Meet Our Team
Susan G. R. Myers

Founder and CEO
Member of the Board

Susan G. R. Myers is a business owner, former JPMorgan investment banker, former high school football coach, published author and motivational speaker. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Dallas Zoological Society and the Zoo’s Wildlife Committee. She speaks German, French and Spanish. Susan has traveled to 108 countries on six continents. She has a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and graduated summa cum laude from Wellesley College.

Fiona Sandeman

Director of East Africa Operations

Fiona Sandeman was born and raised in Zimbabwe, educated in neighboring South Africa and went to University in the United Kingdom. After working in London as an Africa specialist for a tour operator, Fiona returned to Kenya where she worked on Loisaba Conservancy in the tourism sector and later on was the operations manager. Fiona then joined conservation charity Space for Giants as Chief of Staff while also creating high end safaris for their partner company, Journeys for Giants.

Fiona lives on the foothills of Mt Kenya in Timau, Kenya.

Thapelo Baiphethi 

Director of Southern Africa Operations

Thapelo Tsumpana Baiphethi is a youthful leader in Botswana (Southern Africa) conservation. For more than 12 years he has been actively involved in working with communities and seeking funds for the protection and conservation of endangered species including giraffes. Thapelo is very passionate about giraffes and want to see their population grow in Botswana and Africa at large. In addition to his new role with SGN, Thapelo serves as CEO of Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust.

Thapelo holds an Associate Degree in Marketing and a Diploma in Business Management and has also completed a wildlife management course. He sits on various Boards of Directors in Botswana and is also primary contact for Khama at IUCN.

In 2021/2022, he successfully led a Save Giraffes Now project in Botswana for the expansion of the gene pool in his area and is looking forward to extending that scope across Botswana and other countries. 

Kayla Walisch

Director of Operations

Kayla Walisch joined Save Giraffes Now in 2020 as a Research Associate before becoming Director of Operations. Kayla is responsible for managing daily operations as well as interfacing with Africa field teams. 

Originally from northeast Ohio, Kayla holds an Associate of Science from Kent State University and Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of Akron. Prior to joining Save Giraffes Now, Kayla held positions in property management, real estate development, and office administration. 

Aggrey Chemwa

Head of Research

Aggrey Chemwa is a conservationist who is monitoring endangered Masai giraffe in Swara Plains to identify individual giraffe tracking their population and movements. He is also digitizing critical giraffe data from across the Athi-Kapiti region in Kenya.

Aggrey believes that every animal has a right to live and live in its natural habitat. Giraffes coexisting peacefully with humans in their natural habitats is critical for him, as the continued existence of wildlife and wilderness is important to the quality of life of humans. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Management, Wildlife Major, Karatina University.

Aggrey is an experienced researcher, who has exceptional knowledge of wildlife law and enforcement, with passion for GIS and remote sensing, behavioral ecology and human-wildlife conflict.

In 2016, Aggrey was part of the team monitoring the Rothschild giraffes at Soysambu, this inspired him to study “Diet Selection of the Rothschild Giraffes in Soysambu” for his undergraduate degree, giving more insights about their preferred forage materials, which is critical for their existence.

Dr. Liza Dadone

Head Veterinarian

Dr. Liza Dadone is a zoo veterinarian with Giraffe Veterinary Services, PLLC, and serves as a veterinary advisor for giraffe in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). She also collaborates with the zoo and conservation communities to help save wild giraffe. This includes helping with wild giraffe anesthesia and transport, to reintroduce wild giraffe to historic habitats in Uganda & Niger.

After completing a zoo internship and residency, Liza worked for 12 years at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo as head vet, then as a vice president. She specializes in advancing neonate care, lameness management, emergency medicine and rescue techniques for giraffe. She also founded and co-leads the Giraffe Plasma Bank and AZA’s Giraffe SAFE conservation collaboration and is a member of the IUCN Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group. She presents nationally and internationally on giraffe health and conservation and shares this information in peer-reviewed articles and chapters.

Lea Ochoa

Assistant Program Director

Lea Ochoa, from the quaint town of Caddo Mills, TX, is Save Giraffes Now’s Assistant Program Director. 

With skills acquired over her 10-year corporate career, Lea excels in project management and sales leadership. Her strategic management skills enabled her to grow the business operations of her division significantly from 10 to 44 employees in a two-year time span, and she consistently led multiple teams to surpass their goals.

In addition to her business expertise, Lea has a tremendous passion for aiding both people and animals as well as a deep love for Africa that was inspired by a 2016 Mission Trip in Tanzania. 

Susan Elbow

European Representative

After a thirty-three year career in the U.S. diplomatic service, Susan retired to Hamburg, Germany where she previously served as the US Consul General.  She is originally from Albany, New York, but has lived most her life overseas.  As a child, she spent several years in the Middle East, while her diplomatic career took her to many countries in Europe and Latin American, including El Salvador, Mexico, Hungary, Switzerland, and Serbia (among others).

