Meet the Staff

Doug Austen

Douglas Austen
Executive Director
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Doug Austen has been Executive Director since 2013, but has been involved with AFS since the early 1980s as an undergraduate student at South Dakota State University. He served as president of the Illinois Chapter and North Central Division, wrote articles for several AFS journals and books, and also served as an associate editor for the North American Journal of Fisheries Management.  Prior to AFS, Doug was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national coordinator for Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and worked for 10 years each with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Natural History Survey. When not at AFS, Doug provides taxi service for his two teenagers and fishes, hunts, runs, bikes, and kayaks in Pennsylvania or wherever travels take him.  He has a Ph.D. from Iowa State University and an M.S. from Virginia Tech.

Beth Beard
Beth Beard
Senior Communications Manager
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Beth's responsibilities include social media management, website maintenance, marketing, graphic design, writing and editing, and photography. She also helps coordinate communications for the Global Conference on Inland Fisheries effort, a partnership between Michigan State University and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Previously, she was the managing editor of Parks & Recreation magazine and prior to that, she spent 11 years at AFS as the managing editor of Fisheries. She also has worked in public relations and publications in the wood products industry and the zoo and aquarium field. She has a BA in public communication from The American University. As a lifelong world traveler, her hobbies include travel photography. She is married to longtime AFS member Doug Beard.

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Thomas Bigford
Policy Director
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Tom is the AFS Policy Co-Director, sharing the position with Drue Winters until the end of 2017 when he will retire. In the interim, he will work closely with Drue to use the strength of AFS members to influence policy outcomes for the benefit of aquatic resources by sharing management knowledge and the best available scientific information with decision makers. Tom joined the AFS staff in 2014 after a 38-year federal career in the marine fish habitat world. He first joined AFS in 1973 and has been an active member since 1996. He is past chair and current member of the Resource Policy Committee, current president of the Fish Habitat Section, a member of 8 AFS Sections, and a regular contributor to Fisheries magazine.


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Daniel Cassidy
Deputy Executive Director
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Daniel Cassidy joined AFS as Deputy Executive Director in 2015.  He oversees AFS operation functions including administration, communications, finance, and meetings.  Daniel has spent the majority of his career in association management and has worked for scientific and educational associations.  While not working, he can be found outside on the baseball field, gardening, or chasing his two Chihuahuas around the yard.


Katrina Dunn
Director of Development
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Juanita Flick

Juanita Flick
Membership Assistant
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Juanita performs member support for individual membership at AFS.  That entails every type of question and a lot of listening, from, "What kind of organization is AFS?" to "Where are you located?" She tries to answer all questions as completely as possible, mentors students and new members, and finds AFS contacts. Sometimes, a recently deceased member's spouse will call to change an address, etc., and they may want to chat for a bit - and she does, because she feels that's also included in her job duties. Juanita processes financial transactions for dues, journals, and memberships, and helps with online journal access problems and access to the website. She registers attendees for the Annual Meeting, which includes processing registration fees, substitutions, invitation letters for our foreign visitors, and answering questions. If you have any questions or concerns, you know that Juanita will be there to assist you.

Sarah Harrison


Sarah Harrison
Managing Editor, Fisheries
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Sarah is the managing editor of Fisheries, where she oversees the content packaging, art direction, management, and production of the magazine, working closely with the Executive Director, science editors, and writers in content conception and development. Before this position, she worked as an editor for a year, creating and editing content to engage and inform AFS members. Sarah holds a doctorate degree in fisheries from Mississippi State University and a master's degree in marine resources management from Texas A&M Galveston.

Laura Hendee


Laura Hendee
Journals Production Manager
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Laura joined AFS in 2006. In 2011, she assumed day-to-day management of the journals program and works closely with the AFS editorial boards, authors, copy editors, and our publishing partner to produce Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, the North American Journal of Fisheries Management, the North American Journal of Aquaculture, the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health, and Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science. Laura graduated with a BA in English from the College of Wooster in 2005. She grew up fishing on family vacations in Wyoming and Colorado, but spent most of that time falling into various lakes and streams and usually ended up happily reading instead.

Mohammed Hossain
Education Program Coordinator
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Shawn Johnston trade show


Shawn Johnston
Meetings Manager
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Shawn Johnston joined AFS as the Administrative Coordinator in 2007 and is currently the AFS Meetings Manager, the lead contact for managing AFS meetings and coordinating meeting contracts with Chapters and Divisions.  Shawn graduated from UMDNJ with a Bachelor’s of Science in Emergency Management, obtained his national registry flight paramedic license in 1997, and attended Rutgers University for business management. Shawn also managed safety conferences for a large manufacturer in New Jersey for seven years.

