Martin Hagne

Executive Director

Martin Hagne was born and raised on the Swedish west coast, where his grandfather instilled a love for nature at an early age. He moved to the United States, and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, in 1979 and turned his focus towards wildlife viewing and conservation concerns.
Martin served as the Executive Director of the Valley Nature Center in Weslaco, Texas, and environmental education facility, for 13 years. He then moved to Bandera, Texas where he led the Flying L Resort and Conference Center. He has also worked as a Field Biologist doing baseline studies for many years, including avian, herp, mammal, T&E, and habitat studies.
He enjoys leading birding field trips in the US and Mexico and has served on several state, regional and local environmental appointments, committees, and boards. Birding, nature viewing, native plants, conservation issues and environmental education are his great passions.

mhagne at


Susan Heath

Director of Conservation Research

Sue is a native Texan who returned to the state in 2007 after being transplanted to Virginia for 24 years. She received a Master’s in Biology from George Mason University for her work on wintering waterfowl on the Northern Virginia Piedmont and a Ph.D. from the same institution in the spring of 2008. Her dissertation involved the effects of pesticides on birds that nest in agriculture in the north central states. She is thrilled to be back in her home state of Texas. At GCBO, she coordinates all conservation research including American Oystercatcher Stewardship, Beach Nesting Birds, Non-breeding shorebirds, Motus Tower Network, Eastern Willet Migration, and the Smith Point Hawk Watch.

sheath at

Tricia Patton

Tricia Patton

Office Manager

Tricia brings a wealth of office management experience with her from both the corporate and non-profit sector. As Office Manager, Tricia takes care of all our accounting and administrative tasks and keeps the office and organization running smoothly. She handles all recordkeeping of donations, memberships, and grants, and handle all income and outgoing expenses. Her position is in many ways the backbone of the organization. Her enthusiasm and energy keep us all going!

tpatton at

Robin Bjork

Avian Conservation Biologist

Robin’s career as a conservation biologist has been dedicated to avian research and conservation, primarily the spatial and habitat needs of wide-ranging, often rare or endangered birds, to identify sites important in their annual cycle and guide regional conservation planning. Much of her work focused on colonial waterbirds in the southeastern US and tropical frugivorous birds in Central America. She holds a Master of Science degree in Coastal Ecology from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington after which she worked for National Audubon Society’s Research Lab in the Florida Keys studying wading bird ecology and water management in the Florida Bay estuary for 8 years. Robin received a Ph.D. in Wildlife Science from Oregon State University in 2004 and conducted her doctoral research on parrot migration and the design of protected area networks in lowland tropical forests. Regional migrants including Resplendent Quetzals, Three-wattled Bellbirds, and Great Green Macaws were also part of her tropical conservation research. Robin comes to us from Boise, Idaho where she worked for a non-profit NGO, Trout Unlimited, as a Data and GIS (Geographic Information System) specialist on a NASA-funded project to develop broad-scale models of population viability for coldwater fishes. She is very excited to get back to her coastal bird roots as Avian Conservation Biologist with GCBO.


Emma Shelly

Education & Outreach Manager

Emma Shelly spent most of her childhood growing up in Hawaii but received her Masters in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut in 2015. Emma has assisted with ornithological research around the world, including projects in Peru, Hawaii, Canada, and Costa Rica, and has a special fondness for coastal and marine birds. In 2016, Emma completed an Interpretive Naturalist internship at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin and became a certified Interpretive Guide. She has a growing passion for environmental education, and believes that birds are some of the best species to serve as ambassadors for connecting children with nature. She has experience with curriculum development, outreach, event planning, and enjoys incorporating art, games, storytelling, and hands-on experience into education.
eshelly at


Denise Kaplan

Development Associate

Denise Bownds Kaplan grew up in Galveston County, and recently returned to Texas after 40+ years in California. During that time, she earned a BA in mass communications, and honed her expertise in communications management and development. Her 20+ years of experience includes work in community journalism, marketing communications, web content production, community outreach, and nonprofit development, including grant writing, special events, and donor relations.

dkaplan at


Carol Jones

Director (retired)

Carol has been employed at GCBO since mid-2004. Over her years at GCBO, she has assisted with every aspect of operation for the GCBO which positions her as a strong leader for the organization. She is a biologist and life-long student of natural history and as such has conducted many avian field studies. She spearheaded the organization and implementation of seven Great Texas Birding Classics that resulted in raising $439,000 for on the ground habitat conservation projects along the Texas coast. She created the GCBO curriculum for Summer Bird Camp and has organized all education, outreach, and fundraising events held at GCBO. Carol has a BA from the University of Texas Austin in Zoology.


