short with glassesNicole Rogers, Executive Director: Nicole  has led nonprofit organizations for the past 24 years.  In collaboration with the Board of Directors, Nicole is grateful to be leading the growth of SFWS and achieving its compassionate and important mission to the fullest. Although this is her first animal sanctuary, Nicole finds herself serving a cause that is dear to her heart, animal welfare, joyously.  Nicole has a Masters’ degree in International Public Health from Tulane University and has worked in Africa, Bangladesh, and the U.S.  In her role as Executive Director for SFWS, Nicole is passionate about leveraging her diverse nonprofit leadership background to grow the organization beyond its wildest dreams!

Board of Directors

Sydney Fitzpatrick Picture

Sydney Fitzpatrick, Board President & Animal Care and Coordination Committee Chair:

Sydney graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with degrees in Zoology and Environmental Studies.  During college, she began working at the Columbus Zoo doing animal programs and bird shows during the summer.  She found a passion for working with a variety of smaller birds, reptiles, and mammals, but also fell in love engaging with zoo guests.  After spending some time at the Alaska SeaLife Center and the Kansas City Zoo, she moved to Houston to become a zoo keeper at the Houston Zoo, where she spent 7 years being active in her zoo community.  Sydney now lives in Michigan where she is building a nature-based bed and breakfast with her husband and 2 dogs.  She is also completing a Masters in Resilient and Sustainable Communities which has expanded her knowledge of the environment and conservation and how humans can best work with nature more harmoniously.

Kathy-WatkinsKathy Watkins, Secretary: For the last 20 years,Kathy’s passion has been creating an appreciation for animals. With her degree in Exotic Animal Training and Management paving the way, her career has led to facilities such as the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It also opened doors to her most recent role as Senior Supervisor of Carnivores at the Houston Zoo. There, Kathy served on several boards and assisted with many aspects of their next AZA accreditation. Even though she is proud of her work for a National Geographic project on cheetahs and her time spent in Africa assisting with lion conservation, she feels her greatest accomplishment was helping members of her Houston team realize their full potential. Serving on the board combines her experience with animals with her desire to inspire others to do great things.

Cindy Price_Bio Pic_10222Cindy Price: Cindy Price, award-winning writer and naturalist, authors and films the nature photography for The Urban Naturalist series of books. She also writes the nature column for Life is Good magazine. Cindy is a long-time resident of Southeast Texas. She received her Master Naturalist training from the Houston Arboretum, and is an instructor for the Junior Naturalists Program sponsored by the Environmental Institute of Houston at the University of Houston. Cindy is also a regular presenter for the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Bureau. As a member of the National Wildlife Federation and other animal conservation groups, she is focused on species preservation.

Brian-Davis-PgD-600x800 (2)Dr. Brian W. Davis: Dr. Davis is a Research Assistant Professor of Genomics in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences in the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine, and the founder of the Exotic Genome Repository.  He received his Ph.D. from  Texas A&M University where he focused on the genomics of speciation using hybrid felines as a model for reproductive isolation. Shortly after, he founded a multi-institutional biobank for the preservation of tissues from animals under veterinary surveillance in the US. He then joined the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Comparative Genomics and Cancer Genetics branches as a postdoc where he focused on natural/artificial selection and the burden of deleterious variation in multiple post-domestication and wild animal species. Focused heavily on big-data genomics and genome evolution, his research at Texas A&M focuses on integrating models of heritable disease across diverse species.

Kelly-Byerley-photoKelly Byerley, Fundraising Committee Chair: For the past 13 years Kelly has worked in the aerospace industry as an Environment, Health and Safety Specialist, where she raises employee awareness of environmental issues. She is a 2002 graduate of U.H. Clear Lake, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. During her time at school she interned with a public relations firm and for the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast. Kelly enjoys volunteering and participates in local clean-up activities, land management events and educational opportunities for organizations around the Houston and Galveston areas. She loves the outdoors and learning about nature. She is an avid diver, having been on over 50 dives throughout the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific. She is equally passionate about rescuing animals, having shared her home with five rescue dogs over the past 20 years.

Brittany Mead: Brittany comes to the sanctuary with development and fundraising experience. Her tenure at the Houston Zoo included raising funds for the Zoo as well as its wildlife saving conservation programs across the globe. Brittany has always had a passion for wildlife, her favorite animal being wolves, and graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s of science in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. After spending time as a Zookeeper, Brittany found her career passion in connecting donors to causes they care about. She serves on several Global Association of Fundraising committees as well as as the national event coordinator for the American Association of Zookeepers Bowling for Rhinos committee. Brittany lives in Houston with her husband, son and two rescue dogs and is thrilled to be able to help people find ways that they can connect with and support the sanctuary.