KAREN WILSON HAS helmed WildCare, the San Rafael– based wildlife rehabilitation and education center, for the past 13 years, but she didn’t
start out working with nature.
The suburban Detroit native began her
career in advertising in Boston, but a subsequent
move to San Francisco found her working in the
environmental field, first as a program manager
for the California Coastal Commission and
later as vice president of development for the
California State Parks Foundation.
Wilson oversees an organization that
employs 32 people, coordinates with 350 volunteers and treats more than 4,000 injured
or orphaned wild animals, representing more
than 200 different species, each year. Today,
she is steering WildCare through a $10 million capital campaign to build an expansive
new facility in San Rafael that promises to be
a major resource for wild animals, their caretakers and visitors throughout the Bay Area.
Wilson lives in Fairfax with her husband,
Todd Tash, a fourth-grade teacher at Ross
School, and their 3-year-old rescue dog, Wally.
What brought you to WildCare? I had helped
grow the California State Parks Foundation
for 10 years when I saw an (employment)
ad for WildCare. Up until then, I had never
heard of it, and even though I live in Fairfax
and walk the trails, I had never encountered
an injured wild animal. I decided to apply
and got the job. The day I walked into the
facility, I knew my dream was to build a new
WildCare. It was so evident at that point, but
we had a lot of other things to do before we
ever considered it. We needed to shore up the
financial situation, grow the budgets to do
better programs, build the board, expand the
education program and advocate for wildlife.
WildCare had never done any advocacy on a
broad scale. It’s important to make a differ-
ence with individual orphaned and injured
animals, but advocacy is critical.
With an expanded budget, the executive director of
WildCare talks about the past, the present and the
major plans for the organization’s future.
BY PJ BREMIER • PHOTOS BY TIM PORTER
Karen Wilson holds
Sequoia, an 11-year-old
northern spotted owl.