Melanie Croce (USA)
After studying Environmental Science at Virginia Tech University, Melanie went on to do environmental consulting work on the BP Oil Spill Response on the Gulf Coast, before becoming an Animal Care and Education Intern for SRI back when it was known as ‘Dingle Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary’ in 2013. From there, she went on to gain further wildlife nonprofit experience as Research Associate for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, followed by a long term post doing sea turtle and endangered primate conservation and ecotourism work on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. With this new diversity of international skills, she was invited back to Ireland as SRI’s Operations Manager in April 2017, later to become Executive Director, a role she has held since. Her passion for wildlife and environmental conservation and tireless commitment to SRI has been fundamental to the organisation’s growth.
Brigitte Walsh (Ireland)
Bri studied Earth and Ocean Science at NUI Galway before coming to SRI as an Animal Care and Education intern in 2018. Right from the start Bri fit in with our team like a glove and was promoted to Events Manager until leaving for Australia in Feb 2019. Abroad, Bri gained valuable work experience at Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation working with turtles, wallabies, sugar gliders and echidnas and then at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, home to over 1,200 different species of marine life, and educated guests about the local wildlife and the environment. After her year in Australia, Bri returned to her homeland where she answered SRI’s call for a new Assistant Animal Care Manager in July 2020 and was later promoted to the integral role of Operations Manager in March 2021. Bri is an excellent leader who is always looking for ways to lend a helping hand, while keeping us all smiling.
Kim Townsend Smyth (Ireland)
Community Engagement & Research Manager
Kim is a graduate of Zoology (BSc) and Wildlife and Conservation Management (MSc) from University College Dublin (UCD), and has worked in the management of sea turtle conservation projects in Greece since 2012. She has worked on both NGO projects and EU Life projects. She has gained extensive experience in field monitoring, volunteer management and public awareness activities while working at two of the biggest nesting sites for Loggerhead turtles in the Mediterranean. Kim is passionate about environmental education believing that informing and engaging people is the strongest tool we have to achieve conservation goals. She joined SRI as Community Engagement Manager in March 2019 and quickly made herself a vital asset to our long term team.
Hayleigh Gray (Ireland)
Animal Care Manager
Hayleigh has a strong background in animal sciences, having completed a Bachelor of Science from the National University Ireland Galway with a focus on Zoology in her final year. Keen to take on the challenges of the dynamic world of animal rehabilitation, she joined SRI in November 2019 as an Animal Care and Education Intern. Hayleigh was quickly recognized for her amazing work ethic, so it wasn’t long before she was invited to extend her stay with a promotion to Senior Animal Care Manager. Hayleigh is known to be incredibly efficient and effectual at completing daily tasks, earning her the nickname “The Machine”. She is highly organized and is always coming up with new ways of improving our centre and animal hospital. Hayleigh is a great leader and mentor to all of our Animal Care Staff and Interns, and is an integral part of our team!
Clara de Brún (Ireland)
Marketing and Media Manager
Clara is a graduate of Journalism and Visual Media (BA) from Griffith College Dublin with a postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing from Univesity College Dublin (UCD). She joined as our Media Coordinator in August and has now earned SRI’s first Marketing and Media Manager title. Clara has a background in Communications and Media management. She assisted in the development of CSR initiatives and has worked on various fundraising campaigns and events for NGOs like Pieta House and Make-a-Wish. Clara became a part of SRI to combine her love of animals, activism and digital media. She takes great pride in keeping the SRI family both home and abroad connected with the seals through our digital channels.
Jeshua Taucher (New Zealand)
With a background in Psychology from University of Otago, Jesh has traveled the world doing NGO and volunteering projects including fundraising in the UK, ecotourism in South Africa, and spearheading environmental and children’s health programmes in Nepal. After returning briefly to New Zealand to work for Department of Conservation, Jesh joined the SRI team in May 2018 to develop our education programme and contribute to much needed structural improvements. Since then, Jesh’s versatility and passion has flourished into the role of Outreach and Development Manager where he commits his skills to everything from grant writing and website development to progressing SRI’s proactive conservation mission through our climate action and biodiversity projects.
Krysten Maier (Canada)
Krysten Maier has a wealth of experience in outreach and education from across the globe. Whether teaching English in Thailand or leading humanitarian projects in Nepal, Krysten loves engaging with people across different cultures. In recent years Krysten’s aim has turned to sustainability, as she worked as an Active Travel Officer for Sustrans, empowering public sector workplaces to walk and cycle to work. Krysten came to SRI to live out her dream of working with seals and marine conservation, starting as a Community Engagement intern she has proven her capacity and has moved into the position of Education Manager.
