We are a passionate group of scientists and conservationists.

We bring dedication to our mission, and inspire people to take action to protect bats around the world. Our team uses cutting-edge tools, technology, and training to redefine what is possible in global conservation. We lead with action, experimenting with innovative conservation strategies to prove their effectiveness, and deploy them at scale.

Josh Hydeman

Board of Directors

Danielle Gustafson

Danielle Gustafson

Director


Danielle Gustafson is the Executive Director at EMS FDNY Help Fund. Trained as a visual artist, Danielle launched the New York Stock Exchange’s first website and then grew their digital footprint through 2009 before expanding her scope to start-ups, not-for-profits and banking. While serving as a digital-strategy executive in financial services, she also (literally) moonlighted as cofounder of the NYC Bat Group in 2004. In addition to her professional consulting work and leading bat walks, she now advocates for broader awareness and study of bats, and believes that the smartphone, in the hands of the citizen scientist, may be the most important conservation tool of the 21st century.

Danielle is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, and has an MFA from California Institute of the Arts. She was a fellow at the Whitney Museum of American‘s Independent Study Program, studied e-business strategy at MIT Sloan School of Management and is a Resident at TED. She also serves on the Board of the International League of Conservation Photographers and has a recent TED Talk: The future of conservation is in your pocket.

Gary Dreyzin

Director

Gary Dreyzin is an Honors Attorney at the Office of General Counsel at NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration). He earned a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center and has published a review for the Georgetown Environmental Law Review. Gary was formerly a Judicial Law Clerk for the United States Court of Federal Claims. 

Gerald Carter, Ph.D.

Director

Dr. Gerald Carter is an Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University for the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology. He has studied bats for 20 years, with research focused on behavioral ecology and the social relationships of bats. He grew up in the Adirondacks in New York State. He enjoys hiking, caving, and climbing.

Ann George

Director

Ann is a conservation ecologist with over 13 years of experience working with domestic and international industry leaders and conservation experts on biodiversity management. Ann has provided guidance on emerging tools and technologies for natural resource management, as well as assisted active and discontinued operations with managing their property in an ecologically-sustainable manner. Ann conceives of, coordinates and helps implement voluntary biodiversity projects for Freeport-McMoRan, while leveraging those opportunities for STEM and environmental education. In her role as Senior Biodiversity Scientist, Ann helps develop and facilitate productive relationships between Freeport-McMoRan and numerous non-profit and community partners to promote the longevity and sustainability of conservation projects.

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Brock Fenton, Ph.D.

Director

M.B. (Brock) Fenton received his Ph.D. in 1969 for work in the ecology and behaviour of bats. Since then he has held academic positions at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada 1969 to 1986), York University (Toronto, Canada 1986 to 2003) and the University of Western Ontario (2003 to present). He has published more than 250 papers in refereed journals (most of them about bats), as well as numerous nontechnical contributions. He has written four books about bats intended for a general audience (Just bats 1983, University of Toronto Press; Bats 1992 – revised edition 2001 Facts On File Inc; and The bat: wings in the night sky 1998, Key Porter Press; Fenton and Simmons 2014 Bats: a world of science and mystery Univ of Chicago press).

He continues his research on the ecology and behaviour of bats, with special emphasis on echolocation and evolution. He currently is an Emeritus Professor of Biology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. He was inducted as a Fellow of the Royals Society of Canada (FRSC) in November 2014.

Dr. Shahroukh Mistry

Director

Dr. Shahroukh Mistry

Shahroukh Mistry is a professor of Biology at Butte College in California, Adjunct Professor of Biology at California State University, Chico and has an avid interest in ecology, conservation, education, and outreach.  He grew up in India where he researched the ecology and behavior of birds for his undergraduate and master’s degrees.  Shahroukh received a master’s in Ethology with Gary McCracken at the University of Tennessee, examining the behavior of Mexican free-tailed bats in Texas, and then his Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of New Mexico with James H. Brown, investigating the role of Indian fruit bats in pollination and seed dispersal – a study that would not have been possible without the support of a BCI Student Scholar Award.

Shahroukh has been Chair of the Mammal Technical Committee for the Pennsylvania Biological Survey, part of the Chiroptera Specialist Group of the IUCN, and the Chiroptera Conservation and Information Network of South Asia.  He served on the Board of the North American Society of Bat Research for ten years as Chair, Secretary and Associate Program Director.  Shahroukh has received the Life Member Award from NASBR, and the John W. Rice Diversity and Equity Award from the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. 

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Jenn Stephens, MBA

Director

Jenn has both a business and technical background, and has worked for multiple Fortune companies as well as startups throughout her career, including companies centered around technology, software, banking, stock brokerage, transportation, and industrial automation. She has frequently been called upon to work with executives and corporate partners, and lead large global programs that require both strategic thought and attention to detail. Jenn has expertise in consulting, mediating, data analytics, employee engagement, customer experience, change management, Lean Six Sigma, and building cross-functional teams.

Jenn became aware of the benefits of bats over 20 years ago when she moved to a ranch and found the need for natural bug control. Being a conservationist at heart, as well as a proponent of managing property through organic measures, she discovered that bats were the perfect solution. This discovery resulted in two custom-made bat houses being built and installed on the ranch, and are now home to over 600 Mexican Freetail bats. The houses became maternity wards due to their location along the bats’ yearly migration path, were quickly inhabited, and are still in use to this day. This was the start of Jenn’s love for bats and her understanding of the critical need to protect this important and unique mammal and its habitats.

Jenn holds an MBA from UMass Amherst, and a Bachelors in Computer Science from Loyola University New Orleans. She is thrilled to leverage her expertise to support Bat Conservation International’s mission to “conserve the world’s bats and their ecosystems to ensure a healthy planet.”

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Nancy Simmons, Ph.D.

Science Advisory Committee Board Liaison

Curator-in-Charge of the Department of Mammalogy and Professor in the Richard Guilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Simmons is an expert in taxonomy and systematics of bats. Author of the authoritative “Chiroptera” chapter in Mammal Species of the World, she maintains an ever-updated list of valid bat species of the world including their geographic ranges and recognized subspecies.

Dr. Simmons has authored numerous papers on bat phylogenetics and evolution, and in 2008 she was awarded the Gerrit S. Miller Award from the North American Society for Bat Research for outstanding contributions in the field of chiropteran biology. She is a member of the Steering Committee for the Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit (SEABCRU), and is also a member of IUCN Bat Specialist Group of Species Survival Commission.

Charles Chester, Ph.D.

Board Chair

Professor of global environmental politics, Brandeis University and the Fletcher School at Tufts University; former board member of Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (co-chair) and Root Capital; author, Conservation Across Borders: Biodiversity in an Interdependent World (Island Press 2006) and co-editor, Conservation & Climate Change: Landscape and Seascape Science, Planning and Action (Island Press 2012); previous consultant for the Union of Concerned scientists and the Henry P. Kendall Foundation; previously served on the board of Bat Conservation International and was recently re-elected.

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Andy Sansom, Ph.D.

Vice Chair

Dr. Andrew Sansom is one of Texas’ leading conservationists. He is a former Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Executive Director of the Texas Nature Conservancy. For his commitment to the management and protection of natural resources, he is a recipient of the Chevron Conservation Award, The Chuck Yeager Award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Pugsley Medal from the National Park Foundation, the Seton Award from the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nature Conservancy. Dr. Sansom is a Distinguished Alumnus of Austin College, and Texas Tech University. Under his leadership at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Dr. Sansom spearheaded a number of significant programs, including:

  • Founding the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation which has raised over $150 million for conservation in Texas to date.
  • Adding more than 500,000 acres to the State Parks and Wildlife Management Areas.

His published works have appeared in Texas Monthly, The Texas Observer, Houston City Magazine, Politics Today, Texas Highways, Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas Town and City. He is the author of eight books, Texas Lost, Texas Past, Scout the Christmas Dog, Water In Texas and Southern Plains Bison, Resurrection of the Lost Texas Herd, After Ike, Of Texas Rivers and Texas Art and Seasons of Selah.

Andrew Sansom now serves as Professor of Practice in Geography and is founder of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University.

Alexander R. (Sandy) Read

Director

Alexander ‘Sandy’ Read is the proprietor of Sandy’s convenience stores in Colorado. He previously served three full terms as a BCI Board member. After stepping off the Board for a mandatory year off (according to our bylaws), he has now rejoined the Board. He is a lifelong supporter of BCI and the son of BCI co-founder Verne Read.

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Eileen Arbues

Secretary

Eileen is a senior executive who is expert at utilizing the marketing mix to achieve desired business results, especially in the areas of market growth and expansion. Since founding the marketing consultancy n2o Group, Eileen has worked with a variety of clients in a breadth of industries including entertainment, technology, hospitality, conservation and education. Recent engagements have addressed both domestic and international challenges for both well established players and start-ups alike including Electronic Arts, the University of Michigan and the National Audubon Society.

Eileen’s career began as a management consultant for New York based Newman-Stein where she consulted to a variety of packaged food companies including Del Monte Foods, ConAgra Foods and Bumble Bee Foods. With the divestiture of AT&T, Eileen joined the telecommunications industry ultimately holding numerous executive level positions including the senior vice president of marketing, sales and operations with companies including MCI, Pacific Bell and SBC. During this period, Eileen served on the Chief Executive’s Steering Committee and Business Council, introduced and led a corporate wide professional women’s mentoring program and chaired the New Product Development Council for Pacific Bell and SBC where she was awarded the American Lung Association’s Envy Award for product development and technology.

Just prior to launching her own marketing consultancy, Eileen served as the Executive Vice President and General Manager for 2Bridge Software leading the commercialization and global launch of this SaaS pioneer’s market entry. Her roll spanned the development and implementation of 2Bridge’s product line, its sales and marketing organization (both domestically and internationally), engineering and development, corporate communications and investor relations.

Eileen is a graduate of the University of San Francisco, the Harvard Business School and is a certified Naturalist in the State of California. A frequent lecturer at the University of San Francisco and Hult Business School, Eileen is also an active mentor for secondary and post secondary students domestically and internationally. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for Bat Conservation International, Eileen is a member of the Board of Directors of Earthwatch.

