The Wild Animal Sanctuary is managed by a team of dedicated professionals, each bringing their own unique talents to make life better for the animals…
Founder and Executive Director – Pat Craig – Pat began saving captive wildlife after learning that thousands of “surplus” animals were being kept in tiny cages in the back of zoos all across the country – with many being euthanized on a daily basis. Pat set out on a mission to help save these animals by building a small rescue facility on his family farm outside Boulder, CO. In doing so, Pat became the youngest state and federally licensed person in the country – as well as the first person to build a sanctuary dedicated to saving large carnivores. Pat’s vision has led, 31 years later, to the oldest, largest nonprofit sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere dedicated exclusively to the rescue of captive exotic and endangered large carnivores that have been abused, abandoned, exploited or illegally kept. He has also pioneered the art of building large acreage species-specific habitats, giving the rescued animals wide open spaces in which to roam.
Pat’s 31 years of experience in captive large carnivore behavior and sanctuary development have led to his becoming a leading expert in the field. He has participated in The Association of Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association, on whose board he served. Pat lectures regionally and nationally on captive wildlife rescue and transportation, great cat behaviors and diets, and has worked tirelessly toward better protection for these animals. He works hand-in-hand with the USDA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and many other state and national organizations in the never-ending rescue of animals in need. Pat has also worked with Mexican agencies on rescues from that country.
Pat’s time as a designer and contractor has been key in his creating and building the unique and expansive infrastructure that makes up the 720 acre Wild Animal Sanctuary today. He has also used his background in secondary education to develop extensive wildlife curriculums pertaining to the Captive Wildlife Crisis.
Pat oversees and participates in all TWAS’ operations, including rescues, animal care, building operations and maintenance, development, administration, and education. He is also TWAS’ resident computer and audiovisual guru, handling social networking applications, producing Sanctuary videos, taking photographs and creating the quarterly newsletter. Pat has a BS in Education from the University of Northern Colorado, and has received recognition from many sources, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Humane Association, and from E-Town Environmental Radio Show. He was also a finalist in Animal Planet’s 2006 “Hero of the Year” competition. (to top)
Development Director – Shawna Finkenbinder – Shawna joined TWAS in 2007 and has spent multiple years learning the critical processes associated with non-profit fundraising and management. Her years working in the hospitality industry, and as a project manager in the field of industrial fabrication provided her with the additional skills needed to assume development for TWAS. Shawna corresponds with Sanctuary contributors on a daily basis and manages all Sanctuary grant submissions, as well as oversees the planned giving program.
Public Relations Director – Katie Vandegrift – Katie brings a wide variety of marketing and public relations experience to TWAS . She has been responsible for media relations, executing large scale events, developing marketing campaigns and creating unique promotions in several different industries including non-profit, professional sports and entertainment. Katie started at TWAS as the Programs Administrator where she oversaw the pledge and adoption programs and was in charge of financial deposits. She received her BA in Public Relations from The University of Georgia in 2008 and always knew she wanted to use her experience and education toward bettering the life of animals. Katie now applies her skills as the Sanctuary’s Public Relations Director and is responsible for writing press materials, working closely with the media, regularly updating web content and social media networks and planning the Sanctuary events and promotions.
