Our Mission

Through rehabilitation, education, and research programs, Freedom Center for Wildlife, Inc. strives to increase public knowledge and appreciation towards the conservation, protection and preservation of native New Jersey habitats and animals.

brunch 2015 curly courtneyRuth Brooks is the founder and President of FCW. She has over 25 years of wildlife experience, and she is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and registered veterinary technician. Ruth also sits on the Board of Directors for the New Jersey Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators. Prior to opening FCW in 2006, Ruth managed the clinic hospital for a large wildlife refuge, honing her skills and gaining experience in all aspects of running a busy center. She made the decision to open her own facility, knowing that southern New Jersey has very few licensed wildlife rehabilitators. FCW is able to provide services to the public and the wildlife of this area.

Francis Osenbach is a founding Board Member and comes to us with over 50 years of engineering experience and business management. He has already provided FCW with capital necessary to begin our organization, and has assisted in the construction of several animal enclosures. He will continue to help with financial and operating budget structures.

Dmitry Cherkassky obtained his Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001. His expertise is in statistical decision theory. He has been involved in wildlife rehabilitation since 2001. In the past, he participated in various citizen science projects, including shorebird surveys to help track the migration of birds along the Atlantic Flyway. Currently, he is a member of the Green Team for Sustainable Voorhees.

Michael Ginder has 20 years of nonprofit experience. He was a founding member of The Zen Society and has been involved with wildlife rehabilitation since 2002. From the beginning of his wildlife career he immersed himself in his work gaining as much knowledge as he could from caring for animals, helping with fundraisers, delivering wildlife programs to managing the business aspects of running a center. He is the former Director of a large wildlife center as well as a former board member of the New Jersey Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators (NJAWR). Currently, he is the Community Resources Manager for a regional anti-hunger non-profit.

Susan Reel-Panish is an architect with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. She has over twenty years architectural experience including custom residential, school, hospital, and nursing home design. She has practiced architecture in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Susan spent a year on staff at the Philadelphia nonprofit: Foundation For Architecture. While there, she worked in the nationally acclaimed “Architecture in Education” program, and on FFA’s annual fundraiser Beaux Arts Ball. Susan’s other love is women’s fitness, and she is currently the owner of the Curves gym franchise in Moorestown/Maple Shade, New Jersey. Susan came to Freedom Center for Wildlife by way of an injured baby bunny in her backyard.

Susan J. Pello, VMD, MS grew up in Pennsauken, NJ and has advocated and cared for wildlife since she was young, bringing injured wildlife to the vet and local rehabilitators. Susan is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, where she spent a portion of her senior year at LSU in their Bird, Zoo and Exotic Mammal Hospital. Following veterinary school, she completed a focused exotic animal internship at the University of Pennsylvania’s Exotic Companion Animal Medicine and Surgery Service. She also rotated at Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research. Dr. Pello is an Exotic and Wildlife veterinarian at Mt Laurel Animal Hospital. She is also the veterinarian of record for Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. Susan lives in Philadelphia with 7 pets, her husband Scott, and her two kids. She enjoys providing medical care to our rescues and education animals.