Staff

Joni Carswell

Joni Carswell

CEO and President

Austin, TX

Joni Carswell is the CEO and President of Texan by Nature where she is responsible for leading the mission to bring business and conservation together. As a proud, fourth generation Texan, Joni pairs her business strategy, engineering and technology background with her passion for Texas and the outdoors to realize Texan by Nature’s vision of bringing business and conservation together for long term, sustainable impact.

Prior to Texan by Nature, Joni was the President and CEO of LivingTree where she grew the company from 1000 to 73 million interactions and 1M+ users. Under Joni’s tenure, LivingTree was recognized with the Stevie Women in Business Gold Award for Community Involvement Program of the Year and Silver Award for Mobile App of the Year. The National School Board Association also named LivingTree to the Innovation Showcase in 2017. Before LivingTree, Joni held leadership roles in planning and strategy at Polycom and Dell where she managed three-year planning for multi-billion dollar product portfolios.

As a top graduate of the Kellogg School of Management (Masters, Business Administration) and Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering (Masters, Engineering Management), Joni is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and served on the Advisory Board for the Kellogg Women’s Business Association. Joni holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University #GoAggies! She and her husband Scott reside in Austin with their two boys, Dixon and Rigby.

Learn more about Joni, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post.

Taylor Keys

Taylor Keys

Program Director

Austin, TX

Taylor has been with Texan by Nature (TxN) since May 2016. As a TxN Program Director, she works to amplify and accelerate conservation projects’ impact across the state of Texas through TxN’s programs and statewide initiatives. Taylor also leads the facilitation of TxN’s conservation partner network coordinating communication with TxN’s 105+ conservation partners. Taylor enjoys using her creativity and organization to manage programs and implement strategic and innovative project planning to achieve TxN’s mission to positively impact people, prosperity, and natural resources. Taylor received her B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Texas State University. Prior to TxN, Taylor taught vertebrate physiology labs at Texas State University and worked for the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan as Conservation Crew member doing educational outreach, planting, and river clean-ups on the San Marcos River. Taylor currently sits on the Outdoor Leadership Board Committee for the Girl Scouts of North East Texas.

Learn more about Taylor, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post.

Jenny

Jenny Burden

Director of Development

Leander, TX

Jenny received her BA from the University of Texas at Austin and her MA from Texas State University in Public History. She joined Texan by Nature in February of 2018 and is thrilled to be working to create a legacy of conservation as big as the Lone Star State. She has been working in the nonprofit field since 2011 as a project coordinator and fundraiser and has also worked as a Park Ranger at both the federal and municipal levels. She is a volunteer board member for the Austin Ridge Riders, a Central Texas trail building and advocacy organization, which includes the Ride Like a Girl Women’s mountain biking program. She is also a mentor for Little Bellas, a nonprofit program that encourages confidence in young girls through mountain biking. In her free time, she enjoys mountain biking, dirt biking, bow hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, trail running with her Blue Heelers, Ranger & Hammer, or finding any other way to be outdoors!

Learn more about Jenny, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post.

Urvi Dani

Senior Partnership Manager

Houston, TX

Urvi joined the Texan by Nature team as Senior Partnership Manager in 2023.  Coupling her industry experience and collaborative approach with her passion for nature conservation, she helps connect businesses and conservation groups to pave the way for a sustainable future. Urvi earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rice University in 2006.  She committed to environmental conservation activities and organizations throughout school and college. Prior to joining Texan by Nature, she spent 16 years at a major energy corporation where she supported oil and gas developments around the world. She gained experience in safety and environmental program management, risk management, strategic and business planning, career development, and leadership of engineering teams. Outside work, Urvi has always enjoyed finding new ways to explore the outdoors. During her first summer in college, she completed a 4,000 mile cross-country bicycle ride across rural America. Nowadays you can find her camping and hiking, traveling with her family, playing viola in the Energy Corridor of Houston Orchestra (ECHO), volunteering at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, playing board games, or reading a good book!

