Karen Profita, Executive Director, Audubon Louisiana; Vice President, Audubon
In her role as Executive Director of Audubon Louisiana, Karen leads all of Audubon Louisiana’s administration and programming which include large-scale coastal conservation and landowner engagement through the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign and the Rainey Conservation Alliance, chapter engagement through Bird Friendly Communities and other initiatives, and climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives. In addition, she and her team lead the management of the Paul J. Rainey Sanctuary, Audubon’s oldest and largest sanctuary and steward the protection of Louisiana’s 23 Important Bird Areas throughout the State in coordination with Audubon’s Mississippi Flyway and Gulf Initiative programs.
Karen has spent most of her career in leadership and fundraising for nonprofits. Prior to joining Audubon Louisiana in May 2017, Karen served as the Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board under the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. In this capacity, she focused on expanding the sales of Louisiana seafood through retail and restaurant co-marketing programs, as well as helping improve industry technologies and processing. Prior to that, Karen served as the CEO of Capitol Area United Way in Baton Rouge, where she was recognized by the Baton Rouge Business Report as one of the “10 Most Influential Women in Business.” She also worked as Senior Vice President for Children’s Miracle Network, where she supported the 170-member hospital network by securing $53 million a year for children’s hospitals worldwide. Karen earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Louisiana State University and a Master’s of Health Service Administration from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL.
Cynthia Duet, Deputy Director, Audubon Louisiana
Cynthia is Audubon Louisiana’s Deputy Director. She interacts with government agencies, Louisiana legislators and congressional staffers, and coastal landowners and stakeholders to advance coastal policy, funding, and project implementation. A former deputy director of the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities, Cynthia has more than 15 years of Louisiana- specific experience in coastal policy development, strategic coastal planning, and environmental project management and education. She is the policy and legislative analyst for Audubon’s state office and also serves as the liaison for coastal landowners and leaders of the state’s coastal restoration and regulatory programs. Cynthia is a member of the Mississippi River Delta restoration campaign (Walton Foundation) and the Rainey Conservation Alliance, a strategic landowner advocacy group focused primarily on conserving and restoring over 180,000 contiguous private acres of marsh and shoreline in Vermilion Parish—parts of which are held in ownership by the National Audubon Society. She is also a participating member of the state’s Coastal Master Plan Framework Development Team and Landowner Focus Group, and various other standing committees. Cynthia lives in Baton Rouge.
Erik Johnson, Director of Bird Conservation, Audubon Louisiana
Erik joined Audubon in April 2011 as a Conservation Biologist for the Mississippi Flyway and Gulf Coast Initiative where he provided science-support and guidance for Audubon’s strategic planning process and building upon conservation and monitoring efforts in the region. Before coming to Audubon, Erik’s graduate work at Louisiana State University included researching the effects of forest fragmentation on Amazonian bird communities and understanding the effects of fire management on grassland birds in pine savannas of the southeastern U.S. and has published his work in scientific journals including The Auk and Ecology. It was while finishing his dissertation when the BP oil spill shocked the Gulf Coast and in response, Erik helped develop a citizen science program across the central Gulf Coast, Audubon’s Coastal Bird Survey, which he continues to lead. Erik started his ornithological career stewarding and monitoring breeding Least Terns and Piping Plovers in Massachusetts, and has returned to these coastal roots by leading the development of a comprehensive beach-nesting bird stewardship program in Louisiana by developing partnerships with other organizations and local communities. Erik also has developed several bird monitoring initiatives at the Paul J. Rainey Audubon Sanctuary to understand the effects of management on marshbirds, supporting the science-based restoration mission of the Rainey Conservation Alliance, a collaboration among local landowners in Vermilion Parish to save coastal marshes. Erik is active in Louisiana’s birding community and serves as Louisiana’s Christmas Bird Count regional editor, a member of Louisiana’s Bird Records Committee, Vice President of Baton Rouge Audubon Society, and Co-director of the Louisiana Bird Observatory. Erik lives in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Lauren Bourg, Communications Manager, Audubon Louisiana
As Communications Manager, Lauren sets and guides the strategy for all outreach and communication efforts for Audubon Louisiana. Lauren joined Audubon in 2014 as the Communications Associate for the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Coalition, which comprises Audubon, National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, and Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. In 2015, Lauren became the Communications Associate for Audubon Louisiana. Prior to joining Audubon, Lauren was the Manager of External Relations for the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute (SDMI) at Louisiana State University. At SDMI, Lauren was responsible for overseeing coordination of public relations, marketing and development for the Institute. She also led the branding and launch of the Center for Business Preparedness, chaired the communications committee for the Food & Agriculture Protection Training Consortium and was on the Board of Directors for the International Disaster Conference and Expo. Prior to SDMI, Lauren worked in the public affairs department for the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training, a counter-terrorism research and training academy located on LSU's campus. Lauren is a graduate of LSU, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication in 2007. Lauren lives in New Orleans.
