Staff Bios

ALAN CHUNG

CEO

Alan is a serial entrepreneur with nearly thirty years’ experience creating software companies. He’s currently founder and CEO of Perka, a mobile loyalty app that helps businesses turn occasional visitors into loyal regulars. He was formerly the CEO of Zenbe, an email suite that reinvented web-based email, which was acquired by Facebook in 2010. Zenbe also produced a successful task list app, Zenbe Lists, one of the first 500 apps in the Apple app Store. Prior to Zenbe, Alan founded and led iAmaze to develop cutting edge Javascript applications. iAmaze was acquired by AOL in 2000. Alan has dual degrees in electrical engineering and computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Before joining the WildAid board, Alan and his wife, Buffy Redsecker, have been a long time supporters of WildAid. And they are both keen wildlife photographers. They both accompanied WildAid on its annual whale shark trip in 2011 and are excited to play a more active role with WildAid in the coming years.

JOHN BAKER

CHIEF PROGRAM OFFICER

John leads and manages WildAid’s global programs including program strategy, institutional fundraising, and international program management. Since 2013, John has helped expand WildAid demand reduction campaigns in Asia and managed organizational growth with a doubling in staff, funding and budget. He brings valuable expertise from 15 years of leading and managing conservation programs in Southeast Asia and 12 years at Point Blue Conservation Science. John’s entrepreneurial spirit and hands-on attitude have helped launch innovative rural development projects in Thailand with pre-eminent social entrepreneur Mechai Viravaidya, manage a conservation program for the largest protected area in Laos, and establish an award-winning family planning program for the Vietnam Women’s Union. He also researched and edited a guidebook to Thai national parks and a coffee table book on Thai flora and fauna. During one watershed moment in recent Thai political history, John seized the opportunity to write speeches for Thailand’s former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun. He speaks Thai, Lao and proficient Vietnamese.

MEAGHAN BROSNAN

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Meaghan has worked for nearly 15 years to reduce illegal fishing activity around the world, and is an expert in domestic and international fisheries management, compliance, and enforcement. She spent four years at-sea enforcing fisheries law, and served as the deputy chief of the Coast Guard’s Living Marine Resources Enforcement program. Meaghan was also the lead manager of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ End Illegal Fishing Campaign. Additionally, she founded Exulans, Inc., a global consultancy providing compliance and enforcement solutions for ocean conservation to governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations. In these roles, Meaghan has worked in collaboration with senior government leaders and diverse public and private sector organizations in East Africa, Southeast Asia, the Western and Central Pacific, Central America and the United States. Meaghan continues to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, leading a department in the San Francisco Bay area. When she is not nerding out on ocean conservation topics, Meaghan can be found kayaking, hiking or camping with her family.

LEILA MELODY

CHIEF FINANCE OFFICER

Leila joined WildAid as Chief Financial Officer in 2022. She has over 20 years of leadership experience in finance, operations, and business administration. Leila’s career has spanned a variety of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations including an early-stage high-growth financial company, national animal protection organization, and established mid-size businesses. In her past roles, she has led accounting, finance, human resources, facilities, technology, and visitor experience, with an emphasis on instituting best practices and developing strategic financial plans that support significant organizational growth. She earned an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and a BA from Northwestern University. When she is not working, Leila can be found exploring new places with her rescued Formosan Mountain Dog.

RACHEL LEE HOLSTEIN

DONOR IMPACT DIRECTOR

Rachel Lee joined WildAid in 2022 to build relationships with donors on the East Coast. A seasoned fundraising strategist and leader with nearly 20 years of experience, Rachel Lee relishes the process of connecting supporters with opportunities to support work they are passionate about. In her previous roles she built development systems from scratch, fostered a culture of philanthropy among staff and volunteers, and exponentially increased revenue. Her efforts have served environmental and racial justice, economic systems change, poverty alleviation, community arts, voter mobilization, and international fair trade. In her free time she can be found exploring local farmers markets and parks with her young daughter.

