Meet Our Officers





Erik Thomas

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Erik Thomas has been a member of the Wake Audubon board since 2008. He is a professor at North Carolina State University, where he teaches and conducts research in linguistics. He has been a birder since age 6 and birding remains his main hobby, though he also enjoys amateur botanizing and reading a variety of topics in natural science and history.

Jeff Beane
Vice President
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Jeff has served on Wake Audubon’s board since 1995, and as Vice-President since 1996. He is Herpetology Collections Manager at the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, where he has been employed since 1985. A native of Asheboro, Jeff has had a life-long interest in all aspects of natural history, ecology, and conservation, and has published many popular and scientific articles on natural history in the Southeast. He is also active in several other organizations, including the North Carolina Herpetological Society, North Carolina Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, and the Sandhills Natural History Society.

Petie Szabo

Petie Szabo was active in the Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society on Long Island for many years prior to retiring from teaching and moving to Raleigh. She really appreciates the variety of activities and the high quality of the presentations in the monthly meetings that Wake Audubon offers to the public.

John Gerwin
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John serves as Research Scientist and Curator of Birds at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, where he has worked for 25 years. He does research on several bird species in North Carolina, South Carolina and Nicaragua. He enjoys giving public programs to widely diverse audiences, from 2nd graders to senior citizens. He loves to garden for and photograph butterflies. He speaks fluent Spanish.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_1497-965x1024.jpgColleen Bockhahn
Immediate Past President
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Colleen works for Wake County Parks, Recreation, and Open Space as the Assistant Park Manager of Programs at Lake Crabtree County Park.  Her work includes creating and presenting environmental education programs and events for all ages and managing invasive species and other natural resource issues.  Her two favorite things in life are travel and nature, and she enjoys hiking, birding, camping and nature exploration.



Meet The Board

Mary Abrams

Mary is a retired Soldier and lifelong backyard birder. She joined the Wake Audubon Society to learn more about birds and to help protect them and the environment. Mary currently chairs the Advocacy Committee. She enjoys volunteering and outdoor activities at the great parks and greenways in the area.

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Phillip Doerr

Phillip is a retired NCSU Fisheries/Wildlife/Conservation Biology faculty member and for 34 years was an undergrad advisor, graduate student mentor, and faculty advisor to the Leopold Wildlife Club and Wildlife Society Student Chapter. He taught numerous grad and undergrad wildlife courses over the years and conducted wildlife populations research with grad students, and post docs on critters including bluebirds, alligators, spotted skunks, black bears, white-tailed deer, gray fox, northern bobwhite, American woodcock, osprey, northern goshawks, ruffed grouse and red-cockaded woodpeckers (whew!). He is an avid birder, hunter, and fisher and spends as much time outdoors as possible often in remote corners of the planet (esp since retiring). As a teacher his greatest pleasure was always sharing his wonder about wild things, and about how living natural systems work, and that desire continues, particularly with informing people of the conservation challenges facing us today.


Mary Frazer

Mary is a biologist for Three Oaks Engineering where she conducts surveys for endangered plants and flying critters, but they are the furry kind, not the feathered kind.  She likes to grow native plants and edible plants, both of which are enjoyed by the local deer a great deal.  She is co-chair of the NC Bat Working Group.


Ernie Hahn

Ernie is a stream mapper for the NC Department of Environmental Quality.  He loves being outdoors and participating in various citizen science projects including the Volunteer Stream Monitoring program for the City of Raleigh and the Neighborhood Box Turtle Watch and Nest Watch programs for the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.  On rare occasions, one can hear him play his violin.

Rick LaRose

Rick LaRose

As a long-time certified habitat steward with the National Wildlife Federation, Rick has a passion for Audubon’s Plants for Birds program and cultivating native habitat that sustains our local biodiversity. Rick’s career spans research, facilitation, branding and marketing, the combination of which he applies in his role on the board. A past president of our chapter, Rick’s focus this year is on environmental education among grade school students through National Audubon’s Audubon Adventures offerings, and building awareness about our chapter in our community.

Alexia Maneschi

Alexia is a clinical psychologist who works for the non-profit organization Easter Seals UCP. She enjoys volunteering, backyard birding and gardening. She is especially excited to combine all of these interests in Audubon’s bird-friendly native gardening initiative and encouraging others to grow more native plants.


Bob Oberfelder

Bob has been actively birding (off and on) for about 30 years and he joined the Board at the beginning of  2013. He enjoys the challenge of birding and nature photography, and he moderates our Photo Gallery.

Gráinne O’Grady

Gráinne’s interest in birds started 6 years ago when she was given a opportunity to learn how to band songbirds and Northern Saw-whet owls in Massachusetts. She is currently in school to pursue a degree in Conservation Biology. She enjoys volunteering with John Gerwin and his crew on various research projects, and fiddling around with GIS. In her free time she enjoys sketching, painting, photography and hiking.

Lori White

Lori is relatively new to birding and is enjoying learning about, finding, photographing, and painting birds. She recently left a career as an environmental scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. She is now reveling in her second career as an artist painting landscapes, still lifes, and, of course, birds. Lori enjoys reading, movies, hiking, casual biking, and her three amazing grandchildren.

Board meetings

Board meetings are open to all. The board meets the first Tuesday of every month at 6:30 pm at the Prairie Ridge Research Laboratory at 1671 Gold Star Dr, Raleigh. Check with one of the officers before coming to confirm the day and location as they occasionally have to be changed.

Other VIPs

Erla Beegle
Meetup Group Organizer

Sue Buechle
Newsletter Layout

Mary Abrams
Volunteer Coordinator

Megan Demers-Schaefer

John Gerwin
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Young Naturalists

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat