WILDLIFE CENTER - Key Persons


Alex Olvera

Job Titles:
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation Supervisor
Alejandra (Alex) was born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico on the border of Texas. Along with her family, Alex immigrated to Brownsville, Texas at a young age and was raised in between the Mexican-American border. The rich fauna of South Texas played a crucial role in her passion for wildlife. Alex began her docent training at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville in 2009. Alex participated in outreach events and also assisted keepers with husbandry duties. She completed her Bachelor's in Biology at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley in 2013 and began working in the Russel Aquarium inside Gladys Porter Zoo where she took care of a collection of fish native to the Gulf of Mexico, elasmobranchs, and a small reptile collection. Alex later transferred to the carnivore and gorilla department of Gladys Porter Zoo, where she took care of different species of bears, large cats, wild dogs, and primates. After a couple of years, she began transitioning into the animal health department clinic where she trained as a wildlife rehabilitator and veterinary assistant/technician under the direction of the senior veterinarian. As part of her training and duties, Alex was part of the marine mammal stranding team and natural disaster response team, and coordinated training for oil-spill certifications and training. Alex helped establish a Certified Veterinarian Assistant (CVA) program with the local high school; the program included hands-on workshops and online lessons focusing on zoo and wildlife medicine and helped Alex realize the importance of mentoring and teaching in this field. She obtained her Masters in Biology in the fall of 2020, where she focused her thesis on the Vitamin D serology of captive African Tree Pangolins (Manis tricuspis). Alex received a Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator (CWR) certification from the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council and a CVA certificate from the Texas Veterinary Board in 2020. She completed a veterinarian technician program in spring 2023 shortly before starting at the Wildlife Center. Alex enjoys spending time with her pets, especially her dogs, as well as taking photographs. Alex enjoys working with the diverse fauna of Virginia and continuing to teach and mentor students interested in wildlife rehabilitation.

Alex Wehrung

Job Titles:
  • Member of the Outreach and Education Team
  • Public Affairs Manager
  • Public Affairs Manager for Education
Alex was inspired to pursue a career in the outdoors from a young age. After graduating from West Virginia University with a B.S. in parks, recreation, and tourism resources in 2012, he traveled the country exploring a number of different professions - from park ranger to zoo keeper -- and quickly understood the value of connecting others to nature through education. Alex discovered the Wildlife Center when he moved to Virginia in 2015, and began training as a volunteer outreach docent shortly afterwards. He joined the full-time staff as an outreach coordinator in 2016, graduating from Slippery Rock University with a M.Ed. in environmental education later that year. As a member of the outreach department Alex works to create meaningful and lasting relationships with the public in a variety of ways, such as communicating with news media representatives, creating website and social media content, and presenting educational programs.

Amanda Nicholson - SVP

Job Titles:
  • Member of the Outreach and Education Team
  • Senior Vice President
Amanda first became involved with the Wildlife Center of Virginia when she attended Bridgewater College - first as a volunteer, then as an animal care preceptorship student in 2000. After graduating with a degree in biology in 2001, Amanda joined the staff as the weekend receptionist and part-time rehabilitator. Over the years, Amanda has held several different positions at the Wildlife Center; currently she serves as the senior vice president for outreach and education. In this position, Amanda oversees the department responsible for public education, training, and community involvement. Amanda manages the Center's ever-changing website; manages the "Critter Cam" and moderated discussion; organizes the annual Call of the Wild conference; co-produces Untamed: Life is Wild, the Center's television program; helps plan various events; and oversees the care and training of the Center's team of education ambassadors. She also serves as the program coordinator for the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association's annual symposium. Amanda loves the dynamic nature of the ever-changing activities going on at a wildlife hospital and sharing the Wildlife Center's mission and stories with others.

Amber Buck

Job Titles:
  • Operations Manager
Amber grew up in central Virginia and has had a fondness since a young age for the outdoors and all things nature-related. She spent much of her childhood adventuring in the woods during family camping vacations in the Blue Ridge Mountains. After earning her degree in biology with a focus in environmental science, she began working as an environmental educator at a nature center in central Virginia. It was during this experience that her interest in wildlife and outdoor education really grew. Soon after relocating to Waynesboro, she joined the Wildlife Center staff as the office administrator. In her free time, Amber enjoys hiking with her husband and two pups, as well as gardening and beekeeping.

