Chelonian Research Institute

402 South Central Ave, Oviedo, FL 32765

+1 (407) 365-6347

Meet the board.

LAT. 28.664511 · LON. -81.206200
A 501 (c) 3, not-for-profit organization

Rob Truland (Chairman)

Rob Truland is a noted Washington, D.C.-area businessman and philanthropist with a passion for turtle conservation.

A graduate of Northern Arizona University, he is regarded for his longstanding commitment to the communities of the Washington, D.C. metro area, engaging in multiple charitable endeavors such as the rebuilding of the Fishing School, support of the IDEA public charter school in Washington, D.C., and the THRIVE summer internship program.

Rob serves as president of the Truland Foundation, supporting DC-area charitable organizations with an emphasis on the arts.  In addition to serving as president of the Chelonian Research Institute’s Board of Directors, he is also president of the Chelonia Institute and the Lost and Found Horse Rescue. He served as chairman of Truland Corporation in Washington, DC.

Sibille Hart Pritchard

Sibille Hart Pritchard is an accomplished businesswoman with a professional background in journalism, public and government relations. Her leadership in commercial and tourism development has been an integral component of major Orlando developments, from Bonnet Creek to International Drive, including the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Hotel/Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and South I-Drive/Plaza International.

A native of Guyana, South America, Pritchard received her education in Europe and several parts of the Caribbean. Her career began in journalism, where she spent 15 years as an award-winning women’s ditor for the Guyana Graphic newspaper in Guyana.

An active business figure and arts enthusiast, Pritchard’s expertise and guidance have been sought after for numerous boards and organizations. She currently serves as: chair of the International Drive Improvement.

District, an appointment by the mayor of Orange County since its inception; member of the county mayor’s steering committee for the proposed Orlando/Orange County Convention Center Overlay District; chairperson of the UCF Global Connections Foundation and executive board member for the new, $500 million Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Sibille was recently appointed by the state’s secretary of state to the board of Citizens for the Arts and is also a board member of the UCF Department of Arts, Orlando Museum of Art, African American Chamber of Commerce and the Citrus Club, the private business and social club located in downtown Orlando.

She previously served as: president of the Orlando Ballet; chairperson of the Florida Delegation for the Southeast U.S./Japan and the Southeast U.S./China Associations; chair of the Florida Arts Council, an appointment from Governor Jeb Bush; president and chairperson for United Arts of Central Florida; board president for the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community; board president for Arts for Complete Education; community board member for the Florida State Medical School; board member of the Health Care Center for the Homeless; member, 1,000 Friends of Florida; board member of the Central Florida Efficient Transportation for the Community (ETC) and president of Florida Executive Women. Pritchard was the only female member of the Citizen’s Oversight Committee for the Orlando Convention Center construction project. She sits on numerous conservation committees and was also appointed by Florida’s governor as a Seminole County Housing Authority commissioner.

In addition to her organizational leadership, Pritchard is also heavily involved in international trade missions, promoting business development for the state of Florida to global destinations such as Japan, China and South Korea.

Her sincere commitment to her local, regional and global communities has resulted in numerous honors, awards and recognitions. Among those, she was named one of Central Florida’s Women Who Mean Business, by the Orlando Business Journal and was awarded the Orlando Business Journal Women Who Mean Business Legacy Award. She was awarded the Heart for the Arts award from the Seminole County Council for the Arts. Her leadership awards include recognition for outstanding service from The National Conference for Community and Justice and the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community. Her dynamic personality and unending commitment have been recognized and honored globally. A global traveler, she has visited over 80 countries.

Pritchard is married to Dr. Peter Pritchard, a world-renowned expert in the study, research and preservation of turtles and founder of the regarded Chelonian Research Institute in Oviedo, Florida, who was also named one of Time magazine’s Heroes of the Planet. She manages board and executive affairs for the Institute.

In the corporate, governmental, cultural and civic communities locally, regionally and abroad, Sibille Pritchard is a highly regarded business figure whose dynamic personality and extensive influence continue to blaze a trail of success and noteworthy achievement.

John Bersia

John C. Bersia, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 2000, is a global educator and commentator.

He serves as Special Assistant to the President for Global Perspectives, as Director of the Global Perspectives Office and as a University Professor at the University of Central Florida. He is also the Executive Producer and host of the weekly “Global Perspectives Show” on WUCF‐TV/PBS, and writes on foreign affairs.

Bersia previously served as a Foreign‐Affairs Columnist for McClatchy‐Tribune Information Services and the Orlando Sentinel, as well as on the latter’s Editorial Board. He won the first Pulitzer Prize of the 21st century for the Sentinel, as well as for its parent organization, the Tribune Co.

