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Executive Director

Yiwei Wang, Ph.D., is Executive Director at SFBBO.

Yiwei grew up in the South Bay and has called the Bay area her home for most of her life. She attended Cornell University and double majored in Biology and Psychology. Returning to the west coast, she worked for a variety of organizations that focused on birds and mammals, including an internship with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory and a season as a field technician in SFBBO's Snowy Plover Program. She then attended UC Santa Cruz and received her PhD in Environmental Studies. Her dissertation focused on learning how human development impacts mountain lions and their relationships with other smaller carnivores. After completing her Ph.D., she worked in northern Kenya to coordinate research efforts among four NGOs to study regional human development and wildlife movement as part of a project supported by the Nature Conservancy. Most recently she was a post-doctoral scholar in Santa Barbara, where she worked to increase and facilitate the management and sharing of ecological data.  

SFBBO 2015 Staff Org Chart (pdf)


Stephanie Ellis
Yiwei Wang, Executive Director


Outreach and Communications Director

Kristin Butler, M.S. is the Outreach and Communications Director at SFBBO, overseeing outreach, communications, and fundraising. Kristin is a communications specialist with experience developing stories and leading public relations and fundraising initiatives for nonprofits and the media. Before joining SFBBO, Kristin worked for several conservation and youth serving organizations, including Earthjustice, Girls Inc., and the East Bay Regional Park District. Before that, she was an environmental reporter for the Argus newspaper in Fremont and covered Bay Area issues, including endangered species, habitat loss, and wetlands regulation. Her recent work has appeared in Discover, SciStarter, Tideline, All Bird Bulletin, Birdwatching Magazine, and P.L.O.S. (Public Library of Science). She has a B.A. in Political Science from Whitman College, and an M.S. in Mass Communications from San Jose State University.

Contact: kbutler@sfbbo.org

Jason St. Pierre
Kristin Butler, Outreach and Communications Director

Waterbird Program Director

Max Tarjan, PhD, grew up on the East Coast and completed a BA in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. While a student, she studied animal behavior in Panama, Kenya, and Indonesia. Max came to the West Coast to pursue her interest in behavioral ecology at UC Santa Cruz. For her Master’s and PhD, she researched space use and reproductive success of male sea otters in Monterey Bay, CA. She enjoys education and outreach, and teaches undergraduate courses at UC Santa Cruz. As a National Science Foundation teaching fellow, she taught in K-12 classrooms in Watsonville. Max looks forward to coordinating research on bird populations and behavior as the Waterbird Program Director.

Contact: mtarjan@sfbbo.org

Waterbird Program Senior Biologist

Victoria Heyse, is the Waterbird Lead Biologist at SFBBO, where she conducts waterbird surveys on the Bay's managed ponds, monitors gulls and corvids at local landfills, and patrols the South Bay sloughs in support of our Avian Disease Prevention Program. Victoria first fell in love with marsh birds during a field season in college studying Saltmarsh Sparrows and monitoring the nests of Willets and Clapper Rails. After earning a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, Victoria completed a year of AmeriCorps service with Sequoia Riverlands Trust in Visalia, CA, where she coordinated volunteers on restoration projects and led environmental education programs. Victoria started as a Waterbird Intern at SFBBO in 2014 before transitioning to biologist in 2015. 
Contact: vheyse@sfbbo.org


Natalie Washburn

Max Tarjan, Waterbird Program Director

Natalie Washburn

Victoria Heyse, Waterbird Senior Biologist

Marianne Bristol is SFBBO's Accountant. Marianne has substantial experience working as an accountant in the corporate sector, including cost accounting experience which will be very valuable to SFBBO. In recent years, Marianne has taken some time off of work to spend more time with her children - during this time Marianne has remained active in the field of accounting by volunteering her time with a new non-profit organization here in the Bay Area. 

Contact: mbristol@sfbbo.org

Gail Richardson
Marianne Bristol, Accountant

Landbird Program Director

Josh Scullen oversees all of our landbird program activities, database management, and research permits. Josh has a B.S. in Wildlife Management from West Virginia University and is a North American Banding Council Certified Trainer. Originally from Maryland, Josh has spent several years conducting field work throughout North and Central America and Hawaii, and has lived on the California coast since 2006.