Learn more about Urvi, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post.

Karina Araujo

Marketing Director

Edinburg, Texas

Karina joined the Texan by Nature team in 2022. As a Marketing Director, she works to help realize the TxN vision for the future: for every business, every Texan to participate in conservation, and for Texas to be a model of collaborative conservation for the world. Drawing on her background in Mass Communication from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Karina brings her passion for nature, creativity, communication, design, and data analysis to help advance conservation. By leveraging the power of social media, she works to build communities that champion TxN’s mission. Prior to TxN, Karina worked on introducing and executing digital marketing strategies for companies across various industries including aesthetics, fitness, and healthcare. Outside of work, Karina enjoys hiking, powerlifting, discussing the world of mixed martial arts, exploring pop culture history and soaking up the South Padre Island sun with her daughter Kimora, her husband Fabian, and her furry family member Benito.

Learn more about Karina and what makes her Texan by Nature in this blog post.

Kenzie Cherniak

Program Manager

Austin, TX

Kenzie joined the Texan by Nature team in January of 2021. Kenzie provides strategic support and program management to various organizations through TxN’s Conservation Wrangler and Business Member programs. She earned her B.S. in Environmental Science from Texas Christian University, with minors in both Biology and Human-Animal relationships, along with two certificates in both Sustainability and Wildlife Management. Prior to TxN, Kenzie was an undergraduate teaching assistant and field technician for a bat monitoring program at TCU, studying the flight patterns and behaviors of Texas bats. During her time at TCU, Kenzie also had the opportunity to travel to South Africa, Costa Rica, and Indonesia to study some of the world’s most endangered species in their natural habitats. In her free time, Kenzie enjoys baking, gardening, and doing agility with her two dogs, Zora and Banksy.

Learn more about Kenzie, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post.

Caitlin Tran

Program Manager

Houston, TX

Caitlin joined the Texan by Nature team in June of 2021. She works to amplify and accelerate conservation in Texas through TxN’s Conservation Wrangler programs, Business Member projects, and other statewide initiatives. Caitlin utilizes her engineering background to support and manage projects to amplify the TxN mission of positively impacting people, prosperity, and natural resources. Caitlin received her B.S. in Geosystems Engineering and Hydrogeology from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining TxN, Caitlin researched potentiometric water balances between native grasslands and oak/juniper forests. During her time at UT Austin, Caitlin also taught geology to high school students at a summer camp that worked to broaden opportunities for lower socio-economic students and diversify the field of geosciences. Caitlin enjoys hiking, cycling, swimming, exploring new foods, and road-tripping with family and friends in her free time

Learn more about Caitlin, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post.

Jake Cooper

Program Manager

San Antonio, Texas

Jake’s passion for the environment runs as deep as the lakes and forests he grew up exploring in his hometown of Mexia, Texas. Bringing his legal and business background to the forefront, he now works to champion conservation initiatives across the Lone Star State. Jake joined the Texan by Nature team in February of 2024 and works with the TxN Conservation Wrangler Program. Jake believes that every Texan has a role to play in nurturing our state’s natural treasures and he knows that begins with a deep understanding of both the land and the many dedicated stewards who work to preserve it.

Jake received his B.A. in Psychology from Texas A&M University and his JD from South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas. Prior to joining the TxN team, Jake practiced law in areas ranging from business transactions to the mediation of commercial dispute, leveraging his down to earth approach to build on common interest rather than be divided by our differences. Outside of work, Jake enjoys weightlifting, hiking, cycling, and exploring all the beautiful natural areas our great state has to offer. Outside of work, you can often find him out exploring the beautiful Texas Hill Country with his husband, and their two pups, Stevie and Pippa.