Additionally, he is the recipient of the Walker Stone Award of the Scripps Howard Foundation, the first‐place “Green Eyeshade” editorials award of the Society of Professional Journalists, the annual Media Award for Editorial Excellence of The National Association of Consumer Advocates and other national awards.

Mike Clifford

For over 30 years, Mike's practice has emphasized tax law, estate planning and trust and estate administration. Mike has advised individuals, business owners and investors on income and estate tax planning, state and local taxation and inbound investment planning for foreign investors.

Mike has also represented individuals, businesses and estates in audits and disputes with tax authorities and has assisted clients with legislation affecting Florida tax matters.

Mike grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. He received his B.A. from Florida State University 1973. He attended the University of Florida College of Law and received his J.D. Degree in 1976. Mike has practiced law in Orlando, Florida continuously since 1976. He also received a Master of Laws in Taxation (LL.M.) from University of Florida in 1985.

Earl Crittenden

An Orlando native, Earl graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Journalism, and from Fordham University School of Law.

Prior to his law career, Earl lived in New York City for a number of years, where he wrote about politics and current affairs for magazines such as New York Magazine, Hamptons Magazine, George, Country, Manhattan File, and Palm Beach.

He is currently a contributing editor to Orange Appeal Magazine, which is based in Orlando.

He was also a frequent on‐air political contributor to CNN Financial News, an associate producer of CNBC's Straight Forward with Roger Ailes (Founder, "Fox News Channel"), a daily show that featured interviews with major newsmakers, and is a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. He is admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey, and Florida. He is also admitted to the federal bars for the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida, the Southern District of New York, and the District of New Jersey.

Meg Crofton

Meg Crofton serves as president, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, United States and France, and is responsible for providing strategic oversight of the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disneyland Resort in California and Disneyland Paris. 

Meg most recently served as the fourth president of the Walt Disney World Resort, overseeing a workforce of more than 66,000 Cast Members at the world’s premiere vacation destination. During her tenure as president, Meg oversaw the opening of New Fantasyland -- the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history, and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, which offers family suites. She helped create the vision for the transformation of Downtown Disney into “Disney Springs” – a multi-year project that represents the largest expansion in its history. Meg was also at the forefront of the Resort’s long-term focus on the next generation of the Guest experience, which led to the development of MyMagic+ and other initiatives.

Throughout her 32-year Disney career, Meg has held a wide range of executive positions in Hotel Operations, Convention Sales and Services, and Human Resources. She also played key leadership roles in the opening of both Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

During her time in Central Florida, Meg held several significant roles in the local community. She was appointed to the board of trustees at the University of Central Florida, served on the Florida Council of 100, a group that promotes statewide economic growth in Florida, and as chair of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. She also served on the boards of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, Orlando Health, Rollins College and the Executive Committee of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Under her leadership, Walt Disney World set new records for contributions to Heart of Florida United Way, and was a visible supporter of the new Amway Center, the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, Citrus Bowl, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida and Florida Hospital.

Meg continues to invest a great deal of her time in Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Cast Members, whom she refers to collectively as, “the heart and soul of our resorts and our Disney difference.” She has mentored and helped to develop thousands of Cast Members at all levels through her “One Leader’s Journey” and “Shaping Thinking” classes, as well as a ground-breaking series of in-depth safety discussions attended by more than 8,000 Walt Disney World leaders.

Meg attended Rollins College and earned both her bachelor’s degree in marketing and her MBA from Florida State University.

Michael Cushing

Mr. Michael J. Cushing serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Alere Property Group, LLC.

His primary responsibilities include strategic planning for the company along with securing new industrial acquisition and development opportunities. He is also responsible for the final approval of all major decisions including: acquisitions, developments, major leases, financing and major operating issues.

Prior to forming Alere, Mr. Cushing was an original founding member of IDI, with responsibility for overseeing the strategic planning, location, development and marketing of projects in IDI's Western Region.

Michael Dennis

Specialist in wetland delineation, permitting and mitigation; plant taxonomy and ecology; remote sensing and aerial photointerpretation; threatened and endangered (T&E) species; and wildlife evaluations.

President, Breedlove, Dennis & Associates, Inc. (BDA), Winter Park, Florida since 1997 and Principal, BDA, Winter Park, Florida since 1984.

Anil Deshpande

Mr. Deshpande is an entrepreneur and a real estate developer based in Orlando, Florida. He has 40 years of commercial, industrial and residential development and construction experience. From 1972 to 1983 he was involved in a wide range of commercial and industrial projects including hospitals, office buildings, hotels, institutional buildings, prisons and industrial plants. He served as a project manager of the Orlando International Airport, considered to be one of the finest airports in the World.

