Badge Blackett, Project Manager, Conservation Programs
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NWRA Staff Bios
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David has worked for and in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 25 years. After working abroad in Africa and Indonesia David’s first “real” job was at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge off Cape Cod, MA as a Biotech in 1987. At Monomoy he helped form the Friends of Monomoy and worked to recover piping plovers, roseate terns, and marine mammals. He moved to Rachel Carson Refuge in Maine and worked with the Friends of Rachel Carson to greatly expand Refuge ownership and then moved on to Rhode Island Refuge Complex as the Deputy Refuge Manager. At Rhode Island he helped form the Friends of Rhode Island Refuges where he worked to protect piping plovers and least terns and worked to develop the John Chaffee NWR along with a major addition to Block Island NWR. After leaving the Service in 1994, David worked for the Trust for Public Land where he helped the Service acquire and conserve land at Oxbow, Mashpee, Conte, Rachel Carson and Umbagog National Wildlife Refuges. Then as President of New Hampshire Audubon David worked to save loons at Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge at added land at Great Bay NWR.
David has been involved with the National Wildlife Refuge Association since 2000: as the Regional Representative for Region 5, serving two terms as a board member, working as a consultant, and later joining the staff as Vice President for Conservation. He began NWRA’s Beyond the Boundaries Program, and has excelled as a leader on collaborative landscape conservation. David has been lucky to be involved in conserving more than 600,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat around this great nation and has even worked on international conservation projects in Canada, Indonesia, South Africa, India and Tanzania.
David has had a lifelong passion for wildlife and has worked tirelessly to further the goals of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association looks forward to building on the Association’s great work and continuing to help the men and women of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the 40,000 Friends and Volunteers of the Service, and the many landowners, sportsmen, and non-profit partners who are essential to helping the world’s largest and greatest wildlife agency achieve its conservation mission.
David has a wildlife degree from the University of Vermont, lives in rural New Hampshire on a conserved farm with his family and three dogs, Tiger Lilly the cat, a couple of cows and as many woodcock and wood ducks as possible.
Vice-President of Government Affairs
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Desiree directs NWRA’s government affairs activities including development and execution of legislative and regulatory strategy; advocating policies and programs in Congress and the Executive Branch; analyzing legislation; development of congressional testimony and communication tools, including position papers, testimony, speeches and articles for publications. Desiree also Assists NWRA president in implementation of strategic plans and goals of the organization.
Prior to her current position, Desiree served as NWRA’s director of grassroots outreach and was responsible for identifying, educating and mobilizing local conservation constituencies to support national wildlife refuges across the country with the goal of increasing community awareness, volunteer involvement and advocacy on behalf of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Before joining NWRA, she was assistant director of grassroots for the National Audubon Society, where she also served as the Audubon representative on the Teaming With Wildlife Steering Committee, promoting the goals and objectives of the congressionally mandated State Wildlife Action Plans.
An Iowa native, Desiree was born into politics, participating in four presidential caucuses, with more active roles in the presidential races of Gov’s. Dukakis in ’88, and Clinton in ’92. Desiree earned her B.A. in Geography and Political Science from George Washington University.
Vice-President of Conservation Programs
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Anne leads the implementation of NWRA’s conservation programs, including our Beyond the Boundaries work to develop creative partnerships with the many landowners, user-groups, sister agencies and nonprofit organizations that play an essential role in conserving refuge landscapes. In addition, Anne directs NWRA’s philanthropic development efforts with focus on foundation relations and individual giving.
Anne joined the staff at NWRA in 2008 after four years as director of development at The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, one of the nation’s oldest forestry, advocacy and land conservation organizations. At the Forest Society, Anne led capital campaigns for land and easement acquisitions and worked to advance landscape-scale conservation initiatives such as the Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership in New Hampshire and Massachusetts as part of the Forest Society’s 25-year vision to conserve 1 million acres by 2026.
Anne earned her land conservation education at The Trust for Public Land, where she worked from 1997 to 2004 on such landmark projects as the 171,000-acre Connecticut Lakes Headwaters in northern New Hampshire, the expansion of the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, additions to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, and launched The Good Life Center at Helen and Scott Nearing’s Maine coastal homestead. She brings to NWRA a range of experience, from operational fundraising and project financing to building local coalitions in support of land conservation efforts. Anne graduated with a B.A. in History from Middlebury College, worked on East European and Balkans issues early in her career, and now lives in an old schoolhouse in New Hampshire’s Monadnock region (along with her dog Henry).
