Hayley R. Adams, DVM, PhD, DACVPM, DACVM
Founder & Director of Operations
Dr. Adams has nearly 20 years of experience in wildlife veterinary medicine, conservation, and issues related to One Health in Africa. She has worked with a variety of domestic and wild animals, and has a particular interest in endangered species conservation and studying disease at the human/domestic animal/wildlife interface. Through her career in Africa, she recognized a fundamental link that was often missing in field work, that being the lack of sustainable supplies in order for veterinary and conservation operations to be successful. She created Silent Heroes in 2010 as a way of filling this niche. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Zoology/Anthropology, and went on to receive her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 2001. She completed a clinical internship in small animal and emergency medicine, and worked briefly in small animal private practice, before returning to her alma mater to work on her PhD in the veterinary sciences. In 2007 she received her PhD from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine’s Comparative Medicine Program, with a concentration in epidemiology and virology. Her PhD research focused on the molecular epidemiology and diagnosis of lentiviruses of free-ranging lions in southern Africa. She is a board certified Diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine (specialties of Environmental health, Infectious & parasitic diseases, Food safety, Epidemiology & biostatistics, & Public health administration & education) and the American College of Veterinary Microbiology (specialties include virology, bacteriology/mycology, & immunology). Dr. Adams teaches conservation medicine at the University of Florida where she holds status as an adjunct professor, and she is additionally an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
Innocent Rwego, BVM, MS, PhD
Assistant Director of Veterinary Operations
Dr. Innocent Rwego is a wildlife epidemiologist at Makerere University, Uganda. Dr. Rwego started his veterinary career as a domestic animal veterinarian for the Ugandan government. From there he went on to work for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, Inc., as a field veterinarian in Uganda where he worked for nearly 5 years. He holds a PhD from Makerere University. Currently he is a lecturer in the Zoology Department at Makerere University, as well as a Postdoctoral fellow at the Global Health Institute and Department of Environmental Studies of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
Marsh is an actor, TV host and entrepreneur he is best known for his shows; Extreme Chef on the Food Network and Perilous Journeys on the National Geographic Channel. He is producing a documentary film highlighting the link between global terrorism and endangered animal trafficking.
His childhood was spent split between Asia and the UK. This early introduction to global travel has stuck with Marsh in his current career. He’s lived on four continents, has a degree in medical physics, played rugby and worked in executive search. In 2015 he launched Golden State Distillery a handcrafted Californian spirits company. He lives in Redondo Beach with his wife, two daughters, and a dog named Dude.
Erika Wunch is a native of Southern California, a lifelong animal lover and conservationist. She travels the world to raise awareness and funds to help protect animals both underwater and on land. After working as an executive for Warner Bros. for over a decade, she made the decision to leave her respected studio position and become an independent film producer, pursuing her love of nature and focusing on projects that entertain and educate audiences about wildlife and the importance of conservation. Erika founded the Los Angeles based shark conservation group Dorsal Friends in 2007 with the goal of banning shark fins in California. She now serves on the board of Shark Allies, laying the groundwork to attain legislative goals with the use of media, educational programs, and enforcement to vanquish the use of shark fins globally. She currently resides in Los Angeles and is in development on several projects ranging from Jaguars in the Pantanal region of Brazil, to the rhino poaching crisis across Africa.
Dr. John Kioko was raised in Mbooni Hills (“Buffalo” Hills) in eastern Kenya. He holds a doctorate in Environmental studies from Moi University in Kenya and a Masters in Protected area Management from Greenwich University (UK). John devoted much of his early career years in Kenya doing research and work on elephants. He is credited to initiating various elephant conservation initiatives in southern Kenya. In 2010, he left Amboseli Elephant Research Project and joined the School for Field Studies in Tanzania. Where he now teaches and conducts research on wildlife, and has widely published in the area on w Kioko is as well involved in youth empowerments programs through a local NGO, CEF-Kenya. His broad knowledge of wildlife conservation and research in Africa will be a vital asset to SHF
Dr. Jana A. Pretorius, BVSc, MMedVet (Wildlife), Grad. Dipl. For. Sc) Specialist Wildlife Veterinarian
Dr. Pretorius qualified as a veterinarian in 1998 from Onderstepoort, University of Pretoria. Her work includes mass capture and individual capture as well as translocation of all wildlife species across South Africa including lion, tiger, cheetah, wild dog, rhino, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, roan, sable, klipspringer and all other antelope species, including airlifting species in difficult terrain. She was the first registered and practicing female veterinary wildlife specialist in South Africa, obtaining her MMedVet (Wildlife) degree in 2007. She also obtained a Graduate Diploma in Forensic Science from the University of Canberra in 2013. As her passion for rhinos became known through the industry, it was a natural progression for her to become deeply involved with issues related to rhino conservation. She is often involved with governmental and non-governmental organisations in an advisory capacity regarding this crisis.
Melissa Kennedy, DVM, PhD, DACVM
Dr. Melissa Kennedy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. She received her DVM in 1983, and went on to complete a PhD in 1991 in Comparative and Experimental Medicine, where her research focused on bovine viral diarrhea virus. She completed residency training in microbiology in 1992. She currently runs the clinical virology laboratory at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, and teaches virology, immunology, and infectious diseases to veterinary students. She is a Board certified Diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists, with subspecialty certification in Virology, Immunology, and Bacteriology/Mycology. She has conducted research on a number of carnivore diseases in Africa, including coronavirus in free-ranging cheetahs, and lentiviruses of African lions (along with Dr. Adams). Her current focus is on viral and tick-borne agents in domestic animals and wildlife of sub-Saharan Africa. She is the author to 40 publications, editor of two textbooks, and has authored several book chapters on microbiology and immunology.
Rachel Ralston Mancl
Rachel is an attorney based in east Tennessee. She is experienced in estate planning, corporate litigation, transactional law and bankruptcy. She received her Juris Doctorate and Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has received numerous awards, including the Tri-Cities Business Journal’s “Top Forty under 40” award in 2011. She is active in local community service, and holds member status with the American Heart Association’s 2012 and 2013 Circle of Red, as well as with the Leadership Kingsport Class of 2012. She generously serves on a number of Boards, including the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Division Board, the Board of Directors of the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians, the Board of Directors for Kingsport ARTS, as the East Tennessee Wills for Heroes Director, and as the FAME Representative on the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Lawyer’s Association for Women. She is a member of MENSA, a member of the Tri-Cities Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Kappa Sorority and a member of the Junior League of Kingsport, Tennessee.