Executive Team

Mark Gumbert



Mark earned a bachelor’s degree in wildlife Management in 1996 and a master’s degree in Biology in 2001 from Eastern Kentucky University. In 2004 he formed Copperhead on a foundation of ethical biology and sound scientific methods, working mostly with endangered species. As Copperhead Consulting’s founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mark is responsible for developing and strengthening the firm’s position in the environmental consulting industry. Allowing his passion for conservation, biological curiosity, and out of the box thinking to guide the company’s direction.

This approach has built the reputation that Copperhead has today, and these core beliefs have driven the growth and expansion of additional services. By working closely with the executive team, he promotes the company’s long-term vision, strategy, and directs how to best allocate the company’s resources for sustainable growth. Under his direction, the company has seen steady growth and now employs nearly 40 employees.

He is a fixed wing pilot and has pioneered a method of tracking bats as they migrate, helped develop an artificial roost for endangered bats and has co-authored numerous scientific papers. In his free time Mark likes spending time with his wife and son, homebrewing craft beer and restoring historical buildings.

•      Southeastern Bat Diversity Network
•      Kentucky Natural History Society
•      Kentucky Academy of Science
•      The Wildlife Society
•      NASBR

Chris Leftwich

Chief Operating Officer


Chris Leftwich holds a B.S. in Environmental Policy from the University of Tulsa and a M.S. in Biology/Applied Ecology from Eastern Kentucky University. Chris joined Copperhead in 2007 and has worked his way through various leadership roles as he concentrates on delivering outstanding leadership throughout the company and providing excellent services to all of Copperhead’s clients. In response to his work, Chris was promoted to the executive team as the COO in 2012.

He is responsible for establishing best practices in managing all operations and implementing companywide organizational development strategies that lead to a growth-oriented, high-performance culture. In addition, Chris provides client liaison activities, support to project managers, and guides our business development.

Chris has extensive experience dealing with Section 7 and 10 of the Endangered Species Act which benefits in delivering exceptional project strategy to accomplish client’s goals.

In his free time Chris likes to go hunting and fishing.

Vicky West Abrams

Chief Financial Officer


Vicky West Abrams obtained her degree at Berea College, earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Management with an emphasis in Accounting. Vicky joined Copperhead in 2010. Bringing over 28 years of accounting and financing experience to the team, she has been an integral part of Copperhead’s growth.

She volunteers at and serves as treasurer for the Little Ones’ Consignment Sale in Richmond, KY, the proceeds of which help both women and children ministries.

Vicky, in her free time, likes to cruise the village on her bike, and make breakfast for guests at the Denny House Bed and Breakfast in Paint Lick, KY. Most importantly she enjoys spending time with her two children.

Matt Huddleston, Ph.D.

Vice President of Environmental Services


Matt holds a doctoral degree in Environmental Toxicology from Clemson University and M.S. and B.S. degrees from Eastern Kentucky University. Matt brings over 25 years of consulting, regulatory, and academic experience to Copperhead. As Vice President of Environmental Services, Matt supports Copperhead's project managers to help deliver exceptional consulting services. He serves as a mentor and provides expertise in ecotoxicology and water resources.

Matt has led and contributed to complex national projects, including Ecological Risk Assessments and Natural Resource Damage Assessments. He has provided expert testimony in environmental toxicology, authored journal articles and technical reports. Matt routinely presents project and research results at regional, national, and international professional conferences.

A native of Kentucky, Matt works to conserve and preserve the Commonwealth's natural and historic places. In his spare time, you will find him spending time with his family, playing music with friends, and exploring the backcountry, probably with a fly rod.

•      Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
•      Kentucky Academy of Science
•      Aquatic Plant Management Society

Leadership Team

Piper Roby, Ph.D.

Research Director


Piper Roby, Ph.D., received her B.A. at Hanover College and M.S. in Biology at the University of Louisville, both conducting amphibian surveys with an emphasis on egg and larval stages. She joined Copperhead Environmental Consulting, Inc. in 2005 as a technician and joined the full-time staff the following year. At Copperhead, Piper manages large non-regulatory bat projects, primarily for spring and fall migration and for several military bases. She is heavily involved in the design, execution, data analysis, and reporting of research projects, several with intent of publication in scientific journals.

Her work experience includes all field work related to surveying and monitoring bats in the eastern United States in habitats used in all four seasons of the year, as well as surveying for other Threatened and Endangered species. However, Piper's passion is researching migrating bats which she parlayed into a doctorate degree at the University of Kentucky.

In her spare time, Piper likes to hang out with her husband and cats, spend time with friends, read, hike, and travel.

•      U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Permit for Indiana bats
•      Vertical Caving Training – Kentucky Karst Conservancy

•      Southeastern Bat Diversity Network (SBDN)
•      North American Society for Bat Research Member (NASBR)
•      State bat working groups (KYBWG, TNBWG, ALBWG, NCBWG)

Steve Samoray - Sr. Biologist/Project Manager

Senior Biologist


Steve received both a B.A. and M.S. in biology from Middle Tennessee State University. His undergraduate work focused on amphibian and reptile research and his master’s thesis involved bat acoustic monitoring and habitat use.

