Board of Directors

Detroit Audubon is supported by a dedicated Board of Directors who are responsible for strategically advancing the shared goals and visions of Detroit Audubon and its members. Our board members are a diverse group of experienced professionals and community organizers whose guidance drives Detroit Audubon forward. We are grateful for their experience and expertise. 

Officers

Rochelle Breitenbach
President

Rochelle has volunteered her time to the Board of Directors for more than 20 years. She has served as co-chair of the Annual Conservation Conference and Awards Committee, initiated and coordinated the annual Volunteer and Partners Appreciation Dinner, was the point person with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy partnership that produced the birding interpretive station at Gabriel Richard Park along the Riverwalk, and has been a major fundraiser for Detroit Audubon. She has also volunteered  with the Huron River Watershed Council and the Southeast Michigan  Land Conservancy.

Rebecca Minardi
Vice President

Rebecca Minardi is passionate about connecting young people with nature and fostering a love of birds at an early age. After receiving at MS in Community Sustainability from MSU, she and her family moved to New York City where she facilitated Free Forest School gatherings in Central Park. Since 2020, Rebecca has been a judge and mentor for the Young Birder of the Year program through the American Birding Association (ABA).  Rebecca contributes environmental articles and book reviews for ABA’s magazine, Birding, NYC Audubon’s Urban Audubon, and Detroit Audubon’s The Flyway (which she also helps edit) Rebecca is proud to be part of an organization at the forefront of environmental protection and stewardship in Southeast Michigan and has served on this board since 2015. She now resides in Peoria, Illinois and enjoys birding with her two children.

 

Colleen Sturm
Treasurer

Colleen is a former accountant and an enthusiastic, long-term, native plant gardener who raises multiple species of butterflies each summer. As an MSU Conservation Steward and Master Naturalist, she spends much of her time working on conservation projects, environmental activism and educational outreach. Colleen and her husband also enjoy going on nature hikes to look for birds, bugs and beautiful scenery.

 

 

Sharon Crockett
Secretary

Sharon Crockett is a Senior Business Development Consultant and Native American Project Manager with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Center – an extension of the US Department of Commerce located in Detroit and operated by the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council.  Prior to coming to Michigan, she served as the Director of Certification for the Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council. Ms. Crockett is also the owner of a small business, Designs by a Diva, and the previous host of the Date with a Diva Cooking show. Sharon divides her time between volunteering for Just Serve and organization committed to serving others and spending time with family.  Her hobbies include ballroom dancing, birdwatching, gardening and walking. Sharon’s education includes: University of Portland, BA; Portland State University Training and Development Master’s Program; State of Oregon Leadership Academy, University of Phoenix-MBA program; and the Ohio State University.

Directors

 

Diane Cheklich

Director & Chair of Conservation Committee

Diane is a Detroit based film producer and business owner. She enjoys birding with Detroit Audubon and regularly goes birdwatching on Belle Isle. An ardent environmentalist, she believes it’s critical to protect flyways and habitat and is active in promoting solar energy in the Detroit area.  Diane spearheaded our Detroit Bird City project; a habitat restoration project in partnership with Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, USFish & Wildlife, and Detroit Parks and Recreation and General Services department that tranforms underutlized public parks into bird meadows.  Under her guidance, Detroit Audubon has taken stand against car races and for grassland preservation on Belle Isle. For more info see: cheklich.comhttp://www.kresgeartsindetroit.org/portfolio-posts/diane-cheklichhttp://www.artxdetroit.com/art-x-detroit-2015/artists/diane-cheklich/http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1282690/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVc-hc34HWAhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7uCm7BiTjg

 

 

James N. Bull

Director

Jim Bull holds a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan. He has worked as a biologist or naturalist with several private nature and environmental education centers, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service. He served as Assistant Director of the Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center at Antioch University and Executive Director of the Clinton River Watershed Council. Currently, he teaches at Wayne County Community College and Macomb Community College. Jim is a founding member of the Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance. He has served as a board member of several organizations, and three terms as President of Detroit Audubon Society. He has chaired the many committees, served as field trip leader and facilitated the Rockwood Christmas Bird count in his more than 30 years of volunteer service on the Board of Directors.

 

 

Tom McKarns
Director 

Tom is the President of ECO PHYSICS, INC., US distributor for ECO PHYSICS AG, a Swiss manufacturer of gas measurement instruments for air pollution and atmospheric research, and pulmonary function research. He is a graduate of Miami University with a degree in zoology and chemistry. Tom is active in his local community and loves the outdoors and nature. His family enjoyed the annual DAS Memorial Day “Bird Camp” weekend on Loon Lake for many years. Tom served on the Leslie Science and Nature Center board of directors and three years on the board of the Ecumenical Campus and International Residence Center (ECIR) including one year as president. He served six years as a trustee of the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum. Tom resides in Ann Arbor with his wife and family.

