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The staff and response team for the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) bring a multitude of skills, experience and background to the organization. These skills include veterinary medicine, human nursing, scientific research, human relations, physical therapy, captive breeding and management, wildlife biology and wildlife rehabilitation. Together, they are the most qualified team in the field.

Find each team members' biography by clicking on their name:

Jay Holcomb, Director Emeritus, guided IBRRC as Executive Director for 25 years. He joined IBRRC in 1986 with twenty years of experience in animal rehabilitation. He began his career at the Marin Humane Society and then helped found the wildlife rehabilitation program at the Marin Wildlife Center in San Rafael, CA. He has a great breadth of experience working with seabirds, land birds, and mammals as well as birds of prey.

He responded to California oil spills during the 1970's and early 80's as a volunteer before joining the staff of IBRRC during the ARCO Anchorage Spill (1986). He has either led or been on staff for virtually all IBRRC spill responses since 1986 including the M/V Treasure oil spill in Cape Town, South Africa (2000).

During the Exxon Valdez Spill (1989), Jay pioneered the search and rescue program in Prince William Sound, the largest of its kind ever attempted. In addition, Jay managed the entire 6-month rehabilitation program caring for over 1,600 birds. Jay has served on the Board of Directors for the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association and the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, an association of wildlife rehabilitators and centers. Jay was president of that organization for 8 terms. Jay was awarded the 1996 NWRA lifetime Achievement Award, the highest award given in the field of wildlife rehabilitation, recognizing his pioneering efforts and dedication to wildlife conservation.

In 2000 Jay twice oversaw the international team of oiled wildlife professionals, in January at the Erika oil spill in France and then again in June at the Treasure oil spill in Cape Town, South Africa.

In 2010 he helped lead the organization working at monumental Gulf Oil Spill working in Louisiana.

Jay is a frequent public speaker educating the public through community group meetings on the importance of the proper care for oiled, sick and injured aquatic birds – especially the California Brown Pelican.

Also see:

Director's message

Podcast: Remembering the Exxon Valdez spill

SF Chronicle profile on Jay's efforts

Paul Kelway

Paul Kelway was named IBRRC's Executive Director in 2011. He first connected with IBRRC in 2000 at the Erika Oil Spill in France while working for EarthKind, a UK marine wildlife rescue organization. Later that year Paul was also part of IFAW's Oiled Wildlife Team in Cape Town, South Africa, following the Treasure Oil Spill.

After two years with EarthKind, Paul went on to become IFAW's Emergency Relief Manager for their Oiled Wildlife Division and IFAW's primary contact with International Bird Rescue. In this position, Paul responded to and was involved in the coordination of a number of oil spills around the world including the Prestige spill in Spain and France, the Rocknes spill in Norway and the Pemex pipeline spill in Mexico.

Paul has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and has worked in the field of non-profit management for many years. He has a strong background in PR and media relations and served as Press Officer for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, one of the UK's oldest and largest charities. Paul has been part of the IBRRC staff since October 2009.

Alice Berkner, Founder of IBRRC, was a registered nurse when she began rehabilitating birds during the massive 1971 oil spill in San Francisco Bay. Alice and a hand full of other concerned individuals founded the bird rescue group following that spill and directed the organization for fifteen years, until 1987. Alice led the early research and spill responses that build the foundation of oiled bird care that we aspire to today.

A veteran of nearly four dozen oil spill rehabilitation efforts, Alice is considered one of the top experts in the field of rehabilitation of oiled birds. Alice has responded to spills throughout the United States including the IXTOC, Exxon Valdez oil spill and the New Carrissa oil spills. She is a primary author on two of the first publications ever used as standards in the field of oiled wildlife rehabilitation.

Also see:

Founder's Perspective

Curt Clumpner, founder and former director of HOWL Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Lynnwood, WA, has been involved in wildlife rehabilitation since 1981. He has cared for a variety of wild animals from songbirds to large game mammals. Curt has responded to many oil spills since 1984 including Whidbey Island (1984), ARCO Anchorage (1985), Nestucca (1988-89), Exxon Valdez (1989), American Trader (1990) plus spills in California and Washington states during 1991. Curt also led a team of 5 IBRRC response team members to help rehabilitate oiled Magellanic Penguins along the coast of Argentina (1991) and was one of 6 IBRRC response team members that helped manage Jackass Penguin rehabilitation efforts after the Apollo Sea spill in Cape Town, South Africa.

