Melanie Croce 🇺🇸
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.
Kim Townsend Smyth 🇮🇪
Community Engagement 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 🇮🇪
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 effective 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!
Gabriella Kohler 🏴
Unfulfilled with her occupation as a human doctor, Gabriella took the bold decision to transfer her skills to something new. A passion for wildlife rehabilitation was ignited during her job as a wildlife rescue driver. Discovering her new vocation, she became a wildlife carer at the Scottish SPCA National Wildlife Rescue Centre – where she discovered her passion for marine mammals and sea birds. Travelling to South Africa, she successfully hand-reared endangered African penguin chicks with the SANCCOB team and helped care for 2000 endangered Cape cormorant chicks from Robben Island: a mass abandonment and seabird rescue event. Not forgetting her beloved seals, she also helped to rehabilitate native Cape fur seals and visiting Sub-Antarctic fur seals along South Africa’s Garden Route. Gabriella joined SRI in October 2021 as an Assistant Animal Care Manager and has assumed the role of Operations Manager. She has become a significant part of our dynamic team and regularly demonstrates her diligent and industrious nature.
Dylan Lawlor 🇮🇪
Marketing & Media Manager
Dylan graduated from the Technological University of the Shannon Midwest (TUS) with a BA in Fine Art Photography, Film, and Video. She is particularly interested in Documentary film, coming second place at the 2017 Kilmore Quay Film Festival for a documentary about Coming of Age during a political crisis. She has many years of volunteering behind her for various political and social issues, this work took her from knocking on doors to managing social media accounts.
It was while working after school at the Wildlife Sanctuary in Wells House that she discovered an interest in animal welfare. Here she helped to rescue male baby goats, bottle feeding them and raising them until they were big enough to be brought to new homes!
Having grown up in the area Dylan is very passionate about the conservation and restoration of the Courtown/Gorey region, at home you will find her spending time in her biodiversity-rich rewilded garden, tending to the veggie patch or hanging out with the chickens!
Jeshua Taucher 🇳🇿
Project Manager & Horticulturalist
With a background in Psychology from the University of Otago and a Major Award in Organic Horticulture, Jesh has travelled the world doing NGO and volunteering projects including fundraising in the UK, ecotourism in South Africa, as well as spearheading environmental and children’s health programmes in Nepal. After returning briefly to New Zealand to work for the 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 have flourished into the role of Project Manager and Horticulturalist, where he commits his skills to everything from website and CRM development to managing SRI’s sustainability, food production, water management, and progressing SRI’s proactive conservation mission through our Habitat Restoration Project.
Krysten Maier 🇨🇦
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 🏴
Rescue Network Coordinator
Senior Asst. 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 in December as an Assistant Animal Care Manager, during our busiest time of the year, and immediately adapted to the challenges with great skill and positivity. Robyn has taken over as Rescue Network Coordinator and Research Manager. She was also promoted to Senior Assistant Animal Care Manager and provides invaluable support to everyone on the SRI team.
Megan Gaskin 🇮🇪
Gift Shop Manager
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 the 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 a huge asset to the team!
Rob Maiden 🇮🇪
Asst. Animal Care Manager
Habitat Restoration Assistant
After graduating college with an outdoor leadership cert, Rob worked in different outdoor centres and countries where he spent most of his time on the water. Over the years, he came in contact with many marine mammals and experienced first-hand the negative impacts humans had on them. This inspired him to get more involved in marine conservation, which brought him to SRI. Soon after starting as an intern, Rob’s passion and enthusiasm progressed him to the role of seal senior. His leadership capabilities shone through here, and he stepped into the Assistant Animal Care Manager role in November 2021. His favourite part of Animal Care is watching the pups progress through their rehabilitation and the reward that brings, as well as figuring out the personality of each seal and enjoying them for who they are. Still wanting to make more of an impact, Rob took on the role of habitat restoration assistant and hopes to help the environment and give us a better tomorrow through supporting SRI’s habitat restoration initiatives.
Natalie Barry 🇮🇪
Asst. Animal Care Manager
Natalie has a BSc in zoology from University College Dublin, where she was lucky enough to travel to places such as Costa Rica and Kenya to carry out fieldwork. This influenced her love and appreciation of wildlife across the globe. These experiences inspired her to continue her education by completing an MSc in Global Wildlife Health and Conservation at the University of Bristol. She started as an Animal Care and Conservation Intern here at SRI in October of 2021. Her infectious enthusiasm and fantastic work ethic lead to her progressing to the role of Assistant Animal Care Manager. She also took on the roles of Giftshop Assistant and Sustainability Coordinator and has already become a valued member of the team.
Tiffany-Erin Brockman 🇮🇪
Asst. Animal Care Manager
Community Engagement Asst.
Tiffany studied Marine Science at National University of Ireland, Galway where her passion and knowledge for the environment developed. She grew up beside the ocean, swimming and surfing with a natural progression to get involved in helping it thrive when she grew up. During university she got involved in diving and saw firsthand the issues facing plants and animals in Irish waters. Over the years she spent time in South Africa working with terrestrial animals with field research on elephants, as well as wild animal care with rhinos, large cats and more. She has also worked in the marine sector doing research on sharks and whales on tourist boats as well as caring for penguins and being part of several community projects helping to educate the public on the environment.
Tiffany joined SRI in September 2019 originally as an Animal Care and Conservation intern, before taking on the role of Community Engagement Assistant, as well as Assistant Animal Care Manager. Tiffany is a well-rounded, team player who has become a great asset to the SRI team!
Nikki Cotterhill 🇬🇧
Intern/Volunteer Coordinator and Research Manager.
Nikki is a graduate of Forensic Chemistry (BSc) from Wolverhampton University and has always had a passion and flair for science, gaining her PGCE in Chemistry soon after and going on to teach secondary and A-level Chemistry and Biology. Nikki was pursued by her previous employer to take on the role of Project Manager and Surveyor for blue chip companies in Birmingham City Centre, England and decided to take on the challenge where she flourished for many years, completing her first MSc in Real Estate Management. Her passion for science and conservation ignited again a few years ago when she made the decision to go back to university to complete her second MSc in Zoo Conservation Biology. Her research focused on veterinary training techniques of large carnivores where she spent 7 months based in a zoo in Italy. Upon completion of her MSc, she then went on to work for an NGO in Greece for 16 months with her main focus on marine life and the development of a new wildlife sanctuary. She joined SRI in February 2022 as Intern/Volunteer Coordinator and Research Manager.
Our Board of Directors
Ally O’Sullivan 🇦🇺
Co-Founder & Trustee
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 of what SRI has become today. Although she now has her hands full with her own human pup, she still provides support and guidance to her team on the ground through her invaluable role as a Trustee.
Ciaran O’Sullivan 🇮🇪
Founder & Trustee
Ciaran built and established the original seal rescue hospital in Dingle, Co Kerry using his own personal funds in 2010. Through sheer willpower and a steep learning curve, his ‘Dingle Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary’ originally took in sick, injured and orphaned seals from the southwest 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 🇧🇪
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.