National Wildlife Refuge Association Staff
Mark Musaus, Regional Representative, Southeast Region
firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-417-3803, x23, mobile: 770-855-5110
Mark Sowers Conservation Programs Fellow
Refuge Association Advisors
National Wildlife Refuge Association Staff and Advisor 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 the Refuge Association’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.
As COO, Anne oversees the Refuge Association’s program and organizational operations, while also leading the Refuge Association’s foundation relations and government grants management.
Anne previously served as the Refuge Association’s Vice President for Conservation Programs (2012-2014) and Vice President for Strategic Programs and Development (2008-2012). She has an accomplished background in building and implementing landscape conservation partnerships in Refuge landscapes and has played a lead role in our work at the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area, the Bear River Watershed, and other Beyond the Boundaries landscapes. She has helped to strengthen landowner-led groups such as Partners for Conservation and the Northern Everglades Alliance. At the same time, Anne has deep experience in raising philanthropic funds to leverage public funding and has brought those skills to bear in all of the Refuge Association’s conservation programs.
Anne joined the staff at the Refuge Association 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 began her land conservation career 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 the Refuge Association 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).
Vice-President of Government Affairs
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Desiree directs the Refuge Association’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 the Refuge Association president in implementation of strategic plans and goals of the organization.
Prior to her current position, Desiree served as the Refuge Association’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 the Refuge Association, 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 from George Washington University.
Vice President of Development and Communications
As Vice President of Development and Communications, Leanne is responsible for overseeing the Refuge Association’s fundraising and communications departments. She is a member of the Refuge Association executive leadership team and works collaboratively with the Board of Directors and other stakeholders to develop and implement a long-term fundraising and communications strategy to guide growth for the Association.
Leanne is a business development executive with 20 years of experience in higher education, healthcare, and cause-related associations. Prior to joining the Refuge Association, Leanne served as senior vice president of business development and external relations at the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI), a leading health IT association that serves as an official advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Prior to her role at WEDI, Leanne was director of membership and development at Medicaid Health Plans of America (MHPA), a leading national organization solely dedicated to representing health plans participating in Medicaid managed care.
Additionally, Leanne’s leadership experience includes serving as director of membership at the Chief Executives Organization (CEO), director of alumni relations at Marymount University, director of corporate relations at the American Heart Association (AHA), and director of major gifts at American University’s Washington College of Law.
Leanne holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and a Master of Arts degree in history from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. She will complete a Master of Arts degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington in 2016.
Director of Government Affairs
Caroline will advance federal conservation policies in Congress and with the Administration for the National Wildlife Refuge Association, focusing on federal conservation funding and legislation affecting the National Wildlife Refuge System. She will also help lead the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE).
Before accepting this position with the Refuge Association, Caroline was with Ducks Unlimited (DU) where she worked as a Governmental Affairs Representative for seven years. She led DU’s advocacy on the appropriations process to increase funding for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs such as the National Wildlife Refuge System, North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Caroline was also the CARE representative for DU.
Caroline earned her law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law and a Bachelor’s in anthropology from the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. She is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and South Carolina. Before going to Ducks Unlimited, she worked as a community economic development volunteer for the Peace Corps in Ukraine, a private attorney, and family court prosecutor.
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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 the Refuge Association staff, Debbie roamed the country, teaching mathematics at community colleges in Ohio, Texas, and California.
Rob works on inventorying and monitoring projects to strengthen the science used in managing wildlife and restoring key habitats at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, a globally significant area for seabird conservation in the northwest Hawaiian Islands.
Born and raised in New York City by not exactly nature-loving parents, Rob isn’t sure how he ended up doing conservation work, but suspects that it stems from his longstanding appreciation of fresh air, uncrowded spaces and a fascination with plants and animals. After finishing a B.S. in Computer Science (St. John’s University) and a brief stint as a computer geek with IBM, Rob went back to school, this time studying ecology and conservation biology at the University of New Mexico (Ph.D., Biology/Ecology).
