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American Eagle Foundation Staff

The AEF is made up of a dedicated staff that cares for Bald Eagles, Hawks, Owls, Vultures, Falcons, and other birds of prey in a variety of ways. Read our staff bios below to learn more!

Jessica Hall

Executive Director

– With AEF since 2019

About Jessica

“I began my professional career working for a Fortune 500 company that ranks as one of the most admired companies in the world. Over the course of several years there, I developed the skills and values that would define my leadership philosophy – People are the most important part of any organization!

When I heard about an opportunity to combine my passion for people with my natural love of birds, I jumped at the chance to join AEF.

The mission of AEF is compelling but it’s the remarkable team here that inspires me each day with their diligent, heartfelt commitment to these incredible birds of prey!”

Katelyn Jennings

General Operations Manager

– With AEF since 2013

About Katelyn

Hello all, I’m Katelyn! I was very fortunate to work with birds of prey at my high school and found them to be such incredible creatures with different personalities. While I always wanted to be a teacher, I pursued a degree in Biology at Western Kentucky University. Throughout college I did several internships, and always found myself back at the doorstep of the American Eagle Foundation. I have been the “revolving door”  at the foundation since 2011 as an intern, seasonal, wildlife program coordinator, intern coordinator, assistant curator and Curator of Ornithology.  I love the mission of AEF and am thrilled to be a part of such an amazing team with such passion for birds of prey and conservation! Please feel free to reach out to me! 

Cheryl Wilkins

Human Resources/Finance Manager

– With AEF since 2020

About Cheryl

My history with the AEF began in 2001 when I first volunteered at the age 12, assisting in the barn with the everyday care of the birds.  I have been fascinated with raptors and the mission of AEF ever since. When I was in high school, I was hired on as a part time seasonal employee in the administrative office.  I am honored to now call AEF my full-time employer.  I have lived in East Tennessee most of my life, and I have no plans of leaving. The Smokies truly has my heart. Even though I do not work closely with the birds, I have a passion for wildlife and nature, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with this amazing organization.

Dr. Michael Jones DVM

Director of Avian Rehabilitation & Research

– With AEF since 2022

About Dr. Jones

Dr. Jones was a Professor, Avian and Zoological Medicine, and Director of Student Services, Diversity, and Recruitment at the University of Tennessee School of Veterinary Medicine. He retired from UT in 2022. Dr. Jones is a member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians, the North American Falconer’s Association, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, and the Raptor Research Foundation. Since the 90s, he and his staff have seen to all the medical needs of the raptors cared for by the American Eagle Foundation, and perform yearly checkups for all our birds.

Nancy Zagaya

Rehabilitation Manager / Vet Tech

– With AEF since 2011

About Nancy

“I first started working with the American Eagle Foundation in 1995 as a University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine Licensed Veterinary Technician, assisting with annual physicals and care throughout the year. Also permitted as a wildlife rehabilitator that same year, I began caring for injured and orphaned wildlife in my home with my husband, Tom and our two children, Daniel, and Julia. Providing compassionate, up-to-date veterinary nursing care for wildlife has been a priority throughout my thirty-eight-year LVT career.

Always awestruck by birds of prey, I welcomed the invitation to join the AEF staff in July of 2011, after retiring from my position as the UTCVM Avian, Exotic Animal and Wildlife Clinic Veterinary Technician Supervisor. Graduating from UT College of Nursing the same year I retired, I worked as a transitional care nurse for the past 9 years, in addition to caring for the birds at the American Eagle Foundation. I felt truly blessed to be able to share my passion for nursing in both places.

In December 2019, as the American Eagle Foundation expanded the commitment to educate, conserve and protect the bald eagle and all birds of prey, I accepted the full-time position as the Avian Rehabilitation Manager. I look forward to continuing to serve the community with this amazing team.”

