Programs & Development, Avian Care
Lauren began volunteering at Free Flight after being inspired by an outgoing parrot during her time as a photographer at the San Diego Zoo. Passionate about birds from an early age, she longed to gain more experience not only working with them, but sharing their incredible nature with others. She went on to work as a youth educator with the National Audubon Society before officially joining the Free Flight staff in 2014. Through Free Flight she also met and adopted her own precious parrots, “Skittles,” “Bowie,” and “Mercury.”
Lauren enjoys incorporating her photographic and educational experience into daily life at Free Flight. She is especially fond of guiding young individuals to advocate for avian welfare and conservation within the sanctuary as well as the greater community. But, parrots aren’t her only love! Lauren also relishes her time as an aviculturist with SeaWorld San Diego, where she is lucky enough to work with her favorite bird species - the Adélie penguin. One day, Lauren hopes to work for environment restoration, wildlife rehabilitation and community awareness efforts for avian populations in Central and South America.
Avian Care & Visitor Enrichment
After watching the documentary “Parrot Confidential,” Diane became interested in the well-being of parrots in captivity. When she moved to San Diego in 2014, she looked for a bird sanctuary to visit and possibly volunteer. She found Free Flight and quickly found herself visiting once a week and spending the entire day here.
After several months of visiting, Diane became a volunteer, and found herself becoming very fond of several birds, especially “Midori.” She found it hard to leave after her volunteer shift was over, so when she was offered a position on staff she was ecstatic! As a staff member, Diane finds educating the visitors about parrots especially enthralling and looks forward to introducing more people to our flock in the future.
Avian Care & Visitor Enrichment
Susy was born and raised in Italy. Like many other supporters of animal care and conservation, as a child she dreamed of working with animals and becoming an advocate for their well-being. She spent much of her childhood living and working at her grandparents’ ranch, where she fed, cared for and tended to their many farm animals. Italian universities offer very limited opportunities to earn a degree in animal care, so she chose instead to pursue and obtain a degree in Economics and Finance, and graduated with a Master's degree in Management. After working as a Financial Controller for ten years for several multi-national companies, Susy moved to San Diego and decided to seek opportunities in the field that she has always loved: animal care, behavior and conservation. She volunteered with several facilities such as Lions Tigers and Bears, the San Diego River Park Foundation, and the San Diego Zoo, where she was hired first as an Educator in the Tours and Premium Product department and later as an Animal Keeper. She also recently earned a Master's degree in Zoology and Conservation through Miami University (Ohio) in collaboration with the Institute for Conservation Research (Escondido). Susy started volunteering at Free Flight in early 2017, and after a few months -- thanks to her dedication, enthusiasm and commitment to our mission -- she became part of our staff.
As a zookeeper and educator, as well as a compassionate and dedicated bird lover, Susy strives to inspire our visitors to share our passion for what we do, and to help them to develop an emotional connection to the wonderful world of exotic companion birds.
Brian began volunteering at Free Flight while in high school to occupy himself during summer break. With no prior experience working with parrots, he was quickly charmed by their dynamic personalities. After regularly volunteering and becoming familiar with the many Free Flight resident birds, he was thrilled to join the staff in 2018. As a staff member, he enjoys learning the many quirks of each bird that make them an individual and using that to strengthen his bond with each bird, especially those that are less outgoing and charismatic than others. He also enjoys learning how to properly care for the complex ecosystem of Free Flight’s koi pond. Brian is currently pursuing a degree in Biology at San Diego State University.
Joey started at Free Flight as a Junior Docent in 2015. He quickly became passionate about helping birds and people, and fostering a relationship between them. In 2019, Joey joined our staff. He especially enjoys spending time with our East-African Crowned Crane, “Princess,” as well as caring for our friendly Koi population. Looking ahead in his career, Joey aspires to work with and photograph wildlife around the world.