Presently Mr. Deshpande is involved in commercial projects in central Florida. He is also involved in real estate projects in India, mainly focused in Mumbai, Pune, Banglore, and Goa. Mr. Deshpande is a founding Board Member of Seaside National Bank and Trust based in Orlando. He also is a partner in two IT firms. He sits on the Board of several arts and philanthropic foundations both in the United States and India.

Alan Ginsburg

Over 45 years experience in all phases of commercial, industrial and residential real estate development, including both rehab and new construction.

Active in a wide range of professional, government and community organizations and activities (boards of directors, committees, advisory boards and various offices).

Active in the development, construction and financing of casino facilities in Michigan, Florida, Kansas, Washington, California, Montana, Canada, England, and Dominican Republic.

Eric Goode

Eric Goode began his career as an artist, educated at Parson’s School of Design, but it was his love of the natural world – specifically turtles, tortoises, and reptiles in general – that has driven many of the endeavors he has taken on in his life. Eric has extensive knowledge of the natural history of turtles and tortoises, both in captivity and in the field. At the age of thirteen he studied under the renowned herpetologist and UC Berkeley Professor Robert C. Stebbins. In the early 1970s, Eric was one of the founding members of the Bay Area Turtle & Tortoise Club.

Eric moved to New York City when he was 20 and opened the nightclub Area shortly after, which was his first of several clubs, restaurants, and hotels in New York. Area was known for its constantly changing themes and collaborations with upcoming artists of the time. One of the most memorable themes was “Natural History,” which featured live monitor lizards, armadillos, and parakeets, among a variety of other animal additions.

Eric continued his field work in the United States and abroad, exploring the deserts of the Southwest, Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil, Ecuador, India, Myanmar, Mauritius, Greece, Japan, Namibia and South Africa. During an expedition to Madagascar Eric participated in the IUCN Red List meeting to reevaluate the status of the endemic turtles and tortoises of the island nation, and again in 2010 he attended the Red List meeting in Brazil to evaluate the status of South American tortoises and freshwater turtles.

Eric has traveled into the field and collaborated with some of the world's most renowned turtle and tortoise biologists, and has personally bred over twenty species of turtles and tortoises in captivity.

The Behler Chelonian Center was officially founded in 2005 (as the Chelonian Conservation Center) when Eric transformed his property in southern California into a chelonian haven. The Center serves as an assurance colony for over 25 species of turtles and tortoises.

As the Turtle Conservancy has matured and expanded, Eric has focused his efforts on in situ conservation initiatives around the world, and has produced a series of documentaries on his experiences in the field. With two‐thirds of the world's turtles and tortoises threatened with extinction, Eric has made it his personal mission to do whatever he can to save the last remaining populations.

Eric has had an unorthodox career path, living parallel lives as an artist and filmmaker, a restaurateur and hotelier, and most importantly, a naturalist and conservationist.

William MacArthur

William H. MacArthur is currently President and owner of Brooksville Development Corporation in Orlando, Florida, which was established in 1982.

Brooksville, in partnership with various investors from overseas, develops real estate in the US and Southeast Asia for residential, tourist/commercial (including hospitality), and retail uses.

Since the late 1990’s he has been engaged in various social development activities (education, micro‐credit, women and children’s health issues, etc.) in the Philippines, Madagascar, various countries in East Africa, India, and Tibet. Since 2001, these activities have been conducted through The Brooksville Fund, Inc., a 501(c)(3) private operating foundation.

Dr. Kate Mansfield

Dr. Kate Mansfield is a marine scientist and sea turtle biologist. Her research focuses on sea turtle biology, ecology, behavior, management, and conservation. Using various census and telemetry methods, Dr. Mansfield’s research interests include sea turtle and other marine vertebrate movements, migration, and habitat utilization. Dr. Mansfield’s recent projects include testing and deploying small-scale, solar-powered satellite tags on young, oceanic stage sea turtles with the goal of describing early sea turtle dispersal and habitat use.

Dr. Mansfield’s lab and field sites include the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group’s (MTRG) long-term nesting beach and coastal juvenile research programs. The UCF MTRG has monitored beaches within and adjacent to the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge for many decades, focusing on the reproductive biology and population trends of Atlantic sea turtles. In addition to this beach program, MTRG’s in-water netting program has monitored coastal (neritic) juvenile sea turtles in the Indian River Lagoon for over three decades. Combining these programs with Dr. Mansfield’s oceanic juvenile tracking work, the MTRG provides a whole life history approach to understanding the biology, ecology, and conservation needs of Atlantic sea turtles.

Jim Pugh

As a graduate of the University of Florida, Mr. Pugh earned his B.S. Degree in building construction. Mr. Pugh was the founding president of Epoch Properties and serves as the Chief Executive Officer, Owner and Chairman. He has provided substantial business and civic leadership to the Orlando community and the State of Florida.

