The ABMA has annual elections for various board positions.  Our nomination process starts in the fall and voting occurs in the spring.  If you have any questions about our election process, please contact the Nominations and Elections chair, Tricia Dees, at ttutricia@yahoo.com 


The board of directors is pleased to present the following candidates for election for the term of 2019-2021.  Please review the bios of each candidate (coming soon).  An election ballot will be emailed to voting members in the early Spring to approve or deny the slate of candidates.

Tricia Dees

Tricia Dees has been working for animals for more than 25 years.  She began volunteering at the Texas State Aquarium when she was twelve years old and has been working with zoos, aquariums, and wildlife rescue centers ever since.  While earning a degree in zoology from Texas Tech University, she interned at the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and Keahou Bird Conservation Center in Volcano, Hawaii.  After graduating, she began her career at SeaWorld San Antonio working with sharks, penguins, and cetaceans, to name a few.  During this time she began actively working in conservation education while being an ambassador for the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, the company’s non-profit arm.  She also has worked to improve animal care for corporate pet supply companies.  She is a published author on articles on everything from seizure detection training in canines to sea lion enrichment.  She is a proud graduate of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (www.wildlifedeaders.org) Class 4, an attendee at the Rhino Conservation Symposium held in June, and serves as past president of the Animal Behavior Management Alliance (www.theabma.org).  In her spare time, she has volunteered for Bat Conservation International, Ewaso Lions, and the Texas Tech Alumni Association.


Lizzie Durkin

Elizabeth graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Animal Biology from Nottingham Trent University. Her passion for animal behaviour and training has shaped her career, from her first job involving applying enrichment and training to the pet shop environment, and presenting on this at the ABMA conference in 2016 and 2017. Elizabeth gained her first zoo keeping position at Edinburgh Zoo in 2016, presenting on the UK's only Giant Pandas and assisting with the animal demonstrations. She continued with her passion for a role with presenting, husbandry and training aspects, and joined the Displays team at Colchester Zoo in 2017, working alongside birds of prey, parrots and mammals in a demonstration setting. She gained the CPAT-KA certification in November 2018. Her aim is to continue to progress animal welfare and training through inspiring others, while educating and connecting the public with animals and conservation efforts. Elizabeth’s motivation for her continued efforts to progress animal training and welfare stems from attending conferences and courses, including the ABMA.


Kelly Elkins

Kelly has been at the San Diego Zoo for 13 years and is part of the Animal Connections department.  She is a lead trainer for the Animals in Action area, where she has the pleasure of working with animal ambassadors and connecting the public to wildlife on a daily basis.

Kelly became involved with the ABMA at the Oakland conference, becoming the chair of the Site Selection committee.  She has remained involved as the Site Selection Chair, as well as serving two terms as Vice President.  She helped to plan the 2017 Cincinnati conference and is currently planning the 2019 Portland conference.  She has a passion for ABMA and would like to continue to serve, as president.  This organization is growing and evolving, and Kelly is excited to be part of that future.


Thad Lacinak

Founder and Principal, Precision Behavior

Thad brings more than 40 years of executive management and pioneering accomplishments to the field of behavior modification. He specializes in positive reinforcement application for animal facilities, school systems, parents and corporations worldwide.

A staunch proponent of excellence in zoological facilities, Thad is frequently sought by the media for his expert opinion on a variety of animal-related issues. He has debated several outspoken animal extremists on shows such as Larry King Live, PBS radio, The Kelly File, and many others. In 2016, he produced and hosted the documentary, Elephant Trainer in the Room, exploring the two polarized approaches to teaching elephants in human care.
In 2008, Thad retired from a 35 year career at Busch Entertainment Corporation as Vice President and Corporate Curator of Animal Training for all U.S. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks. He was instrumental in developing their industry-leading techniques, husbandry procedures, the original concept for Discovery Cove and the spectacular killer whale shows, one of which received the prestigious THEA Award.
Lacinak is a member of the International Marine Animal Trainers Association where he served as Vice President and he was a founder and President of the Animal Behavior Management Alliance.

Thad’s 2001 New York Times' bestseller, Whale Done! sold over a million copies in eighteen languages. Whale Done Parenting was released in the Fall of 2009 and The Whale Done School was released in the Spring of 2012.


