About Us

Who We Are

Lawrence Anthony – Earth Organization Founder

Lawrence Anthony with elephants in background.OUR FOUNDER

The Earth Organization (TEO) was founded by internationally acclaimed, South African conservationist, Lawrence Anthony, who owned and lived on an exclusive, private game preserve in South Africa.  He is most well known for his remarkable 5 ½-month rescue initiative of the animals and staff of the Baghdad Zoo, early in the Iraqi War. For his amazing act of courage, he received the prestigious United Nation’s Earth Trustee Award, the coveted UN Earth Day Medal, and was inducted into the by-invitation-only, esteemed Explorers Club. The book Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible War-time Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo was written about his adventure, and the story of his determination and bravery is so compelling that a Hollywood major, feature-length film about his heroism is being produced.  As a result of his experiences in Baghdad, Lawrence decided to found an environmental organization that would be dedicated to bringing real solutions to the world’s environmental problems, in order to safeguard all life, while helping to re-create a healthy, habitable, aesthetic planet.

Shortly after purchasing the game preserve Thula Thula (which means “Peace and Tranquility” in Zulu), Lawrence acquired a herd of 7 extremely traumatized wild elephants, reintroducing the species back into an area where elephant hadn’t been seen for over 100 years.  Lawrence rescued the troublesome herd from certain death, and his relationship with them was so extraordinary that CNN, BBC, CBS, and a number of other major media filmed him with them, dubbing him “the Elephant Whisperer”.  Anyone else approaching these wild elephants too closely would be in grave danger.  However, Lawrence could go out into the bush and call out them and they would come from far away just to be with him.

As mystical as it may sound, every time he returned from a trip, the night he arrived, the herd would show up at his house to see him.  When he passed away in 2012, he was 300 miles away from the preserve.  The elephants perceived it and walked 12 miles to the house and stayed there in mourning for many hours.  On the anniversary of his death, each year for the past 3 years, they have returned to his house.

Lawrence’s second, bestselling book, The Elephant Whisperer, was released in June of 2009, covering his experiences with these magnificent animals.

Lawrence was born and raised in the African bush and spoke Zulu fluently.  His primary conservation focus was the education and involvement of remote rural communities in conservation and environmental awareness.  It took 16 years of work and negotiations, but his understanding of the native culture made it possible for him to obtain an historic agreement between all 6 local Zulu tribes, to drop their fences and create together one of the largest game preserves in the world – the Royal Zulu Biosphere.  

Lawrence’s wife, Francoise, a dynamic Parisian beauty left France to join him in South Africa. A Cordon Bleu chef, she manages and runs the hotel accommodations of Thula Thula, providing a unique and elegant ambience for their guests through luxurious cabins and tents, and an award-winning blend of African and French cuisine.  It has been noted, however, that Bijou, the miniature poodle always in attendance at her side, is, in fact, the true boss of the entire facility.

Lawrence has been featured in a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, ie. Men’s Journal, Elle, Readers Digest, The Smithsonian, SAA Magazine, The Zululand Observer, The Globe, and many others.


Mens Journal The Elephant Wars_Page_1

Mens Journal The Elephant Wars-R          Elle_april 2008


International President and U.S Executive Director

Barbara Wiseman

Barbara Wiseman

Over the past 40 years, Barbara Wiseman has worked with a variety of international organizations, from helping displaced refugees to resettle in their new American homes, to introducing effective management technology to business and government leaders in Russia and Mexico. Additionally, she had a national radio program for 7 years called Building a Better World, bringing effective, down-to-earth solutions for life’s challenges to listeners all around the U.S.

In 2003, Barbara was the Executive Director of a management-consulting firm in Los Angeles, CA when Dr. Anthony invited her to help him create The Earth Organization. Assuming both the roles of International President and U.S. Executive Director, she worked closely with him to set the course of the organization and expand its reach around the world.  Since Dr. Anthony passed away in 2012, she and Yvette Taylor have taken the reins and continue to guide and expand the organization’s reach and impact.

