Oakland Zoo Staff

It takes a lot of different types of people to make the Zoo run. We need veterinarians and zoo keepers to care for the animals, teachers to educate and inspire, security to keep all the animals and visitors safe, operations staff to keep the Zoo clean, serve food, take tickets, and other day to day operations, and we need a whole host of administration staff behind the scenes to keep the Zoo up and running.

Thanks to all those who work so hard and take excellent care of our animals and visitors!

ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF


Dr. Joel Parrott - President & CEO

Dr. Joel Parrott, President & CEO of Oakland Zoo received his BS and DVM degrees from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. Born in the Adirondack region of New York State, Dr. Parrott spent his high school years in Miami, Florida before moving to Colorado to attend college. Upon graduation from veterinary school, he completed an internship at the Denver Zoo and later went into private practice in Castro Valley, California. His specialty is exotic animals and he was a consulting veterinarian for Oakland Zoo until 1984, when he became the Staff Veterinarian and Assistant Director. A year later, he became the Executive Director at Oakland Zoo. Dr. Parrott has overseen many new developments at the Zoo in the past twenty five years. An avid conservationist and naturalist, he views the role of zoos as instrumental to environmental education.

Nik Dehejia - Chief Financial Officer

As Chief Financial Officer, Nik directs institution-wide financial functions with a focus on accounting, planning and information technology. Responsible for evaluating, directing, implementing and communicating approved plans, he also manages strategic and operating plans/budgets. In his previous position at Oakland Zoo, Nik served as Director of Strategic Initiatives where he led planning of the Zoo’s transformational California Trail, a three-stage, multi-million dollar project that includes a new Veterinary Hospital (opened in 2012), a Biodiversity Center (opening Summer 2013), and the California Trail scheduled to open in 2016. Nik began his career in the non-profit sector, working in international public policy at the World Resources Institute, World Bank and corporate responsibility at Business for Social Responsibility. After developing and growing a program that helps social entrepreneurs access capital, Nik moved to the commercial world at Levi Strauss & Co. Nik holds an MBA from U.C. Berkeley and an undergraduate from Vassar College. A 15-year resident in the Bay Area and a father of two, Nik lives in Alameda.

Nancy Filippi - Managing Director

Nancy Filippi joined Oakland Zoo in the summer of 2006 as the Director, Marketing / PR and in January 2010 became Managing Director, Operations and Marketing. Since 1980, Nancy has worked with Fortune 500 companies focusing on brand development, new product launch campaigns, promotional marketing and advertising. Her experience spans from national director of marketing / media / advertising with a major broadcast company to alliance relationship management, leveraged media promotions in television, radio and print for worldwide theme parks. She has developed consumer-based programs providing informed product awareness, charted the course of newly introduced national products, industry offerings, package design, shelf-space proclivity, sales campaigns, creative marketing and advertising campaign development. In her new post she manages food and beverage, retail, zoo rides and group services in addition to her continuing role in the Marketing/PR department. She also is heavily involved in strategizing to improve the visitor experience at the Zoo. She is a recipient of numerous awards in the consumer packaged goods industry, as well as the "Legacy Award" from the "Business Women's Network" in Washington, D.C., Nancy holds a B.A. in Business with an emphasis in Marketing.

Emma Lee Twitchell - Director of Development

Emma Lee Twitchell has worked as a nonprofit executive for thirty years and has experience in raising funds for education, health care, public broadcasting, community agencies, and national organizations. She served in executive positions for the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Orlando Regional Medical Center and the University of Central Florida. As a fundraising consultant, she worked on numerous projects including capital campaigns, feasibility studies, strategic planning, and creating and implementing new development programs for clients throughout Florida and Missouri. She is a founding member and past president of the Central Florida Chapter of the Association of Fundraising (AFP), past president-elect of the St. Louis Chapter, and a founding member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and past chair of the Association of Philanthropic Counsel (APC), a national organization of independent consultants. She holds a bachelor's degree from Indiana State University. Emma Lee joined Oakland Zoo in 2007 and enjoys having her grandchildren participate in ZooCamp, and watching the tigers and the sun bears.