Ashlee Ott

Job Titles:
  • Development Associate
Ashlee graduated from Bridgewater College with a degree in environmental science in May 2021. Ever since she was a young girl, Ashlee had a soft spot in her heart for all animals. As she got older, that passion for animals turned into a shared passion for conservation. Prior to coming to the Wildlife Center, Ashlee followed the Center's work and even obtained a certification through the Wildlife Care Academy in 2017. She lives in the small town of Grottoes, with her spoiled bearded dragon, Pepé. In her free time, Ashlee enjoys camping, birdwatching, tending to her plants, baking, and painting.

Ben Cole

Job Titles:
  • Seasonal Veterinary Assistant
Ben is a Charlottesville, Virginia native who grew up hearing field guides instead of bedtime stories and visiting the Wildlife Center of Virginia on field trips and open house days, making the opportunity to be a part of the team at WCV an absolute dream come true for him. Ben graduated from The University of Hartford in 2012 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting, which launched him into seven years of working as a New York-based professional actor, appearing in theatrical and film productions all around the country. Returning to the central Virginia area after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Ben completed the Center's rehabilitation externship in the late summer/early fall, thrilled to have the opportunity to explore a passion previously deferred. In 2021, he completed a one-year wildlife rehabilitation internship, and then took the skills that he learned and applied them to a seasonal wildlife rehabilitation position in 2022 at the New Mexico Wildlife Center. In early 2023, Ben found his way back to the Wildlife Center of Virginia as a seasonal veterinary assistant. In his free time, he enjoys fishing, watching bad movies, and cheering on his beloved University of Virginia Cavaliers.

Connor Gillespie

Job Titles:
  • Member of the Outreach and Education Team
  • Outreach Coordinator
Connor grew up in Southwest Florida, where he spent most of his childhood outdoors, exploring nature parks and preserves. From a young age, he knew he wanted to pursue a career working with wildlife. During college, he started volunteering at a local zoo and quickly moved into a zookeeper position in the carnivore department. Connor dedicated his time at the zoo to teaching the public about the animals he worked with and ways to support conservation efforts in the wild. After five years in the zoo field, Connor decided he wanted a more direct role in helping local, native wildlife. In September 2020, he joined the Wildlife Center as part of the front-desk team, where he helped the public resolve wildlife issues and coordinated the intake and release of the patients. After a year at the front desk, Connor transitioned to his current role as the Center's outreach coordinator. He enjoys working with the Center's team of animal ambassadors and presenting programs to share their stories and the stories of thousands of other animals that come through the Center's doors. When not at work, Connor likes to spend his free time reading, swimming, and exploring hiking trails with his dog.

Dr. Emma Winstead

Job Titles:
  • Veterinary Intern
Dr. Emma Winstead was born in Virginia, but raised in Venezuela, Egypt, Germany, and Greece. Always fascinated by science and hoping to contribute to conservation, she received her B.S. in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia. While there, she was lucky to learn from the Wildlife Center of Virginia as a rehabilitation preceptor and then volunteer. She received her DVM in 2019 from Tufts University where she divided her time between wildlife and domestic species. Following graduation, she completed a rotating internship at an equine hospital and went on to spend the bulk of the pandemic working with cats and dogs in a private practice in Virginia Beach. Dr. Emma returned to wildlife medicine last fall, working at a pinniped rehabilitation facility in California. She is grateful to be back at the Wildlife Center of Virginia as one of the 2023-2024 veterinary interns. Outside of veterinary medicine, she maintains a love for the ocean, hiking, horses, and her new dog!

Dr. Karra Pierce

Job Titles:
  • Director of Veterinary Services
Dr. Karra grew up on the west coast of Canada, near the city of Vancouver. She completed her Bachelor of Science in biology at the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island. During this time, she started working as a staff wildlife rehabilitator at a large wildlife rehabilitation center. Here, Dr. Karra fell in love with wildlife rehabilitation and wildlife medicine. Following her undergraduate degree, Dr. Karra moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to attend the Western College of Veterinary Medicine with the goal of becoming a wildlife veterinarian. During this time, she continued to dedicate herself to working with wildlife. After receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, she did a one-year small-animal rotating internship at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and then joined the team at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. In her time at the Wildlife Center, she has held the position of veterinary intern, senior veterinary intern, research fellow, and is currently the director of veterinary services. Dr. Karra loves teaching interns, veterinary students, and wildlife rehabilitators from all over the world about wildlife rehabilitation and wildlife medicine. She enjoys all aspects of her job but is particularly fond of treating all things tiny. You will often find her creating micro-bandages and miniature splits for her littlest patients. Her professional goals are centered around advancing the profession of wildlife rehabilitation and learning as much as we can from the patients that come through our doors. Dr. Karra spends her free time with her ever-changing menagerie of pets and her partner, Dr. Patrick, who is also a veterinarian.

