Ecologist and Conservationist – Arlington, Texas
Puja Batra, PhD is an ecologist and conservationist. She has conducted research and worked in biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, ecological planning, and natural resource management in many parts of the world, including North America, South and Central American tropical forests, East Asia, India’s Western Ghats, and Ladakh. For several years she worked at Conservation International as the director of a long-term biodiversity monitoring network that was focused on tropical forests. As a consultant working in India, she has focused on community-based conservation and natural resource management solutions. Puja grew up in Texas, and enjoys activities that allow her to be outdoors, such as hiking and gardening.
Behavior Husbandry Manager – San Diego Zoo
Nicki chairs the Red Panda Network (RPN) Board of Directors. She is a founding board member of the Association of Professional Wildlife Association (APWE). She is currently an Animal Care Manager of the San Diego Zoo and has worked for the Zoological Society of San Diego for 18 years. She has trained exotic animals for over 20 years and is a graduate of Moorpark’s Teaching Zoo as well as Mesa Colleges Veterinary Technician Program, and has an Associate in Science degree; she recently obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix. Nicki has worked in a variety of areas within the San Diego Zoo including Collection Husbandry Science, Behavior Management, Veterinary Services, volunteer at Conservation and Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES), an internship at the Wild Animal Parks Veterinary Service Department and of course 9 years as a zoo keeper in the Children’s Zoo and 3 years as Team Area Lead and 5 years as Animal Care Supervisor. She now sets up training programs for the Collection Husbandry Science Department at the San Diego Zoo as well as protocols for carnivores, primates, hoofstock, various birds, herbivores and reptiles. She also manages the personnel needs for over 100 employees of the San Diego Zoo’s mammal department. She was selected to help write the curriculum with other training specialist for the AAZK/AZA keeper training course at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. She trains educators and keepers to handle exotic animals and perform educational programs. She also performed internships at the Los Angeles Zoo, Santa Barbara Zoo and Sea World. Her professional affiliations include AZA, AAZK, ABMA, APWE and RPN.
VP Marketing Strategy – Smart Financial Credit Union, Houston, Texas
Susan Chapman has been an avid supporter of Red Panda Network since visiting the field in Nepal in April of 2011. She joined the RPN Board of Directors in the summer of that year. Susan has worked for Smart Financial Credit Union since 1990. During her time there she has held positions in many different areas including: operations, accounting, training, and sales and service. She currently serves as the Vice President of Marketing Strategy. Her education includes a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and a Masters of Business Administration in Marketing. Susan is an active volunteer at the Houston Zoo. She serves as a docent and a keeper aide in the section that cares for, what else, red pandas! She also serves on several volunteer committees including the conservation committee and animal enrichment committee.
Chief Executive Officer – Red Panda Network
Dirk first visited Nepal and the Himalayas while living in India and China from the early to late 90s and keeps going back for more. For over 25 years Dirk has been working in environmental finance and sustainable development, particularly for biodiversity conservation, forestry, and climate change. He has a M.Sc. in economic geography and published research on innovative conservation finance, followed by project management and operations on field level as well as in headquarters for leading international organizations and companies. Dirk served in increasingly senior positions for Germany’s aid agency GIZ, the Bank for Reconstruction and Development KfW, the international consulting group GFA, The Nature Conservancy TNC, the World Bank, the Global Environmental Facility GEF, the United Nations Development Programme UNDP, and was Managing Director of Terra Global Capital TGC, managing a diverse portfolio of land-based carbon projects in different stages of investment and development in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and co-founded and managed another carbon offset start-up. Dirk advised rural communities, local, national, and international institutions on individual projects as well as multi-billion dollar biodiversity conservation portfolios. Dirk chaired the Programs and Carbon Committee of the Red Panda Network (RPN) Board of Directors since January 2011. He is also on the Board of Natural Partners as treasurer since its founding in 2003 and headed the Executive Council Program Committee of ecoReserve. He worked – and climbed mountains – in more than 20 primarily developing countries and lived several years each in India, China, Panama, Germany, the US, and Zambia. Dirk is a native German speaker, fluent in English, French, and Spanish, reads Dutch, Italian, and Portuguese, with some basic verbal Mandarin Chinese.