Shannon Foucault - Capital Campaign Manager

Shannon Foucault is focused on completing the funding campaign that will help realize Oakland Zoo’s “California Trail” project. A history enthusiast, she is interested in the relationship between the people, flora and fauna of California, and is excited to see Oakland Zoo explore and share that story with the public. Shannon joins the Zoo from California College of the Arts in Oakland, where she managed an extensive grants program and helped to expand relationships with corporate donors. Before that, she worked with the American Institute of Architects in New York to build up all areas of fund development and organize special events. Connecting patrons to organizations with innovative public education projects, such as the “California Trail”, is one of the many strengths she brings to the endeavor.

Biruk Weldhana - Controller

Biruk Weldhana is Controller at Oakland Zoo. He administers programs to attract and retain an exceptional, diverse workforce, as well as being committed to the collective success of the Zoo. As Director of Operations for Oakland Zoo, Biruk oversaw guest services, the gift shop, the food service and the rides area. Prior to joining Oakland Zoo, Biruk was a Project Director at Compassion International, a non-profit organization helping underserved children with their education and daily needs. Biruk completed his degree at San Francisco State University - School of Business where he majored in Accounting.

Eric Maul - Director of Membership

Eric Maul joined Oakland Zoo in July of 2007. He is working to grow community support through our membership program, while helping to connect members to wildlife. As the Membership Manager, Eric oversees all aspects of the membership program including on-site sales, direct mail solicitation, renewals, online newsletters, member events, and in-store gift card programs. Prior to joining Oakland Zoo, Eric was the Director of Membership and Annual Giving at the San Francisco Zoo, and worked at the San Francisco SPCA, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the Sierra Club. Eric completed his degree at California State University, Fresno - with a major in Plant Science. He's also an avid gardener. After earning his degree, Eric attended the University of San Francisco, School of Professional Studies and earned his Development Director Certificate.

Nicky Mora - Senior Manager, Marketing/PR

As Senior Manager, Marketing/PR, Nicky is responsible for writing press releases, dealing with the press, coordinating media shoots, as well as managing website content, the Zoo's quarterly publication, and video production. Nicky formerly worked for KTVU Fox 2 where she was a writer/producer/editor in the Creative Services Department. She was responsible for writing and producing image campaigns, commercials, special report promotions, and news topicals. In 2007, she was nominated for an Emmy by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for a spot she wrote and produced. While working in television news, she was also a writer/producer at WJRT in Flint, MI and a production associate at KSBW in Salinas, CA. Nicky has a bachelors degree in film and digital media and a minor in education from UC Santa Cruz. She enjoys working on Oakland Zoo website, public relations, and promoting the Zoo to new visitors. In her spare time, Nicky enjoys traveling, watching films, and spending time with friends, family, and her cats, Fiona and Lux.

Amber Frisbie - Senior Manager, Facilities and Events

Amber is a long-time employee of the Zoo, and lover of animals. She took this job because she really enjoys being around the animals. In her position, she oversees the facilities department and introduces guests to the wonders of the Zoo through our many events throughout the year. At Oakland Zoo there are many events during the year, including Walk in the Wild, Boo at the Zoo, and ZooLights. Amber plans each event to the last detail, making sure that our patrons and members have an incredible experience. During special events, Amber coordinates the hundreds of staff members and entertainment it takes to pull off an event. Amber is originally from Southern California, and attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, studying Art History. Amber is a dedicated member of the staff, and we're lucky to have her.

Everard Strong - Manager, Creative Services

Everard joined Oakland Zoo in October of 2011 with twenty years of experience in publication, graphic design, editorial management experience, and has won several awards within the industry. Everard launched a couple magazines on his own, including TALL magazine - published in 2003, it was a lifestyle magazine for men 6'2" and taller and women 5'9" and taller (Everard is 6'9"). In 2008 he launched Bay Area Kids magazine, a regional lifestyle magazine for families of young children living in the San Francisco Bay Area. While winding down production of Bay Area Kids, Everard was hired on in October 2010 as Creative Services Manager. He handles all design and overall layout/creation of publications, digital media, and is expanding into interactive publishing. Overall, his goal is to produce a cohesive branding experience for Oakland Zoo. He is married to a professional photographer and has two young children. His favorite animals are the tigers. He secretly wishes Oakland Zoo would have a polar bear and a black panther too (though not together in the same exhibit).