Brad Skinner

Rehabilitation Associate

– With AEF since 2016

About Brad

“I was born and raised in High Point, NC. Graduated from Lees McRae College with a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology with a concentration in Wildlife Rehabilitation. Also a Minor in Performing Art Studies. I first fell in love with raptors when I started college in 2011, glove training a Red Tailed Hawk. I then knew I wanted to work with these amazing birds in the future. That’s when I soon joined AEF in 2016, which was the best decision I have ever made. It has been a privilege to show how much passion I have with birds of prey by performing at the Wings of America bird show in Dollywood and educating the public on these beautiful creatures. I bring in my experience to the team at AEF but I’m also eager to expand and cultivate that knowledge in order to better educate the public about these magnificent birds of prey.”

Jenna Penland

Assistant Curator

– With AEF since 2015

About Jenna

I grew up in the small town of Cleveland, Georgia, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Young Harris College. I’ve always been an avid animal lover, but my love for birds began after I discovered AEF’s Northeast Florida nest camera. My interest in birds of prey grew and I decided to apply for an internship at the AEF. I interned during the summer of 2015, and after those amazing three months, I couldn’t stay away. I was hired as a seasonal employee the following summer until I finished school and then was employed as a Wildlife Program Coordinator in 2017. I feel very blessed to get to work with so many beautiful birds every day. I learn more and more about them every single day, and look forward to doing so for many years to come.

Crystal Slusher

Webmaster/Cam Coordinator

– With AEF since 2013

About Crystal

“My passion for Bald Eagles began in 2008. I immersed myself in anything and everything I could read about these magnificent creatures. I traveled to observe them in the wild, visited rehab centers, attended Bald Eagle releases, and taken several courses on raptor rehab, husbandry, falconry and training. I discovered the AEF in 2012 after tragedy struck my favorite cam site in 2011. I fell in love with Franklin and Independence instantly but even more so after reading their stories. I remember thinking the AEF chat room was the friendliest I had ever witnessed—it was like a family and they made me feel like family too. I love working for the foundation because it encompasses everything I value—preservation, rehabilitation, conservation and education about Bald Eagles and other birds of prey.”

Ryan Chamberlain

Digital Content Creator

– With AEF since 2019

About Ryan

“I have lived in East Tennessee for most of my life. I would spend my Summers going to Dollywood where I saw the Wings of America show, put on by the AEF, for the first time. It didn’t take long to fall in love with these beautiful animals, especially the mesmerizing owls! I began my college career at Pellissippi State as a marketing major. After helping a friend with a short film she was working on, I became enraptured by all aspects of the behind the scenes world of making videos and changed majors to video production. When the opportunity presented itself to use my passion for video production and my background in marketing to work around the AMAZING creatures I fell in love at Dollywood, I was thrilled. I’m the happiest when I am behind the camera filming these beautiful birds of prey!”

Robyn Miller

Educational Content Specialist

– With AEF since 2018

About Robyn

“While completing my PhD in literature at Auburn University, I volunteered at the Southeastern Raptor Center (SRC). It was here that my life-long love of raptors metamorphosed from a childhood dream into a passion. During my six years at the SRC, I handled Auburn University’s mascot eagles, participated in the rehabilitation of hundreds of raptors, and trained birds for their education program. My love for raptors shaped my life, inspiring not only my classroom curricula but also my role as a falconer and as a wildlife transporter for the Wildlife Resources and Education Network. In 2013, I toured the American Eagle Foundation for the first time, and it became the standard to which I aspired with my raptor husbandry. I was inspired by that first tour (and subsequent visits) to join their highly dedicated staff as an Avian Care Specialist in 2018. It is a blessing to be a part of the AEF family and a privilege to care for our avian residents. I hope to share my partnership with raptors as a force for good, inspiring a passion for avian conservation in the hearts of generations to come.”

Kendall Wynant

Avian Care Specialist

– With AEF since 2018

About Kendall

I graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 2015, with a degree in Natural Resource Management. During my time in school and after I graduated I worked for Tennessee State Parks doing educational programing as well as caring for and working with various birds of prey and reptiles. My love for birds of prey and educating the public, led me to pursue a job with the American Eagle Foundation. I was hired as an Avian Care Specialist in 2018.