Animal Care Supervisor in Animal Connections Division – San Diego Zoo
Clint joined RPN’s board in mid 2012 with a strong background in both zoo keeping and non-profit fundraising. He worked with many species of animals — from stick insects to killer whales and birds of prey to tigers since 1991 at Sea World, Marine World Africa USA (now known as Six Flags Discovery Kingdom), and did some TV/Movie work as well as private dog training. Clint is a graduate of Moorpark College’s Exotic Animal Training Program as well as a professional member for The American Association of Zoo Keepers, and The Animal Behavior Management Alliance. Clint previously was Lead Keeper in the Children’s Zoo. He was the point person where San Diego Zoo’s Red Panda’s were kept and one of the trainers for the Zoo’s famous red panda, Fuji. Over the years he took care of four healthy red pandas.
Heather Merriam is a non-profit executive with over twenty years of experience in international and domestic non-profit organizations and companies. Most recently, she was Executive Director of Rotaplast, a medical non-profit that brings smiles to children’s faces all over the world. Heather was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal from 1985 to 1988, and is conversant in Nepali. In 2007-8, she traveled to Nepal three times to consult on a project that helped Nepali mothers deliver their children safely at home.
As an avid eco-tourist, Heather has been blessed to be able to visit some spectacular destinations, such as Chitwan National Park (in the Terai Region of Nepal), the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon jungle in Ecuador, Madagascar, and the Serengeti plain of Kenya. She is excitedly planning her next trip to Nepal to look for the Red Pandas. As a fellow red head, Heather is thrilled to be a board member of the Red Panda Network, and looks forward to helping RPN make new friends and grow support.
Principal – Nomad Ecology
Jerry is a Wildlife and Conservation Ecologist. He is the Caltrans Liaison at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Principal Biologist for Nomad Ecology, a full service ecological consulting firm that provides an innovative, scientifically sound approach to biological resource studies and management, raising the standard for environmentally sound project management and sustainable development.
Real Estate Investor
Noam is the Treasurer of the Board and is a graduate in Finance from Yeshiva University, New York, New York. His background includes working in structured finance at Merrill Lynch and trading technology stocks at Schonfeld Securities. He is currently a real estate investor and is the founder of a real estate business that owns and manages properties in Indiana, Florida, and California. He is passionate about the world’s forests and preserving them for years to come.
Marketing Writer – Keenan
Nancy is a member of our Communications Committee. She is a Marketing Writer with Keenan in the LA area, a wildlife advocate and a published writer and blogger on environmental and wildlife conservation topics. Her background includes 20 years of experience in business communications and sales and marketing across a wide variety of industries, most recently as internal communications manager for the Cisco US Enterprise, Commercial and Canada Markets. Nancy obtained her B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley, focusing on international relations and languages. Nancy lived in Italy and is fluent in Italian. She is passionate about the dynamic connection between humans and animals and their unique and collaborative roles in protecting the planet. Her volunteer experience includes equine facilitated therapy as well as marine mammal stranding assistance, and she was a docent for the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA.
Regional Representative Asia – Wildlife Works Carbon LLC
Brian’s first walk into the steep, terraced mid-hills of Nepal inspired him to want to take action in preserving the remaining forests in eastern Nepal. As a community education resource volunteer (CERV) in Peace Corps Nepal, he was a catalyst for the founding of four environmental youth groups which spawned several community leaders. In order to learn more about international conservation, Brian extended his Peace Corps service and transferred to Guatemala to work at a wildlife refuge operated by The Nature Conservancy. While working in Guatemala, he recognized the pivotal role of science in long-term conservation, so in 2000, he enrolled in San Jose State University’s Environmental Studies graduate program. To complete a master’s degree as a Fulbright Scholar, Brian conducted research on the status of the red panda in the Ilam region of Nepal’s Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung corridor. These experiences reinforced his conviction that conservation can be achieved only with long-term commitment. Brian founded and managed Red Panda Network from 2005 to September 2011, when he transitioned to work as Regional Representative Asia for Wildlife Works, our partner for preparing a REDD project that can generate long-term funding from carbon offsets. Brian continues to work on the RPN board of directors to capitalize on promises made to a community and region that has captivated his spirit.