Science Advisory Committee

Gerald Carter, Ph.D.

Director

Dr. Gerald Carter is an Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University for the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology. He has studied bats for 20 years, with research focused on behavioral ecology and the social relationships of bats. He grew up in the Adirondacks in New York State. He enjoys hiking, caving, and climbing.

Enrico Bernard, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Conservation Biology at Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Brazil, he received his Ph.D. from York University, in Canadá. His work is focused on the biology, ecology and conservation of Brazilian bats. He has more than 90 scientific papers and book chapters, and is one of the authors of the Field Guide to the Bats of the Amazon. He is the current president of the Brazilian Bat Research Society and the scientific coordinator for the assessment of the conservation status of Brazilian bat species.

Luis F. Aguirre, Ph.D.

Director of the Center for Biodiversity and Genetics (CBG) from the Sciencie and Technology Faculty at Universidad Mayor de San Simón in Jordan, Bolivia. Dr. Aguirre is the founder and coordinator for the Bolivian Program for Bat Conservation, co-founded of the Latin American Network for the Conservation of Bats (RELCOM), and co-founder of the Latin American Network of Mammals. He is also a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Bat Specialist Group and Bolivian Association of Mammalian Researchers. He has written and co-authored > 100 scientific articles in magazines and books, and published author and co-author of 13 books and guides. Awarded the 2004 Development Cooperation Award (Kingdom of Belgium), the 2005 Conservation Leadership Award (Wildlife Trust), the Oliver P. Pearson Award (2006, American Society of Mammalogists, the 2007 Whitley Award granted (Whitley Fund for Nature) and the 2012 Lazaro Spallanzani Award (North American Symposium on Bat Research, NASBR).

Sara Bumrungsri, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Prince of Songkla University in Songkhla, Thailand. Dr. Bumrungsri focuses on ecosystem services of fruit- and insect-eating bats. He has done a number of studies on pollination in mangroves and farmland. He has also found that bats play a significant role in pest control agents in rice paddy fields. He has received the outstanding young lecturer award for both the science faculty and university. 2010 Lazaro Spallanzani Award (NASBR).

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Brock Fenton, Ph.D.

Director

M.B. (Brock) Fenton received his Ph.D. in 1969 for work in the ecology and behaviour of bats. Since then he has held academic positions at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada 1969 to 1986), York University (Toronto, Canada 1986 to 2003) and the University of Western Ontario (2003 to present). He has published more than 250 papers in refereed journals (most of them about bats), as well as numerous nontechnical contributions. He has written four books about bats intended for a general audience (Just bats 1983, University of Toronto Press; Bats 1992 – revised edition 2001 Facts On File Inc; and The bat: wings in the night sky 1998, Key Porter Press; Fenton and Simmons 2014 Bats: a world of science and mystery Univ of Chicago press).

He continues his research on the ecology and behaviour of bats, with special emphasis on echolocation and evolution. He currently is an Emeritus Professor of Biology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. He was inducted as a Fellow of the Royals Society of Canada (FRSC) in November 2014.

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Stuart Parsons, Ph.D.

Professor and Head of the School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. Stuart is a zoologist with research interests in the broad areas of bioacoustics and behavioural ecology, with current research focused on acoustic identification of bats, mating systems, foraging ecology and understanding the spatial predictors of bat distributions. He is a member if the IUCN Species Survival Commission Bat Specialist Group and the extended executive of the Australasian Bat Society. Stuart also consults for both government and industry on large infrastructure developments such as dams, highways and wind farms.

Gary F. McCracken, Ph.D.

Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, James R. Cox Professor, University of Tennessee. Former department head, educator and researcher. Trustee, Bat Conservation International. Advisory Board Member, Lubee Bat Conservancy, Selah Bamburger Ranch Preserve. Published extensively on topics related to the ecology, evolution, behavior and conservation of bats.

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Paul A. Racey, Ph.D.

Regius Professor of Natural History (Emeritus), University of Aberdeen. Honorary Visiting Professor, University of Exeter in Cornwall. Founding Chair, Bat Conservation Trust. Former Chair and Co-Chair, IUCN Bat Specialist Group. Advisory Board Member, Lubee Bat Conservancy. Trustee, Harrison Institute. His main interests are in mammalian reproductive biology and the ecology and conservation biology of bats. More than half of his 50 Ph.D. students worked on bats and he has authored and co-authored 350 publications.

Tigga Kingston, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Texas Tech University. Dr. Kingston is an expert in conservation biology and community ecology of paleotropical bats. She started the Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit (SEABCRU) and is the co-chair of the IUCN Bat Specialist Group. She has authored numerous publications on bat ecology and conservation in Asia and is the co-editor of Bats in the Anthropocene.

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Danilo Russo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Ecology at University of Naples Federico II, Italy. Danilo’s work focuses on bat ecology, behaviour and evolutionary biology, and often involves the development of conservation strategies. Danilo has authored > 110 articles in internationally respected scientific journals. He is currently the vice-chair of EUROBATS Advisory Committee; one of the European Food Safety Authority experts in a working group on bats and pesticides; the main proposer of a EU-funded COST Action on bats and climate change; and the editor-in-chief of the top-ranking zoological journal Mammal Review.

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Liliana M. Dávalos, Ph.D.

Professor of Conservation Biology at Stony Brook University. Dr. Dávalos is an expert in biodiversity conservation and genomics. She is a 2012 National Academies of Sciences Education Fellow in the Life Sciences, a 2013 Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow for outstanding early career. She has advised the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime on deforestation since 2007. She is a coauthor of the 2016 UNODC World Drug Report.

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Nancy Simmons, Ph.D.

Science Advisory Committee Board Liaison

Curator-in-Charge of the Department of Mammalogy and Professor in the Richard Guilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Simmons is an expert in taxonomy and systematics of bats. Author of the authoritative “Chiroptera” chapter in Mammal Species of the World, she maintains an ever-updated list of valid bat species of the world including their geographic ranges and recognized subspecies.

Dr. Simmons has authored numerous papers on bat phylogenetics and evolution, and in 2008 she was awarded the Gerrit S. Miller Award from the North American Society for Bat Research for outstanding contributions in the field of chiropteran biology. She is a member of the Steering Committee for the Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit (SEABCRU), and is also a member of IUCN Bat Specialist Group of Species Survival Commission.

Paul W. Webala, Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer of Wildlife Biology at Maasai Mara University, Kenya. Dr. Webala is currently the Chair of Bat Conservation Africa. He uses bats as a focal group to understand and interrogate processes that drive rarity and abundance of mammals in natural, and human-dominated, environments. He is primarily a community ecologist, although his research addresses a variety of important questions for improving bat conservation in Africa. His research also spans several subfields of biology, as his work examines behavioral, ecological and systematic/ taxonomic questions. He has authored a number of publications on bat ecology, taxonomy and conservation.

Executive Leadership

Mike Daulton

Executive Director

Mike Daulton – Executive Director

Mike Daulton has served as Executive Director of Bat Conservation International since 2017. Mike leads all aspects of BCI’s progress toward becoming one of the fastest growing and most effective conservation organizations anywhere in the world.

Mike is an award-winning conservationist with two decades of experience as an environmental leader in the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining BCI, Mike served as a senior-level policy director and organizational strategist for the National Audubon Society for 17 years, most recently as their Vice President of Policy and Strategy. Mike is recognized for his success in building complex coalitions with a wide variety of governmental, nonprofit, philanthropic, and private sector leaders to drive conservation at scale. He led Audubon’s successful efforts to defend bedrock environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act. He also led efforts to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling and pass the RESTORE Act through Congress, which dedicates $20 billion to restoring Gulf Coast ecosystems.

Mike has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress, appeared on CSPAN and CBS News, and been quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and many other major news outlets.

Mike graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, San Diego with a B.Sc. in Ecology and earned a Master’s in Public Policy from Duke University. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two daughters.

Aiyanna Maciel

Special Projects Manager, Executive Office

Aiyanna Maciel joined BCI in June 2021. Originally from Raymond, Maine, she moved to DeLand, Florida to pursue her undergraduate degree at Stetson University in 2015. In 2019, she graduated from Stetson with her Bachelor of Arts in World Languages and Cultures, concentrating in Spanish Translation with a minor in Latin American Studies and a Certificate of Community Engagement. While at Stetson, Aiyanna was a member of the Bonner Program, a service-learning organization committed to connecting students’ academic and career interests with service within their communities. Throughout her four years in DeLand she supported Latinx populations in English as a Second Language programming and facilitated professional development workshops for fellow students.

Aiyanna is a 2021 graduate from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service with her Master of Arts in Latin American Studies and a Certificate in Gender, Peace, and Security. While at Georgetown, she worked for the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship on inclusive pedagogy and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Aiyanna brings her background in community engagement, inclusion strategies, and advocacy to BCI and the Executive Office and is always eager to learn more about bat conservation, land restoration, and other conservation and sustainability efforts.

Bryn Mbekenga

Administrative Assistant

Bryn Mbekenga joined BCI in 2023 as the Administrative Assistant for the Executive Office. She brings to the team a wealth of experience and is excited to support BCI’s mission and learn more about the amazing work of bat conservation. 

A graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Spanish and Business, Bryn’s educational foundation reflects her commitment to excellence and diverse skill set. Throughout her professional journey, Bryn has demonstrated unwavering commitment to the administrative facets of non-profit organizations, playing a vital role in advancing the success of meaningful missions. Bryn’s global perspective has been shaped by her work and study in South Korea, Costa Rica, and Ecuador where she honed her skills and gained invaluable insights. These experiences have enriched her professional journey and her ability to navigate diverse cultural landscapes.

Beyond her role at BCI, Bryn is an avid explorer of North Carolina’s natural wonders. Whether hiking with friends, gardening at the co-op, or embarking on creative projects, she finds inspiration in the outdoors and brings that energy into her work.