After graduating he was hired on by The Nature Conservancy where he worked for a couple of years in the desert southwest before taking on the job of Northeast Oregon Regional Ecologist where he spent over 10 years leading the development of an ecological monitoring and research program for the Conservancy’s Zumwalt Prairie Initiative. As a “jack of all trades” ecologist, Rob has experience with a variety of issues including grazing, fire, climate change, invasive species, and wildlife habitat restoration. Most of all he enjoys working with land managers and other stakeholders in developing robust and efficient adaptive management and monitoring programs and in catalyzing conservation-relevant research in collaboration with academic and agency partners, including the University of Idaho where he holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Forest, Range, and Fire Sciences.
Conservation Programs, Florida and Gulf Coast Programs Manager
Julie will be working extensively across programs in Florida and the Gulf Coast to advance on-the-ground conservation through policy, advocacy, and constituency-building work. She will be working closely with Refuge staff, local landowners, local communities, conservation groups, and other public agencies, in an effort to find common interests and leverage multiple programs for maximum conservation impact.
Julie has more than 18 years of experience working in conservation. Most recently, she was a partner and Director of Conservation at Wildlands Conservation, Inc. in Florida. Her areas of expertise include Florida ecosystems, conservation issues, planning and policy, listed species, land acquisition and easement programs, payments for ecosystem services, human dimensions of conservation, and stakeholder outreach.
Julie has worked with federal and state agencies and county governments to develop conservation plans for protected wildlife species, issues entailing conservation design and management, and community education and outreach. Some of her recent projects include: coordinating the Southwest Florida Cooperative Conservation Blueprint Project for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Co-Project Manager on the Polk County Habitat Conservation Plan, Project Manager on a Pilot Payment for Ecosystem Services Program for FWC, Project Manager on the Peace River Network, assisting FWC with a panther stakeholder analysis, identifying potential conservation lands and protection strategies for multiple state and federal agencies, working with private landowners on acquisition and easement programs, and evaluating potential conservation lands for the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge.
Regional Representative, Southeast Region
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Mark represents the Refuge Association to facilitate communication between local stakeholders, nonprofits and the Service about issues dealing with government affairs and conservation programs in the southeast region. Mark retired in December 2012 as the Deputy Regional Director for the Southeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after a 38+ year career. Born in Venezuela and raised in NJ, he earned his B.S. in biology and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Grove City College (1975). He was selected for the Fish and Wildlife Service Student Trainee Program in 1974, serving one summer at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. He has served as assistant refuge manager at Choctaw (AL), J.N. Ding Darling (FL), Piedmont (GA), and Tennessee (TN) national wildlife refuges, and as the deputy project leader at Savannah Coastal Refuges (GA).
In 1998, he was selected as the project leader for the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee and Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuges. In May 2007 he accepted the Chief of the Division of Visitor Services and Communications for the National Wildlife Refuge System. There he administered recreation and visitor use including hunting and fishing programs, environmental education, wildlife observation and photography on 550 national wildlife refuges. He led communication and outreach programs for the refuge system, partnerships with other federal, state, and conservation organizations, worked closely with congressional staff, and helped to further develop the National Wildlife Refuge System’s Friends Program. From January 2012 until he retired he served in the role of deputy regional director for the Service’s southeast region. He helped oversee supervision of 1,500 employees in 10 states and the Caribbean in diverse Service programs ranging from the National Wildlife Refuge System to the Endangered Species Program, Migratory Birds, and Wildlife Law Enforcement.
Mark received the Refuge Manager of the Year Award in 2000, the Department of Interior Superior Service Award in 2001, and the DOI Take Pride in America, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Federal Land Manager of the Year award in 2005. He and his wife Linda reside in Buford, GA, northeast of Atlanta, have two married daughters and three grandchildren.
