Nicole 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, 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 is very active in her zoo community. Sydney has a love for sustainability and began a composting program at the zoo, is part of the zoo’s Take Action committee, and is always looking for ways for her department to be more green. Sydney has also been an active board member of the Greater Houston Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers and is now going to graduate school for a sustainability masters.
Melissa Felty, Education and Outreach Committee Chair: Melissa graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.S. in Biology and from Miami University with M.A. in Teaching. She started volunteering as an animal keeper at a wildlife rehabilitation facility which progressed to teaching environmental education for over 17 years in the Great Lakes region. She has led programs for a variety of audiences; from toddlers to seniors and small groups to large auditoriums. Her passion is educating the public about wildlife and their habitats. As many of the stories that surround the life of Saint Francis, Melissa has a great love for animals and the environment. She and her husband adopt large-breed, geriatric dogs into their home and in turn the animals rescue us.
Alisa Bailey, Secretary: Alisa graduated from Salve Regina University in Newport, RI with a B.A. in English, with a concentration in speech communication and a minor in journalism. She has non-profit experience having served for seven years as executive director of the Bridgeport (CT) Chamber of Commerce where she had the opportunity to help lobby for funding for Bridgeport’s Beardsley Zoo and support the zoo’s annual ‘Wild Wine Safari’ fundraising event. Working with the zoo’s director, who was on the Chamber’s board and also board chairman, Alisa also got to see the growth of the zoo’s Red wolf, Maned wolf and Amur tiger conservation programs. Alisa was also the executive officer for a Home Builders & Remodelers Association for over seven years before moving to Texas in 2013. Once in Texas, she worked as an account executive in media advertising sales for four years before launching her photography business, Alisa Bailey Imagery, LLC in 2017. She specializes in business branding photography and is looking forward to sharing her photographic, marketing, strategic and event planning talents to help grow awareness and funding for the sanctuary.
Cindy 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.
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.
Kathy Watkins: 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.
Kelly 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.