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.


Rebecca Bracken

Conservation Research Director

Rebecca was born and grew up in central Texas. She received a Master’s in Biology from Texas State University and a Ph.D. in Forest Resources with a Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture concentration from Mississippi State University. Her dissertation focused on evaluating the influence of forest management activities on breeding and wintering avian communities and investigated how forest age and management affected nightjar abundance. Between her master’s and Ph.D., she worked on several field projects ranging from songbirds in New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Australia to shorebirds and wading birds in Wyoming and Oklahoma. She is happy to be back in Texas and working on the Gulf Coast again. Rebecca is now working to further GCBO research projects including the American Oystercatcher Study, Beach Nesting Birds, Non-breeding shorebirds, and the Smith Point Hawk Watch.

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!


Celeste Silling

Education & Outreach Director

Celeste was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She attended Lawrence University in Wisconsin and received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2016. Focusing on her passions of conservation and education, she has had a variety of research and education jobs. Working with birds and doing education and outreach were always her favorite parts of these jobs. Now she is pursuing her interests at GCBO.

Joni Flores

Development Director

Joni Flores has enjoyed more than 35 years working in the nonprofit sector. Her career included environmental work for state and federal agencies, the City of Victoria (Texas) and in environmentally focused nonprofits. Joni became interested in grant writing while serving as a grants evaluator for the EPA which led to a busy consulting practice for the past 30 years. Her services include forming nonprofit corporations, grant making, and providing training and mentoring to Boards and other Leaders on marketing, communication and strategic planning. Joni lives on Matagorda Bay with her husband Al where she enjoys fishing, gardening, cooking and quiet time.

Taylor Bennett

Coastal Biologist

Taylor grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia but moved to Humble, Texas in 2015. Her Bachelor of Science in Biology (focus on Marine Biology) is from Old Dominion University. For six years, she interned for organizations such as the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and non-profit organizations like Audubon Texas. Her main focus has been conservation, especially for endangered and threatened species. Most of her internships also involved surveying birds. She liked working with shorebirds the most, especially with plovers and oystercatchers. At GCBO, she is currently working on our Nonbreeding Shorebirds and Beach Nesting Birds projects.

Donna Valdepena

Office Assistant

Donna was born and raised in Brazoria County. She attended Centura College, Virginia Beach and received her Associates degree in Paralegal Studies in 2010. She then moved back to Angleton, Texas and pursued a career as an Administrative Assistant with Angleton ISD. She has chosen to continue her career with GCBO.
She enjoys the outdoors, nights around a campfire, cooking, reading and socializing with friends and family. Donna lives in Angleton with husband, Paul, and two dogs, Gus and Reba.

Susan Heath


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.

Board of Directors

Bob Friedrichs (President)
Chevron (retired)
Palacios, TX

Joellen Snow (Vice President)
Attorney at law
Houston, TX

Andy Dietrich (Treasurer)
NRG Energy (retired)
Pearland, TX

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

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

Lucinda (Cindy) Freeman 
JP Morgan (retired)
Houston, TX

Brian Kolthammer
Dow Chemical Co.- Retired
Lake Jackson, TX

Sharon Barnes
VP/Chief Human Resources- San Jose Clinic- Texas Medical
Rosharon, TX

Darrious “Alex” Betts
Houston, TX

Advisory Board

Lynne Aldrich
Community Volunteer
Graford, TX

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

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

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

Jan Cato
Community Volunteer
Houston, TX

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

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

Jeffrey DallaRosa
CenterPoint Energy
Houston, TX

Mickey Dufilho
Brazosport College (retired)
Brazoria, TX

Stephen Gast
ConocoPhillips (retired)
Houston, TX

Kay Hale M.D.
Physician (retired)
Houston, 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

Mike Williams
Schlumberger (retired)
Sugarland, TX

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

Scientific Advisory Board

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

Dr. Cin-Ty Lee
Professor- Dept. of Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences
Rice University
Houston, Texas

Dr. Timothy Brush
Retired Professor of Biology
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Edinburg, Texas

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

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