2022 Board of Directors Election

The IAATE Board of Directors’ election is almost upon us! This year we have two general Board member openings, the Vice President, and CFO positions to fill. 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. Please watch your inboxes for election information which will be held online.

In order to introduce our candidates to our membership, IAATE hosted a webinar on October 20, 2021. 

Vice President (running unopposed)

Name: Helen Dishaw

Employer: Tracy Aviary

Job Title: Curator of Bird Programs

Years of Service: I have held my current position at Tracy Aviary for 10+ years; I've worked in this field for 22 years; I've served on theIAATE Board for 15 years, the last 12 of which have been as Vice President.

Current Goals/Objectives: I'm always focusing on the "next opportunity" to continue improving the welfare of ambassador birds, those in my own care as well as our greater community -nothing is ever "good enough" for these amazing creatures.My current focus/objective is to see ambassador birds living in outdoor habitats on display to the public. Traditionally in zoos, ambassador animals are more commonly housed behind the scenes and often in less grand accommodations than counterparts in public view. I'm invested in turning the tide on this to afford these working ambassadors larger and more naturalistic habitats -not just at my own facility but as a common practice in our field. Adding to the large flight for our ambassador macaws and the habitat for our Andean Condor at my facility, this year, we opened a beautiful new habitat for our Back Crowned Cranes, Roseate Spoonbills, White-faced Whistling Ducks, and Black Vultures and it has been an utter joy tosee the birds and visitors alike enjoying this space.

Your Message to IAATE Members (Why you want to be elected to the board): I've been a part of IAATE for almost two decades now. I can honestly say I am a better person -personally and professionally -because of the connections I have made through this organization. The spirit of sharing and support makes all of us better and, other than my immediate family, all of the people I hold dearest in my life currently are individuals I have met through IAATE. I think this is the greatest gift of our organization, the opportunity to make lifelong connections and friends that inspire us to new heights, that inspire us to want to be and do better and better, individually and collectively. One of the ways IAATE brings people together is through our annual conferences. As Vice President for the past 12 years, my main role is to coordinate our conferences and it is a true labor of love for me, seeing members connect and knowing what that will mean for them in the future is all the reinforcement I need for the work. I hope to be able to continue this labor as Vice President for IAATE and enjoy the fruits of that labor for years to come!

CFO (running unopposed)

Name: Cassie Malina

Employer: Awesome Animal Solutions

Job Title: Owner/President

Years of Service:1 year with AAS, 23 years in the industry

Current Goals/Objectives: To help animals live their best lives by collaborating with their caretakers to achieve that goal.Your Message to IAATE Members (Why you want to be elected to the board):The IAATE is truly an exceptional organization that inspires excellence through building connections. To be an IAATE member is to be a part of a community that truly values information sharing, openness, honesty, integrity, and respect. Our organization is on the forefront of our industry and our collective voices have continued to move the needle for bird welfare and conservation since its inception. It has been an incredible honor to have a seat at the table, listening to and supporting the membership as an Executive Board Member of the IAATE these past many years. As the Chief Financial Officer, I am continually driven to keep member fees affordable and not only keep us afloat financially, but ensure your money is used to its fullest to support the organization, membership, industry, and global bird welfare and conservation at the highest level. I look forward to continuing to serve you into the future.

General Board Member (two open positions)

Name:Balinda Strosnider, CPBT-KA

Employer:Land On Sky Wildlife Experiences

Job Title:Presidentand Head Trainer for White Mountain Nature Center Show

Years of Service: 7 years at Land On Sky and 11 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, Iwas blown away. I could tell that the animals were performing natural behaviors by choice not coercion. From thatday 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)Move my current facility (that I volunteer with) towardschoice-based training methods. As many of you know from my 2020 presentation, ithas been a slow, painful process, but so worth the effort.2)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.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 anyorganization 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 the traditionalmethods. 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 IAATEand would be honored to serve as a Board member.


Name: Joe Whitehead, CPAT-KA

Employer: Shaver's Creek Environmental Center (Penn State University)

Job Title: Amphibian and Reptile Program Coordinator

Years of Service: 4 years

Current Goals/Objectives: I believe that herps (amphibians and reptiles) and birds are two groups who have more in common than they do differences, especially when it comes to our understanding of their welfare. Animal welfare related research has been a focus of mine in my current position, though the bulk of my contributions have been focused on venomous snake welfare. I am excited to take the lessons learned studying the training and behavior of these animals to help me contribute more purposefully to the avian care community.

