Class 4: When They Joined EWCL

Liz Ball is a Resource Science Assistant with the Missouri Department of Conservation. Since 2008, she has been involved with various aspects of the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project but principally the hardmast/overstory study. Prior to coming to MDC, she completed a Master’s degree at Michigan State University and a B.S. degree at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Throughout her undergraduate and graduate degree programs, Liz has had the opportunity to work for and complete internships with multiple state and federal agencies including the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, and the Department of Natural Resources in Georgia, West Virginia, and Michigan and the United State Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2010, Liz was a participant in The Wildlife Society’s Fifth Leadership Institute Class. Keeping on the track of wanting to be an effective leader in conservation, Liz’s goals are to promote her vision for natural resources and encourage fellow colleagues to also be effective leaders in their careers. Liz envisions greater integration and mentorship of the next generation of wildlife professionals. This could be accomplished by urging seasoned professionals to reach out to students and young professionals, and encourage them to be more involved in leadership training, working groups and committees, and continuing education. Liz is delighted to be a participant in the 2011-2012 Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders Program and looks forward to meeting fellow peers and continuing her leadership training and development for the benefit of wildlife conservation.


As the Conservation Policy Coordinator at Defenders of Wildlife for the past four years, Alli Barra Srinivas has worked on a variety of habitat conservation issues, including federal lands management, building capacity of local land trusts, and transportation and wildlife. She is currently representing Defenders in coalition of groups preparing for the reauthorization of the federal Farm Bill. Alli is a graduate student at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy where she is concentrating on environmental policy. Prior to working at Defenders of Wildlife, Alli lived and worked in Portland, Oregon as the Development Assistant at a small land trust. In her free time, Alli likes to play Ultimate Frisbee, take long walks, read fiction books, cook, and spend time with her husband, Kartik and their two cats, Emmie and Oz.


Danielle Brigida works as the Digital Marketing Manager for the National Wildlife Federation. She actively engages a wide range of constituents using a mixture of online tools and social networking sites. An early adopter of social media with creative, engaging campaigns, Danielle has been recognized as: 10 Green Women We Love by Greenopia, one of the 75 Environmentalists to follow by Mashable, and Top 50 green people to follow on Twitter by Greenopolis.

Danielle is a sought after speaker with more than 20 appearances over the past year. Additionally, Danielle has been interviewed about her social media successes by New York Times, USA Today, Fast Company, Washington Post, Mashable, and Smartbrief. By tracking emerging trends and measuring impact, she consistently finds the most effective ways to drive traffic to NWF’s campaigns.


Neil Carter seeks to identify and promote conditions that enable long-term coexistence between people and wildlife. He studies human dimensions of wildlife management, wildlife behavior and habitat, human impacts on wildlife habitat, protected area management, and other related subjects in order to advance wildlife conservation. Neil grew up in San Diego, CA., and received his B.S. at the University of California San Diego in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution in 2003. He moved to Michigan in 2005 to conduct his Master’s research in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. In his Master’s research, he developed an ecological model of Black Bear habitat suitability throughout Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and combined those results with attitudinal survey data, which allowed him to map areas of potential human-bear conflict.

He currently is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University. His doctoral research at the Human-Nature Lab/Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability evaluates the complex relationships between humans and tigers in and around Chitwan National Park in Nepal. He hopes to develop a framework characterizing tiger-human interrelationships that can be used to address challenging conservation issues in Nepal and elsewhere.

Neil is a 2011 CHANS Fellow granted from the Human-Nature Network/Coupled Human and Natural System Network, an MSU Distinguished Fellow and a NASA Earth Systems Science Fellow.