International Executive Director

Yvette Taylor
Yvette Taylor

Our International headquarters are in Durban South Africa, ably lead by Yvette Taylor.  Before coming on board with LAEO as our International Executive Director, she worked for many years in both municipal and private sectors as a certified Town and Regional Planner, and is trained and experienced in sales, marketing, administration, business development and personnel training having advanced to the position of Executive Director previously in a Durban-based community betterment non-profit.

Since Dr. Anthony passed away, Yvette has worked intensively to safeguard and forward the work he began in 1) creating community wildlife preserves with and for the benefit of the local indigenous peoples and the wildlife, 2) effectively raising awareness of the plight of rhinos through media, 3) partnering with and fundraising to cover expenses necessary to keep anti-poaching helicopters in the air, 4) the implementation of environmental education workshops and materials to thousands of school children in Kwa-Zulu Natal, and 5) increasing the numbers of our chapters around the world.


US Board of Directors

Ray McKay – Chairman

Ray, president of a successful Los Angeles marketing company, brings his experience and expertise in marketing, promotion, Internet presence and public relations to the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization. He brings strong management, marketing, and public relations experience to an area of passion: ecological and environmental issues.


Roberta Perry

Roberta Perry – Secretary

Roberta has been a key personality in the development and growth of the themed entertainment and leisure entertainment industries for more than 20 years, having held vice presidential positions at 20th Century Fox, iWerks Entertainment, and Edwards Technologies, Inc. She brings her valuable marketing, public relations and industry board experience to LAEO.


Barbara Wiseman – Treasurer

Stan Gerson

Stan Gerson – Board Member

Mr. Gerson is a successful international businessman specializing in real estate transactions. He brings to LAEO comprehensive administrative, financial and fundraising skills in addition to his considerable experience in dealing with property issues as they relate to contaminated and polluted soil and water.



Marla Martinez, Esq. – Board Member

Graduating from University of Southern California Law School, Marla has practiced law in the state of California for 36 years. She has helped to guide our organization through the various legal requirements set for non-profit organizations.

Joy Tessman

Joy Tessman – Board Member

With a 12-year teaching background both in the U.S. and other countries, and having developed a successful and innovative pilot program exploring global ethics and environmental studies, Joy was honored in 2003 with the prestigious Who’s Who of American Teachers Award. Wanting to reach out far beyond the limits of her classrooms, she created a film company called BolderVision Films.

Early on, her passion for the environment lead her to work as a legislative aide, focusing on environmental issues. During that time she attended the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil and met with top leaders in the environmental movement and U.S. environmental policy. She also helped implement mandatory Environmental Education in the curriculum of the State of California.

When not teaching, Joy’s background as a photographer, photojournalist, and extreme sports athlete landed her in the heart of Siberia as the US Team Leader of a tri-cultural (Russian, Japanese, and U.S.) river expedition on the endangered Katun River in the Altal region of central Siberia. The expedition was to bring attention to a proposed dam project. She went on to cover the historic Soviet Coup that took place shortly after her river trip in 1991. Her stunning photographs of “the Threee Days That Shook the World”, together with a 45-minute documentary based on her pictures and recordings of the event brought great attention to her work both as a photojournalist and filmmaker.

In 1993, Joy left the classroom to pursue documentary film and photography full time. She and her husband, photographer Barry Tessman, set out to explore indigenous cultures in Sibera, the new Russian Republics, Northern Pakistan, Western China, and India.

After the tragic loss of her husband, Joy has gone on to become a successful and award-winning film producer and photographer, with her photographic work now represented by National Geographic Image Sales.

Advisory Board

Marynette Herndon


Ms. Herndon has a Masters degree in Environmental Engineering and is a Certified Hazardous Material Manager (CHMM) and a Registered Environmental Manager (REM).  She has managed remediation projects for surface spills, groundwater cleanup and bio-remediation projects as well as recycling and federal compliance for corporate, commercial nuclear, and Department of Energy nuclear and non-nuclear facilities. For five years, she represented the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) interests with Louisiana and Texas state regulators at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (a terminal and six storage facilities for one billion barrels of crude oil). While there, she won the National DOE Pollution Prevention Award for Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Recycling as well as the Louisiana Governor’s Environmental Leadership Award and the DOE Certificate of Appreciation for Mentoring Suppliers & Small Companies to Prevent Pollution.