Regional Representative, Alaska
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After a 35 year career working for the National Wildlife Refuge System in Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, California, Alaska and the Washington Headquarters, Mike retired as Refuge Supervisor in Alaska in December, 2012. In 12 years as Refuge Supervisor, Mike provided guidance on management strategies, policies, budgets, and personnel decisions to 12 of Alaska’s 16 refuges including such iconic landscapes as Arctic, Yukon Delta, Kodiak, Kenai and Alaska Maritime. At retirement, Mike was responsible for overseeing 60 million acres of Alaska’s 80 million acres of refuges and had provided leadership on initiatives such as Arctic Refuge’s 50th anniversary (2010), the Kenai Refuge recreation cabin program, and visitor facilities for Kanuti, Kodiak, Alaska Maritime, and Tetlin refuges, among others. He helped form a consortium of federal and state agencies to support the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) of the University of Alaska to recruit and educate Native students in wildlife biology leading to careers in the Service and other agencies, businesses and organizations. Mike was awarded the Department of Interior’s Meritorious Service Award in 2009. Prior to returning to Alaska, Mike was the Refuge System’s first Chief of Visitor Services in the Washington HQ and helped develop the Friends Initiative, the CARE group, and the original publication, Banking on Nature: The Economic Benefits to Local Communities of National Wildlife Refuge System Visitation. He assisted the Service’s International Affairs Program by hosting training opportunities in the U.S. and led Service delegations to China and Russia. He has a B.A. in Journalism from Wayne State University, M.S. in Ecology from Ohio State University, and MPA in Public Policy from University of Southern California. His interest in wildlife viewing and photography has taken him to Ecuador and the Galapagos, Costa Rica, Brazil, Nepal, Tanzania, and South Africa. He lives in Eagle River, Alaska, 30 miles from Anchorage on a 6 acre mountain hideaway within the 500,000 acre Chugach State Park.
Regional Representative, Midwest Region
Rick is based in Farmington, MN and will be facilitating communication between the Midwest Region, local nonprofits, local communities and the Refuge Association about issues related to Government Affairs and Conservation Programs.
Rick is native to Minnesota, but spent many of his adolescent years in Montana enjoying the great outdoors. Under the guidance of his parents, he developed an appreciation for fishing, hunting, and other outdoor pursuits, which eventually lead him to a career in wildlife conservation.
Rick worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior for more than 35 years. He spent 21 years in the field working on national wildlife refuges in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Iowa. His most recent field position was that of refuge manager of Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. In 2005, Rick relocated to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters in Washington, DC where he served as Division Chief for Natural Resources and Planning for the National Wildlife Refuge System. In 2007, he accepted the position of National Borderland Coordinator for the Deputy Secretary of Interior. In this capacity, his primary responsibility was to assist the Department of Homeland Security incorporate environmental stewardship into border security fences and operations. In October 2009, Rick returned to the Fish and Wildlife Service where he served as Regional Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System in the Midwest. In September 2012, Rick retired and is now enjoying time with family, home projects, bird guns, gun dogs, and fly-fishing rods.
Regional Representative, Northeast Region
Joe brings more than 25 years of experience working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to his position as the Northeast Regional Representative for the National Wildlife Refuge Association. As Regional Representative, Joe will facilitate communication between the Northeast Region, local nonprofits, local communities and the Refuge Association about issues related to Government Affairs and Conservation Programs.
Joe was born in Washington, DC, and grew up just outside the District in Falls Church, Virginia. After spending several years at a private engineering firm in Northern Virginia, he began his career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1983 at the Cortland, New York, Ecological Services Office. Joe then transitioned to Northeast Region’s Division of Realty working as a wildlife biologist on land acquisition planning where he prepared the first Land Protection Plan in the Northeast Region and expanded the boundary of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge by 11,000 acres.
Joe served for 10 years as the Refuge Manager of the Eastern Virginia Rivers National Wildlife Refuge Complex, comprised of the James River, Plum Tree Island, Presquile, and Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuges. As refuge manager Joe more than doubled the size of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge from 3,600 acres to 8,400 acres and developed a unique wildlife conservation easement template as an alternative to fee and title acquisition resulting in over 1,660 acres permanently protected via conservation easement.
Most recently, Joe was the Regional Chief, Division of Realty, Northeast Region for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where he was responsible for overseeing real property acquisition for the Service within the 13 northeastern states. During his five years as Regional Chief, Joe added 18,000 acres to the Refuge System.
Urban Wildlife Refuge Program Manager
Joy is responsible for the Refuge Association’s urban wildlife refuge program. Working in partnership with 14 urban refuges around the nation both on-the-ground and at the national level, she will help to bring forth their visions for the future, provide technical assistance, support collaborative efforts that raises awareness and elevates the importance of wildlife refuges in urban areas.
Prior to joining the Refuge Association, Joy directed a distinguished coalition of national environmental and conservation executives that represents a broad spectrum of voices, perspectives and environmental policy issues to protect the communities in which we live, work, pray and play. She led the development of the Green Leadership Trust, a network of board members of color and indigenous leaders and established a first-of-its-kind partnership with Green 2.0 for environmental nonprofits to publicly release their organization’s diversity data.
