Debra Erickson, San Diego Zoo Global's Marketing Director: Communications and Interpretation, has had an incredible career in wildlife conservation, working in more than 20 countries and traveling to more than 80 around the world over the past 30 years. She has been in the conservation, interpretation, communications, marketing, and education fields for the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Atlantis, Paradise Island (The Bahamas), SeaWorld San Diego, SeaWorld Orlando, and Busch Entertainment Corporation. In addition to her current Zoo job, she is also Executive Director, Kerzner Marine Foundation, The Bahamas.
Traveling with Debra to Borneo is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience as she shares stories of her years working there as Executive Director and Conservation Director of Orangutan Foundation International. Her first-hand knowledge of the plight of orangutans and what is being done to save them will make this a special trip, giving you insights into challenges facing conservationists today.
Debra’s previous positions also include Director of Marketing and Director of Communications for ZiLOG, Inc., a semiconductor manufacturer, and Director of International and Environmental Communications for Anheuser-Busch Companies. She received her B.A. in Biology from Scripps College and her M.A. in Educational Technology from San Diego State University.
Joanne Leidenberger really knows how to entertain and engage volunteers with projects and programs they are passionate about, helping others discover fulfilling volunteer roles with San Diego Zoo Global. As director of events and programs for the Zoo's development department for 20 years, Joanne is directly responsible for guiding the Zoo’s annual black-tie gala committees for Rendezvous In the Zoo (R•I•T•Z), and she oversees her team’s efforts on a multitude of donor recognition events, fund-raisers, exhibit openings, Cans for Critters youth program, Adopt an Animal, and Wish List, just to name a few. Joanne was instrumental years ago in bringing the very popular San Diego Zoo Food & Wine Celebration (formerly known as Celebration for the Critters) to the Zoo grounds.
Prior to being a staff member, Joanne was initially an active volunteer with the Zoo and helped establish its first volunteer program. An avid animal lover—including big cats and elephants!—Joanne previously volunteered with the San Diego Humane Society when she first arrived in San Diego from Pennsylvania in 1980.
Joanne loves to travel and enjoys cuisines from all parts of the globe. She is very knowledgeable about California wines and is looking forward to learning more about wines from South Africa when the group visits the Boland Valley on the extension. She recently returned from a Zoo trip to Kenya, and made it her goal for all members of the group to have an enjoyable and rewarding journey: she has a special touch in bringing people together. With her varied background, Joanne understands how to make people comfortable and promises to make your trip to South Africa one you will remember for a lifetime!
It has been close to four decades since Alan joined the San Diego Zoo, right out of college. Over the years, he left the Zoo to pursue other interests, yet he always returned and looked for new ways to apply his experiences to enhance our mission.
Along the way, Alan worked in Colombia while documenting the progress of Amazonian rain forest regeneration. Today, as a retired Research Fellow from our Institute for Conservation Research, he is involved with developing and promoting scientific research and education outreach for the Cocha Cashu Biological Station in Peru’s Manu National Park, one of Earth’s unrivalled areas for biodiversity.
Alan also helped to establish the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program in the 1990s, along with wife Cyndi Kuehler, and the two bird conservation centers have had great success in breeding and releasing many rare forest birds. This program continues under our Institute for Conservation Research, and Alan still makes regular trips to Maui and the Big Island to assist with the project.
We know San Diego Zoo Global’s travelers will find Alan to be a great storyteller with a wonderful sense of humor—as well as an entertaining and knowledgeable naturalist!