Additionally, she was the Environmental Operations Manager for cleanup and closure of the Yankee Rowe nuclear plant where she managed sampling, characterization and cleanup of PCBs, PAH, Dioxin, petroleum, lead and other heavy metals on the 12 acre industrial site.  She also managed the characterization of PCB disposition within a 30,000 cu. ft. landfill on Yankee Row property and, introduced Thermal Desorption Technology, saving 1.8 million dollars in hazardous waste shipping costs.

Marynette has consulted at several Superfund sites around the country, training workers on environmental regulations and clean-up methodologies.

She is currently consulting with Idaho Cleanup Project at the Idaho National Lab near Idaho Falls, Idaho for radioactive materials and approximately three thousand chemicals.

Alex Nicholson


Alex obtained both a Masters in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA in Marketing and Finance.  He has over 45 years experience in all aspects of Mechanical Engineering, including detailed design, finite element modeling, steady state and transient thermal stress, high cycle and low cycle fatigue analysis.  He is experienced in advanced metallurgy, specialty diffusion and plasma spray coatings, new product development, testing and manufacturing, quality assurance, marketing, sales and product support of high-tech industrial products in the U.S. and abroad.  His management experience includes middle and senior management positions, such as VP Marketing and Sales, both in a successful startup company and in large corporations.  Recently as a senior engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, he was involved in the Mars Rover Curiosity and various Space Satellite projects. He has written a long list of technical articles covering a wide range of manufacturing, engineering, and product development.

Paul Sammarco


Dr. Sammarco is a Professor at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), Chauvin, Louisiana, USA who has been conducting research on coral reef ecology for over 40 years, in the western Atlantic (Caribbean, Florida Keys, Gulf of Mexico, and the Bahamas) and on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. He has over 235 publications and has served as an Assistant Professor at Clarkson University (NY), a senior research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and Executive Director and a Research Professor at LUMCON. He also served as the Director of Environmental Research for the Resource Assessment Commission, Dept. of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australia for several years (PM’s personal commission on key natural resource and environmental issues), providing Dr. Sammarco with intensive training and experience in government policy and decision making. He is currently Executive Director of the Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean (AMLC), Chairman of the State Commission for the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center (SLWDC), Associate Editor of Aquatic Biology. He was also an editor for Marine Ecology Progress Series and Marine Biology (Berlin) for 6 yrs each, consecutively. His Ph.D. is in ecology and evolution, but has conducted interdisciplinary work with numerous collaborators in biophysics; natural products chemistry and chemical ecology; geology – stable isotope geochemistry, bio-erosion, and reef growth processes; meteorology – climate change, sea surface temperatures, and prediction of coral bleaching; mathematics – analytical modeling; and oil spill remediation techniques.

With respect to projects, current and in the recent past, he has been conducting interdisciplinary studies examining coral communities associated with oil/gas platforms in the northern Gulf of Mexico in association with the U.S. Dept. of Interior Minerals Management Service/Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement for over 10 yrs. He has determined sources and sinks of coral larvae and documented and quantified the expansion of coral populations throughout the northern Gulf via these platforms. He has also conducted deep-water reconnaissance on these platforms and toppled structures used as artificial reefs (“Rigs-to-Reefs” program), and has determined the degree of genetic connectivity between populations of major coral species in this region. He has also developed statistical techniques by which to predict coral bleaching at intermediate SSTs, based on temperature trend data as well as techniques by which to hind-cast periods of seawater cooling through the microstructure of coral skeletons. His present studies include the effects of climate change and global warming on coral reefs at the cellular level within the coral hosts and their symbionts. These effects include changes in global climatic regions and predicted regions of coral extinction. Another current project is coral species that have invaded the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific, as part of continuing studies on coral dispersal, recruitment processes, and reef-regeneration processes. He has also become heavily involved with environmental issues resulting from BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.


