Executive Board

Christine Cummings

Co-Founder, President, Rehabilitator, Re-nesting Crew, Rescuer, Educator, Event Coordinator, First Responder

Christine has been working for the rights and care of all animals since her early childhood. As a young adult, she worked on the forefront of Animal Rights in Washington, DC. She also worked as an Animal Technician during her attendance at the University of Maryland for Art Education and Studio Art. Upon graduation, she decided to open her own business geared towards the care and grooming of dogs and cats. To work in a setting without animals seemed un-natural. Christine was inspired to become a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator in 2005 after attending an Intro to Wildlife Rehabilitation Course co-taught by Grace Krick. Since 98 % of the injuries seen at Rehab Centers are related to conflicts with humans, Christine was compelled to rescue and rehabilitate wild animals in order to give back to the community. Because Birds of Prey are a shared passion between both Christine and her husband Todd, APCH was born. Together they operate and maintain the Center and work hard to continue its growth to accommodate the numerous birds in need. With this educational platform her teaching background has finally evolved as one of the primary missions of APCH is to educate the public about ways to lessen conflicts one may encounter with wildlife in one’s very own backyard. Christine is the primary caretaker of both the resident and rehabilitation patients on site.

Todd Secki

Co-Founder, Vice President, Re-Nesting Crew, Rescuer, Educator, First Responder

Todd is a Wildlife Photographer and Co-Founder of APCH. His Carpentry and Building skills have helped realize this Dream by providing top quality housing for the birds in our care. A Stone Mason/Builder by trade, he lives at the Center with President and Co-Founder Christine Cummings. Together, they operate and maintain APCH. Todd became a climber in order to help us achieve our goals of putting baby birds back into the natural care of their parents. Since 2005, APCH has had great success in returning nest fall victims to the care of their natural parents. Since birds are best raised by birds, our team strives to put them all back rather than raise babies in captivity. Survival rates are already so low, but to be raised by humans or captive foster parents has been proven ineffective in long term survivability. Climbing became a necessary skill not only for nest falls but for many rescues as well. Some of these climbs have reached heights of 85 feet. His dedication and commitment to our cause guarantees APCH a brave future. Todd’s wildlife photography can be found on FaceBook under Spirit Hawk Photography.

Janet Colandrea

Executive Secretary, Website Design, Outreach

Janet has been an active volunteer for APCH since 2014 assisting with technical needs including the development and maintenance of our website and event outreach. Her company, ColandreaDesign LLC  which offers graphic design, web development and marketing has helped APCH create not only a professional appearance but a user friendly format that perpetuates APCH’s overall message of preservation.

She became a Primary Feather in 2020 and has taken on the role of Secretary to APCH. Her love for all nature introduced her to her husband Ranger Russ, who introduced her to APCH’s educational mission. This has become a shared “family” passion as her son is also a supporter of anything APCH. She resides in Killingworth with her husband, son and their adopted dog, Amber.

Shannon Schiesser


Shannon has had a love for nature and animals since childhood, spending a lot of her time outdoors exploring the woods and waters, looking for wildlife and enjoying its natural beauty.

She has enjoyed being involved with several conservation organizations over the years, appreciating the opportunity to be a contributor to an important cause that is so much greater than oneself. So, her shared passion and commitment to APCH was a natural fit!

Having a BSBA degree in Accounting and spending her career in the financial field, Shannon volunteered to help APCH with the organization of its automated Accounting records beginning in 2018, then continued and officially joined APCH’s Executive Board as Treasurer in 2020. She says, “APCH is doing amazing work for the betterment of our world and the beautiful birds of prey… I identify with the mission of APCH and hold it close to my heart.”

Shannon believes that environmental education and outreach are vitally important for individuals and society as whole, which is why APCH’s wildlife rehab work and educational programs are so valuable: “If you don’t know it, you won’t be as interested in protecting it.”

Her interests include being active, hiking and cycling, water sports/activities, and photography.