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Kevin Pierson

Chief of Conservation & Global Strategy

Kevin Pierson – Chief of Conservation & Global Strategy

Kevin Pierson is the principal conservation leader, manager, and planner for Bat Conservation International (BCI). He is responsible for the vision, oversight, planning and implementation of a comprehensive conservation program that charts a path for growth in BCI’s conservation impact and global conservation reach.

Kevin comes to BCI with over 15 years of extensive nonprofit experience as a conservation strategist, fundraiser, and advocate. Kevin is an inspirational leader with strong expertise in identifying and implementing steps to achieve BCI’s mission including clarifying ideas into fundable programs, raising funds, and managing for results.

Mylea Bayless

Chief of Strategic Partnerships

Mylea Bayless – Chief of Strategic Partnerships

Mylea Bayless leads our Network & Partnerships Division with more than 20 years of experience in building collaborative teams for conservation, research, and wildlife management. She has been integral to our mission for more a decade leading the conservation team in the U.S. and Canada.

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” The wisdom of this African proverb defines her approach to conservation. A life-long student, she is thrilled to be focusing her natural affinity for people to develop strategic partnerships that will grow our impact around the world.

Bayless joined BCI in 2006, with a career portfolio including State and Federal agency service and academic research. Including bats, her research background includes a variety of wildlife (including spotted owls, bald eagles, American pronghorn, Merriam’s turkeys, and Rocky Mountain elk). She holds degrees from Colorado State University (B.S., M.S.).

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Michael Nakamoto, MBA

Chief Operations Officer

Michael Nakamoto, MBA – Chief Operations Officer

Michael Nakamoto leads a compassionate and talented team that oversees the finances, human resources, information technology, and operations functions in support of BCI’s mission. Michael also co-sponsors organizational initiatives on data science and diversity & inclusion.

Michael brings two decades of experience helping organizations align and scale their operations to best support their mission and strategy. For the past 13 years, Michael led programs and projects at The Nature Conservancy that helped various departments improve their business systems and processes to achieve organizational goals. Previously, he served as the Chief Financial and Administrations Officer of a retail flooring company where he helped build an operations function and new revenue streams critical to enabling the company’s growth from $6 million to $16 million.

Michael graduated from the University of Virginia with a business degree with a concentration in Finance. He also has an MBA from the University of Maryland with a focus on creating social and environmental value.

Winifred Frick, Ph.D.

Chief Scientist

Winifred Frick, Ph.D. – Chief Scientist

Dr. Winifred Frick serves as our Chief Scientist and leads scientific research that informs our evidence-based approaches to conservation. She is responsible for integrating science and conservation at Bat Conservation International to achieve lasting impact for bats around the world. 

Dr. Frick has more than 20 years of experience studying bat ecology and conservation biology. She has published more than 80 scientific research papers and is a recognized global expert on bat ecology and conservation. She directs high-priority research and development of scalable solutions for achieving meaningful conservation outcomes for bats, including research on the threat of climate change, the disease White-nose Syndrome, and contributing conservation evidence to protect bats globally.  

Dr. Frick is an Associate Adjunct Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She received her Ph.D. from Oregon State University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies.  

Conservation

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Kevin Pierson

Chief of Conservation & Global Strategy

Kevin Pierson – Chief of Conservation & Global Strategy

Kevin Pierson is the principal conservation leader, manager, and planner for Bat Conservation International (BCI). He is responsible for the vision, oversight, planning and implementation of a comprehensive conservation program that charts a path for growth in BCI’s conservation impact and global conservation reach.

Kevin comes to BCI with over 15 years of extensive nonprofit experience as a conservation strategist, fundraiser, and advocate. Kevin is an inspirational leader with strong expertise in identifying and implementing steps to achieve BCI’s mission including clarifying ideas into fundable programs, raising funds, and managing for results.

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Rebecca Patterson

Director, Conservation Programs Coordination & Project Management

Rebecca Patterson – Director, Conservation Programs Coordination & Project Management

Rebecca Patterson joined the BCI staff in January, 2008. As Director, Conservation Programs Coordination & Project Management, Rebecca provides Project Management support to all Conservation Programs including Bracken Cave Preserve, Endangered Species Interventions, Habitat Protection & Restoration and Public Lands. In addition to administrative support, she provides expertise in event planning and grant and contract management.

Rebecca holds a B.A. in Psychology from Indiana University. Prior to joining the BCI staff, she worked as a dog-trainer, recruiting her own dog to provide pet-assisted therapy. In addition to her love for all animals, Rebecca loves hiking and running the many trails of Austin, is a part-time film geek and self-proclaimed foodie.

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Fran Hutchins

Director, Bracken Cave Preserve

Fran Hutchins – Director, Bracken Cave Preserve

Fran has been with Bat Conservation International since 2006, directing educational bat flight programs and the restoration work on BCI’s Bracken Cave Preserve and working with Central Texas landowners protecting other bat roosts. His work at the preserve protects the largest colony of bats in the world.

He is often asked to speak at various events, sharing his passion for informing the public about bats. This extended’s to schools, zoos, Scouts and organizations from around the world. He has been featured on Texas Country Reporter, Travel Channel, several documentaries as well as Texas Highway Magazine.

In 2013 he was recognized by the US Forest Service for Wings Across the Americas / BatsLIVE education program.

Fran is also a Caver and Texas Master Naturalist and Eagle Scout.

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Jon Flanders, Ph.D.

Director, Endangered Species Interventions

Jon Flanders, Ph.D. – Director, Endangered Species Interventions

Dr. Jon Flanders is responsible for leading conservation initiatives that effectively address BCI’s global conservation priorities. With over 20 years of experience working on conservation projects across the globe, Jon recognizes the importance of partnerships in delivering social, environmental and economic benefits. Working with a range of organizations, from small non-profits to government departments he can strategically prioritize projects that balance conservation needs with sustainability.

Jon received his Ph.D. from the University of Bristol where he integrated investigations of the ecology, diet, and population genetics of the greater horseshoe bat to advance its conservation. Prior to joining BCI, Jon had worked extensively across Asia and Central America leading a variety of conservation-related research projects, as well as teaching workshops and outreach efforts for local researchers and students. 

Jon is an Adjunct Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Tulane University and a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History. 

Kristen Lear, Ph.D.

Agave Restoration Program Director

Kristen Lear, Ph.D. – Agave Restoration Program Director

Dr. Lear is the Agave Restoration Program Director in charge of BCI’s bi-national Agave Restoration Initiative. She got her start in bat conservation in 6th grade when she built and installed bat houses for her Girl Scout Silver Award project. Since then, she has worked on bat research, conservation, and education projects around the world.

She earned a BA in Zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2011, where she assisted with a project studying the pest control services of bats in pecan orchards and led a bat house study for her Honors research. Following graduation, she earned a Fulbright Scholarship to study the critically endangered Southern bent-wing bat (Miniopterus schreibersii bassanii) in South Australia. In 2020, Kristen earned her Ph.D. in Integrative Conservation from the University of Georgia. Her Ph.D. work combined natural and social science approaches to aid in the conservation of the endangered Mexican long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis) in northeast Mexico.

Kristen is a National Geographic Explorer, AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador working to encourage girls and young women in STEM fields, and a Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts. She is also passionate about public outreach and education, giving numerous bat talks at schools and organizations around the world, leading public bat walks and bat house building workshops, and making numerous media appearances, including on CBS’ “Mission Unstoppable” TV show. More information about Kristen’s work can be found here.

Ana Ibarra, Ph. D.

Regional Director, Mexico & Latin America

Regional Director, Mexico & Latin America

Born and raised in Mexico, Ana earned her Ph. D. from University of Miami studying how habitat fragmentation impacts movement of tropical forest birds, until she discovered bats! Ana completed her postdoctoral research and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) working on bat ecology and conservation. For the last 10 years, she has been dedicated to monitoring the effects that habitat transformation has on bats and their habitats, and how to better prevent, manage and restore bat populations. Ana is an active member of the Mexican Program for the Conservation of Bats (PCMM) where she participates as advisor for conservation, monitoring, and educational programs. She is a Fulbright Scholar and National Geographic Explorer.

Ana joins BCI as the in-country advisor for Endangered Species Interventions in Mexico, aiming to facilitate and expand BCI´s activities in Mexico and Latin America, while promoting collaboration with local partners, and building capacity with local agencies and communities to monitor, manage and conserve bats.

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Melquisedec Gamba-Rios, Ph.D.

Regional Director, Latin America & Caribbean

Melquisedec Gamba-Rios, Ph.D. – Regional Director, Latin America & Caribbean

Melquisedec is the ESI Team’s Regional Director for Latin America and & Caribbean Initiatives. In this role, Melqui is responsible for identifying priority areas for the Endangered Species Interventions team to focus, and work with in-country partners to co-develop effective strategies to protect and recover endangered bat species, populations, or habitats. 

Melqui has been working with bat ecology and conservation for over 20 years. Originally from Colombia, Melqui conducted most of his research work in Costa Rica. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where he investigated antipredator behaviors in bats and the implication in bat communication and sociality. He has published work on topics including species distribution, habitat selection, and roost requirements for multiple bat species, with a particular emphasis on the neotropics.

Jennifer Barros, Ph.D.

Gerente do Programa Brasil

Jennifer Barros, Ph.D. – Gerente do Programa Brasil

As BCI’s Brazil Program Manager, Jennifer is responsible for leading our cave conservation initiative in Brazil while supporting other projects across Latin America. In this role, Jennifer will work with local communities, NGOs, and Government agencies across Brazil to drive the most effective conservation strategies to protect and enhance critical roost sites for endangered bat species and large colonies throughout the region. Brazil supports one of the richest diversities of bats in the world; of the 181 species of bats currently known to occur in Brazil, 45% are known to roost in caves.

With over ten years of experience studying bats, Jennifer received her master’s from the Universidade Federal de Lavras and her Ph.D. from the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco in Brazil, where she focused on bat cave selection across multiple habitats and developed a prioritization strategy for cave conservation in Brazil. Her research led to a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Konstanz, Germany, to understand the behavioral ecology in cave bat roosting energetic strategies. Jennifer is a former BCI student scholar and, prior to joining BCI, Jennifer has worked extensively across Brazil on cave conservation efforts to minimize the impacts of mining – one of the main threats in the country for bats and caves. 