Antoinette Samuel - Manager, Group Services

Antoinette oversees the Group Services & Facility Rentals department at the Zoo. This dynamic department is in charge of all reservations for site rentals, education programs, field trips, and birthday parties. To improve the overall guest experience for our members and patrons, Toni centralized the the Zoo's reservation system. Before joining Oakland Zoo in 2007, she worked with Eastbay Paratransit arranging transportation services for local seniors and disabled residents. She has a degree in Business Technology with almost ten years in the customer service field. A very proud native of Oakland, she treasures the Zoo's presence in this diverse and culturally rich city. Some of her favorite things at the Zoo are the toucans, trees, and the architecture in the African Village. She is also a lover of the arts and enjoys literature, theatre, illustration, and music.

Emilie C. Sichon - Accounting Supervisor

Emilie helps maintain Oakland Zoo's finances. She creates journal entries, month-end accruals and entries, bank reconciliation information, and supervises accounts payable. Prior to working at Oakland Zoo, Emilie was a Senior Accountant at MSC Mortgage, Inc. located in Santa Monica, California. She graduated from the University of the Philippines with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, where she majored in Accounting. When not working with numbers, Emilie enjoys walking throughout the Zoo and visiting the animals.

John Lemanski - Director of Human Resources

John oversees recruiting, compliance, employee relations, performance management, benefits and compensation, training and development and worker's compensation. He's worked in HR for almost 15 years, including stints working for the federal government and in public education. John has earned his B.A. at U.C. Berkeley.

Christopher Hanawalt - IT Manager

Chris is in charge of the computer systems at Oakland Zoo. He has worked at Oakland Zoo since completing a degree in philosophy from the UC Berkeley in 2004. The connection between these disciplines might not be obvious at a glance, but computer systems are structured such that they follow from the principals of symbolic logic, a cornerstone in a philosophical education. At Oakland Zoo, Chris fixes all kinds of computer problems, from ethernet cable troubles and damaged phone lines to maintaining systems for animal medical records, point-of-sale systems, and the more typical network maintenance and desktop support for the Zoo's computer users. Chris says the variety of IT needs for a Zoo make his work far more interesting than computer support at many other types of institutions. His favorite animals are tigers, chimpanzees, and tauntauns. In his free time, he reads philosophy and political news, watches soccer avidly, and cooks French food.

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OPERATIONS


Todd Hollerson - Manager Food and Beverages

Todd got his start at the zoo in 2004 volunteering with the elephants. He found their quiet grace inspiring. When he wasn't volunteering, he was a chef for the stars, flying in private Luxury Class jets cooking elaborate meals for many people, including Oscar-winning stars. After 20 years of flying, Todd decided to switch gears and stay closer to home. His love for animals brought him to Oakland Zoo's Island Café. In April 2010, Todd was promoted to Manager of Food and Beverages. His new role is to supervise staff, manage ordering, and orchestrate all details for the food service at the Zoo. In his free time, Todd volunteers at the elephant barn.

Amber Hancock - Associate Senior Manager, Food & Beverage

Amber joined Oakland Zoo in 2008 in dual roles as Cashier and Office Assistant. The following year she was promoted to Operations Cashier Supervisor and in July 2013 she was again promoted to her current position as Associate Senior Manager of Food & Beverage where she oversees staffing, budgeting, catering, purchasing and menu planning for our many food stands. She loves working with her diverse staff and creating enjoyable dining experiences for Zoo guests. Amber graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008 with a degree in English Literature and lives in Oakland. She enjoys reading, cooking, and hiking.

Moe Perez - Buyer & Merchandiser

With over 20 years experience in buying and merchandising, Moe enjoys purchasing a wide assortment of products for our Gift Shop that he hopes people will find warm, educational and stimulating. Previously the Director of Operations and Purchasing for a wholesale gift import company as well as a Retail Buyer, most notably for Discover Channel. A Bay Area native with a keen interest in architecture, film and music, Moe is also freelance painter, hiker and residential design consultant, lending advice and guidance to budget-minded individuals wanting to change their living environment. On his lunch break he usually enjoys spending time with the giraffes.