Your Message to IAATE Members (Why you want to be elected to the board):When I attended my first IAATE conference back in 2020, I was unsure how much I would have to contribute to such a well-known and respected organization. To my surprise, I immediately felt like I was making meaningful connectionswith others there. Not only was I learning from everyone I met, but I felt I was having an impact on others by sharing my experiences and listening to what others had experienced as well. I do not claim to be an expert, I am still learning and am excited to know I always will be. I simply want to try to give back to all of you and this amazing organization by bringing my unique perspective and experience to this board position 


Name: Lacey Zeno

Years of Service: 2 years on the board and 13 years in the industry

Employer: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

 Job title: Lead Wildlife care specialist-behavior

Current Goals/Objectives: I would love to get elected to the board so I can bring new ideas and experiences to the board. I had the pleasure to serve on the board last year and really loved my time. I would like to serve again so I can continue to grow as an individual and continue to help spread awareness of good husbandry practices and share knowledge with likeminded animal care professionals.Special skill sets that would benefit IAATE if any (such as marketing skills/web development/finance experience, etc.)I am a good conversation facilitatorI enjoy discussion and compromiseI tend to look at things from all angles and can bring a fresh perspective to the board.

Your Message to IAATE Members (Why you want to be elected to the board): I am a mother of two kids and I think this makes me uniquely suited for a role on the board. I don’t often meet a lot of parents in our field and I think we are under appreciated for the perspective we can bring to training and care of animals. I want to bring my unique perspective to the board so we can continue to offer opportunities and advice to the members of IAATE. Living in a large city and working at a large zoo has allowed me to see some changes occurring in our field that are affecting the way we interact with and impact our guests. I want to help keep IAATE a forward thinking and important voice in the zoo world. IAATE’s perspective on training, animal care and ambassador work are top in our field and I want to work to make sure we continue to have a positive influence on our field.


Name: Nicky Plaskitt, CPBT-KA

Employer: Shaping Behaviour

Job title: Director

Years of service: Only 3 months since this is my brand-newcompany -21 years in the animal training field with 16 years specialising in birds!

Current objectives/goals: To work with animal keepers across the UK to better their knowledge of positive reinforcement training in order to improve animal welfare in all collections (a rather large goal!). I aim to do this by offering in house workshops at facilities and larger workshops for animal care professionals to attend and learn new skills/develop existing ones.

Your message to IAATE members: I have been a member of IAATE since 2012 and have loved being a part of this international community. Seeing you all at conferences and hearing the amazing things you are doing is the highlight of my year. If elected to the board I would love to work on expanding our European and UK membership base, continue working as a mentor with the PDC and promoting IAATE as the 'go-to' for bird welfare to whoever will listen! I hope to be part of a driving force for better welfare of ambassador birds and how they can help their wild counterparts in this role.


Name: Sidney Campbell, CPBT-KA

Employer: American Bald Eagle Foundation –Haines, Alaska

Job Title: Animal Curator

Years of Service: 5 years in my current position, 7 in the animal care industry

Current Goals/Objectives: At work, I’m getting ready to renovate an outdated and poorly designed enclosure, turning a largely wasted space into multiple enclosures and a shift for our bald eagles. This space is the last relic of a time when my facility operated outside of evidence-based best practices in favor of a more folklore husbandry-based model. Good riddance! We are also preparing to host a workshop for Alaska bird of prey facilities that is funded by an IAATE education grant. The project was originally scheduled for 2020 butdelayed by COVID. Both projects are the realization of long-term goals to help my facility meet a higher standard and to make continuing education more accessible to remote facilities here in Alaska. Outside of work I am pursuing a master’s degree in public administration. I’m hoping to expand on what I know about nonprofit administration and leadership,so I have a more well-rounded and refined skill set.

Your Message to IAATE Members (Why you want to be elected to the board): Joining IAATE has beenthe single most influential step I’ve taken in my life. The professional skills I’ve learned through workshops, conference presentations, mentorship, and collaboration have translated to measurable improvements in the welfare of the animals in my care. This is especially true for the legacy birds on my team, who have benefited immensely from the wealth of experience and creativity of the IAATE community. As a mentee through the professional development committee, I learned first-hand how impactful a mindful teacher could be. Now, as a mentor myself, I strive to share knowledge with the same patience and care my mentor showed me. Beyond professional development, IAATE and its membership have given me the courage to do difficult things with unflinching support and constant reminders that hard work is worth it. This organization has given me role models from whom I draw endless inspiration, and I will always be grateful for the mentors and friends I have found here. I am humbled and thrilled to be nominated for a board position that will help me give some of that back! I’m passionate about making what I’ve learned from IAATE accessible to everyone. To that end, my experience in outreach, marketing, and fundraising, can be put to good use. I hope to serve not only by sharing my own experience but by amplifying the voices of everyone in this community with something important to share.

Please feel free to contact us using the contact form. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.



The International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators

is an organization for individuals who are active in the field of avian training and who are involved in environmental education programs.

IAATE was founded to foster communication, professionalism and cooperation among those individuals who serve Avian Science through training, public display, research, husbandry, conservation, and education.



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