Board of Directors

/ / Board of Directors
Board of Directors 2017-10-16T07:06:18+00:00

Officers

  • Charlie Gray

    President Elect - Treasurer

  • Dr. Arne Lawrenz

    Secretary

  • Frank Carlos Camacho

    Past President

  • Randy Rieches

    President

Charlie Gray

President Elect - Treasurer

Charlie Gray brings more than 25 years of elephant experience as the Elephant Manager at African Lion Safari in Ontario, Canada. Charlie Gray manages the largest breeding herd of Asian elephants in Canada and the largest Asian elephant herd in any zoological facility in North America. African Lion Safari has had more than 17 Asian elephants born at the park since 1991 and has had more second generation births than any other facility in North America. All of the calves born at the park – originating from 5 different fathers and 5 different mothers – are still living. Charlie is well known for his progressive elephant management program that utilizes elephants for display, education, rides and demonstrations. He is also well respected for his ability to manage multiple adult bulls in a breeding situation. African Lion Safari has been involved in many research projects including monitoring testosterone levels in males, semen collection, artificial insemination, and female Asian elephant hormone and urine assays. Gray is a founding member and past Board member of the Elephant Managers Association and a long-term member of the American Zoo and Aquarium (AZA) Elephant Taxon Advisory Group (AZA TAG/SSP) Management Group.

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Dr. Arne Lawrenz

Secretary

Dr. Arne Lawrenz is the Director of Wuppertal Zoo, one of the oldest and most prestigious zoos in Germany caring for approximately 5000 animals representing nearly 500 species. He holds a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine from the “Freie Universität Berlin” and cared for animals both large and small before coming to Wuppertal Zoo as the elephant curator and veterinarian in 1998.

Dr. Lawrenz is active in research and endangered species conservation, focusing on non-infectious diseases in the endangered Black-footed cat, and tuberculosis in elephants. He is Chairman of the Veterinary Committee of the European Association of Zoos & Aquaria (EAZA), President for Zoo Animal, Wildlife and Exotic Animal Medicine of Deutsche Veterinärmedizinische Gesellschaft (DVG), Past President of the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians (EAZWV), and Veterinary Advisor for the Black-footed Cat EEP, Asian Golden Cat EEP, and Pudu EEP.

Frank Carlos Camacho

Past President

Frank Carlos Camacho is the director of Africam Safari Park, Puebla, México and President of the Mexican Zoo and Aquaria Association (AZCARM, www.azcarm.com.mx), Chairman of the Board of the Committee for the Recovery of Endangered Species (ECRES, AZCARM), President of the International Eagle Conservation Alliance (ECA, www.EagleConservationAlliance.org), Member of the Board of the Latin-American Zoo and Aquaria Association (www.ALPZA.org) and Vice-president of Watusi Watoto Safari Camp. Frank is also a Master Scuba Diver (PADI), certified Open Water Rescue Diver. (PADI), certified in High Angle Rescue, certified in Swift Water Rescue and certified in Cliff Rescue.

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Randy Rieches

President

Randy Rieches is the Curator of Mammals at the San Diego Wild Animal Park working with exotic wildlife for 30 years. Randy manages a collection of 140 species/subspecies of animals numbering over 1700 specimens. Species under Randy’s care include breeding herds African and Asian elephants. Mr. Rieches is currently involved in both in situ and ex situ conservation issues and projects affecting the long term survival of elephants. He sits on the Board of Directors for the International Rhino Foundation and is the SSP Coordinator for Indian Rhinoceros, Vice Chair for the Rhinoceros TAG and is involved in current relocation programs for Indian Rhinoceros in India. He also sits on Elephant, Antelope, Equid and Caprinae Taxon Advisory Groups.

Board Members

  • Tom Albert

  • Dr. Barbara Baker

  • Denver Zoo

  • Martha Fischer

  • Mike Fouraker

  • Daryl Hoffman

  • Gary Johnson

  • Dr. Dennis Schmitt

  • Tim Morrow

  • Tom Stalf

  • Dr. Harald Schwammer

  • Dr. Robert Shumaker

  • Dr. Stuart D. Strahl

Tom Albert

Tom Albert is Vice President of Government Relations for Feld Entertainment, Inc., parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation a state-of-the-art breeding and conservation center in Florida, recognized and respected worldwide for their Asian elephant breeding program. Since 1992, the Ringling Bros. breeding program has celebrated the births of over 26 Asian elephants and counting.

Mr. Albert represents Feld Entertainment and the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation before Congress and various federal and state agencies, as well as at the biennial meetings of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). He is also active at international and U.S. conferences affecting Asian elephant conservation and management. With many years of experience working with the U.S. Congress, Feld Entertainment took the lead in the successful passage of the Asian Elephant Conservation Act of 1997.