Curt also represented IBRRC at the Iron Baron oil spill in Tasmania where 2,000 oiled fairy penguins were rehabilitated. He has trained and worked with rehabilitators in a variety of countries including Scotland, Germany, Japan, Australia, Peru, Turkey and Guatemala.

Curt is a former board member of the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, a current member of the Board of Directors of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, NWRA, and is a member of numerous professional associations. In 1999 Curt oversaw the search and collection efforts for the bird rehabilitation program during the New Carrissa oil spill. In January 2000, he was one of an international team of oiled wildlife professionals that went to France to assist locals in caring for birds effected by the Erika oil spill. Curt is our Northwest Regional Representative.

Rebecca Dmytryk joined IBRRC's response team in 1993 and has worked numerous spills including a well blow out in Venice, Louisiana (1995), Bollona Creek (1997), the Point Reyes Tar ball events (1998) and Stuyvesant spill (1999) and the Jessica, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador (2001), Cosco Busan (2007). Her responsibilities have included search and collection, intake and stabilization of the birds, washing, and cage construction.

Rebecca Dmytryk is the founder of WildRescue and serves as its chief administrative officer. In 1996, Rebecca founded The California Wildlife Center, a hospital for sick and injured wild animals, based in Malibu, California.

She is the author of a paper, Wildlife Paramedics, which was presented at the California Council for Wildlife Rehabilitators and International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council conferences in 1999. An offshoot of this paper is a training course she offers to volunteers and government employees to help ensure proper care of injured and orphaned native wildlife. Rebecca is also a professional videographer and combines her wildlife background with her production skills to create Public Service Announcements and educational videos.

She worked most recently on the Cosco Busan oil spill (2007).

mark russell photo

Mark Russell has nearly 20 years of experience working with oiled wildlife in California, Alaska and other parts of the world. Mark has also worked in the field as an assistant on various research projects. Among these projects includes work for the Department of Energy in the Mojave Desert in Nevada, for the San Francisco State University in the jungles of Cameroon, and for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the Prince William Sound. He got his start working with animals as a Veterinary Technician in Las Vegas.

Mark joined the response team during the American Trader Spill (1990), after which he spent four years working for the rehabilitation program at IBRRC’s central facility. Some of the spills he has worked on include the Apollo Sea, South Africa (1994), the Caligliera, South Africa (1995), the Pribilof islands, Alaska (1996), and the Dyer Island spill, South Africa (1996). Mark headed the search and collection effort for the Portland Maine spill (1996 Tri-State /IBRRC), headed the rehabilitation efforts for the Kure spill in Arcata, California (1997), the McGrath Lake and Santa Clara River/earthquake spills (1994), and was on the management team at the Treasure response in South Africa (2000).

He worked most recently on the Cosco Busan oil spill (2007) as a team leader in Search and Collection along San Francisco Bay. He is also a trainer and a public speaker for IBRRC.

Barbara Callahan photo

Barbara Callahan joined IBRRC in 1997 and is IBRRC's Alaska Regional Representative. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Science from the University of Alaska Anchorage, where her studies included avian hematology and microbiology. Barbara has many years of wild bird rehabilitation experience, including extensive work with raptors.

Barbara has participated in the Santa Cruz fish/vegetable oil, Kure (1997), Point Reyes Tar ball events (1998) and New Carissa (1999) spills for IBRRC. In 2000 Barbara was twice a member of the international team of oiled wildlife professionals that went to France and South Africa to assist locals in caring for birds effected by the Erika (January 2000) and Treasure (June 2000) oil spills. Barbara is also an instructor for trainings conducted by IBRRC.

See story about Barbara in Anchorage Daily News

Deirdre Goodfriend was formerly IBRRC's Rehabilitation Manager for the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center, CA. She was on staff with IBRRC from 1995 to 2001. Since 1996, she has served as a board member at large for the California Council for Wildlife Rehabilitators.

Deirdre began her career as a zoo keeper at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Louisiana, working with primates and then for several years in the native animal section where she was introduced to wildlife rehabilitation. She went on to intern at the Regents Park Zoo in London, England and specialized in primate care. In 1990, Deirdre became the Wildlife Care Supervisor for Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. in British Columbia, Canada, a full species rehabilitation center that cares for 3,000 to 4,000 native wild animals annually. Deirdre worked on several oil spills in Canada and developed an expertise in the rehabilitation of aquatic birds.