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SECURITY


Bob Westfall - Director of Park Services

Bob Westfall is the Director of Park Services. He is responsible for overseeing the Public Safety/Security, Maintenance, Grounds, and Janitorial Departments. Bob has served the Zoo in several capacities and has witnessed countless improvements during his 25 year affiliation. The key to his motivation is the ongoing renovation and potential expansion. He has an extensive background in Park Safety, Law Enforcement, Loss Prevention, Contract Security, and Operations Management. His former employers include both the Oakland Office of Parks and Recreation and the Police Department. He was also priviliged to serve as an Animal Keeper and Amusement Rides Operator at Children's Fairyland on Lake Merritt while obtaining a degree in Administration of Justice. Bob is committed to the development of employee professionalism and service excellence, as well as maintaining the Zoo's reputation as a safe environment for its guests and their families.

Jared Irwin - Public Safety Manager

Working at Oakland Zoo for more than 20 years, Jared began his Zoo career as an animal keeper on the primate string and relief keeper in the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo for six years. The following six years he moved into the position of assistant manager of the grounds department crew. Since 2003 Jared has been the Zoo's public safety manager. Jared is responsible for all guest and employee safety, security issues, and security programs. He is also responsible for staff keys and locks and purchases/repairs the Zoo's communication devices. Jared enjoys the people he works with and that he gets to work outdoors much of the time.

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ANIMAL CARE, CONSERVATION, AND RESEARCH


Colleen Kinzley - Director, Animal Care, Conservation, and Research

Colleen Kinzley is the Curator at Oakland Zoo. In this position she manages the Animal Department and makes plans for new animals and exhibits. Colleen started her career at the Phoenix Zoo in 1983 working with elephants among other animals. In 1990 she came to Oakland Zoo as the manager of the Zoo's elephant program. Colleen leads the Zoo's efforts in elephant research and conservation. She hosts the Zoo's annual Celebrating Elephants events raising awareness and support for elephants in the wild. She also participates in research both here at the Zoo and in Namibia studying elephant communication and social behavior.

Jeff Kinzley - Elephant Manager

Jeff Kinzley is the Elephant Manager at Oakland Zoo. In this position he is responsible for the care of the Zoo's African elephant herd. Jeff coordinates training of the elephants in our Protected Contact management system using positive reinforcement. This allows the staff to provide husbandry and veterinary care to insure the elephant's health. Jeff also oversees the elephant's enrichment and exercise making sure that the elephants are kept active and engaged in natural behavior patterns. Jeff began as an elephant keeper at Oakland Zoo in 1996. He took a position at the San Diego Zoo in 2000 working with their elephants. He returned to Oakland Zoo in 2003 to manage the elephant program. Under Jeff's leadership a special keeper position was developed to ensure that the elephants and other Zoo animals have ample tree branches for forage.

Victor Alm - Zoological Manager

Victor Alm is a Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo. In this position he manages both the animals and staff in several areas of the zoo from commissary to the education animal room with a lot in between such as the sun bear, siamang, warthog, and hyena. Victor began his career with an internship followed by a paid position at Oakland Zoo's children's zoo shortly after his graduation from Northern Arizona University. Over the years Victor has focused on advancing the care standards of small mammals such as North American River Otters to Flying Foxes at both Oakland Zoo and nationally through AZA taxonomic advisory groups and the American Association of Zoo Keepers. Currently he serves on the American Association of Zookeepers Professional Development Committee, the Otters In Captivity Task Force as a representative and advisor about the North American river otter, and is active in Oakland Zoos own Emergency Response Program for Animal Management. Outside of working at Oakland Zoo, Victor spends time volunteering with his family at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, where he aids in rehabilitating sick, injured, or abandoned Northern elephant seals, California sea lions, and Northern fur seals.