Isabella Mandl

Isabella Mandl, Ph.D.

Regional Director, Africa & South Asia

Isabella Mandl, Ph.D. – Regional Director, Africa & South Asia


Isabella has been working on research projects to support the protection of threatened species on
Madagascar and Comoros since 2013. She is a passionate conservation biologist who, besides
highlighting the importance of working with local communities, believes that understanding animal
behaviour is a key component for successful conservation management. Eager to provide support
where she can, Isabella acts as a mentor for students and early career scientists across Africa.


At BCI, Isabella leads the Livingstone’s fruit bat conservation project. She set up a study on the
species’ movements and is responsible for implementing research and survey protocols, with the
goal of understanding how the fruit bats use the landscape. The insights gained through this project
will be applied in conservation measures, preventing this important species from going extinct.

Rohit Chakravarty

India Program Manager

Rohit Chakravarty – India Program Manager

Rohit is responsible for leading our endangered species initiatives in India with our partner organisation, Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF). Based out of Bangalore in southern India, Rohit works with all the relevant stakeholders to design and implement conservation actions that tackle the most pressing threats to range-restricted endangered bat species in South Asia as well as assessing locally and globally relevant issues such as the usage of archaeological sites by bats and threats to bats at wind energy sites. He also teaches a summer course on ecology to high school students and conducts public talks and bat walks.

Rohit has studied bats for over a decade, including working on the Andaman Islands for his MSc and the Himalayas as part of his PhD at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo & Wildlife Research, Germany.

Natalie Weber

Strategic Advisor for Endangered Species - Africa

Natalie Weber – Strategic Advisor for Endangered Species – Africa

As strategic advisor for Endangered Species Africa, Natalie is responsible for supporting BCI’s efforts to prevent or reverse the decline of threatened bat species and loss of critical habitats, mainly in Guinea but also other countries across Africa. To this end, she is working with several partners from local NGOs to international stakeholders as to assess bat diversity in key (protected) areas, identify conservation priorities, and enhance protection of sites crucial for bat species conservation.

Natalie is experienced as independent conservation scientist and research consultant with a focus on bats for almost 20 years and has conducted (field) works in more than 10 countries in Africa (and further in SE Asia and Europe). She has covered a large range of projects and the proven ability to flexibly handle different tasks, from leading field teams to project coordination and management. Her tasks also include capacity building of numerous students and technicians in cooperation with local partners as well as raising awareness about the ecological importance of bats among resident communities. In general, she likes working in different surroundings to always learn more about ecological interrelations and species-specific resource requirements, and to develop tailored conservation strategies.

Stephanie Brinez

Endangered Species Interventions Specialist

Stephanie Brinez – Endangered Species Interventions Specialist

Stephanie got her B.S. in Biology from the Wilke’s Honors College at Florida Atlantic University where she got her first glimpse into bat research. She completed her thesis on bat acoustic monitoring in the greenways around ger campus and detected the Florida Bonneted Bat. This sparked her interest for the species because it was an endangered species in her own backyard, which she continued to research as she furthered her education.

Following her undergraduate studies she worked as a veterinary technician and a wildlife rehabber before pursuing her M.S. in Conservation Medicine at Tufts University. This led her to a fellowship position with US Fish and Wildlife collaborating with BCI to collect data for the NABAT in California.

In a full circle kind of way, Stephanie now gets to work to protect the bat that sparked her interest in her undergrad.

In addition to her passion about bat conservation, she is also passionate about fitness and loves to travel to complete Spartan obstacle course race around the US.

Rachel Burke

Agave Restoration Coordinator

Rachel Burke – Agave Restoration Coordinator

Rachel joined BCI as the Agave Restoration Coordinator in 2023. As part of the Endangered Species Intervention team, Rachel works with the Agave Restoration Program on applied conservation for nectar feeding bats in the southwestern United States. She collaborates with native plant growers, land managers, land owners, and other stakeholders to promote a resilient landscape for nectar feeding bats.

For the past decade, Rachel has been working in wildlife management, ecological monitoring, and habitat restoration across the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts. In 2018, she completed a dual masters program in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology, and Applied Geography from New Mexico State University. Her thesis work focused on using geospatial modeling to inform applied management and habitat restoration for nectar-feeding bats. Her graduate work brought her to some of the most beautiful parts of the desert sky islands, which quickly became her favorite ecosystem to work in.

Rachel has worked in a variety of positions in the public and private sector, ranging from leading an ecological monitoring crew, analyzing national botany datasets, and working as a federal wildlife biologist for both the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. Outside of work, Rachel can typically be found in her basement pottery studio, working in her garden with her dogs, or training for an ultra on the trails outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

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Jason Corbett, M.S.

Director, Habitat Protection & Restoration

Jason Corbett, M.S. – Director, Habitat Protection & Restoration

I’ve been happily working with wildlife since the tender age of 8 when an Emmy Award winning wildlife cinematographer moved in next door and hired my brother and I to work with him on his wildlife films for National Geographic, the BBC, Discovery Channel, etc.

Several jobs later I am ecstatic to be working hard on conserving a taxa I greatly admire, bats, and my favorite type of habitat on the planet; all things under the Earth. These dark spaces; caves, mines, cracks, crypts, ossuaries, sinkholes, cenotes, springs, and many others provide shelter, refuge, and critical habitat for many species of plants and animals.

By working to protect subterranean bats and their habitat, I’m able to help protect not only the amazing places they call home, but also all of the other plants and animals that need these spaces. It is hard work but I love it!

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Nathan Breece

Sr. Restoration Specialist

Nathan Breece – Assistant Director, Habitat Protection and Restoration

Nathan Breece originally started working for BCI in 2009 as a part-time subterranean specialist. He was hired in early 2017 as the full-time field lead for the Subterranean Program. Nathan is involved with coordinating field work for a diverse set of partners including federal, state, and private entities. He spends a large part of his time surveying abandon mines and caves for suitable bat habitat. White-nose surveillance is also a large part of this surveying effort.

Nathan started working with bats in 2005 at the Northern Arizona University in the School of Forestry. Prior to working for BCI, Nathan worked for the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde as biologist, forest researcher, recreation technician, and wildland firefighter. These jobs were in Oregon, Idaho, and Arizona. In addition to his natural resource work, Nathan also spent several years as a professional ski instructor in Oregon, Utah, and Arizona.

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Shawn Thomas

Subterranean Team Lead

Shawn Thomas – Subterranean Team Lead

Shawn Thomas joined the BCI staff in July, 2014. As Projects Manager for the Subterranean Program, Shawn coordinates projects involving inventories and monitoring of cave and mine-roosting bats. These projects involve working with diverse partners, ranging from federal agencies to private mining companies.

Prior to  working for BCI, Shawn specialized in cave management for the National Park Service, having worked for several cave parks in the western U.S., including Carlsbad Caverns National Park (NM), Lava Beds National Monument (CA), Oregon Caves National Monument (OR), Great Basin National Park (NV), and Jewel Cave National Monument (SD).

Outside of work, Shawn’s time is focused on exploring and mapping caves, with active projects in Arizona (Grand Canyon National Park caves), New Mexico (Lechuguilla Cave, Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave), and Montana (Bob Marshall Wilderness caves).  

John Moeny

Restoration Team Lead

John Moeny – Restoration Team Lead

John Moeny was hired as BCI’s Restoration Team Lead in September 2023 and coordinates development and implementation of restoration projects that benefit bats and numerous other taxa in the southwest and beyond. 

Before joining BCI, John spent a decade working on stream restoration and watershed protection for the New Mexico Environment Department, and seven years with Grand Teton National Park as their restoration program manager.  With an undergraduate degree in Botany and a Masters degree in Rangeland Ecology he spent many seasons as a field technician and firefighter throughout the west with the US Geological Survey, US Forest Service, National Park Service and Arizona Game and Fish.    

John grew up in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado (home to a summer bachelor colony of 250,000 Mexican free-tail bats) and owes his interest in the outdoors and conservation to his family who spent summers on extended camping trips and his grandmother who taught him the names of native plants at an early age.  John lives in Silver City, New Mexico with his wife and dog pack and can be found exploring the remote corners of the southwest, preferably on two wheels. 

Ryan O'leary

Geospatial Team Lead

I grew up in small town Seward, Alaska. Having millions of acres of national forest as a backyard made me fall in love with the natural world. When I wasn’t running around the mountains in my backyard, I found myself pouring over maps dreaming of where I could explore next. This interest in maps lead me to study Geography with a concentration in GIS at the University of Wyoming. 

After graduating, I went on to work for the USGS in Colorado on the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) as a cartographer and eventually the Product Generation Supervisor. 3DEP’s goal is to survey the entire US with lidar data in 8 year cycles. As a cartographer, I assisted in producing and oversaw the production of the standard elevation products that are available for download on The National Map. 

As it was for many people the pandemic changed things for me. I moved to Idaho (currently residing in Boise) with my partner and started working for Frontier Precision as their GIS Project Manager. Frontier exposed me to a ton of mapping technology and use cases, including mapping vertical assets of a sewer treatment facility and transmission corridor mapping with drones and lidar. 

Now as the Geospatial Team Lead, I have the opportunity to take my experience and apply it to an important cause!

Bianca Signorini

GIS Analyst & UAS Pilot Lead

GIS Analyst & UAS Pilot Lead

Bianca joined BCI in a part-time capacity in November 2022 and became a full-time staff member in July 2023. Her expanding role includes providing geospatial support to habitat protection and restoration field crews and creating a variety of geospatial products internally and externally to BCI. 

She is also an FAA Part 107 certified UAS pilot and manages BCI’s new drone fleet, which is put to work creating highly detailed maps, locating abandoned mine sites or cave entrances to be evaluated for sensitive bat habitat, and continued monitoring of habitat restoration sites. As BCI’s geospatial and UAS capacity grows, her expertise with these tools opens up collaboration opportunities internally and externally to further the organization’s mission to end bat extinctions.

