Board of Directors
Jeffrey Blockinger is Chief Legal Officer, Chief Compliance Officer and Secretary of Och-Ziff. Mr. Blockinger is also an Executive Managing Director. Prior to joining Och-Ziff in 2005, Mr. Blockinger was with Schulte, Roth & Zabel, LLP from April 2003 to April 2005, Crowell & Moring LLP from January 2002 to April 2003 and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP from September 1996 to January 2002. Mr. Blockinger holds a B.A. in Political Science from Purdue University and a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law. Mr. Blockinger is admitted to the bars of New York and the District of Columbia.
Susan Watkins Freund has been an active supporter of the WCC for over a decade, and continues to be instrumental in both strategic planning and development. Susie first learned about the WCC when she met co-founder Hélène Grimaud who was performing at the Caramoor Summer Music Festival. With five children and a strong commitment to both education and the environment, Susie quickly offered her support, joining the Board a few years later. After graduating from Boston University, Susie, who was born and raised outside of Philadelphia, moved to New York where she worked while earning a Masters Degree in History from Columbia University. Her interest in conservation and the environment began in earnest when she was a researcher for the industrial display company designing the Washington State Department of Ecology’s pavilion at Expo ’74 in Spokane–known as the first environmentally-themed World’s Fair. The pavilion celebrated the State’s victory over litter from the first trash (Adam and Eve’s apple core) to the landmark passage of the Model Litter Act. Other exhibits covered subjects including the importance of protecting aquifers and vanishing species as evidence of man overstepping his boundaries in the environment. Susie serves on the Board of Caramoor Center for Music and The Arts where she is a member of the Executive Committee, and is a member of the Board of Big Arts—Sanibel (Florida). She has also served on the Parent Boards of both Rippowam-Cisqua and the Low Heywood School for Girls, as well as on the Fund Raising and Development committees of the Katonah Museum of Art where she initiated the highly successful annual House Tour. Susie, who was a competitive swimmer as a child, continues to play championship golf. She and her husband John live in Pound Ridge with their horses, dogs and 13 visiting grandchildren.
Hélène Grimaud, Founder
Hélène Grimaud is a renowned concert pianist and a founder of the Wolf Conservation Center. Hélène Grimaud was born in Aix-en Provence in the south of France in 1969. At the age of 17 she appeared at Daniel Barenboim’s invitation with the Orchestre de Paris and began a career wherein she has performed with most of the world’s major orchestras and renowned conductors. Hélène champions many charitable causes, including the Worldwide Fund for Nature and Amnesty International. In addition to her dedication and hard work in founding the WCC, Hélène has become a global advocate for wolves, their relationship to the environment, and the human role in protecting their future. In Hélène's words, wolves are not only essential “biodiversity engineers,” preserving balances among animal and plant species but also “endlessly fascinating creatures who have much to teach humans.” Hélène is the author of three successful books, “Retour à Salem” (Albin Michel, 2013), “Leçons Particulières” (Robert Laffont, 2005), and “Variations Sauvages” (Robert Laffont, 2003) / "Wild Harmonies" (Riverhead / Penguin, US, 2006). Hélène's deep dedication to her musical career, both in performances and recordings, is reflected and reciprocally amplified by the scope and depth of her environmental and literary pursuits.
Martha Handler, President
Martha Handler joined the WCC board in 2001 and is currently serving as Board President. After graduating from the University of Colorado in1981, she worked as a private environmental consultant for the EPA, NRC and Department of Energy in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles. During this time Martha specialized in community relations at various Superfund sites across the country, and wrote regulations and provided oversight in the areas of nuclear waste, oil refinery production and waste, and asbestos removal from public buildings. In addition, she worked with the EPA and the insurance industry to prepare detailed financial responsibility requirements for underground storage tanks which were subsequently presented to Congress. Martha has been an environmentalist, philanthropist and community activist for many years. While living and attending school in the West, she learned about the plight of the wolves and the misguided beliefs of many of the ranchers and others concerning how vital the wolves as a top predator are to the overall health of our environment. When her family moved East and she learned there were wolves literally “living in her backyard,” she jumped on the opportunity to get involved to not only spread the word about the importance of the wolves but also about overall environmental stability. Since joining the Board, Martha has remained one of the WCC’s most ardent and enthusiastic supporters. In addition to serving on the WCC Board, Martha has also served on the boards of the Lewisboro Land Trust and the Lewisboro Library. Most recently, she has turned her attention to writing and is currently working on a novel and various other fiction and non-fiction projects.