Ashley Frye

Avian Care Specialist

– With AEF since 2020

About Ashley

“I am from Mason, OH born and raised. I graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a Biological Sciences degree. I found my passion for birds while interning at the Dallas Zoo and working seasonally with the Cincinnati Zoo Bird Show. My passions educating others about birds and wildlife and participating in track and field. In my spare time, I coach the pole vault teams of Sevier County High and the Sevierville Middle School track and field programs.”

Bailee Ridenbaugh

Avian Care Specialist

– With AEF since 2021

About Bailee

“I was born and raised in the small town of Orrville, Ohio. I graduated from Malone University with degrees in Zoo and Wildlife Biology and Environmental Studies. During my time in college I worked as an Avian Teamlead at our zoo and where my love of birds began. I then had the opportunity to intern at the Raptor Education Group Inc. and World Bird Sanctuary where I fell in love with birds of prey. That passion I gained for birds of prey led me to pursue a job at the American Eagle Foundation. I now get to work with the most amazing birds everyday, while also educating the public of raptor conservation.”

Haley Williamson

Avian Care Specialist

– With AEF since 2021

About Haley

“I grew up in Charlottesville, VA and made the move to Tennessee in 2017 to attend the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I have always had a love for animals, but never knew exactly what I wanted to do after I graduated. The summer after my junior year in college, I was able to intern for the American Eagle Foundation. I fell in love with the amazing birds and wonderful staff. Birds quickly became my new passion and I started learning as much as I could about them. After graduating with a degree in Animal Science, I was able to complete another internship with birds as well. In 2021, I was lucky enough to be offered a job at AEF as an Avian Care Specialist and I accepted. It is such an honor to work with these amazing animals every day and to be part of such an amazing team.”

Macey Cate

Wings of America Presenter / Avian Care Specialist

– With AEF since 2020

About Macey

I’m Macey, I was born and raised right here in East Tennessee. Ever since I was a child I knew I wanted to work with animals, so I graduated from Pellissippi State with an associates in science. I started working at Zoo Knoxville as an educator when I was 17, teaching about conservation and wildlife became my passion. I loved all the program animals I worked with, but the birds of prey were my favorite. I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with AEF and educate tomorrow’s leaders about wildlife conservation. 

Logan Boldon

Wings of America Presenter / Avian Care Specialist

– With AEF since 2021

About Logan

“Born and raised in northeast Ohio, my parents instilled in me the importance of getting outside and exploring the natural world from a very early age. We were always taking trips to various local, state, and national parks. These adventures continually grew my sense of wonder and curiosity, and I developed a deep desire to share that passion with others as my parents had with me. I took on several internships with the National Park Service in the field of resource education and interpretation while pursuing a degree in biology at Dalton State College in Georgia. In fact, it was an internship with Great Smoky Mountains National Park that brought me to this area back in 2016. From the moment I found out about the American Eagle Foundation, I knew it was an organization I wanted to be involved with in some capacity, whether as a volunteer or an employee. First off, birds. I love them! I was also very attracted to the opportunity of being part of hands-on conservation efforts and wildlife education. What I love most about being a Wings of America Presenter/Avian Care Specialist is that I get to educate people in a fun and memorable way about birds of prey and the need for everyone to step up, not just professionals, in those conservation efforts. I believe the biggest barrier in the field of conservation is a lack of understanding among the public as to the importance of wildlife and natural resources. Our Wings of America shows help bridge that gap in a way that can make a lasting impression and foster action. Next time you’re at Dollywood, come check it out!”

American Eagle Foundation
Board of Directors

With a passion for wildlife and a dedication to service, the American Eagle Foundation Board of Directors bring unique and invaluable skill sets that support the AEF Operational Staff. Read our Board bios below to learn more!

Jim Marietta

Board President

– on Board since 1985

About Jim
“From the start I loved the vision for the American Eagle Foundation. Being a director on the board for so many years has always been an honor. Being close to such an awesome creature is indescribable! It’s my pleasure to serve our national symbol and hope for many more years.”

