Conservation Experts & Contacts


Photo © Mike Checkett

National Headquarters

One Waterfowl Way
Memphis, TN 38120
Phone: (901) 758-3825


Paul Schmidt (Chief Conservation Officer)

B.S., College of William and Mary

As Chief Conservation Officer, Schmidt leads Ducks Unlimited’s national and international conservation programs and serves as a member of the senior executive team. His responsibilities include supervision of all of DU’s science and habitat conservation operations, including four regional offices focused on conservation delivery. Schmidt joined DU in 2011 after a career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with more than 30 years of service. He served as the agency’s director of all activities related to the management of migratory birds.

Dr. Scott C. Yaich, PhD (Chief Scientist)
Ph.D., Southern Illinois University 
M.A., Southern Illinois University 
B.A., University of Delaware

Dr. Yaich is engaged in national and international conservation, science and policy issues,  such as serving as the lead science contact in DU's work on wetland protection and the Clean Water Act. Yaich works with DU’s science staff in the regional offices, with Ducks Unlimited Canada and Ducks Unlimited de Mexico, and collaborates with science and conservation staff from many other state, federal and private conservation organizations. He also serves as DU’s primary liaison with Ducks Unlimited de Mexico. Before coming to DU in 2001, Yaich worked for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for 13 years, serving as wetlands and waterfowl program coordinator, chief of the wildlife division and assistant director over wildlife, fisheries and law enforcement, and also spent four years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as wildlife and habitat management biologist for Arkansas. Over the past 30 years, he has served on numerous regional, national and international wetland and waterfowl conservation boards and councils..

Dale Humburg (Senior Science Advisor)

M.S. Michigan State University

B.S. Iowa State University

The majority of Humburg’s professional career was as a wetland and waterfowl research biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC - 1977-2002) and more recently as the division chief for the MDC's Resource Science Division (2002-2007). In September 2007, he retired after 30 years with the MDC to become DU’s Chief Biologist and subsequently Senior Science Advisor.  Experience in wetland and waterfowl research has involved semi-permanent marsh management, invertebrate dynamics, willow wetlands, Canada goose wintering ecology, evaluation of waterfowl hunting programs, surveys of waterfowl hunters, and a number of studies following the 1993 flood on the Missouri River.  Recent emphasis has been on employing adaptive management concepts as a framework for more explicit management and policy decisions.  Humburg has been leading the NAWMP implementation for the 2012 revision of this guiding document.

Dr. Fritz Reid (Director of Conservation Programs: Boreal and Arctic Conservation)

Ph.D., University of Missouri

M.S., University of Missouri

A.B., Hamilton College

Dr. Reid has more than 20 years of experience working in wetland ecology, and has a direct knowledge of most western wetland complexes. His biological expertise in the tundra and boreal habitats of Alaska has helped facilitate satellite inventory of more than 100 million acres of this land cover by DU. With this information, land managers can better understand impacts to these regions. Landscape planning in the Central Valley of California identifies key complexes and nutritional needs of waterfowl. Dr. Reid's background in waterfowl ecology in wintering and migration habitats helps others understand those needs.

Great Lakes/Atlantic Region

David Brakhage (Director of Operations)
M.S., University of Missouri
B.S., Virginia Tech

Brakhage oversees all aspects of DU's work in the Great Lakes/Atlantic Region, including habitat conservation, land protection, research, engineering and public policy. Some of David’s experience with DU has included biologist, Director of Conservation Programs, and DU staff representative for the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, and in 2013 he assumed his current position.. Prior to coming to work for Ducks Unlimited in 1998, Brakhage worked 13 years for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in their waterfowl management program. As the state waterfowl biologist for Florida, he developed population and habitat management programs for waterfowl in that state and served as Florida's technical representative to the Atlantic Flyway Council. While at the University of Missouri, he received extensive training on waterfowl management and wetland ecology.

John Coluccy (Director of Conservation Planning)

Ph.D., University of Missouri

M.S., University of Missouri

B.S., University of Wisconsin

Dr. Coluccy has been with DU since 2001 where he started as a conservation program biologist, then to regional biologist and manager of conservation planning. In 2010 assumed his current position as director or conservation planning in the Great Lakes/Atlantic Region, where he oversees research and planning efforts and assists with designing, funding and implementing landscape-level research across a broad geographic range. His expertise spans a variety of issues related to wetlands and breeding, migrating and wintering waterfowl. Some of his research topics include Waterfowl Energetics, Waterfowl Diseases, the American Black Duck, and Canada Goose.