Flock Members

Primaries – Executive Board
Secondaries – Ambassador Board
Tertiaries – Volunteers and Rescuers
Contour – Core Supporters, Grant Sources and Service Providers
Downies – Under 18 Volunteers


Marilyn Lavezzoli – Secondary Feather to Flock
Regalia, Re-nesting Crew, Educator

Marilyn is an artist with a love of nature, rocks, animals and especially birds. A New York transplant, she lives in Killingworth with her husband Bob and her two dogs Raven and Sophie . She joined APCH in 2009 and became a Board Member in 2010. Her husband Bob has also become an active participant in APCH during re-nesting season as a part of our necessary Rope Crew. Together, they have become “family” to the many Feathered’s in our care. With Marilyn’s artistic background, she has a knack for creating and designing many of our advertisements as well as our popular annual APCH Calendar. She also enjoys painting many of our resident birds, past and present.

Russ Miller – Secondary Feather to Flock
Re-nesting Crew, Educator, First Responder, Marketing Awareness

Russ Miller has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and has worked for the Department of Environmental and Energy Protection for over 20 years. Ranger Russ found his views on conservation and preservation compatible with the overall mission of APCH and became an affiliate to this organization in 2007 and ultimately a Board Member in 2011. Russ has an admiration for all wildlife and has worked as the Director of The Meigs Point Nature Center – Hammonasset State Beach Park for over 15 years. Russ has been an amateur naturalist his entire life stressing a message of conservation. His years of Educational experience helps to strengthen our mission. He has also been trained to handle emergency wildlife distress calls and is at the ready to rescue. Russ also enjoys being a part of the Re-Nesting Team with the goal to reunite nest fall victims with their natural parents and environments further promoting the conservation of natural ecology.

Vickie Silvia – Secondary Feather to Flock
Operations, Rescuer, Educator, First Responder

Since her retirement as a Police Officer, Vickie has become an active APCH volunteer since 2016. Her life long passion for both domestic and wild birds has led her down a path of wildlife rescue. She attended one of APCH’s Rescue/Transport Seminars and has now become an assistant teacher to the class. Over time, she has honed her abilities in rescuing distressed, and often dangerous, birds in the field and has taken on a teaching role for new class graduates. Vickie joined our Board in 2018 and resides in Old Lyme with her spouse and dog Stella. Her goal is to become more involved with the educational as well as the rehab aspect of our mission. She was able to acquire her permit in 2018 as a State licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator and has joined us in presentations with live ambassador birds to help inspire change. Since so many animals are harmed in conflicts with us humans, it is our goal to help people understand simple ways to undo some of the damage we as humans have caused to our wildlife.

Kathy Grasso Secondary Feather to Flock
Volunteer, Rescue, Medical Assistance and Diagnostics

Kathy Grasso has been involved with APCH since the relocation of the Center in 2011. Kathy is a neighbor just across the Cranberry Bog. She lives with her husband, 7 Great Danes, 3 rescue parrots, 3 horses, 2 cats and several chickens.
Kathy has been a Veterinary Technician for the past 38 years, and is the Manager of The Killingworth Animal Hospital. She has the ability to assist some of our patients in critical x-rays, blood work, and often a role in euthanasia to help us end some of the more severe cases suffering. Kathy has been a State appointed and Federally licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator since 1989. Her life long love for animals of all kinds
and her history of expertise, benefits the many birds we cater to. She is a bonus to our core flock and we are fortunate to have her on board. “Giving back to these beings is important to me as I feel humans play a strong part in the destruction of wildlife. I am honored to participate in this way.”

Alex Brune – Secondary Feather to the Flock
Rescuer, Climber

The wingspan of A Place Called Hope has grown to such an impressive size and scope, and the rescue scenarios are so technically challenging, that a need arose for a flock member with a primary focus on safety. Alex is an engineer who has worked in factories since he was 16 where hazardous manufacturing processes are performed by teams of skilled people using their hands, and where a culture of safety is indelible. Alex observes the rescue and rehab processes and collaborates with the flock to make improvements. He creates tools and researches equipment to help expand the organization’s capabilities. Todd has shared with Alex the privilege of climbing up to active raptor nests! This responsibility inspired Alex to become knowledgeable in the climbing techniques used in industrial arboriculture. His focus is on the safety of our volunteers, the safety of the birds needing rescue, the quality of life of our resident ambassador birds, and the efficiency of our processes. “I never outgrew climbing trees as a kid. Volunteering with A Place Called Hope has greatly enriched my life and enjoyment of nature.”  

Some of Our Volunteers in Action