Karen Isaacs has had a unique and varied career in the world of conservation and business! Although Karen is currently San Diego Zoo Global's Corporate and Foundation Relations Officer, she was initiated into the conservation field by living in Namibia and working for the Cheetah Conservation Fund with Dr. Laurie Marker.
Karen grew up in rural eastern Washington, surrounded by animals. She took the practical career route and received a BA in Business from Washington State University and an MBA from the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. After spending many years in international sales and marketing, Karen returned to school. She studied Exotic Animal Training and Management at Moorpark College in California, proving it's never too late to follow one's dreams!
After graduation, Karen lived in Namibia before returning to the U.S. to work at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's bird show with their ambassador animals. After volunteering and eventually working for a local animal shelter, she combined her love of animals with her background in business to begin her career in fund-raising.
Karen still has a sweet spot for rescued animals, including her own dog from Puerto Rico as well as several boxers. In addition to spending time with her pups, Karen loves to travel, watching Pac-12 football, and playing golf and tennis. Karen is looking forward to revisiting the country where the people and animals are so close to her heart as well as sharing her knowledge and stories with our travelers.
Over the last 30 years, Debra Erickson has trekked through more than 80 countries in search of nature's wonders. Her wildlife adventures began in the seventh grade as she backpacked through the vast wilderness of the Cascade and Olympic mountains with her Girl Scout troop. Debra became an avid bird watcher after her college professor took her to Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens where she was amazed to see over 40 species of birds in a few hours. After graduating from Scripps College, Debra began her graduate studies at San Diego State University. Her first course in graduate school was ornithology.
Debra's passion for wildlife has led her to work at San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, SeaWorld San Diego, SeaWorld Orlando, Atlantis, Paradise Island, and S.E.A.A. Aquarium and Dolphin Island in Singapore. She has also worked for Orangutan Foundation International where she was Conservation Director in Borneo for Dr. Birute Galdikas. Debra is currently the Director of Marketing at San Diego Zoo Global and the Executive Director of Atlantis Blue Project Foundation.
An avid reader, cook, Scrabble and Hearts player, as well as art lover and collector of Cloisonné, Debra is now rediscovering nature as she shares her love of birds with her first grader. She is looking forward to sharing her love of Asian food, art, and culture along with the thrill of discovering a large number of the over 840 species of birds in Vietnam.