KACF Board of Directors
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.
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.
Justin Raynor is a passionate and multi-faceted conservation and technology advocate who served as a faculty member for three years in the Department of Computer and Cyber Sciences at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In addition to his work in academia, he served two terms as a Cultural and Scientific Commissioner and Committee Chair of Art in Public Places for the Town of Parker, Colorado and five years as a volunteer working with African elephants and black rhinoceros at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
He is an active duty Major and Computer Engineer with over ten years of service in the United States Air Force and previous assignments at the Air Force Research Laboratory and Electronic Systems Center in Boston, Massachusetts and the National Reconnaissance Office in Aurora, Colorado. He earned two Bachelor of Science degrees in Computer Science and Computer Engineering from the University of Washington in Seattle and a Master of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston.
Justin traveled with the Katie Adamson Conservation Fund to Nepal in 2016 and visited Bardia and Chitwan National Parks to support current KACF projects and explore potential new conservation partnerships in the area.
He is currently back in Boston where he received full funding to pursue a PhD in Computer Science and Cyber Security. As part of the Visualization Research Group at Northeastern University, Justin is researching cutting edge task abstraction, and data visualization methodologies and ways in which he can blend his passion and love of worldwide conservation efforts with his background in research, operations, engineering and academia.
I am a Commercial Title Officer at Stewart Title by day, but at night I turn into Wonder Woman, keeper of the faith, champion of truth and all around good gal.
Reality is I’m a Mom of a very dedicated animal-loving daughter, Tara. She has spent her life doing her very best for the animals she cares for. Whether she was working at a South Carolina zoo or Evergreen veterinary practice.
She introduced me to Zookeeper, Dave Johnson, eons ago – when Tara and Katie Adamson were Scout Explorers together at the zoo in Denver. Through Dave and the Katie Adamson Conservation Fund, I’ve discovered the unquestionable importance of conservation and more importantly how the average person can help and be involved. I’ve experienced eco-tourism in Nepal, the thrill of riding elephants and the joy of seeing a baby rhino, all vicariously through my daughter, Tara. One day I hope to experience all of this first-hand.
I plan to use the best qualities I’ve acquired as a professional in the business community and commercial real estate world, including every Mom skill, to contribute to the protection of Earth’s endangered species.
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.
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.
Social Media & Domestic Education
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.
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.
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.