Our Regional Leadership
Nationally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is led by a Director, a team of Assistant Directors and eight Regional Directors. (See our headquarters organizational chart.)
The conservation actions of the Southeast Region are guided by the Southeast Regional Director, Deputy Regional Director, and a team of Assistant Regional Directors and Chiefs who guide regional operations.
Leopoldo “Leo” Miranda
Leopoldo “Leo” Miranda is the Southeast Regional Director of the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He oversees the work of approximately 1,300 employees in carrying out the Federal Government’s partnership role in conserving fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within 10 southeastern states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Leo began his work with the Service as a Private Lands biologist in his native Puerto Rico, later becoming the Program Supervisor of the Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office in Annapolis, Maryland, followed by Assistant Regional Director of the Southeast Region’s Ecological Services Program. An advocate of public-private conservation partnerships, he points to the success of the shade-grown coffee industry as an example of how government organizations and private landowners can work together to achieve win/win outcomes for people and for wildlife. On any given weekend, you are likely to find Leo in a tree stand or by a river, hunting or fishing with his son, Pablo. Leo attributes much of their shared love of nature and commitment to conservation to the pursuit of these outdoor recreational pastimes. Leo holds a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of Puerto Rico and a Master of Science in Zoology from North Carolina State University. He and his wife, Jessica, Pablo, and their four-legged family members live in Marietta, Georgia.
Deputy Regional Director
Mike Oetker is the Deputy Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Region where he oversees the agency’s operations involving more than 1,300 employees spread out over 10 states and the Caribbean islands. He has been with the Service for 19 years.
Before coming to Atlanta, Mike worked in the Southwest Region where he was involved with conflicts over endangered fish and water management. He also worked on fisheries management issues in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin for the Service’s Midwest Region.
Mike got his start in natural resource management and policy development as a Knauss Sea Grant Fellow, where he worked for the Committee on Natural Resources in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a graduate from Iowa State University and Michigan State University.
Assistant Regional Director, Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation
Allan has over thirty years experience with the Service. After graduating from Michigan State University in the spring of 1984, Allan held temporary positions at Senecaville National Fish Hatchery (NFH) Ohio and the National Fishery Center in Lamar, Pennsylvania. As a permanent employee Allan served as a biological technician and a fisheries biologist before moving to Welaka NFH. All together Allan spent 20 years at Weklaka NFH as an assistant hatchery manager, hatchery manager, and program supervisor for warmwater hatcheries for the southeast region. Most recently Allan was selected as the Assistant Regional Director for Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation in the southeast region in September of 2014.
Allan has been married for 34 years with 3 adult children all of whom have married and three granddaughters. Allan and his wife like to travel, go boating, hiking, and keep busy taking care of two dogs.
Dr. Bill Uihlein
Assistant Regional Director, Science Applications and Migratory Birds
Dr. Bill Uihlein serves as the Assistant Regional Director of the Science Application Team. Science Applications provides a mission-driven relationship-building forum that focuses on defining the conservation landscape of the future to sustain fish and wildlife. The team is committed to facilitating FWS’ interest in Strategic Habitat Conservation through science capacity development, landscape planning and integration, informing targeted conservation actions, measuring results, and evaluating uncertainties.
Bill’s wife is a special education teacher, and together they have 3 very cool sons. His background and love of the outdoors came from his childhood of working for his dad, the foreman, on several ranches in Wyoming, California, and New Mexico. Bill earned a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Biology from Eastern New Mexico University and a PhD from Mississippi State University. His FWS career has been in Migratory Birds, serving as the Science Coordinator and eventually the Coordinator of the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture partnership. Much of his work experiences have centered on leadership, relationship building, and leveraging technical expertise in landscape assessment, ecosystem modeling, and monitoring for waterfowl and landbirds.
Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System
David Viker is a 26-year veteran of the Service, starting his career in 1992 as a wildlife biologist trainee after serving as a refuge volunteer while in college at the University of Florida. David worked up refuge management ranks on five field stations in five states. Along the way, he earned a federal law enforcement commission, obtained a fire management wildfire “red card,” and operated an array of heavy equipment pieces to manage habitat. David moved on to the Atlanta Regional Office as a Deputy Refuge Supervisor, helping leading several dozen refuges in four states. David then stepped up as Regional Chief and then Assistant Regional Director of the Migratory Bird Program, working closely with States and other partners in the Joint Ventures System and system of Flyways to set migratory bird regulations. David returned to the NWRS after more than five years with Migratory Bird Program.