Bianca is located in beautiful southern Oregon. When she isn’t making maps and flying drones, she can be found hiking, reading, or practicing barebow archery.

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Jackson Bain

Assistant Team Lead, Subterranean

Jackson Bain – Assistant Team Lead, Subterranean

Jackson has been working with BCI’s Subterranean Program since 2017. On the subterranean team, Jackson assists in coordinating projects with federal agencies and private partners inventorying abandoned mines for bat habitat. He graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Wildlife Ecology. His professional career has led him to chasing wildlife all over the country, working on research and management projects from Alaska down to Mexico.

Jackson is a proud Arizona local. He became passionate about wildlife at a young age, inspired by the Sonoran Desert surrounding Tucson. He encountered his first bats while exploring abandoned mines in the desert behind his childhood neighborhood. In his spare time, you can find Jackson exploring the vast canyons and mountains of the Southwest, often with his pitbull pal, Ria, by his side.

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Dillon Metcalfe

Subterranean Safety Lead

Dillon Metcalfe – Subterranean Safety Lead

Dillon works on the subterranean team, spending many of his working hours squirming around in caves and abandoned mines all over the American West. This close-up look at bats and their habitat has blossomed into an ever-deepening curiosity about these diverse little fliers. Where do they roost? How do they organize socially, if at all? What do they eat?

These are the questions that drive Dillon deeper and higher into the underground places he goes. He’s been working with Bat Conservation International since the summer of 2016.

Prior to working with BCI, Dillon guided backpacking trips and worked as an NPS ranger in the Grand Canyon, directed conservation corps members on public lands projects, instructed SCUBA students in Thailand, worked in maintenance at Denali National Park in Alaska, and so on. This diverse background has equipped Dillon with a versatile and adaptable skill set that’s applicable in many situations.

Dillon lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, with his wife Anya. They both enjoy rock climbing, canyoneering, whitewater boating and backpacking in their time off.

Alexi Kimiatek, M.S.

Subterranean Specialist

Alexi Kimiatek, M.S. – Subterranean Specialist

Alexi discovered his love for nature growing up in the hardwood forests of New England. The pursuit of a life outdoors led him to field biology and an enduring affection for the critters of the world. After finishing a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in evolutionary ecology he worked as a seasonal field ornithologist for several research institutes, including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center before discovering the canyon country of the southwest.  Enchanted by the landscapes and cultures of the Colorado Plateau, Alexi has been exploring the geology, flora, fauna, and human history of northern Arizona and southern Utah as a backpacking guide and instructor for the Grand Canyon Conservancy Field Institute.

 Alexi has been conducting subterranean surveys with Bat Conservation International since 2019. In addition to building his expertise underground, he has helped develop the Conservation team’s capacity for avian surveys in conjunction with AML closures.  Alexi now lives in Sedona, Arizona and spends most of his free time playing music, reading books and walking around in the desert.

Harrison Tamayo

Subterranean Specialist

Harrison Tamayo – Subterranean Specialist

Harrison joined BCI with the Subterranean Team as a part-time technician in July of 2022. In October of 23’ he became a full-time Subterranean Specialist. Most of his job consists of going into abandoned mines and conducting biological surveys, determining if these features host bat habitat. In addition to surveys, he’s also done LIDAR scans, maternity roost monitoring, white-nose syndrome surveillance, as well as cave and mine inventory.

Harrison’s passion for the underground world started when he arrived in the Sonoran Desert. He joined the Arizona Outdoors Club where he got the chance to explore a sulfuric hypogene cave and help collect and study a unique community of microorganisms inhabiting the recently discovered portions of that cave. This lit a fire within Harrison and shortly thereafter he linked up with the Central Arizona Grotto (part of the National Speleological Society) and started going on every caving trip he could. He developed a love for exploring underground spaces and mapping them with his friends. Eventually he got in touch with a graduate student from Dr. Marianne Moore’s Bat Lab at Arizona State University and started joining them on hibernacula surveys. The purpose of these surveys was to establish some baseline numbers for hibernating bat populations in a few northern Arizona caves and to learn about their respective hibernation ecology prior to the arrival of WNS in the state. This experience, over multiple years, left a lasting impact on Harrison and solidified his desire to primarily work in the field and in nature. Since graduating from ASU with a degree in Biological Sciences, Harrison has devoted himself to learning about the natural environment of Arizona and how we can best conserve and protect this beautiful landscape.  

Zasha Kuuleimomilani Welsh

Restoration Specialist

Zasha was born in Bremerton, WA. She moved out to Arizona on a whim and received her B.S. in Biology from NAU in 2018. At NUA she conducted research on freshwater food webs. She initially followed her fisheries passion and, for a short while, conducted snorkel surveys across Arizona and chased humpback chub through the Grand Canyon. Zasha eventually moved on to botany work and has explored much of the Southwest conducting surveys and participating in restoration efforts with local nonprofits.

She joined BCI in October 2023 as a Restoration Technician and has been a Restoration Specialist since January 2024. Through restoration, she hopes to build broader restoration communities and deepen her understanding of the many ways to be in relationship with land.

Zasha lives in Tucson, AZ. She enjoys exploring mountains and deserts, botanizing, gardening, and breathwork. She is a watercolor painter who wants to do more sculpture. She is Kanaka maoli on her mother’s side and tries to honor that in her work and general lifestyle.

Corrie Harrison

Subterranean Specialist

Corrie Harrison – Subterranean Specialist

Corrie joined BCI’s subterranean team in June 2022 and worked in a part time capacity until 2024 where she then became a full time staff member. She has always had a passion for animals and the outdoors and in 2015 graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in Wildlife Biology. Throughout college and after graduating she worked many different seasonal jobs doing surveys for a diverse array of wildlife species. These surveys ranged from looking for birds, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, mesocarnivores, and of course why this organization exists, bats!

Corrie got her first bat technician position in 2017 working for a graduate student. This project was looking at northern long-eared bats and fringed myotis summer roosting sites around Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota. After spending two summers chasing bats around the southern Black Hills, Corrie knew that she wanted to continue with some aspect of her career helping to conserve these amazing animals.

While working in the Black Hills, Corrie met her wonderful husband, Dillon. They now live in Spokane, WA and (along with their pup Azsuna) can be found hiking, backpacking, climbing, and snowboarding throughout the Inland Northwest.

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Josh Hydeman

Subterranean Specialist

Josh Hydeman joined Bat Conservation International part-time in October 2021, becoming a full-time staff member in September 2022. He has participated in and led subterranean habitat assessment and evaluation projects for the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, National Park Service, and the Department of Energy.

Prior to joining BCI, Josh worked as a freelance photographer with a specialization in cave research and cave exploration expeditions. His photography assignments have brought him to coffee farms in Ethiopia, the deepest cave in the western hemisphere in Oaxaca, Mexico, and to the volcanic glacier caves of Mount Hood.

Josh’s work has been published by National Geographic, Outside Magazine, Outdoor Photographer, The Explorer’s Club Journal, and used by Petzl, Mountain Hardwear, Garmin, Arcteryx and Subaru. His awards include Best in Show at the National Speleological Society’s Photo Salon and a feature in National Geographic’s special issue, “100 Best Photos: Iconic Images from this Century.”

For more on Josh and his work can be found here

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Dan Taylor, M.S.

Sr. Restoration Specialist

Dan Taylor, M.S. – Sr. Restoration Specialist

Dan Taylor is a Senior Restoration Specialist with BCI’s Habitat Protection and Restoration (HP&R) Program and has more than 30 years of experience working on a wide range of wildlife and conservation issues in the U.S., Central America, and Africa. Dan has been with BCI for 23 years, previously directing its Bats and Mines, Bats and Forests, and Water for Wildlife initiatives. Dan’s background as a USDA-Forest Service biologist in Arizona, Montana, and Oregon, and years of experience facilitating collaboration between BCI and local, state, and national government partners made him well-suited to lead BCI’s HP&R habitat restoration initiatives.

The HP&R Program is working with the primary agencies responsible for natural resource management in North America and private landowners to ensure the incorporation of bat conservation into key policy, planning, and land management actions. Dan authored BCI’s Forest Management & Bats publication and co-authored BCI’s Bats and Mines and Water for Wildlife handbooks with Dr. Merlin Tuttle.

He is a member of The Wildlife Society, and the Arizona, New Mexico, and Western Bat Working Groups, and was a founding member of the Society for Conservation Biology.

Prior to his work with BCI and the Forest Service, Dan was the first director of the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Belize, Central America, and previously worked seasonally on several wildlife projects involving wolves, brown and black bears, European badgers, and northern and Mexican spotted owls.

Dan holds a bachelors degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana and a masters of science in Forestry from Northern Arizona University.

Aaron Sidder

Aaron Sidder

Compliance & Ecology Coordinator

Aaron Sidder – Compliance & Ecology Coordinator

Aaron Sidder joined BCI in May 2019. As the Compliance & Ecology Coordinator, he works closely with the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Energy, and other federal partners to plan and coordinate bat habitat improvements at abandoned mines and degraded waterways around the American West. 

Aaron has over 16 years’ experience as an ecologist and environmental scientist. He is an experienced field ecologist whose research has taken him to the tropical forests of Ecuador, the Everglades, southwestern deserts, and the top of the Rocky Mountains. Aaron is an alumnus of the AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship program and continues to moonlight as a science journalist with publications at National Geographic, National Geographic Kids Magazine, Smithsonian SmartNews, 5280 Magazine, the Santa Fe Institute, and Eos, the publication of the American Geophysical Union. 

Aaron lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife and dog. He enjoys all manner of bikes, thumping bass lines, and fantasy novels.

Ethan Sandoval

Restoration Specialist

Ethan Sandoval – Restoration Specialist

Ethan Sandoval joined BCI’s Subterranean Team in May 2019. For two years Ethan travelled throughout the western US conducting bat habitat surveys in abandoned mines, working with land managers to protect bat roosts and recommend bat-friendly closures. In Ethan’s current role as Restoration Team Lead, he coordinates development and implementation of a broad range of ecological restoration projects that benefit bats and other wildlife.