Dr. Natalie Brown

Job Titles:
  • Veterinary Intern
Dr. Natalie was born in Maryland and completed her Bachelor of Science at the University of Maryland. She then moved to the jungles of Costa Rica to study the behavioral ecology of three- and two-toed sloths. Through field research, she was granted the privilege of experiencing free-ranging wildlife in its element. She was likewise involved in wildlife rehabilitation, medicine, and data science initiatives abroad. Dr. Natalie worked with sloths from the moment of rescue to years post-release, tracking rehabilitated subjects and evaluating re-integration abilities and health outcomes against wild-tagged counterparts. This multiyear journey solidified her love of wildlife. She returned to Virginia and obtained her DVM at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. As a student, Dr. Natalie conducted research on disease ecology of the common vampire bat and later returned to Costa Rica to continue prior work. She completed numerous wildlife and population health-focused externships, expanding her expertise and interests to include livestock. She was a student at the WCV twice and rotated through other organizations including Arizona Game and Fish Department, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Vermont Department of Population Health Sciences, and Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health. After graduating as a veterinarian, Dr. Natalie enthusiastically returned to the Wildlife Center of Virginia to begin her professional career for a one-year veterinary internship. Although a fan of all taxa, she holds a particular fondness for misunderstood species and challenging patients. Recognizing the impact of mentorship on her own career, Dr. Natalie looks forward to teaching veterinary students and aims to empower them as confident advocates for wildlife and ecosystem health. Outside of work, Dr. Natalie enjoys hiking, traveling, writing, and collecting new experiences.

Edward Clark - Founder, President

Job Titles:
  • Founder
  • President
  • National Leader
Since the late 1970s, Ed Clark has been a national leader in the field of conservation. His involvement has ranged from wilderness designation and public land management to pesticide regulation and endangered species protection. Raised in Flint Hill, Virginia, Ed received a B.A. in history and political science from Bridgewater College. He did graduate work in education at James Madison University and University of Virginia. His professional training includes environmental mediation, organization management, and strategic planning. In 1979, Ed became the first executive director of the Conservation Council of Virginia Foundation, the environmental advocacy and education organization known today as the Virginia Conservation Network. In 1980, he co-founded and became assistant director of the Environmental Task Force in Washington, DC, a national grassroots support network. In 1982, he returned to the Shenandoah Valley and began his work as a leadership trainer and organizational consultant for national conservation and non-profit groups, including Trout Unlimited, the Sierra Club, Habitat for Humanity, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society International, the Appalachian Trail Conference, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and many others. In November of 1982, Ed co-founded The Wildlife Center of Virginia. Ed has also served on boards and advisory councils of more than twenty regional, national, and international conservation organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation (Eastern Vice Chair), International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (President), Philippe Cousteau Foundation (Founding Secretary), and Southern Environmental Law Center (President's Council). He is currently a member of the board of directors of Fundacion Ecolombia, a wildlife conservation organization based in Medellin, Colombia. Ed is a well-known and widely recognized television personality. He is currently the host of UNTAMED, the Wildlife Center's weekly series airing on PBS affiliates nationwide. Previously, Ed was the host of two award-winning series, Wildlife Emergency, which aired worldwide on Animal Planet, and Virginia Outdoors on Virginia Public Television. Ed has appeared in several films and documentaries and has been a frequent guest on network television programs such as CNN's Larry King Live, NBC's TODAY, FOX News, CBS Saturday Morning, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal.

