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KACF Board of Directors

Board of Directors
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DAVE JOHNSON

Founding Board Member and Chair

Dave Johnson is a Conservationist and retired Pachyderm Zookeeper in Denver, Colorado.  He has a degree in Wildlife Biology and in 2014 co-founded the Katie Adamson Conservation Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, to help endangered animal species throughout the world through education and community engagement.


Dave’s passion for animals is a perfect fit for like-minded individuals and organizations.  Throughout his long 25-year animal career, he has managed to unite people and create something unique and very special in the world of conservation, all of which culminated in the formation of the KACF.


He has authored three conservation picture books that are used throughout the USA and world to introduce and educate kids of all ages about endangered species.  His hallmark book, Zoodiac Kids, replaces the zodiac signs with ZOOdiac signs – one endangered animal representing each month of the year.  His next book is currently underway and scheduled for release by the end of 2023 in four languages – English, Spanish, Nepali and Swahili.


As of 2023, he has traveled twelve times to Nepal with zookeepers and members of the community from throughout the USA to spread education and passion.  Tanzania, South Africa and  Costa Rica are receiving the same treatment.


While growth and new directions are inevitable, Dave’s involvement on the KACF Board of Directors helps to ensure that the fund remains aligned to his original vision.

 

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SHELLEY Lowery MANOS

Board Member

Shelley Lowery Manos is a Sales Manager and part-owner of Continental Chemicals, LLC, one of the largest privately held Native American businesses in the United States. She resides in Greenville, SC, where she lives with her teenage children and their dog Bernedoodle, a lively presence that keeps her both happy and busy.

Shelley first met Dave Johnson in the late eighties at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). His love for animals was both undeniable and infectious. Nearly 40 years later, Shelley's family serendipitously attended one of his presentations at the Denver Zoo, rekindling their friendship. This re-connection eventually led her to an enriching trip to South Africa with KACF in 2023 and sparked her interest in joining the KACF team.

As a proud member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, Shelley actively participates in tribal and cultural awareness events within her community. She cherishes opportunities to share her heritage and promote diversity to elementary, middle, and high school students.

In her leisure time, Shelley enjoys gardening, playing the piano and guitar, watching her children play baseball and softball, and traveling. With visits to 15 countries under her belt, she hopes her love for nature, people, culture, and conservation will lead to even more adventures.

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John conklin

Board Member

John Conklin is an experienced attorney based in Denver, Colorado, who has been defending medical doctors sued for malpractice for 29 years. In 2010, his oldest son developed a strong interest in elephants and the Conklin family started volunteering at the zoo in Denver, which was in the process of creating a new Asian elephant exhibit. Through their involvement at the zoo, they developed a close relationship with Dave Johnson, co-founder of the KACF, and became increasingly engaged in conservation efforts.

Their initial involvement with the KACF was through attending and donating to the annual Katie's Night event, which eventually led to their participation in various projects and elephant fence repair in Nepal in 2015. Despite obstacles such as John's trial schedule and the Covid-19 pandemic, the Conklin family has remained committed to the KACF, donating, attending local events, and participating in fundraising efforts such as the Zulu Nyala safari package, which they purchased two of and plan to use soon.

John is proud to be a supporter of the KACF and is eager to deepen his involvement by joining its Board of Directors.

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wesley stagg

Board Member

Wesley Stagg is an IT professional and volunteer firefighter with a passion for nature and conservation. He currently resides in Denver CO with his wife and spends most of his free time enjoying everything Colorado has to offer.

Wesley attended college at the University of Memphis and studied graphic design before finding a passion for Information Technology. He has been in the IT field for over 25 years and has worked for several large companies including Citrix and Dell specializing in virtualization, security and cloud first technologies.

He has been involved with KACF for several years and has traveled with groups to Nepal and Costa Rica. These trips solidified his passion for conservation and education and led to his drive to be more involved with the organization. In his last trip to Costa Rica, he was married to his wife Heather by a very special officiant named Dave Johnson, Co-founder and Executive Director of the KACF!

Wesley brings a love of nature, conservation and education to the KACF board. His goal is to use his unique talents and skills to further the mission of KACF and be an advocate for conservation around the world.

Our Founders & Management Team

Management Team
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DAVE JOHNSON

KACF Co-founder, Executive Director

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RAY LUCERO

KACF Co-founder, Director

Project Coordination

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Samuel craig

Project Manager - Latin America, Spain

Samuel grew up in Denver, Colorado and became involved with the KACF while volunteering at the local zoo. As a teen, he traveled with the KACF to both Tanzania and Nepal where he became fascinated with the role of community engagement in conservation. He then moved to Madrid, Spain where he is currently pursuing a degree in International Relations at IE University.

Samuel has since traveled back to Tanzania and to Costa Rica where he tracked progress and conducted research on the KACF's community-based conservation programs. He recently published a research paper for his university which discussed Indigenous sovereignty, social ecology, and the political economy of conservation.

Samuel's passion for working with communities makes him a great fit for the Project Coordination team. He plans to focus his work in Latin America where his fluency in Spanish helps him build connections with local partners. His background and experience in politics, sociology, and economics equips him with a unique skill set to connect individuals and communities to conservation.

Project Manager - Latin America, Spain

Social Media & Domestic Education

Education & Social Media
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heather schwartz

Social Media Director

Heather is an Environmental Educator for Evergreen Audubon. She has a Master’s degree in conservation biology and her experience includes: environmental education, zero waste, sustainability, field work, conservation, nature play and program development.

 

She loves travel, nature and animals!

Her unique talents and first-hand understanding of the KACF mission lend themselves perfectly to the role of our social media media director.  Heather will keep you informed through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and her analysis of the metrics will tell us if we are doing a good job keeping you engaged with our conservation news and initiatives around the world. 

Reach out to Heather on your favorite social media platform and let her know what you want to see.  She'll love you for it and so will all of us here at KACF.

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Loren Berry

Education Outreach

Loren Berry has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology which she put to great use as a zookeeper for over 17 years, working with hoofstock and a variety of other taxa at three AZA institutions.

 

Now retired from zookeeping, she is still a very active member of the American Association of Zookeepers (AAZK), serving as the Chair for the AAZK Resource Committee and as the Conservation Rally Coordinator for the AAZK Conservation Committee.  In addition to joining the KACF Education Team, she is also a “chaos coordinator,” aka, stay-at-home mom for her two daughters.

While working with exotic animals was amazing, some of her most memorable zookeeper experiences involve interacting with zoo guests of all ages and helping them to better understand the animals and our natural world.

Loren’s passion for conservation, animal care, education, and ability to engage with others, makes her a wonderful addition to the KACF Education Outreach Team. She traveled to Nepal in 2012 with KACF Team Nepalorado and will be traveling to Namibia in July 2022 to continue building the partnership between KACF and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

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chuck zabel

Education Outreach

Chuck Zabel grew up in Minnesota and was a special education teacher for decades in the
Denver area. He is a zoo volunteer and works in both the rhino and predator ridge sections, doing extensive animal work with the teams every week. This is where he met the zookeepers from the KACF years ago.

 

He was an original Team Nepalorado team member when they went to investigate conservation options back in 2010 and has now been to Nepal an amazing ten times.  He went for the animals but keeps going back for the people.

 

Chuck's passion for education and kids makes him a perfect fit for the KACF education outreach team where he can combine all of his teaching abilities with his love of animals.

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