Operations Director – Casey Craig – Casey is responsible for the overall operations of running the Sanctuary. His years of experience in construction, plus his natural skill in design make him a leader in designing and building animal habitats with their underground dens and play structures. Casey also designs and constructs other types of enclosures for the smaller rescued animals, and heads up other Sanctuary building projects, such as the veterinary hospital and visitor areas. He takes care of the extensive utilities needs at the Sanctuary, including electrical, plumbing and underground water storage units. Casey also oversees animal rescues, and is in charge of the animal care program and all its various functions. He manages the fleet of vehicles needed for rescues, food transportation and cold storage, materials hauling and habitat construction. (to top)
Board of Directors
The Wild Animal Sanctuary is governed by a Board of Directors, which meets quarterly. Current filled Board Positions are held by:
Judy Wilson, Chair - Independant - current Term 1/2014-1/2016
Judy is a Purchasing Supervisor for Staples, where she is a Senior Buyer for National Accounts. She has served on the Board for five years, and as Chair since 2008. She was the Volunteer Coordinator for The Wild Animal Sanctuary for over eight years, and in that capacity managed hundreds of volunteers and conducted regular orientations and training for new Volunteers. Judy continues to help the Sanctuary through her role as Board Chair, as well as being a member of the Sanctuary’s volunteer Speakers Bureau - regularly making presentations on the Sanctuary’s behalf. Judy attended the University of Las Vegas, and the University of Colorado, where she majored in anthropology. (to top)
George Ellis – Independant - current Term 1/2014-1/2016
George is a supervisor for the Public Works Department in Boulder, CO, specializing in construction and carpentry, where he has acquired numerous advanced certifications. George has been heavily involved in The Wild Animal Sanctuary since its inception in 1980, with animal care and rescues, as well as in the construction of animal housing, rescue/transport cages, large animal enclosures, habitats and visitor infrastructure and large observation decks. Throughout the Sanctuary’s growth and evolution, George has been a stalwart presence in saving captive wildlife. (to top)
Dr. Ashley Watson – Independant - current Term 1/2013-1/2015
Like most people integral to the management of TWAS, Ashley started as a volunteer. In 2006, she was hired in administration, and managed the Sanctuary’s Adoption and Pledge programs. With her background as a Vet Tech, Ashley took the first opportunity available to work in animal care. In 2008, Ashley was accepted in to the Colorado State University Veterinary Program, and graduated in 2012. Ashley is currently continuing her education at CSU with a mircobiology residency, as well as volunteering at the Sanctuary helping treat our large carnivores. Ashley brings a variety of related experiences to TWAS’ board.
Scott Edwards - Independant - current Term 1/2013-1/2015
Scott Edwards – Scott, a veteran entrepreneur, founded his first company, Sportnet, in 1985. His second company, Epigraphx, founded in 1992, delivered tailored fax and email services for Fortune 500 companies, and gained a market leadership position before merging with SilverPop Systems Inc., in 2001. The third company, StuffBak, founded in 2000, continues to provide loss protection and recovery services for consumers and corporations. Scott has raised $9MM in angel and venture capital financing, and is a seasoned manager, having been the President and CEO of all three companies. Additionally, Scott was the Director of Sales and Marketing for Mountain Travel, and President and CEO of Boulder Rock Club and Colorado Mountain Club. Scott holds a Bachelor’s degree in business communications from Pepperdine University and is the General Manager of LockIn Security, LLC.
Scott was involved with the Sanctuary in the early 1980’s when the original facility was started outside of Boulder, CO, and spent a modest amount of time interfacing with the Sanctuary until he relocated to CA. Years later, Scott moved back to CO and eventually became highly involved with helping the animals during the Bolivian Lion Rescue. Scott remained committed to helping the Sanctuary grow and was instrumental in helping the Sanctuary to raise funds for building the Mile Into The Wild Walkway. Scott continues to utilize his entrepreneurial skills as a member of the Sanctuary’s Board of Directors. (to top)
Toni Scalera- Independant - current Term 1/2014-1/2016
Toni has been saving and advocating for animals all her life. She began volunteering at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in 1999, and after seven years of working with every aspect of the Sanctuary's operations, became its first Director of Development & Public Affairs in 2006. After serving in that position for many years, Toni relocated to CA to be near her grandchildren, but remaind involved with the organization by representing the Sanctuary's intrests from afar. Now working as a nonprofit consultant on the west coast, Toni continues to bring a wealth of experience to TWAS, including funding, public and legislative affairs, donor relations, operations, rescues, and animal care. Having graduated from Florida State University with a BA Honors degree in commercial art, Toni has parlayed her creativity into a variety of ways to serve the animals. (to top)