Elizabeth Duffy

Job Titles:
  • Wildlife Rehabilitator
Liz was born and raised in Carmel, Indiana, in a large suburb of Indianapolis. She graduated early from Purdue University in 2018 with a B.S. in interdisciplinary agriculture with minors in wildlife science and natural resources/environmental science. Liz's love of wildlife started while she was in college when she began volunteering and later interning at Providence Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Westfield, Indiana. During her time there, the director of the center began teaching and providing her with a base knowledge and tools to pursue a career as a wildlife rehabilitator. After graduating, Liz took a six-month position at the Miami Seaquarium, where she worked closely with the staff to take care of and monitor resident and rehabilitating manatees and sea turtles. From there, she became a fellow at C.R.O.W (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife) in Sanibel, Florida for six months working with all native Florida species. After moving from Florida, Liz completed a season at the Indianapolis Zoo as a macaw trainer to assist with training and running the free-flight shows. Liz also worked as a veterinary technician before joining the Wildlife Center as a wildlife rehabilitator in the fall of 2021. Liz's hobbies include drawing, painting, watching new shows with her husband, and hanging out with her bird, Green Bean. Liz enjoys working with young mammals and all birds (especially waterfowl) and is excited to have the opportunity to work with a wider variety of native mammals.

Grace Leytham

Job Titles:
  • Coordinator

Grace Richey

Job Titles:
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation Intern
Grace was born and raised in northern Utah where she spent the majority of her time outdoors. Her love for wildlife goes as far back as she can remember. She earned a BS in wildlife biology with a minor in fire science and management from the University of Montana in 2022. Each summer during her undergrad years, Grace worked with the Utah DNR on their aquatic invasive species program, but her long-term goal has always been in the wildlife rehabilitation field. After graduation, she got the opportunity to intern with the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center near Key Largo where she worked with a wide variety of seabirds, shorebirds, songbirds, and raptors. During her one-year internship at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, she hopes to gain experience in mammal and reptile care, as well as further her knowledge of different avian species. In her free time, Grace enjoys hiking, baking, and exploring new cities all over Virginia and the surrounding states. She is very excited to be a part of the WCV team!

Jenn Dunsheath

Job Titles:
  • Veterinary Technician Intern
Jenn is from Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Her love for animals started early in life, and she pursued her dream by obtaining a B.A. in biology from Seton Hall University in 2020, followed by a Veterinary Technology degree from Bergen Community College in 2022. During her college years, Jenn volunteered as a docent at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, shadowed her local veterinarian, and completed two student externships at small-animal emergency practices, gaining valuable experience in the field. Jenn also loves to travel and learn about new cultures, and in 2018, Jenn traveled to Oudtshoorn, South Africa, to volunteer at Cango Wildlife Ranch, where she assisted in medical treatments, feedings, and animal enrichment. Her travels continued in the Fall of 2019, when she sailed on Semester at Sea, studying the conservation of marine megafauna, tropical ecology and evolution, and global environmental systems -- observing the species she was learning about firsthand in the Strait of Gibraltar, the Galapagos Islands, and the rainforests of Ghana and Costa Rica. In her free time, Jenn likes photography, getting overly competitive at trivia nights, and face-timing with her family, friends, and dog, Olive, back in NJ. For Jenn, the best part of working with wildlife is being challenged to think outside the box and put her creativity to good use. She is so excited to be a part of the WCV staff!

Jess Ransier

Job Titles:
  • Licensed Veterinary Technician Supervisor
Jess is originally from Baldwinsville, New York, a small suburb outside Syracuse. She graduated in 2015 from Unity College, with a B.S. in Captive Wildlife Care and Education and a minor in Zoology. After graduating from Unity, she completed a six-month fellowship at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation for Wildlife (C.R.O.W.) in Sanibel, FL, which solidified her love of wildlife and veterinary medicine. After completing her fellowship at C.R.O.W., Jess went back to school to pursue a degree in Veterinary Technology at Genesee Community College in Batavia, New York. Upon graduation from GCC, Jess joined the WCV team and completed the 13- month diagnostic LVT internship during the 2018-2019 season. She was then subsequently hired as one of the full-time LVT staff in July of 2019 and is now the LVT supervisor, which is one of three full-time LVT positions. Jess loves working with all wildlife but is especially fond of Barred owls. In her spare time, Jess enjoys spending time outdoors with her beloved dog, Bonnie, and working on small projects around the house with her husband, Anthony.