Margaret Rousser - Zoological Manager

Margaret manages the animals and staff in the Children's Zoo and most of the primates. She is also responsible for training throughout the zoo, scheduling projects for corporate volunteers, liaising between the Animal Management and Education Departments, and managing the Western Pond Turtle conservation and head-starting project. She arrived at Oakland Zoo in 2006. Margaret has trained animals of nearly every type including primates, dolphins, hoofstock, carnivores and birds at the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld Orlando and the Phoenix Zoo. Her specialty is husbandry training in which animals are trained, using positive reinforcement, so that they can voluntarily participate in their own medical care for minor procedures such as radiographs, blood draws, ultrasounds, and injections. She has also trained and performed in dolphin shows and free-flighted bird shows. Margaret has a BA in Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara, an AS in Exotic Animal Training and Management from Moorpark College, and lots of continuing education through attending conferences and reading trade journals, as well as publishing and presenting her own projects and studies.

Darren Minier - Zoological Manager

Darren Minier joined Oakland Zoo as a Zoological Manager in July 2013. Managing a diverse and large number of animals in the Rainforest, African, and High Veldt areas of the Zoo, Darren also manages the ACCR Volunteer Program which includes Animal Care Volunteers, Interns, and the Behavioral Observation Team. In addition, Darren oversees the Zoo’s research programs investigating animal care, welfare, and conservation. Prior to joining Oakland Zoo, he oversaw international and zoo-based research programs for the International Institute for Human-Animal Networks at UC Davis and coordinated the development of the animal training program at the California National Primate Research Center. He has also held positions at the Los Angeles Zoo, Sea World San Diego, and the San Diego Zoo. Darren currently serves as the Chief Information Officer and Chair of the Research and Evaluation Committee for the Animal Behavior Management Alliance, and serves several other professional organizations such as the International Primatological Society and the Animal Behavior Society. Darren holds a BS in Conservation Biology from UC Davis, a Masters Degree in Zoo and Aquarium Leadership from George Mason University, and AS degrees Exotic Animal Training and Management from Moorpark College. Darren believes ‘that the key to animal well-being - for animals both free-ranging and in human care - is at the human-animal interface, where we work alongside the animals in our care to give them the best life possible.’ Born and raised in Southern California, Darren moved to Northern California in 2006.

Amy Gotliffe - Director, Conservation

Amy Gotliffe is a Detroit transplant, enjoying the good Bay Area life for 15 years. She has a degree in communications, holds several teaching credentials and has a Masters Degree in Environmental Education. She has worked at various Bay Area educational and environmental institutions, teaching second grade, working on campaigns, planting pollinator gardens, producing earth day events and generally spreading the word about wildlife and green living. At Oakland Zoo she serves as the Conservation Manager, coordinating international, national and local conservation efforts, producing a Conservation Speaker Series and an Earth Day event, teaching programs and coordinating the zoo's on-site green efforts. Amy is passionate about wildlife issues across the globe, but mostly those in our own Bay Area backyard. On her list of other passions are travel, photography, music and the lindy hop.

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VETERINARIANS


Dr. Karen A. Emanuelson - Director of Veterinary Services

Karen A. Emanuelson, DVM, earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physiology in 1982 from the University of California Davis; and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (DVM) from the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1986. She completed a zoological medicine internship at Whipsnade Zoo, Zoological Society of London, England. She also was co-owner of Cottage Veterinary Hospital, a mixed exotic and wildlife practice in California, for 7 years. She has served as a faculty clinician at the UC Davis Zoological Medicine Service while working concurrently with Oakland Zoo. Dr. Emanuelson is a member of several organizations, including the American Association of Zoological Veterinarians, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Wildlife Disease Association, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. She is a representative to the Giant Panda Species Survival Program of the AZA. Dr. Emanuelson has been associated with Oakland Zoo since 1987; she joined the zoo full-time in 2000. Currently she is the Director of Veterinary Services and Research at Oakland Zoo.

