Helena Kriel was born in Johannesburg, South Africa.
As a child, all holidays were spent in the bush, and she developed a deep respect for animals and nature.
As an adult, she worked successfully in television, theater and film in South Africa before going to Los Angeles. She won a Steven Spielberg award and became a working screenwriter, for the Hollywood studios and independent producers with two produced movies to her credit. She mentors screenwriters in the Spalding University MFA program.
When in Los Angeles she works in the baby unit at the California Wildlife Center, taking care of a variety of baby birds and animals.
She founded her first non-profit Walk for the Underdog – which raised money for abused and homeless dogs. In the six years she ran the organization, awareness for the plight of dogs, as well as awareness and money was raised. Dogs were adopted at an annual fundraiser that brought thousands of people together.
Her heart has always been with the African bush and its animals. After working with rhinos she founded Baby Rhino Rescue, an international organization dedicated to raising money for orphaned rhinos, and bringing an international awareness to the crisis the rhino now faces. The organization is inclusive, inviting people to be part of “The Crash” and working together to save rhinos from extinction.
David Walker, founding member
A passion for nature and respect for all wild creatures are the common threads linking the multiple phases of David Walker’s personal and professional life, which included: a career as an award-winning journalist, writer and editor, media relations consultant, a non-profit association manager and director, Peace Corps Volunteer and environmentalist. This father of two sons is deeply committed to preserving ecosystems and saving from extinction the planet’s iconic species, including Rhinos.
Rene Breier, founding member
South Africa, Oregon
Rene Breier grew up in Johannesburg South Africa where from a very early became connected to nature. As a child, she frequently visited Kruger National Park further augmenting her love of animals. She currently lives in
Portland, Oregon and is trained as a Master Gardener, an expert of biodiversity and plant management. She works with gardeners to bring biodiversity to their gardens and is passionate about educating the public one
gardener at a time.
In Rene’s view each individual can make a significant contribution to the well-being of the planet. She also works at the Portland Audubon’s Backyard Habitat program, certifying backyards as appropriate for attracting wildlife in a pesticide free environment that is devoid of invasive plants. She educates herself with courses in wildlife management and volunteers with Portland Audubon’s Wildlife Care Center.
Rene holds a Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of Arts, and a Masters’ and Ph.D in English literature. She is deeply committed to Baby Rhino Rescue’s cause to save the rhino from extinction.
Elli Kriel, youth program leader
South Africa, Dubai
Elli is a sociologist who currently teaches in the Middle East. Her research interests focus on various social issues facing South African society. She is also the mother of three very environmentally engaged children who are dedicated to supporting endangered species. Elli loves working with young people in education and is applying her knowledge and experiences toward preparing the youth for a future world they will lead.
Jordan Sadler is a designer and artist from the United States who is currently living in Vietnam. He has always looked to connect the dots between the creative arts and positive social change. After the success of a small pangolin art campaign, he was inspired to start an endangered animal series, which then lead into his fascination of rhinos. He believes each animal carries their own wisdom to share with this world and if we don't do something to protect them and hear their message, we will all be living in the dark. Since then, he has been searching for more ways that can art can shine light into our hearts and connect with others seeking to do the same
Cooper Warner, JD
A Rhode Island native and Oregon transplant, Cooper received her Juris Doctor from Lewis & Clark Law School with a certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. She received her Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and Technology from the University of Rhode Island. During her third year at Lewis & Clark, Cooper wrote her thesis on synthetic wildlife products. Her paper explores the intersection of existing U.S. wildlife laws and regulations and this cutting edge science, using synthetic rhinoceros horn as a case study to understand the broader implications of synthetic wildlife products on wildlife trade.
For as long as she can remember, Cooper's compassion and deep love for animals has influenced every ambition and decision. She is driven, both personally and professionally, to provide a voice for the voiceless by protecting and promoting the welfare of vulnerable species.
Cooper most enjoys hiking in the Pacific Northwest, her vinyasa yoga practice, and taking nature and wildlife photographs.
Dana Connors, Educator
Dana is an elementary school teacher currently living in Switzerland with her husband and dog, Bart. She is an animal lover and had always wanted to visit Africa. She was lucky enough to visit South Africa and Swaziland in 2016. She spent two days camping in Kruger National Park and was most excited to see the rhino. During her last day in the park, as she was leaving, she saw seventeen rhinos!! This moment rekindled her love for them (unfortunately she was too awestruck by the rhinos that she didn’t snap a picture of them, but did manage to take a picture with an elephant). The game driver exclaimed that seeing that many rhinos in one place was very lucky. It is Dana's hope that future generations will also be this lucky to see this many majestic rhinos in the wild.
Dana has been teaching for the past 10 years and truly believes that children are our warriors in this battle against extinction. She hopes to share resources and activities with teachers and students all over the world, so that they have the tools and information they need to make a difference in our future.
Kenesias ‘Kenny’ Dambakurima, Youth Outreach, South Africa.
South Africa, Zimbabwe
Kenesias Dambakurima was born in Zimbabwe, presently living in Cape Town, South Africa. He's the founder of the Voices for African Wildlife Campaign, an educational program which he developed for children living in underprivileged communities. Kenesias gained his love of nature and animals from a young age. This association with nature was further cemented during his boy scout years. Boy scouts are taught to respect animals and all living creatures. Kenesias believes that, it is wise to impart knowledge to children on the importance of protecting and conserving Africa's wild animals while they are young as well as encouraging responsible citizenry.
THANKS TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS
Sally Shorkend, founding member
Sally has photographed some of South Africa’s most important artistic, historical and political figures including Winnie Mandela, William Kentridge, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. Photographing the magnificent baby rhinos at Care for Wild Africa was an extraordinary experience for her.
Jami Powell, founding member
Jami is a writer and web designer.
She grew up surrounded by animals and quiet wooded landscapes, so she jumps at any chance to serve in the cause of nature and animal protection.
Lei'La' Bryant, Crash Leader and Youth Program Coordinator USA
A lifelong lover of nature, Lei’La’ considers respect for all the beautiful creatures on this earth as a primary goal for humanity. The author and educator believes that in nature, we can find infinite inspiration for our imaginative endeavors, and in our imaginations, we can find as many solutions to protect and preserve the natural world around us. She particularly believes in the power of children to guide our world into a more wondrous place, and she loves to inspire and be inspired by the amazing young minds she meets along her journey.