John Stokes

Board Vice President

– on Board since 2018

About John

John Stokes began his professional career in 1977 as a Bird Keeper at the Memphis Zoo. He started the Memphis Zoo Raptor Rehab Program in 1978. In 1979, he became an Apprentice Falconer (and eventually became a Master-rated Falconer). Also in 1979, he was promoted to Assistant Curator of Birds. In 1986, John took a job in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee as the Director of Wildlife for the Cumberland Wildlife Foundation. Here he supervised the rehab of hundreds of native raptors and other wildlife and conducted several hundred educational programs per year. In late 1989, The Cumberland Wildlife Foundation merged with the National Foundation to Protect America’s Eagles (now the American Eagle Foundation) and in early 1991, relocated to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Dollywood. From 1991 to 2002, John served as the Edutainment Director and wrote the script, trained birds and employees. and conducted the Wings of America Birds of Prey Show at Dollywood and at schools, state parks and civic groups. He also oversaw the very successful captive breeding and release program for Bald and Golden Eagles and Barn Owls.

In September of 2002, John relocated to Santa Barbara, California where he served as the Lead Keeper of Birds at the Santa Barbara Zoo. In July 2004, John and his wife Dale Kernahan moved to Trenton, Georgia and began working for Doris Mager and Save Our American Raptors, a 501(c)3 organization. In May 2005, they began the Rock City Raptors presentation at See Rock City above Chattanooga, Tennessee, which continues today. They have also conducted hundreds of programs at schools, state parks and civic groups. They also started a Peregrine Falcon release program at Rock City. In November of 2012, with Doris’ blessings, founded Wings To Soar, a 501(c)3 organization and continue to conduct educational programs around the region.

Courtney Lewis

 

– on Board since 1990s

About Courtney

“Down on the bayou at the tail end of the Mississippi River in a little town called New Orleans in 1954, I entered the world. Moving to the island of Key West, Florida in 1967 with my family, I grew up with a deep loving respect for nature, art, and music. After going to school to study Forestry in Lake City, Florida, I moved to Nashville summer of 1974 pursuing other interest in music and business. I met Al Cecere and his family in 1983 and became lifelong friends. During this time, Al shared his dream and vision to form a non-profit organization for the purpose of saving and preserving the American Eagle and other birds of prey. The dream and vision of Al Cecere became my own, as I was asked by Al and the AEF board to serve alongside them in 1990. Humbly accepting, impassioned with a heart to serve the AEF in this noble mission, I have considered it a true honor and privilege to join Al Cecere and the AEF board in the challenges that we face, the commitment of a “Pursuit of Excellence” in our organization, in preserving and sustaining “The Vision” as well as seeking new visions for the AEF instilled with a Divine Purpose for the promotion, awareness, preservation and protection of the American Eagle as well as other birds of prey. To God be the Glory.”

James Rogers 

– on Board since 2016

About James

James Rogers has combined his musical talent and his love for eagles into a long-standing and valued relationship with the American Eagle Foundation.

In 1983, James won the National Mountain Music Festival at Silver Dollar City in Pigeon Forge, TN, launching a successful career in music.

Through years of working with the corporation, he won the respect and friendship of the Dollywood Company, who became his business partners in Music Mansion in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from 1993 – 1998. During this time, James Rogers and Company (as the huge production show was called) earned the title of “the number one most attended show in the Smokies.” His 2000 seat, multi- million-dollar theater received worldwide acclaim. Their performances won several awards, including the Peoples’ Choice Award for “BEST SHOW” 1997 and 1998, “BEST THEATER” 1996, 1997, and 1998, and “BEST ENTERTAINER” 1997 and 1998.

In 1984, James read an article in The Tennessean about an ‘Adopt an Eagle’ project—allowing country stars to name Eaglets released by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA). James had recently written the State of Tennessee Bicentennial Song called Fly Eagle Fly so he was very interested in finding out more.

A relationship was thus formed between James and the National Foundation to Protect America’s Eagles (NFPAE). Al Cecere, president & CEO of the Foundation, asked James to share his vision for an Eagle center at Dollywood and to ask for his help in setting up a meeting with Dollywood. In 1990 James introduced Al to Ken Bell, Executive VP of The Dollywood Company. As a result of that meeting, a long-term partnership was formed between NFPAE (later becoming AEF) and Dollywood.