Mr. Pugh was an Airborne Ranger Infantry Company Commander in U.S. Army, Commander of Special Forces Unit.

Joanie Schirm

Joanie Schirm is an award‐winning writer, photographer, community activist, and retired Orlando, Florida businesswoman.

The daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Oswald Holzer, she grew up on a sandy barrier island on the Space Coast of Florida, a place where extraordinary memories are made and pelicans soar.

Before retiring, Joanie was the President of theOrlando‐based Geotechnical & Environmental Consultants Inc.

A sought after public speaker, she is internationally known for her highly successful leadership role in Orlando’s hosting of FIFA’s 1994 World Cup USA 1994.

She is the proud parent of two adult children, Kelly and Derick, and she lives in Orlando with her husband, Roger Neiswender.

Rick Walsh

Rick Walsh is Chairman and CEO of the Knob Hill Companies, which includes agriculture, investments, and a strategic business development firm. Prior to founding Knob Hill, Rick served as Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs of Darden Restaurants. Retiring from Darden in 2007, he was a founding member of the leadership team that took the company public in 1995 and also served as a member of Darden’s Executive Committee.

Rick currently serves on the boards of Seaside National Bank and Trust, Nemours, Blue Orb Software Inc., ABC Wine & Spirits, LSQ Holdings, ViewPost, Work Force Central Florida, OneBlood, the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation as well as several emerging companies’ boards. 

A past Chairman of the Florida State Chamber of Commerce, MD Anderson Cancer and Chairman Emeritus of the University Of Central Florida Board Of Trustees, he is also a former Board member of the National Employment Policy Institute; and the National Restaurant Association. He formerly served on the Governor’s Florida Tourism Council, the Governor’s Taskforce on Affordable Healthcare and Enterprise Florida.

Walsh has been recognized as Businessman of the Year by the Orlando Business Journal, one of Florida's 100 Most Influential by Florida Trend Magazine, one of the 25 Most Powerful People in Central Florida by the Orlando Sentinel, and one of the 50 Most Powerful People in Orlando by Orlando Magazine.

Bryce West

Bryce West is a regarded Central Florida philanthropist who has a significant presence in the local arts community. Bryce developed his passion for the arts while growing up in Los Angeles and living in Chicago. After relocating to Florida, he founded the Bryce L West Foundation, which assists a number of Orlando-area programs. Bryce is a very active figure in his local community and works in a variety of areas to make a notable difference.

Patricia Koval

Patricia Koval is a partner with Torys, a Canadian international business law firm with offices in Toronto, Calgary, New York, Montreal and Halifax.

Her practice focuses on representing public companies and investment banks on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and governance matters. Pat has extensive experience in planning, negotiating and implementing public and private market transactions for clients and advising senior management and boards of directors on legal and strategic matters. She acts for some of the firm’s most prominent public companies and has been involved in many of the firm’s most significant transactions. Pat regularly acts for issuers, financial advisers and potential acquirers in structuring acquisitions, dispositions and reorganizations, including takeover bids, arrangements, privately negotiated acquisitions and private transactions and has led a significant number of domestic and cross-border hostile and friendly public takeover bids as well as negotiated acquisitions. One of the most experienced REIT and real estate operating company (REOC) practitioners in Canada, she represented many Canadian, cross-border and international REIT issuers and their sponsors and managers, as well as investment dealers, in IPOs, public and private equity and debt financings. She regularly advises public companies on shareholder activism matters and is a frequent commentator on these issues with the media. She has acted for issuers or dissidents in shareholder activism matters, including those culminating in proxy contests for control. In addition, Pat is very experienced with public and private managed asset products, including ETFs, hedge funds, listed and mutual funds, and the myriad issues surrounding portfolio management.

Pat has been recognized by virtually every legal publication in North America. She is the recipient of the prestigious 2014 Arbor Award, awarded by the University of Toronto to those who have provided outstanding volunteer service, as a result of her work as a member of the University of Toronto’s Environmental Finance Advisory Committee, which engages with the business community to provide a forum for the exchange of innovative ideas in environmental finance, carbon and water finance and environmental risk management.

She is the immediate past chair of the World Wildlife Fund (Canada) Board of Directors; is a director and chair of the finance and governance committee of the Canada-India Business Council; a director and chair of the legal committee of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and a director the Living City Foundation and the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre in Canada.

Stuart Salenger

Stuart Salenger is head of the Stuart Salenger Foundation in Longboat Key, FL. He is noted as an avid orchid producer and for his work raising farm and exotic animals. A regarded philanthropist, Stuart supports various charitable causes, from the arts, to medicine, agriculture, science and more.