Robyn Leslie (Scotland)
Research Manager & Assistant Animal Care Manager
Robyn is a graduate of Marine Biology (BSc) from the University of Stirling and Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare (MSc) from the University of Edinburgh. She has over 2 years of experience in wildlife rehabilitation of small and large mammals in Scotland. She reared 9 baby rabbits and 5 hoglets (baby hedgehogs) and released them back into the wild last year. Robyn also worked in the seal unit and with sea birds like gannets, guillemots and swans. She joined SRI December as an Assitant Animal Care Manager, during our busiest time of the year, and immediately adapted to the challenges with great skill and positivity.
Naomi Walsh (Ireland)
Rescue Network Coordinator & Assistant Animal Care Manager
Naomi is a graduate of Zoology from UCC. During her studies, she worked seasonally in her local vets assisting on call outs and in the small animal’s clinic, and she worked in Secret Valley Wildlife Park the summer before her final year in college. From a young age, Naomi loved being around animals and being outdoors. She loved horse riding and cared for her own horse. Her natural caregiving abilities and dedication were evident from the moment she joined us in September as an Animal Care and Education Intern. Naomi has since taken on the vital role of Stranding Network Coordinator and has proven to be an essential part of the team.
Megan Gaskin (Ireland)
Giftshop Manager, Intern & Volunteer Coordinator and Education Assistant
Megan received a BA in arts from Maynooth University and her passion for Ireland’s marine biodiversity and desire to share this love with others has shaped her career. After University, Megan became an Outreach and Education intern for Sea Synergy Marine awareness and activity centre. While here, she developed experience in caring for marine animals in saltwater aquariums, developed educational activities for Sea Camps and led Seashore Safaris, bringing children to the beach for fun hands-on learning about the Ocean and Marine life in Ireland. Megan was asked to come back as Operations Manager for Sea Synergy in September 2020. She worked as an animal welfare officer, managing the Lobster Hut during Sea Fest 2019 and has also worked with the Explorers Education Programme, a Marine Institute funded project where she delivered modules on ocean literacy, climate change and Irish marine biodiversity to primary school students. Megan joined SRI in March 2021 and is already proving to be huge asset to the team!
Maya Harries (England)
Assistant Animal Care Manager and Donations Coordinator
Maya has been breeding and training racehorses for 11 years and managed a thoroughbred racing farm in Canada for three years before moving to Ireland. She is an accomplished scuba diver and was inspired to change careers paths after an expedition in Thailand where she encountered a damaged coral reef that had suffered considerable biodiversity loss. She will be studying Marine Biology at Bangor University at the end of this year and moved to Ireland in advance of her studies, where she joined the team at SRI. Maya was immediately recognised for her exceptional talent and work ethic. She was quickly promoted to Assistant Animal Care Manager and Donations Coordinator and is greatly valued by all of our Interns and Staff!
Our Board of Directors
Ally O’Sullivan (Australia)
Co-founder & Director
After studying Captive Animal Management at Taronga Training Institute, and serving as an Animal Keeper at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Ally ventured to Co Kerry, Ireland in 2011, during the very early days of SRI when it was known as ‘Dingle Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary’. With the intent of volunteering as Resident Animal Handler for six short months, Ally fell in love with Ireland’s seals, and never left. She persevered through unimaginable challenges as Animal Care Manager alongside the charity’s founder, Ciaran, and has been the backbone to what SRI has become today. Although she now has her hands full with her own human pup, she still provides daily support and guidance to her team on the ground through her invaluable role as Trustee.
Ciaran O’Sullivan (Ireland)
Founder & Director
Ciaran built and established the original seal rescue hospital in Dingle, Co Kerry using his own personal funds in 2010. Through sheer will power and a steep learning curve, his ‘Dingle Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary’ originally took in sick, injured and orphaned seals from the south-west counties of Ireland. When the only other seal rescue facility closed its doors in 2011, Ciaran’s newly established centre was left solely covering the entire coastline with very limited volunteers and resources. The challenges didn’t stop coming, when a terrible storm destroyed the facility in 2014, but Ciaran’s incredible dedication wouldn’t let him give up. In desperation, he relocated to a new site in Courtown, Co Wexford, and became established as ‘Seal Rescue Ireland’ CLG. Throughout the following years his perseverance paid off, now fully established with a talented team of long term staff, the charity continues to grow in strength, scope and impact.
Ellen De Vos (Belgium)
Ellen first came to SRI in April of 2018 and was almost immediately recognised for her exceptional capabilities. She was promoted to the key role of Operations Manager where she provided consistent leadership and made incredible improvements to the organisation’s systems and management to enable SRI to grow leaps and bounds into the future. Incredibly dynamic and hard-working, Ellen is cherished by our interns, volunteers, and management team with her bubbly personality and brilliant work ethic. There is no doubt that she will continue to lift SRI to new heights through her role as a Trustee.