Tricia Dees has loved animals for as long as I can remember, and knew that I would end up working with them as well as being an advocate for all species. I started volunteering at the Texas State Aquarium in 1992 as a volunteer guide. In high school I shifted to volunteering with the rescue and rehabilitation team where we took in sick and injured shorebirds and raptors. I have also volunteered at the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (SPWRC) in Lubbock, Texas, and Last Chance Forever Bird of Prey Conservancy in San Antonio. I have interned at two facilities: the SPWRC and the Keahou Bird Conservation Center in Volcano, Hawaii. I earned a degree in zoology with a chemistry minor from Texas Tech University. After graduation, I began working at SeaWorld San Antonio. I have been diving with sharks, cleaned up after penguins, performed in shows, and trained behaviors with cetaceans, pinnipeds, parrots, and the species in between. One of my greatest passions lies with our lesser known non-profit side, the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. I serve as our park’s Fund Ambassador, making sure team members and guests both know the Fund exists and that its focus is on sustainable solutions to wildlife in peril with an emphasis on local communities getting involved in the cause. I look forward to learning from my classmates and leaders on how we can continue actively helping wildlife in our backyard and around the world.


Ever since an early age Crystal DiMiceli has been in love with the animal kingdom. Since then she has known that her path would be one of conservation and has worked steadily toward that end. She graduated from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry with a BS in Environmental Studies and more recently from Baruch College with a MPA in Nonprofit Management. She currently works for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Prospect Park Zoo caring for a range of species that serve as ambassadors for their wild cousins. It was through WCS that she had the opportunity to do field work in Belize’s Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve participating in a follow-up census of the reintroduction of the Black Howler Monkey to the area. Her background includes leading wildlife education programs and participating in environmental consulting work. Most recently, she has brought her passion for travel into the fold through interning with both the Rainforest Alliance’s ecotourism division and in helping to launch a new wildlife tourism initiative called SeeTheWild.


Kate Freund is currently working at the Office of the Science Advisor in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a Presidential Management Fellow, focusing on climate change adaptation planning for wildlife and ecosystems. This position built on her graduate work studying biodiversity conservation and climate change at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. While at Yale, Kate worked with the National Park Service to help model and plan for future impacts of climate change on species range shifting in the Pacific Northwest, and she received her Masters of Environmental Management degree in 2010. Before graduate school, Kate spent four years as a lobbyist with the environmental group Earthjustice in Washington, DC, focusing on wildlife conservation, climate change adaptation, and endangered species policy issues. She loves the outdoors and has also spent time in field research, primarily in Costa Rica studying birds. Kate received her B.A. in Biology and Public Policy from Pomona College in 2003. She is originally from Oregon, but loves DC as her home on the east coast.


Michael Gale works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Department of the Interior as the Communications Coordinator for Conserving the Future – a national effort to craft a renewed vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Learn more at The son of a West Virginia forest ranger, Michael previously served as the Special Assistant for External Affairs for the Service. He has also worked for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the National Geographic Society, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Michael spent a year in Galway, Ireland on a George J. Mitchell Scholarship researching European conservation policy. A Truman and Udall Scholar, he graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Zoology and completed his Masters of Public Administration (MPA) at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Michael serves on the board for SustainUS, a network for U.S. youth and sustainable development and also plays saxophone and percussion in D.C.’s Different Drummers, a GLBT arts organization in Washington, DC, where Michael currently resides.


Kate Gersh has over six years of experience focused on environmental conservation and community development in sub-Saharan Africa. At present she works for the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) whose mission is to work with the people of Africa, to ensure the wildlife and wild lands of Africa will endure forever. As AWF’s Associate, Foundation & Corporate Relations, she is skilled in managing all aspects of individual, private foundation (U.S. and Europe based) and corporate relationships. Kate works closely with AWF field staff to establish funding priorities, identify and pursue funding prospects, and further coordination to ensure that program goals are achieved. Most recently, Kate also assumed program management duties for AWF’s multi-million dollar, multi-year grant award under USAID’s Sustainable Conservation Approaches in Priority Ecosystems (SCAPES) program.

Her previous employments include working for the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots youth and humanitarian education program, and for a South African-based company focused on marketing support to entrepreneurial artisan groups for job creation. Additionally, Kate has a master’s degree in sustainable destination management from George Washington University’s School of Business.