 

Gisela Lendle-King
Director

Gisela is a retired hospital lab technician and serves as Detroit Audubon’s representative on the Seven Ponds Nature Center Board of Directors, and previously represented Detroit Audubon on the Michigan Environmental Council Board of Directors. She is passionate about environmental policy and is very active in land preservation issues.

 

 

 

 

Amy Greene
Director

Amy is the Nature Centers Director for the Detroit Zoological Society and has overseen programming at the Belle Isle Nature Center since October, 2015. Previously she was a science teacher focused on gardening clubs, recycling clubs, STEM programs, and connecting children with nature in urban environments.  She has a B.S in Education (Wayne State) and a Master’s in Instructional Technology (Saginaw Valley State University).

 

 

 

Jack Smiley
Director & Chair of Sanctuary Committee

Jack has served on the Detroit Audubon Board for over 30 years—two as President—and is Chair of the Sanctuary Committee. He founded the Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy and has worked to protect over 5,000 acres in southeast Michigan. Jack has also been active in several other environmental organizations, including Holliday Nature Preserve Association and Friends of the Rouge. In the summer of 2015 a new Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy Preserve was named in his honor.

 

 

 

Sara Srinivasan
Director

Sara Srinivasan worked as Manager of Conservation Planning at the Wildlife Habitat Council coordinating multiple-stakeholder habitat projects across the state of Michigan. She served as Detroit Audubon’s Program Coordinator from in 2016 and continues to volunteer with our education and outreach programs. Sara holds an M.S. in Environmental Behavior, Education & Communication from the UofM’s School of Environment & Sustainability. She is certified to teach environmental education programs including Flying Wild, Project Wild, Project Wild Aquatic, Project Learning Tree, and Project WET. Sara has worked as a bird bander at Rouge River Bird Observatory, an environmental educator at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, and interpreter at the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Environmental Interpretive Center.

 

 

 

Meredith Meyer
Director & Chair of Fiance and Safe Passage Committees

Meredith Meyer is an active birder and bird photographer. Her lifelong interest in birds was reignited during the pandemic when she relocated her office to an outdoor patio – a move that coincided with spring migration. She became immersed in birds migrating through the Detroit area and the challenges they face.
Meredith’s concern for migrating birds led her to Detroit Audubon. On the Safe Passage Committee, she is focused on raising community awareness for Lights Out and increasing the use of bird-safe practices to reduce window collisions.
Meredith brings to the Detroit Audubon board more than 30 years’ experience in public relations and marketing, primarily in the health care sector. She currently operates a freelance PR consultancy, M Communications. Meredith graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in English. Follow her birding content on Twitter @MeredithMComm.

 

Evan Deutsch
Director

Evan is a relative newbie to Detroit Audubon. After going on one of our monthly Elmwood events in the fall of 2021, he fell in love with birding. He went on as many of our field trips as his schedule would permit, learning new things along the way and befriending our field trip leaders. He retired in January 2022 from a long career in advertising and gifted himself a camera to take pictures of the birds he saw. That soon became a passion of his. You may see his images in the Flyway or social media. Unless the weather stops him, he is out photographing birds, butterflies and bugs every day. Evan also leads our monthly new-birder walks, helps out at Detroit Audubon events and is a contributor to the Flyway. In addition to his passion for wildlife, he is devoted to helping homeless dogs. He is a volunteer at a local animal shelter and does outreach with a humane organization in Pontiac. Evan shares his home/bed with two rescued dogs.

 

Carla VanKampen
Director

Carla has worked at non-profit organizations throughout her career, focusing on environmental and conservation education at the Detroit Zoo for over 15 years, and currently working on the development team at Detroit Public Television. She has a passion for conservation and an ever-growing sense of wonder about the natural world. Carla has a B.S. in zoology (Northern Michigan University) and a M.A. in biology (Miami University – Global Field Program).

 

 

 

Jeremiah Steen
Director

Jeremiah Steen is the Executive Director of the Steen Foundation— youth-lead foundation that invests in the aspirations of young people using the Critical Youth Theory Model. Also, he is a Board Member at Friends of the Rouge and Detroit Audubon. Additionally, Jeremiah is a Trustee at the Skillman Foundation, Steering Committee Member for Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP), Vice-Chairman for the Association of Fundraising Professionals —Detroit(AFP), Advisory Board for the Michigan Nonprofit Association and The Soul of Philanthropy—Michigan (TSOP).

 

 

 

Patrick Filbin
Director

After graduating from James Madison College at Michigan State University, I worked as a Congressional lobbyist and Capitol Hill staffer before earning a law degree.  I have worked as a lawyer for the past 31 years, specializing in the defense of attorneys and other fiduciaries.  I have three adult children and enjoy my free time birding, playing music, reading and travelling.