President & CEO
Jim Elliott, the Executive Director and Founder of the Avian Conservation Center, has been a life-long student of birds. His many years of experience have been significantly effective in his quest to protect avian species and their habitats.
Early in his career, Elliott became aware of the need for a professional level of care for injured birds of prey in South Carolina, equipped to sufficiently manage the direct threats to the birds of prey population. That awareness eventually led Elliott to establish the Charleston Raptor Center in 1991. As the Center grew, Elliott recognized the need to increase public understanding of avian species and the crucial role they play in the environment. This expanded vision led Elliott and his growing team to broaden the scope and reach of the organization. In 2004, the Avian Conservation Center opened, incorporating The Center for Birds of Prey and the Avian Medical and Oiled Bird Treatment Facility.
Elliott has participated in a number of professional rehabilitation and veterinary internships and training focused on the ecology, care, housing, and medical care for birds of prey, and has studied and consulted extensively with leading raptor centers both in the United States and abroad including the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program at Colorado State University, the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota at St. Paul and the National Birds of Prey Centre in the U.K.
Additionally, Elliott has led research initiatives in South Carolina, including the South Carolina Coastal Hawk Migration Study and a long-term American Swallow-tailed Kite survey. In 2002, he established the Wildlife Toxicity Working Group to investigate secondary barbiturate poisoning of bald eagles in public landfills, and in 2005, he co-founded the Avian Medical and Oiled Bird Treatment Facility in cooperation with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Elliott now serves as a member of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, and the Raptor Research Foundation. In 2016, Governor Nikki Haley awarded Mr. Elliott the Order of the Palmetto for his extraordinary contributions to avian conservation, research, and educational outreach. The Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor, recognizes a lifetime of service and achievements of statewide and national significance. Also in 2016, Jim became the inaugural recipient of the Lifetime Achievement in Wildlife Conservation Award at the Southeastern Wildlife Expo, another award honoring a lifetime of conservation work. In 2001, he received the Environmental Awareness Award given by the Governor of South Carolina, and in 1998 he received the Wildlife Conservation Award given by the South Carolina Wildlife Federation. Additionally, the Center received the 2006 Award for Excellence in Management given by the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organizations.
In 2022, Jim was recognized for his lifelong contributions by the Charleston Animal Society with their highest honor, the Elizabeth Bradham Humanitarian Award. This award, given occasionally, not annually, recognizes Jim for all he has accomplished to alleviate the suffering of animals, and his significant and lifelong impact in our local community and beyond.
Vice President/Director of Programs & Operations
Mandy joined the center in August of 2020, after spending the previous 8 years as the Director of Animal Care at a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Wisconsin. She has her Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a graduate certificate in wildlife management and her Professional Science Master’s in wildlife administration from Oregon State University.
Mandy’s background includes field work throughout Wisconsin and Mexico before finding her passion for wildlife conservation in wildlife rehabilitation. She has over 15 years of experience in the field, including creating and teaching an undergraduate course “The Fundamentals of Wildlife Rehabilitation” at Carroll University, in their nationally ranked animal behavior department.
Mandy has spoken at several national conferences, discussing topics of educational ambassadors, aerial insectivore conservation and raptor rehabilitation. After years of working with an array of species including mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, she has discovered her enthusiasm for avian conservation and enjoys being able to support the Avian Conservation Center’s mission through avian medical care, education, and research.
Vice President/Director of The Center for Birds of Prey & Education
A native of South Carolina, Stephen joined the Center in 2003 after completing his M.S. degree in Environmental Policy at the College of Charleston. Prior to graduate school, he spent several years exploring various teaching opportunities outside the traditional classroom, as well as a career as an accomplished mandolin player and vocalist for a variety of groups in the Charleston area. Stephen’s background in education and environmental policy along with his lifelong passion for the outdoors -especially birds – offers a unique and relevant foundation for his role as Director of Education.
Stephen oversees the care, husbandry, and training of the Center’s educational resident bird collection as well as the design and implementation of conservation education programs offered by the Center throughout South Carolina and beyond. Stephen particularly enjoys the aspects of “lure flying” falcons and conversing one on one with visitors about issues related to the conservation of birds and other wildlife.
Husbandry and Captive Propagation Manager
Audrey began working at the Center as a Volunteer Staff Member in 2008 and completed an undergraduate internship with the Education Department in 2009. Upon graduating from the College of Charleston with a B.S. degree in Biology, Audrey joined the education staff. Throughout her childhood, Audrey had opportunities to work with wildlife in a variety of settings, including caring for injured and orphaned animals. Her growing passion for animals and their welfare led directly to her career in animal husbandry and education with the Center.