Cecilia Riley

Director Emeritus

A native Texan, biologist and avid bird watcher, Cecilia has committed her life’s work to avian research and natural history in both North America and Latin America. Cecilia’s educational background includes a B.S. in Ecology from the University of Texas at Arlington and a M.S. in Zoology from the University of Arkansas. Prior to her position at the GCBO, she spent 2 years as the state coordinator for Texas Partners in Flight and 8 years as a research associate of marine studies at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas.

Cecilia led GCBO for nearly 20 years before retiring in 2015. Through her leadership GCBO established its 71 member Site Partner Network, established permanent endowments for land acquisition, assisted partners throughout the Americas in protecting more than 17,000 acres of tropical forests in 10 countries as well as thousands of acres in the U.S., conducted many avian field studies, spearheaded the completion of the new Avian Conservation Science Center, and of course much more.

Board of Directors

Allan Berger
ExxonMobil (retired)
Port O’Connor, TX

Jan Cato
Community volunteer
Houston, TX

Andy Dietrich (Vice President)
NRG Energy (retired)
Pearland, TX

Bob Friedrichs
Chevron (retired)
Palacios, TX

Michael Heather
Dow Chemical Company (retired)
Lake Jackson, TX

Jackie Hicks
Dow Chemical Company (retired)
Lake Jackson, TX

Tom Morris (Treasurer)
Dow Chemical Company (retired)
Houston, TX

Joellen Snow
Attorney at law
Houston, TX

Tom Taroni
Dow Chemical Company (retired)
Lake Jackson, TX

Ron Weeks (Secretary)
Dow Chemical Company
Lake Jackson, TX

Mike Williams (President)
Sugarland, TX

Advisory Board

Lynne Aldrich
Community Volunteer
Grand Prairie, TX

William J. Baker Jr
NRG Energy (retired)
Houston, TX

David J. Brandes
Dow Chemical Company (retired)
Lake Jackson, TX

David Cagnolatti
Manager, State Government Relations
Phillips 66

Stephen Carroll
Fullbright & Jaworski, L.L.P.
Houston, TX

Gary Clark
Lone Star College – North Harris
The Woodlands, TX

Tom Collins
Dow Chemical Company (retired)
Center Point, TX

Jeffrey Dalla Rosa
Centerpoint Energy
Houston, TX

Mickey Dufilho
Brazosport College
Lake Jackson, TX

Stephen Gast
ConocoPhillips (retired)
Houston, TX

Kay Hale
Houston, TX

Cindy Wyman Jordy
Phillips 66
Sweeny, TX

Kay Lookingbill
Dow Chemical Company (retired)
Lake Jackson, TX

Robert Lookingbill
Dow Chemical Company (retired)
Lake Jackson, TX

Christopher J. Lowman
Attorney at law
Houston, TX

Lalise Whorton Mason
Scenic Galveston
Houston, TX

John O’Neill
Louisiana State University (retired)
Linn, Tx

Claudia Thornton
Community Volunteer
Lake Jackson, TX

Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Wylie C. Barrow, Jr.
Research Scientist, Ornithologist
National Wetlands Research Center
Lafayette, Louisiana

Dr. Sidney A. Gauthreaux, Jr.
Director, Radar Ornithology Lab
Clemson University
Clemson, South Carolina

Dr. Dale Gawlik
Associate Professor and Director Environmental Science Program
Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, Florida

Dr. M. Clay Green
Associate Professor of Biology
Texas State University
San Marcos, Texas

Dr. Frank R. Moore
Avian Biologist
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Dr. James Brent Ortego
Wildlife Diversity Biologist
Retired Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Victoria, TX

Clifford Shackelford
Nongame Ornithologist
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Dr. Mark Woodrey
Research Biologist
Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center
Moss Point, MS