Meet the Staff

Douglas Austen
Executive Director
ext. 208,

Doug Austen has been Executive Director since 2013, but has been involved with AFS since the early 1980s as an undergraduate student at South Dakota State University. He served as president of the Illinois Chapter and North Central Division, wrote articles for several AFS journals and books, and also served as an associate editor for the North American Journal of Fisheries Management.  Prior to AFS, Doug was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national coordinator for Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and worked for 10 years each with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Natural History Survey. He has a Ph.D. from Iowa State University and an M.S. from Virginia Tech. When not at AFS, Doug provides taxi service for his two teenagers and fishes, hunts, runs, bikes, and kayaks in Pennsylvania or wherever travels take him.

Beth Beard
Senior Communications Manager
ext. 215,

Beth has been working for AFS since 1999. Before becoming Senior Communications Manager, she was the managing editor of Parks & Recreation magazine. Prior to that, she spent 11 years at AFS as the managing editor of Fisheries. Beth has also worked in public relations and publications in the wood products industry and the zoo and aquarium fields. She has a BA in public communication from American University. As a lifelong world traveler, her hobbies include travel photography. She is married to longtime AFS member Doug Beard.

Areas of responsibility: Social media management, website maintenance, marketing, graphic design, writing and editing, and photography.

Staff Liaison for: Communications for the Global Conference on Inland Fisheries for Michigan State University and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization


Daniel Cassidy
Deputy Executive Director
ext. 214,

Daniel Cassidy joined AFS in 2015 and oversees administration, fundraising/development, professional education and meetings. He has spent the majority of his career in association management and has worked for scientific and education associations.  He has a MBA in Finance and is certified as a public accountant. While not working, you will find him outside on the baseball field, gardening, or chasing his two Chihuahuas around the yard.

Areas of responsibility:   Administration/HR, Fundraising/Development, Education/Professional Development, Finance, Meetings, Membership, Technology

Staff Liaison for: Audit committee, Investment committee

Katrina Dunn
Director of Development
ext. 213,

Katrina joined AFS in 2016. Before coming to AFS she spent ten years working in various capacities for associations. Her work included fundraising, meetings and events, and marketing. As Director of Development, Katrina finds the funding that allows AFS to continue the important work of advancing and strengthening fisheries. She also participates in several working groups in the areas of meetings, marketing, and membership. When not working, Katrina enjoys reading, volunteering, and spending time with family and friends.

Areas of responsibility: Development/Fundraising, and Partnership

Staff Liaison for: Development Committee


Sarah Harrison
Managing Editor, Fisheries
ext. 201,

Sarah started working part-time with AFS in 2014. Before becoming Managing Editor of Fisheries magazine, she acted as a contributing editor, creating and editing content to engage and inform AFS members. Before working for AFS, Sarah worked at the  Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Mississippi as the Coastal Training Program Coordinator. Sarah holds a doctorate degree in fisheries from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in marine resources management from Texas A&M Galveston. Outside of the office she enjoys running, hiking, fishing, woodworking, art, and book, fossil and artifact collecting.

Areas of responsibility: Content packaging, art direction, management, and production of the Fisheries magazine.

Staff Liaison for: Executive Director, science editors, and writers


Laura Hendee
Journals Production Manager
ext. 227,

Laura joined AFS in 2006. In 2011, she assumed day-to-day management of the journals program and helps to produce multiple journals. Laura graduated with a BA in English from the College of Wooster in 2005. She grew up fishing on family vacations in Wyoming and Colorado, but spent most of that time falling into various lakes and streams and usually ended up happily reading instead. Outside of the office Laura enjoys concerts, beer gardens, vineyards, road trips, and reading fiction. 

Areas of responsibility: Production of Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, the North American Journal of Fisheries Management, the North American Journal of Aquaculture, the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health, and Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science.

Staff Liaison for: AFS editorial boards, authors, copy editors, and the AFS publishing partner


Shawn Johnston
Meetings Manager
ext. 230,

Shawn Johnston joined AFS as the Administrative Coordinator in 2007 and is currently the AFS Meetings Manager, the lead contact for managing AFS meetings and coordinating meeting contracts with Chapters and Divisions.  Shawn graduated from UMDNJ with a Bachelor’s of Science in Emergency Management, obtained his national registry flight paramedic license in 1997, and attended Rutgers University for business management. He also managed safety conferences for a large manufacturer in New Jersey for seven years. Shawn enjoys travel, biking, and jet skiing.

Areas of responsibility: Managing AFS meetings and coordinating meeting contracts with Chapters and Divisions

Staff Liaison for: Meetings


Debby Lehman
Books Coordinator
ext. 223,

Debby graduated from Occidental College with a degree in English and comparative literature and received a master’s degree in English literature from Boston University. She has been working in the books department of the American Fisheries Society for more than 15 years. Debby enjoys reading, drawing, travel, and taking care of her young son.

Areas of responsibility: Copy edit, lay out, preparing books for publication, assisting with Fisheries magazine, and working on additional projects such as the Climate Science Center reports and the AFS policy report.


Aaron Lerner
Publications Director
ext. 231,

Aaron joined AFS in 2001. Previously, Aaron was managing editor of a monthly publication summarizing U.S. Congressional committee hearings. He grew up in St. Louis and remains a loyal Cardinals fan. Aaron enjoys reading, travel, and researching answers to questions that most people don’t care about.