Deirdre has participated in over twenty spill responses as part of the IBRRC response team. These include the Pribilof Islands, Alaska spill (1996); Cape Mohican, San Francisco Bay spill (1996), Ballona Creek, Long Beach, CA spill (1997), Nakhodka, Hokkaido, Japan spill (1997), Pallas, Amrum Island, Germany spill (1998), Delphi, Astoria, OR spill (1999) and the New Carissa, Coos Bay, OR spill (1999). In January, 2000 Deirdre was a member of an international team of oiled wildlife professionals that went to France to assist locals in caring for birds effected by the Erika oil spill. Deirdre is also an instructor for trainings conducted by IBRRC.

Bruce Adkins, has been an IBRRC response team member since 1988 when he volunteered during the Nestucca oil spill in Gray's Harbor, WA. Since then, Bruce has worked many spills with IBRRC including the Exxon Valdez (1989) oil spill, Santa Clara River (1991), Tenyo Maru (1991) and the Pribilof Island (1996), Santa Cruz fish/vegetable oil, Kure (1997), Point Reyes Tar ball events (1998), and the New Carissa (1999) spills.

In June of 2000 he also responded to the Treasure Oil Spill in Cape Town, South Africa. Bruce is a specialist in search and collection of oiled birds and is versed in washing/rinsing techniques as well as basic rehabilitation protocols.

Russ Curtis is the Technology Manager at IBRRC. He began volunteering in 1997 at the old Berkeley, CA bird center and worked with oiled birds and on logistics during the Santa Cruz spill (1997) and the Kure spill in Humboldt, CA (1997). He also responded to the Treasure spill (2000) in Cape Town, South Africa.

Since 2000 he has been instrumental in developing and managing the bird rescue's website and social media platforms. He also provides computer support and maintains the IT infrastructure at both California bird centers.

He holds a BA in Journalism from California State University, Long Beach and attended the Multimedia Studies Program at San Francisco State University. Russ is certified by Apple in OS X Macintosh Computer Support. Working in FileMaker, Russ developed the organiztion's new contact/membership database to help keep track of the growing donation and membership base.

Russ also works with other non-profits, businesses and individuals through his tech+help company as a technology consultant.

In his extra time, he is an accomplished magazine photographer based in San Francisco.

Wendy Massey joined the IBRRC Response team in 1992 and is a licensed hemodialysis technician by trade. She has been a volunteer as well as a staff person at the California Center for Wildlife in San Rafael, CA. As a trained veterinary technician, she has worked with a variety of wild and domestic animal species and has a particular interest in reptiles.

Wendy worked the McGrath Lake and Santa Clara River/Earthquake (1994), the Venice, LA, McDonnell Douglas, Metrolink and Kettleman City (1995), Pribilof Islands and Cape Mohican (1996), Ballona Creek, Torch, Santa Cruz fish /vegetable oil and Kure (1997), Point Reyes Tar ball events, H.M.S. Hose in Hawaii (1998), and the New Carissa (1999) spills.

Wendy works with local California bird researchers to gain normal blood values on common coastal bird species. Wendy was our facility coordinator for the original Berkeley rehabilitation facility and often works in facilities support during oil spills.

Jamie Stich graduated with a double major in Marine Biology and Zoology from Humboldt State University, CA in 1998. He has been a member of the IBRRC response team member since 1998, working at the Kure (1997), Point Reyes Tar ball events, Command, Winterburg Channel, El Segundo (1998), and the New Carissa (1999) spills. Jaime has been involved in both search and collection as well as rehabilitation center activities as part of the spill team.

When not responding to oil spills, he has spent his summer months employed in Alaska by the USFWS division of Migratory Bird Management and as a technician assisting in the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage. Jaime has special interests in public outreach and education.


Amber Transou photo

Amber Transou received her BS in Wildlife Biology from Humboldt State University, CA. She has worked on a variety of restoration projects, including a program to reestablish the threatened red-cockaded woodpecker with USFWS and monitoring the threatened snowy plover for Mad River Biologists. Amber first worked with oiled wildlife during the Kure spill in Humboldt Bay (1997). She has subsequently joined the IBRRC response team in 1999 and assisted with search and collection during the New Carissa, OR spill. When not responding to oil spills, Amber continues her work in northern California for the Redwood Sciences Lab at HSU and Mad River Biologists during the breeding bird season.

