Catalina Island News

Conservancy Hosts Reception for Community and Business Leaders

Catalina Island Conservancy

On Monday evening the Catalina Island Conservancy hosted a reception with Avalon community and business leaders at the Catherine Hotel, the future site of the Conservancy’s visitor center. Fish tacos and beer were served while some of the details of the Conservancy’s current projects were shared with guests, including updates on the new visitor center and the restoration of Eagles Nest Lodge.

Two new senior staff members were introduced. John Mack is the Conservancy’s chief of conservation and science officer, and Joe Kalla assumes duties as chief operating officer. Mack will be living in Middle Ranch with his wife and their two children. Kalla and his wife will be residents of Avalon.

“We are pleased to have John and Joe join the Conservancy team,” said Ann Muscat, president and CEO of the Conservancy. “They both bring tremendous experience and talent to the organization and the Island.”

Mack, who had been chief of natural resources for Cleveland Metroparks, will oversee the Conservancy’s conservation department, including all wildlife, plant and GIS programs. He had been responsible for the management of more than 22,000 acres of forest, riparian corridor and wetlands in six northeastern Ohio counties. He planned and implemented long-­?term restoration and natural resource monitoring programs for terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Prior to Cleveland Metroparks, Mack was a wetlands ecologist with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. A field botanist credited with rare plant finds, Mack also had been a staff attorney with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. He has a bachelor’s degree from Miami University of Ohio, a law degree from Cleveland State University, and master’s degrees in environmental science from Indiana University and ecology from Ohio State University.

Kalla, who formerly was vice president of operations for the Houston Zoo, will be responsible for operations and infrastructure programs, including buildings, trails and roads, visitor and volunteer services, rangers, leases, the Airport in the Sky, the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden, and capital projects and improvements. At Houston, Kalla was responsible for the zoo’s facilities, horticulture, buildings and grounds, guest services, admissions, security, third-­? party retail and food, and capital improvement projects.

Prior to Houston, Kalla worked for the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Florida, on the design, construction and operation of the Animal Kingdom Park and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Prior to Disney, he worked for the San Diego Zoo and its Safari Park as an animal care staffer. Kalla has a degree from the University of California at San Diego in physical anthropology and primatology, and certification from Rice University in executive non-­?profit management.