Meet the Staff

Dr. Michelle “Shelly” Lakly


Shelly is the President of Noah’s Ark. As President Shelly will help position Noah’s Ark as a world-class animal sanctuary by maintaining and expanding our current programs, providing leadership for fundraising, growth and providing a personal dedication to conservation and animal welfare. Shelly has an outstanding record of achievements and her addition to our Staff demonstrates and organizational commitment to the future of Noah’s Ark as a premier destination for our visitors, and a forever home for our animal residents. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy, Ecology, a Master of Science, Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development, and a Bachelor of Science, all from the University of Georgia, Institute of Ecology-Athens. Her accolades include a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Award and a U.S. Department of the Interiors Partners in Conservation Award.

Jama Hedgecoth

Director & Founder

Jama is the Director and Founder of Noah’s Ark. As a child, Jama cared for injured and unwanted animals, nursing them back to health and found homes for them. Through the years, her work with animals grew into a vision of caring for abused and neglected creatures which evolved into what we now know as Noah’s Ark. Jama oversees operations and development. As Director, Jama is also the dreamer behind Noah’s Ark. She maintains the organization’s vision and resolve. Her mission is to share the love, hope, and kindness of Noah’s Ark with the world as they work together to educate the world that all living things have value no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

Charlie Hedgecoth

Grounds Manager

As Grounds Manager, Charlie is Jama’s right-hand man and handles an assortment of duties at Noah’s Ark. He manages the property from maintaining equipment, facilitating onsite special events, and course feeds and cares for the animals. Animal rescue has long been a part of Charlie’s life; it is simply a part of who he is rather than what he does. Noah’s Ark began as a passion of his mother’s, and he grew up with that passion and now shares the dream with Jama. “Noah’s Ark is such a special, one-of-a-kind place because of the healing and unconditional love the animals give the people. There’s nothing like it,” says Charlie.

Meet the Board

  • Glenn Ross, Board Chair
  • Jay Allen
  • Marty Allen
  • Jo Costanzo
  • Jack A. Daniels
  • Jama M. Hedgecoth
  • Lynn Henkel
  • Rita Whitehouse