Meet Our Team

Julia Ponder, DVM, MPH

Julia Ponder, DVM, MPH is Associate Dean for External Partnerships and Engagement at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine, project lead for the Partners for Wildlife program and former director of The Raptor Center. A faculty member with expertise in avian and conservation medicine, she joined the College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002 as Staff Veterinarian for The Raptor Center, was named interim director in 2005, and served as director from 2007-2021. She has consulted on raptor and ecosystem health issues globally, including working with the Ecuadorian government since 2009 to protect the unique, endemic species of the Galapagos Islands during invasive species eradication projects. Dr. Ponder has co-authored and published numerous papers and book chapters.

Mitch Willette, DVM

Michelle Willette, MPH, DACVPM, is a senior veterinarian at The Raptor Center and an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. She joined the University of Minnesota in 2007 with an extensive background in zoological and wildlife medicine with an emphasis in animal welfare, disaster preparedness and response, and public health.

Rob Kulhanek, Program Manager

Rob Kulhanek is P4W Program Manager. He acts as the operational and strategic lead for the program. Rob manages the full suite of P4W projects, spearheads the development of new initiatives, and coordinates the P4W team’s efforts in accomplishing programmatic goals. He joined P4W in 2021 with an extensive background in program management and development, having held positions in higher education, tech entrepreneurship, and conservation work. He holds a B.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from the University of Minnesota and an M.A. in Environmental Education from New York University. Outside of the office, Rob spends his time playing in local sports leagues, lifting at the gym, spending time outdoors exploring Minnesota, and traveling with his partner Brandon.

Gail Buhl, Partnership Coordinator

Gail Buhl is the Partnership Coordinator for the Partners For Wildlife (P4W). Gail graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the College of Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota. She has worked and volunteered in wildlife rehabilitation and the Ambassador Animal world for over 30 years. Her professional career has focused on presenting and training Ambassadors to present to the public to help them become environmentally literate in an engaging way. Gail is a renowned instructor, teaching continuing education for wildlife rehabilitation and Ambassador Animal training at the state and national level. She received her own Master Level wildlife rehabilitation permit in Minnesota in 2001 and the USFWS in 2005 and is an “equal-opportunity” wildlife rehabilitator. P4W is endeavoring to build excellence and increase animal welfare in wildlife rehabilitation.

Alyssa Weidner, Administrative Specialist

Alyssa Weidner is the P4W Administrative Specialist. She joined P4W in 2022 with a background in marketing and office administration. In her free time Alyssa enjoys hiking, traveling, and crafting. She also volunteers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota and the Minnesota Zoo.

Kirk Klocke, Outreach Project Specialist

Kirk Klocke serves as Outreach Project Specialist at P4W. He has an extensive freelance science, medical, and fintech writing, creative marketing strategy, and multimedia producing background. Kirk holds a M.A. in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. His clients have included the Schmidt Ocean Institute, the Marine Science and Technology Foundation, EurekAlert!, Diamond Standard Co., Pursuant, and iMask Intelligence. He served The Nocturnists: Stories From The World of Medicine, a podcast and live storytelling show as an assistant producer and storytelling coach from 2017-2019. He began work for Partners For Wildlife in fall 2021 as a freelancer, helping Gail Buhl launch the podcast Wildlife Rehabilitation: From Rescue to Release, then joined P4W full-time in fall 2022. In his spare time he volunteers for KFAI Fresh Air Radio Cart Crew as voice talent, ushers for the Minnesota Orchestra, spends time with his adopted cat Valentino, cooks, reads, and provides sound and general grip support on-set for indie Western, drama, and mystery films for the Tucson, Arizona-based nonprofit, A Kind of Mystery.

Christa Treichel, External Evaluation Consultant

Christa Treichel works with the P4W team as an external evaluation consultant.  She focuses on advancing team learning for purposes of continuous program improvement while also measuring outcomes and impacts across the initiative.