Snow Leopard Conservancy’s 5th Annual
Artwork & Poetry Contest – 2023

2023 Judging Panel

Carolyn MacKenzie serves as Secretary on the Conservancy’s Board of Directors. Carolyn always wanted to be a wildlife biologist. At age 20 she backpacked across Africa, India and the Middle East. She received her Master of Science degree in biophysics and a Bachelor of Science in zoology, both from the University of California, Davis. Along the way, her direction changed. She recently retired after a distinguished 40-year career in the field of Health Physics. Carolyn’s broad experience includes the development of a computer-based international radiation safety training course for onsite test ban treaty inspectors, securing and disposing of dangerous radioactive sources for the University of California, systemwide and for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in global source security.

Astrid Stevenson is the Conservancy’s Office Manager, administratively supporting the team and assisting with outreach events. Her passion for wildlife and conservation began while living on 480 acres of land in the Mayacamas mountain range in Sonoma County. Listening to the female mountain lion calls at night quickly ignited a great fondness for a local apex predator.

After receiving a bachelors in Psychology from Sonoma State University, she went on to take additional courses in a variety of sciences. The next 24 years were spent in both holistic and traditional medical settings, working in variety of roles, both hands on and administratively; the last 18 at the Kaiser Santa Rosa emergency room.

Always an avid volunteer, Astrid has been an art teacher, librarian, and currently, her most favorite – a lion ambassador for the Audubon Canyon Ranch Living with Lions Project. Her other endeavors include relaunching the Predator Exclusion Education Program at the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue.

Margaret Gee hails from Sydney, Australia. She’s worked in publishing for over 30 years, and for the last 20 years has been a literary agent specializing in memoirs and other non-fiction works focusing on nature, Himalayan cultures, anthropology, history, animal welfare, and wellness. Margaret has visited Bhutan eight times and travelled extensively in Nepal, India, Burma, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. She regularly attends the Jaipur Literature festival and went on her first snow leopard expedition in 2019. Margaret returned to Ladakh to search for the Grey Ghost in January 2023. She is the Snow Leopard Conservancy’s Australian Ambassador.

Kathy Ah San recently retired from the Snow Leopard Conservancy after serving as Accounts Administrator. Kathy’s academic career included studies in biology, business and education. After college, she went on to hold positions in a wide range of occupations, including research, teaching, and accounting. Kathy and her husband moved to California in 1986 where they raised their two children, a son and a daughter. Her hobbies include playing clarinet in two bands, traveling, reading, and spending time with family and friends. Kathy continues to serve as a consultant for the Conservancy’s administrative staff.

Shavaun Kidd is the Conservancy’s Outreach Manager, maintaining their presence on a variety of social media platforms, and is the administrator of the Conservancy’s website, editor of the Conservancy’s online newsletter publication, “Snow Leopard Tracks,” and was the host of “Conservation Cat Chats,” an online program featuring guests who are involved in snow leopard conservation. In addition, she handles online fundraising sales and is the coordinator of the Conservancy’s annual Art & Poetry Contest. Shavaun also serves as a conservation educator, speaking to a variety of audiences about snow leopard conservation and responding to student and teacher inquiries. She was the editor of the book Searching for the Snow Leopard, Guardian of the High Mountains, co-authored with photographer Bjorn Persson. Shavaun completed her Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences degree at Western Illinois University, which was centered around a post-baccalaureate certificate program in zoo and aquarium studies, She received bachelor’s degrees in biology, music education, and elementary education from Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.

Suraj Upadhaya, PhD is a postdoctoral research associate with Iowa State University where he is using the socio-ecological framework to understand the conservation behaviors of landowners. He is conducting research and teaching in the areas of socio-ecological systems and the human dimension of natural resource management. Suraj is also actively participating in research in the Himalayas through his organization, Himalayan Conservation and Research Institute. As a youth, Suraj participated in Snow Leopard Rangers, a conservation education program in Nepal for elementary-age school children through 10th grade. As Suraj’s dream was to one day become a forest ranger, he completed undergraduate studies in forestry at the Institute of Forestry, Nepal, in 2012 and received a Master of Science in 2015 from the University of Kentucky. In 2019, he was awarded a PhD in Integrative Conservation of Nature and Forestry from Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia.

Charleen Gavette serves as the Conservation and Education Program Manager, responsible for day-to-day oversight of the Conservancy’s field programs, capacity-building, and reporting. Charleen was a long-time Conservancy volunteer, assisting with GIS modeling of potential snow leopard habitat and migratory corridors and creating maps for presentations. She was also a key volunteer in our “Land of the Snow Leopard” project, attending workshops in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan and leading the development of special computer apps. She will continue these activities as a Conservancy staffer.

Charleen worked in the UCSF Medical Center’s Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit as a Registered Nurse. Her second career as a specialist in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) led her to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service where for 15 years the focus of her work was on endangered and threatened salmon and steelhead.

During the Ebola epidemic, Charleen spent a month in Liberia, as a GIS volunteer contractor for the World Health Organization, helping to map and improve facilities for training of medical personnel. She also volunteered for many national and international wildlife organizations.

Marcia Sivek’s passions in life lie mostly in two camps- animals and art. These were reawakened in 2015. After 12 years of dry corporate work in the environmental engineering industry and almost a decade supporting a struggling nutrition consulting and education practice, with her husband’s help, Marcia was able to fulfill a lifetime dream of traveling to Africa. This trip opened her eyes to the ways animals and people are challenged to coexist. She observed many good people working hard to overcome these challenges in a way that benefits people and animals. Two years after that life changing Africa trip, Marcia debuted her creation, BeProvided Conservation Radio, a podcast showcasing people who love our wild world. The people interviewed are working hard to educate others about the importance of coexistence with nature though conservation, art, writing and animal rescue/rehabilitation. The podcast is now in its fifth season and going strong. Marcia has also picked up her paint brushes and pencils again to paint the wildlife she loves. She is a proud member of the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW), an organization that encourages the production of creative work of professional standards in art, letters and music and provides activities and educational, creative and professional support to non-members in those fields via outreach. Her artwork and podcast episodes can be found at