Rawland D. Cogan (Rawley), President and CEO and Co-founder.
The Keystone Elk Country Alliance is a Pennsylvania based 501 (c) (3) wildlife conservation organization that manages and operates the Elk Country Visitor Center. Prior to working with the Keystone Elk Country Alliance, Rawley worked as a Lands Program Manager for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. His career with the PA Game Commission began in 1982 with field research involving elk home range and movements, elk/human conflicts and mitigation, aerial survey and population estimates, calf survival and elk habitat preference. He is a wildlife biologist with 20 years of experience with the state wildlife agency as an Elk Biologist and 16 years of experience working in non-profit conservation organizations. Rawley completed a Master’s Degree at Penn State University in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, a Bachelor Degree at Slippery Rock University in Natural Resource Management and an Associate Degree at Penn State in Wildlife Technology.
His research work has been published in The Wildlife Society and National Geographic. Rawley has narrated and co-authored the script for the Pennsylvania Game Commission video titled; Pennsylvania Elk; Reclaiming the Alleghenies, presented lectures throughout the country on Pennsylvania Elk, appeared on numerous television shows, is a host of the national TV show TomBob Outdoors, Friends in Wild Places, is a life member of the Keystone Elk Country Alliance and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, holds memberships with the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International. Rawley currently is working in partnership with Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to manage and operate the Elk Country Visitor Center. The Elk Center attracts over 481,000 visitors annually.
Carla Wehler, Operations Manager
Carla Wehler, Operations Manager As Operations Manager, Carla oversees day to day operations to ensure that KECA and the ECVC have the resources required to operate smoothly. A key aspect is marketing and promotion. Carla also serves as the Vice President of the PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau, a five county Tourism Promotion agency. Representing KECA on their board and assisting in not only the promotion of the Center, but the region as a whole – carrying out KECA’s mission to drive economic benefit to the area. As a lifelong resident of Elk Country her passion shows in the pride put into her work since becoming the first staff member hired by CEO Rawley Cogan in 2010. Carla enjoys her time spent with the draft horses and during the peak season can be found as one of the three generations of her family members driving the horse drawn wagon rides at the Center.
Brandi Hanes, VC Supervisor
Brandi is a lifelong resident of Benezette and a 1993 graduate of DuBois Business College with a degree in Business Management and serves as the Elk Country Visitor Center Guest Relations Supervisor. As such, she is in charge of all aspects of the Treasure Shed gift shop, KECA membership, management of Elk Mountain Homestead rental property, bus tours, and event planning. She is proud to have witnessed the growth of not only the elk herd, but the economical growth that has come to her hometown.
Jill Chiodo, Visitor Center Supervisor Assistant
Born, raised and still resides in Elk Country with her husband and two children.
Joined the KECA staff in February 2018 with Guest Relations.
Hobbies include hiking and spending time with family.
Doty McDowell, Field Director/Habitat Manager
Doty was hired in January of 2018. He has a B.A. degree from Thiel College. He spent 30 years working for the State of Pennsylvania. His first two years was with Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (then DER). He then went to work for the Pennsylvania Game Commission as a land surveyor. In 1995, he was selected to attend the Ross Leffler School of Conservation as a Wildlife Conservation Officer. He graduated in March of 1996 and was stationed in Washington County. In 1998, he transferred to Elk County along with his wife Patty and their newborn daughter Ashley. Doty promoted to Land Manager in 2014 and within the same year was promoted to Information and Education Supervisor for the Northcentral Region. He retired from state service in October of 2017.
Kristi Reinaker, Eastern Field Director
Kristi had previously been a dedicated volunteer and chairperson for the Chilli Creek Chapter and committee member of Clinton County Chapter since 2013. But she has had a passion and love for Elk Country since the age of 6. Kristi is a graduate of Lock Haven University with a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Management. During school, she interned with PPL Montour Environmental Preserve where she studied with the head Naturalist. Upon graduation, she accepted a position with a major outdoor recreation retailer and served with them as a manager for several years before accepting a management position with a large home improvement retailer. Prior to accepting her position with Keystone Elk Country Alliance, Kristi also owned her own apparel small business that she operated from her home. Kristi resides in Danville, PA, with her husband, Josh, and son Branlin. Together, they enjoy spending time with each other in the outdoors, often teaching Branlin new activities like fishing, hiking, and camping. One of their favorite things to do together as a family is spend a weekend in Elk Country, where Branlin has declared is ‘his favorite place’. Kristi is an avid hunter and fisherwoman, enjoys shooting sports, photography, attending concerts, and tending to their family garden. She has been involved with different conservation organizations such as National Wild Turkey Federation and Ducks Unlimited and had served as a committee member for 15+ years.
