Meet our Flock!

CHRIS SYKES

Executive Director

“Originally from Tennessee, I migrated to Alabama after serving five years in the United States Marine Corps. I’m an alumnus of UAB (Go Blazers!), where I received a Bachelor & Master of Arts in Communication and a Master of Public Administration. With a passion for all things public sector, I’ve had the privilege of working for several nonprofit organizations in the Birmingham area with the goal of changing the world one nonprofit at a time. Outside of the Alabama Wildlife Center, I can be found hiking, enjoying local food and drink, or performing and watching live music.“

Favorite Bird: Cedar Waxwing

ALEXIS POLINSKI

Development Coordinator

“I have always wanted to work with animals, and it has been my career goal since watching The Lion King when I was four. Over the years, I have spent time working as a kennel technician at an animal clinic, volunteering with Bama Bully Rescue, and volunteering at a cheetah conservation in South Africa. Currently, I’m a senior at Oregon State University obtaining a B.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife, & Conservation Sciences. My overall goal is to work with large felids and wild canines. Outside of work and school, I thoroughly enjoy playing video games, doing puzzles, and bonding with my dog.”

Favorite Bird: Mississippi Kite

MARY STOCKARD

Raptor Coordinator

“I began as a volunteer in 1981 when I was a college freshman. I raised my first baby squirrels in 1983. When the Center opened in Oak Mountain State Park in 1987, I began volunteering, eventually becoming the Mammal Program Supervisor, which I did for 10 years. Over the years I have worked in every aspect of wildlife rehabilitation with numerous species of mammals, birds and reptiles. In addition to my current position at AWC, I am a state licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator for mammals. My hobbies are primarily drawing and painting. As you could guess, the best part of my job is seeing the animals in my care successfully released.”

Favorite Bird: Indigo Buntings

VIKTORIA PARTAIN

Education Program Coordinator

“I’ve been working with non-releasable birds of prey for about two years now. While I’ve only been at the Alabama Wildlife Center for a short amount of time, I’ve already learned so much about the birds of prey in this area. Working with birds that weren’t located in South Dakota has been an amazing opportunity so far!”

Favorite Bird: “The most interesting bird I’ve gotten to work with is a Ferruginous Hawk, the biggest hawk you’ll find in North America. My favorite bird overall, though, is the Loggerhead Shrike – a songbird with a raptor’s habits.”

KATIE STUBBLEFIELD

Clinic Director

“I have a background in mechanical engineering and molecular biology. I Started volunteering regularly in 2003, and started working full time as an intern in 2005. My hobbies include gaming and a myriad of dogs, cats, horses, and various other animals. My favorite part of the job is releasing rehabilitated birds.”

Favorite Bird: “The one that was just released.”

CARLEEN PHILLIPS

Songbird Coordinator

“I have been a volunteer with the Alabama Wildlife Center since 2016, starting as a caretaker for Tree Top, then moving to the education program for two years. A two-time songbird intern, I became the songbird coordinator in 2022. I am a mother of three who enjoys photography, writing, and being outdoors.”

Favorite Bird: “It depends on my mood, but I love Bluebirds and Chimney Swifts.”

ELISE HANSEN

Avian Rehab Technician

I’ve gone to Oak Mountain and the Wildlife Center since I was little, and I’ve always known that my career would involve animals. I interned in the songbird nursery summer 2022, and returned to the clinic after graduating from Whittier College with a B.A. in both Environmental Science and French in 2023. I am so excited to start my career in wildlife rehabilitation! The best part of my job is watching the birds develop and heal so we can keep hearing birdsong outside everywhere we go. Outside of work, I like to make art and music, play video games, and spend time with my dog, Ruby.

Favorite Bird: American Robin & Barn Owl