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Debby Lehman
Books Coordinator
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Debby graduated from Occidental College with a degree in English and comparative literature and received a master’s degree in English literature from Boston University. She has been working in the books department of the American Fisheries Society for more than 15 years. Experienced in using Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop, and various other software programs, her responsibilities include copy editing, book layout, and prepress.


Aaron Lerner


Aaron Lerner
Publications Director
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Aaron joined AFS in 2001. He manages overall publications department operations, including the books and journals programs. Additionally, Aaron develops editorial policies and procedures, works closely with AFS journals’ co-publisher Taylor & Francis, acts as liaison to AFS book customers, and considers requests to reuse AFS copyrighted materials. He particularly enjoys researching and locating hard-to-find fisheries publications. Previously, Aaron was managing editor of a monthly publication summarizing U.S. Congressional committee hearings. He grew up in St. Louis and remains a loyal Cardinals fan.

Jackie Machado
Accounting Assistant
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Jackie is the accounting  assistant for AFS.  If you need to pay an invoice or inquire about an outstanding balance concerning the Trade Show, plaques, or certificates, Jackie is the person to call.

Eva Przygodzki
Membership Manager
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Jasmine Sewell
Unit Services Coordinator
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Denise Spencer
Office Administration Manager
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Denise has been at AFS since 2010; her position includes human resources, administration, facilities management, meeting planning, overseeing IT, accounting, and grants.  If there are any issues, Denise is the person that people come to, and she'll figure out what to do. If something comes up that no one in the office handles, it winds up on her desk. She ensures that our office is running smoothly.  If you have issues and can not figure out who to go to give her a call, and she can help you or direct you to the correct person.

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Kurt West
Books Coordinator
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Kurt joined AFS staff as Books Production Coordinator in July 2007 after having completed his MFA in writing at American University, where he had also interned as an editor for the university’s journal of arts.  Prior to his graduate studies, he received his BA in English with a specialization in communication and technology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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Howard Williams
Administrative Specialist
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Howard joined the AFS staff in September 2007 and is currently the Administrative Specialist. A native of Colorado, he received a BS degree in 1974 and a MBA degree in 1976 from Colorado State University. For 30 years, Howard was the owner/operator of a large, diversified farm operation in Montgomery County, Maryland. During this time, he served in numerous leadership positions for agricultural and natural resource organizations at local, state, and national levels. As Administrative Specialist, Howard has been involved with most facets of AFS. Current primary responsibilities include coordinating document archiving operations, supervising community service volunteers, and coordinating the Steven Berkeley Marine Conservation Fellowship. He also works with certification, IT, accounting, and AFS Chapter insurance. Since his early years, Howard has been a professional homebuilder and woodworker, and many of his hand-carved picture frames adorn the walls of the AFS office.

Martha Wilson
Communications Director
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Martha Wilson comes to us from another member-based organization, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), where she worked as a senior communications consultant for four years. The majority of her communications work has been focused on science, innovation and the environment. She spent five-plus years as a senior manager at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), working on fisheries and marine conservation issues, including fisheries policy, endangered species policy, recreational and commercial fishing, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, marine protected areas (MPAs), and aquaculture. In addition, Martha was director of corporate responsibility at Cargill, director of marketing for Burson-Marsteller Budapest, and public affairs manager on the environment, science and innovation, for the U.K. Government. She taught a strategic communications course at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Drue Winters
Policy Director II
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Drue serves as the AFS Policy Co-Director in tandem with Tom Bigford. Together, they lead the organization’s policy advocacy efforts through thoughtful engagement with decision makers on issues that impact aquatic resources. The policy team capitalizes on the expertise of AFS members to influence policy outcomes to benefit aquatic resources by sharing management knowledge and the best available science with decision makers. Drue is a seasoned policy and strategic communications advisor. She served in a key leadership role for the State of Louisiana on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and served as a federal policy advisor on the long-term recovery on the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina with a focus on flood protection and ecosystem restoration. Most recently, Drue served as legal and policy counsel for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries where she worked on a range of fisheries management issues. She graduated summa cum laude from Louisiana State University in 1997 with a B.A. in political science and later from LSU's Paul M. Hebert Law School.