Copper Ridge, Utah. BCI Habitat and Restoration Director Jason Corbett rappelling into a Uranium mine.
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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.

BCI team members working on habitat protection in St. Catherine, Jamaica. Bat Conservation International

Board of Directors

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.

Danielle Gustafson

Treasurer

Trained as a visual artist, Danielle Gustafson 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.

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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.

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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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George 'Timo' Hixon

Director

Originally from San Antonio, George “Timo” Hixon grew up on his family ranches in South Texas and Idaho, becoming familiar with the land and the workings of a ranch. This upbringing instilled both a respect for the land and a solid foundation of ranching knowledge that eventually led him to ranch real estate in 2006.

Timo serves on the Boards of the San Antonio Zoo, Texas Wildlife Association and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute’s Founder’s Council. He is Vice President of the Texas Wildlife Association Foundation and served on both the Bat Conservation International`s Bracken Cave Advisory Committee and The Nueces Estuary Advisory Council.

Timo is a member of The Order of the Alamo and the San Antonio German Club. When not selling ranch properties, Timo is usually found on the ranch sharing his knowledge with his children. He enjoys hunting and fishing, as well as travel, snowboarding, scuba diving and piloting his own aircraft.

Donald R. Kendall, Jr., MBA

Director

Chief Executive Officer of Five Stone Capital, L.P. and is the founding Managing Director and the Chief Executive Officer of Kenmont Capital, LP. Mr. Kendall received an A.B. degree from Hamilton College and an M.B.A. with high honors from The Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College.

He was a Tuck Scholar and a recipient of the W. M. Bollenbach, Jr. Fellowship. Mr. Kendall has served as a Trustee of Hamilton College (and as a member of its Investment Committee), on the Board of Overseers of The Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College, and as a board member of American Midstream Partners LP, Solar City, Stream Energy, Tangent Energy, Earthwatch Institute, The Houston Zoo, The Jane Goodall Institute and The Prospect Park Alliance.

Maria Mathis

Director

Maria Mathis is Director of Sales & Marketing of Quarter Circle 10 LLC. She serves on the Boards of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Central Texas and the Brown Foundation.

Maria has a Bachelor of Arts in Feminist Studies from Southwestern University and serves on the university’s Board of Visitors. She recently was recognized as one of Southwestern’s “18 under 40” alumni who have achieved prominence in their field and/or performed distinguished community service. She is the daughter of two former BCI Board members: Bettina and Travis Mathis.

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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Nancy Simmons, Ph.D.

Director

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.

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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.”

Science Advisory Committee

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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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.

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.

Gary F. McCracken, Ph.D.

Science Advisory Committee Board Liaison

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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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.

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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.

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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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Nancy Simmons, Ph.D.

Director

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 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.

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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 US 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.).

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.

Winifred has more than 20 years of experience studying bat ecology and conservation biology. She has published more than 60 scientific research papers and is a recognized global expert on bat ecology and conservation. Her research background includes studies on how bat populations respond to natural and anthropogenic perturbations, including high-impact research on White-nose Syndrome and the impacts of climate and global change on bats.

Winifred is an Associate Research 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. She was a postdoctoral scholar with Dr. Tom Kunz at Boston University.

Bobbie Jo Kelso

Chief Development & Communications Officer

Bobbie Jo Kelso oversees all fundraising and communications for BCI. She is responsible for securing significant financial resources and overseeing the development of marketing and communications content, collateral, and outreach to advance BCI’s brand and mission.

Bobbie Jo brings 20 years of nonprofit management experience to her role, including 15 years working to advance brands, raise awareness and obtain the needed resources for global conservation. Prior to joining BCI, she served as Senior Director for External Affairs at Conservation International, with nearly a decade as part of the management team for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. She has also held management roles at The Nature Conservancy, WWF International and TRAFFIC International. Most recently, she managed development and communications for San Diego Youth Services, a leading nonprofit working to empower homeless and other vulnerable youth.

Bobbie Jo holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a certificate in nonprofit management.           

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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.

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Kevin Pierson

Chief Conservation Officer

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.