Dr. Warby graduated from Natal University in South Africa with a B.Sc. degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry and a U.S. coursework Masters equivalent in Pure Chemistry. Dr. Warby got his M.Sc. degree in Soil Science from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa and his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Syracuse University in upstate New York. He also was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal looking at the remediation of rehabilitated mine soils. Dr. Warby’s research focuses on the development of analytical techniques for environmental samples with complex matrices, and the development/application of QAQC procedures in environmental chemistry. Specifically, he is interested in how northeast forest soils and surface waters respond to changes in atmospheric deposition and climate. He is also developing various analytical methods including: a non-lethal method to sample and analyze avian adipose tissue for Persistent Organic Pollutants; detect, identify, and quantify TCE and its metabolites in genetically modified plants used in phytoremediation; and qualitatively identify VOCs emitted from plants.

Dr. Warby has 17 years of experience working in an analytical or synthetic chemistry laboratory and he worked as an environmental engineer specializing in sample collection and data analysis before returning to academia. Dr. Warby also owns an environmental consulting and education company, The Warby Group LLC, specializing in QAQC, data validation, and general environmental education for universities and private industry.


While in college and law school Jeanne volunteered much of her time to non-profits and a veterinary clinic, working tirelessly to oppose vivisection, protect our environment and wild habitats, rescue horses and donkeys, and to change the laws in Washington state so that animal cruelty became (and is now) a felony. Upon graduating from law school at University of Memphis, TN, Jeanne moved to Washington state to practice environmental law. She went to work for the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney and eventually wound up at EPA where she was an Assistant Regional Counsel for approximately 10 years. In the early 1990s, Jeanne transferred to the EPA Suspension and Debarment Division where she handled cases for EPA Regions 8 and 10 (CO, ND, SD, MT, Utah, WY, WA, AK, OR and ID) overseeing governmental grantees and contractors.

Retiring after 25 years with EPA, Jeanne followed her lifelong passion for the care and protection of animals and is currently the President of the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center and an Advisor to the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization (LAEO).


For 33 years, from 1976 to 2010, Ms. Hilgard served as a senior Toxicologist, Risk Assessor, and Technical Review Panelist for the U.S. EPA based in Washington, D.C.  Among many impressive accomplishments during her tenure with the EPA, she developed health and environmental criteria for acceptable fragrance ingredients to be used in commercial cleaning product formulations, published (2013) by EPA under the Green Chemistry Program.  Pat co-chaired the Risk Assessment Training Program, covering such topics as green chemistry and engineering, emerging chemical issues, new and alternative testing methodologies, and the analysis and interpretation of genomic studies for their application in new chemical reviews and determinations, life-cycle accounting and economics related to chemical substitutes and affordability of proposed testing; represented EPA regulatory perspective while serving as an Editor for the Risk Assessment section of the Journal of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (JSETAC).  Other career highlights were her participation in environmental programming of the Woodrow Wilson International Center including the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, and with the Wilson Center, US AID, and EPA on issues of China, India, and Africa.

John Turley


John Turley’s early resume includes Phillips Petroleum, Fluor Ocean Services, Tenneco Oil Company, and Marietta College (professor, petroleum engineering).  During the next twenty-five years with Marathon Oil Company, he held responsibilities as Gulf Coast drilling manager, U.K. operations manager, manager of worldwide drilling, and VP of engineering & technology.  His academics include petroleum engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, ocean engineering at the University of Miami, and executive education at Harvard Business School.

After early retirement from Marathon, John focused on writing mystery novels, though that second career changed the day after BP’s April 2010 blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Twenty-nine months after the event that never should have happened, Turley completed his research and published THE SIMPLE TRUTH: BP’s Macondo Blowout. The fact driven novel and nonfiction Epilogue are about the drilling of the 3 1/2 mile deep well and the engineering, operating, and human causes of the catastrophe.  A simple message forms the foundation of John’s book and his professional speaking engagements, which he takes to audiences touched by the disaster, and to engineering students, and the media, and environmentalists, and to his oil-and-gas colleagues around the world:

“Only if we understand and care about the cause of BP’s Macondo blowout will we know why it should not have happened and why it should never happen again.”