Ryan Chauvin, Digital Marketing and Communications Manager, MRDRC
Ryan Chauvin is Audubon's Digital Marketing and Communication Manager for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta coalition. In this role, he manages the website, email, and social media platforms to raise awareness and increase the reach of the coalition. Ryan grew up in South Mississippi and is proud to be working for an issue affecting the lives of his friends, family, and community. Previously, Ryan has worked as an SEO and marketing specialist for Forthea Interactive Marketing in Houston and as a Digital Communications Associate for the Pew Charitable Trusts working on environmental issues across their portfolio of global campaigns. He holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Southern Mississippi and an MA in Media and Public Affairs from George Washington University.
Nic Dixon, Outreach Associate, MRDRC
Nic is responsible for engaging communities and getting grassroots support for conservation of birds and coastal restoration in Louisiana. Formerly working for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Nic has been engaging a variety of communities about coastal restoration in Louisiana since 2014. Previously, Nic has been involved with bird conservation efforts throughout the country, including field work in the Yukon River Delta of Alaska and in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Educated at Louisiana State University with a degree in Natural Resource Ecology and Management, a Louisiana native, and a waterfowl enthusiast, Nic strives to be a positive influence on the policy and science that will protect our coastal birds and people.
Jacques Hebert, Communications Director, MRDRC
In 2015, Jacques joined Audubon and the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Coallition which comprises Audubon, National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, and Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. In addition to playing a leadership role in MRDRC communications, Jacques will also ensure Gulf-wide consistency in communications for Audubon. Over the last several years, Jacques worked as public affairs manager at Mother Jones in San Francisco, where he raised awareness to the news organization's reporting and helped elevate its profile. Previously, he worked for five years at Google initially as an account manager in its advertising department, and then on the company's corporate communications team focusing on YouTube. Jacques is a native son of Louisiana, having grown up in Plaquemines Parish, which has been ground zero for coastal erosion, hurricanes, and the BP oil spill. He is excited to be back in New Orleans and working with Audubon and its partners on an issue of such personal importance to him and significance to the residents and wildlife of the Gulf Coast. Jacques graduated from Dartmouth College with a dual major in Spanish and Latin American Studies. He lives in New Orleans.
Justin Lehman, Coastal Marshbird Technician, Audubon Louisiana
Justin leads Audubon Louisiana's Black Rail Project, surveying coastal Louisiana for the elusive Black Rail and engaging volunteers in our efforts to locate them. Justin graduated from University of Tennessee with an Master’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences in August 2017 where he studied Golden-winged Warbler breeding and fledgling habitat use and survival, a bird he previously worked on in Minnesota as well. He also worked two seasons with a Ph.D. student studying the migration of secretive marshbirds in Missouri, where he did nocturnal surveys by ATV. He has also worked a variety of other interesting projects, including surveying waterfowl in Illinois and Indiana, banding songbirds in Hawaii, and radio-tagged American Woodcock in Minnesota.
Emily Falgoust, Communications Coordinator, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition
Emily McCalla is Audubon’s Communications Coordinator for the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Coalition—a science-based non-profit comprised of Audubon, Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, working to protect people, wildlife and jobs by reconnecting the river with its wetlands. She is responsible for supporting the MRDRC Communications Team in brand strategy, media relations, project planning and implementation, development of communications materials and social media outreach. As a Lake Charles native, she is directly familiar with the issues facing our coast and is passionate about working to save it. Prior to joining Audubon, Emily worked with STUN Design & Interactive in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as the Marketing and Office Coordinator. Prior to that, she was the State Coordinator for the Louisiana Solar Energy Society—a nonprofit dedicated to promoting clean, solar energy throughout the state. In this role, Emily was responsible for overseeing all aspects of the non-profit including memberships, fundraising, event coordination, social networking, media relations, and more. Emily is a graduate of Louisiana State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing in 2013. Emily lives in New Orleans.
Lindsay Nakashima, Geomorphologist and Geographic Information Systems Analyst, Audubon Louisiana
Lindsay has over 25 years of Louisiana-based experience relating to coastal and environmental science and GIS/GPS applications. He has a background applying science and GIS/GPS technologies to projects involving resource/habitat conditions, wetlands sustainability, coastal restoration, environmental impact analysis, disaster/hazard mitigation, recreational planning and oil spill response shoreline cleanup assessments. Lindsay’s work has largely focused on Louisiana and also includes Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Texas, and New York State. He has experience designing field data collection methods as well as a working knowledge of Louisiana’s mainland and barrier island stratigraphy, littoral environments and shore-zone processes. Lindsay received a PhD in Geography/Coastal Geomorphology from Rutgers University, an MA in Physical Geography from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a BS in Physical Geography from the University of Toronto. Lindsay lives in Denham Springs, Louisiana.