Doug Gorby (Director of Conservation Programs)

B.S., The Ohio State University

Doug Gorby serves as the director of conservation programs for the 21-state Great Lakes Atlantic Region for Ducks Unlimited. His work experience includes field studies for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Division of Wildlife, private lands restoration and protection utilizing Farm Bill programs, non-profit marketing and education, and private sector sales and marketing. He joined Ducks Unlimited in 2008 as the regional biologist for New York and subsequently worked as a director of development for Ohio, Indiana and Michigan before assuming his current role working with the team of biologists to plan, deliver and fund habitat projects across the region.

Gildo M. Tori (Director of Public Policy, Great Lakes/Atlantic Region)

M.S., Ohio State University

B.S., Michigan State University

Mr. Tori, who joined DU in June of 1997, is responsible for directing and coordinating public policy issues within the Great Lakes/Atlantic Region, including the Farm Bill, NAWCA, SWANCC, Great Lakes Restoration, state specific wetland protection legislation, and other policy issues. Gildo also coordinates GLARO's State Grant Program, which works with state wildlife agencies to generate funds in support of the NAWMP in Canada, and provides oversight to GLARO's land protection program. Prior to joining DU, he was the wetland wildlife projects leader for the Ohio Division of Wildlife responsible for waterfowl research and hunting regulations, wetland wildlife research and management, and wetland protection and restoration. His experience with the division of wildlife included bald eagle, river otter, trumpeter swan, and osprey reintroduction projects. 

Southern Region

Dr. Thomas E. Moorman (Director of Operation, Southern Region)

Ph.D., State University of New York, Syracuse

M.S., Auburn University

B.S., Ohio University

Dr. Moorman oversees Ducks Unlimited conservation programs in the 13-state Southern Region. In addition to maintaining more than 1.8 million acres of wetland habitat, the programs enhance, restore and/or protect 50,000 acres of wetland habitat annually. Dr. Moorman joined DU in 1991 as a regional biologist working on waterfowl habitat restoration in partnerships with state and federal wildlife agencies. He was promoted to director of conservation planning and served in that capacity from 1998-2007. In 2007, Dr. Moorman was promoted to director of conservation programs, South Mississippi Flyway (MO, AR, LA, MS, TN, KY, AL). Dr. Moorman became Director of Science and Public Policy overseeing planning and evaluation to strengthen the science underlying DU conservation programs, regional conservation communications, and coordination of public policy work the Southern Region. In 2013 Dr. Moorman became Director of Operations overseeing the conservation programs of the Southern Region. Prior to joining DU, he performed research and published findings on mottled ducks and wood ducks. He is a member of The Wildlife Society, the Society of Conservation Biology and several ornithological professional societies. He has extensive experience with waterfowl and wetland research and management issues in the southern United States.

Craig R. LeSchack (Director of Conservation Programs, Southeast [AL, AR, FL, GA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA])

M.S., Auburn University

B.S., Michigan State University

Mr. LeSchack joined DU in 2000 as a regional biologist in Texas where he helped implement conservation programs on private and public lands throughout Texas and New Mexico.  In 2002, he was promoted to his current position where he oversees all of DU’s conservation efforts in the southeast area of the Southern Region.  Prior to joining DU, Mr. LeSchack was a wetland biologist and district wildlife biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission where he managed wetlands and provided technical assistance on waterfowl and wetland management issues in a 12-county region.  Mr. LeSchack has conducted research on waterfowl in the southeast and also on arctic-nesting geese, and has extensive experience in wetland management issues.  He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and a member of The Wildlife Society and also a management board member on the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture. He currently provides national coordination of the state grants program for DU.

Jerry Holden Jr. (Director of Conservation Programs, Southwest  [LA, OK, MN, TX])

M.A., Kansas State University

B.A., Kansas State University


Mr. Holden joined DU in 1999 as a remote sensing and GIS analyst working on conservation planning in the Southern Region. He served as GIS and Remote Sensing Manager from 2001-2005, and worked to evaluate and the status of waterfowl habitats in Southern Region. In 2005, Mr. Holden was promoted to Director of Conservation Programs for Louisiana. His responsibilities included administration of conservation programs in Louisiana, including the Gulf Coast and the floodplain of the Mississippi River. In 2008 he was promoted to Director of Conservation Programs, South Mississippi Flyway (AR, LA, MS, TN, KY, & AL). Prior to joining DU, he worked for the USAF as a GIS Manager and the State of Kansas on NASA funded research on greenhouse gas emissions. From 1986-2003 he was employed in various management positions by Wal-Mart stores Inc. He is a member of the Wildlife Society.

