The role of the Committee, established in 1981, is to provide the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife with independent scientific advice on the conservation and protection of over 400 species of wild plants and animals that are not hunted, fished or trapped. In addition, the Committee advises the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program on matters such as promotion of the Natural Heritage Fund and funding priorities for biological field research and inventory, as well as other issues concerning the protection of biodiversity in Massachusetts.

Committee Members

Kathleen S. Anderson, of Middleborough, is currently the Chairperson of the Committee. She was founding director of the Manomet Bird Observatory and a founder and first President of the Plymouth County Wildlands Trust (now the Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts). For 11 years, she was an ornithologist at the Encephalitis Field Station, U.S. Public Health Service, in southeastern Massachusetts. She has been a 20-year member of the Policy Council of the American Bird Conservancy (formerly the U.S. Section of the International Council for Bird Preservation), serving as Secretary for 15 years. Mrs. Anderson has had a lifelong commitment to the study and protection of birds, land preservation, and the conservation of natural resources.

Joseph S. Larson, Ph.D., of Pelham, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he served as Director of The Environmental Institute and Chairman of the Department of Natural Resources Conservation. A member of the state Fisheries and Wildlife Board, he has particular expertise in beaver behavior and the ecological functions and endangered species habitat of freshwater wetlands. He has served as a wetland science and policy advisor to local, state, national, and international agencies, has held registration as a forester in Maine and Maryland, and holds professional certification as a Senior Ecologist, Wildlife Biologist, and Wetland Scientist.

Mark Mello, of New Bedford, is currently the Vice Chair of the Committee. He is the Research Director at the Lloyd Center for Environmental Studies in South Dartmouth, MA. Mark holds an M.S. degree in Zoology and his particular expertise is insects, especially butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera), and estuarine and freshwater ecology.

Thomas J. Rawinski, of Oakham, is a botanist with the U.S. Forest Service.  He works throughout New England and New York on invasive plant and white-tailed deer overabundance issues. Tom received his BS from the University of Massachusetts and his M.S. in wildlife science from Cornell University. He has worked as a scientist/vegetation ecologist for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and The Nature Conservancy. His particular expertise is plant ecology and botany, with extensive training and experience in ecological research. In 2001, Tom received the New England Wild Flower Society’s conservation award.

Wayne R. Petersen, of Hanson, is the Director of the Massachusetts Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program at the Massachusetts Audubon Society. He is a New England Regional Editor for North American Birds magazine and the New England Christmas Bird Count Editor for American Birds.  He serves on the board of Bird Observer magazine, the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Wildlands Trust. A former life science teacher, today he gives workshops, lectures widely, and leads international birding tours. He authored the "National Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Songbirds and Familiar Backyard Birds" and co-authored "Birds of Massachusetts", the "Massachusetts Breeding Birds Atlas", and "Birds of New England."  In 2003, Wayne was the recipient of the American Birding Association’s Ludlow Griscom Award for outstanding contributions in regional ornithology.

Gwilym S. Jones, of Framingham, was born in Cincinnati and raised in Wyoming, Ohio. He received his Bachelors Degree from Hanover College, Indiana, his Masters Degree in ‘nongame’ Wildlife from Purdue University under Russell E. Mumford, and his Ph. D. from Indiana State University (Terre Haute) under John O. Whitaker, Jr. Between the latter two, as a Lieutenant, MSC, USNR, he conducted field studies of mammals as reservoirs of zoonoses in Vietnam, Taiwan, and Indonesia. He earned the Combat Action Ribbon in Vietnam. Returning stateside, he was a Navy research mammalogist at the Smithsonian Institution. As a doctoral student, he conducted field surveys in 35 of the 50 states and the three western Canadian Provinces, plus the Yukon Territory. He taught at Northeastern University (Boston) for 38 years, retiring in 2013. He was a Professor of Biology and served for a time as Chairman of that Department and as Director of the Marine Science Center. He taught Mammalogy, Wildlife Biology, Ornithology, Vertebrate Zoology, among others. He received five teaching awards and was a professor in the University Honors Program. He has authored well over 100 publications, including new species descriptions. Among other functions with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Gwil served as a member of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board for 14 years and as Chairman of the Nongame and Endangered Species (now NHES) Committee for 16 years. For his efforts, he received the Francis Sergeant Award.

Jennifer Ryan, of Arlington, is a conservation biologist and environmental policy specialist.  She attended the University of Connecticut, Storrs, where she majored in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and received her Masters of Science from the University of Maine, Orono, in Conservation Biology and Entomology. Jennifer was an invertebrate zoologist at the Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program where she was a contributing scientist to the award wining BioMap and Living Waters conservation plans. Jennifer is also co-author of the "Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Massachusetts" published by the Natural Heritage Program.  

Jennifer then joined Mass Audubon, the state’s largest conservation and environmental education nonprofit, as its Legislative Director. There she played a critical role in advocating for conservation funding, endangered species protections, clean energy legislation, and revisions to the Community Preservation Act.  She also authored the “Political Landscape”, a regular column in Mass Audubon’s Sanctuary Magazine. She has been a guest lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Suffolk University, Wheaton College, and Brandeis. Jennifer currently sits on the boards of the Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters, Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, and Arlington Land Trust.

