About Us


Amigos of Costa Rica is a nonprofit organization that supports sustainable development in Costa Rica in four primary areas of focus: education, capacity-building, conservation, and science & technology.

Amigos of Costa Rica was incorporated in 2000 as a 501(c)(3) organization as a supporting organization of the Costa Rica USA Foundation for Cooperation (CRUSA).

All of our efforts are focused on building an empowered and sustainable Costa Rica by cultivating a spirit of community participation and philanthropy.


Our mission is to further Costa Rica’s sustainable development by working with the CRUSA Foundation and its partners to:

Promote Costa Rica and Costa Rican capabilities to foundations, corporate partners and international donors seeking high-impact programs that address local, regional, and global development challenges; Target social investment in the areas of Environment, Education, Science & Technology, and Economic Competitiveness; and Empower individuals and communities supportive of Costa Rica’s future.

To get more info about our work go to our CONTACT US section


Executive Director: Emily Arnold.

Emily Arnold Mest has over 10 years of experience working in sustainable development in Costa Rica. In addition to serving at the Executive Director of Amigos of Costa Rica, Mest is currently the Associate Director of the Osa and Golfito Initiative (INOGO) at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Prior her work with INOGO, Mest worked for Prize Capital, a company that develops innovative financial mechanisms to address environmental challenges. While at Prize Capital, Mest engaged in the initial research and development efforts that eventually led to the NRG Cosia Carbon X Prize.  She also led efforts focused on urban farming, REDD+, and private conservation strategy. At Prize Capital Mest was part of a multi-year effort to engage with stakeholders to address increasing challenges in the Osa and Golfito region of Costa Rica, an effort that ultimately led to the creation of INOGO.

Mest began her work in Costa Rica with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), serving as the Costa Rica sole in-country representative while pursing a master’s degree. NRDC’s focus on investigating strategies to make Costa Rica fossil fuel free in the energy and transportation sectors caused her to frequently interact directly with high-level government officials.

Mest initially built a foundation in community development and conservation working with small NGOs in Greece and Mexico, after which she worked in Paris at France Nature Environment, a network of over 3,000 organizations lobbying to influence French, European and international environmental policy. She then worked in Washington, DC at the Earth Policy Institute, led by Worldwatch Institute founder Lester Brown, where she contributed to Brown’s book Plan B 2.0 and authored an Eco-Economy Update on the negative impacts of bottled water on the environment.

Mest first discovered her passion for for-profit environmental ventures while working at Canopy Development, a start-up company exploring a sustainable tourism-based model for conservation and economic development. At Canopy Development she ran the internal sustainability efforts of the company, as well as serving as project manager for the first Canopy Development branded resort.

Mest holds two masters degrees: one in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development from the United Nations Mandated University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica and another in International Affairs from American University in Washington, DC. She received her BA from Smith College in Sociology and French.