Before working with BCI, Ethan spent three years with the Sonoran Desert Inventory and Monitoring Network. With them he conducted surveys to build vegetation community maps in both districts of Saguaro National Park, Organ Pipe National Monument, and Coronado National Monument. While getting his Bachelor’s degree, Ethan worked as a technician for the University of Arizona on wildlife monitoring projects involving bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and Arizona’s four felids.  

While growing up north of the Tucson, frequent encounters with the wildlife of the desert and the harsh but rich landscape formed an impression that would become a passion. The open Sonoran Desert and sky island mountain ranges of southern Arizona inspired Ethan to seek and form a connection with the outdoors. In his free time Ethan enjoys reaching far out places on topo maps across the west.

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Zachary Warren, M.S.

Cliff Ecology Field Lead

Zachary Warren, M.S. – Cliff Ecology Field Lead

Zac manages cliff hibernacula surveys and white-nose surveillance monitoring at Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks, and Pipe Springs National Monument. This work involves spring swabbing surveys, soliciting local climbers for bat observations, and scaling cliff faces in search of roosts and hibernacula.

This project allows him to combine his passion for rock climbing with his professional expertise in bats. He began working with bats in 2012 while working for the National Park Service and went on to receive his M.S. studying the northern long-eared bat in Nebraska.

He received his B.S. from Ball State University in wildlife Biology and his M.S. from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in applied ecology. He also has 11 years of climbing experience, 8 years of technical roped rescue experience, and is currently a member of Zion’s technical rescue team. He is drawn to bat research because of the space to find novel approaches to answering difficult questions.

Brianna Mann

Restoration Specialist

Brianna Mann joined BCI as a part-time technician for the Subterranean and Restoration teams in March 2022 before transitioning into a full-time role as a Restoration Specialist in November 2022. Prior to this, Brianna worked in natural history collections, as a springs biologist in the Southwest, and monitored wildlife (including acoustic monitoring of bats) throughout the western United States.

In her current role as Restoration Specialist, Brianna hopes to put her life-long passion for wildlife ecology to good use by protecting habitats for bats and other wildlife, restoring and stabilizing vital natural resources, and monitoring the impacts of habitat changes on wildlife populations. She believes that connection and collaboration are the gateways to successful conservation of the world’s biodiversity.

Brianna lives in Flagstaff Arizona, and in her spare time enjoys all things outdoors, reading, writing, dancing, and a good local brew.

Autumn Cool

Cultural Resource Field Lead

Autumn Cool – Cultural Resource Field Lead

Autumn Cool joined BCI in September 2021. As an archaeologist and BCI’s Cultural Resource Specialist, her role is to identify, document, and assess the material culture left behind by people as they interact with a landscape. She strives to find a balance between preserving significant cultural heritage sites and protecting important bat habitats.

Autumn attended graduate school at the University of Arkansas where she specialized in archaeological remote sensing and geophysical prospecting. She conducted original research into aerial thermography and worked on several geophysical surveys, including at a Bronze Age site in Iraqi Kurdistan. After receiving her masters in anthropology, Autumn worked in the private sector for five years, documenting prehistoric and historic sites across Colorado and surrounding states. Recently, she has conducted extensive research into historical mining and has worked on several mine closure projects. Originally hailing from Washington state, Autumn lives in Colorado with her husband and two rabbits. She loves hiking, podcasts, and science fiction.

Tommie Miller

Cultural Resource Specialist & Technical Writer

Thomas (Tommie) attended graduate school at New Mexico State University where he specialized in Native American human remains collections known as culturally unidentified human remains which are protected by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. He conducted original research into the ways in which the western research paradigm benefits from the use of foundational principles of indigenous paradigms and worked on collections from the Navajo Nation, becoming a specialist in NAGRPA, human remains, and indigenous law and pedagogy in education. After receiving his masters in anthropology, Tommie worked in the private sector as a archaeological field technician and fast tracked to crew chief and field director roles over eight years, documenting prehistoric and historic sites across New Mexico and surrounding states. Recently, he has conducted extensive survey into the Gallina territory of Northwest New Mexico and Southern Colorado with the Jicarilla Apache and Ute Nations. His experience has taken him to the Navajo Nation in Arizona and Utah, Tohono O’odham nation in Arizona, and to Nevada. Thomas also offers free consultation to non-federally registered tribes and small museums regarding NAGPRA and legal applicability/ramifications to potential Native American cultural resources in museum collections. Originally hailing from Boise, Idaho, Thomas lives in New Mexico with his family, two dogs, cat, and bird. He loves hiking, nature photography, the color green, and mobile technologies.

Amalia Kenward

New Mexico Cultural Resource Specialist

Amalia Kenward – New Mexico Cultural Resource Specialist

Amalia Kenward joined BCI in May of 2023 as the New Mexico Cultural Resources Specialist. Her love of the subterranean goes back much further. Born and raised in New Mexico, she worked her first archaeology job at age twelve assisting in the survey of the abandoned Midnight Mine in northern New Mexico. She attended Boston University, receiving her Archaeology BA, with honors, with her undergraduate thesis Heart of the Earth: Ancient Maya Cave Use in the Middle Sibun Valley, Belize, Central America. Returning to New Mexico and working in a variety of roles in cultural resource management, she continued to dabble in the dark, working in Guatemala with the Vanderbilt Upper Pasión Archaeological Cave Survey, also archiving and illustrating for the Ahau Foundation, all while cultivating her interest in southwestern cave archaeology (Artifact – Mimbres Bowl – Archaeology Magazine Archive). She attended University of New Mexico, receiving a Masters in Anthropology, focused in archaeology, and a Graduate Certification in Historic Preservation and Regionalism from the School of Architecture and Planning. Amalia is excited to apply her over twenty-five years of archaeological and cultural resource management experience to the BCI team.

Krystie Miner

Project Coordinator

Krystie Miner – Project Coordinator

Krystie began working with BCI in January 2023 as the Project Coordinator for Bracken Cave Preserve. She coordinates volunteers to lead tours of Bracken Cave and to help with numerous other research, conservation, education, and citizen science projects. She also aids in other BCI projects as needed, including White-Nose Syndrome surveys and swabbing agave plants for eDNA.  

Krystie has a background in wildlife research and conservation and has been working with bats since 2014. She has a B.S. in Ecology from Boise State University and an M.S. in Conservation Biology from Texas State University. She resides in San Antonio, Texas, where she is within a half hour drive to Bracken Cave and spends her spare time exploring the hill country with her dog.  

Science

Winifred Frick, Ph.D.

Chief Scientist

Winifred Frick, Ph.D. – Chief Scientist

Dr. Winifred Frick serves as our Chief Scientist and leads scientific research that informs our evidence-based approaches to conservation. She is responsible for integrating science and conservation at Bat Conservation International to achieve lasting impact for bats around the world. 

Dr. Frick has more than 20 years of experience studying bat ecology and conservation biology. She has published more than 80 scientific research papers and is a recognized global expert on bat ecology and conservation. She directs high-priority research and development of scalable solutions for achieving meaningful conservation outcomes for bats, including research on the threat of climate change, the disease White-nose Syndrome, and contributing conservation evidence to protect bats globally.  

Dr. Frick is an Associate Adjunct Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She received her Ph.D. from Oregon State University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies.  

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Amanda Adams, Ph.D.

Director of Research Coordination

Amanda Adams, Ph.D. – Director of Research Coordination

Amanda joined BCI in 2019 and has worked with bats for 20 years. As the Director of Research Coordination, she maintains communication and collaboration among internal and external partners for conservation research across BCI. She runs BCI’s Student Research Scholarship Program and is passionate about developing capacity for bat conservation. Amanda specializes in bioacoustics and has broad research experience, particularly in behavioral and sensory ecology, and is adjunct faculty in the Department of Biology at Texas A&M University. She received her Ph.D. from Western University in Canada and a B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the University of California, San Diego. She completed postdoctoral research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Texas A&M University.

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Tina Cheng, Ph.D.

Director of White-Nose Syndrome Research

Tina Cheng, Ph.D. – Director of White-Nose Syndrome Research

Tina Cheng joined BCI in 2017 as a Conservation Biology Postdoctoral Fellow. Tina has worked in the fields of disease ecology and wildlife conservation for over a decade.

Tina recently completed a PhD at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she investigated spatial impacts and approaches in the conservation of North American bats affected by white-nose syndrome.

Tina also received a master’s in science from San Francisco State University, where she studied the historical impact of chytridiomycosis on neotropical amphibian populations. Tina graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Integrative Biology. She is excited to join the BCI team in their joint efforts to protect and conserve bat species around the world.

Teague O’Mara, Ph.D.

Director of Conservation Evidence

Teague O’Mara, Ph.D. – Director of Conservation Evidence

Dr. Teague O’Mara serves as the Director of Conservation Evidence. He leads efforts across Bat Conservation International to conceptualize, execute, and interpret conservation actions, and provide evidence-based results for conservation of global bat populations.

Teague has more than 15 years of experience studying animal behavior, movement, physiology, and conservation across the globe. He has published more than 30 scientific research papers and is a recognized global expert on bat movement and behavior. Prior to joining BCI his research focused on the behavioral and physiological strategies that bats use to counter unpredictable environments. He applies a data-driven process to understand the interaction between bats and their environment to better plan effective conservation strategies.

Teague is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Biology at Southeastern Louisiana University and is a Research Associate at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He received his Ph.D. from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University.

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Michael Whitby, M.S.

Director, Bats and Wind

Michael Whitby, M.S. – Director, Bats and Wind

Michael has 12 years of experience working on bat conservation in academic, public, and private settings. He has studied bat distribution and behavior with acoustic and capture techniques, radio-telemetry, thermal imagery, and NEXRAD RADAR. Michael specializes in the use of emerging technology and advanced analytical techniques to find practical solutions to wide-spread conservation challenges.

He holds a B.S. from the University of Maine and an M.S. from Ball State University, and hopes to complete his Ph.D. in the coming months at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Luz de Wit, Ph.D.

Director of One Health

Luz de Wit, Ph.D.

