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.

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 program. 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 taking her Border Collie, Banksy, on adventures around Austin.

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.

Lauren Hart

Junior Program Manager

Ann Arbor, MI

Lauren joined the Texan by Nature team in January of 2021. She works to amplify and accelerate conservation in Texas through TxN’s Conservation Wrangler programs and other research-based quantification projects. Lauren enjoys using her analytical and quantitative style of thinking to curate partnerships between corporate and conservation entities with a metric-based approach to amplify the TxN mission of positively impacting people, prosperity, and natural resources. Lauren received her B.S. in Biology with a minor in Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin. She is now working towards her doctorate in Chemical Biology and Ecology at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Prior to joining TxN, Lauren taught biostatistics and mentored students in chemical ecology and cloning research techniques at UT Austin. Lauren enjoys playing soccer, hiking, running, swimming, walking her dogs, Duke and Dutch, and cooking and baking for her family and friends. 

Learn more about Lauren, 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.

Matt Wagner

Matt Wagner, Ph.D.

Project Development

Austin, TX

Recently retired from state service after 33 years, Matt was the deputy director for the Wildlife Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He supervised the administrative functions of the division including over 300 employees, a $30 M budget, and multiple federal grants, contracts, and wildlife research projects. His 28-year tenure with the department included four years as program director for nongame and endangered species science and policy, and eight years as a technical guidance biologist working with private landowners. Matt received a Ph.D. from Texas A&M in Regional Planning in 2005. He teaches Wildlife Law at Texas State University, and is an adjunct faculty member of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at Texas A&M. Matt is a certified wildlife biologist, a certified professional in rangeland management, and is past president of both the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society, and the Texas Section, Society for Range Management.

Learn more about Matt, and what makes him Texan by Nature, in this blog post.

Sahana Prabhu

Programs Intern

Plano, TX

Sahana Prabhu joined the Texan by Nature team in January of 2021. Sahana earned her B.S. in Biomedical Sciences from Texas A&M University along with a certificate in Conservation and Wildlife in Veterinary Medicine from Purdue University. Passionate about the relationship between human, animal, and environmental health, Sahana enjoys using a holistic approach while researching conservation projects to ensure the health of all communities are addressed. Prior to joining TxN, Sahana worked as an anatomy teaching assistant at Texas A&M University and as a veterinary assistant at a small animal clinic. Sahana enjoys playing the piano, swimming, hiking, and trying new foods.

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

Anna-Kay Reeves

Programs Intern

Austin, TX

Anna-Kay Reeves joined the TxN team in August 2021. She will graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in International Relations, Spanish, and English in December 2021. Anna-Kay’s interest in conservation is rooted in its power to mobilize communities and people around the world to work for a better future. Along with her work at TxN, Anna-Kay produces podcasts and audio-journalism focused on resource conservation, and she previously wrote for Texas Highways Magazine. Anna-Kay is also a landscape and portrait artist, and enjoys painting outside.

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

Kayla Gillen

Intern

Austin, TX

Kayla Gillen joined the Texan by Nature team in June of 2022. She is currently working towards a degree in Environmental Engineering with a minor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and an emphasis on Marine Biology from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. A longtime lover of the outdoors and of wildlife, Kayla seeks to find the intersection between engineering, technology, and improving the impact of conservation efforts. She also works as a park technician for Austin lake parks, enjoys snorkeling and scuba, and is a certified florist. An Austin native, Kayla is excited to give back to the environment and share the beauty of her home.

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

Neema Mugofwa

Intern

Cedar Park, TX

Neema Mugofwa joined the TxN team in June 2022. She is a junior at George Washington University majoring in Environmental & Sustainability Science and minoring in Data Science. Though her interest in conservation is currently focused on the overlap between her major and minor, with topics like GIS, it began with an introduction to Aldo Leopold and plentiful outdoor experiences, from paddleboarding on Lady Bird Lake to backpacking through Yosemite. Neema also loves playing soccer, working with kids, and going on walks with her sister’s dog, Sky.

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

Ella Ip

Intern

Austin, TX

Ella Ip joined the Texan by Nature team in June of 2022. She is a rising sophomore at Colby College, majoring in Economics and minoring in Environmental Studies. Her interest in marine life conservation began after a boat trip to Branford Harbor, where she witnessed the diverse species of fish being brought onboard for tagging. She also works as an editorial intern for Latinitas, enjoys swimming in Barton Springs, and caring for her guinea pigs. A firm supporter of habitat conservation, Ella hopes to educate others on how to preserve their natural surroundings.

 

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

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