The effort, which included a coalition of conservation groups, zoos and others, authorized $5 million in federal funds to support conservation projects that benefit the Asian elephant. Mr. Albert joined Feld after 15 years in private practice in Washington, D.C., where he represented clients, including Feld, on wildlife, natural resource, public lands and conservation issues before Congress and various federal and local regulatory bodies. Mr. Albert received his Juris Doctor cum laude from The American University – Washington College of Law and has a Bachelor of Arts in political science.

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Dr. Barbara Baker

Dr. Barbara Baker is President & CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, a facility housing over 6,000 animals and ranked in the top five zoos for families nationwide, with over 1 million visitors each year. During her 28 year career, she was a veterinarian at numerous facilities housing African and Asian elephants, including the Bronx Zoo, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Riverbanks Zoo. Dr. Baker has supported the vision, programs, and resources for the Pittsburgh Zoo’s elephant herd to grow from 2 to 10 animals, one of the largest in the U.S., including 4 successful births. The Zoo recently developed a 724 acres (290 hectares) property into its International Conservation Center (ICC), a conservation, breeding and education center with the primary focus on African elephants. The facility includes a 10,000 sq. ft. elephant barn that is currently home to 3 elephants, including “Jackson,” one of the most valuable breeding bulls in the country.

The Pittsburgh Zoo has developed a number of international partnerships for elephants, including a formal partnership with the Institute for Zoological and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin, and a unique “sister zoo” relationship with ZooWuppertal in Germany, now a very successful ten year partnership. Dr. Baker is currently coordinating research efforts on African elephants in the wild in collaboration with IZW, ZooParc de Beauval in France, the National Zoo in South Africa, the SA Biobank, and the University of Western Cape, SA.

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Denver Zoo

Denver Zoo has connected guests with Asian Elephants since 1951. In 2012 we opened our newest elephant habitat Toyota Elephant Passage. It is a 10.5 acre exhibit with 1.2 million gallons of pools and the ability to house bull elephants in any one of the 6 outdoor yards or the nine indoor areas. Denver Zoo has a strong history with Asian elephants and our commitment to bull elephants is most recently playing out with the introduction of all three of our bull elephants and running an all bull herd. We have also supported and participated in numerous in situ conservation programs for Asian elephants, most recently in Vietnam.

Martha Fischer

Martha Fischer has been with the Saint Louis Zoo for 27 years and is currently serving as its Curator of Mammals/Ungulates and Elephants. Her primary duties include the management of the Zoo’s Asian elephant breeding, research and conservation program, overseeing all aspects of the care and management of a multi-generational family herd of Asian elephants. Martha is the chair and species coordinator of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Elephant Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) and Species Survival Plan (SSP). She also chairs the AZA Antelope and Giraffe TAG, is the SSP Coordinator for Grevy’s Zebra and Speke’s gazelle and serves on the IUCN Equid Specialist Group and the IUCN Antelope Specialist Group.

In 2004 the Saint Louis Zoo launched its WildCare Institute which takes a focused approach to helping save ecosystems around the globe. Comprised of twelve conservation centers targeting specific regions and the wildlife and habitats found in them, the WildCare Institute works towards a sustainable environmental future. As the Director of two large Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute initiatives – the Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa and the Elephant Conservation Program – Martha leads the Saint Louis Zoo’s in situ conservation efforts in these arenas.

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Mike Fouraker

Mike Fouraker is the Executive Director of the nationally ranked Fort Worth Zoo and has been with the institution since 1993. Fouraker brings more than 27 years of elephant management skills to the IEF with experience in the elephant programs at both the Fort Worth and Knoxville Zoos. The Fort Worth Zoo’s Asian elephant breeding program includes two adult bull elephants and five females. Mike has served on the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) Board of Directors and is an active Board Member on several conservation foundations including the International Rhino Foundation and the International Iguana Foundation. Additionally, he served as the coordinator for the AZA White Rhino Species Survival Plan (SSP), and is a member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Conservation Breeding Specialist Group and World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

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Daryl Hoffman

Daryl started his zoo career in 1989 at the Buffalo Zoo. In 1993, he began working with elephants and has not looked back since. In June of 2006, Daryl became the Curator of Large Mammals at the Houston Zoo where his primary duties include the oversight of the zoo’s Asian elephant breeding and research program. The zoo’s elephant program is multi-dimensional in terms of its training and daily management. Daryl is one of the leaders in the Houston Zoo’s partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and research of the Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus (EEHV). Being a part of finding a cure for EEHV is one Daryl’s passions. Daryl is currently the Executive Director of the Elephant Managers Association (EMA) and has served the EMA Board of Directors in some capacity since 2000. Under Daryl’s leadership, this organization continues to grow with increased membership and the establishment of a webpage and merchandise sales. He has been an instructor at the AZA Principles of Elephant Management School since 2002 and a member of the AZA Elephant TAG/SSP Management Group since 2007.