Missy Lamar

Missy Lamar

Missy Lamar is currently a Zoological Manager at Disney's Animal Kingdom's Conservation Station. She helps to manage the team who works with the Ambassador Animal collection consisting of mammals and birds. After graduating from Moorpark College's Exotic Animal Training & Management program in 2001 she went directly in the animal ambassador field and has had experiences that fulfilled most of her childhood dreams. This has included working with large carnivores, flying birds, walking alligators, and even learning to love cockroaches. Only the Hissing type from Madagascar because they help to make the trees that the lemurs live in! With 20 years of experience at private non-profit and AZA accredited facilities she has been able to build a network of experienced individuals who continue to be open to collaboration to share knowledge and improve our industry. This network has been made even larger by her involvement with ABMA since 2001. She is currently the Education Committee Chairperson and has held multiple board positions, including Vice President for the 2018 San Antonio Conference. She is extremely excited to help ABMA continue to grow internationally by being the Vice President for the 2020 conference and supporting the Conference Committee to create an unforgettable experience for our delegates. If you're ever visiting Orlando, feel free to contact her to say hello!


Clint Lusardi

Clint graduated from Moorpark College’s, Exotic Animal Training and Management program back in the early 90’s. Clint volunteered in the TV & Movie Industry and worked in the dog training industry for a few years. Canine Training wise Clint worked on everything from basic obedience to search and recovery, as well as both private and police protection training. Clint then got back in to the exotic animal industry when he got employment from Marine World Africa USA. As this facility changed owner ship Clint also changed departments starting with tigers and lions, moving the dolphins at the Research Department, and finally to the Killer Whale and Dolphin Show. Clint then moved down to San Diego Sea World where he worked in both the Shamu Stadium and the Bird Show. Finally, Clint received employment at San Diego Zoo as a part-time seasonal Children’s Zookeeper. At the end of that season, Clint was hired on permanently, working in many departments from the Nursery, Primate Department, Hospital Keeper, and our Australia Area. Clint’s passion for teaching the next generation always brought him back to the Children’s Zoo where he eventually became the Lead Keeper. A few years after that Clint was promoted to an Animal Care Supervisor. This promotion entailed picking up the newest presentation area to the San Diego Zoo, our Free Flight Bird Show (now called Africa Rocks Encounter Team).

Clint has been an ABMA member off and on since he started in the industry. He started regularly attending conferences back in 2015 and got onto the Board after that conference. Clint’s first term on the Board was as a Director at Large, as well as the chairperson for the Research and Evaluation Committee. He also aided the Treasurer during each of the conferences helping with financial aspects of the conference as well as merchandise sales.

Clint loves spreading the knowledge of animal care and hearing of new ground breaking achievements in this field. It is for this reason that Clint will be thrilled to continue to serve ABMA for a second term.


Antonio Ramirez

Antonio has been working in the zoological field for many years and has developed an advanced understanding of operant learning, behavior, and the application of positive reinforcement training. These skills have allowed Antonio to achieve many successes throughout his career working with a wide variety of animals from small birds and mammals to working with cheetahs as a Senior Animal Care Specialist. Over the years Antonio has become more and more involved with the ABMA serving as the Co-chair of the Conference Content Advisory committee as well as being a member of the Honors and Awards committee. His forward thinking, charismatic nature, and commitment to animal welfare will make Antonio a valued asset to the board of directors for the ABMA.


Becky Wolf

Becky grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and graduated with a degree in Biology from Saint Joseph’s University.  Her 15 years as a zookeeper started when she was an intern in the education department at the Philadelphia Zoo, caring for reptiles, small mammals and birds. She then spent 11 years as a keeper/trainer at the Dallas Zoo, working with birds, small primates, hoofstock, and carnivores.  Most recently, she moved to sunny southern California to work at the San Diego Zoo and currently spends most of her time working with some of the zoo’s large carnivores (the polar bears being a particular favorite).  She became involved with ABMA when she attended and presented at the Denver conference in 2011.  2014 brought about an exciting opportunity when the Dallas Zoo hosted the annual ABMA conference and Becky acted as the conference chair. She loves being a part of such an amazing organization whose dedicated members work so hard to better the lives of the animals in their care.