Conservation

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Kevin Pierson

Chief Conservation Officer

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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Jackson Bain

Subterranean Specialist

Jackson has been working with BCI’s Subterranean Program for three years. 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 native. 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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Nathan Breece

Sr. Subterranean Specialist

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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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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Jon Flanders, Ph.D.

Director, Endangered Species Interventions

Jon has studied bat conservation and molecular ecology for over 10 years. He received his PhD from the University of Bristol where he integrated investigations of the ecology, diet and population genetics of the greater horseshoe bat in order to advance its conservation.

After completing his PhD, Jon moved to China where he spent two years examining the population genetic structure of various bat species to assess their conservation status before returning to the UK to work as biodiversity coordinator at the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. There he led teams from the environmental, economic and health sectors to develop sustainable habitat creation and restoration projects for the area.

More recently he has lived in Japan, assessing the impact of habitat fragmentation on a rare species of tube-nosed bat, and has worked in 7 other countries on three continents leading a variety of conservation related research projects as well as teaching workshops and outreach efforts for local researchers and students.

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Melquisedec Gamba-Rios, Ph.D.

Endangered Species Interventions Research Fellow

Melqui has studied the ecology and conservation of bats for over ten years. Originally from Colombia, Melqui conducted his undergraduate and most of his research work in Costa Rica. He recently completed his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where he investigated antipredator behaviors in bats and the implication of these behaviors in bat communication and sociality. He is a passionate ecologist interested in conservation and behavioral ecology. He has published work on topics including species distribution, habitat selection, and roost requirements for multiple bat species, with a particular emphasis in the neotropics.

Melqui joined BCI as a research fellow leading the Florida Bonneted Bat conservation program. In this role, he will lead BCI’s outreach and conservation activities in Florida related to Florida Bonneted Bats and address fundamental questions about roost ecology, habitat use, anthropogenic habituation, and urban ecology of this endangered species. He is excited about his new role to conserve of one of the rarest bat species in the United States.

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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.

Kristen Lear, Ph.D.

Endangered Species Interventions Specialist

Dr. Lear is the Endangered Species Interventions Specialist for BCI’s 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’s “Mission Unstoppable” TV show. More information about Kristen’s work can be found here.

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Dillon Metcalfe

Subterranean Specialist

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.

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Priyesh Patel

Geospatial Products & Data Manager

Priyesh Patel joined Bat Conservation International in the December of 2018 and serves as the Geospatial Products and Data Manager. He supports the geospatial team through personnel supervision & oversight, workflow & product development, protocol development, and product development for both BCI and BCI’s partners. In addition to supporting the geospatial team, Priyesh also contributes some of his labor to the Subterranean team by conducting field surveys.

Prior to joining BCI, Priyesh worked in the private sector for Quantum Spatial as a GIS Analyst where he conducted hazard & vegetation analysis along utility lines using advanced LiDAR data. Academically, Priyesh holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems from Portland State University. Cumulatively, he has 6+ years of geospatial experience.

In his spare time he loves film photography, backpacking, playing music, and rockhounding.

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Rebecca Patterson

Director, Conservation Programs Coordination & Project Management

Rebecca Patterson joined the BCI staff in January, 2008. As US/Canada Programs Coordinator, Rebecca provides administrative support to all current US and Canada Programs including Bracken Cave Preserve, Education and Public Outreach, Wind Energy 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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Aaron Sidder

NEPA & ESA Compliance Specialist

Aaron Sidder is an ecologist and science writer. He has more than 10 years of professional experience as an environmental scientist and ecologist working in the private sector, public sector, and as a small business owner. Aaron specializes in GIS and landscape ecology with a focus in spatial modeling—his graduate research focused on the role of climate in driving mountain pine beetle outbreaks across the western U.S. He is an experienced field ecologist whose research has taken him to the Everglades, the Mojave Desert, and the top of the Rocky Mountains. Most recently, Aaron ran Red Beard Science LLC, his eponymous consulting company, where he helped environmental non-profits and conservation organizations develop their GIS capacities to improve conservation outcomes in Colorado.