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Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson is the owner of Have Trunk Will Travel, a California-based Asian elephant breeding facility. With over 40 years of experience, Johnson and his wife Kari are internationally recognized experts in elephant care and training and are widely recognized for their contributions to elephant management and husbandry. They can take credit for most of the Asian elephant work currently seen in North American television and movies. Mr. Johnson is well respected for his involvement in animal welfare issues and has served on the boards and animal welfare committees of many organizations. Gary and Kari Johnson are committed to finding means to diagnose, treat and ultimately prevent elephant deaths from Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus and to that end have raised tens of thousands of dollars to fund research. They agree that their greatest achievements are the births of four baby elephants at their ranch and the cooperation with other facilities which has resulted in several more elephant births: “We are very proud of the fact that we have been able to develop a dedicated and hard-working team of people who believe as strongly as we do in the importance of preserving this endangered species. Our lives are centered on a positive cause. We are devoted to promoting the health and welfare of elephants everywhere.” The Johnsons have been honored by their peers with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Elephant Managers Association.

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Dr. Dennis Schmitt

Dennis Schmitt, DVM, Ph.D., wears the hat of a number of different organizations. As a professor at Southwest Missouri State University, he instructs his students in advanced assisted reproduction. While serving as a consulting veterinarian, Schmitt specializes in elephant medical and reproductive management to elephant facilities worldwide. As owner of Reproductive Resources, he operates an assisted reproduction program for the domestic animal industry. Schmitt is the leading elephant reproductive physiologist in North America and serves as a Research and Reproductive Advisor for the AZA Elephant TAG/SSP Management Group. He announced the first successful conception by artificial insemination of an elephant, an Asian, in June of 1998 and was involved in the subsequent first two successful artificial inseminations of African elephants in North America in 1998. Schmitt continues to perform inseminations with over fifteen additional conceptions to date. Schmitt also conducts workshops internationally to train veterinarians and wildlife specialists in the technology of ultrasonography and semen collection.

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Tim Morrow

Tim is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio as well as San Antonio College. Prior to joining the San Antonio Zoo in December 2014, Tim had a 24-year career in the theme park industry, and has been part of the opening of several theme parks including Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, Parque Plaza Sesame in Monterrey, Mexico, Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida and most recently Aquatica Waterpark in San Antonio, Texas.

He currently serves as the CEO and Executive Director for the San Antonio Zoo and its Zoo School, which will open in fall 2017 as the largest nature based preschool in the country. Tim leads a team of nine vice presidents who together oversee nearly 500 employees, 600 volunteers and care for a multitude of animal species, some of which are threatened or endangered. Tim’s vision to take the San Antonio Zoo to new heights began with investing $5 million into upgrading and renovating more than 100 animal habitats in his first two years. The most dramatic first improvements were the opening of a new home for giraffes, the addition of rain gardens both in the giraffe and elephant habitats, and expanding the African lion habitat. Tim serves on the boards of several organizations, including the International Elephant Foundation, San Antonio Tourism Council, UTSA Alumni Association, and Young Presidents Organization’s San Antonio chapter.

While away from the “office,” Tim cheers on the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Cowboys, and his favorite travel partners are his wife Jennifer and two children.

Tom Stalf

As President and CEO, Tom Stalf leads the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Zoombezi Bay, Safari Golf Club, and the Wilds with a single focus – inspire people to make a difference for wildlife and wild places. Annually, over 3 million people visit the Columbus Zoo and its other entities, making it one of the most successful zoological institutions in the country.

Tom has more than 24 years of experience in the zoo world. He began his career as a Zookeeper in 1991, and by 1995 was the Director of Illinois’ Niabi Zoo. Tom joined the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 2010 as Senior Vice President of Operations. One year later he was promoted to Chief Operations Officer, and the Board of Directors appointed him President and CEO in February 2013. Under his leadership, the Zoo opened its largest region to date, the award-winning Heart of Africa, and the Zoo, Zoombezi Bay and the Wilds have all achieved record-breaking attendance numbers.

A tireless champion for wildlife, Tom uses his gift of storytelling and love of education to help inspire people to join the Zoo’s mission of protecting animals globally and locally. He has traveled with Jack Hanna for zoo promotions and national television appearances for nearly 20 years. Tom places a high priority on animal welfare and conservation, and has visited several countries in which the Zoo supports conservation programs.