Tripp Killin is the Executive Director of the Jeniam Foundation, a small family foundation in CT that focuses primarily on conservation issues. Previously, he was Associate Director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, an advocacy group working to preserve wild places in the Land of Enchantment (including vital wolf habitat). After leaving the staff, he joined the Board of the Alliance, where he served for a number of years in various capacities. Tripp received a B.S. in Biology from the University of New Mexico (Go Lobos!) and then spent a decade in the software industry, first in Silicon Valley and then in Albuquerque. Tripp joined the Wolf Conservation Center to help save a creature that is critical to many wild ecosystems and which represents the very essence of Wilderness. He believes wolves are an indicator species for health of the human spirit.
Veronica Dodge is an attorney with The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (BNA), primarily focusing on contracts and licensing and copyright issues. Before joining BNA in 2014, Veronica held the same role with its parent company, Bloomberg L.P., from 2006-2013. Prior to becoming a lawyer, she had a career in the financial industry, holding Investor Services roles with Merrill Lynch and Related Capital Company. Veronica obtained a B.A. in English from the State University at Albany in 1992, and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 2006. She is admitted to the bars of New York and New Jersey. Veronica is also on the Advisory Board of The Sanctuary Series, a piano concert series in South Salem, NY. Acting on her interest in animal and environmental conservation, Veronica began volunteering at the WCC in 2009, and joined the Board in 2015. She has helped educate visitors to the WCC, had the incredible opportunity to be a wolf nanny to baby Nikai, and continues as part of the animal care team. Veronica’s best adventure of all started in 2011 while coordinating the WCC’s “Wine & Wolves” event, where she met fellow volunteer James M. Dodge III (Sam). They married in 2013, and live in South Salem, NY. Weekends will often find Veronica on an ATV delivering fresh water to the wolf enclosures and caring for the ambassador wolves, while Sam works on the WCC’s technology.
Shari Wolf Ruckh
Shari Wolf Ruckh, a Certified Public Accountant, joined the Board in the spring of 2010 and became Treasurer in 2011. Shari obtained a BS in Psychology in 1987 from Union College in Schenectady, NY, and an MBA in Certified Public Accounting in 1989 from Hofstra University, in Hempstead, NY. She spent the next two years as an auditor in the Retail and Publishing division of Arthur Andersen, LLP, and then went on to a career in private, corporate accounting including the positions of: Accounting Manager at the World League of American Football; Manager of Financial Accounting at Home Box Office; Controller of US Operations of the recruiting firm Michael Page International; Controller and Assistant Treasurer of the music label, publishing and distribution company Ryko Music Group; and most recently, Assistant Controller at World Wrestling Entertainment. Currently, Shari has chosen to leave the workforce to focus on raising her daughter. In addition to being on the Board of the Wolf Conservation Center, she also is on the Board of the Pound Ridge Neighbors’ and Newcomers’ Club as its Treasurer, and is the co-head agent for her graduating class and is on the Alumni Council of Union College. Shari is a member in good standing of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Shari resides in Pound Ridge, NY with her husband Robert Ruckh and her daughter Amelia. She has always been a great lover of all types of animals, and considers it an honor and a privilege to serve the wolf population by being involved with the Wolf Conservation Center.
Dean Travalino has served on the Wolf Conservation Center Board since 2000 and is currently its Secretary. Dean is an attorney who specialized in real estate and land use law and is a former partner in the law firm of Allen, Litt & Hulnick in Tarrytown, NY. Dean's commitment to the environment began as a teenager when, as an avid amateur photographer, he helped a local grassroots group led by his mother raise community awareness to save "Nunataks,” the Hall Estate, from development. The property is now the Greenburg Nature Center. A twenty-year resident of Lewisboro, he was legal adviser in the formation of both the Lewisboro Horsemen's Association and the Honey Hollow Pony Club, and served on the original Advisory Board of the Phelps Memorial Hospital Hospice Program. Currently, Dean is on the board of the Westchester Oratorio Society, is a member of the Town of Lewisboro's Advisory Committee for the Disabled and is chair of the Town's Cable Advisory Committee. He is a graduate of Fordham College where he studied history and holds a Juris Doctor degree from Boston University School of Law.