Michael Nelson – Executive Director
Michael is a graduate of Penn State University with a BS in Recreation and Parks Management with a focus on Outdoor Education & Environmental Interpretation. Michael started volunteering at the Refuge in 1991, began working full-time as an Educator / Naturalist in 1996, and became the Refuge Director in October 2000.
Marisa Nelson – Assistant Director
Marisa has been familiar with the Refuge since 1992, when she worked as a co-op student through LIU Southampton. She then became a registered nurse after graduating from Pace University. Having a love for both careers, Marisa had spent her summers working at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, and returned to her nursing career during the rest of the year. Marisa has worked full time at the Refuge as an Environmental Educator since 2003, and was hired as Assistant Director by the Board in the spring of 2006.
Cara Fernandes – Program Director/Environmental Educator
Cara is a graduate of Stony Brook University where she earned a bachelor’s in Environmental Studies, concentrating in Marine Science and Ecology. She first started at the Refuge as an intern in 2014 and continued to work summers throughout college. As Program Director and Environmental Educator since June 2016, Cara enjoys sharing the Refuge’s unique history and ecosystems with visitors of all ages.
Brett Albanese – Events Coordinator / Administrative Assistant
Brett is a graduate of Stony Brook University where he earned his Bachelor’s in English and Linguistics. His time as a Boy Scout inspired him to continue hiking, camping, and simply being outdoors into his adult life. Passionate about utilizing his skills for a good cause, his interest in conservation and wildlife led him to the Quogue Wildlife Refuge in 2022.
Alicia Crohan – Animal Caretaker / Environmental Educator
Alicia is a graduate of Suffolk County Community College with an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts. She first started volunteering at the Refuge in 2019 helping with animal care and guided hikes. She expanded her knowledge in animal care working as a Veterinary Assistant until she started working at the refuge in 2022. As Animal Caretaker, Alicia enjoys observing wildlife and educating guests on our resident animals.
Tonito Valderrama – Environmental Educator
Tonito has a background in museum and art education from C.W. Post Long Island University. He is also a national exhibiting environmental artist who has focused on local environmental issues such as deforestation and endangered species. Tonito has studied and enjoyed birds of prey, botany and Long Island’s varied ecosystems. His passions of nature, education and art have been well blended for the environmental educator position as of April 2010.