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.
Board of Directors
Ruth 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. 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.
Dmitry Cherkassky, PhD. is the Secretary of FCW, and 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.
Denise Hassinger, MSc. is the Treasurer of FCW and a Master of Professional Science graduate student at University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Prior to her current marine science studies, she was a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University. She completed her Master of Science in biology in 2018 at Rutgers University—Camden where she studied the biodegradation of single-use plastics by white-rot fungi. During her undergraduate and graduate studies, she taught general biology and microbiology labs, and tutored students in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and mathematics. Her main interests are in biological oceanography, but shares genuine conservation concerns for all wildlife. She strongly believes in educating the public about the importance of wildlife and the ecosystem services they provide. One of her goals is to change public opinions on wildlife that have been labeled as a nuisance. In her free time, she volunteers at Freedom Center for Wildlife in Cinnaminson, NJ helping to rehabilitate local wildlife and is Vice President at Aquarium Divers for Coral Society. She recently stepped down from serving as President at New Jersey Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators (NJAWR) to focus on her current studies. In the past, she used to scuba dive at Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ where she helped maintain the ocean and shark realms, and inspired future generations through dive shows.
Susan Reel-Panish is a registered architect with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. She has over twenty years of 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 came to Freedom Center for Wildlife by way of an injured baby bunny in her backyard.
Susan J. Tyson, 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. She enjoys providing medical care to our rescues and education animals.
Francis Osenbach, Emeritus, 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.