Kelly Matherly

Job Titles:
  • Fundraising Coordinator
Kelly volunteered at the Wildlife Center when the new facility first opened in Waynesboro in 1995 and became a permanent staff member with the development team in December 2001. During her time at the Center, Kelly has had the opportunity to support and enrich the essential relationships with the Center's supporters through open house tours, environmental education programs, Gala organization, animal releases, and the personal acknowledgement of contributions. Kelly received a B.S. in forestry and wildlife from Virginia Tech in 1998 with a focus on environmental education and human dimensions related to wildlife and natural resource management. Kelly enjoys spending time with her family and pets as well as traveling, reading, kayaking, and cooking.

Kristen Sluiter

Job Titles:
  • Special Projects Coordinator
Kristen began at the Wildlife Center in 2008 as front-desk coordinator, responding to wildlife inquiries and admitting patients. In 2009, she became the special projects coordinator as a part of the development team. Kristen is largely responsible for planning the Center's annual Gala & Benefit, assists with grant applications and fundraising, plus any other "special projects" that arise. Kristen holds a degree in biology from James Madison University. She enjoys cooking, hiking, reading, traveling, and spending time with her husband and two children.

Larry Garretson

Job Titles:
  • Director of Strategic Advancement
Larry was born in Buffalo, New York and spent his high school and college years living with his family in the Finger Lakes region of central New York - where winters were spent shoveling snow and skating on ice, and summers were divided between performing in theater around the region and boating on the lake with his friends. He moved to Charlottesville in the 1980s to study English at the University of Virginia. After graduate school, he worked for 20 years as a freelance consultant for a wide array of local, national, and international clients. He wore a lot of hats, working at times as a technical writer, a corporate governance analyst, a broker of charter yacht vacations, a branding and communications consultant for corporations and non-profits, a journalist, and a documentary filmmaker. Prior to coming to the Wildlife Center, he served for five years as Director of Communications and Foundation Relations at the Virginia Institute of Autism. His work at the Wildlife Center involves helping to drive strategic initiatives and opening up access to new audiences and new supporters. Larry and family have enjoyed camping in national parks, including an epic, three-week, 5700-mile road trip to Badlands, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons.

Lauren Glaze

Job Titles:
  • Outreach Communications Coordinator
Lauren began her journey in environmentally focused work by conducting environmental science research at UNC Chapel Hill. She quickly realized the significance of the gap between the consensus among the scientific community and the general public regarding the importance of addressing the climate crisis and environmental destruction on multiple levels. She turned to video production and communications work as a way to bridge this gap and as a creative outlet to share stories that touch people's hearts, encouraging them to make meaningful and lasting change. In her free time, she is an avid herbalist and gardener.

Lauren Swinson

Job Titles:
  • Hospital Administration Assistant
Lauren Swinson is a Virginia native with a life-long interest in wildlife and what we can do to minimize human impact on our wild neighbors. After more than a decade as a stay-at-home mom, Lauren joined the front-desk team in 2020 to put her enthusiasm for wildlife and people skills to work helping the community navigate how to peacefully coexist with wildlife, and to discern the proper time for human intervention. Lauren has since moved into a new role as hospital administration assistant, where she continues to support the mission of the Wildlife Center through her efforts by assisting with the volunteer program, ordering supplies for the hospital, and coordinating veterinary externships, in addition to other responsibilities. In her free time, Lauren enjoys exploring nature with her family, making art, reading, and gardening.

Lilly Farmer

Job Titles:
  • Seasonal Veterinary Assistant
Lilly was born and raised in a small town in central Virginia. As a child, she would spend hours capturing and identifying insects in her backyard or checking out every animal-based book in her local library. While this passion had dwindled as life continued on, it was reignited in Lilly's senior year of high school when she completed a capstone project on the role emotions play in wildlife education. She learned about the important emotional connections that wildlife educators facilitate between their students and the environment and how these connections lead to environmentally friendly behaviors. During this project, Lilly completed a short internship at a Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary, a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Nelson County. Lilly fell in love with the world of wildlife rehabilitation, medicine, and education, and eventually found her way to the front-desk coordinator position at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. In 2023, Lilly moved to the "other side" of the building and took a seasonal position in the hospital. In her free time, Lilly enjoys hiking, reading, upcycling, and playing with her two ferrets, Oliver and Frankie.

