary commitment through actions and activities including founding two Dominican Water Funds: Santo Domingo and Yaque del Norte. These projects have protected and restored thousands of hectares of critical habitat in the Dominican Republic. In addition, they have established a coalition to lead corporations and banks to collaborate with water funds, reducing contamination and improving water security for more than 500,000 Dominican residents. 

Quote: Robert Brumbaugh

This award is a significant recognition of Doña Pirigua’s enduring commitment to conservation. We hope that her legacy as an environmental champion and advocate will inspire future generations to continue her efforts in conservation and volunteer leadership.

TNC in the Caribbean's Executive Director
Two images side by side; on the left, two people hold a box with an award in it; on the right, a portrait of Doña Pirigua.
Deserved Awardee Doña Pirigua was unable to attend the ceremony, so Dr. Robert Brumbaugh, executive director of TNC in the Caribbean, accepted the Oak Leaf Award on her behalf. © Christina Colondres/TNC

Dr. Robert Brumbaugh accepts the Oak Leaf Award from TNC's CEO Jennifer Morris on behalf of Doña Pirigua.

Dr. Bonetti also provides critical support for park management improvement for Valle Nuevo National Park, Lower Yuna Mangrove National Park and Southeastern Coral Reef Sanctuary. 

Doña Pirigua’s contributions to improving coral reef and mangrove ecosystems and helping communities across the Dominican Republic adapt to climate change exemplify her impact on local and global work by influencing systems-level change for conservation and sustainability.

Professionally, Dr. Bonetti serves as the vice president of the Propagas Group’s board of directors; the marketing, public relations and advertising vice president of the Propagas Group; and the president of the Propagas Foundation. With more than five decades of commitment in the hydrocarbon processing industry, Dr. Bonetti has played an integral role in establishing Propagas as the leading energy company in the Dominican Republic. She has also emerged as one of the nation's foremost conservation leaders, championing innovative initiatives through the Propagas Foundation. Under Dr. Bonetti's visionary leadership, the Propagas Foundation has spearheaded numerous conservation, management, research and environmental education initiatives. Recognizing the importance of environmental education in shaping effective conservation policies, the foundation is a pioneer in promoting the common good and establishing vital connections with the country’s natural heritage.