As a writer, Aaron has published at National Geographic, National Geographic Kids Magazine, Smithsonian SmartNews, 5280 Magazine, the Santa Fe Institute, and Eos, the publication of the American Geophysical Union. He is an alumnus of the AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship program where he spent a summer as a science journalist at National Geographic.

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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.

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Shawn Thomas

Subterranean Team Manager

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).  

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Zachary Warren, M.S.

Vertical Habitat Specialist

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.

Science

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.

Winifred has more than 20 years of experience studying bat ecology and conservation biology. She has published more than 60 scientific research papers and is a recognized global expert on bat ecology and conservation. Her research background includes studies on how bat populations respond to natural and anthropogenic perturbations, including high-impact research on White-nose Syndrome and the impacts of climate and global change on bats.

Winifred is an Associate Research 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. She was a postdoctoral scholar with Dr. Tom Kunz at Boston University.

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Amanda Adams, Ph.D.

Conservation Research Program Manager

Amanda joined the BCI staff in 2019 and has studied bats for over 13 years. She received her PhD from Western University in Canada where she studied spatial-temporal variation in bat activity patterns.

She completed postdoctoral research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Texas A&M University. Amanda actively studies bat behavioral and sensory ecology and is a lecturer in the Department of Biology at Texas A&M University.

Amanda has worked with bats and trained individuals in acoustic monitoring and analysis techniques around the world, including Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Israel.

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Alyson Brokaw

Science Content Specialist

Alyson is a doctoral candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Texas A&M University. For her dissertation she is working on sensory ecology and behavior in bats, with a focus on olfactory ecology.

She received her Master’s degree from Humboldt State University, where she worked on acoustic communication in bats. She loves to share her enthusiasm for bat research and conservation through outreach. She is active on Twitter and social media, where she works to share a love of bats with public. As Science Content Specialist, she is excited to work with BCI to communicate about conservation and the amazing world of bats.

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Tina Cheng, Ph.D.

Data Scientist

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.

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Yvonne Dzal

Liber Ero Postdoctoral Fellow

Yvonne has recently been awarded a Liber Ero Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with Dr. Winifred Frick at BCI and Dr. Craig Willis at the University of Winnipeg investigating the physiological mechanisms of resistance and tolerance of hibernating bats to white-nose syndrome (WNS). Through her long standing research on bats she has developed a passion for, and commitment to, understanding physiological mechanisms in order to tackle large ecological questions and conservation issues. Yvonne is overly elated to be mentored by Dr. Frick and to be given the opportunity to join the BCI team to undertake this multi-disciplinary collaborative research and provide a unique, physiological perspective on mitigation and conservation of WNS-affected bats. Her research will effectively connect energy balance with habitat enhancement and bat survival to generate data-driven management recommendations, with direct implications for effective disease control in order to conserve North American biodiversity.

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Kristin Jonasson, Ph.D.

Research Scientist (WNS)

Kristin brings over a decade of bat research experience. During her MSc Kristin examined the hibernation energetics of healthy little brown bats in Manitoba, Canada to better understand the impacts of White Nose Syndrome.

Her doctoral research focused on the migration ecology of Canada’s tree-bats. Most recently she spent two years living in Hawaii studying the foraging ecology of the endangered ʻōpeʻapeʻa (Hawaiian hoary bat).

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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.

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Michael Schirmacher, M.S.

Sr. Field Research Specialist
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Michael Whitby, M.S.

Research Scientist (Wind Energy)

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

Network & Partnerships

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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 US 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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Erin Cord

Bat Walk Network Coordinator

Erin joined the BCI staff in 2019 and is thrilled to be coordinating BCI’s new Bat Walk Program. 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 a special affinity for pollinators and is excited to have the opportunity to focus on bats! Erin has over 10 years of experience working as a wildlife biologist and running environmentally-focused volunteer programs. She is happiest working at the intersection of science communication and citizen empowerment. Erin loves working with volunteers and getting people excited about environmental stewardship and wildlife conservation.

In her spare time, Erin enjoys gardening with native plants, playing ukulele, hiking, reading and being outside.

