On March 1st 2010, Bat Conservation International will welcome its new Executive Director, Nina Fascione. She succeeds Merlin Tuttle, who founded BCI in 1982 and built it into the world's foremost organization for bat conservation. I have known and admired Merlin for many years, and I am thrilled at this opportunity to help protect his legacy and build on it as Bat Conservation International expands into the future," Fascione said.
She currently is Vice President for Field Conservation Programs at Defenders of Wildlife in Washington, D.C. She joined the organization as a program associate in 1995 and rose quickly to leadership positions. A conservation professional for 24 years, Fascione brings a rich range of experience with wildlife, including bats, to her new role of leading BCI.
Fascione has worked in various aspects of bat-conservation education and outreach, and currently leads Defenders of Wildlife's work on White-nose Syndrome—a devastating epidemic that has killed an estimated million or more hibernating bats of six species in nine states. She was co-chair of the American Zoo and Aquarium's Bat Taxon Advisory Group in 1991-97, coordinating strategic planning and implementation of conservation and breeding programs for threatened bats.
Internationally, she was an advisor to such initiatives as a lion project in northern Kenya, a koala-conservation summit in Australia and zoo-research training in Taiwan. She co-founded the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program. She also worked with a coalition of groups to draft and seek congressional support for the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act to fund the conservation of 15 imperiled species.
"We are very excited about Nina's enthusiasm and her vast experience in the conservation of mammals and especially her interest in bats during her many years of service with Defenders of Wildlife," said John Mitchell, Chair of BCI's Board of Trustees.
When Merlin Tuttle founded BCI, many American bat species were endangered or declining in numbers severe enough to warrant concern. Today, bats are facing their greatest threats ever—White-nose Syndrome and wind turbines.
"Stepping back from BCI after all these years has been difficult, but Nina Fascione is an excellent choice to lead the organization into the future and I look forward to working with her," said Merlin. "I wish only the best for Nina and BCI in the years to come."