Since January 2011, David served as the Regional Chief of the NWRS in the Southeast Region, leading more than 650 permanent employees on 130 refuges in 10 States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These refuges, visited by more than 15 million people annually, range from just a few acres for an endangered species to the 400,000-acre Okefenokee wilderness.
David’s areas of greatest professional interest include compatibility and appropriate use policy, connecting wildlife habitats through landscape linkages, and connecting people with nature. David’s greatest passion, though, is helping others grow. He has served over the years as the regional youth coordinator; member of the Diversity Committee; he founded the regional Leadership Development Council; helped establish the “E-4 Mentoring” program; teaches at the National Conservation Training Center (Refuge Academy; Advanced Refuge Academy; and the NWRS Improvement Act course he helped design); speaks frequently on the power of diversity; and has helped coach the Advanced Leadership Development Program.
David’s favorite quote is by Thomas Jefferson: “In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.” David has been a volunteer youth sports coach for more than 40 teams, ages 4 to 18, in basketball, baseball, softball, track & field, and soccer. His favorite times are spent with his wife of 23 years and their three children, doing faith-based volunteering, fishing, canoeing, hiking, camping, hunting, and other outdoor-activities.
Dr. Catherine Phillips
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services
Catherine serves as the Assistant Regional Director for Ecological Services in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Region. She has been with the Service since 1998 and got her start through the Career Awareness Institute at Mescalero National Fish Hatchery in New Mexico before working at Uvalde National Fish Hatchery and San Marcos Fish Technology Center in Region 2, and as Deputy Project Leader and Project Leader at the Panama City Field Office in Region 4. Catherine especially enjoys working across Service programs and with a variety of partners in non-traditional ways and is an advocate of finding solutions to achieve mutual mission success.
Catherine grew up in a large family in San Antonio, Texas, and did not realize that careers in conservation existed prior to her first internship with the Service, but quickly fell in love with the field and the mission. She is an advocate of continual learning and mentoring and working with diverse groups from all backgrounds to achieve innovative conservation success. Catherine is a proud mom of a son in high school, daughter in elementary, and a son on the way in September. She loves spending time with her family and can often be found gardening, in the water paddleboarding or snorkeling, and watching and attending college football games in the Fall.
Chief of Staff
Laurel Barnhill serves as the Chief of the Migratory Bird Program for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Southeast Region. She joined the Service in 2011 as Southeast Region National Wildlife Refuge System Inventory and Monitoring Coordinator. Laurel’s prior positions were as the Bird Conservation Coordinator for South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Biologist for the USDA Forest Service – Savannah River, and Passerine Bird Coordinator for Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Laurel earned a M.S. in Zoology from the University of Arkansas and a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from the University of Vermont.
Acting Special Agent in Charge, Office of Law Enforcement
Chief, Wildlife and Sport fish Restoration Program
As Chief of the Wildlife and Sport fish Restoration Program (WSFR) Mike administers a variety of grant programs in the Southeast Region in cooperation with our partner state agencies. With a cumulative total of approximately \$305 million annually these grant funds are used to enhance the state’s ability to manage their fish and wildlife resources for the benefit of the public.
Mike began his career with the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1991 at Erie National Wildlife Refuge. In 1997 he accepted a position in WSFR as a Biologist. In 2002 he was selected as Wildlife Branch Supervisor and as Chief of WSFR in 2004. Prior to his FWS experience, Mike worked as a Biologist for the Bureau of Reclamation (BoR) in the North Platte, Wyoming Office. There he administered agriculture and grazing leases and lease agreements to state, county and other federal agencies on BoR lands. Before working for the BoR he worked for the Army Corps of Engineers as a Park Ranger in the Nashville District, performing lakeshore management activities that included permitting private and commercial moorage facilities.
Mike has been married to his spouse Sue for 33 years and has one son Andy. Mike enjoys spending as much of his free time as possible fly fishing for trout, fly tying and target shooting.