Taylor Kennedy Frenchi

Program Manager

Fort Collins, CO

Taylor is deeply committed to advancing the understanding of the effects of nature on health and well-being. She joined Texan by Nature as the Program Manager for the Nature and Health Alliance in January 2024. In her role, she is dedicated to facilitating research collaboration, fostering interdisciplinary work, and executing strategies that will expand access to the numerous benefits that nature offers for our health. With a Bachelor of Science in Health Services from TESU and ongoing studies toward a Masters in Conservation Biology at Miami University, Taylor has diligently pursued opportunities at the confluence of health and the natural world. Her diverse experiences include conducting field research with bats in rural America, exploring the human dimensions of conservation efforts in Central and South America, and managing research programs that bridge human health and environmental concerns. Outside of work you can find her indulging her love of the outdoors by fishing, hiking, and exploring with her dog, Mango.

Learn more about Taylor, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post.

Amy Snelgrove

Amy Snelgrove

Data and Project Manager

San Antonio, TX

Amy joined Texan by Nature in February 2017 as a project manager. She brings 25 years of experience working on natural resource and endangered species issues to Texan by Nature where her primary role is facilitating the organization’s conservation projects with business partners. She also provides geospatial analysis and mapping support for TxN efforts. Before joining Texan by Nature, she led the geospatial and information technology resources team within the Natural Resource Institute at Texas A&M University where she worked with an interdisciplinary team of researchers focused on high-profile, state, regional, and national conservation issues. Amy has a B.S. in Urban Forestry and an M.S. in Forestry with a Geographic Information Systems emphasis from Texas A&M University.

Learn more about Amy, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post.

Teri Piersall

Teri Piersall

Operations Manager

Austin, TX

Teri graduated from Texas A&M in 1989 with a B.A. in Finance. She joined Texan by Nature in January of 2018, and since that time, has managed the day-to-day finances of the organization. She worked previously as a commercial real estate appraiser and has volunteered as treasurer for Boy Scout Pack 90, Boy Scout Troop 421 and the LASA Robotics Association. While neither she, nor her husband Jay are native Texans, they have spent the past thirty years in Austin, where they have raised their three children, as well as various dogs, cats and rabbits. She enjoys spending her spare time with family and friends, or on home improvement projects and gardening.

Learn more about Teri, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post.

Carolyn Cooper

Project Associate

Austin, TX

Carolyn joined the Texan by Nature team in July 2023. She graduated with a BS in Chemical Engineering and a minor in Anthropology from Rice University. Carolyn then joined an oil and gas company as an engineer, working in Houston and at facilities around Texas. During this time, she developed a strong interest in water quality and treatment. This passion led her to return to academia for an MS/PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. Carolyn is excited to join Texan by Nature for the next few months to contribute to and learn more about conservation efforts in Texas. In her free time, you can find Carolyn cooking, kayaking, and taking leisurely hikes with her rescue dog, Bluebell, and her husband.

Learn more about Carolyn, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post.

Faith Humphreys

Intern

Abilene, TX

Faith joined the Texan by Nature team in June 2023. She received her BBA in Finance and Management Information Systems from Baylor University in 2016. During her time at Baylor, she interned for the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, Africa, where she led a study on the organization’s economic impact. After graduation, Faith worked as a business and financial analyst in the legal and healthcare industries. She later decided to pursue her passion for conservation and received her Master of Wildlife and Fisheries Resources degree from Clemson University in May 2023. Most recently, she worked for WEST, Inc. as a biological field technician, where she conducted bat and bird mortality surveys on a wind energy facility in west Texas. Faith hopes to combine her business and conservation knowledge to help solve the challenges that face Texas’ natural resources. Outside of work, she enjoys playing piano, volunteering as a Texas Master Naturalist, attending live concerts, and hiking with her husband Carson and dogs, Blitz and Blue.

Learn more about Faith, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post.

Madeleine Kaleta

Intern

Denton, Texas

Madeleine joined the TxN team in June 2023. She previously graduated from SUNY Oswego with a bachelors in zoology and a minor in bio-cultural anthropology. After traveling the country working with endangered species of birds, she decided to pursue higher education to follow her passion for conservation. She is currently at the University of North Texas in a Master’s program in Biology, where she studies American Kestrels.  