James also wrote and recorded Save the Eagle as a benefit song for the American Eagle Foundation. Collaborating stars included Lee Greenwood, Ricky Skaggs, Tanya Tucker, Deborah Allen, Deanna Carter, Ricky Lynn Gregg, Joy White and The Oak Ridge Boys. When Challenger Flies,  his song for the American Eagle Foundation, has had millions of hits on YouTube.

Prior to performing in open-air stadiums, Bald Eagle Challenger got lots of experience flying during the James Rogers show at the Music Mansion Theatre in Pigeon Forge.

In sharing the vision of the American Eagle Foundation, James will endeavor to assist the Foundation in supporting its mission of “Keeping America’s Eagles Flying Strong & Free.”

Sally Moorer

– on Board since 2018

About Sally

Sally is a resident of Southwestern Virginia. She holds a master’s degree in education (M.A.Ed.) from Emory & Henry College and is a National Board Certified Teacher. Sally retired in 2013, but was employed as an elementary school teacher at Marion Primary School for 40 years. During her tenure, she was awarded many accolades including Virginia Tech Excellence in Education Award, Evergreen Soil and Water Conservation Teacher of the Year, Marion Primary Teacher of the Year, Smyth County Teacher of the Year, and Virginia Region VII Teacher of the Year.  In addition to her regular duties at school, she implemented a school wide “Discovery Day” (in 1996) designed to raise awareness and appreciation of our natural resources. This is when she first became involved with the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) by inviting James Rogers to Marion Primary School to perform “Fly, Eagle Fly” and “Save the Eagle.”

Since then, her partnership has grown to bring American Eagle Foundation board members and staff to our rural community to educate them about the Foundation’s mission.  This partnership has garnered a collective community effort to support education and conservation of the American Bald Eagle and other birds of prey, including: local businesses helping sponsor school field trips to Dollywood to participate in the birds of prey show; bringing the birds of prey show to our community several times; adopting Challenger and other AEF eagles with money raised by the schools, and flying some of the adopted eagles at events in our community. Sally has also authored two books “Fly, Eagle Fly” and “Born To Be”, both of which chronicle stories related to the American Eagle Foundation. She is also a member of the Lincoln Theatre Board of Directors, where the AEF and Challenger have presented programs, including a kickoff for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for Smyth County. Sally resides in Marion, VA with her husband Glenn and their close knit family.   Sally has two children, daughter Ginny and son Matthew alongside her daughter in law Ashley and granddaughter Madison.

Sally is honored by the opportunity to be part of the dedicated team committed to the mission of the American Eagle Foundation.

Glenn Moorer

– on Board since 2022

About Glenn

Glenn is a native of the low county of South Carolina, growing up with the barrier islands and the intercoastal waterway as his backyard. During his teenage years Glenn’s family moved to Virginia and during his college years they lived in Minnesota. These moves fostered a great appreciation of our natural resources as he lived on the James River in Virginia and the Mississippi River in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”. He received his college education at Emory & Henry College in Virginia, the University of Minnesota, and several Vo-Tech and Community Colleges.  In the early 1970’s Glenn began his career with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of State Parks as a maintenance Ranger. His duties included maintenance of all facilities and grounds and the development of long-term preventative maintenance plans and projects. The maintenance of all park equipment and the vehicle fleet were also duties of this position. Having found his passion in life, the next forty years were spent as an employee of Virginia Division of State Parks and as a volunteer for various organizations. As a Natural Resource Specialist/Virginia State Park Chief Ranger Interpreter he was responsible for developing, managing, and supervising the delivery of interpretive and environmental education programming and services. The promotion of “wise use conservation” by enhancing park natural and cultural resources in cooperation with other agencies was a priority. Other duties included overseeing the volunteer program for all park operations and managing trail work, enhancements for visitor safety, resource protection and future use. Another requirement was to obtain Conservation Officer powers to enforce state laws and park regulations. While employed with the Department of Conservation and Recreation Glenn served on the Search and Rescue Team, Wildland Fire Crew, Prescribed Burn Crew, and was a Red Cross First Aid, CPR and AED Instructor. He was awarded Department of Conservation and Recreation Employee of the Year for DCR Values.  Glenn has volunteered with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries as an Instructor for Hunter Education (Master), Aquatic Sportfishing Education and Boating Safety Education. He was a National Bowhunter Association Certified Instructor and a Virginia Bowhunter Association Board Member and Instructor. Glenn is a life member of Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. He has volunteered for several Bass Masters Classics to work with the youth fishing clinics. He is currently serving as President of Friends of Hungry Mother State Park (a volunteer group of 80+ members).