Charles Huang is a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Specialist and works in WWF’s Conservation Science Program (CSP) and Macroeconomics Program Office (MPO). He serves as the technical lead on projects using technology in innovative ways for conservation including using 3D animations to illustrate impacts of planned development and Moabi, an online crowd sourcing mapping system to track and share information on drivers of deforestation. He also works on the Coral Triangle Atlas, which aims to be the data warehouse for all spatial data relevant for management of natural resources and biodiversity in the Coral Triangle – one of the richest areas in the world in terms of marine biodiversity.

Prior to his professional career, he explored conservation and wildlife through interning at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, volunteering at the Baltimore Zoo Medical Center, and helping on a project trapping, radio collaring, and tracking ocelots and jaguarundi in Tamaulipas, Mexico.

Charles has a BA from Johns Hopkins University where he majored in Biology and Economics, and minored in Computer Science. He obtained his MA in Conservation Biology from Columbia University and did his thesis work studying hematology and blood biochemistry of sea turtles in Baja California Sur, Mexico. He speaks Mandarin and Spanish, and is a NAUI certified SCUBA instructor.


Mathilde Lweins is an engineer in Agronomics and holds a Msc in Natural Resources Management from the French Museum of Natural History. Before coming to the US, she worked first for the French GEF on biodiversity projects participating in project evaluation and monitoring and then for the Agence Française de Développement in Gabon where she was in charge of the environment, ecotourism and health projects.

She joined Conservation International in 2006 working in the Central Africa Program then in the Africa Program on project implementation, partnership development and continental initiatives. She is now a Senior Manager for the Center for Conservation and Government within CI where she is the interface between francophone and Swedish donors and CI. Her work consists in identifying project ideas, presenting and discussing them with the donors, supporting project teams to fulfill donor requirements during project preparation and participate in project supervision.


Danielle Kessler holds a Masters Degree in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland and a Bachelors Degree in Biology from Penn State. Currently, Danielle works as a Program Officer at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), focusing on the mitigation of human-induced threats to whales, including ending commercial and “scientific” whaling. Prior to joining IFAW, Danielle spent several years working in conservation education with Walt Disney World’s Animal Programs. As an Education Coordinator at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, she oversaw the day-to-day operations of a dynamic team of education presenters, all of whom came from southern African countries, including Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. Danielle was recently married and now resides in Rockville, Maryland with her husband, Jeff, and incredibly awesome little beagle, Chloe.


My name is Zegeye Kibret. I grew up in Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains, in a small village called Dinsho, approximately 400 km south east of the capital, Addis Ababa. Dinsho is right on the border of the Bale Mountains National Park, and is very close to Ethiopian wolf range.

Growing up, I was actively involved in the nature club in my school, which was visited by a young researcher called Claudio Sillero, who taught us about the Ethiopian wolves and about protecting our natural heritage. He later founded the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP) for which I now work.

After finishing my schooling I studied to be a primary school teacher, and once I qualified I moved to a neighbouring village called Garamba Dima, to teach in the local school. One day Dr. Karen Laurenson, the EWCP vet, came to the village to introduce a dog vaccination programme to combat rabies in the area and I had a chance to talk to her about the programme. I rushed to the school compound and persuaded the kids to bring their dogs to be vaccinated, which would help to prevent rabies spreading to the Ethiopian wolf.

In 1998 I decided that I wanted to combine my teaching background with my love of nature, and successfully applied for a job at EWCP. Since then I have been running the EWCP education campaign in and around the Bale Mountains National Park, talking to the local community and school children about the importance of protecting the afroalpine environment and making them proud of the endemic Ethiopian wolf. I became even more enthusiastic about wildlife conservation as my career progressed because I saw that the benefit of wildlife conservation is also a community benefit, creating a better, healthier, and more sustainable environment for all.


