The IAATE Board of Directors’ election is almost upon us! This year we have three general Board Member positions on the ballot, the President-elect position, and the Secretary position.
The IAATE Board is a dedicated, hard-working group of volunteers who bring you the mentorship program, the IAATE Flyer, the annual conference, webinars, website, and more all while keeping the IAATE organization financially stable.
We invite you to learn more about the current strong set of candidates for the positions by checking their bios below.
On 15th of October 2022 we hosted a webinar for members to meet the candidates. You can watch the webinar by clicking the button below.
Name: Erin Katzner
Employer: Carolina Raptor Center
Job Title: Executive Director
Years of Service/Experience: I attended my first IAATE conference in 2002 and I have been on the Board of Directors since 2014. As a Board Member I have served as the Conservation Committee Chair, President Elect, President, and Past President. I currently serve as Secretary of the Board and am on the Professional Development and Marketing Committees. In these roles I have developed tee shirts to raise money for IAATE’s vulture conservation initiative, collected conservation grant applications, worked with the Conservation Committee to award grants, maintained and updated the organization’s bylaws, co-lead the board’s budgeting and strategic planning processes, assisted with the development of and lead IAATE’s webinar series, assisted with the production of IAATE’s virtual conference, assisted with the writing and updating of position statements, and assisted with buildign a relationship between IAATE and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Outside of IAATE, I have been a professional bird trainer for 26 years. In that time, I have worked as a trainer, educator, and administrator at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the National Aviary, the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, The Peregrine Fund, and am now at the Carolina Raptor Center. I have also held positions at Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc. and West Virginia University’s Department of Public Administration.
I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Natural Resources focused in Wildlife Management from The Ohio State University and a Master’s in Public Policy Management focused in Nonprofit Administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
Current Goals/Objectives: My current goals and objectives as a board member for IAATE include:
- Leading the board through a new strategic planning process. Our previous strategic plan is several years old and we have achieved all of the goals we had set at that time.
- Develop a webinar sub-committee to grow webinar attendance and provide high-quality webinars on interesting topics to our membership.
- Utilize the upcoming new website and collaborate with the marketing committee to manage our membership resources in a way that grows IAATE membership.
Your Message to IAATE Members (Why you want to be elected to the board): I would like to be elected as Secretary to IAATE’s board of directors because I am passionate about the work that IAATE does for our members, and I believe that I can contribute to the achievement of this work in a meaningful way. We challenge one another to provide the best possible care to our animals while also delivering educational messages designed to inspire the next generation of nature enthusiasts and conservationists. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time, than supporting this effort and serving our IAATE members. I would like to continue working toward the goals listed above and do my part to help this organization continue on the trajectory to reaching its full potential. I am proud to serve IAATE’s membership and hope that I can continue to be a positive force in helping to achieve our organizational objectives.
Name: Lacey Zeno
Employer: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance
Job Title: Lead Wildlife Care Specialist-Behavior
Years of Service: 10
Current Goals/Objectives: We are currently working to design and create a new show for our guests at the Safari Park. We are hoping to continue to fly our birds out into various areas around our park and impact our guests to take action to save habitats from extinction.
Your Message to IAATE Members (Why you want to be elected to the board): IAATE has meant a lot to me since I became a bird trainer. The people it has continued to connect me with is the reason I want to serve on the board again. I know how important this organization is to bird trainers all over the world. Getting the chance to help continue this organization's mission would be such an honor. I like to think this job is all about the birds, but I know that it's really all about the people caring for those birds. The more we can create relationships with one another and continue to promote excellence in bird husbandry and training, the better. I would love to be able to help further our reach as we strive to build relationships with trainers and encourage each other to always be improving our care.
Name: Amy Fennell, CPBT-KA
Employer: Natural Encounters, Inc.
Job Title: Supervisor of Training - Natural Encounters, Inc.
Years of Service: 19 in the field, 12 with IAATE, and 2 as a general board member!
Current Goals/Objectives: As current Chair of the Professional Development Committee (PDC), my biggest focus is to continue to grow the Mentorship Program and ensure all IAATE members have access to resources and knowledge that will help them reach their goals (and also help their animals reach their potential!). Working with the IAATE Board has been an honor and a privilege, and if I am elected to continue this work, I look forward to continuing to help our community grow!
Your Message to IAATE Members (Why you want to be elected to the board): I will never forget how becoming a member of IAATE changed the path of my career, my life, and permanently altered my outlook on training and professional development (for the better!). The community has been brought me in touch with people who have become incredible mentors, dear life-long friends, and the amazing folks I get to call coworkers. Giving back to the organization by serving on the board has been a privilege, and I would love to continue repaying a community that has given me so much in return.
