Dr. Sara Mueller, Executive Directorsmueller@wildlifeleadershipacademy.org570-245-8518
Sara leads the administration and organizational growth and development for the Wildlife Leadership Academy. Sara was appointed as Executive Director of the non-profit in January of 2023. She also leads curriculum development, implementation, and assessment for all aquatic field schools. Sara is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with her B.S. (Schreyer Honors College, 2014), Master’s degree (2016) and Ph.D. (2023) in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. She has studied many aspects of aquatic ecosystems including the diets of benthic fishes, microhabitat preferences of fishes, aquatic macroinvertebrate communities, environmental DNA (eDNA) of aquatic macroinvertebrates, and physical variation of Brook Trout across Pennsylvania. Sara has taught several undergraduate courses including topics in general biology, animal identification, natural resources policy, and field Ichthyology.
Katie Cassidy, Director of Outreach and Alumni Engagementkcassidy@wildlifeleadershipacademy.org570-939-5109
Katie leads recruitment and marketing for the Academy field schools and post field school student and alumni mentorship and engagement including coordination of college visit days, students’ attendance at professional meetings, and field trips. Katie is a Penn State graduate, receiving her M.S. in Agricultural Extension Education, and her B.S. in Forest Biology, with a minor in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. While at Penn State, Katie participated in a number of entomological research projects, including virus as a control for Gypsy Moth, monitoring Asian Longhorn Beetle populations, and exploring and rearing biological control agents of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.
Lexi Chisholm, Field School and Office Administratorlchisholm@wildlifeleadershipacademy.org570-317-7294
Lexi provides field school and office administrative support as well as conducting staff training and risk management. Lexi is a graduate from the University of Mount Union (Alliance, OH), receiving a B.A. in Marketing with a minor in Sports Business. While in college, Lexi was highly involved on campus throughout her four years becoming the Executive Director of Up Til’ Dawn, an organization that raises money and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, this is where Lexi found her passion of working with non-profit organizations. Lexi moved from the city life of Akron, OH to Centre County, PA where she found Wildlife Leadership Academy and knew this would be the best opportunity to grow both her career and passion for others.
Katie Mace, Multimedia Marketing Specialist
Katie manages the distribution of the NextGen blog as well as other social media engagement, website content, and publication design materials. Katie is a Wildlife Leadership Academy alum, graduating from the PA Gobblers field school in 2017. She graduated from Juniata College with a degree in Integrated Media Arts with a secondary emphasis in Marketing. While in college, Katie focused on her capstone research project where she dove into historical branding techniques – specifically letterpress printing and typography. The goal of her research was to learn the ways of the past in order to inspire the work of the future.
Dr. Gary Alt, Terrestrial Curriculum Coordinator
Gary leads terrestrial field school curriculum development, implementation, and assessment. Gary received an associate degree in Wildlife Technology from the DuBois Campus of the Pennsylvania State University in 1972, a B.S. in Wildlife Science from Utah State University in 1974, a M.S. in Wildlife Management from the Pennsylvania State University in 1977, and a Ph.D. in Forest Resources Science from West Virginia University in 1989. Gary worked as a wildlife research biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission for over 27 years: 22 running their statewide black bear and 5 running their statewide deer research and management programs.
Michele Kittell Connolly, Development Specialistmkittell@wildlifeleadershipacademy.org864-723-2953
Michele leads grant writing and management and supports other development and design efforts. Michele was the previous Executive Director for the Academy. She received her M.S. in Zoology from Clemson University and her B.S. in Biology from Penn State University. Michele raised more than 2.5 million dollars during her 10-year tenure at the Academy including awards from large and small private foundations and government entities. With the Academy, she has also facilitated a grant-led initiative with consultants to assess equity and inclusion in the program with the aim of re-designing an inclusive, welcoming, and safe, student experience. Her skill sets include organizational systems development, program growth and development, marketing and design, financial management, and staff management.