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Conserve Wildlife Foundation Team

Meet the dedicated staff and professionals behind Conserve Wildlife Foundation's important work.

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David Wheeler

Executive Director

David is responsible for running the Foundation, as well as raising the funding needed to support CWF's mission. A proud New Jerseyan, he has written frequently about the state's incredible biodiversity. He earned his M.B.A. from New York University's Stern School of Business. David enjoys being active outdoors with his daughter and son in his spare time.

  • Phone: 609.292.1276
  • Email

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Stephanie DAlessio

Director of Education

Stephanie DAlessio creates and presents engaging educational programs that teach children about the importance of protecting over 80 endangered species and their habitats throughout the state of New Jersey. Stephanie earned both her B.A. and M.A. in Education from Seton Hall University and has New Jersey State Certification in both Teaching and Supervision. Stephanie has over 20 years of experience in developing, teaching and managing hands on, interactive, and experiential programming for under-served communities. She has reached thousands of people with her educational outreach, teacher professional development programs, and presentations since starting with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey in January 2016.

Stephanie successfully launched CWF’s Soaring with STEAM program in Newark Public Schools and developed and delivered summer STEAM programs at Duke Farms and Leonardo State Marina in New Jersey. Stephanie’s programs were featured in many publications including a cover article for NJEA and on NJTV News. Stephanie’s past professional experiences include public school teaching, school administration and directing the day-to-day programming operations of a large nonprofit in Monmouth County, New Jersey, where she was responsible for after school and summer camp program development, implementation, and management. Stephanie been a part of many educational and community committees and volunteers her time and effort for animal advocacy. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance of New Jersey Environmental Education and is Co-Chair for the aligning in school and out of school working committee for the Newark STEAM Coalition and is a part of the New Jersey Stem Pathways Network, Professional Development Working Group.

  • Phone: 609.984.0621
  • Email

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Nicole Gerard

Wildlife Biologist

Nicole’s position at CWF involves assisting the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in developing plans for restoration of golden-winged warbler and bog turtle habitat. She currently finished her Masters at Montclair State University and her thesis was determining whether certain stressors like urbanization contributed to the presence of pathogens in wood turtle populations. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, sculpting, vegetable gardening and reading.


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Ethan Gilardi

Field Technician

Ethan has found a home working to protect NJ's resident bat species as a part of CWF's many forest bat research and conservation projects. He is currently working towards his B.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, as well as a Minor in Environmental Geomatics, from Rutgers University. In his spare time he enjoys birding, hiking, photography, and spending time with his friends.


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Rebecca Hanson

Parks Conservation Coordinator

As a Naturalist at Island Beach State Park, Becca works hand-in-hand with the partnership between the CWF and IBSP’s Nature Program. She is responsible for educational program development and outreach, as well as public communication and outreach campaigns. She received her B.S. in Ecology & Natural Resources from Rutgers University in the fall of 2013. In her free time, Becca enjoys hiking, exercising, eating (a lot), and spending time with family & friends.

  • Phone: 732.793.0506
  • Email

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Emily Heiser

Wildlife Biologist

Emily Heiser works on coastal ecology projects including coordination of CWF's marine debris project, assisting with Diamondback Terrapin projects and partnering with state biologists to manage the Beach Nesting Bird program. She has primarily been involved in beach nesting bird work along the Atlantic & Gulf Coasts since 2008. She received her B.S. in Conservation & Wildlife Management from Delaware Valley University. She enjoys birding, adventures with her dogs and long walks on the beach (really!).

  • Phone: 609.628.2103
  • Email

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Meghan Kolk

Wildlife Biologist

Meghan is responsible for writing Beach Management Plans that provide for the protection and recovery of listed species of beach nesting birds and plants on New Jersey’s beaches. In addition, she is working on a project to restore native grassland habitat for nesting birds including the state endangered Upland Sandpiper. Meghan earned a B.S. in Biology from The College of New Jersey in 1998. Her hobbies include bird watching and creating works of wildlife art from items found on the beach.


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Meaghan Lyon

Biological Technician

Meaghan is responsible for conducting wildlife surveys at the Sea Girt National Guard Training Center in support of the Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan. She has been working in the avian conservation field for six years to help conserve and better understand native populations of waterbirds. While striving to protect New Jersey’s threatened and endangered species, Meaghan has spent three seasons monitoring endangered beach nesting birds. She holds a degree in Human Ecology and her primary focus has been conserving species, protecting habitat, and connecting people to the natural world through education and outreach.

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Allegra Mitchell

Wildlife Biologist

Allegra is working to expand CWF’s amphibian and reptile projects. She also manages initiatives to reconnect critical habitat for wildlife in New Jersey. Allegra received a B.A. in Environmental Science – Conservation Biology as well as an M.S. in Biology from Clark University, where her research focused on the effects of the environment on amphibian habitat preferences and locomotion.

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Todd Pover

Senior Wildlife Biologist

Todd heads up our beach nesting bird project, including monitoring, management, and research of piping plovers, least terns, black skimmers, and American oystercatchers in New Jersey. In addition, he leads our Bahamas piping plover wintering grounds initiative and international Shorebird Sister School Network. He has been involved in the beach nesting bird project since 1994. When not working (or playing) on the beach, Todd enjoys traveling, movies, and culinary pursuits. He lives in Stone Harbor.

  • Phone: 609.306.4475
  • Email

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Liz Silvernail

Director of Development

Liz develops and maintains relationships with individual, foundation, and corporate donors and implements fundraising plans to achieve CWF’s financial goals. She coordinates fundraising events throughout the year, including the annual Women & Wildlife Awards Reception. In addition, she develops programs, such as Rare Wildlife Revealed: The James Fiorentino Traveling Art Exhibition, to further the organization’s mission to educate and engage the public in the protection of at-risk wildlife. Her experience in non-profit fundraising, event planning, and environmental advocacy spans 25 years. A native of New York State and graduate of Boston College, Liz's favorite place to be is on Barnegat Bay sailing Summer Wind.

  • Phone: 609.292.3707
  • Email

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Larissa Smith

Wildlife Biologist

Larissa has worked for the CWF foundation since 2000 as a Wildlife biologist. She coordinates CWF's volunteers and works on the New Jersey Bald Eagle project, Eastern Tiger Salamader project as well as a variety of other projects. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Stockton College and an M.A. in Environmental Education from Rowan University.

  • Phone: 609.628.0402
  • Email

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Ben Wurst

Habitat Program Manager

Ben is responsible for identifying and enhancing degraded wildlife habitat and he helps manage and protect ospreys as part of the NJ Osprey Project. He received a B.S. in Environmental Science with emphasis in Wildlife Conservation from Unity College in 2004. Ben also works on a variety of other conservation projects that include peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and northern diamondback terrapins. Outside of work, Ben enjoys spending quality time with his wife and two children. He also enjoys photography, boating, and woodworking. Ben collects salvaged wood that he uses to create reclaimed wood picture frames and other artwork.

  • Phone: 609.628.2103
  • Email

Special Concern

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Learn about some of the newest species in decline in New Jersey. From the bottlenose dolphin to the fowler's toad, this special listing applies to a growing list of species. Learn ways to help these sensitive species in New Jersey.

>>Explore our Field Guide


Conserve Wildlife Store

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We offer a variety of excellent wildlife books and field guides as well as shirts, hats, and other cool merchandise.