Melissa Parmelee, Development Director, Audubon Louisiana
Melissa Parmelee is Audubon Louisiana's Director of Development. Melissa is responsible for all fundraising efforts in collaboration with all departments and advisory board. Her role consists of various activities, including major gift, special events, affinity groups, board development and cause marketing.
Melissa’s experience ranges from small nonprofits, such as Baton Rouge Epicurean Society, to larger nonprofits, American Red Cross and United Way. She has held board and leadership positions on many organizations including Forum 35, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Manship School for Mass Communication Alumni Board, Junior League of Baton Rouge and Baton Rouge Leadership Alumni. In addition to being a certified fundraising executive, Melissa is a Business Report’s Forty Under 40 honoree, Forum 35 member of the year and named the inaugural recipient of the BR Original Young Professional. Melissa is a graduate of LSU, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication in 2005.
Katie Percy, Avian Biologist, Audubon Louisiana
Katie is from and grew up in Baton Rouge, and has an extensive knowledge of Louisiana ecosystems having participated in research on Louisiana barrier islands, in longleaf pine savannas, and in coastal marshes. She moved to Tennessee where she lived for several years conducting her Master’s research at the University of Tennessee studying the effects of fire management on the abundance and nesting success of Golden-winged Warblers, a species of high concern. After staying in Tennessee to train and work with the next generation of students, and then spending a summer leading a team monitoring California seabirds for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Katie has returned to her roots in Louisiana where she has worked in the consulting industry preparing Environmental Site Assessments and Biological Assessments since February 2014.
Timmy Vincent, Senior Manager, Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary
Timmy manages Audubon’s 26,000-acre Rainey Sanctuary in southwest Louisiana. He oversees extensive marsh restoration projects and management and is responsible for insuring all work is performed to contract standard, including restoration projects implemented through the Rainey Conservation Alliance. Timmy provides support of Audubon Louisiana and its partners’ volunteers in citizen-based coastal restoration projects. As a long-time native of the area, he is a vital link to landowners and land managers in the Atchafalaya and Chenier Plain areas. Timmy lives at the Rainey Sanctuary, near Abbeville, Louisiana.
Jacques Vincent, Assistant Land Steward, Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary
Jacques Vincent is the Assistant Land Steward at the Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary in Vermilion Parish and works closely with Timmy Vincent and Karen Westphal. He is a native of the Abbeville, Louisiana area, grew up fishing and hunting, and is very knowledgeable of the people and landscapes of Southwest Louisiana. He is a certified SCUBA Master Instructor.
He spent much of his career as a construction laborer familiar with resource allocation and production methods, with extensive training in construction trades, carpentry and landscaping. He safely operates a diverse range of heavy duty construction equipment and stays current with public safety and security standards. He previously worked at the Rockefeller Refuge helping with construction projects and land management there. At the Sanctuary, he operates and maintains equipment (including boats), helps with grounds maintenance and construction around the Headquarters, assists with land management and patrolling the canals, and interacts with the neighbors.
Karen Westphal, Coastal Project Manager, Audubon Louisiana
Karen provides science support involving coastal processes, ecology and biogeomorphology (how living things affect land change) including expertise with coastal vegetation, meiofauna, oil spill impacts, hurricane impacts, and coastal habitat restoration. She is responsible for coordinating or tracking a variety of activities and issues related to the Atchafalaya Basin and within the Louisiana coastal zone. Karen manages the small dredge operation at the Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary in southwest Louisiana: project design, permitting, and project management; marsh restoration and monitoring; and boat and dredge operation and maintenance. She works closely with the Sanctuary manager, Timmy Vincent; the Director of Bird Conservation, Erik Johnson; and with the Rainey Conservation Alliance. A native of the Mississippi Gulf coast, Karen joined Audubon in 2009 and brings nearly three decades of experience and research in coastal Louisiana to the team. She has worked for the Louisiana Geological Survey, Louisiana State University, and the University of New Orleans in a variety of capacities, including field research, aerial imagery surveys, shoreline change analyses, photographic time-series, pioneering work on beneficial use of dredged material and coastal vegetation related to elevation, and impact of navigation channels (such as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet) on the surrounding landscape. Karen lives in Baton Rouge.