My name is Bradford Latham. I am from the beautiful Caribbean island of St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

I served in the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force for seven years. Currently, I am employed at the Forestry Department in the Ministry of Agriculture as Forestry Officer III with the responsibility of developing a Law Compliance and Enforcement Program in the Forestry Department.

From an early age, I have always been interested in nature and the protection of the environment. As a forestry officer, I am involved in several programs and projects for the protection and conservation of fauna and flora. I have conducted research and have assisted in the implementation for the best practices for the captive management of our national bird, the St. Vincent parrot, Amazona Guildingii and a Law enforcement manual of best practices for forestry officers in St.Vincent and the Grenadines. I am currently conducting a five-year survey on partially protected wildlife species for the better management of habitats and species.

I have attended two training workshops conducted by IFAW in the Caribbean and now I am conducting presentations to the Coast Guard, Customs, and Forestry officers in my country on CITES and illegal trade to improve the inter-agency relationships and net-working.


My name is Tserennadmid (Nadia) Mijiddorj. I’m from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Currently I’m studying at Wildlife Institute of India to earn a MSc degree. I work with the Snow Leopard Conservation Fund in Mongolia. We work towards the conservation of the endangered snow leopard and its ecosystem in Mongolia since 2000 with the support of the Snow Leopard Trust. SLCF runs to implement scientific and community based conservation programs in Western and Southern Mongolia. So far, we are working on Snow Leopard Enterprises (handicraft project), snow leopard research and livestock insurance program.

My research interests include both ecological and social dimensions of wildland ecosystems, focusing primarily on carnivore conflict and rangelands. Major themes are community-based and collaborative natural resource management; traditional and local ecological knowledge; pastoralism and pastoral development and their effects on wildlife and their ecosystems.


Originally from northern California, Ryan Richards’ interest in wildlife is strongly linked to natural resource management and rural development. This interest in balancing economic and ecological interests led him to the University of California, Davis, where he studied wildlife biology and music. He also worked on habitat restoration projects with farmers and with public transportation ventures in California’s Central Valley.

Ryan recently received an M.S. in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology and an M.P.P. in Environmental Policy from the University of Maryland. While at Maryland, he worked on land use projects with Defenders of Wildlife and US Fish & Wildlife Service. He also had the opportunity to travel to Brazil for a sustainable forestry investment project with the International Finance Corporation.

Ryan conducted his graduate research with the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, which explored opportunities to use biomass energy markets as drivers for removal of invasive thornbush on farmland. During his time in Africa he also had the opportunity to work with farmers on integrated livestock/wildlife management practices and track several black rhinos as part of a reintroduction program.

Ryan currently works for the Smithsonian on the Global Tiger Initiative. Launched by the World Bank, this partnership of tiger range countries and NGOs links conservation and development to address the greatest threats to tiger populations. As part of this group, Smithsonian focuses on spreading best practices in protected area management to staff across the tiger’s range.

In his spare time, Ryan likes to explore the outdoors, search for musical outlets in the DC area, and follow San Francisco Giants baseball.


Michael Schirmacher has been with Bat Conservation International since 2006 and is currently a conservation biologist and wind energy project manager. He directs field investigations for the Bat and Wind Energy Cooperative across North America. Michael was the field manager for the first U.S. based wind energy curtailment study and involved with field research testing the first utility-scale ultrasonic deterrent. He has been authored in several articles on bats and wind energy. Michael has studied bats for the past 10 years. He has a Master of Science from the University of Georgia and a B.S. in Biology from Tennessee Technological University.


Zak Smith is a Staff Attorney for NRDC’s Marine Mammal Protection Project. He is currently litigating a case against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement – the former Minerals Management Service – challenging the agency’s compliance with key environmental laws when approving and permitting oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico. Reflecting the breadth of issues addressed by the Marine Mammal Protection Project and the depth of his expertise, Zak has been working closely with others at NRDC in response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf, helping coordinate the organization’s response to the disaster. Zak’s work at NRDC also includes protecting whales and dolphins during Navy training and testing activities along the coast of the US, defending Alaska’s Bristol Bay from the threat of hard-rock mining, and attaining greater restrictions on the international trade in polar bear parts.

