Meet the Team
Catherine Sevcenko - Director
Lara Kazo - Wildlife Specialist
Meg Gisonda Mendelssohn - Environmental Educator
Alison Meredith - Intern Supervisor
Alison is an undergraduate student at George Mason University majoring in biology with a concentration in conservation. Alison plans to apply to the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation in the Spring of 2022 to study endangered species. In the future, she hopes to be involved in wildlife research and become a zookeeper or exotic animals caretaker (preferably with endangered species). If Alison furthers her education, she hopes to get her Masters in a wildlife-related field and even become a certified vet tech. Alison has been captivated by animals since her childhood and she has found her time at Diva Crows to be an incredible learning experience. Alison’s favorite bird is Woodpeckers but specifically the Red Belly Woodpeckers because they were her first experience with those birds and they “hold a special place” in her heart.
Melissa Pineda-Perez - Education Program Coordinator
Melissa Pineda-Perez is an undergraduate at Virginia Tech double majoring in Animal and Poultry Science and Biological Science. Melissa started interning at Diva Crows last summer and she absolutely loved it, so she returned for this summer. Melissa plans to apply to veterinary school and become a small animal veterinarian. After veterinary school, Melissa plans on becoming board certified in avian practice. Melissa’s favorite bird is the Downy Woodpecker because woodpeckers remind her of her pet parakeets, which are so full of personality.
Jess Roberts- PhD ResearcherJess Roberts is a PhD candidate in Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University. Jess studies the use of behavior based management in endangered species reintroduction programs. Jess previously did an internship with the Wildlife Center of Virginia in 2013 and found out she loved it. She then got a job as a zookeeper with the Aviary department breeding endangered species from 2014-2016. Jess learned through both of these jobs that we don’t know a lot about what happens to these animals when they get released or what prepares them so Jess decided to go back to school and study this. She believes rehabbing birds is a perfect way to test behavior methods like anti-predator training on animals raised in captivity. In the future, Jess hopes to work with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute rearing endangered species and researching the best methods to aid their survival in the wild. Jess also loves to teach and would like to create professional courses for other reintroduction specialists. Jess’s favorite birds are Parrots and Bird of Prey, but her all time favorite is the King Vulture.
Ben Selby- Wildlife Rehabilitation InternBen Selby is a recent graduate from Christopher Newport University, he majored in Organismal Biology and minored in Chemistry. Ben originally wanted to be a vet, but in college he got to work at the Virginia Living Museum and he enjoyed working with endangered species so much he decided to focus on that. In the future he hopes to work with wildlife including endangered species and ecological services. When asked what his favorite bird is, Ben said Crows but also added, “I don’t think you can have one favorite bird.”
Ali DiZinno- Wildlife Rehabilitation Intern
Ali Dizinno is a rising senior at Eckerd College studying biology with an ecology concentration and minoring in environmental studies. In January of 2021, she took a field ornithology class and fell in love with birds. Ali is also doing a research internship at the State Arboretum where she’s studying bird breeding cycles, parasitic egg rejection behavior, and nesting patterns between birds in competition with one another. In the future Ali hopes to work in wildlife conservation, and her favorite bird is the Eastern Phoebe!
Melissa Rodriguez- Wildlife Rehabilitation InternMelissa Rodriguez is a recent graduate from George Mason University with a degree in Biology. Originally Melissa wanted to be a small animal vet but once she took a class on animal conservation and animal behavior, she knew she wanted to work with wildlife. In the future she hopes to do something in conservation of wildlife, and when asked what her favorite bird was, she said Crows.
Alyssa Leite- Wildlife Rehabilitation Intern
Alyssa Leite is an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech studying Animal and Poultry Science. Alyssa got interested in working with birds after working on a research project and taking a couple classes related to them. Alyssa enjoys working at Diva Crows so that she can continue learning and working with birds. In the future she hopes to be a veterinarian and plans on applying to vet school. Alyssa’s favorite bird is the Cedar Waxwing we got to release back into its habitat.