Madeleine’s interest in conservation is entrenched in her background in avian ecology and conservation, as well as her passion for the outdoors. Madeleine has had numerous jobs helping a variety of wildlife and aiding in land management practices across the country and in Texas. In addition to her love of working in conservation, Madeleine enjoys exploring caves, playing piano, birding, and hiking with her dog, Sula.  


To learn more about Madeleine, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post.

Estela Lopez

Intern

McAllen, TX

Estela Lopez joined the TxN team in June 2023. She is in her fifth year at Texas A&M University completing her undergraduate degree in Public Health while simultaneously completing a Masters’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Management. Estela’s interest in conservation and the environment stems from one of her undergraduate classes that focused on communicating the health benefits that the environment provides to the population using an array of communication methods.

Estela’s love for nature began when she was a child spending her summers exploring several national parks across the United States. Some of her favorite parks include Arches National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. Estela loves to spend time with her friends and family, go to Texas country music concerts, cheer on the Aggies during football season, and read the latest New York Times Best Seller. She is looking forward to working with the amazing TxN team during her internship and learning from them and their experiences! 

Learn more about Estela, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post

 

Kat McEachern

Marketing and Media Intern

Bonham, TX

Kat joined Texan by Nature in October 2023. With a BA in Communication, she pursued a career in photography before narrowing her focus on the social media landscape. By combining her interests in community building and social media, she thrives on communicating an organization’s mission with the public, in order to equip individuals to make positive change within their communities. While previously working at a rape crisis center (SARC) as a creative specialist, specifically in socials, she developed a digital advocate program that enabled advocate work to continue in the online space while reassuring survivors they were not alone during the pandemic. Her interest in conservation stems from a childhood spent outdoors, participating in 4-H, and her current work in the sustainable/ethical brand world. Kat is excited to learn from the Texan by Nature team and become immersed in conservation efforts across Texas!

When not working, Kat is out nature watching, doing some form of physical activity, learning more about slow fashion, or exploring with her dog.

Kat Hicks

Programs Intern

Bryan, Texas

Kat Hicks joined Texan By Nature in January 2024 as a Programs Intern. She is in her fourth and final year of University at Texas A&M with an expected graduation in May of 2024. She will be graduating with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a Minor in Women and Gender Studies. Kat is a dedicated, lifelong learner and finds fulfillment investing in community led projects. During her time in college she has been a project manager for a pollinator project located on the student-run Howdy Farm, assistant managed a food sovereignty project that provided security to local immigrant families of Bryan, Texas, and served the Department of Sustainability on Texas A&M campus as an Outreach Intern. Kat is also an avid volunteer, working with local food banks and farms in Bryan and Austin, Texas as well as a local women’s advocacy organization, Jane’s Due Process. From these experiences, she has honed in on her passion for community-focused sustainability and conservation efforts, leading her to TxN. 

Outside of school and career investments, Kat has a profound love for food and culinary engagement. She is often cooking for friends or family and studying the NYT cooking webpage for new recipes to try.

Learn more about Kat Hicks, and what makes her Texan by Nature, in this blog post

 



Hanna Guidry

Programs Intern

Dallas, TX

Hanna joined Texan by Nature in January of 2024. She recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with Bachelor’s degrees in Government and Sustainability Studies and a minor in Communication Studies. While at UT, she spent two semesters as a member of the Longhorn Impact Fellowship at Texas as a sustainability consultant with DLA Piper, LLC. She also interned on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. as a Bill Archer Fellow and worked as an intern with the Dave & Buster’s legal department at their corporate headquarters. Hanna will be starting law school in August and plans on practicing environmental law. 

Hanna’s interest in protecting nature and the environment spans back to her childhood, but she hopes to use her chosen fields of study to turn this interest into a lifelong career. She is excited to learn more about conservation from the Texan by Nature team and feels that this experience will help prepare her for law school and a future career in the environmental field. 

In her free time, Hanna enjoys listening to music, attending concerts, and expanding her classic rock album collection.

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