The goal of Houston Audubon's Young Professionals Advisory Council is to engage the next generation of conservationists and to build awareness of Houston Audubon’s mission among young professionals. YPAC members have the chance to make a significant impact in the world of bird conservation and play an important role in enhancing wildlife habitat.
The inaugural Young Professionals Advisory Council kicked off in 2019 during Houston Audubon’s 50th anniversary year with 17 dedicated members. This group of passionate young conservationists launched the first ever Houston Bird Week and successfully ran a contest to determine the official Bird of Houston – the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.
Congratulations to the 2020 YPAC! We can't wait to see the great things they will accomplish!
Click on the member's name or photo for their bio.
Ecologist, Cox McLain
Marissa is a sparrow fan from the DFW area. After almost a decade as an itinerant bird biologist and bander, working all over the U.S. and a corner of Australia, she’s resigned herself to environmental consulting in Texas. She got a B.F.A. from the University of Kansas before switching gears for an M.S. from Eastern Kentucky University. She spends her free time trying to find a balance between too many hobbies, though hiking/birding with her dog and road biking usually win out.
Lead Analyst, Energy Transfer
Tony Dang is a Rate Analyst in the Rates & Regulatory Affairs Department, with a BBA in Accounting from the University of Houston. His love for birding started during a spring migration in High Island, Texas, which gave him an appreciation for bird migration and conservation. In his spare time, he enjoys birding, hiking, golfing, and spending time with his wife and two fur babies.
Public & Government Affairs Advisor, ExxonMobil
Paul DiFiore grew up in Dallas, Texas. He is a birder who has previously served on the board of the Trinity River Audubon Center. Paul holds a B.A. in Political Science from Davidson College and an M.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. He speaks Arabic and Spanish.
Exploration Geologist, Chevron
Ian Wesley Gapp
Wes Gapp is an exploration geologist at Chevron, with a PhD in paleontology from The University of Kansas. His love for birds began while watching backyard feeders growing up in Central New York. He loves birding with his wife along the Houston bayous, the gulf coast, and the forests of Puerto Rico.
Law Clerk, Carmen Roe Law Firm
Harris County Parks Department
Natural Resources Specialist, Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
Cassidy Kempf is a Natural Resource Specialist at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. She works on habitat restoration projects, native plant propagation, and research and monitoring. She studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Rice University and loves birding!
PhD Candidate, Baylor College of Medicine
Alexander Kneubehl is a PhD candidate at Baylor College of Medicine in Molecular Virology and Microbiology. Birding is his escape from work and the city, and lets him enjoy nature and meet interesting people. #teamprairiechicken
Wireline Sales Engineer, Baker Hughes
Senior Associate, Brothers Alvarado, P.C.
Andrew Martinez is a civil litigation attorney in Houston. He is a graduate of Baylor University and South Texas College of Law. He is a beginning birder who enjoys hiking and the outdoors.
Vice President, Institute for Spirituality and Health
Stuart C. Nelson serves as Vice President at the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center. He manages an interdisciplinary team that works within the intersection of spiritual/religious belief, practice, community life, and health. Stuart has completed bachelor’s degrees in cognitive science, psychology, and religious studies at Rice University, and went on to complete a master’s in religious studies at University of California at Santa Barbara. His work focuses on applying theories and methods from cognitive science of religion in the context of health systems to increase quality of care. Stuart is a musically-minded lover of hip-hop, classic rock, and classical Indian music, as well as impressionism, surrealism, and modern art. He is also an avid birder.
Avian Biologist, Harris County Public Health and Safety Mosquito and Vector Control Division
Project Engineer, Jacobs
Carl Nooteboom is a native Houstonian and graduate of Texas A&M University. He has built his career over twelve years in the Oil & Gas industry designing pipelines and associated facilities. In his spare time he enjoys camping & hiking while birding, playing Bocce ball, and is an avid DIYer.
Community Engagement Manager, Bayou Preservation Association, Inc.
Anni Ranck, CFRE
In her current role serving as Community Engagement Manager for Bayou Preservation Association, Anni Ranck leads collaboration efforts among Houston’s environmental non-profits, cultivates constituent relationships, and develops strategies that meaningfully engage the community with our bayous. Anni’s decade of experience in non-profits, nature centers, state parks, wildlife hospitals, and government agencies has culminated in a personal mission of using the power of storytelling to inspire wonder in the youngest and action in the oldest. By engaging and empowering people within their own community she strives to bridge an ever-growing disconnect and help communities establish a deeper connection with the natural world. In addition to being a Certified Fund Raising Executive, Anni received her Bachelor of Science in Organismal Biology from Austin Peay State University in her native Tennessee. As for her favorite bird — the entire Corvidae family!
Conservation Action Analyst, Houston Zoo
Having entered the realm of wildlife conservation at age 15, I have worked with a range of species including birds, leatherback sea turtles, brown hyenas, and desert elephants. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Texas A&M University in 2013, and went on to obtain my Master’s degree in Primate Conservation from Oxford Brookes University in the UK. Since 2017 I have been working at the Houston Zoo in our Wildlife Conservation Department, and moonlight as a social media consultant for the National Geographic Photo Ark. When I’m not busy trying to save wildlife, you’ll often find me exploring the city or watching a good movie with my two great danes!
Zookeeper II, Houston Zoo
Marketing Coordinator, The Hair Bow Company