Audrey’s responsibilities include managing the annual Hawk Migration Survey, daily care and feeding of the permanent resident birds, training owls and other raptors for flight demonstrations, and conducting on-site education programs.
Addie began as an intern with the Center in 2013 while attending Wando High School. She then went on to earn a B.S. in Wildlife Biology with a minor in Animal and Veterinary Science from Clemson University. While at Clemson she worked for the Clemson Barred Owl project studying the ability of Barred Owls to adapt to urban environments. After graduating from Clemson she started working at Callaway Gardens as a raptor specialist before returning home to Charleston to take a full time position with the Education department in May of 2021. When not at work she enjoys training her Chinese Crested in agility, with varying degrees of success.
Justine joined the Center in 2023 from Auburn, Alabama where she earned a B.S. in Wildlife and Ecology Management from Auburn University. During her time as a student at Auburn, she volunteered at the Southeastern Raptor Center, as well as volunteering for other wildlife research projects. Once graduated, she went on to join the education staff at the Southeastern Raptor Center and finished earning her falconry license before joining our team here. When not at the Center you can find Justine birding, enjoying the local beaches, hunting, or reading at home.
Maggie joined our team in 2022, bringing 20 years of customer service experience as well as 10 years of experience in hotel management, retail and finance. But it is her love of wildlife and the environment that has been fundamental to her journey that brought her here. As a native Kentuckian, Maggie grew up hiking in the Appalachian Mountains searching for wildcats and rattlesnakes. She graduated from the University of Kentucky where she spent time working in the Special Collection Library, cheering for the basketball teams and volunteering with various local non-profits.
She vacationed to South Carolina on a regular basis and after one trip 14 years ago, she never left. Maggie now spends her free time at the farmer’s market, all the beaches, bird watching at State Parks and volunteering for local organizations.
Avian Medical Clinic Manager
Jessie joined the Avian Conservation Center in December 2021 from Birmingham, Alabama where she spent 13 years as a Quarantine Animal Care Professional at the Birmingham Zoo working with a wide variety of species and assisting with the veterinary staff. During that time, she volunteered with a mammal rehabilitation organization while also serving on the Conservation Committee with the Alabama Audubon Society. She received several grants through the Zoo that allowed her to volunteer with VulPro, a Vulture Conservation organization in South Africa as well as grants to monitor for bird-window collisions in downtown Birmingham. A Georgia native, Jessie earned a B.S. in Forestry with a Wildlife Concentration from the University of Georgia. She started her animal care career as Raptor Rehabilitation Intern at The Alabama Wildlife Center and was hired on full time where she spent the next 5 years as Raptor Rehabilitation Coordinator. Jessie is excited to continue her passion for avian conservation through rehabilitation and public education.
When not at the Center, you can find Jessie out at the local birding hotspots, enjoying the local restaurants and breweries with her husband, or relaxing at home with her two cats Chui and Tai.
Avian Clinic Technician
An Iowa native, Abbey graduated with her B.S. in Animal Ecology with a minor in Animal Science from Iowa State University. After graduating, she moved to Washington state where she worked at an all species wildlife rehabilitation center and volunteered with the local Marine Mammal Stranding Network and other animal related non-profit organizations. After developing an affinity for avian species, Abbey continued on to spend a year in Ohio at a raptor rehabilitation and education facility to learn more about birds of prey before joining our team full time in December of 2021.
Abbey has a deep passion for rehabilitation because of the way it provides care and support for individuals in a way that other conservation efforts cannot. She aims to provide top quality care for every individual birds that comes to the center.
Avian Clinic Technician
Morgan joined the Avian Conservation Center in 2021 as volunteer staff in the medical clinic. She is a Charleston Native and has grown up knowing the importance of the work the Center for Birds of Prey does and is elated to join the team as an Avian Clinic Technician. Her background is in small animal veterinary nursing and wildlife rehabilitation. She resides in Mt. Pleasant with her husband and their two dogs.
Morgan believes that caring for animals is one of the highest callings a person can have and is passionate about providing quality treatment to all patients in her care.
Avian Clinic Technician
Valerie joined the Avian Conservation Center in 2019 as a medical intern at the clinic and has been volunteering in the clinic since before joining the staff team in March of 2021. Valerie is a Northern California native and went to school at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, graduating with a BS in Psychology. Prior to moving to Charleston, Valerie had an 18 year career in the marine mammal field as a marine mammal trainer, veterinary technician and animal care supervisor. After a year at SeaWorld, Valerie moved back to the Florida Keys to Theater of the Sea (TOTS), the facility she would call home for the next fifteen years. Valerie is excited to learn new techniques she is not yet familiar with and help the Avian Medical Clinic team in its mission to give every bird the best care possible.