Joseph Mays, MSc

IRI, Chacruna

Joseph Mays, MSc, received his Master’s in Ethnobotany from the University of Kent upon researching responses to globalization by indigenous Yanesha of central Peru. After graduating with biology and anthropology degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University, he conducted an ethnobotanical survey in the Ecuadorian cloud forest and published a medicinal plant guide for the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve. His conservation work emphasizes how cultural-conditioning influences approaches to biocultural sustainability, and the importance of ground-up structures that emphasize local agency and challenge conventional philanthropic models in attempts to support Indigenous autonomy and biodiversity. Joseph is Program Director of Chacruna’s Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas (IRI), where he builds connections with Indigenous communities throughout the Americas to support Chacruna’s mission of increasing cultural reciprocity in the psychedelic space. Joseph’s activities as IRI Program Director include raising unconditional funding for 20 Indigenous community organizations with strict adherence to the parameters determined by its partners, presenting at conferences and universities and publishing articles that explore reciprocity, biocultural conservation, plant medicines and Indigenous rights, and engaging with Indigenous and local stakeholders on their own terms to provide on-the-ground support and ethnographic and audiovisual materials.