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The Wild Team

Conservation Wild is a
women-led organization dedicated
to empowering female leadership
around the world.

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April Kelly

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Founder and Executive Director

 

April is a conservation biologist/anthropologist, wildlife filmmaker, children's book author, expedition leader and international flight attendant.  She has Bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology and Geography from the University of North Texas and a Master’s degree in Zoology/Wildlife and Environmental Conservation from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  She has spent over a decade working in remote jungles, oceans, mountains and savannahs all over the world including fieldwork expeditions in Belize, Borneo, Namibia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Ecuador, Australia, Hawaii, Mexico and Nepal. 

She has worked for the nonprofit, Climb for Conservation since 2016, as their Wildlife Biologist, leading conservation expeditions and treks in multiple countries.  In addition to her extensive fieldwork, she also filmed, directed and co-produced the film Mark of the Jaguar, which premiered in 2021 at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York City.  In 2020, in response to the devastating fires in the Brazilian Pantanal, April co-created the Pantanal Relief Fund initiative with her friend Abbie Martin, and raised over $75,000 for the people and wildlife of the Pantanal.  

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Jamie Dawson

Development Director


Jamie is the Director of Education at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, the world’s first refuge for birds of prey.  She is also the co-founder and Board President of the Barn Nature Center Foundation, an educational animal sanctuary for rescued and rehomed exotic companion animals, as well as a TEDx Lehigh River speaker. Jamie received her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Gettysburg College and her master’s in Biology from Miami University’s Global Field Program, with a focus on solutions to anthropogenic threats to biodiversity. A love of wilderness and adventure inspired her to pursue further training at the Costa Rica Rainforest Outward Bound School and the National Outdoor Leadership School in Baja. 

Jamie is the former Chief Operating Officer for Youth Services Agency (YSA) and the former Director of the Barn Nature Center and YSA Nature Center. Jamie served on the YSA Executive Board of Directors for 14 years and on the Northern Lehigh Community Center board for six years.  Possessing an innate love of animals, nature, and cultural diversity, she is passionate about connecting people with the natural world and empowering others, especially youth, to make positive impacts in environmental stewardship and wildlife conservation.

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Robin Abrams 

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Wildlife Programs Director


Robin's path has always been driven by a desire to work for and with wildlife. Wanting to incorporate this into her career she studied and gained her first degree in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She would later go on to obtain her Associates in Zookeeping Technology from Pikes Peak Community College, but not before spending a year at a primate rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa. While earning her degrees, Robin dedicated much of her time volunteering at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Denver Zoo, and the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Colorado.


In 2014 Robin accepted a position on Houston Zoo's primate team, where in addition to standard husbandry work she aided in conservation fundraising and coordinating different primate sections. In 2016 Robin furthered her career by accepting a primate keeper position at Denver Zoo that she would immerse herself in for the next four years.

Robin hopes to build a better future for all wildlife through conservation education and hands-on aid with projects around the globe.

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Nikki Yuen

Education and Fundraising Coordinator


Nikki is an international flight attendant, wife and mother of three.  As an avid lover of plants and animals, her family spends every opportunity in nature and the outdoors.  From primitive camping in the forests of Nova Scotia, to searching for alternative water sources in the dry arid regions of Puerto Rico, to hiking through the humid jungles of Belize, Nikki and her husband continuously teach their children the importance of ecosystem health and how each one affects the whole of our planet. 


She is passionate about working to improve education in impoverished communities.  Additionally, Nikki has an extensive background in sustainability and is dedicated to promoting eco-friendly living through the products, businesses and organizations she supports in her daily life.  She hopes to inspire others to live more sustainable lifestyles in order to preserve our natural world for future generations to come.   

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Megan Fox

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Conservation Biologist


Megan Fox is an Avian Keeper II at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere and a Consulting Biologist for Conservation Wild. She has her Bachelor's in Zoology and her Masters in Zoology and Community-based Conservation from Miami University, where she was also an Associate Instructor. Her professional career allowed her to complete field work both locally and abroad in Middle tennessee, Ohio, Belize, Mongolia, and Namibia.


On top of her duties at the Nashville Zoo, she also participates in breeding and release of Eastern Loggerhead Shrike in Canada as well as population monitoring of native songbirds to Tennessee. She is also an active member of the Nashville chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers and in her time there has helped raise more than $50,000 for local and global conservation organizations.


Megan has a deep love and passion for wild places and wild things and enjoys nothing more than sharing her knowledge with others. Megan hopes that through creating connections and getting people excited about nature that we can make wildlife not only accessible for all but work together to save it. 

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Sherie Parker

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Wellness and Events Coordinator

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Raluca Banea

Business Advisor

A graduate of the Wharton School of Business with an MBA in Marketing and an MA in International Management, Raluca is a successful entrepreneur in the healthcare space.  She is deeply passionate about the environment, sustainability, and the protection of wildlife and loves supporting reforestation efforts in her native Transylvania.

Raluca takes every opportunity to travel and explore the most remote corners of this planet, spending as much time as possible in nature. She is currently a digital nomad, working remotely from various parts of the world and loving every minute of it.

Raluca is excited to join our team of wildlife conservationists and enthusiasts, provide guidance, support our projects around the world, and actively participate in our fieldwork.  

Wild Women/Team: Meet the Team
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Shayla Bellis

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Grant Writer and Digital Creator

Shayla has been a passionate wildlife/animal enthusiast since she was a small child. During college she interned and was a keeper assistant at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Also, she worked in a research laboratory at CSU that was focused on extreme physiology in animals and still volunteers to teach classes to this day.  She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology with a minor in Conservation Biology from Colorado State University.

Following her graduation, she pursued a professional internship at Disney’s Animal Kingdom where she focused on Reproductive Biology and Behavioral Husbandry for a vast array of animals. Wanting to move into direct animal care, she accepted a paid primate internship at Denver Zoo in 2014 and was eventually offered a full-time position on the primate team.

As a current Orangutan keeper (her dream job), she has the opportunity on a daily basis to not only care for these amazing critically endangered animals but also educate guests about conservation on a large scale. She has successfully been the recipients of two grants supporting conservation which have allowed her to support reforestation efforts in Borneo and wildlife rehabilitation in Ecuador. In addition, she assists yearly on different conservation efforts in her own backyard of Denver, Colorado including land restoration, public education, and animal surveys.

Shayla is passionate about working with Indigenous communities to produce measurable results for conservation efforts internationally. She cannot wait to assist Conservation Wild with finding funds to further advance their support and partnerships with organizations around the world.

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