Dr. Andrea Goodnight - Associate Veterinarian

Dr. Andrea Goodnight is the Associate Veterinarian at Oakland Zoo. From cleaning a tiger's teeth to bandaging a bird's broken wing, she and the zoo's other veterinarian are responsible for the healthcare of all the animals in the collection. There is still much to learn about many of the "exotic" animals, so zoo veterinarians must be creative problem solvers, drawing on knowledge of domestic species in order to treat their patients. Dr. Goodnight enjoys this aspect of her job, noting that every day is a learning experience. She began her zoo veterinary training while still a student, spending her summers working at the Toledo Zoo in Ohio. After graduating from veterinary school in 2001, she continued her training as an intern at Rowley Memorial Animal Hospital, learning the latest techniques in small animal medicine, surgery and emergency medicine. Next, she completed zoo internships at the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama and the Indianapolis Zoo from 2002-2004. She then went on to complete a zoo medicine residency at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio before joining Oakland Zoo in 2006. She is very excited to be in California and strives to contribute to Oakland Zoo's conservation and education mission.

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EDUCATION


Bo De Long-Cotty, PhD - Director of Education

Dr. Bo De Long-Cotty is Oakland Zoos Director of Education, and has over 25 years' experience in pre-K - 12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, research, and development in both formal and informal settings. Her work has included curriculum and program evaluation and assessment; pre-K - 9 teaching; K-12 STEM curriculum development (including classroom curriculum and hands-on kits, toys, and games); educational and instructional technology; project-based learning; data-driven decision-making and research; systemic reform; social-emotional learning; and child and youth development and prevention. Prior to joining the Zoo in 2011, Bo worked as Senior Research Associate and Project Director for WestEd, in the STEM, Health and Human Development, and Standards and Assessment Development programs. She has also worked for the Lawrence Hall of Science, Boston Museum of Science, San Jose Children's Tech Museum, Center for Science in AZ, and the Indianapolis Art Museum. She received a BS from Purdue University in Indiana, a MA in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University in NY, and a PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Sarah Cramer - ZooCamp Director / Education Specialist

Having always been fascinated by animals, Sarah spent her high school summers volunteering with the camp program at Marine World Africa USA in Vallejo, CA. After earning a BA in Biology from Carleton College, in Minnesota, she decided to return home to the Bay Area. She tried doing research work, spending time with sea turtles in Florida and salmon in Marin County, but she missed working with kids. She completed an internship with the National Park Service in the Marin Headlands (where she still volunteers) and worked for both the Bay Area Discovery Museum and Six Flags Marine World before joining Oakland Zoo in 2002. She recently helped redesign the docent training program and in 2007, took on the role of ZooCamp Director. Sarah enjoys teaching Zoo Ambassador, ZooMobile, ZooSchool, overnight and scout programs, but really loves ZooCamp the most! Off zoo grounds, you might find her leading hikes to the Point Bonita Lighthouse or snowshoeing in the Sierras.

Felicia Walker - Outreach Coordinator / Education Specialist

Born and raised on a small farm just north of Topeka, Kansas, Felicia developed a love for animals at an early age. Getting hired at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas, she worked as a supervisor in charge of the zoo's educational animals and as a program assistant before eventually becoming the Assistant Curator of Education. In 2003, Felicia earned her BS in Animal Science with a minor in International Agriculture Studies at Kansas State University. Moving to California for a change of pace, she was hired at Oakland Zoo in March 2005, where she worked with various education programs. After a few departmental changes, she became the Program Animal Specialist and Wildlife Theater Coordinator. Her hobbies include cooking, camping, horseback riding, movies and simply enjoying nature.

Lisa O'Dwyer - Volunteer Programs Manager

Lisa O'Dwyer joined Oakland Zoo in 2006 as the Docent/Volunteer Coordinator. She is responsible for recruiting, coordinating, and evaluating the Volunteer, Zoo Ambassador, and Docent programs as well as teaching on-site ZooSchool and off-site ZooMobile programs. Lisa finds it refreshing to work with staff and volunteers that are so dedicated to the zoo's mission and truly love what they do. Before joining Oakland Zoo, she spent 10 years as a Social Services Designee and Volunteer Director at a hospital. Her husband and two daughters find her current job much more interesting! In her rare moments of spare time, Lisa volunteers with various charities such as Camp Okizu, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the Cancer Society.