Steve has conducted biological field research throughout the United States since 1998, focusing mainly on herps, birds, and bats. His extensive work with cave and forest bat species has given him the opportunity to handle and identify thousands of individuals including all the Federally endangered species in the Continental United States. Steve is proficient in the use of mist-nets, harp traps, radio-telemetry, acoustic lures, and bat counts using various techniques such as thermal video recording, near infrared video recording, guano measurements, and direct counts. He has participated in hundreds of cave surveys throughout the Southeast and Midwest United States. Steve joined Copperhead Environmental Consulting Inc., in 2011 where he serves as a Sr. Biologist and Project Manager with an emphasis on both acoustic and mist-net bat surveys for regulatory compliance. He is Copperhead’s acoustic survey lead and has manually vetted tens of thousands of bat calls over his career. Steve has also been active in the research community for many years, authoring or coauthoring scientific research articles and serving as president of the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network and Chair of the Tennessee Bat Working Group. He frequently attends and presents research at various state and national bat working groups.

Additionally, Steve holds a commercial pilot certification with over 1400 hours of flight time. He has participated in over 30 aerial telemetry projects focusing on bats and has conducted aerial American Bald Eagle nest surveys from both fixed-wing aircrafts and helicopters..

•      Southeastern Bat Diversity Network (SBDN)
•      State bat working groups (KYBWG, TNBWG, ALBWG, NCBWG)
•      North American Society for Bat Research Member (NASBR)

•      Commercial Pilot License
•      U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Permit for Indiana Bats

Price Sewell

Senior Aquatic Biologist


Price Sewell obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Environmental Science from Rollins College in 1997 and joined Copperhead in February 2006 as a wildlife biologist. Since that time, he has worked professionally as a wildlife biologist primarily focusing on threatened and endangered (T&E) species. Currently, Price is Copperhead’s Aquatics Division lead and Dive Safety Coordinator. Additionally, his experience includes all phases of work from project development and agency coordination through permitting and NEPA compliance. He also has extensive survey expertise in freshwater mussels and fish, bats, small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

He is an accomplished wildlife photographer and uses wildlife images to promote stewardship and conservation of the diverse fauna of the eastern United States.

Price enjoys photography and spending his free time with his family.

•      Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society (FMCS)
•      American Malacological Society (AMS)
•      Southeastern Bat Diversity Network (SBDN)
•      Kentucky Bat Working Group (KYBWG)

Marty Marchaterre

Senior Environmental Planner


Marty Marchaterre is an attorney with a law degree from the College of William and Mary and has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Political Science from Williams College. Marty joined Copperhead in December 2017 as a Senior Environmental Planner/NEPA Specialist. He has over 30 years of energy, environmental, and permitting experience and has overseen development of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation and supporting studies. He has overseen or contributed to more than 100 Environmental Impact Statements (EISs), Environmental Assessments (EAs), and Categorical Exclusions.

His expertise includes solar, wind, and transportation surveys, ecological surveys, biological assessments, mitigation, air quality, noise analyses, watershed planning, trail and park development studies, and community impact assessments. He has extensive understanding of agency consultation and public involvement.

•      Lexington Environmental Commission
•      Lexington Community Land Trust
•      Town Branch Trail, Inc.
•      Garrard County Sanitation District

•      District of Columbia Bar Association, Environment, Energy & Natural Resource Section
•      Virginia Bar Association, Environmental Law Section

Drew Vankat

NEPA Specialist/Environmental Planner


Drew Vankat joined Copperhead in 2017 as an Environmental Planner. Drew obtained his bachelor’s degree in Urban and Environmental Planning from Miami University and Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Planning from University of Michigan. He has 13 years of experience specializing in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and associated permitting and planning. He successfully manages complex and controversial environmental assessments and environmental impact statements for government and commercial clients, with a focus on land use planning, energy development and transmission.

His NEPA expertise includes overseeing broad-scale cumulative impact analyses, facilitating alternatives development, and implementing innovative approaches to public involvement, among others. He believes strongly in effective communication as a critical tool for project success and has extensive experience working with large interdisciplinary teams, cooperating agencies, and members of resource advisory councils and governing boards.

In his free time Drew enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and son.

Christopher McNees

GIS Coordinator


Christopher earned an Associate of Science & Arts in Environmental Science Technology, a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies, and a Post Baccalaureate Certification in Geographic Information Systems from Eastern Kentucky University. Chris joined the Copperhead family in 2016 as a GIS Analyst.

With extensive experience with the ArcGIS suite of products, Chris has served as our primary GIS lead. From implementing new mobile field data collection programs to spatial analytics, he has a good grasp on the front and back end components needed to stay current with the growing GIS community.

In his spare time Chris enjoys music, fishing, hiking, and expanding his craft beer collection.

•      FAA UAS/UAV remote pilot

•      Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals (KAMP)
•      Society of Conservation GIS (SCGIS)
•      GIS Certificate Institute (GISCI)

Dakota Hunter, PWS

Senior Wetland Scientist


Dakota Hunter joined Copperhead in 2022 as a Senior Wetland Scientist. He earned both his M.S. and B.S. in Biology from William and Mary where he focused his studies on botany, invasive species, and aquatic resource management. His research ultimately produced information used to guide invasive species performance standards for Virginia's wetland and stream mitigation sites.

Dakota has led field efforts and permitting processes for wetland delineations, biological monitoring, and wetland and stream restoration monitoring across a variety of industries concentrated in Virginia and North Carolina. His expertise is as a wetland scientist, but he has additional experience as a botanist, herpetologist, ornithologist, and aquatic ecologist.

Dakota spends most of his spare time holding a fly rod or a kayak paddle and enjoys kayak and canoe camping whenever possible.

•      Professional Wetland Scientist

•      Society for Wetland Scientists
•      Virginia Native Plant Society
•      Virginia Herpetological Society
•      Trout Unlimited