Staff Bios

Staff Bios



Linda Elliott

President and Center Director 

Linda holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology, with over fifteen years as a Wildlife Rehabilitator, Certified Oiled Wildlife Responder, and International Wildlife Responder. She has earned 40-hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) certification, and has accumulated over two decades of experience as an educator, supervisor and emergency response manager.  Linda has been and continues to be a leading member of an international wildlife emergency response team participating in eighteen international rescue operations to date and is also the only oiled-wildlife rehabilitation manager in the State of Hawai‘i.  Linda works on wildlife recovery and conservation projects in partnerships with Hawai‘i government agencies and nonprofits and has participated in a half-dozen Hawai‘i wildlife conservation projects in 2010 that included teaching wildlife response courses to the Wildlife Agencies throughout Hawai‘i, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Learn more about Linda

Rae Okawa

Development Coordinator

Rae holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from Cornell University and a Masters of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Pennsylvania.  She is also a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Aloha Chapter and the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners. She has been with HWC since 2012 and is in charge of all areas of fund development, PR, outreach, and our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter:@HWCenter). She is also passionate about art and graphic design and has designed most of HWC’s collateral materials and well as the logo gear in our store and the various fun stuff on our Activities page. Rae was born and raised on Oahu where she developed a passion for native birds early on.  During her school years, she was especially inspired by her work with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i.  She is a self-proclaimed “bird nerd” and is extremely happy to be back home in Hawai‘i. If you see anyone in a bird costume at HWC, it’s probably Rae.

Marie Tomas

Marie Tomas

Administrative Manager

Delivering outstanding customer service has been an essential part of a day’s work for Marie. As Administrative Manager, she handles all financial matters such as client billing, accounts payable, accounts receivable and payroll. Marie holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of San Carlos in the Philippines. As a long-time Kohala community member, she loves spending her free time connecting with family and friends and living here in Hawai‘i. 


Dr. Juan Guerra, D.V.M.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager

Juan holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Sciences with a Minor in Animal Sciences from Cornell University and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree, also from Cornell University. While at Cornell University he was awarded the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists’ Award and the Colonel Floyd C. Sager Equine Obstetrics and Pediatrics Award. In addition to experience from multiple externships, veterinary conferences, and wildlife and exotics symposiums, Dr. Juan was also a volunteer with us at HWC starting in 2013 and was HWC’s primary care veterinarian from 2016-2018 before leaving the island to serve as a clinical fellow and clinical instructor at Oregon State University. While in Oregon, Dr. Juan gained additional wildlife experience as a volunteer at the Chintimini Wildlife Center. We’re excited to welcome Juan back to Hawai‘i and back on our team! 


Heidi Franz

Wildlife Rehabilitation Technician

Heidi moved to Hawaii from Southern California in 2015 to finish her Marine Science degree at the University of Hawaii Hilo. While at UH Hilo, she interned at the Hawaii Wildlife Center as a part of her degree program. After graduating, and before coming back to work at HWC, she worked in the Puu Makaala Natural Area Reserve System (NARS) with the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) collecting samples and data.