Before working with the environmental sector, Joy spent many years managing multi-faceted public health education and training programs; advocating to end the AIDS pandemic; fighting to reduce the stigmas of the disease and empowering underrepresented individuals and communities. Joy’s passion for protecting the majestic places we so cherish is deeply rooted in her British and Jamaican background, as well as the years she devoted to changing the public’s opinion and understanding of the green movement and the benefits of the great outdoors.
Nick is the Range Ecologist working in Evanston, WY, to accomplish landscape scale conservation of the Bear River Watershed of Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho. Nick has diverse experience working with several federal agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, and the NRCS, in Utah, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and Nevada.
While earning his MS, Nick worked with private corporations to explore novel restoration techniques in Wyoming’s Great Divide Basin with a focus on weed management and site capture utilizing weedy native plants.
He and his family are excited to be back in Wyoming, a place they got to know well while living in Laramie. Nick is passionate about conservation of natural resources, as a well as fly-fishing, hiking, and all things outdoors. Nick holds his Bachelors in Botany from the University of Wisconsin and his Masters in Range Ecology and Watershed Management from the University of Wyoming.
Marketing and Branding Associate
As a Marketing and Branding Associate for the National Wildlife Refuge Association, Sean Carnell is working on an innovate strategy to increase the constituency of the National Wildlife Refuge System by implementing technology solutions to connect and engage diverse audiences, and leveraging the refuge system brand to increase relevancy to the American public.
Prior to Sean’s current position at the Refuge Association, he managed the Spirit Campaign, a program designed to use university mascots as rallying points for recruiting and training student activists in conservation advocacy and conservation program implementation that ultimately delivers results on the ground. Also known as the National Tigers for Tigers Coalition, the program engages students in conservation action and advocacy through campus-based clubs or activities revolving around their mascots, provides educational and career development opportunities for students and young professionals through field visits to Washington, internships, and mentoring, and links student efforts with specific conservation efforts and outcomes in key habitat areas for their mascot species.
Sean graduated from Clemson University in 2013 with as B.S. in Biological Sciences and a minor in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology. He looks forward to the day when he can sit on his porch on a crisp spring morning with a cup of coffee and his dog.
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 the Refuge Association 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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As the Development Associate for the Refuge Association, Anya works to leverage support for conservation programs, growing international efforts, and the Spirit Campaign/Tigers for Tigers program. Anya also assists with outreach and communications for the Spirit Campaign/Tigers for Tigers program.
Anya’s interest in wildlife conservation stems from her work at the Eurasia Foundation, where she supported collaborative efforts of refuge managers and experts from U.S. and Russia. Previously, Anya also worked as a laboratory assistant at Barclay Water Management.
Anya has a B.S. in Economics and a B.A. in International Relations from Syracuse University, with a concentration in Eastern European Studies. Aside from her work, Anya’s happiest moments are spent traveling, cruising around on her bicycle, and everything outdoors.
Finance and Administration Manager
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Karla is responsible for the Refuge Association’s financial and administrative management. Karla collaborates with Anne Truslow, Vice-President, Chief Operating Officer and Debbie Harwood, office manager.
Prior to working at the Refuge Association, Karla was a business manager for a local charter school in D.C. Karla spent three and a half years in doing an array of duties, which include grants management, financial management and payroll/human resource management. Karla also served on the leadership teams of the school. She enjoys devoting her time to purposeful work thus why she was in education and now in wildlife. She hopes to add value to the association and looks forward to working with great individuals that are committed to wildlife.
Karla graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a B.S in Finance with a minor in International Business. Post undergrad, Karla began her graduate studies at Trinity Washington University and earned her MBA in the spring of 2014.
When she is not at the Refuge Association, Karla spends her time doing CrossFit at CrossFit Petworth and spending a lot of quality time with her younger sister, nephews and dog Oso.
Government Affairs Associate
As Government Affairs Associate, Taylor helps promote the Refuge Association and its public policy agenda to Capitol Hill and the Administration through work with refuge Friends organizations, ranchers, sportsmen and other appropriate organizations nationwide and in Washington, D.C.
