Wendy Knight

Chief Executive Officer |  Top 10 Most Successful CEO’s of 2021

Wendy joined Sea Turtle Inc. in 2020 bringing 25 years of corporate experience as an executive in the insurance and financial services market, specializing in acquisitions, sales, revenue building, marketing and operational execution. As a former Chief Operating Officer and Vice President Wendy brings a new level of depth and structure to the organization as we prepare for the next phase of growth and advancement of the mission at Sea Turtle Inc.   

Wendy and her husband Mark relocated to South Padre Island in 2016 and are actively involved in supporting island businesses and the city government. Wendy serves on the board of directors for the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce.   

 Wendy received her undergraduate degree cum laude from The University of Texas at Dallas.  Also, she holds insurance designations and licenses in 14 states, including a Managing General Agency license in Texas.  Wendy attended the Executive Education Program at Darden University School of Business. She graduated with distinction from the University of Texas at Dallas with an MBA in Global Business and Leadership.   

Amy Bonka, Ph.D.

 

Chief Conservation Officer | UAB Alumnus | 

Click here to read our latest research publication

Amy was named Chief Conservation Officer for Sea Turtle Inc. in 2020. With extensive sea turtle nesting, sea turtle research, and community building experience, Amy will play a significant role in sea turtle conservation.  As the organization’s first Chief Conservation Officer, she will lead the conservation and rehabilitation of sea turtles and grow Sea Turtle Inc.’s research program. 

Before the call into the nonprofit role, Amy excelled in academia. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in marine science. Following graduation, Amy spent several nesting seasons working with Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in Rancho Nuevo, Mexico. Inspired by this work to focus on the Kemp’s ridley during graduate school studies, she obtained her Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her research has focused on the ecology, biology, and conservation of the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, Texas’s state sea turtle! Her research interests include the dynamics of arribada nesting, the mass nesting events that occur in Kemp’s ridley (and Olive ridley) sea turtles, as well as hatchling biology.

Sanjuana Zavala

Director of Marketing & Development | Facebook & Google Ads Certified Marketer |  Media Inquiries 

Sanjuana joined Sea Turtle Inc. in 2017 and was hired as the Marketing & Public Relations Manager. She recently transitioned to Director of Marketing & Development in 2021. Sanjuana spearheads the development and marketing strategy for Sea Turtle Inc. Her priorities include developing new revenue streams, diversifying funding opportunities, and aligning messaging across the organization. Sanjuana has ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Before working with Sea Turtle Inc., she was a leader in an international collegiate volunteer organization and inducted as a White House Champion of Change in 2012.

Born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley and a Spanish speaker, Sanjuana attended the University of Texas at Brownsville. She believes fiercely in giving back and that issues can be solved with proper communication skills. She wants to utilize those skills to help maximize the efficiency of Sea Turtle Inc’s global reach. She currently lives with her husband and two daughters in Brownsville.

Christopher Gorman

Director of Animal Care |

Chris joined Sea Turtle, Inc as an intern in 2018 and has been moving up leadership roles at Sea Turtle, Inc. since. Most recently, his hands-on sea turtle care work and a keen eye for animal care exhibit enhancements have gained him the Director of Animal Care role.

He has always had a passion for working with wild animals. 
His previous roles include working at the Oakland Zoo with baboons, elephants, tigers, tortoises, sun bears, and giraffes as a commissary/night keeper intern has been his stepping stone. Before moving to Texas in 2018 to pursue an internship at Sea Turtle, Inc., he worked for Ducks Unlimited for two fall seasons. Chris was part of the animal care team that cared for five sea turtle species and directly contributed to the largest recorded cold stun in U.S. history by caring for over 5,500 sea turtles in eight days.

He received a Bachelor of Science in Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity from the University of California, Davis.

Hannah Catherman

Director of Education | Certified Interpretive Guide (NAI) 

Hannah joined Sea Turtle, Inc. as the Director of Education in 2021. She has always had a passion for educating people on the importance of conservation and what they can do to help the environment.
 
 Since then, she has had the opportunity to work in various settings, from outdoor ecological education centers to aquariums. Her previous experience involves managing a small education team focusing on developing and implementing children’s programming, school group programming, and public programming. This allowed her to mentor individuals new to environmental education and helped them hone their professional skills. She is excited to share her passion for sea turtle education with the community and introduce future generations to the importance of conservation.
 
Hannah has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from Coastal Carolina University. Her Master’s degree focused on coastal marine and wetland studies. As a Certified Interpretive Guide through NAI, she has expanded her teaching techniques and developed new program delivery methods.  
 

Kathryn Martinez

Giftshop Manager & Buyer  

Kathryn is a seasoned retail professional and buyer. Driven by service, she takes pride in providing the best shopping experience possible. As the gift shop manager, her goals include attracting conscious-minded buyers and displaying sustainable products for purchase that directly supports Sea Turtle, Inc’s mission. In addition, she brings many years of retail and sales experience that has become integral to the facility giftshop’s growth and the online store.

She immensely believes in the conservation of our lands and our coastal ecosystem. After 20 years in retail/customer service, she has finally found an opportunity to contribute to both her passions.

