Dr. Sam Williams is passionate and dedicated to parrots and their conservation. His parroty experiences started early with him keeping birds as a boy in Yorkshire, England. Aged 16 he traveled to Mauritius to volunteer with the Echo Parakeet and experienced field work and conservation work that would prove formative. From there he completed a degree in ecology, at Stirling, Scotland. Parrots then led him to Brazil, where he spent six months observing Lear’s Macaws. Following that in 2003, Sam visited the Yellow-Shouldered Amazon Parrots on Bonaire. That visit led to a PhD on the limiting factors for the population. On completing the Phd Sam established Echo. Its aim: to address the conservation challenges his research identified.
Lauren Schmaltz recently moved to Bonaire to oversee the on-site management of Echo. Lauren completed a Bachelors in Biology and Spanish and a Masters of Environmental Studies, and is currently pursuing a Master in Public Administration with a concentration in non-profit management. In between her studies, Lauren also spent several years living overseas in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Bonaire. Lauren’s interest in environmental management, community outreach and education, and sustainable development harmonized with Sam’s growing initiatives in parrot conservation, habitat restoration, and community engagement. Since first meeting Sam on Bonaire in 2009, Lauren has been contributing the development of Echo, which ultimately led to her current role.
Nathan Schmaltz moved to Bonaire with his wife, Lauren, to help manage Echo’s operations and conservation work. Nathan has a Bachelors degree in History and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences. Nathan’s Master’s degree may seem far removed from Echo’s work on the ground, but his skills at researching questions and solving problems have helped him to quickly learn how to handle the day-to-day tasks of Echo, including carpentry, electricity, and plumbing. He literally keeps Echo running! Nathan has team management experience, which he puts to use in leading Echo’s team on many of the conservation projects. Nathan enjoys being able to see the tangible results after a hard day of work and knowing that his work with Echo is helping make a positive difference in the world.
Board of Directors
Dr. Rowan Martin spent several years on Bonaire, studying the nature of the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot’s monogamous breeding partnerships for his doctoral research. During the hundreds of hours he spent observing and recording their every movement he developed a deep affinity for these birds and for the ecology of Bonaire. Although he now works in African conservation, coordinating initiatives for the World Parrot Trust, he has been integral to the development of Echo and continues to play a key role in Echo’s success from afar.
Steve Milpacher is a dedicated conservationist who has traveled extensively in Central America and the Caribbean to study parrots in the wild and has kept and bred parrots for over 30 years. Before his current role as Operations Director of the World Parrot Trust he completed undergrad studies in biological sciences and received a certificate in Endangered Species Management from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (UK). Steve is a speaker at international conferences and has published articles in parrot-related magazines and journals. In his spare time, Steve is an enthusiastic wildlife photographer whose pictures have been published in magazines, books, and calendars.
James Gilardi is the Executive Director of the World Parrot Trust. He is a conservation biologist specializing in behavioural and physiological ecology with special focus on tropical forest birds and marine vertebrates. Following undergraduate studies at the University of Washington and UC Santa Cruz, he earned a Ph.D. in Ecology from UC Davis studying parrot social behaviour, foraging ecology, and soil-eating in south-eastern Peru. Dr. Gilardi has also worked on parrot conservation in Guatemala, St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Mexico. In the fall of 2000, he became the director of the World Parrot Trust, where he oversees the work of the Trust, developing, supporting, and implementing parrot conservation and education programs around the world.