JENNIFER KOEPCKE

SENIOR DIRECTOR OF INSTITUTIONAL ENGAGEMENT

Jennifer has been a fundraiser and advocate for environmental conservation for over twenty years; most recently with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Through this work, Jennifer has helped to protect terrestrial, freshwater, and ocean species and habitats; support sustainable agriculture and timber production; and provide environmental education and job training for youth.  She has successfully advocated for policy reform to improve government transparency and accountability, and to ensure the availability and appropriate expenditure of public funding for natural resource conservation.  Jennifer holds a Master of Arts in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, and Peacebuilding, and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology.  She enjoys hiking in the mountains, reading on the beach, and spending time with her husband, friends, and family.

EMILY OWEN

MARINE PROGRAM DIRECTOR

For over sixteen years, Emily Owen has worked internationally with communities, governments, researchers, and civil society to find collaborative and innovative conservation solutions that support both people and the planet. Prior to joining WildAid in 2022, Emily managed The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Protecting Coastal Wetlands and Coral Reefs project, which helps countries protect coastal ecosystems to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Emily started her career in Chile, where she worked for 10 years on community-based conservation efforts, first in Southern Chile with World Wildlife Fund and then on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) with Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies with a focus in Conservation Biology from Middlebury College and is a Wild Gift Fellow. Emily enjoys hiking, biking, reading, and scuba diving and lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two sons.

CHRISTINA VALLIANOS

WILDLIFE PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Christina researches, develops and oversees WildAid’s species campaigns, having designed and led the pangolin campaign since inception. As the Wildlife Program Director, her responsibilities include managing project implementation in coordination with the international teams, campaign planning, creative content development, grant writing, and authoring of WildAid’s published reports. Before joining the team in 2013, she designed enrichment programs for river otters at the Oakland Zoo, taught ecology to youth at summer camps in Massachusetts, and worked in account management at a design agency in San Francisco. She is passionate about waste management and single-use plastics reduction, loves hiking and photography, and spends much of her time chasing remote sunrise views on backpacking trips in the mountains. She is a dedicated environmentalist who believes wild places and animals deserve protection, and joined WildAid to support its conservation efforts. Christina holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley and is a 2021 graduate of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program.

GARY YIP

DIRECTOR OF VIDEO PRODUCTION

Originally from Hong Kong, Gary joined WildAid in 2010 after working for several years on numerous video campaigns for schools and non-profits as a freelancer in the US. Gary has worked with Jackie Chan, Yao Ming, Prince William, David Beckham, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o and many others to create some of WildAid’s most memorable PSAs, behind the scenes clips, and mini-documentaries. Gary also filmed the Emmy-nominated Animal Planet documentary “Saving Africa’s Giants with Yao Ming”, CCTV’s “The End of The Wild”, and Shanghai Media Group’s “Celebrity Explorers” — the latter a five-part documentary series for Chinese television. Gary speaks, reads, and writes in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. He enjoys all things technology (leading to his default designation as Head of IT), video games and movies, and loves to travel to arctic climates to photograph polar bears and the northern lights.

CLAIRE ALTIER

CONTROLLER

Claire joined the team in April of 2018 and is responsible for all financial reporting, forecasting, and audit preparation for WildAid’s US and international offices. She has 10 years of accounting experience and has held head of accounting roles with three different companies, each in unique areas of the for profit sector. While this is her first foray into non-profits, Claire has been a life-long wildlife advocate and supporter of conservation efforts and is thrilled to make the jump into a more mission-driven atmosphere. She attended the University of Vermont, majoring in International Business, minoring in Studio Art, and concentrating in Animal Sciences. Outside of the office, Claire is an avid scuba diver and loves experimenting with underwater photography.