Project Manager, Conservation Programs
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Badge comes to NWRA’s Beyond the Boundaries program with more than 25 years of real estate experience protecting natural and historic resources around the country. Most recently, as vice president and senior Investment producer for MMA Sustainable Land Investments, he negotiated a national portfolio of investments, primarily in wetlands mitigation and species conservation banks. As an experienced and successful practitioner in ecosystem services markets, Badge joins NWRA with a strong commitment to develop and strengthen the connections between those markets and the Beyond the Boundaries program as a way of broadening the funding base for the program’s landscape-scale conservation success.
Prior to SLI, Badge worked for The Trust for Public Land. In 17 years at TPL as director of projects and senior project manager for TPL’s New England Region, he completed close to 100 conservation transactions, drawing on his negotiating and marketing skills to build and manage strong project teams and diverse funding and advocacy coalitions. The results of Badge’s work can be seen across the spectrum of New England’s natural, historic and cultural landscapes: from large wilderness tracts along the Appalachian Trail in Maine, to farms and community forests in dozens of southern New England towns, to museums, neighborhood parks and trail conversions in several of the region’s cities.
Prior to TPL, Badge was a partner and general manager for the final phase of the redevelopment of Commercial Wharf on Boston’s Downtown waterfront. He holds a B.A. from Colorado College and an M.B.A. from Babson College, and lives in Norfolk, Mass.
Executive Director, Partners for Conservation
Steve Jester is the Executive Director for Partners for Conservation (PFC). PFC is an organization of private landowners and partners that are practicing innovative, measurable and effective conservation practices on the ground for the long-term health and productivity of working landscapes and rural communities across the United States.
Prior to joining the NWRA staff, Steve was the Executive Director of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust, the first nationally accredited land trust in Texas. Prior to his work at the Trust, Steve was on the staff of The Nature Conservancy for almost a decade leading community-based conservation projects first in Texas and later in Wyoming. Before joining The Nature Conservancy, he spent a decade working with state fish and wildlife agencies in Florida and Texas. He has worked with private landowners throughout his career and has come to appreciate their critical importance in conserving working landscapes that comprise some of the most important wildlife habitats in the United States.
Steve earned a B.S. degree in Agriculture from Texas State University – San Marcos and a M.S. degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University. He lives in Edwards Plateau region of Texas with his wife Suzanne and daughters Shelby and Shae.
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Debbie performs the administrative tasks necessary to keep the office functioning smoothly, such as routine bookkeeping and maintenance of membership databases. Prior to joining the NWRA staff, Debbie roamed the country, teaching mathematics at community colleges in Ohio, Texas, and California.
Director of Grassroots Outreach
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Joan is responsible for the daily interaction and communication between “Friends” groups and NWRA. She is charged with identifying, educating and mobilizing on the ground conservationists to support national wildlife refuges throughout the country, and the critical lands and water surrounding them, with the goal of increasing community awareness, volunteer involvement and advocacy on behalf of the National Wildlife Refuge System. This work is done in partnership with Desiree Sorensen-Groves, vice president of government affairs at NWRA.
Joan has been an active member of Friends organizations since 1995. First, with the Friends of the Tualatin River NWR in Oregon working to build capacity and advocate successfully for federal funds for land acquisition, public use facilities and a visitor center. Since moving to Northern Virginia, she is volunteering with the Friends of the Potomac River Refuges. She is a member of the Refuge Service’s Mentoring Team, which is a group of veterans of the Friends movement that assists new and older Friends groups to strengthen their organizations.
Joan’s roots are in New England; yet she and her family have lived in the Midwest, Northwest and now Northern Virginia. Currently, she is working toward her certification in Environmental Education from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point and sharing with her husband the joy of taxiing their two daughters to after school activities.
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Maggie grew up in the central valley of sunny California, where she first developed an interest in the environment. She completed her undergraduate degree at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. where she double majored in biology and environmental science and minored in legal studies. As an undergrad at Trinity College, Maggie worked in an ornithology lab studying the urban ecology of Red-Tailed Hawks and pursued interests in conservation biology and environmental policy. Maggie has also worked as a marine biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game on the Marine Protected Areas project helping to design and implement a statewide network of Marine Protected Areas, and more recently, was the Government Affairs intern with The Wildlife Society in Washington, DC.
With many new projects on the horizon, Maggie is excited to be part of the NWRA team and looks forward to supporting the communication and policy needs of the organization.
National Wildlife Refuge Association
5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite 521
Washington, D.C. 20015