Contact: jscullen@sfbbo.org


Landbird Program Senior Biologist

Dan Wenny leads our Burrowing Owl research in the South Bay area, studies birds and landscaping features in urban environments, and works at our Coyote Creek bird banding station. Dan completed a B.A. in Biology at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, where he participated in research in Kenya and Costa Rica. For his M.A. at University of Missouri-Columbia he studied the effects of forest fragmentation on forest interior birds, and for his PhD. at the University of Florida he studied seed dispersal by birds and subsequent tree seedling survival in the cloud forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica. Following that, Dan studied grassland birds and prairie restoration in northwestern Illinois and taught various biology courses at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. After moving to California in 2014, he started researching bird use of high elevation meadows in the central Sierra Nevada. He is also interested in urban ecology, plant-animal interactions, and ecosystem services and recently co-edited a book including these topics, Why Birds Matter: Avian Ecological Functions and Ecosystem Services.

Contact: dwenny@sfbbo.org


Josh Scullen
Josh Scullen, Landbird Program Director


Josh Scullen

Dan Wenny, Landbird Senior Biologist

Plover Program Director

Karine Tokatlian oversees our plover-related research and monitoring activities. Karine has a B.S. in Field and Wildlife Biology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She has spent several years monitoring protected breeding bird populations along the California coast, including the Western Snowy Plover and California Least Tern. As a native of California, Karine has a profound respect for the conservation of coastal ecosystems and, gratefully, has the opportunity to nurture her interests through the efforts of the Bird Observatory.

Contact: ktokatlian@sfbbo.org

Plover Lead Biologist

Ben Pearl, M.S., is the Plover Lead Biologist for SFBBO. He leads the Plover field team in day-to-day activities and coordinates closely with government agencies, consulting firms, and non-profit organizations that also work in the South Bay near sensitive Plover nesting habitat. Ben grew up in San Luis Obispo, where he attained an early love for nature exploring the nearby tide pools and oak forests. He completed his B.S. in Ecology and Evolotionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz in 2008. Ben first came to SFBBO as an intern while beginning his Masters at San Jose State University in 2013, and has stayed with SFBBO to work with plovers ever since. For his Masters research, he studied how various factors affect plover foraging habitat selection during the winter in the South Bay. He is also a qualified bird bander.

Contact: bpearl@sfbbo.org


Karine Tokatlian
Karine Tokatlian, Plover Program Director


Karine Tokatlian Ben Pearl, Plover Program Lead Biologist

Senior Biologist

Alvaro Jaramillo, M.S. is a senior biologist working with both the Science and Outreach Programs. Alvaro has a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Toronto, and a M.S. in Ecology and Evolution from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. An expert on the birds of California and North America, he is also an authority on the birds of Chile, authoring of Birds of Chile (2003) and collaborating on Chile’s Important Bird Areas program. An author and contributor to numerous field guides and popular publications, Alvaro’s passion is not only to understand the biology and natural history of birds, but to enrich other’s enjoyment of birds and further avian conservation. Alvaro recently received the Eisenmann Medal of the Linnean Society of New York, established to honor those who excel in ornithology and encourage the amateur.

Contact: ajaramillo@sfbbo.org

Alvaro Jaramillo
Alvaro Jaramillo, Senior Biologist
Habitats Program Director

David Thomson, M.S. is SFBBo's Habitats Program Director. David has a B.S. in Biology from Seattle University in Washington and a M.S. in Wetland Ecology from Southeastern Louisiana University, where he contributed to and led research on coastal wetlands. Since moving to California in 2001 he has actively researched the ecology and restoration of wetlands in San Francisco Bay, including an ongoing study to develop methods and materials for restoring tidal marsh-upland ecotonal habitats. The methods he has developed are being utilized to restore habitats at sites throughout the estuary as a part of the tidal marsh ecosystem's restoration. David hopes to contribute to our understanding of bird habitat ecology and enrich our research programs with this perspective.

Contact: dthomson@sfbbo.org

David Thomson
David Thomson, Senior Ecologist
Seasonal Staff and Interns

In addition to our permanent staff, SFBBO is powered by our seasonal staff and interns. Our current team includes Habitats Program Senior Seasonal Ecologist Miranda Melen, Habitats Seasonal Ecologist Eric Lynch, Habitats Season Ecologist Matt Bertken, Landbird Field Biologist Alex Rinkert, Habitats and Plover Biologist Cole Jower, Waterbird Interns Emma Stevens and Nicole Tomes Orlale, Plover Intern Lani Renshaw, and Landbird Interns Sharon Huerta and Amaya McKenna!




Aidona Kakouros
Photo by Lisa Sheridan