Officers and Directors

Board of Directors

Marilena Fernandez

Victoria Garcia

Corinne Lasmezas

Bivian Leganoa

Howard T Petrie

April Romagnano


Howard T Petrie, President and Founder

Bivian Leganoa, Secretary/Social Media

Marilena Fernandez, Treasurer

Victoria Garcia, Natural Resource Officer

Nikita Lasmezas, Illustrator-at-Large

April Romagnano, Attending Veterinarian

Marilena Fernandez


Marilena Fernandez is originally from New Jersey, but has lived in South Florida with her husband and children since 2004. She works as a Special Projects Associate at the Max Planck Florida Institute. She didn't have many pets growing up, but once she had her own place she soon realized the joy of helping animals. She and her family have rescued quite a few, including rabbits, turkeys, a pig, birds, fish, hamsters, iguana, ball python and water dragon. Right now, Lola (her rescue dog) and Tito (stray turtle) keep her & her family company at home. Her experience in event organization and animal care make her a natural fit for The Coalition of Sanctuaries. 

Victoria (Vicki) Garcia, PhD


Vicki grew up in Florida, where she earned a BSc (Biology) from Florida International University, an MSc degree (Wildlife Science) from the University of Arizona, and a PhD (Biology) from Virginia Tech. Upon finishing her PhD, she worked as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Biology at Old Dominion University. She currently works as a Biological Scientist for the State of Florida.

Corinne Lasmezas, DVM, PhD


Corinne received her DVM from the University of Toulouse (France) and her PhD (Neurosciences) from the University Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris). She has led research labs in France and, since 2005, at the Scripps Research Institute (Jupiter, FL), where she studies neurodegenerative diseases. She is a staunch supporter of a healthy environment, wildlife conservation, and animal welfare, all core values of The Coalition of Sanctuaries.

Bivian Leganoa, BSc


Bivian grew up in Florida where she earned a BSc degree (Chemistry, minor in Business Administration) from Florida Atlantic University. She has managed a central Core Facility at The Scripps Research Institute (Jupiter) for over 10 years, and during which time she also worked as a volunteer in the Science Outreach Program. Bivian is an animal lover and environmental enthusiast, and believes that serving as an Officer and Director for The Coalition of Sanctuaries is a perfect fit for her own core values. Bivian is also the Successor Trustee to the Howard T Petrie Charitable Trust. 

Howard T Petrie, PhD


 Howard is a native of suburban Pittsburgh PA. He received his BS and MS degrees from the Pennsylvania State University, and a PhD from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Following post-doctoral fellowships at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research (Melbourne) and the Yale University School of Medicine (New Haven), he spent eleven years on the faculty at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York). In 2005, he became one of the founding faculty members at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, FL. He has served as a consultant for the U.S. Public Health Service as well as various pharmaceutical and biotech companies. From 2001-2013, he was co-Founder and President of ThymUS Inc., a 501(c)(3) aimed at science education, before leaving to focus solely on animal welfare. In 2013 he founded the Coalition of Sanctuaries, and in 2018 he established the Howard T Petrie Charitable Trust for the purpose of funding CoS in perpetuity. 

April Romagnano, DVM, PhD


April received her DVM degree and completed an internship in Wildlife & Small Animal Medicine from the University of Florida, and a Residency in Avian Medicine and Surgery from North Carolina State University. She is an ABVP Board certified Avian Specialist and has lectured locally, nationally and internationally. She has published 17 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 77 scientific convention papers, and 14 chapters in veterinary and avian texts. She is a member of several professional associations including AAV, ABVP, AVMA and the FVMA. Dr. April has worked extensively with rare and endangered species in private avian & exotic practices, zoos, universities and research centers for over twenty years