Chantal Burnett - Volunteer Programs Assistant

Chantal was born on a farm outside Cape Town, South Africa. She completed her education in South Africa in the fields of personnel and administration. Chantal, her husband, and their four pets moved to the United States in 2000. She worked for an East Bay Veterinary Hospital for 8 years as their Practice Manager and later in a communcations role where she worked closely with clients and their pets to ensure their well being. Chantal came to Oakland Zoo in January 2010 as a participant in our volunteer Zoo Ambassador Training Program. She has completed two of the three training modules and enjoys the opportunity to share her knowledge of animals and conservation with our visitors. She joined the team in June 2010 as the Volunteer Programs Assistant. She supports volunteer programming that includes Docent tours, community volunteer groups, Zoo events, and orientations. She is thrilled to work with colleagues and volunteers that share her goals and aspirations for wildlife and conservation.

Melinda Sievert - Teen Program Manager

Melinda Sievert joined Oakland Zoo in 2005 as an intern, to start a brand-new teen volunteer program called the Teen Wild Guides. The program has since grown to include over 70 teen volunteers, and Melinda is responsible for recruiting, training and managing these teens who proudly wear the label of "TWG" (pronounced "twig"). In addition, Melinda manages the zoo's other teen offerings, including ZooCamp Teen Assistants, twice-yearly career days, and the teen travel program. She became passionate about animals and the environment as a teen at the San Francisco Zoo, where she volunteered for 6 years, and served as an intern. She is honored to be passing on the joys of the zoo and volunteerism to a new generation of young people. In her free time, Melinda loves reading all the books she can get her hands on, and traveling to far off, exotic locales.

Brendan Papciak - Community Programs Manager

Brendan hails from San Diego where he grew up with a close connection with the ocean and natural environment. Some of his earliest memories are driving down to Baja with his father in a large blue school bus which they converted to a camper. After receiving his Bachelors in Fine Art from UCLA, Brendan traveled abroad for a little over a year. Some of his experiences included working on dive boat in the Bahamas and living on a farm in Ireland where he took care of a donkey named Jill. Through his travels, Brendan's belief in the importance of having a global awareness was strengthened. He decided that this was something he wanted to support and encourage among other people. Having parents as teachers, he knew how influential an educator could be. Upon returning from his travels, Brendan moved to the Bay Area and eventually found himself working at the Zoo. He began as the Zoo Camp Clerk in 2009 and then taught Zoo Camp in summer. Currently, Brendan helps to coordinate various community programs and teaches classes. He finds his work very rewarding, and is always ready to have a conversation about Irish donkeys.

Daniel Flynn - School Programs / Zoo-To-Community Manager

Daniel Flynn joined Oakland Zoo in 2010, and currently manages both School Programs and the Zoo-to-Community Initiative for the Education Department (ED). Daniel has also served as a Zoo Camp teacher, Zoo Ambassador, and Education Specialist. As Manager of School Programs, Daniel oversees a broad range of K-12 conservation and environmental science education programs that serve over 40,000 students each year. As Manager of the Zoo-to-Community Initiative, Daniel sees that children and families from underserved neighborhoods and schools receive free Education programs here at the Zoo and in their classrooms and communities, generally reaching about 5,000 participants per year. Daniel has worked in both informal and formal education, mentoring in afterschool programs throughout Oakland, interpreting at the Aquarium of the Bay, and teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Daniel is a dedicated and spirited teacher who loves educating all ages, from tots to teens to adults.

Shauna Lavi - Curriculum Development Manager

Shauna Lavi joined the Zoo in March, 2009. Having been raised on a small farm in New York, Shauna always enjoyed being outdoors and studying animal behavior. Her pursuit to immerse herself in hands-on studies of wildlife, botany, and sustainable living led her to the West Coast in 1999. She has since worked in the biological fields of: permaculture, forest restoration, and wildlife research (with a focus in ornithology). Believing avidly that place-based science education is at the epicenter of wildlife conservation, she has also taught and coordinated educational programs in schools, wildlife refuges, and local parks in Northern CA. She earned her degree in Biology from Humboldt State University. Shauna enjoys teaching all programs in the Conservation and Education Dept., in which she coordinates workshops, overnights, and Education birthday parties. When not at the Zoo, Shauna can reliably be found training martial arts, and continuing her life-long education of CA native flora and fauna by hiking throughout the Bay Area, binoculars in hand.

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