Luz is an ecologist and veterinarian, and her work has focused on exploring the impacts of wildlife trade, land use change, and invasive species on wildlife health and human well-being. Luz joins BCI as a Research Scientist working to monitor bat health and integrate One Health approaches into bat conservation, research, and policy recommendations. Luz obtained a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine and animal husbandry from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), a master’s degree in conservation medicine from Tufts University and her Ph.D. degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Luz completed her postdoctoral research at the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Environment, where she focused her work on the socioeconomic incentives of the wildlife trade.

Karin Akre, Ph.D.

Science Writer

Dr. Karin Akre joined Bat Conservation International as our Science Writer in September 2023. She supports scientific research to inform conservation actions for bats by creating engaging and informative content for diverse audiences. She contributes to scientific articles, grant proposals, and outreach materials.

Karin has over 20 years of experience in science writing and research. She has published scientific articles on the evolution of behavior, and she taught animal behavior and conservation courses at the University of Texas, Austin and Hunter College. Prior to working for BCI, she wrote and edited K-12 science textbooks, encyclopedia articles, and science-based television scripts. Her writing translates complex scientific information into language that can educate and inspire audiences to increase their awareness of conservation topics.

Karin received her Ph.D. in ecology, evolution, and behavior from the University of Texas, Austin and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in psychology and biology.

CJ Campbell, Ph.D.

Research Scientist

CJ (Caitlin) Campbell is a quantitative ecologist who specializes in the development of analytical tools to tackle pressing conservation challenges. After a decade of experience with bat conservation research as a field and computational ecologist, she joined BCI as a Research Scientist in 2023. CJ is passionate about leveraging her expertise in spatial ecology, animal movement, data science, statistical software development, and isotope ecology to inform and enable evidence-based bat conservation efforts.

CJ earned a Ph.D. from the University of Florida (UF), a M.S. from Frostburg State University and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Appalachian Laboratory, and a B.S. from the University of Vermont. During this time, her research spanned movement ecology, biogeography, data and community science, and conservation science. She is a recent UF Biodiversity Institute Fellow, and NSF East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute Fellow / Japanese Society for Promotion Promotion of Science Summer Fellow.

Kathy Gerst, Ph.D.

Conservation Research Coordinator

Kathy Gerst, Ph.D. – Southwest NABat Hub Coordinator

Kathy Gerst is an ecologist who cultivates strong partnerships across science and management applications in the Southwest. She aims to bring together stakeholders, researchers, and agencies to ensure that science is collaborative and useful for the health and resiliency of ecological communities.  She enthusiastically promotes the use of standardized monitoring protocols and data accessibility.

Over the past 20 years, Kathy’s work and interests have led her to carry out field research across mountains, deserts, and tropical rainforests. She speaks and publishes regularly on phenology and Sonoran Desert natural history. Kathy received a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona in 2011 where she studied plant reproductive ecology. Prior to joining BCI, Kathy worked for 9 years as a Research Scientist with the USA National Phenology Network. 

Sarah Stankavich, M.S.

Conservation Research Coordinator

Sarah Stankavich, M.S. – Fat Bat Project Coordinator

Sarah holds a B.S. in biology from The University of Akron and an M.S. in biology from Eastern Washington University, where she completed her thesis on temporal and spatial variation in bat activity over wetlands. She worked as a project manager for four years at the Luquillo Long-term Ecological Research site in El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico, and also worked for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, where she helped coordinate numerous bat research projects across the state. Sarah joined BCI in 2021 as the Fat Bat Project Coordinator, working on the largest-scale test of a solution to White-nose Syndrome to date.

Jessie Bunkley

Conservation Research Coordinator

Jessie Bunkley – Conservation Research Coordinator

Jessie serves as the Conservation Research Coordinator for the PacWest region, facilitating and supporting bat-related research, management, and policy efforts in California and Nevada. Her research and conservation of a diversity of organisms, including bats, small mammals, shorebirds, seabirds, songbirds, reptiles, cetaceans, and numerous plant species, has inspired a wholistic, ecological approach to conservation and a commitment to public education and engagement.

With a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California Santa Cruz, a M.S. in Biology from Boise State University, and professional experience with federal and state agencies, non-profits, and universities, Jessie contributes a deep and nuanced understanding of applied conservation to the talented team at Bat Conservation International.

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Christen Long

Acoustic Data Specialist

Christen Long – Acoustic Data Specialist

Christen Long joined the BCI staff in February 2017. As the Bat Acoustic Program Manager, Christen processes bat acoustic data for several of BCI’s conservation programs. She also processes large quantities of data to contribute to the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat). Christen’s work helps inform planning to better conserve bat populations.

Christen holds a B.S. in Zoology from Humboldt State University. It was during her time in school that she gained a passion for bats and first began participating in field work, studying hoary bat migration as well as analyzing bat acoustic data.

Vanessa Mukendi

Conservation Research Program Manager

Vanessa Mukendi joined Bat Conservation International in 2021 as an Operations Team Fellow, where she supported the Operations team on routine operational tasks such as time and expense reporting as well as various projects. In 2022, Vanessa transitioned into her role as BCI’s Conservation Research Program Manager, where she supports the Science team by managing program administration and leading BCI’s Student Research Scholarships. Vanessa is from Prince George’s County, Maryland, and has a passion for social and environmental change.

Vanessa graduated from Frostburg State University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and minors in Sustainability and Sociology. Before joining BCI, Vanessa worked on the business side of the medical industry and landscape design with native planting. She has served in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, where she focused on natural disaster relief by rebuilding houses from Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, and environmental stewardship through prescribed and controlled burns in the Ozark Mountains. Vanessa enjoys getting involved in her community to support conservation. In her spare time, you can find Vanessa exploring new hiking trails or connecting with friends.

Network & Partnerships

Mylea Bayless

Chief of Strategic Partnerships

Mylea Bayless – Chief of Strategic Partnerships

Mylea Bayless leads our Network & Partnerships Division with more than 20 years of experience in building collaborative teams for conservation, research, and wildlife management. She has been integral to our mission for more a decade leading the conservation team in the U.S. and Canada.

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” The wisdom of this African proverb defines her approach to conservation. A life-long student, she is thrilled to be focusing her natural affinity for people to develop strategic partnerships that will grow our impact around the world.

Bayless joined BCI in 2006, with a career portfolio including State and Federal agency service and academic research. Including bats, her research background includes a variety of wildlife (including spotted owls, bald eagles, American pronghorn, Merriam’s turkeys, and Rocky Mountain elk). She holds degrees from Colorado State University (B.S., M.S.).

Erin Cord

Community Engagement Manager

Erin Cord – Community Engagement Manager

Erin joined the BCI staff in 2019 and is proud to be doing community engagement work on behalf of the organization. Erin double majored in Wildlife Conservation and Entomology from the University of Delaware and received her MS in Wildlife Ecology from the Cesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.  She has over 10 years of experience working as a wildlife biologist and running environmentally-focused volunteer, outreach, and education programs. Erin is happiest working at the intersection of science communication and citizen empowerment. She loves working outside and getting people excited about environmental stewardship and wildlife conservation.

Development & Communications

Kathryn Slater

Kathryn Slater

Marketing, Media, and PR Manager

Kathryn joined Bat Conservation International in January of 2023. As part of the Development and Communications team, she works to bring the importance of bats and the work of BCI to the masses, tapping into over 10 years of experience in communications and creative direction.

Prior to BCI, she worked in the world of brand design, honing skills in copywriting, brand strategy, art direction, and project management. With a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology and a master’s degree in urban planning, Kathryn is not only savvy in communications and marketing, but also brings a deep understanding of the natural world, and a desire to educate people about the ecosystem services it provides.

Kathryn grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, where she spent her undergraduate days studying prairie grasses and ornithology. Today, she lives in western Massachusetts, where she spends her free time hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and cooking for friends.

Linda Baysore

Development Coordinator

Linda Baysore

Linda earned her B.A. at The College of William & Mary in Virginia, and then began a career in nonprofits and fundraising.  She’s an active member of the Brandywine Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.  Joining BCI in 2023, Linda brings seven years of experience to the Development & Communications team, as well as a fascination with bats and all living things fostered from watching hours of educational wildlife programming as a kid.

Linda lives in southeastern Pennsylvania with her cat, Slim.  In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities like hiking and camping, as well as indoor activities, like sewing, board games, and roller derby.

Megan Hilbrich

Director of Institutional Engagement

Megan Hilbrich – Director of Institutional Engagement

Megan joined Bat Conservation International in January 2023 and brings 14 years of experience in fundraising, including seven years raising awareness and support for environmental work.

Prior to BCI, Megan served as Regional Director, Midwest at EarthShare; Director of Conservation Funding Initiatives at the Chicago Zoological Society; and has previously managed institutional fundraising in roles at the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, after beginning her career working in fundraising and volunteer programs at the American Cancer Society. She holds a MPA in Nonprofit Management from the Indiana University Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and a BA from DePauw University.

Megan lives in the Chicago area and loves outdoor walks, reading, and trying out new vegan recipes in her free time.

Rachel Harper

Digital Marketing Manager

Rachel Harper – Digital Marketing Manager

Rachel joined Bat Conservation International in 2021, fostering BCI’s digital presence and community to support ending bat extinctions worldwide.

Rachel has a Bachelor’s in Marketing and over ten years experience in the digital conservation field, ranging from directing the Communications department at a local nature center to crafting social media strategies for San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and volunteering as Marketing Director for a nonprofit in Costa Rica.

Rachel grew up in Reno, Nevada and spent much of her childhood hiking and camping in Lake Tahoe, which inspired her passion for conserving wildlife and learning about nature. She now enjoys hiking, snorkeling, and experiencing wildlife in San Diego, California, when she’s not too busy playing the role of cat mom and plant parent.

Amy Dana, bCRE-Pro, CFRE

Database Administrator

Amy Dana, bCRE-Pro, CFRE – Database Administrator

Amy Dana joined Bat Conservation International in October 2021. As the Database Administrator, she acts as the “woman behind the curtain” keeping development data flowing smoothly. She has nearly 20 years of database experience at a variety of non-profit organizations, including opera, health care, and higher education. She holds a BA in Russian Area Studies from Colorado College and an MA from the University of Denver in International Administration and Conflict Resolution. Yes, she’s just as surprised to end up a data nerd as you are.

