Meet Our Team
Officers and Board Members
The DIBS Board of Directors have the common goal of preserving critical migratory bird habitat on Dauphin Island, an important stopover location for a large number of neotropical migrants. The previous and current Directors bring a diverse range of skills and interests to the cause, including members who are environmental engineers, scientists, wildlife naturalists, conservation experts, educators, public relation experts, lawyers, business leaders, and birdwatchers. All have a love for and connection to Dauphin Island, striving for bird and wildlife biodiversity preservation through education and land conservation.
Ralph is a native of Mobile, Alabama and a 45-year resident of Dauphin Island. As a lifelong birder and naturalist, he understands the critical importance and the challenges involved in the preservation of Dauphin Island’s unique and stunning biodiversity. Ralph retired from the Alabama Marine Resources Division in 2009, after 34 years of service. His career encompassed a range of duties, from fisheries management and assessment, public outreach, and was instrumental in the development and implementation of Alabama’s highly-acclaimed artificial fishing reef program. Ralph has served on the executive board of DIBS since 2009 and became its president in 2012. He also served for many years as a board member of the South Alabama Land Trust (SALT), one of our primary partners in the conservation of Alabama’s coastal habitat. Ralph and his wife Cathy have been married for 41 years. They have two daughters, four amazing grandchildren as well as several grand-dogs. He enjoys fishing, gardening and eco-travel. Ralph is a proud U. S. Navy veteran, plays the guitar, is an avid scuba diver, and speaks French…albeit with a South Alabama accent.
Greg Harber resides in Birmingham and is employed in the UAB Microbiology Department as a Research Assistant. He has had a lifelong interest in birds from his childhood days in Fort Lauderdale, FL and currently serves on the board of directors of Alabama Audubon and the Alabama Ornithological Society. Greg has a long history of leading field trips and presenting talks in Alabama. In addition to birding, his other interests include cycling and photography. Greg has been a member of DIBS since 1996.
Vice President of Conservation
Andrew Haffenden is a naturalist and birder living on Dauphin Island, where his main interest is shorebirds. Originally from Australia, where he was a wildlife researcher, he has a small U.S.-based travel company that specializes in nature-based custom and small group tours to select world destinations, including Cuba. Andrew is well-known for his fascinating and informative bird walks. He is also a Board Member of the Alabama Ornithological Society.
Vice-President of Acquisitions
Jennie Stowers is a resident of Montgomery and Dauphin Island. As a retired Biology teacher of 30 years, her love of Dauphin Island, fascination with birds, and conservation of the natural environment are a natural extension of her career. Jennie believes the mission of DIBS is accomplished through outreach and educational programs that inform the broader community of the importance of Dauphin Island as a critical and unique wildlife habitat. Along with birdwatching, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, bike riding, and spending time with her cocker spaniels.
Betsy Eagar lives in Mobile and is retired after 40+ years teaching in the Mobile County Public School System. She previously served as DIBS Secretary and has been a Board Member for numerous years. She also volunteered with the Coastal Birding Association, a chapter of Alabama Ornithological Association. Betsy enjoys outdoor activities, including bird watching, gardening, hiking, and travel. In addition to acquiring skills for her evolving job as treasurer and money keeper, she serves as gatekeeper to the new DIBS website. All errors are hers and they can be corrected: email DIBS1295@gmail.com.
Bianca (BJ) Allen, a Birmingham resident, has been an avid birdwatcher since taking birding classes at UAB Special Studies in the 1980s. After retiring from BellSouth, she became the first paid employee of the Birmingham Audubon Society, and then served as President of the Alabama Ornithological Society. She shares her love of birds and Dauphin Island with everyone she meets.
Bianca "BJ" Allen
Rich Colberg is a full-time resident of Dauphin Island and serves on the Dauphin Island Town Council. He is a retired program manager and business owner. He joined the DIBS Board because it is the only organization focused on the conservation focused exclusively on preserving this “little piece of paradise,” which impacts the quality of life and local economy. He believes this is accomplished through the practice and promotion of conservation values and habitat protection for the long term.
John Dindo recently retired as a senior marine scientist and assistant director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab where he also led the Discovery Hall Program. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Alaska where he studied salmon, and a Master's degree from the University of Alabama/Birmingham focusing on mullet. He has a PhD in Marine Science from the University of Alabama/Birmingham and has been conducting avian research on colonial nesting birds in and around Dauphin Island for over 43 years. For many years he taught Ornithology classes to undergraduate students at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. He is currently working on grants to study Alabama coastal nesting species in Mobile Bay/Gaillard Island and the islands in Portersville Bay and Mississippi Sound including Lightening Point. John is involved in conservation issues serving on the boards of the Alabama Coastal Foundation and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Foundation. He and his wife Charlene split their time between their homes in Mobile and on Dauphin Island. Their sons live in Mobile and their two young grandchildren love spending time on Dauphin Island and in the water.
Walter Ernest is the Director of Operations Pelican Coast Conservancy in Mobile and is a resident of Fairhope. He has worked in the field of natural resource conservation for over 20 years, serving on local, regional, and national non-profit boards. He enjoys recreational fishing, nature photography, and spending time in the outdoors.
Cynthia Freeman lives full-time on Dauphin Island with her husband, Tim. She has an M.S. in Biology and a B.S. in Nutrition. She served our country as a U. S. Naval Officer working in Naval Hospitals as a Therapeutic Dietitian and served in the Naval Reserves as part of N.D.M.S. (National Disaster Medical Systems), a specialized team coordinating military and civilian disaster response. She taught Anatomy and Physiology for many at Gadsden State Community College, and then went on to teach Gross Anatomy Lab at UAB Medical School. Her interest in birding developed five years ago after meeting local birders on the island and taking a Coastal Birds course at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. She also has been involved with the Alabama Ornithological Society for four years. In addition to her commitment to conservation, she enjoys photography, running, cycling, paddle boarding, and spending time with her husband and their 8 grandchildren.
