James D. Elliott, Jr.

Founder and Executive Director

Jim Elliott, the Executive Director and Founder of the Avian Conservation Center, has been a life-long student of birds. His many years of experience have been significantly effective in his quest to protect avian species and their habitats.

Early in his career, Elliott became aware of the need for a professional level of care for injured birds of prey in South Carolina, equipped to sufficiently manage the direct threats to the birds of prey population. That awareness eventually led Elliott to establish the Charleston Raptor Center in 1991. As the Center grew, Elliott recognized the need to increase public understanding of avian species and the crucial role they play in the environment. This expanded vision led Elliott and his growing team to broaden the scope and reach of the organization. In 2004, the Avian Conservation Center opened, incorporating The Center for Birds of Prey and the Avian Medical and Oiled Bird Treatment Facility.

Elliott has participated in a number of professional rehabilitation and veterinary internships and training focused on the ecology, care, housing, and medical care for birds of prey, and has studied and consulted extensively with leading raptor centers both in the United States and abroad including the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program at Colorado State University, the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota at St. Paul and the National Birds of Prey Centre in the U.K.

Additionally, Elliott has led research initiatives in South Carolina, including the South Carolina Coastal Hawk Migration Study and a long-term American Swallow-tailed Kite survey. In 2002, he established the Wildlife Toxicity Working Group to investigate secondary barbiturate poisoning of bald eagles in public landfills, and in 2005, he co-founded the Avian Medical and Oiled Bird Treatment Facility in cooperation with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Elliott now serves as a member of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, and the Raptor Research Foundation. In 2016, he became the inaugural recipient of the Lifetime Achievement in Wildlife Conservation Award at the Southeastern Wildlife Expo. In 2001, he received the Environmental Awareness Award given by the Governor of South Carolina, and in 1998 he received the Wildlife Conservation Award given by the South Carolina Wildlife Federation. Additionally, the Center received the 2006 Award for Excellence in Management given by the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organizations. Elliott regularly lectures and consults on relevant avian conservation issues.


Kara Bale

Administrative and Marketing Communications Manager

Kara joined the Center in November 2012. A native of South Carolina, she holds a B.S. in English from the University of South Carolina. She also earned a Master’s in Business Administration while at the University of Denver where she focused her studies in hospitality management and marketing. Kara has traveled extensively throughout the United States and abroad and has experienced much in the natural world, but credits the Center with pointing her eyes skyward. She is passionate about environmental conservation and dedicated to sharing the Center’s mission.

As Administrative and Marketing Communications Manager, she manages the administrative office and oversees all communications while assisting with special events and fundraising.

Daniel J. Prohaska

Development Officer

A graduate of Erskine College and a candidate for the Master of Arts degree in Philanthropy and Development at LaGrange College, Daniel joined the Center staff in 2016.  He is responsible for assisting in the development and implementation of strategies, procedures, and activities to meet fundraising objectives in support of the mission of the Center.  Daniel has a long history with the Center extending from his early years as a young philanthropist contributing part of his allowance to the Center’s operations, to actively volunteering with the education and medical departments, to his present role as a key staff member.

In addition to his work at the Center, Daniel serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for the South Carolina Lions Foundation, is actively involved with Great Commission Baptist Church, and is a member of professional associations including the Raptor Research Foundation, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and Lions Clubs International.

Emily Davis

Development Assistant

Emily joined the Center in March of 2014 after moving to Charleston, South Carolina from Holly, Michigan. She received her B.A. from Kent State University where she studied Fine Arts and Creative Writing. As an avid birder, Emily has participated in numerous bird surveys around the Great Lakes, Midwest, and Southeast regions. In addition to working full-time with our development office, she is a volunteer in the Avian Medical Clinic and passionately participates in taking calls through the after-hours injured bird line as well as with the renesting of young birds.

Laura Buchta

Administrative / Bookkeeper

With more than 20 years of administrative and office management experience, Laura joined the Center in 2002. Her responsibilities include all areas of administrative support, including development support, grant writing and general bookkeeping.

Lisa McDonald

Financial Officer

Lisa’s responsibilities encompass accounting and financial control functions for the Center, including annual budget and independent audit requirements. Lisa is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Hal Sullivan

Facilities Assistant

After a 40 year career with US Steel in Michigan, Hal retired to South Carolina to be closer to his children and grandchildren. His wife Faith serves as a Volunteer Staff Member in the Avian Medical Clinic. Hal provides numerous forms of support in maintaining the Center’s facilities, grounds and equipment.