Dr. Harald Schwammer

Dr. Harald Schwammer is the Vice Director at the Schoenbrunn Tiergarten (Vienna Zoo) in Vienna, Austria. Dr. Schwammer is the founder and President of the European Elephant Keeper and Manager Association (EEKMA) and the team manager of the International Elephant Management Academy. Dr. Schwammer has authored more than 50 scientific and popular publications about elephants and has organized multiple international workshops in Vienna, Europe, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan. Workshop topics ranged from training elephants to medical care, treatment and research to training programs for keepers, veterinarians, curators, mahouts and elephant owners.

Harald manages a breeding herd of African elephants and directed the Vienna Zoo’s research program that resulted in the first elephant conceived via artificial insemination outside of North America. The birth of this male calf was soon followed by the birth of a female calf produced by natural breeding.

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Dr. Robert Shumaker

Dr. Rob Shumaker is an evolutionary biologist who specializes in the study of behavior and cognition. He has worked in the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) community for 30 years. Born and raised in the Washington D. C. metropolitan area, he started his career at the Smithsonian National Zoo as a volunteer animal keeper. During his 20 year tenure there, Dr. Shumaker worked as an animal keeper, curator, biologist, exhibit designer, and scientist. He spent several years at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa as the senior scientist supervising all research with orangutans. In 2010 he moved to the Indianapolis Zoo and currently serves as the Supervising VP of Conservation, Science, and Education.

Dr. Shumaker has been a faculty member at George Mason University and Drake University, and an affiliate faculty member at Iowa State University. Currently, he is an external research associate at the Krasnow Institute, and an adjunct professor at Indiana University.

Dr. Shumaker has authored or co-authored numerous scientific publications, books, and articles for the popular press. His most recent book is Animal Tool Behavior: The use and manufacture of tools by animals, published by the Johns Hopkins Press. His work has been featured in such media outlets as National Geographic, NPR, the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, PBS, Time magazine, and the BBC.

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Dr. Stuart D. Strahl

With 30 years of background in national and international programs, Dr. Stuart Strahl is a career conservationist with deep experience in applied science, restoration ecology, public policy and not-for-profit management. He serves as President/CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates the world-famous Brookfield Zoo – the most popular paid cultural attraction in the Midwest, serving over 2.3 million guests with an annual economic impact of over $150 million. At CZS Dr. Strahl oversees a staff of 430 full-time and 1,200 part-time and seasonal employees, a volunteer corps of over 750, as well as numerous local, regional and international conservation, education and animal welfare initiatives. Under his direction over the past 10 years the Society has developed new and innovative exhibits as well as significant partnerships serving the Chicago land community, and received numerous national awards.

Prior to arriving at CZS, from 1996-2003 Stuart led the National Audubon Society into prominence as the acknowledged private-sector leader in the largest ecological restoration initiative in history, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. His prior positions include: founding President/CEO of Audubon of Florida, Vice President of the National Audubon Society, and Conservation Scientist and founding Director of Latin American Programs for the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Fluent in Spanish, Stuart is also dedicated to converting conservation into a mainstream public and economic issue. He has worked extensively to develop lasting partnerships in the U.S. and Latin America, resulting in preservation of over 30 million acres of wildlife habitat and over $15 billion in conservation funding.

Stuart received his B.A. degree in Biology from Bates College, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and his Ph.D. in Biology from the State University of New York at Albany. A well respected author and distinguished lecturer, he is the principal author of numerous scientific and popular publications. He has served on adjunct faculties of the University of Florida, State University of New York, and Washington College. He has served on numerous appointed commissions, and has broad experience in bringing together diverse interests around mainstream causes. An avid outdoorsman, Stuart and his family enjoy exploring remote natural areas.

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Staff

  • Deborah Olson

    Executive Director

  • Sarah Conley

    Conservation Assistant

Deborah Olson

Executive Director

Deborah Olson is the Executive Director of the International Elephant Foundation. With 30 years of African elephant experience, she led the Indianapolis Zoo’s reproductive research program, which involves monitoring progesterone and luteininzing hormones of female elephants , correlating these hormones to reproductive tract changes through transrectal ultrasonography, which ultimately led to the successful insemination of two female African elephants in 1998. Olson has served on the AZA Elephant TAG/ SSP Management Group; the AZA Elephant Task Force; and is past Editor of the Journal of the Elephant Managers Association, is the North American Region African Elephant Studbook keeper, and edited the Elephant Husbandry Resource Guide.

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Sarah Conley

Conservation Assistant

Sarah Conley comes to the International Elephant Foundation as its Conservation Assistant after having had the opportunity to work with Asian elephants in California as a teenager. Conley has been working with and for elephants ever since. In the process she attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) majoring in Economics with minors in English Literature and Music History, graduating Summa Cum Laude and being honored with UCLA’s prestigious Distinguished Bruin Award.

Conley has been active in legislative and animal welfare issues, working to secure a future for elephants in a world where people are increasingly disconnected from nature. She is a nationally published writer and regular contributor to animal welfare and animal industry publications.