Meg Goecker is a resident of Dauphin Island and a Coastal Scientist for Moffat Nichols. She has a Masters in Marine Science from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. With 18 years of experience in applied and marine coastal ecology, Meg has worked with state, federal, and NGOs across the northern Gulf to develop and implement large scale oyster, marsh, and seagrass restoration projects, including Lightning Point and Graveline Bay. Meg has served on the boards of several Gulf Coast conservation groups and is a successful grant writer. Meg enjoys spending time with her two daughters, the white sand beaches of Dauphin Island, and boating.
Travis Hightower is a 19-year Yardmaster Clerk at the Terminal Railroad for the Alabama Port Authority and is a third-generation rail worker. Travis grew up in Mobile along the shores of the Mobile Delta. Travis and his wife Crystal, a fisheries scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, made the permanent move to Dauphin Island over three years ago, living in the woods on Infanta Street. Both musicians, they enjoy entertaining their family and friends on their wooded porch. He is passionate about island habitats and has been an avid supporter of DIBS. He would like to contribute to habitat conservation on the island, having seen many changes and damaging practices to island wetlands.
Brian Jones currently serves as the Curator at the Alabama Aquarium on Dauphin Island, where he has worked for the past 25 years. He enjoys the facility's focus on local habitats and the balance between informal education and animal care that the position demands. A life-long outdoors enthusiast originally from Louisiana, Brian received his B.S. in Biology from Spring Hill College, and his M.S. in Marine Science from the University of South Alabama. A full-time resident of Dauphin Island for 29 years, he is a member of the Dauphin Island Foundation, enjoying photography, fishing, birding, and hiking, along with his better-half Tessie.
Dena McKee moved to Dauphin Island seventeen years ago with her husband, Don McKee (longtime DIBS Board Member). She is heavily involved in the community, serving as Chairman of the Board of Adjustments and as a lifetime Board Member of the Dauphin Island Foundation. An active artist who has organized three different art festivals for many years, Dena also was instrumental in starting the local art gallery and Arts Council. In her “former” life, she worked in sales and service for State Farm Insurance for thirty-five years, and had earned a B.S. in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. Dena is committed to preserving the natural integrity and habitat on the island.
Don McKee retired as a State Farm Insurance Agent after 37 years in Pascagoula, MS. Most of his college years were spent at Mississippi State University but he holds a BS from Murray State University. While living in Mississippi, Don was actively involved in the Mississippi Coast Audubon Society where he served as president and on the Board of Directors. He also served on the Board of Audubon Mississippi and the Advisory Board for the Pascagoula River Audubon Center. Additionally, he served as the Southeast Director on the Board of Directors for the National Audubon Society. After visiting Dauphin Island for frequent birding trips, Don and his wife Dena made the island their home 17 years ago. Don became involved with DIBS and has served on the Board of Directors for many of those years. He has led many field trips in Alabama and Mississippi and has passed on his love of nature to his four children and four grandchildren. Don and Dena have a second home in Mentone, AL where they visit frequently.
Reese Partridge lives on Dauphin Island and in Jackson, Mississippi, where he is past president of the Jackson Audubon Society. He and his wife Louise are long-time birders. For more than 20 years, they have managed an Audubon Prothonotary Warbler conservation project on three sites in the Pearl River swamps, maintaining and monitoring nest boxes to increase PROW breeding opportunities. Reese is also a certified Master Naturalist. He is a retired Assistant Attorney General for the State of Mississippi, and also retired from the U.S. Navy (Reserve).
Paul Porter is a graduate of Auburn University and moved to the Lake Martin Alabama area in 1984 to join Russell Corporation as an industrial engineer and later VP of Operations. In 2006 Paul started the Benchmark Group Inc as a consulting firm primarily focused on project management and construction scheduling with healthcare and multi-family projects ranging across the United States. With his wife Dianna, they spend time between Dauphin Island and Lake Martin. Paul and Dianna have been active in church and non-profit work in the Lake Martin area. Paul has enjoyed life on Dauphin Island beginning in 1993 when his parents, John and Jackie Porter, moved to the island to pursue their passion for birding and conservation.
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Elberta Reid is a resident of Birmingham and a well-known birder and conservationist in Alabama. An active and honorary board member, she was a founding member of FODIAS, Friends of Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuary, which was formed so there would be a contract between National Audubon and DI Park and Beach Board. FODIAS evolved into DIBS. She believes that though we face many problems today, events have unfolded in a wonderful way if one views the world the way DIBS does. She is also active in numerous organizations including Alabama Audubon and the Alabama Ornithological Society.
Board Member, Emeritus
Linda Reynolds is a resident of Guntersville and Dauphin Island, and retired from Lake Guntersville State Park as the Resident Naturalist. The renowned Eagle Watch at the park was the brainchild of she and her husband Dick. She is Past President of the Alabama Ornithological Society and very active in North Alabama birding groups as a leader and guide. Community involvement and playing tennis also occupy her spare time.
Nancy Zeglen is a full-time resident of Dauphin Island. She was a pilot for United Airlines for 30 based at O'Hare International Airport and is now becoming adapted to the retired life. A long-time birder, she has been a wonderful volunteer for the birds. While living in Chicago, she volunteered through the Chicago Park district to monitor five Purple Martin towers with 70 gourds/nesting boxes. She has been a dedicated multi-faceted volunteer for DIBS since she became a resident. Nancy is a Director-at-Large on the Dauphin Island Foundation Board and a member of the Dauphin Island Board of Adjustments. She is dedicated to preserving habitat and the quality of life for bird and wildlife populations on Dauphin Island.