Areas of responsibility:  Manages overall publications department operations, including the books and journals programs, develops editorial policies and procedures, and works closely with AFS journals’ co-publisher Wiley. Additionally, he considers requests to reuse AFS copyrighted materials

Staff Liaison for: AFS book customers

Jackie Machado
Accounting Assistant
ext. 200,

Jackie joined AFS, as she would say: “a long time ago.” She has spent the majority of her career working in accounting. If you need to pay an invoice or inquire about an outstanding balance concerning the Trade Show, plaques, or certificates, Jackie is the person to call. When she isn’t working, Jackie enjoys spending time with family.

Areas of responsibility: Accounting

Staff Liaison for:  Accounting

Lauren Maza
Director of Student & Professional Development
ext. 225,

Lauren started working for AFS in 2017. Previously she worked in the association sector for over 12 years, mostly in education/meetings, project management, and operations. Past organizations include Council for Resource Development and The Obesity Society. Outside of work Lauren enjoys camping, hiking, climbing, and baking.

Areas of responsibility: Management of continuing education. General oversight of Hutton program, certification, and awards

Staff Liaison for: Continuing education committee and Hutton Committee

Eva Przygodzki
Membership Manager
ext. 203,

Eva began working at AFS in 1999. Over the years she has acquired more knowledge about managing membership in non-profit organization, combined with some database maintenance expertise. As Membership Manager, she takes care of anything relating to AFS membership, including answering the plethora of member questions and problems. Eva enjoys opera and attending classical music events. She also figure skates, knits, and does agility training with her dog.

Areas of responsibility:  Membership, renewal and retention of members, online registration, statistical data, various types of reports for units

Staff Liaison for: All members, prospective members, units, and the Governing Board

Jasmine Sewell
Unit Services Coordinator
ext. 205,

Jasmine joined the AFS staff six years ago as an intern. She then was brought on full time as the Unit Services Coordinator. She has spent a lot of time helping to develop the website and recently began running the awards program which recognizes the society’s most prestigious award winners as well as many Unit awards. Outside of the office, Jasmine enjoys bowling, zip-lining, jet-skiing, antiquing, and walking her dog.

Areas of responsibility: Award program and database

Staff Liaison for: All AFS Units, Chapters, Sections and Divisions




Denise Spencer
Office Administration Manager
ext. 212,

Denise has been at AFS since 2010. If there are any issues, Denise is the person that people come to, and she’ll figure out what to do. If something comes up that no one in the office handles, it winds up on her desk. She ensures that our office is running smoothly.  If you have issues and can not figure out who to go to give her a call, and she can help you or direct you to the correct person. Before working for AFS, Denise worked for another non-profit for 20 years. Outside of the office, she enjoys camping, gardening, and reading.

Areas of responsibility: Human resources, administration, facilities management, meeting planning, overseeing IT, accounting, and grants.

Staff Liaison for: All staff


Kurt West
Books Coordinator
ext. 229,

Kurt joined AFS staff as Books Production Coordinator in July 2007 after having completed his MFA in writing at American University, where he had also interned as an editor for the university’s journal of arts.  Prior to his graduate studies, he received his BA in English with a specialization in communication and technology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Kurt is a published author of a couple short stories and currently is working on a novel. When he’s not reading or writing, Kurt can be found in a theater or on a road trip.

Areas of responsibility: Kurt manages the publication process for AFS book projects and assists in everything from copy editing, to layout and design, to quality control of the final, printed product. He also assists with the organization of AFS Annual Meetings, coordinating the AFS abstract and scheduling software. In addition he provides oversight and design for Annual Meeting materials such as the mobile meeting app, printed program guides, and annual Governing Board briefing books and reporting tools.

Staff Liaison for: Various authors and editors – both AFS members and non-members – to ensure that the vision of their research is communicated through their book projects.  The Conference Exchange, our mobile app designer, Core-apps, as well as various members of the AFS local meeting planning teams and Governing Board.

Martha Wilson
Communications Director
ext. 233,

Martha has worked at AFS since 2016. She comes to us from another member-based organization, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), where she worked as a senior communications consultant for four years. The majority of her communications work has been focused on science, innovation and the environment. She spent five-plus years as a senior manager at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), working on fisheries and marine conservation issues, including fisheries policy, endangered species policy, recreational and commercial fishing, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, marine protected areas (MPAs), and aquaculture. In addition, Martha was director of corporate responsibility at Cargill, director of marketing for Burson-Marsteller Budapest, and public affairs manager on the environment, science and innovation, for the U.K. Government. She taught a strategic communications course at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Outside of the office, Martha writes screenplays, and enjoys photography and travel.

Areas of responsibility: communications, social and traditional media, website, Marketing materials and training, developing standards and guidelines for Units

Staff Liaison for: Communications Special Committee

Drue Winters
Policy Director
ext. 202,

Drue was hired as the AFS Policy Director in Spring 2017. She leads the organization’s policy advocacy efforts through thoughtful engagement with decision makers on issues that impact aquatic resources. The policy team capitalizes on the expertise of AFS members to influence policy outcomes to benefit aquatic resources by sharing management knowledge and the best available science with decision makers. Drue is a seasoned policy and strategic communications advisor. She served in a key leadership role for the State of Louisiana on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and served as a federal policy advisor on the long-term recovery on the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina with a focus on flood protection and ecosystem restoration. Most recently, Drue served as legal and policy counsel for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries where she worked on a range of fisheries management issues. She graduated summa cum laude from Louisiana State University in 1997 with a B.A. in political science and later from LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law School. When not at work, Drue enjoys spending time with her son.

Areas of responsibility: Director for Policy, working with AFS units nationwide to identify key opportunities to apply fisheries knowledge to resource management, identify policy-related implications, and improve their overall effectiveness. Work is conducted by AFS units alone and in partnership with other groups.

Staff Liaison for:  Resource Policy Committee