In addition to serving as the European Representative for Save Giraffes Now, she is on the board of several organizations and gives talks about foreign affairs to local clubs and schools.

Richard Neustedter

Finance and Compliance Advisor

Richard Neustedter is a career professional who passionately supports the non-profit community with both time and talent. After a long career working in Silicon Valley in the highly-competitive semiconductor industry, he took time off from the corporate world to enjoy giving back through volunteering. The path from donor to volunteer led to board positions for various charities and an opportunity to see firsthand the challenges faced by non-profit organizations.

Richard Neustedter brings more than 25 years of progressive marketing and management expertise to Save Giraffes Now. Throughout his career, he has effectively analyzed budgets, forecast finances and led successful marketing and sales teams as an executive in the semiconductor industry.  

After travelling the world for ten years, Richard decided to develop tools to assist non-profits in making necessary changes to achieve their mission – now and in the future. Richard’s focus is helping to attract and retain donor investment through excellence in governance which drives operational performance designed to assure sustainability for maximized mission impact.

Richard is an avid fan of African safari experiences, and since 1995, has enjoyed game viewing in Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

Advisory Board

Edward Ndiritu

Member of the Advisory Board

Edward Ndiritu is the Head of the Anti-Poaching unit at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, a sanctuary for endangered species and home to other iconic African wildlife. Edward is also county head of National Police Reservists, a department within the Kenya National Police Service, and a member of county and regional Court Users’ Committee. Edward has been a part of security operations at Lewa for over two decades. He rose through the ranks from a field ranger responsible for daily patrols to a team commander in charge of armed security units. As head of the Lewa Anti-Poaching Unit since 2012, Edward oversees the deployment of armed teams, gathering intelligence and responding to wildlife crimes. He and his team are often called upon to respond to other security issues extending beyond Lewa into neighbouring conservancies/communities in the northern rangelands of Kenya. Edward strongly believes in the spirit of advancing wildlife conservation through community engagement and involvement. In this effort, he has helped make the communities around Lewa Wildlife Conservancy a major source of information and the first line of defense in protecting the future of wildlife in the area.

Edward’s career objective is to contribute to wildlife protection and conservation in Kenya; to continually stay ahead of the ever-evolving threat to Africa’s wildlife. His years of service in conservation, park management training at Colorado State University (USA), and continuous special forces training with the Kenya police and the Company commanders training Kenya Wildlife Service paramilitary units, have earned him valuable insight into successful strategies for the protection of endangered wildlife. Edward’s leadership has marked a significant decline in poaching with zero incidents recorded for over 6 years (2013-2019). This success has earned him accolades such as the Inaugural Prince William’s Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award (2015). When he is not protecting Africa’s wildlife from human threats, Edward enjoys playing football, listening to African traditional music, going on game drives and nature walks, and mentoring youth from local communities.

Rebecca Kochulem

Member of the Advisory Board

Rebecca Kochulem is a Kenyan zoologist and conservationist from Baringo in the Great Rift Valley.  When she was just 25 years old, Rebecca became one of the first women to manage a community conservancy in Kenya; drawn to the challenge of trying to balance urgent wildlife protection needs with building peace between the warring ethnic groups of her homeland.  Over nine years, Rebecca spearheaded dialogue between the ILChamus and Pokot Communities.  She ensured both communities were represented in the Ruko Community Conservancy ranger team and that there was fair representation in the conservancy leadership.

As peace developed, it made way for community-led development projects and wildlife conservation programs.  In 2011, Rebecca led an initiative to bring back giraffes to Ruko; years after they had been wiped out of the area.  Eight of the endangered Rothschild giraffe were moved to the conservancy to start a breeding program and repopulate the surrounding area.  Not only is this move important for species reintroduction, but the giraffe have become a source of unified pride for conservancy members and bring in valuable tourism revenue.  This effort has also been supported by the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Rebecca now serves as NRT’s West Pokot EU Program Director and is vice chairperson of the Baringo County Conservancies Association (BCCA).  She provides guidance and expertise to the community conservancies in the area and builds support for the community-led conservation movement in both the national and county governments.

Rebecca is also currently pursuing a CI (Conservation International) 2019 – Fellow Masters at Kenyatta University, Kenya.

Photo Credit:  Northern Rangelands Trust

Neil Brown

Member of the Advisory Board

Neil Brown is the CEO of ArchCo Residential, a multifamily development company which he founded in 2013 to pursue multifamily development opportunities in select markets across the United States. Prior to his current position, Mr. Brown served as Chief Development Officer at Archstone, where he led the company in completing the development of $6.0 billion of apartments, representing more than 43,000 apartments. He has 40 years of business experience and has been developing apartment communities for more than 35 years.