“It’s truly an honor to be asked to serve with such a dedicated team. I hope to add value to the team by identifying and promoting action and activities dedicated to the enhancement of the mission of AEF. I will continually strive to improve and expand the conservation efforts of the AEF to preserve and protect our natural resources.”

Rain Moore

 

– on Board since 2020

About Rain

Rain Moore was born to a Shawnee/Kituwah (Cherokee) mother and Cherokee/Shawnee father. In his early years, he was taught to respect nature and all that was encompassed within it.  These teachings helped to foster a deep, abiding love for his culture and heritage.  After learning the traditional dances of his tribal people, he started performing and later become a Smoke Dancer.  This exposed him to the greater Native American community, and he began working with many Indigenous Rights groups, including the Tanasi organization, which was vital in bringing A.I.M. (American Indian Movement) into Tennessee and Western North Carolina.  

Rain become a cultural adviser in his early 20’s and has continued working to educate those who show interest in keeping Native American culture alive. In 2012, his expertise led to work in Hollywood as a Native American cultural advisor.  As an active member of SAG (Screen Actors Guild), Rain works to ensure accurate representation of Native American culture in films, television shows and other media.

In addition to his work as a cultural representative for his people, Rain alongside his brother Owl, have spent the past 13 years organizing and hosting Native American events and powwows within their community.  These events include demonstrations held by Rain where he creates artisan, Native American crafts and tools.  Being of service to his community is of vital importance to Rain, who is also a decorated firefighter. Rain holds a lieutenant rank and served during the 2016 Gatlinburg wildfires.

Now, supporting the American Eagle Foundation, Rain has the distinction and privilege of utilizing his voice to speak for the eagles, hawks and other birds of prey that play a significant role in Native American culture and spirituality.

“I am humbled. I feel that this is the greatest honor. I believe this opportunity to serve these birds, to protect them and preserve their habitats is my future and that is the ultimate Eagle feather.” 

  • Rain Moore

Lindsay Rogers

– on Board since 2020

About Lindsay

Lindsay grew up at the Jersey Shore where she discovered an early fascination for marine and coastal wildlife. She attended the College of Charleston and earned a degree in biology with a concentration in animal behavior. During her summers back at home she worked at Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Pt. Pleasant, NJ. Her first internship after college was at The Marine Mammal Conservancy in Key Largo, FL where she cared for rescued, rough-toothed dolphins that had mass stranded earlier that year. It was here she found a love for rescue, rehabilitation and release.

 

Lindsay began a career in zookeeping at the Staten Island Zoo in New York. From there she moved on to the TN Aquarium in Chattanooga where she performed educational programs as an Animal Encounter Specialist, teaching the public about the importance of an animals’ role within their ecosystem and the need for conservation. Her career also led her to Namibia, Africa where she provided daily care for a number of endangered species at a wildlife sanctuary. It was with each of these positions that she found a common purpose, the need for conservation and the importance of education.

 

Lindsay now lives in the greater Nashville area with her husband Justin and their two sons. They recently moved to a home on a lake to be closer to the water and nature. In their own backyard they see an array of native animals as well as a variety of water birds including osprey, American white pelicans and of course the ever majestic bald eagle.

 

Lindsay first learned of the American Eagle Foundation in 2008 when she had the opportunity to go on a behind the scenes tour to meet the amazing birds of prey and the incredible staff who cared for them. She has since been an enthusiastic supporter of their mission and is honored to be a part of the American Eagle Foundation and their incredible journey.