Dr. David Wright is the President of Environmental Research Services. Dr. Wright has a long and impressive history as an Environmental Toxicologist with a niche expertise in the testing of ballast water discharge for enforcement of the International Ballast Water Convention standards. His company, Environmental Research Services (ERS), is primarily involved with providing information and biological and chemical analytical services.  He has worked in the field of physiological effects of trace metals and petroleum hydrocarbons; toxicity bioassays; environmental risk assessments; effects of UV light on aquatic organisms; physical/chemical anti-fouling strategies; control of non-indigenous aquatic species; natural product biocides; and water treatment technologies. In 2010 he was Senior Scientist aboard two vessels monitoring the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In a career spanning more than forty years he has published over 120 peer-reviewed papers and books on aspects of environmental physiology and toxicology involving trace metals, petroleum hydrocarbons and non-indigenous species control.

He holds three patents on water treatment technology.

Ian Raper


Dr. Raper is the President of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science (S2A3).  Additionally, he is the Chair of the Scientific Editors Forum of South Africa (SEFSA).  Dr. Raper has helped to guide a number of our campaigns and initiatives, most notably our work to prevent the unnecessary culling of over 3,000 elephants, as well as our informational publications.

Kevin Burke



Kevin Burke is the CEO of Wiseman & Burke, Inc., a Los Angeles based firm that handles the business and financial affairs of entertainment professionals and other high income/high net worth individuals.  As one of the premier financial strategists to some of the biggest names in Hollywood for 30 years, Mr. Burke has dealt with sophisticated and complex business and financial matters on both a domestic and international basis. Mr. Burke lives in Los Angeles where he devotes his “free” time to his family and pro bono work for several non-profit, social betterment activities.

Lito Avloniti


Lito Avloniti is an established and accomplished designer. She has created art to further humanitarian causes in the field of human rights, drug prevention and Cooperative Ecology®. Her art is in use in over 2,900 schools and in 170 countries where several million copies of her work have been distributed to educate and aid those whose rights were violated or who were affected by drug proliferation. She has worked with numerous non-profit organizations and government agencies such as the School Safety Police and the General Prosecutor’s Office in Mexico, the Los Angeles Sheriff Department and HITDA, a branch in the Executive Office of the U.S. President. She also has created art for A-list celebrities in the movie industry that embrace humanitarian causes. She has an innate appreciation of the acute urgency to effectively deal with environmental destruction in a fashion that also enhances human life and prosperity. Her valuable skill and ability to bring subjects to life through aesthetics are a vital asset to LAEO’s mission.

Andrea Chalupa


Andrea Chalupa is a journalist and the author of Orwell and The Refugees: The Untold Story of Animal Farm. She has written for TIME, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, and Forbes. Some of the institutions where she has spoken include Columbia University, McGill University, and the National Press Club in Washington, DC. She is a founder of DigitalMaidan, an online movement that made the Ukrainian protests the #1 trending topic on Twitter worldwide. Her first screenplay, about George Orwell struggling to publish Animal Farm, the book that made him famous, is in development in Europe.


US Executive Staff

BARBARA WISEMAN – Executive Director

Diane Wagenbrenner

DIANE WAGENBRENNER – VP Operations and Public Information

As an Executive and Public Relations Specialist, Diane Wagenbrenner has held a wide range of PR, Marketing, Research and Communications responsibilities in public-facing social betterment organizations, as well as corporate environments for more than 30 years. Having extensive experience advising senior level management and providing Strategic Planning, Campaign Program Management and solutions for overcoming Public Image challenges, she has taken struggling groups and organizations as well as going concerns into higher levels of productivity and accelerated expansion. Now dedicated to restoring the ecosystems of the world, she is engaged in projects to foster better communications and effective action between Energy Industry, Environmental Science and Technology professionals and Government stakeholders. Current Project: Modernize Oil Spill Clean Up Protocols and Contingency Plans which includes employing technology that will, in reality, clean up the Gulf of Mexico and any areas that have been impacted by oil spills.


Genie brings over 35 years knowledge and experience in financial management of both for profit and non-profit organizations to LAEO.