NGC staff donate their time so 100% of your contributions can go directly to grassland conservation projects.
Gary Langham, Ph.D.
Gary is the Executive Director at the American Association of Geographers (AAG). Gary has worked at the National Audubon Society, University of California, Berkeley, and Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. Gary holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University and studied Rufous-tailed Jacamars — insect eating birds — and Heliconius butterflies in the grasslands of Venezuela and Bolivia during his dissertation work. As a traveler and tour guide, he witnessed the yearly destruction of pristine habitat and the clear need to conserve it. As a scientist and researcher, he experienced first hand the dedication of local scientists and museums throughout Latin America. That some of these talented naturalists lacked basic research equipment or funding for their fieldwork has motivated him to help these young researchers launch careers in grassland conservation.
Mary Anne Smith
Mary Anne grew up in the oil camps of Venezuela, where her love for unspoiled nature and wildlife began. She is passionate about conservation, having seen first-hand the dramatic loss of habitat and the tragic resulting reduction in bird and wildlife populations worldwide. She lives on the edge of the Sam Houston National Forest close to Huntsville, Texas, where she still enjoys daily contact with birds and wildlife. Mary Anne has a Master’s of Science in Accountancy from the University of Houston and is a Certified Public Accountant.
NGC Secretary Kathleen (Kam) Langham developed a first-hand appreciation for the diverse species and varied habitats found in Latin America when she lived in two Central American countries. Her involvement with NGC combines her interest in helping students and preserving habitat. Since her retirement as a research analyst for the State of California in 2016, Kam travels domestically and internationally as much as she can.
Jeri M. Langham, Ph.D.
Jeri was born and raised in Venezuela, and his involvement in the NGC complements his passion for teaching and commitment to conservation. Jeri earned his Doctorate in Plant Ecology from Washington State University in 1970 and until his retirement in May 2008 was a Professor of Biological Sciences at California State University in Sacramento. He was recognized with the Outstanding Teacher Award in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the CSUS Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Service. Known for enthusiasm and boundless energy, Jeri thoroughly enjoys searching for birds and sharing them with others while leading tours since 1986 for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (http://ventbird.com/people/jeri-langham).
Jeffrey M. DaCosta, M.Sc.
Research Equipment Chairperson
Jeff is an Assistant Professor of the Practice at Boston College, where he teaches and conducts research in ecology, behavior, and evolutionary biology. During his graduate studies Jeff conducted fieldwork in the United States, Central America, and Africa. While working in the Neotropics, Jeff witnessed the need for habitat conservation and improved resources for Latin American researchers. His work in the Research Equipment Program helps the NGC provide the basic tools needed to conduct important research that can be applied in habitat conservation and management.
Memorial Grant Co-Chair
Jorge Velásquez is Audubon’s Science Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. He holds a PhD in Ecology and Evolution from SUNY Stony Brook and a BSc in Biology from Universidad Nacional of Colombia. Jorge has conducted studies on the projected effects of climate change and deforestation on birds in Colombia and North America, was a co-author of the Red Book of Birds of Colombia and led the development of BioModelos, an online atlas of Colombia’s biodiversity leveraging support from a network of over 500 experts. He has received the Alejandro Angel Escobar prize for research on the environment and sustainable development, the Humboldt-Caldas medal awarded by the Colombian Academy of Sciences for advances in biogeography and the Ebbe Nielsen 1st prize for developments in biodiversity informatics awarded by GBIF. Before joining Audubon, he was a Spatial Ecologist for the NASCA program of The Nature Conservancy and a senior researcher at the Humboldt Institute in Colombia, as well as a lecturer at various Colombian universities.
Justin Schuetz, Ph.D.
Memorial Grant Co-Chair
Justin is intent on understanding and exploring the world through science and art. As a biologist, he has developed a diverse set of interests that spans the evolution of host-parasite interactions in African finches to the ecological consequences of climate change for North American wildlife. As an artist, Justin uses photography to probe ideas about data, models, meaning, and Truth, and projects occasionally have direct bearing on his interests in science and conservation. Justin earned a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University and an M.F.A. in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. He currently lives in the State of Maine where he is an artist and an adjunct researcher at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
Chad Wilsey, Ph.D.
Memorial Grants Chairperson
Dr. Chad Wilsey is Vice President & Chief Scientist for the National Audubon Society, a non-profit organization focused on bird conservation in the United States. Chad leads a team of scientists conducting analyses in support of Audubon’s national initiatives on Climate, Coasts, Water, and Working Lands. Recently, Chad was a principal investigator on Audubon’s North American Grasslands and Birds report, Future of Birds in Our National Parks study, and Water and Birds in the Arid West: Habitats in Decline reports. Chad’s research generally focuses on the impacts of climate and land-use change on birds and ecosystems. He commonly works with big data collected by volunteer scientists along with tools such as GIS, machine learning, and systematic spatial prioritization. Chad is fluent in Spanish and lived abroad for 3 years in Mexico and Costa Rica. He has a PhD from the University of Washington, an MS from the University of Wisconsin, and a BS from the University of Puget Sound. Chad lives in Berkeley, California with his wife and daughter.
Social Media & Outreach
David is a birder, a writer, and a nonprofit manager. He has been a naturalist since childhood, and he’s active in a range of community science projects from birds to urban butterflies to Gasteracantha orbweavers. He is currently chief network officer at the National Audubon Society, where he leads Audubon’s communications teams (including Audubon magazine and Audubon’s digital communications) and leads partnership development with Audubon’s large grassroots network of chapters and student organizations, and more. David has traveled extensively in South America, and he shares with the entire NGC team a deep-seated passion for conservation efforts that preserve biodiversity and benefit human communities in a rapidly changing world.
Marita Davison, M.Sc
Web & Graphic Designer
Marita was raised in Bolivia and it was there in the Amazon jungle that she discovered her love for the natural world. She completed her M.Sc. at Cornell University where she studied how land use change influences feeding behavior of endangered Florida Scrub Jays and the impact of threatened flamingoes on high-elevation lakes in the Andes Mountains. She has mentored Bolivian ecology students at the Instituto de Ecología in La Paz and is now focused on creating effective science-based media through her work at Caravan Lab.