Mr. Brown served four years as an officer in the United States Army, attaining the rank of Captain before leaving the Army to attend Harvard Business School where he earned his MBA. Mr. Brown also holds a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering with High Honor from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Mr. Brown is a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), served as vice-chairman of the ULI Multifamily Blue Council, and is active as a member of the Multifamily Leadership Board of the National Association of Home Builders. Additionally, he formerly served on the Board of Directors of the National Multi-Housing Council and has been an invited speaker at numerous multifamily industry events. Mr. Brown also served as an independent director on the Board of Directors of ESH Hospitality, Inc.

Adam Eyres

Member of the Advisory Board

Adam is the Director of Animal Care at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Texas, where the animals run free and the people are in captivity. He has worked with ungulates, and specifically giraffe, rhinos and desert antelope since 1989. He has traveled to Africa on numerous occasions and in 2010 visited the West African giraffe in Niger—one of the highlights of his career.

Adam is involved in many of the Association of Zoo and Aquarium programs in the United States, including as the white rhino Species Survival Plan Coordinator. He is on the executive committee of the Source Population Alliance and serves as a scientific advisor to the International Rhino Foundation.

Rebby Sebei

Member of the Advisory Board

Rebby Sebei is a conservationist who currently works as a Manager Ruko Community Wildlife conservancy which hosts endangered Rothschild giraffe in Kenya-Baringo county. The conservancy fosters peace between two warring communities (Pokot and Llchamus) living around lake Baringo through giraffe conservation. Rebby has been on forefront championing for conservation and peace which has seen the two communities reconcile and commit to protect giraffe as a symbol of unity.

Rebby received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Moi Univeristy in 2013. Her dream goal is for giraffe protection, population growth and achieve free range interaction of giraffe and community members.

Benjamin Jones

Member of the Advisory Board

Ben is currently the Executive Director of the Texas Conservation Alliance. Before that he worked for the Dallas Zoo for 15 years in a variety of positions, most recently as Senior Director of Conservation. He has also served as the State Director of Education for the National Audubon Society and as Director of the Trinity River Audubon Center. 

In addition to his work in the sciences, Ben was a business analyst for Arthur Andersen. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science and a Master of Science in Reproductive Physiology from Texas A&M University and is pursuing a PhD in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies from the University of Texas, Arlington.

Ken Allen

Member of the Advisory Board

Ken currently works as an administrator in an independent school in Austin, Texas. As a lifelong educator with over 20+ years experience, Ken has served in many different capacities teaching and coaching throughout different schools throughout the United States. As a parent of two wonderful children, Ken is highly invested in children being educated from the whole child point of view. Additionally, he is very passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion within schools.
In his spare time, Ken enjoys spending time with his family, traveling and watching sports. Ken holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise and Sport Science with an emphasis in Teacher Education from Colorado State University and a Masters Degree in Educational Administration from Texas Christian University.

Rick Barongi

Member of the Advisory Board

Rodrick (Rick) Barongi grew up on Long Island, New York and attended Cornell University for his B.S. and Rutgers University for his M.S. in Zoology. He retired from the Houston Zoo in June 2015, after 15 years as Zoo Director. He presently consults on zoological projects, serving on several wildlife conservation boards.  He has been both a keynote speaker, author and consultant for zoological projects.

Rick has been working in the wildlife management and conservation field for over 45 years. His level of experience ranges from zookeeper to senior executive positions at the Walt Disney Company and the San Diego and Houston Zoos.

He was the top animal executive for the creative development, planning and construction of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  He led the efforts to create the Disney Conservation Fund, which since its inception in 1995 has generated more than $75 million for field conservation projects around the world. 

Board of Trustees

Mary Ellen Zellerbach

President of the Board

Mary Ellen is a managing director of Martin Investment Management, LLC. She has served on numerous boards of non-profit organizations. Mary Ellen was a member of the initial index strategy group at Wells Fargo Investment Advisors. Additionally, she was a founding principal of Mellon Capital Management. To pursue her interest in mindful investing, she helped found  which provides metrics on environmental sustainability. Mary Ellen holds an MBA from Stanford University and  graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College.

Susan G. R. Myers
Founder and CEO
Member of the Board

Susan G. R. Myers is a business owner, former JPMorgan investment banker, former high school football coach, published author and motivational speaker. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Dallas Zoological Society and the Zoo’s Wildlife Committee. She speaks German, French and Spanish. Susan has traveled to 108 countries on six continents. She has a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and graduated summa cum laude from Wellesley College.

Richard A. Myers
Member of the Board

As the founder and a managing partner of Realty Capital Management, LLC, Richard acquires, develops, owns and manages investment-grade commercial and residential real estate projects. He is additionally the founder and CEO of Realty Capital Partners, LLC, and manages a total investment value of $1.5 billion in real estate projects. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Illinois.


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