Associate Members

William Brumback, of Acton, is the Conservation Director of the New England Wild Flower Society and oversees the Society's plant conservation programs. These programs currently include the New England Plant Conservation Program (NEPCoP), a regional voluntary collaborative of 150 collaborators, mostly professional in all six New England states, and the Plant Conservation Volunteer Corps (over 400 trained amateurs monitoring rare plants and invasive species throughout New England). Bill published, with other authors, "Flora Conservanda: New England, The NEPCoP List of plants in need of conservation", which provides the status of over 500 plants that are of conservation concern in New England.

Andy Finton, of Watertown, is the Director of Conservation Science for the Massachusetts Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, responsible for defining conservation goals, assessing threats, and implementing conservation strategies. Andy worked with the Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program in developing the Commonwealth's BioMap, prioritizing rare species habitats and natural communities for conservation, and for the New York Natural Heritage Program as an Ecologist overseeing biological inventory in the Hudson Valley. Andy earned a B.S. from Cornell and an M.S. in Forest Ecology from the University of Massachusetts.

Timothy Flanagan, of Lenox, is a Professor of Environmental and Life Sciences at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. His professional interests include landscape ecology, geomorphology, and biodiversity studies. He also maintains a private practice in environmental consulting doing wetlands delineation and biological inventories for the protection of natural areas. He has previously worked as the Science curator at the Berkshire Museum and as a Project Director for the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

Mark Pokras, D.V.M., of Westborough, is the former Director of the Wildlife Clinic at the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton. Born and educated through grammar school in the U.S., he attended junior and senior high school in Mexico and Venezuela. After college, he worked in ornithology and estuarine biology before attending veterinary school. His particular expertise is wildlife medicine. He is a co-founder of the Center for Conservation Medicine at Tufts and is a founding member of the International Association of Wildlife Veterinarians. He is nationally known for his work in wildlife rehabilitation and his research on the health of the Common Loon. In addition to teaching veterinary students at Tufts, Mark also teaches M.S. in Public Health, M.S. in Conservation Medicine, and M.S. in Animals and Public Policy.  

Bryan Windmiller, of Concord, Massachusetts, holds a Ph.D. in biology and a Master's degree in Environmental Policy, both from Tufts University. He has worked as a consulting wildlife ecologist since 1987 and recently founded a non-profit organization that engages the public in wildlife conservation projects. Bryan also teaches wetland ecology and conservation biology as an adjunct professor at several Massachusetts universities.

Dave Small, a lifelong MA resident, is president of the 250-member Athol Bird and Nature Club and acting Director of the Millers River Environmental Center. Dave shares his passion for birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and, most recently, moths through workshops, lectures, and field trips around New England. Focusing on lands of conservation interest, Dave has organized biological inventories finding and documenting state listed species for the MA Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, various conservation organizations, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and local communities. He is a specialist in early successional vegetation and habitat management consulting for public and private land managers and utility companies throughout New England. Dave has served on the boards of several non-profits including Millers River Watershed Council, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, Mass Watershed Coalition, and Mass Audubon's Important Bird Area Technical Advisory Committee. Working for the Commonwealth of MA for 35 years, Dave served as Assistant Regional Director at the DCR Quabbin Reservoir in Central Massachusetts, retiring in 2013.

Kevin Powers, of Plymouth, was a biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Anchorage, AK cataloging coastal seabird breeding colonies on the Alaskan Peninsula as part of an Outer Continental Shelf Biological Assessment Study prior to the completion the Alaskan pipeline. He was then a scientist at the Manomet Bird Observatory where he authored several publications on the distribution, abundance, and ecological role of marine birds and mammmals in the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank and mid-Atlantic Bight. He later collaborated with R.G.B. Brown (Canadian Wildlife Service) on a publication that described seasonal range and abundance of marine birds in shelf waters from Cape Hatteras to the Scotian Shelf. He also serves on the advisory council for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Karen B. Searcy, of Amherst, is an adjunct research faculty in Biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She received B.A. and M.A. degrees from UCLA and Ph.D. from UMass. She recently retired from the position of Curator of the UMass Herbarium and from teaching courses in New England flora and ecology. She has conducted plant surveys for DCR and NHESP in central and Western part of the state, written a flora of the Greater Mount Holyoke Range, and currently is working on the flora of Franklin County. She has served on the Council of the New England Botanical Club, including three years as President, and was chair of Amherst Conservation Commission. Her expertise is in Massachusetts floristics and ecology.

Background on the Committee

The Fisheries and Wildlife Board first established the Committee in 1981. It was given official status under state law in 1983 (MGL c131, s5B) as the Non-Game Advisory Committee. In 2002, legislation changed the Committee's name to its current title in order to more accurately reflect the Committee's role. The Commissioner of the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement, with the approval of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board, appoints the members. The Committee makes recommendations to the Board and Division Director. There are seven Committee members and an equal number of Associate Members. The Committee meets monthly, typically at the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife's Field Headquarters. The public is invited to attend. For further information, please contact the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program.