Executive Staff   |   Research/Care Staff    |   Conservation Staff    |    Board 

Executive Staff

Co-Founder, President, CEO & Director of Research

Penny received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Stanford University where, as a graduate student in 1972, she began working with one-year-old gorilla Koko, thus beginning the longest ongoing interspecies communication study ever undertaken. In 1976, Dr. Patterson, Dr. Ronald Cohn, and the late Barbara F. Hiller established the Gorilla Foundation to benefit gorillas living in captivity and those struggling to survive in Africa.  More

Co-Founder Vice President, Treasurer & Chief Media Officer (CMO)

Ron shares Penny's life-long commitment to the gorillas. He serves as an authority figure for Koko and his presence is an integral part of their daily routine. His award winning photos and videos of the gorillas have helped to make the Gorilla Foundation  well-known around the world. He received a Ph.D. from the Univ. of Illinois, and was a cell biologist at the Stanford Depts. of Medicine and Pediatrics where he did research in genetic engineering.  More

Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Gary has been with the Gorilla Foundation for 18 years, initially serving as Director of Educational Technology, followed by an interim stint as Executive Director, and now refocusing on his passion for education — the Gorilla Foundaton's principle strategy for achieving conservation through communication.  Dr. Stanley previously worked for a couple of decades as an engineer, developing simulation and database software —  skills he now applies to bring interspecies communciation to the public.   More

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Sandra has worked for over 2 decades as an accountant and later as an assistant controller before joining The Gorilla Foundation. Her extensive professional experience with nonprofit organizations, as well as her can-do attitude and entrepreneurial spirit make her a natural fit for the expanding financial needs and corresponding mission aspirations of The Gorilla Foundation. The Director of Finance position is an opportunity for Sandra to put her finance and leadership skills to work, "while having the pleasure of being a part of a truly amazing and unique organization."   More

Membership Administrator

Sophia has long been a supporter of animal rights organizations and wildlife conservation. Before coming to work at the foundation, Sophia devoted much of her time volunteering at animal shelters and with wildlife in the Bay Area. She received her B.A. in Environmental Studies from San Jose State University where her love of nature and wildlife grew. She hopes to help The Gorilla Foundation make great progress on its mission of conservation through communication.   More

Research / Care Staff

Associate Director of Gorilla Research and Care
Christa returned to The Gorilla Foundation after a multi-year hiatus (taking care of her family) to help The Gorilla Foundation advance its plans in both gorilla care and research  while supporting great ape conservation and education.  She has a combination of management, care, teaching and interspecies communication research experience (working directly with gorillas Koko and Ndume) and a background in bioengineering, conducting space-based research and development projects.  More

Assistant Manager of Gorilla Care
Before joining the Gorilla Foundation team, Amanda worked as a caregiver and then assistant manager for the Pacific Primate Sanctuary (PPS) in Maui.   Her animal care experience has been primarily in sanctuary and rehabilitation center environments working with the PPS, The Gibbon Rehabiitation Project in Phuket, and the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre  She is now helping the Gorilla Foundation achieve conservation through communication, while providing the best care possible for gorillas Koko and Ndume.  More

Gorilla Caregiver / Research Assistant
Anthony essentially grew up with Koko. As Ron Cohn's foster child, he met Koko as a small child, and developed a good relationship with her. Thus it was only natural then, when Anthony graduated from high school, he would want to "work" for her.  As Evening Monitor, Anthony helps with all aspects of gorilla care and technology, and provides emotional support to both the gorillas and the founders. Anthony is interested in multimedia game development and hopes to apply this technology to benefit gorillas.  More

Gorilla Caregiver / Researcher (part-time)

Lauren received a B.A. in Anthropology from Sonoma State University where she focused on observational primate research.  She studied wild monkeys in the rainforests of Costa Rica and participated in Sonoma State University's Primate Ethology Research Lab, where she conducted a project for the San Francisco Zoo. After graduating,  she taught young children the importance of animal conservation as a zoo camp instructor. She believes that the future success of primate care and conservation relies upon interspecies communication.  More

Sophia Gruskos

Gorilla Caregiver / Researcher

Sophia developed a great love and respect for nature and wildlife at a very young age, studied American Sign Language at the Santa Fe Community College and later received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of New Mexico majoring in psychology, with an emphasis in primatology. She has participated in behavioral research and observations for both captive and wild species of primates. Sophia believes that Koko and Ndume are ambassadors not only for their own species, but also for generations of young people.More

Gorilla Caregiver / Researcher

Molly received a Bachelor of Science in Primate Behavior and Ecology and a Bachelor of Art in Anthropology from Central Washington University. She also received training at the Chimpanzee Human Communication Institute in Washington, home to a family of chimpanzees who use American Sign Language. She was therefore well-prepared to communicate with Koko and Ndume and looks forward to applying her skills to accelerate the trend towards communication-based conservation and care.  More

Gorilla Caregiver / Researcher

Jessy received her B.A. in Environmental Science from Clark University, and her M.S. in Interdisciplinary Ecology at the University of Florida. Before joining the Gorilla Foundation team she interned with Southwick’s zoo, designed and conducted habitat research as a visiting researcher at the Southern African Wildlife College, taught undergraduate biology, and worked as a butterfly keeper.  Koko has inspired Jessy to live her life in a way that has prepared her to be the best caretaker and advocate for gorillas that she can be.  More

Gorilla Nutrition Manager / Produce Volunteer Coordinator

Katie earned a B.A. in Psychology at the University of Connecticut, focusing on language development and altruism. After interning with child protective services she decided to try something  else that she had always been interested in: Cooking. She worked as a vegan chef and mentored middle school students for a year before moving to California. Katie is thrilled to be able to combine her passion for animal welfare with her passion for cooking — while satisfying the gorillas’ passion for eating. More

Conservation Team

Consulting Director of Conservation

Dr. Rose is an applied social psychologist and organization developer. He has studied macaques, humans, and other apes, and advised government agencies and private foundations on issues of forest management, military diplomacy, religious community development, educational innovation, and health care QA.   Tony's oversight of Gorilla Foundation's conservation education program in Africa has made it possible for the Foundation's unique empathy-building approach to take root.   More



Contact Us



The Gorilla Foundation /
1733 Woodside Rd., Suite 330
Redwood City, CA, 94061
1-800-ME-GO-APE (634-6273)

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Our mission is to learn about gorillas by communicating with them, and apply our knowledge to advance great ape conservation, education, care and empathy.
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