If re-elected to the board, I’m looking forward to continuing to help with our new(!) website, with graphic design for future conferences, with position statements, with the Professional Development Committee, and am hoping to get more involved with webinars and outreach. IAATE is a community with passionate, talented members and the opportunity to serve this collection of incredible people is something I do not take for granted. Looking forward to seeing you all at the next conference!
Name: Josh Sanko
Employer: The American Bald Eagle Foundation
Job Title: Animal Curator
Years of Service: 4
Current Goals/Objectives: I believe that building a connection with comfortable and confident ambassadors will encourage guests to consciously make more positive environmental decisions. The goal of the education and training I do is to create a personal experience with animal ambassadors, especially the ones people historically fear or misunderstand, even in large group settings.
At work, many ambassadors on the team voluntarily participate in husbandry behaviors like talon trimming, keel checks, and crating. After a large aviary renovation was recently completed for the three bald eagles at the ABEF, my goal is to focus on training them to participate in more cooperative care. Voluntary talon trims and foot care for the bald eagles would significantly shorten the amount of time focused on them in regular medical exams, limiting the amount of stress experienced. Our team is teaching these behaviors protected contact and hope to see noticeable improvements on the eagles’ foot health.
Your Message to IAATE Members: IAATE and its membership have been so influential in my career. Many of my colleagues and close friends in this industry were introduced to me at an IAATE sponsored function. The education, feedback, and kindness I have received through the Association are things I want to give back to this community. Being on this board would give me the opportunity firsthand to collaborate with a team of individuals who have helped shape me as a trainer and educator in promoting high quality welfare.
Name: Balinda Strosnider, CPBT-KA
Employer: Land On Sky Wildlife Experiences
Job Title: President and Head Trainer for White Mountain Nature Center
Years of Service: 8 years at Land On Sky and 12 Total in Avian Education
Current Goals/Objectives: I was initially taught “traditional” training methods, but when I saw my first bird show that used choice-based training, I was blown away. I could tell that the animals were performing natural behaviors by choice not coercion. From that day forward, I learned everything I could about choice-based training, joined IAATE, and obtained my CPBT-KA certification. With my newfound knowledge, I have 3 objectives:
1) As the new head trainer for the White Mountain Nature Center, my goal is to develop an engaging raptor experience for the communities and visitors of the White Mountains (Arizona) to inspire a new generation of nature lovers.
2) To share my knowledge, experience, and talents with others who are interested in learning about choice-based training.
3) To make my son proud. He always wanted me to “keep up the bird stuff”.
Your Message to IAATE Members (Why you want to be elected to the board): I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for IAATE. Their support and encouragement is well beyond any organization I have been a part of. I am excited to bring my energy to the party and truly believe that I can bring a diverse point of view to the Board. My background is a bit different from most other Board members. I volunteered as a raptor educator for over 10 years. I understand the difficulty to change an organization to choice-based training from traditional methods. I have a wide variety of business experience that I can bring to the table, and I think that unique combination will enable me to bring a focused energy to the fabulous, current board that we have. I truly believe in the mission of IAATE and would be honored to serve as a Board member.
Name: Kristin Dean, CPBT-KA
Employer: Carolina Raptor Center
Job Title: Director of Birds
Years of Service: 18
Current Goals/Objectives: In recent years, I have been exploring best practices in training, especially the ABC’s of behavior and applying the same behavior change principles to different aspects of my life, especially in regard to leadership and community engagement. Creating a culture of trust within our staff team has increased morale, motivation, and collaboration. As an organization, we continue to build trust with our community by sharing our successes in rehabilitation, by providing and showcasing exceptional welfare of our ambassador birds and creating positive experiences for our visitors. I am confident that a powerful staff team combined with strong community ties will lead to mission fulfillment and ultimately increased appreciation of the natural world.
Your Message to IAATE Members (Why you want to be elected to the board): Throughout my career, I have embraced a growth mindset. Through hard work and dedication, I have strived to be a better person, leader, avian trainer and educator. I've made mistakes along the way, but my mistakes have contributed to my own growth, humility and empathy. These qualities have allowed me to contribute to our field and embody the mission of IAATE. Conservation, avian ambassador welfare, and making connections to the natural world have become my lifelong passions. I would be honored to serve another term as a General Board member so I can continue to give back to the community that has given me so much.