Sean McAllister photo




Sean McAllister first began his work with oiled birds during the Kure spill in Humboldt Bay (1997) and subsequently joined the IBRRC response team in December of that year. Since that time, he has participated in the Point Reyes Tar ball events, Carson, Command, Winterburg Channel (1998), New Carissa, Stockdale and Stuyvesant spills (1999).

Sean has studied threatened and endangered birds in the wild for many years. His primary focus has been on the marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, and snowy plover but he maintains a keen interest in all species. He has served on the board of directors of the Redwood Region Audubon Society and taught field ornithology for the Siskiyou Field Institute, and instructs an annual course in surveying for marbled murrelets. He has co-authored a book on bird watching in Northern California and published numerous photographs in birding journals. During the spring and summer months, Sean works as the lead field biologist for a private consulting firm in northern California, supervising crews during bird survey projects.

Susan Kaveggia

Susan Kaveggia joined International Bird Rescue Research Center after several years in wildlife rehabilitation. Following graduation from Concordia University with a biology degree, Susan intended to enter the optometry school, but her career path took a turn.

While volunteering at a local wildlife rehabilitation center she experienced her first oil spill and found her calling. After that experience, she was hired for several positions with the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy, the final as Wildlife Director.

She has continued her education by attending various ornithology courses and workshops. Her love of all animals had been a life-long interest, but her love and fascination with seabirds is what is nearest her heart.

For several years, Susan worked in IBRRC's San Pedro center as a Rehabilitation Technician.

Recent oil spill responses: Dog Beach Mystery, Jan. 2003; Luckenbach Spill, November 2001-July 2002; and Malibu Mystery spill, January-April 2001.

Megan Shaw Prelinger was the assistant manager (part-time) at IBRRC's rehabilitation center in Cordelia, CA. She started with IBRRC as a volunteer in 2000.

At the Northern California bird center she helped create and manage the patient log database and coordinate the Snowy Egret metabolic bone disease case study project. She presented a paper about the project at the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association annual conference in March 2002. She joined the spill response team during the San Mateo Mystery Spill (2001 - 2002), and helped with the Malibu Mystery Spill in January 2003.

When not helping at IBRRC, she is a writer and also vice president of the Prelinger Archives, a collection of non-feature films and a print library of social and natural history. She hosts a quarterly screening event on staff and volunteer appreciation evenings, showing classic nature films that educate and entertain about our most beloved species. Her short documentary about the work of IBRRC, Releases, headlined at the Dallas Video Festival in March, 2003.


Michelle Bellizzi is the rehabilitation manager at IBRRC's main wildlife center in Cordelia, CA. She has worked with IBRRC since 2000, when she started as a new volunteer. At the Cordelia bird center, she oversees the care of over 1,800 patients a year, and is committed to improve the manner in which aquatic birds are rehabilitated.  

She is also committed to educating interested parties on the specifics of rehabilitating aquatic species.  In 2003 at the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA), she presented a paper on appropriate caging of aquatic birds in rehabilitation.  She is also actively involved with rescuing and rehabilitating unwanted and "problem" parrots, being a devoted parrot-mom.  

Recent oil spill responses:  San Mateo Mystery Spill / Luckenbach Spill (2001 - 2003), Livermore Diesel Spill (2002), Auburn Mystery Spill (2002), Cosco Busan (2007).

Marie Travers photo

Marie Travers, is one of the Assistant Rehabilitation Managers at IBRRC’s headquarters in Cordelia, CA. Marie has worked with IBRRC since November 2001, when she started as a volunteer.  After interning at IBRRC during 2002-2003, she was offered a position as a Rehabilitation Technician and worked in that capacity from 2003-2006.

Marie received her undergraduate  degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts and served as the Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager at Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek from 2002-2003. She currently serves as a board member and webmaster for the California Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators. Marie presented papers at the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association conferences in 2005 and 2006 (with co-presenters Megan Prelinger and January Bill) on aquatic bird stabilization and care.

Recent oil spill responses: San Mateo Mystery Spill / Luckenbach Spill (2001 - 2003), Livermore Diesel Spill (2002), Auburn Mystery Spill (2002), Suisun Marsh Diesel Spill (2004), Norway Glomma River Spill (2006) and the Cosco Busan (2007).



Erica Lander is a member of IBRRC’s Emergency Response team and the Assistant Rehabilitation Manager in the bird rescue's Los Angeles Bird Rescue Center. She has been with IBRRC since 2006.

Erica received her bachelors of science degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 2005. Before joining the IBRRC team she worked as a veterinary technician at a dog and cat hospital in Orange County California.


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