KAYLYN BECK

SENIOR SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER

Kaylyn joined WildAid in 2022 as Senior Social Media Manager, bringing with her over 7 years of experience in social media management, digital marketing, and storytelling. From providing on-the-ground crisis communications during active disasters while at FEMA, to leading social strategies for a global team at IFAW advocating for imperiled wildlife, and working to shift society’s perception of farm animals and our modern food system at Farm Sanctuary, Kaylyn has seen the power in online communities to create positive change. She is passionate about animals and environmental conservation. In her spare time, she enjoys eating vegan food, hiking, and exploring Los Angeles.

MARISSA CASTRO

MARINE PROGRAM ASSOCIATE

Growing up along the coast of Southern California, Marissa’s curiosity about nature grew into a deep passion for the protection and sustainable use of our ocean and its life. Marissa holds a B.A. in environmental studies from California State University, Monterey Bay, and is a recent graduate with an M.A. in international environmental policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. It was in her graduate studies that she focused on ocean and coastal management to further her knowledge and experience in fisheries policy and the transition to sustainable practices to support coastal communities being most affected by IUU fishing and overfishing. In her free time, she can be found training for her next swim meet, exploring wild places, or enjoying a movie while cuddling with her cat, Olive.

JAZMINE LIU

SENIOR ACCOUNTANT

Jazmine is the staff accountant at WildAid and is responsible for the day-to-day upkeep of the ledger and financial index, and for supporting the senior accountant in executing the monthly close and yearly audit. Prior to that, she had a few accounting roles in both for-profit and non-profit organizations, where she gained some great accounting experiences. Jazmine holds a Bachelor Degree in Business Management Economics with an emphasis in accounting from the UC Santa Cruz. She is fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. Outside of office, Jazmine is a foodie and loves to explore different Asian restaurants in the Bay Area.

VANESSA PENERYA

ASSISTANT VIDEO EDITOR

Vanessa provides support as WildAid’s assistant video editor. Before joining in 2022, she spent a few years as a freelancer videographer/editor, helping startups and small business boost up their media game through social ads, promos, and long-form video content. Vanessa enjoys using her skills to share stories and strengthen connections within communities. As a lover of sea turtles with a great appreciation for all things mother nature, she wanted help be the voice for wildlife and continue that conversation between people and the world. Vanessa graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Digital Media Arts. During her off time, Vanessa enjoys finding new trails with her dog to walk on, going to theme parks, and traveling the world with family and friends.

ALYSSA RICHARDS

WILDLIFE PROGRAMS OFFICER

Alyssa works on our wildlife programs team, specifically in the areas of program communications and grant writing. Alyssa’s first career was in veterinary medicine, working with a variety of species from rabbits to whales. Wanting to focus on animal advocacy, Alyssa returned to college and earned two master’s degrees, in Museum Studies and in Business Administration, with an intent to help science museums and non-profits. After years of focusing on museum funding, Alyssa is excited to bring her skills to her true passion: animal welfare and environmental conservation. When she is not researching conservation, Alyssa spends her time running, hiking, and working with the Adolescent and Young Adult program at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.

ALDO SIMONE

MARINE PROGRAM MANAGER

Born in a coastal mediterranean town in Southern Italy, Aldo Simone has nurtured a lifelong bond with the Ocean. His early years were influenced by his father, an adept craftsman of sailing boats, which fostered Aldo’s early interest in sailing. Graduating from the Italian Naval Academy as an Officer in 2005, Aldo’s naval career was distinguished by roles in maritime operations and Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). He also holds master’s degrees in International Studies and Military Leadership and Security.

After many years spent serving on the Ocean, he decided to devote himself to serving the Ocean. Aldo is married and lives with his wife, his stepson, and two big orange cats in Rockville, Maryland. He loves painting, cooking, sailing, dancing Lindy Hop, playing D&D, enjoying time at the beach, and practicing traditional Japanese martial arts

NELSON VALEL

JUNIOR ACCOUNTANT

Nelson is the junior accountant at WildAid and is responsible for supporting the accounting team. Prior to joining WildAid Nelson was working at a non-profit organization in the bay area. Nelson holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from San Francisco State University. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, working out, and in general being outdoors.