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.
Brent Newman, Deputy Director, Audubon Louisiana
Brent joined Audubon Louisiana in 2019, with a focus on state policy and Audubon's involvement in the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition. Prior to this position, he served as section chief for the Interstate and Federal Section of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. In that role he was responsible for activities relating to the Colorado River Compact, Upper Colorado River Compact and Arkansas River Compact. He managed projects and funding associated with section programming and provided section direction, input, and guidance on the implementation of Colorado's Water Plan. Brent attended the University of Mississippi for undergraduate and law school, and earned an LL.M. in Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy from the University of Denver.
Brandy Hatcher, Office Manager, Audubon Louisiana
Brandy was hired as Audubon Louisiana’s Office Manager in March of 2018. Her previous experience has equipped her with the skills to oversee management and organizational duties and ensure smooth operations in our busy work environment. Brandy regularly draws on her knowledge in business and financial services as she works closely with our local and national staff. Brandy has 20+ years of experience in office management, human resources and benefits administration, project and budget-related analysis, administrative duties, and other management responsibilities. Prior to joining the Audubon team, she was the office manager for the Environmental, Health & Safety Services’ Baton Rouge location of a global multi-disciplinary consulting firm. Brandy is a lifelong resident of Louisiana and enjoys visiting her son at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama.
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 Director, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition
In 2019, Lauren became the Communications Director for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, 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 the coalition's communications, Lauren will also ensure Gulf-wide consistency in communications for Audubon. Before her role as Communications Director, Lauren was Audubon Louisiana's Communications Manager. In that role, Lauren guided the strategy for all outreach and communication efforts for Audubon Louisiana. Lauren initially joined Audubon in 2014 as the Communications Associate for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Coalition. 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 the 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, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition
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.
Catherine Weidert, Communications Manager, Audubon Louisiana
Catherine joined Audubon Louisiana in 2020 as the communications manager. In this role, she implements communications strategies that help strengthen Audubon Louisiana’s brand and improves local and state-wide visibility. Before joining Audubon, Catherine was the communications specialist at LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College where she was responsible for all communications and marketing efforts supporting the Honors College. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree from the LSU Manship School of Mass Communications in 2014, Catherine worked in communications and marketing at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center for a few years and then moved to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana in the provider communications department. Catherine lives in Gonzales, La.
Nic Dixon, Outreach Associate, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition
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.
Katie Barnes, Coastal Stewardship Manager, Audubon Louisiana
Katie has a Master of Science degree from East Stroudsburg University where she focused on Louisiana Waterthrush nesting ecology and published a paper detailing that work in Northeastern Naturalist. She has worked at the Costa Rica Bird Observatory and Powdermill Avian Research Center as a bird bander, with the University of Illinois as a field biologist to detail the ecology of Fort Polk and endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, and with a consulting firm to monitor endangered Southwest Willow Flycatchers, among other exciting experiences. As an Audubon Louisiana 2016 and 2017 coastal bird technician, Katie established the beach-nesting stewardship program in Cameron Parish. She built many positive relationships with community leaders, landowners, and other groups, and created a strong foundation for our program to grow. She then went on to help the Birmingham Audubon Society build their first beach-nesting bird protection program, where she identified critical nesting sites, built strong relationships with landowners and wildlife agencies to increase awareness of the conservation issues, and provided important recommendations to coastal restoration planners that will have lasting benefits to the birds of that region. Now back in Louisiana, and in addition to monitoring and stewarding birds and coordinating with volunteers, she has a leadership role in guiding our coastal bird stewardship program.
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.
Lindsay Nakashima, Geomorphologist and Geographic Information Systems Analyst, Audubon Louisiana
Lindsay joined the Audubon Louisiana’s Baton Rouge office with experience in coastal geomorphology and GIS/GPS/UAV applications. He implements ESRI desktop and web-based GIS applications as well as utilizes RTK GPS technology in tandem with UAV capabilities as analytic tools for project-specific GIS and photogrammetric analyses. Lindsay has a strong publication record in the field of nearshore sediment transport, shore zone mapping, and coastal zone management. He participates in scientifically based conservation and restoration efforts affiliated with the Restore the Mississippi River Delta campaign and the Rainey Conservation Alliance. His GIS/GPS project experience includes: field surveys of changes in dredged canals, marsh creation sites and shorelines; UAV vegetation/habitat mapping; hurricane impact mapping; GPS/fathometer surveys; environmental site assessments; dredged material assessments; and mapping fate and transport of oil spill and other contaminants in water and sediments for projects in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, Florida, Alaska, and New York. Lindsay received a Ph.D. in Geography from Rutgers University, a Masters in Physical Geography from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a Bachelors in Physical Geography from the University of Toronto.
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.
Karen Westphal, Coastal Project Manager, Audubon Louisiana
Karen is active in the Louisiana Master Naturalist Program and lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A native of the Mississippi Gulf coast, Karen joined Audubon in February 2009 as a Coastal Scientist with the Gulf Coast Initiative and brought nearly three decades of experience and research in coastal Louisiana to the team. Karen provides science support involving coastal processes, ecology and biogeomorphology (how living things affect land change), with expertise in coastal vegetation, aquatic fauna, bird monitoring, drone mapping, and coastal habitat restoration. Prior to joining Audubon, she worked for the Louisiana Geological Survey, Louisiana State University, and the University of New Orleans in a variety of capacities, including field research, aerial coastal imagery surveys, aerial photo-interpretation and mapping, shoreline change analyses, and photographic time-series. She was involved in pioneering work on beneficial use of dredged material, coastal vegetation related to elevation, and impact of navigation channels (such as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet) on the surrounding landscape. Publication contributions include the Coastal Sand Dunes of Louisiana series, Atlas of Shoreline Changes in Louisiana 1853-1989, technical reports and scientific journal articles including Journal of Coastal Research and Marine Geology, as well as video productions and aerial coastal video DVD sets. With Audubon Louisiana, Karen now applies her expertise. Karen works on conservation project concept, design, permitting, and management with the Paul J Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary Manager and Rainey Conservation Alliance partners. She managed the small dredge program at the Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary in southwest Louisiana restoring hurricane-damaged marsh; and most recently, constructed terraces designed to provide multiple landscape and wildlife benefits as an adaptation to climate change. She is responsible for coordinating or tracking a variety of activities and issues within the Louisiana coastal zone.