CCF SoCal Chapter Leader, Conservationist
Marisa is an active and committed conservationist currently working in the legal field. Prior to that she owned and operated her own travel business for nearly two decades primarily coordinating East African safaris. She has visited over 30 countries on six continents and her favorite place is, by far – Africa. Since childhood Marisa has had a great love of wildlife – once getting lost in the San Bernardino Mountains at the age of five by following a squirrel into the woods with her arm stretched out trying to feed it a peanut. Her love of nature and adoration of cats led her to develop a very deep passion for the cheetah and she became involved with the CCF in 2007 and has since devoted her time to share the word of the urgent need by creating awareness of the cheetah’s plight and whereby she has hosted many fundraising benefits toward the cause.
Participating in all three cities’ Run for the Cheetah programs she specifically assisted Phoenix in 2009, Portland in 2010, and Chicago in 2011. For each race she was leading fundraiser and was awarded for her accomplishments by the three chapters in Arizona, Oregon, and Illinois. Now, with a focus on the newly-formed Southern California Chapter stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego, she is launching forward at cheetah-speed sharing the cause wherever she can.
In a relatively short period of time, Marisa has quickly established herself not only as a strong supporter for the CCF but has proven herself to be a true friend of the cheetah cause and to those devoted individuals who share her passion. Marisa says she feels truly blessed as fortunate to have visited the CCF based in Otjiwarongo, Namibia, and to meet the legendary Chewbaaka, famous ambassador cheetah of Dr. Laurie Marker. By donating her time, energy and willingness to volunteer, the love of the cheetah has led Marisa on the path to dedicate and arrive as a Chewbaaka Society member. Marisa also sponsors “Samantha” a permanently orphaned resident cheetah which, at the time, she selected due to this cheetah requiring the most need and critical care. Now, Samantha is in excellent hands at CCF.
Marisa currently volunteers for Wild Wonders, Inc. and partners in preservation, the Zoofari Foundation located in Bonsall, California, which is the home to CCF’s ambassador cheetah, Victor, along with other animals used for education and conservation programs.
An avid hiker, Marisa frequents the California desert every opportunity that comes her way. She loves to climb Mount Eisenhower, located in the perimeters of the Living Desert, a zoo and botanical garden. There Marisa is involved by membership, sponsorship and the Heritage Society.
Born, raised and is now residing in her hometown of San Pedro, California, along with her husband, Joe. They are surrounded with their own small zoo of three spotted hybrid cats (two Savannahs and a Bengal), a Pug, and an African grey parrot. Though a native Californian, Marisa is first generation Croatian and speaks the language fluently.