Dr. Scott M. Manley (Director of Conservation Innovation/Ecological Services)

Ph.D., Mississippi State University

M.S., Mississippi State University

B.S., Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos

Dr. Manley has research experience in the winter ecology of waterfowl, agriculture-waterfowl relationships, wetland functions and values, water quality, statistics, scientific writing, extension education and public relations. He also has research experience in the Northern Prairies, California’s Central Valley, Gulf Coast and Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Dr. Manley has conducted additional research in southern oceanic ecosystems and southeastern U.S. Piney Woods. His work for DU is focused on development of new, innovative approaches to conservation that generate both great habitat and new revenue to further our mission. Toward that end, Dr. Manley oversees mitigation, agri-business, carbon and all land transactions for the Southern Region.

Dr. J. Dale James (Manager of Conservation Planning)

Ph.D., Texas A&M University and Texas A&M University-Kingsville

M.S., Texas A&M University-Kingsville

B.S., Texas A&M University

Dr. James assumed his current position with DU in January 2008. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Wildlife Science, he worked for 3 years as a Regional Biologist with DU in the South Atlantic Field Office working on wetland projects in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. While there he also served as Land Protection Coordinator overseeing the conservation easement program administered under the Lowcountry Program. His previous research experience has been related to the breeding ecology of black-bellied whistling ducks and nutritional ecology of redhead ducks primarily along the Gulf Coast of Texas. Within the Southern Region, Dr. James is responsible for the development and synthesis of information to refine regional conservation plans, programs, and policy work.

Ashlee Ellis (Director of Public Policy, Southern Region)
J.D. University of Memphis

B.A. University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Ashlee Ellis began as the Southern Region’s Governmental Affairs Representative in September 2012. She works as a liaison between legislators and agencies and DU volunteers and staff across the Southern Region on policy issues and legislation affecting wetlands and waterfowl. Ashlee comes to DU after practicing law for the past nine years in Mississippi and in Memphis and Nashville, Tenn. She has a Bachelor of Arts in College Scholars (political science, music and theater) from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and a Juris Doctor from the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis. As a former deputy finance director for the Tennessee Republican Party, with experience serving in several different capacities on a variety of state and local campaigns, from campaign manager to finance chair. 

Bobby Massey (Director of Conservation Services)

B.S., University of Mississippi

Mr. Massey joined DU in 1993 as a Regional Engineer and was soon promoted to Regional Engineering Supervisor over the Southern Region. Prior to 1993 he worked for state and federal organizations, as well as a private construction company. Mr. Massey has more than 35 years of engineering experience in civil construction and design and is licensed in 10 states. In 2003 Mr. Massey was promoted to Director of Conservation Services and retained oversight of the drafting department and technical oversight of the engineering staff. He is also responsible for agreements, contract compliance, and regional budget oversight.

Great Plains Region

Dr. Stephen E. Adair (Director of Operations, Great Plains Region)

Ph.D. Utah State University

M.S. Texas A&M University

B.S. University of Texas

Dr. Adair began his tenure with Ducks Unlimited, Inc. at its national headquarters in June 1997. He has served on several national committees and delegations including the Citizens Ambassador Delegation for Wetland Conservation to Australia and New Zealand, the U.S. Forest Service's national riparian roads team, and the agricultural task force of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Dr. Adair has extensive experience in conservation program development, strategic implementation, supervision and evaluation. Current responsibilities include supervision of Ducks Unlimited's conservation program delivery in Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wyoming. Dr. Adair has been involved in wetland research and waterfowl management throughout the United States and has co-authored numerous scientific journal articles and management handbooks.

Western Region

Mark Biddlecomb (Director of Operations: Western Regional Office)
M.S., University of Alaska
B.S., Utah State University

As Director of Operations for the Western Region, Mark Biddlecomb oversees all conservation activities in the 9 western states including habitat conservation, land protection, research, engineering and public policy. Mark has over 25 years of experience in wildlife and habitat management. After obtaining his M.S. in wildlife management, he accepted the position of resource area biologist with the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada. At DU, he first served as a regional biologist in the Intermountain West and completed a myriad of projects throughout Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah. In 2002, he became the Director of Conservation Programs for the South Pacific Flyway. He is now Director of Operations for the Western Region and has been since 2010.

Dr. Mark Petrie (Director of Conservation Planning)
Ph.D., University of Missouri
M.S., University of Missouri

Dr. Petrie assumed his current position with DU in 1997. Previously, he was a research assistant at the University of Missouri, where his graduate work focused on the role of the mallard in the decline of the black duck. He currently serves as research coordinator for the black duck joint venture as well as a member of the monitoring, evaluation and research team of the Gulf Coast joint venture. His current responsibilities include the development of a strong research program befitting DU's conservation programs in areas important to non-breeding waterfowl.