Tess DeSerisy

Field Conservation Supervisor 

Tess joined Sea Turtle Inc. as the Field Conservation Supervisor in 2021. Tess was drawn to sea turtles at a young age and knew she wanted to become a scientist. She spent the last few years traveling the globe working with nesting sea turtles in Panama, Australia, Cyprus, and the East coast of the U.S. A true scientist at heart, she continues to learn more. Tess is excited to continue and expand her research focus while sharing her passion for reducing and removing single-use plastics from the environment!

Tess received a Bachelor’s degree in marine science at Eckerd College, where she focused on DNA haplotypes of green sea turtles. She also holds a Master’s degree in Marine Vertebrate Ecology at the University of Exeter in England. Tess’s research focuses on the ingestion of plastic and other marine debris by green and loggerhead sea turtles. 

Taylor Dunham

Environmental Educator   

Taylor joined Sea Turtle, Inc. as an environmental educator in late 2021. Throughout her professional career, she has had the opportunity to work within various educational settings, from outdoor education centers to residential facilities.

Her passion for creating inclusive programming has allowed her to work with underserved communities within her home state of Massachusetts. She is excited to bring that same passion to Sea Turtle, Inc. and introduce new inclusive programming to education. Her previous experience includes work for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, where she had the opportunity to serve underprivileged youth throughout the school year, and as a camp counselor in the Summer. She has also created and delivered in-person and virtual programming for adults with disabilities. These programs gave participants more real-world, hands-on environmental experience.

Taylor has a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography focusing on Environmental Studies from Framingham State University. She is excited to bring new ideas and diversity to the Education Department!

Sarah Guganovic | Sea Turtle Inc

Sarah Guganovic

Marketing Assistant  

Sarah joined the Sea Turtle Inc. team as a marketing assistant in early 2022. Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, she brings with her a unique blend of content marketing and environmental education experience. 

After being selected for Regional Arts Victoria’s creative leadership program, she went on to complete a Bachelor of media from La Trobe University. With 8 years of experience in photography, videography, and graphic design, she’s had the opportunity to create content for organizations such as the Western Region Football League, Melbourne WebFest, and the San Antonio Zoo. In 2018 she received industry recognition for digital storytelling, securing a VAFA award for Best Use of Digital Media.  

In addition to her marketing experience, Sarah is a trained outdoor activity instructor. She has facilitated various environmental education programs, with a focus on teaching youth wilderness skills and Leave No Trace sustainable practice. 

 

Kendall Rager

Rehabilitation Specialist

Kendall joined the Sea Turtle Inc. team in early 2022. Her fascination and love for sea turtles started at a very young age, growing up in central Florida. This inspired her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from the University of South Florida. 

She spent 3 years volunteering at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, eventually transitioning to a seasonal staff member for an additional 2 years. Her time with CMA allowed her to gain extensive knowledge and experience in rehabilitation, loggerhead nesting, and conservation practices. 

Kendall has a passion for the rehabilitation, with the rescue and release of sea turtles being the most loved aspect of her role. The opportunity to become a member of the Sea Turtle Inc. team is a dream come true.

Jill Zerkowski

Environmental Educator

Jill joined Sea Turtle Inc. as an education specialist in early 2022. She has always had an appreciation for the natural world and has found her passion in environmental education.

Her dedication to environmental education has led Jill around the country. Her previous experiences in Florida, Georgia, Idaho, and New York have given her a diverse background in educational opportunities and programs. She has had the opportunity to work in a variety of different settings, from a small island in the Florida Keys to an outdoor science school in Idaho. Her previous experience also includes the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where she delivered sea turtle education programs for the public, created lesson plans, and led field trips. In addition, she helped create an educational exhibit focusing on the Sargasso Sea and its importance to sea turtles.

Jill has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University at Buffalo. She is very excited to be back in the world of sea turtle education! 

Kacey Stephens

Rehabilitation Specialist  

Kacey joined Sea Turtle Inc. team in early 2022. Growing up, she always knew working with animals would be in her future. Her love and passion for animal care led her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in marine science from Huntington College.

After graduating in 2019, she began an internship with the South Carolina Aquarium, first working with birds and mammals and then transitioning into a sea turtle care position. She later moved to California to work in sea otter care at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

She attributes her success in these roles to the support of her family and professional mentors. With her diverse background and experience, Kacey brings invaluable knowledge to the Sea Turtle, Inc team. 

Anai Garcia

Environmental Educator  

Anai started as a volunteer in 2021 and recently joined the Sea Turtle Inc. staff as a bilingual education specialist in 2022. She’s driven by curiosity towards how humans affect our marine ecosystems and a passion for educating others about what they can do to help protect our oceans. 

Prior to joining the team, Anai focused on exploring her research interests She graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in marine and freshwater science from the University of Texas, Austin. One of her previous roles included travelling to New Jersey to study how a decommissioned nuclear plant affected the biodiversity of the area. 

As a first-generation Latina, Anai is a strong supporter of increasing minority representation and outreach in marine science. Her skills and experience will help make education programs more accessible and inclusive for the Hispanic community.


Coming Soon

 Life Support Systems Manager |

 

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