Prior to working at NRDC, Zak worked as an associate in Bingham McCutchen’s Environmental Law Practice in Los Angeles, where he worked on complex environmental litigation cases. Before going to law school, Zak worked at the U.S. Department of Commerce, enforcing U.S. fair trade laws. Zak is a product of California’s Master Plan for Higher Education, earning his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley and his law degree from UCLA School of Law, graduating from the law school’s Program in Public Interest Law & Policy. Zak also holds a Master’s Degree in International Economics and European Studies from the Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies.


Brandon Speeg works for White Oak Conservation Center in northeast Florida as the antelope section leader, managing the animal husbandry of nine endangered ungulate species. At White Oak, Brandon works to sustain these rare species through breeding, research, education, training, and field programs. In 2010, Brandon was a member of a team that developed a new method for artificial insemination, and White Oak became the first facility to produce gerenuk calves by this process. Before he came to White Oak, Brandon worked as an animal specialist at the Wilds, a conservation facility in southeastern Ohio. At the Wilds, Brandon developed the first ethogram for the takin, an endangered antelope species native to China. He and his collaborators used this ethogram to implement a behavioral and ecological study of takin in their range state. Brandon has an undergraduate degree in biology from Bowling Green State University, and a Master’s degree from Wright State University in biology. While at Wright State he helped lead an ecotoxicology field project examining the effects of organochlorine pollutants on the immune systems of piscivorous birds in New York harbor. Brandon lives in southeast Georgia with his wife and two young sons.


Cristina Tófoli is a Brazilian wildlife conservationist. She has been working with wildlife conservation since 2000. In 2004, she joined IPÊ – Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute for Ecological Research) staff, at Tapir Conservation Project, where she developed her Master dissertation. From 2007 to 2009 she co-coordinated the project Do corridors work? – Mammals monitoring at Pontal do Paranapanema fragmented landscape. In 2009, Cristina moved to the Amazon for strengthening the team and adding her conservation biology skills to the multidisciplinary team of IPÊ in the Amazonian Forest. Since then she has been responsible for coordinating the Amazonian Manatee Conservation Project. This project is important for increasing the scientific knowledge of the manatees and for the implementation of a broader conservation program of IPÊ in the lower Rio Negro region, including other species and local communities. She has published three scientific articles and 12 abstracts in proceedings from Brazilian and international conferences. In 2010, Cristina won the Future Conservationist Award, by the Conservation Leadership Programme.


Jennifer Tsang has been fascinated by the natural environment since attending environmental camp in 5th grade when she lived in Boston, MA. As the Marketing Manager for the Pollinator Partnership, she connects non-profits, government agencies, scientist, gardeners, and sponsors using a variety of outreach techniques, including the creation and implementation of online and print surveys, moderating listserv communications, and helping to organize the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign’s (NAPPC) annual international summits. She has a B.A. from Boston College in Communications, with a double minor in History and Environmental Studies and received her MS in Environmental Management at the University of San Francisco.


As National Audubon Society’s Assistant Director of Government Relations, Taldi Walter works on public policy and land management issues related to Alaska’s public lands.

Prior to returning to Audubon’s Public Policy Office, Taldi worked in the Audubon’s Alaska office in Anchorage as the Communications and Policy Associate, where she worked to communicate Audubon’s science and policy work through electronic and print media, outreach, and education activities. Prior to that, Taldi worked with federal officials, Congress, and Audubon volunteers throughout the United States to increase awareness and motivate protection of priority public lands in Alaska. In this capacity she delivered more than 110 presentations about Alaska in 39 states.

Taldi received her MS in biology from the University of Central Arkansas. Her thesis took her to the Atlantic rainforest of Brazil, where she studied tropical and invasive species ecology.