She holds a Blackbaud professional certification in Raiser’s Edge NXT and a CFRE. She is also the vice president of the Apra-Arkansas chapter, part of the national prospect researcher professional organization and a passionate advocate for racial and disability justice. She lives outside of Little Rock, AR with her husband, tween son, and two cats, and spends her spare time reading, watching sci-fi and horror, and building Lego sets (unless her son gets to them first).

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Lisa Murdock

Development Services Associate

Lisa Murdock – Development Services Associate

Lisa Murdock joined the Bat Conservation International Philanthropy team in March 2016 as a membership data entry clerk. She received her B.S. in Nursing from The University of Texas at Austin, and spent many years in the medical field before focusing on her true passion—animals. Lisa has experience with small and large companion pets, as well as native wildlife, and even zoo animals.

While not working to save the bats, Lisa enjoys hiking, reading, watching sports, traveling, and spending time with her boyfriend. She hopes to someday work more hands-on with bats in their natural environment, helping to ensure their future survival and success.

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Karen Kimbell

Director of Philanthropy

Karen Kimbell – Director of Philanthropy

Karen joined the BCI team at the start of 2019, bringing with her more than 11 years of fundraising experience, including nine years overseeing membership and annual giving programs at environmental organizations. She holds certifications in Non-Profit Management, Leadership, and Fundraising and is an active member of the San Antonio Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Prior to joining BCI, Karen served as Director of Development for the San Antonio Botanical Garden, Development Coordinator for the San Antonio River Foundation, and Assistant Director of Donor Relations at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

After an outdoorsy early childhood in Hawaii and Germany, her family settled in San Antonio just in time for her high school years. Karen earned undergraduate degrees in English and German at The University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s degree in communications from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. Karen enjoys reading, kayaking, swimming, hiking, travelling, and volunteering as a Texas Master Naturalist. She and her husband live just 20 minutes from Bracken Cave along with their rescue cat who likes to make appearances on Zoom calls.

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Javier Folgar, MBA

Director of Communications

Javier Folgar, MBA – Director of Communications

Javier Folgar joined Bat Conservation International in October 2018. As the Director of Communications, he’s dedicated to conserving the world’s bats and their ecosystems to ensure a healthy planet.

With over a decade of experience in Communications, Javier is a conservationist who served in key roles in protecting wildlife and our natural & cultural resources. He received a B.S. in Marketing from Rutgers University and earned an MBA from Montclair State University. Most recently, he served as the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) with accomplishments including developing an award-winning video series called myATstory, that elevated the exposure for the organization. He also led nationwide campaigns that substantially grew ATC’s brand identity, advocated for America’s public lands, and increased financial support for the organization.

Javier previously served on the board for Altruistic Odyssey. He is currently a member of the Public Relations Society of America and the American Marketing Society. During his free time, Javier is a triathlete and enjoys hiking on the weekends with his lab.

Operations

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Michael Nakamoto, MBA

Chief Operations Officer

Michael Nakamoto, MBA – Chief Operations Officer

Michael Nakamoto leads a compassionate and talented team that oversees the finances, human resources, information technology, and operations functions in support of BCI’s mission. Michael also co-sponsors organizational initiatives on data science and diversity & inclusion.

Michael brings two decades of experience helping organizations align and scale their operations to best support their mission and strategy. For the past 13 years, Michael led programs and projects at The Nature Conservancy that helped various departments improve their business systems and processes to achieve organizational goals. Previously, he served as the Chief Financial and Administrations Officer of a retail flooring company where he helped build an operations function and new revenue streams critical to enabling the company’s growth from $6 million to $16 million.

Michael graduated from the University of Virginia with a business degree with a concentration in Finance. He also has an MBA from the University of Maryland with a focus on creating social and environmental value.

Dawne Ballard

Director of People and Culture

Dawne Ballard – Director of People and Culture

Dawne Ballard joined the Operations team at BCI in 2024. As the Director of People and Culture, her work is focused on supporting the BCI team in a variety of spaces, ranging from benefits and wellbeing, to workplace culture, to regulatory compliance, to people analytics and beyond. Dawne is passionate about working to build strength in spaces like learning and development, JEDI values and challenges, connection and communication, and ensuring that policies and practices are aligned throughout the organization.

Prior to joining BCI, Dawne worked in service and retail operations for ~10 years, before honing into her career in People Operations. She has supported organizations with an array of focuses, ranging from manufacturing, to philanthropy, to creative media. Collaboratively driving impactful environmental and social change in our local and global communities has held lifelong resonance for Dawne, who was raised in a family that volunteered together regularly, and focused those efforts on environmental and social needs and change. Dawne is excited to be returning to working with a nonprofit organization, and is eager to learn more about the world of bats, where and how bats and humans intersect, and the broader world of wildlife conservation.

Dawne earned a B.A. in Geology with a concentration in Environmental Studies, from Bryn Mawr College, and earned her M.S. in Human Resource Management from Temple University. In the early mornings and early evenings, Dawne is often on the trails or on the river in the Philadelphia area. When at home, she loves to garden, cook, and spend time with her wife, Colleen and their dog, cat, and any rescue or foster pets that wander into their lives.

Stephania Alexander

People Team Manager

Stephania Alexander – People Team Manager

Stephania Alexander joined BCI in 2020. She is part of our Operations Department, and she supports BCI’s Executive Office with special projects. Stephania is a proud Latinx, and she is originally from LA, recently spent five years in Colorado, and has now moved to Washington, D.C. She has a strong background in service and team leadership and is excited to learn more about conservation and bats. 

Stephania graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and minor in French. Before joining the BCI staff, Stephania has worked in hospitality and with nonprofits abroad. She is passionate about holistic wellbeing and self-improvement. Stephania moved to D.C., looking to contribute to the nonprofit world with her operations experience and people management acumen. She is passionate about helping both people and the planet. On the weekends, you can find her riding her bike in D.C. or playing with her dog at the park. 

Nico Hirayama

Operations coordinator

Nico joined BCI in 2022. She supports the organization’s people operations and other special projects. Her volunteer and professional experiences have mainly been within the nonprofit sector, spanning areas within social services, arts, and community engagement. Most recently, she worked as an Operations Manager at a small, youth education nonprofit based in New York City.

Nico graduated in 2016 with a degree in social work and believes in the interconnectedness of life. She is interested in the ways that people, animals, and their environments impact each other and is thrilled to be a part of the BCI team, to learn more about bats, and to contribute to BCI’s overall mission to conserve the world’s bats through her role. In her free time, you’ll find her working on creative projects, exploring new foods, hiking, dancing, tending to her house plants, or spending quality time with her loved ones.

Gift Venezio

Gift Venezio

Director of Finance

Gift Venezio – Director of Finance

Gift Venezio joined BCI in 2022. She supports operations and oversees the finance team. Gift brings to BCI wide-ranging experiences in corporate and nonprofit accounting & finance, program administration, and leadership, with interests in streamlining processes and special projects. Most recently, Gift served as Controller for a nonprofit organization that assists under-resourced families in Morris County, New Jersey.

Gift graduated from Excelsior College in Albany, New York with a Bachelor of Science degree in Liberal Arts with a focus on Psychology. She also earned a Certificate in Financial Accounting from Harvard Business School.

Gift is passionate about early childhood education and helping find simple solutions to broad societal issues that result in hindered access to quality education in her family’s home barrio in the Southern Philippines. Gift is also a singer-songwriter, a proud military mom, and a foodie. She is excited to learn more about bats and contribute to BCI’s fascinating conservation work.

Sheriden Jansma

Financial Analyst

Sheriden Jansma – Financial Analyst

Sheriden Jansma joined the Operations team at Bat Conservation International in 2020. As a Project Accountant, she supports program reporting, accounts receivable and grants accounting, time and expense reporting, and more. Prior to joining BCI, Sheriden served in the Accounting Department with Pacific Historic Parks, supporting their mission to honor significant historical sites through research, education, restoration, and preservation. She is excited to bring her experience in nonprofit accounting to BCI, where she hopes to learn more about bats and wildlife conservation.

Sheriden earned a B.S. in Business Administration, with a concentration in Finance and minor in Sustainable Energy Studies, from Eastern Connecticut State University. Sheriden is a proud military spouse now living in Central Texas. Originally from Connecticut, she has also spent time in Arizona and Hawaii. In her spare time, you may find Sheriden hiking the local trails with her husband, virtually connecting with family and friends across time-zones, or just generally doting on her dog and two cats.

Emily Clark

Grants Administrator

Emily Clark – Grants Administrator

As a dedicated Grants Administrator at Bat Conservation International, Emily brings a passion for environmental conservation and a strong background in nonprofit finance and grant management to the team.

With over 8 years of experience in nonprofit accounting, federal grants, and contract management, Emily has successfully navigated the intricate world of grant funding, ensuring the seamless execution of projects that drive positive social and environmental change. With a keen eye for detail, she excels in grant proposal budget analysis, financial reporting, and compliance.

Emily holds a B.S. in Business Management from Upper Iowa University and an M.S. in Leadership Development from Bellevue University, a foundational education that has empowered her to make a meaningful impact in the world. She believes that individual actions, combined with the collective efforts of organizations like BCI, can make a significant impact on preserving our planet’s natural wonders.

Emily has a deep connection to the natural world, rooted in her upbringing in the serene landscapes of North Central Wisconsin. Growing up in this region, she was surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of lush forests, crystal-clear lakes, and diverse wildlife. It was here that she developed a deep appreciation for the wonders of the natural world and witnessed firsthand the delicate balance of ecosystems. 

Outside of her professional pursuits, Emily embraces her love for the outdoors and contributes to her community. She finds solace and inspiration by exploring the natural beauty of State and National Parks, where she often embarks on hiking adventures with her spouse and canine companion. Additionally, she dedicates her time to volunteering for a local dog-rescue organization, where she actively participates in efforts to provide shelter, care, and a second chance at life for dogs in need.