McKenzie Stewart

Job Titles:
  • Rehabilitation Team Lead
McKenzie (Mac) was born and raised in Orlando, Florida, where she grew up camping and spending time outdoors. She earned her BS in natural resource conservation from the University of Florida in 2017 and has since worked in wildlife conservation and rehabilitation across the southeast. Mac particularly enjoyed a year spent in south Florida working on several field research projects, including a native rodent population study and a project tracking and capturing invasive Burmese pythons and Argentine Tegus in the Florida Everglades; this is where her love for reptiles began! Mac moved to Philadelphia in 2019 to work as a veterinary technician with companion animals, but she quickly realized her true passion was working with wildlife. This led her to move to Virginia for a seasonal position with Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary, just across the mountain from the Wildlife Center. She was thrilled to join WCV's permanent rehabilitation staff in the fall of 2021. Although Mac loves working with many kinds of wildlife, she is particularly fond of Virginia Opossums, herons, Ospreys, and all snake species. Outside of her work at WCV, Mac enjoys exploring the hiking trails around Charlottesville, playing board games with her friends, and spending time with her cat Theodore and her snake Kevin.

Michael Adkins

Job Titles:
  • Supervisor
Michael is a native of Norfolk, Virginia, and has lived in Charlottesville since 2015. After spending most of the last decade travelling the country as a touring musician, Michael discovered his passion for animal welfare while working at a local domestic shelter. He is excited to continue learning about the natural history and behavior of wild animals through his experiences at the Wildlife Center and while exploring the beauty of central Virginia. He and his wife Madie enjoy hiking around the area with their two adopted dogs and frequenting Shenandoah National Park several times a year. Michael is a snake enthusiast and loves observing and identifying them for his friends and neighbors. He hopes to use his knowledge and appreciation of snakes to help educate his community about the important benefits they provide to our ecosystem.

Paige Pettry

Job Titles:
  • Front Desk Coordinator
Paige grew up in Staunton, Virginia, and from a young age brought injured wildlife to the Center with her family. Paige graduated from James Madison University in May 2023 with her B.S. in biology, where she earned "Best Thesis" across the university for her honors thesis, which focused on creating a species distribution map for an endemic species of salamander, the Shenandoah Mountain Salamander. After graduating, Paige completed a wildlife rehabilitation externship at the Center where her favorite tasks included helping raise White-tailed Deer fawns and other species of orphaned wildlife. She was then hired on to work at the front desk, where her tasks include arranging transport for the intake and release of patients, answering wildlife questions, and intaking new patients. When not at work, Paige likes to spend time outside birding and walking around the park, reading, and spending time with her cat Jody.

Rachel Wolffe

Job Titles:
  • Licensed Veterinary Technician
Rachel grew up in Short Hills, New Jersey, a suburb of New York City. Her love of all creatures and the outdoors led her to attend the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She graduated with a B.S. in conservation biology. After graduating, she moved to Lexington, Virginia with her family. Rachel then went back to school to pursue a degree in Veterinary Technology through Blue Ridge Community College. While in vet tech school, she started volunteering at the Wildlife Center, first with the rehab department, and then with the treatment team. After graduating from vet tech school, Rachel spent some time in small-animal medicine but realized that her passion is for wildlife and conservation. This led her back to the Wildlife Center for a 12-week externship during the summer of 2021. Rachel is very excited to be continuing as the Vet Tech Intern for 2021-2022. While she does not have one favorite animal, she is especially fond of reptiles and amphibians. In her free time, Rachel enjoys reading, baking, and hiking in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with her dog Tilly.

Randy Huwa

Job Titles:
  • Senior Advisor to the President
A native of Colorado, Randy has spent more than four decades in leadership and program management positions with national and regional nonprofit organizations. He spent nearly 20 years in Washington, D.C. at Common Cause, the national citizens' lobbying group, including more than a decade as vice president, leading its fundraising and communications programs. Randy was deputy director of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, directed communications and development for Montpelier [the home of James and Dolley Madison in Orange County, Virginia], and served as director of major and planned giving for WMRA, the National Public Radio station for Charlottesville and the Shenandoah Valley. Randy holds a B.A. from Colorado College and an M.A. from Rutgers University. Randy joined the Wildlife Center staff in October 2005. As vice president, Randy helps with fundraising, budgeting, and public relations for the Center - and other things to keep the trains on the track. He and his wife Jackie Howell, a writer, massage therapist, and yoga instructor, live in an old farmhouse run by their cats.