Staff

Lia Cheek

Campaign Director

Lia Cheek is the Endangered Species Coalition's national campaigns director and oversees our field representatives throughout the country. She has a bachelor’s degree in ecology from Dartmouth College and spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, where she focused on community-based marine conservation. She's worked on marine conservation issues in the Asia Pacific region with Rare, and with Foreign Policy experts during her time at The Brookings Institute.  With international experience in policy and wildlife conservation, Lia brings her strengths in biological research, project management, community organizing, and cross-cultural understanding to her work with ESC.

Jeanne Dodds

Creative Engagement Director

Jeanne Dodds is a visual artist, teaching artist and environmental educator. She graduated with a Master of Environmental Studies from The Evergreen State College in Washington State, with a thesis exploring wildlife trafficking, animal welfare, and the use of visual art for biodiversity conservation. Her previous education includes a BFA in Photography and a Certificate in Scientific Illustration. She has created artwork and taught at artist residencies in the US, New Zealand, and Indonesia. During a 20-year career as an arts and environmental educator she designed and presented curriculum in schools, museums and non-profits across the Pacific Northwest.

Derek Goldman
Northern Rockies Field Representative

Derek previously worked as an organizer for the Montana Wilderness Association. After receiving his MS degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, he spent the 2005 Montana state legislative session in Helena lobbying on environmental issues with Montana Audubon. As a volunteer and board member of a local social justice nonprofit, Derek helped organize an international coalition opposing the Central American Free Trade Agreement, Free Trade Area of the Americas and other socio-economic issues. Derek has been a river guide in Wyoming, Alaska, Utah and Montana and a snowboard instructor in Wyoming.

Hailey Hawkins
Southern Rockies Field Representative

As the Southern Rockies Field Representative, Hailey organizes ESC’s campaign efforts in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.  Previously, Hailey worked with a Colorado-based community group, Boulder Rights of Nature, as the strategic research lead, in which she emphasized Boulder County’s threatened and endangered mammals.  She now actively serves on their Board of Trustees.  While getting her M.A. in Environmental Leadership at Naropa University in Boulder, CO, Hailey nurtured her passion for conservation by exploring the dynamic interconnectedness of all life (human and non-human) and the impact of development on wildlife species.  Hailey began her environmental career working with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the Southern Energy Network harnessing grassroots support for renewable energy in the Southeast.  She has a B.A. in Communication with a minor in Environmental Science from Mississippi State University.  In addition to advocating for wildlife conservation, Hailey’s passions include gardening, hiking, meditating, and playing at the park with her canine companions, Cain and Sebastian.

Leda Huta
Executive Director

Leda has 20 years of environmental experience, managing grassroots, national, and international projects. Most recently, Leda was the Acting Executive Director and Board member for Finding Species. Previous to that, Leda worked for Resource Conservation Alliance to protect forests from a “markets” perspective. Leda is a cofounder of EcoWomen, speaks Ukrainian and Spanish and has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in environmental science and environment and resource management from the University of Toronto.

Rachel Jankowski
Executive Assistant

Rachel Jankowski is the Executive Assistant for ESC and is responsible for bookkeeping, communication, and office management tasks in the Washington DC office. She brings to this position her experience in administration, community development, and environmental science. Rachel spent two years overseas completing her Peace Corps service in Cameroon, as a Youth Development Coordinator. While there, she worked with local entities and community partners to engage, advocate for, and educate young people in many subject areas. Prior to Peace Corps, Rachel spent two years as the Administrative Assistant for the Alliance of Crop, Soil and Environmental Science Societies, and has interned or volunteered with The Wildlife Habitat Council, Casey Trees and the Virginia Master Naturalists. She graduated from James Madison University and has her Bachelor’s degree in Geographic Science.

Mitch Merry
Digital Director

Mitch has worked in digital and field organizing roles for multiple environmental and political organizations and campaigns. Most recently he worked with 21st Century Democrats, training progressive organizers and as a blogger with the Environmental Working Group. Mitch was also a volunteer coordinator with the Presidential Inaugural Committee and an organizer with the Campaign for Change (Obama for America) in Iowa. Mitch led our successful effort to obtain a unanimous Senate resolution proclaiming May 15, 2009 Endangered Species Day.

David Robinson
Environmental Education Director

David Robinson, Education Director, oversees the annual Endangered Species Day, Missing Species Report project, Endangered Species Youth Activists and the Teacher Resource Center. He developed the proposal for an international Endangered Species Day, which was sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein, unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate and first held in 2006. David was previously editor of a national trade magazine and public relations agency manager. A former member of the San Diego County Fish & Wildlife Advisory Commission, he also served on the S.D. Audubon Society and Los Penasquitos Lagoon Foundation Boards and assisted the Otay Valley Regional Park and California Environmental Law Project as well. David published “San Diego’s Endangered Species” (an award-winning booklet) and has written numerous articles on endangered species-related topics. He received his Masters Degree in Mass communications from San Diego State University, where he taught a senior level course for several years.

Chiara Rose
Pacific Coast Organizer

Since the age of 15, Chiara has been dedicated her life to assuring The Salish Sea Bioregion remains a healthy summer home for resident orcas. Born and raised on the shoreline of the Salish Sea, she fell in love with its saltwater ecology and swam in its cold waters year round. While she attended Fairhaven College she volunteered as a community organizer, where she participated in the successful protection the Chukchi Sea from a major oil spill and the protection of the Salish Sea from becoming the coal export capitol of the world. Now, she holds a degree in “Systems Thinking for protection of The Salish Sea Bio-region."

Melissa Smith
Great Lakes Wolf Organizer

Melissa has a special interest in the role that sociology plays in wildlife management and diversity of values, and is dedicated to wildlife agency reform and transparency, representation and democracy within these agencies. She also is a hobby farmer of Katahdin sheep and uses non-lethal, cruelty-free, and predator-friendly practices. Melissa serves as president and executive director of Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf, is a delegate to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, and is a board member of Alliance for Animals and the Environment.

Tara Thornton
Program Director and Northeast Representative

Tara has worked in the environmental and social justice movement for 20+ years. Tara worked previously as Executive Director for the Military Toxics Project (MTP), a national network of neighborhood, veterans', indigenous, peace, environmental, and other organizations representing people affected by military contamination. Before that Tara coordinated environmental outreach programs for Texans United in Houston, South Carolina Wildlife Federation, Clean Water Action Project Virginia and the Long Island Citizens Campaign. Tara is a founding member and serves on the Board of Directors for the International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). Tara now lives in Maine and in addition to supervising our field staff, Tara carries our Northeast field work.

Corry Westbrook
Senior Grassroots and Policy Advisor

Corry has spent twenty years working with the US Congress and several administrations in Washington DC to protect our air, water and wildlife. She did this in her roles as legislative director for the National Wildlife Federation, federal policy director for Oceana and as a lead specialist on oceans policy at World Wildlife Fund. Early in her career Corry worked for the Environmental Protection Agency. Corry grew-up in Florida believing the environment is crucial to quality of life. It is also the most important economic driver in the state, so in 2014 and 2016 she ran for US Congress in Florida’s 8th district to protect it. Corry has a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and a master’s degree from George Washington University. She also served as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in the Eastern Caribbean. Corry has visited all fifty states and all seven continents, with most of her trips focused on exploring nature and watching wildlife.