Dr. Teri Allendorf (Executive Director) is committed to integrating communities into conservation. She has a passion for understanding local people around the world – their diversity, priorities, and values. There’s a conservationist in every village (usually many!) and with some assistance, they can change the world. Dr. Allendorf has worked on issues of local communities and conservation since 1994. She earned her PhD in Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota and has substantial experience with conservation policy and community-level programs. She was a member of USAID’s Biodiversity Team, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal, and has partnered with NGOs and communities on conservation issues in Nepal, Myanmar, China, and India. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles in journals and taught courses at the University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Future Generations University, as well as short courses in India and Namibia. She also consulted on biodiversity projects for USAID in Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda, Nepal, Guatemala, and Guyana.
Kellie Surmacz (Development Director) has a degree in Public Relations from West Virginia University. She has worked in nonprofit development for over ten years, most recently at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and at The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. She lives outside of Pittsburgh with her family and new puppy. She spends lots of time in the backyard and exploring hiking trails near her home.
Kory M. Shrum (Communications Director) is a seasoned publishing and communications professional with more than thirty published books. In addition to her Master in Literature and Master of Fine Arts in Writing degrees, she studied marketing, business, and design. Before pursuing her own career as an author, she taught more than one hundred writing courses to university students, helping them to develop their talents and their voices. When not writing, podcasting, or planning her next adventure, Kory enjoys using her skills and her passion in service of the wildlife she loves so much.
Board of Directors
Kara DeLanty (President) is a native Wisconsinite with over 18 years of experience in the conservation industry as a zoo professional. Currently, she is the Zoo Area Supervisor of Primates at the Milwaukee County Zoo where she oversees and provides care for a large collection of apes and monkeys. She has a BS in biology from UW-Stevens Point and an MA in biology from Miami University’s Project Dragonfly in Ohio. Her graduate studies took her to Baja, Brazil, and Borneo where she developed a passion for community-based conservation after witnessing its success in protecting a wide variety of species. She has recently been involved in efforts to protect jaguars in Belize and has spearheaded multiple fundraisers for polar bear and gorilla conservation. She also serves as a passionate advocate for climate change mitigation through her work as an “Arctic Ambassador” for Polar Bears International and as a member of the external engagement committee for the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation’s governing council.
Doug Pierce (Vice-President) grew up in Oregon, where at an early age, he developed a love for the environment. He has a liberal arts background (journalism and history) and did post graduate studies at UW-Madison. Doug brings a passion for the work and challenges of non-profits and NGOs having worked closely with several over his lifetime. In his last professional role, he was able to travel to multiple countries with UW-Madison students through a program he helped to create entitled, “Quest!” In that capacity he partnered with several NGOs who had a strong social justice commitment, as well as a real impact in the world. Doug is the co-founder and current Board member of Okoa Toto, Inc., a children’s project in Lumakanda, Kenya.
Shauna Steigerwald (Treasurer) is a Cincinnati, Ohio-based writer and communicator with a passion for nature and conservation. She serves as communications and events manager for Adventure Crew, a nonprofit dedicated to getting city teens outside for adventures that inspire them to become outdoor enthusiasts and environmental stewards. As part of her role, she helps organize the nation’s largest paddling event, Ohio River Paddlefest. Previously, she worked as a communications manager and environmental educator for the Ohio River Foundation. Beyond her work in nonprofits, Shauna has extensive experience in journalism, including 11 years as a reporter and many more as a freelance writer. While pursuing her master’s degree in biology from Miami University’s Project Dragonfly, her field experiences in Baja, Mexico; Namibia; and Malaysian Borneo allowed her to see the impacts of community-based conservation firsthand. Her varied educational background also includes bachelor’s degrees in English and communications as well as a master’s degree in business administration, all from Xavier University.
Karen Maidana Dahl, raised in the Back Bay of Boston, educated in Texas and Wisconsin, is presently the Vernon County(WI) coordinator for the national Pollinator Project which includes all ten states through which the Mississippi River flows. She was a friend of Rob Horwich and traveled with Rob and his Belize team to Taldom Russia to explore a possibility of collaboration and conserving the Homeland of the Eurasion grus grus. Her multi-acre yard is habitat for a variety of birds and wildlife. Politically active, radio talk show hostess, former member of the Vernon County Board of Supervisors, and she served 21 years as founder and president of an NGO that worked with Thailand’s “Angel of the Slums” providing safety and New Life for children who were destined to be slaves trafficked in the sex industry. Presently she is working with human trafficking victims in Wisconsin, fundraising for mental health support and facilities and is a vocal supporter of climate action, ethical politics, community action programs as well as served as president of the local Rotary Club and produced Rotary’s The Celtic Beat – musical production of Scottish and Irish entertainers. Stunningly inept musician, she has recently discovered acting in local theater productions. She was widowed in 2015 after caring for her husband who struggled with Alzheimer’s Disease for over 30 years. She is the proud mother of one son. And, since 1973 she and her family have hosted over 53 international students and delegations.
Christine Lane (Secretary) is a museum professional who has a strong background in nonprofit fundraising. She has an undergraduate degree in Historic Preservation and a master’s degree in Museum Studies. She is currently a Development Associate with the Henry L. Stimson Center and was previously a development assistant at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Her environmental commitment comes from being raised by a mother with a PhD in Marine Biology and growing up learning to care for the environment.
Previous Board Members
Nathan Schulfer (President) is the Director of International & Professional MS Programs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. In his role, Nathan manages the Institute’s two professional MS degree programs, while leading the Institute’s efforts to build and strengthen networks with NGO’s, government units, and private sector partners around the world. Prior to joining the Nelson Institute Nathan worked for the US National Park Service in Glacier National Park, for the Montana State Legislature, and in China advising NGO’s and government units on protected area management. Nathan holds a BS in Anthropology from Montana State University – Bozeman, and a MS in Conservation Biology & Sustainable Development from University of Wisconsin – Madison.
- Laura Hewitt
- Joe Rising
- Mark Fenn
Community Conservation Founder Rob Horwich
Dr. Rob Horwich founded Community Conservation in his living room in Gays Mills, Wisconsin, in 1989. Rob was first inspired to work alongside local people to protect their forests in Belize. He initially traveled to Belize to study black howler monkeys, locally known as baboons, and quickly realized that without joining forces with local people to protect the howlers’ forest home, there might not be any more howlers to study in the future. Working with local human community members provided the opportunity to protect habitat via what is now known as the Community Baboon Sanctuary, a model for local community management of natural resources and ecotourism that is managed by and directly benefits the local people.