Meet our team
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Amy Bonka
Chief Conservation Officer | UAB Alumnus
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.
Director of Marketing & Development | Facebook & Google Ads Certified Marketer
Sanjuana is the Director of Marketing & Development at Sea Turtle Inc., a role she assumed in 2021 after previously serving as the Marketing & Public Relations Manager since 2017. In her current position, Sanjuana is responsible for driving the development and marketing strategy for Sea Turtle Inc. She focuses on generating new revenue streams, diversifying funding opportunities, and ensuring consistency across the organization’s messaging.
Sanjuana has been working in the nonprofit industry for ten years. Prior to joining Sea Turtle Inc., she was an influential figure in an international collegiate volunteer organization and was recognized as a White House Champion of Change in 2012.
Sanjuana is a native of the Rio Grande Valley and is fluent in Spanish. She earned her degree from the University of Texas at Brownsville. Sanjuana is passionate about giving back to the community and believes that effective communication skills can solve most issues. She aims to leverage her expertise to enhance the global reach of Sea Turtle Inc. Sanjuana currently resides in Port Isabel with her husband and two daughters.
To view Sea Turtle Inc.’s media coverage click here.
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 of Science in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina and a Master of Science 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.
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.
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.
Life Support Systems Manager
Emily joined sea turtle Inc in February 2023, shortly after moving to the U.S.A. Growing up on the southwest coast of England, she has always been passionate about protecting our ocean.
After obtaining a first class honours degree in Zoology, Emily earned a masters by Research in Biological Sciences from the University of Exeter, England, focussing on the impact of marine noise pollution. Her research was published in the scientific journal Current Biology and was featured in multiple international media outlets. Emily went on to work at the UK’s largest aquarium as a biologist, seagrass cultivation assistant, and educator. Here her keen interest in life support systems grew, leading to her managing the research aquarium at the Marine Biological Association of the U.K.
Over the years Emily has had the privilege of working with a variety of marine organisms, including sharks, rays, octopuses, and of course, sea turtles.
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 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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Emilee started as a winter intern in December 2021, and also participated in our Jeffrey George Internship Program as a rehabilitation intern where she was able to take a more hands-on role as a part of our animal care team. Emilee’s various internship roles within Sea Turtle Inc. have given her the opportunity to gain experience in each aspect of the organization’s three tiered mission of education, conservation, and rehabilitation. She recently joined the Sea Turtle Inc. staff as an Aquarist I.
Before joining the team, Emilee received a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston in 2021. Some of Emilee’s previous roles include internships at the MERR Institute and the Alaska SeaLife Center. In Alaska she interned as both a research lab intern and a marine wildlife veterinary lab intern. While her internships primarily focused on research, it was through her work interning within the wildlife response program that she found her passion for the rescue and rehabilitation of marine wildlife.
Digital Marketing Coordinator
Online Gift Shop Manager / Accountant