Our People

Staff

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Scott Lange

Executive Director
Scott served on AWARE's Board of Directors from 2014 until he stepped into the role of Executive Director at the start of 2017. Before joining AWARE, he worked as both a structural engineer for Southern Company and a construction litigation attorney for DLA Piper, LLP.

Scott is a lifelong Atlantan, and says he is delighted to get the chance to help AWARE protect Atlanta's wild animals.

When not at the AWARE center, Scott enjoys listening to the music of They Might Be Giants, rooting for the 1907, 1908, and 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs, and caring for his and his wife Nan's cats: Bean, Foster, Xander, and Wilson.
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Marjan Ghadrdan

Director of Animal Care
Marjan began volunteering at AWARE in 2005, before the center had even opened to the public. She was trained as a rehabber by AWARE’s founder, Michael Ellis, until she was hired as a Wildlife Care Supervisor in 2010. In 2017 she was promoted to Director of Animal Care, a position in which she manages all aspects of AWARE's animal care efforts, including rehabilitation, ambassador handling, volunteer management, non-releasable placement, and a variety of side projects. Marjan received her B.S. in Biology from Kennesaw State University in 2009 and M.S. in Neuroscience at Georgia State University in 2015. She is also on track to become a licensed veterinary technician in 2018. Marjan has worked with native, domestic, exotic, and research animals in veterinary hospitals, zoos, and rehabilitation centers all over Georgia. She currently serves as the Certification Director for the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. Perhaps most importantly, Marjan will never forget her beloved pit bull, Little Mama.
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Marielle Kromis

Wildlife Care Supervisor II
Marielle began volunteering at AWARE in 2014 and was hired as a Wildlife Care Supervisor in 2015. That same year, she graduated from Kennesaw State University with a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science.

In 2008, Marielle was a member of the Ocean Blue Education Reef Check team. At home, Marielle spends time with her Border Collie mix, Shanti.
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Sami Netherton

Wildlife Care Supervisor II
Sami has had a lifelong drive to better the lives of animals. This passion influenced her path through school where she received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Georgia in 2016. She began volunteering at AWARE, where she found herself moved by the connection between rehabilitating wild animals and limiting the effects of human impact on the earth. She joined the staff in 2017, and continues her work with AWARE's Creepy Crawlies that she began as a volunteer. In Sami's free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors and enjoying nature, while also making connections with other people.
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Alex Copeland

Wildlife Care Supervisor I
Alex began volunteering at AWARE in the summer of 2018 and was hired as a Wildlife Care Supervisor in the fall of 2019. Prior to joining AWARE, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, with a concentration in Marine Science and a minor in Chemistry. She also has ten years of experience as a professional dog groomer. When not saving wildlife at AWARE, Alex likes to hike, read, and spend time with her partner, Sarah, their three cats, Ion, Watson, and Frida, and their dog, Barnaby.
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Alex Horton

Wildlife Care Supervisor I
Alex volunteered with AWARE for two years before joining the animal care staff in the early days of the covid pandemic.

Before being hired at AWARE, he was an EMT and provided emergency care to human patients in need. He has two dogs, Oscar and Mya, and a turtle, Tater Tot. In his free time, he enjoys the outdoors, particularly hiking and mountain biking.
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Nicole Kolesar

Wildlife Care Supervisor Trainee
Nicole received an Associate’s Degree in Psychology in 2017 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology in 2021, both from Georgia State University. She is pursuing a Master’s of Science in Integrative Biology. Nicole began volunteering at AWARE in 2018 and was hired as a Wildlife Care Supervisor in July of 2021. When not at work Nicole enjoys hanging out with friends, visiting her parents in North Carolina and taking care of her beagle/lab mix named Ricky.

Board of Directors

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Jessica Dunne

Chair
Jessica is the Director of Content Production, Image+Sound, at CNN. She joined AWARE as a volunteer in 2015 before joining the board in 2018 She helped create AWARE's pollinator garden and loves discussing Georgia's native wildlife and plants. While she loves all of the wildlife at AWARE, you can often see her with their opossum ambassador. She also serves as the social media chair for the Monarchs Across Georgia steering committee.
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Larisa Epshteyn

Vice Chair
Larisa served AWARE as an animal care volunteer for over three years, dedicating time every weekend to feed, medicate, and clean up after the animals. In 2017, she transitioned to the Board of Directors, where she has served as Secretary and Chair in addition to her current role. In her professional life, Larisa is a Talent and Operations Leade with Elev8 Hire Solutions, and has previously worked for Creative Financial Partners, Owners.com (a division of Altisource Portfolio Solutions), and Emory University. In her free time, you may find Larisa watching a meteor shower with her husband, spoiling her dog Valentine or her cat Iumaktui, cheering on the Chicago Bears, or chasing a wild goose on the side of GA-400.
Brent Howard

Brent Howard

Treasurer
Brent is an Atlanta native who practices trusts and estates law at Harrison & Held, LLP. Brent lives in the Virginia Highlands area with his wife and two rescue dogs. When not working in the office or for AWARE, he enjoys tennis, yoga, sailing and family walks through Atlanta’s parks and neighborhoods.
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Erika Whitworth

Secretary
Erika has served on AWARE's Board of Directors since 2021. She worked in sales roles for almost 20 years before spending the last five years in the technology world. Erika is originally from California. She and her husband, Mike, are proud parents to 5 amazing sons and love taking in live music around Atlanta. When she isn't chasing fun with her family, you can find her in her craft room making anything from T-shirts to party decorations.
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Julie Singh

Julie's career spans retail, consumer product goods and e-commerce companies, with experience working in Finance, Operations and Merchandising. She founded TripOutside.com with her husband in 2018 to help people find human powered, eco-friendly adventures and explore the outdoors responsibly. Julie is passionate about wildlife, conservation, and outdoor adventures. She has been on the board of Aware since 2015 and previously served as Treasurer. She spends her free time traveling in an RV with her husband, cat Juke, and dog Alpha, finding the best places to mountain bike, hike, paddle board and snowboard.
Carole Loftin

Carole Loftin

Carole graduated from Davidson College and was a banker in her hometown of Dallas, Texas prior to attending the University of Texas School of Law. She practiced law at a major Atlanta firm before moving in-house with a client of her firm. She thereafter worked at several Atlanta-area companies before moving to Delta Air Lines in 2006 to join the International Legal Team. She retired from Delta Air Lines after 14 years. In 2015, Carole accepted a pro bono legal matter assisting AWARE, and after visiting the AWARE facility, she became a supporter and later, joined the board. Carole loves animals, traveling, gardening and reading.
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Christopher Dunlap

Chris came to AWARE as a volunteer in 2012 while working on a degree in Environmental Science. After 6 years of volunteering, Chris joined the board of directors in 2018 where he continues to fulfill a pledge to help wild animals today. When Chris is not working for wildlife, he spends his time taking care of his family and traveling as an adventure athlete.
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Dr. Maria Crane

Maria is a licensed veterinarian and the Assistant Director of the Yerkes Primate Center. She joined the board of AWARE in 2017 and has worked to improve the lives of animals in that role ever since.

Supporters

Special Thanks to Our Major Contributors


Founders Circle

    • Marianne Halle Animal Support Foundation
    • Martin Freedland

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Friends of Wildlife

    • William J. Burns Foundation
    • Bryans Family Foundation
    • Roy & Janet Dorsey Foundation
    • Endang & Tom Handzel
    • Jane Jaskevich
    • Michael McMenamin
    • Linda & Gordon Potter
    • Wes & Ida Weiner Foundation
    • Anonymous