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
Having grown up in Johannesburg, South Africa, Rene became intimately connected to nature from an early age. Frequent visits to the Kruger National Park cemented her love for Africa’s wildlife. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon where she is actively involved in a number of environmental issues, most particularly through the Master Gardener program and as a volunteer with Portland Audubon’s Backyard Habitat program. She has also volunteered in the Wildlife Care Center and completed courses in wildlife care. She worked with Helena Kriel to develop Walk for the Underdog in Los Angeles, She calls on everyone to make a difference. Rene holds several degrees including a Ph.D in English literature. She is devoted to Baby Rhino Rescue’s mission 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.
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.
Matthew J. Donnelly
Vice President, Security & Solutions at FreedomPay, Inc.
Matthew Donnelly is the Vice President of Security & Solutions at FreedomPay and has been with the company since 2012, driving security enhancements and new product development for FreedomPay’s portfolio of PCI-validated payment solutions. As FreedomPay’s security and compliance expert, Mr. Donnelly spearheaded North America’s first PCI validation process for FreedomPay’s P2PE solution with support for EMV and NFC technologies. He provides FreedomPay‘s partners and clients with compliance and security expertise to ensure their environments adhere to the PCI Councils’ strictest compliance requirements. Matthew engages with the FreedomPay executive team as an innovative thought leader on future product and security initiatives, and guides partners and clients through solution advisement across all payment industry channels and verticals.
Matthew received his Masters of Science in Computer Information Systems, with a concentration in IT Security, from Boston University and his Bachelors of Arts from Albright College.
The FreedomPay Commerce Platform is the best way for merchants to simplify complex payment environments. FreedomPay is driving the future of commerce and customer interaction.
Carla is a native New Englander who currently manages an organic farm stand. She holds a BS in Biology and an MS in Zoology and has been passionate about wildlife conservation her entire adult life. In Nov 2016, she volunteered at CFW and was lucky enough to be the “mom” to Jemu, a female orphan whose soulful eyes stole Carla’s heart.
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.
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