Development & Communications

Bobbie Jo Kelso

Chief Development & Communications Officer

Bobbie Jo Kelso oversees all fundraising and communications for BCI. She is responsible for securing significant financial resources and overseeing the development of marketing and communications content, collateral, and outreach to advance BCI’s brand and mission.

Bobbie Jo brings 20 years of nonprofit management experience to her role, including 15 years working to advance brands, raise awareness and obtain the needed resources for global conservation. Prior to joining BCI, she served as Senior Director for External Affairs at Conservation International, with nearly a decade as part of the management team for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. She has also held management roles at The Nature Conservancy, WWF International and TRAFFIC International. Most recently, she managed development and communications for San Diego Youth Services, a leading nonprofit working to empower homeless and other vulnerable youth.

Bobbie Jo holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a certificate in nonprofit management.           

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Corey Anklam

Marketing & Communications Producer

Corey Anklam joins BCI with 6+ years of versatile experience working in media. She has produced engaging expansive films and interactive new media for museums and science and historical centers across the United States.

You can find her work at The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of American History, and the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science to name a few. Her work aims to capture an audience and distill complex concepts in an informative and engaging way.

With a BA in Liberal Arts and focus in Creative Writing from Soka University of America she’s excited to use her written and visual storytelling skills to share the distinctive and impressively fascinating work of the BCI team across multiple platforms. She’s excited to work in conservation, and above all else, loves getting to tell people that she “works for bats”.

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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 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 currently serves on the board for Altruistic Odyssey, is a volunteer for the Catholic Fellowship of Frederick, and is a member of the Public Relations Society of America. During his free time, Javier is a competitive swimmer for the Tsunami US Master swim team and enjoys hiking on the weekends with his lab.

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Karen Kimbell

Director of Membership & Individual Giving

Karen joins the BCI team with over 11 years of fundraising experience, including nine years of experience overseeing membership and annual giving programs at environmental organizations. 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 early childhood as an outdoorsy child 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. She enjoys reading, kayaking, swimming, hiking, and travelling. She and her husband live just 20 minutes from Bracken Cave with their two rescue cats.

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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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Michelle Vryn, CFRE

Director of Institutional Giving

Michelle joined Bat Conservation International (BCI) in fall 2017. As the Director of Institutional Giving, she oversees funding relationships with governments and foundations and serves as the organization’s representative to the corporate funding community. Before joining BCI, Michelle led the communications and development team at a nature center in Houston. Throughout her nonprofit career, Michelle’s work has involved frontline fundraising, development operations management, special event coordination, and strategic communications.

Michelle holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in environmental anthropology as well as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) certification. She proudly serves on the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) -Greater Austin Chapter Board of Directors as the VP Communications and is also an active mentor.

Operations

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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.

Stephania Alexander

Operations Coordinator

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. 

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John "Beej" Nunn

Director, Information Technology

Beej has been with BCI for many years, and looks after anything vaguely related to Information Technology. He is a graduate of Staffordshire University, UK. For those who are curious, the nickname ‘Beej’ stems from ‘Big John’ -> ‘B.J’ -> ‘Beejay’ -> ‘Beej’!

Beej is a Brit, living in Texas, and due to his English accent mixed with a slight hint of Texan, is often mistaken for an Australian! In his spare time he enjoys playing the piano, aerobatic flying, table tennis, powerlifting, and creating things (building his own airplane), and was a regular skydiver until he discovered McDonalds drive-thru’s and the joys of a high body mass index.

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Melanie Stevenson, CPA

Financial Controller

Melanie Stevenson brings over 10 years of nonprofit financial experience to BCI and specializes in budgeting, financial reporting, and compliance. She loves using data to tell a story and having the ability to work with people at all levels of an organization. Prior to BCI, Melanie worked at Service Employees International Union, most recently as their Director of Financial Planning & Analysis. Melanie also spent time working at Save the Children USA, focusing on grants, sub-grants, and contracts.

Melanie holds a master’s degree in Accounting from the University of New Orleans and bachelor’s degrees in French and Psychology from the University of Michigan. She is an active Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Washington, D.C., where she lives with her family. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, baking bread, kayaking, and playing board games.