Steve Mecca, Maintenance Coordinator
Steve Mecca is the Maintenance Coordinator here at the Keystone Elk Country Alliance Visitors Center. He ran his own business in the customer service industry and has been in the construction and maintenance field for over 25 years. He is hard working and takes pride in all he does. He enjoys working outdoors and talking to people which makes him the perfect fit for his job.
Steve is married, has 2 children and a dog. He was born and raised in Elk County and has a big italian family that celebrates many traditions. He is a dedicated father who has passed down his passion for the outdoors to his children.
When Steve is not at the Visitors Center he is likely to be found somewhere in a tree hunting, on a stream fishing, or enjoying other outdoor activities with his family.
Chad Woodward, Maintenance/Habitat
Chad splits his time at the Center doing maintenance work and with both on and offsite Habitat. Chad can often be seen in the cab of the tractor enhancing the forage plots in the area. When not at the Visitor Center he is likely to be found hunting or camping with his family. He resides in St. Marys with his wife and son.
Tom Rumbaugh, Maintenance
Tom retired from Penn State University maintenance after serving 23 years. Shortly after retiring he began working for Sky Meadow Girl Scout Camp as their grounds keeper.
Tom has 5 children and a dog named Copper. He enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking and outdoor activities with his family. Tom also spend much of his time also volunteering.
Ben Porkolab, Conservation Education Coordinator
As the Conservation Education Coordinator, Ben supervises the education department at the Elk Country Visitor. Ben earned his elementary teaching degree from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and student taught at McKeever Environmental Learning Center. One of Ben’s duties is scheduling group field trips to the center as well as those participating in the distance learning program. As a veteran elementary school teacher for twenty two years, Ben is familiar with grade level curriculums and state standards that are expected. He selects lessons that are age appropriate and standards driven. Ben is passionate about sharing his love for the outdoors through educating people of all ages and from all walks of life. Whether on a trail, or on a wagon ride Ben enjoys teaching in his element, which is outside with nature. Ben resides in St. Marys with his wife, who is also an educator, and his children Ben and Anna. They enjoy spending time together outside hiking, camping, and fishing.
Russell Wheeler, Conservation Education Specialist
Although Russell Wheeler grew up near Gettysburg, his love for the outdoors was always centered in Pennsylvania’s Elk Country. As a boy he spent a lot of time in the area hunting, fishing, and catching snakes. Russell found that helping people better understand wildlife was something he wanted to do. The Keystone Reptile Club is where he began educating people about Pennsylvania snakes alongside his family in Sinnemahoning and Cross Fork. Russell then earned an associate’s degree in wildlife technology from Pennsylvania State University. Russell’s time at Penn State Dubois Campus was highlighted by his internship at the Elk Country Visitor Center. As soon as Russell graduated in 2020, he accepted a seasonal position to return to the Elk Country Visitors Center through the Pennsylvania Game Commission. When finished with the Game Commission’s position in November, Russell was hired as the Conservation Education Specialist for the Keystone Elk Country Alliance.
Steven W. Kronenwetter, Staff Accountant
Steve received a degree in Accounting from Clarion University in 1979 and had several careers including stints in public accounting along with corporate auditing and accounting with Brockway Glass, served as Controller for both Permagrain Products, Inc. and McLean Publishing Co.as well as running production, Health & Safety and several manufacturing operations throughout his career before joining KECA in 2015. Steve was also active in Junior Achievement and local festivals as well as with local organizations dedicated to conservation and education of people supporting the elk herd, wildlife, maintenance of our rivers and woodlands and tourism initiatives in northcentral PA.
Steve and his wife, Coleen, have lived in Elk County for most of their lives and own Wapiti Woods – Guest Cabins located in Benezette Twp in the heart of PA Elk Country. Steve and Coleen had two sons, Seth & Jess, and now have two grandsons.
Jeff Gauger, Director of Development
Jeff Gauger, Rimersburg, PA is a Founding Life Member and has served the organization as a volunteer and Business Consultant since KECA’s inception in 2009. Jeff is a graduate of DuBois Business College and brings more than 35 years of business management experience to the KECA. He is a member of the Rimersburg United Methodist Church and serves as Trustee Chairman.
Jeff and his wife Robin, also a KECA Founding Life Member have been married for 28 years and have three grown children. They enjoy spending time outdoors and at their cabin in the heart of Pennsylvania Elk Country.