Taylor works to mobilize advocates to affect the outcome of legislation and public policy, and to build a bridge between lawmakers and their wildlife conservation constituency.
Taylor graduated from Clemson University in 2015 with a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences. Originally from Vero Beach, Florida, Taylor enjoys traveling, fishing, and cheering the Tigers to victory on fall Saturdays.
Cissy has been a graphic designer for 30 years, and for more than 12 of those years, she has created everything from logos to annual reports for the Refuge Association.
A committed, near-vegan vegetarian for almost 25 years, an avid reader, a lover of music, a sometime-ukulele strummer and piano player, a once-aerobics instructor and mother to a now-grown daughter, her childhood was spent roaming the U.S. from military base to military base, from Quantico to Hawaii. She has now put down roots in historic downtown Wilmington, N.C. where her extended family has lived for generations.
Dave Griffin owns Confluence Visuals, a company that brings together high-quality and compelling visuals (both still and moving) with all forms of new digital media (web video, social media, mobile applications). Dave’s background is in software engineering, where artistry is interwoven into concepts like elegance and design. But before computers came along he always was fascinated with photography and video. Today he has the great joy of combining his passion for telling stories through great visuals with the latest digital technologies that he has been immersed in for over 30 years, including the implementation and operation of over 20 different websites that serve local, regional and national audiences. Based in Maynard, Massachusetts, Dave is also involved in local civic groups including a board member and past president of OARS (for the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers), advisory committee member for Emerson Hospital, president of the Maynard Historical Society. Dave is also well known for his photography of local rivers in the area, particularly the Assabet River.
Dennis has worked in fish and wildlife conservation for 40 years. As Regional Director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in the northern everglades, he was instrumental in fostering a close partnership with FWS Refuge leadership and constituents to win public support for establishing the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area (EHWNWR). Following his FWC retirement in 2012, he continued to work for FWS on the EHWNWR project.
Dennis began working with the Refuge Association in 2013 as “Conservation Project Manager” where he is responsible for continuing work in the Everglades as well as coordinating and assisting with special conservation projects benefiting Refuges. He brings extensive experience in helping facilitate projects that require intra-agency coordination, which will help manage Service projects that reach across multiple Service Division and Office lines. He is currently assisting refuge managers in identifying landscape and community-based conservation opportunities around Refuges in focal areas under the FWS Vision for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico Watershed. He is also helping lead an integrated FWS team in an assessment of “at-risk” species conservation opportunities on Refuges.
Dennis obtained a B.S in Zoology from the University of South Florida in 1974 and immediately began a lifelong career working for FWC. His career included working as an alligator biologist for 20 years, serving in a leadership role as Deputy Vice Chairman for North America on the IUCN Species Survival Commission Crocodile Specialist Group for 10 years, traveling all around the globe working on crocodilian management, and serving as a Regional Director over central and northeast peninsular Florida.
When not working on conservation projects Dennis, his wife Ilonka and dog Riley are enjoying their “semi-retirement” life since recently relocating to New Smyrna Beach, Florida. They enjoy beach walks or taking time to fish, kayak and boat in the bountiful Indian River Lagoon waters located in and around the Merritt Island NWR.
Peter Umhofer serves as a senior advisor to the Refuge Association and is the President of E2 Strategies, LLC, which assists organizations in the environmental and energy space. Peter has worked in both the public and private sectors including service on the Obama Presidential Transition Team, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of Interior and the White House. While working on the Transition Team, Mr. Umhofer conducted an agency review of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and served on the CEQ and EPA confirmation teams. He previously served as the top advisor on energy and environmental issues to U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and as policy advisor to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. In this capacity, Mr. Umhofer prepared legislative and communications strategy, drafted legislation, and was a key player in the successful crafting of a bipartisan energy policy bill as well as successfully advancing a number of key projects through the appropriations process. Prior to his positions in the legislative branch, Mr. Umhofer served in the Clinton Administration as a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of the Interior and special assistant at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Mr. Umhofer also implemented several public lands and conservation bills, including the Everglades restoration bill. He is widely regarded for his knowledge of energy, environmental and water policy, his strategic thinking and his ability to advance policy efforts that receive bipartisan support. Mr. Umhofer holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s College of California.
National Wildlife Refuge Association
1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 905
Washington, D.C. 20036