Pet Haven Team

Staff

Kerry D'Amato
Executive Director
Long-time animal welfare advocate Kerry D’Amato is honored to serve as Pet Haven’s executive director. She sees the challenges facing animal welfare, both at the Pet Haven and throughout our community, becoming increasingly complex. At the same time, she sees more opportunities than ever to save pets’ lives. Kerry’s devotion to animals began early in her life. In high school, she worked in animal care at the Denver Dumb Friends League, where she saw how challenging the shelter environment could be for companion animals.
She quickly understood the impact foster-based rescues could have—giving second chances and saving animals’ lives. Kerry went on to campaign for improved animal welfare through legislative action and rescue work in New York, Ohio, and Minnesota.In addition to her work in animal welfare, Kerry has more than 20 years of experience in special events and marketing, fundraising and development for nonprofit and political organizations, and project management. Her passion for animal welfare, broad base of experience, and strong relationship-building skills are an ideal fit for Pet Haven. Driven to rescue, Kerry often spends her free time helping homeless and feral felines thru TNR, fostering and re-homing. She also pursues a yoga practice, enjoys good food and conversation with friends, spending time at “the lake,” and being at home with her family and their rescued feline companions.
More about Kerry...
Ashley Marks
Operations Manager
Ashley Marks is Pet Haven’s Operations Manager. Her role focuses on supporting all of the volunteers in the dog and cat divisions. Ashley joined the Pet Haven team in 2017 as a special events volunteer. She has also opened her home to foster dogs and helped with foster outreach. Ashley’s background includes event services, operations management, and organizational development. Ashley has had a life-long passion for animals- she likes to say it’s in her genes. Many of her family members are those crazy animal people.
Her other interests include going to concerts, fishing, and being creative. Ashley shares her home with her partner, Brian, their two Chihuahuas named Frank & Beans, and their Pet Haven foster fail, Penny.
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Savannah Johnston
Vet Care Manager
Savannah Johnston joined the Pet Haven team in 2021 and serves as the Vet Care Manager. She has a background in private clinic work as a Certified Veterinary Technician and in rescue work. In college, she spent time working in an animal shelter and fostering cats and knew rescue work was where she would always feel most at home. Joining the team at Pet Haven allows her to combine her medical training with her passion for helping animals find their forever home!
Savannah knew from a very young age that her life would always revolve around animals. Growing up, her family rescued many animals, participated in rescue fundraisers and were always advocating for animal welfare in whatever ways they could. Savannah’s family is a very important part of her life and she is grateful to spend much of her free time with them. She also spends time with her friends exploring the outdoors and trying new coffee shops. 
More about Savannah...
Anna Schaumburg
Programs Manager
Anna Schaumburg is the Programs Manager for Pet Haven, putting her lifelong passion for animals to good work! Her career in animal welfare began in 2015, working as a manager in an animal shelter in Fargo, ND. She has experience building life saving programs, working with shelter medicine, leading teams that embody life saving culture, and operational management of animal shelters.
She found a passion for fostering orphaned kittens, and has fostered dozens of bottle baby kittens, and has loved every sleepless night of it! Animal rescue has always been the forefront of Anna’s life, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her other interests include weight lifting, reading at home with her cats, hiking and finding all the best places to eat good food with friends.
More about Anna

Board of Directors

Marcella McIntyre
President
Marcella joined the Board in 2018 and has served as the Board President since June 2020. Animals have always been a large part of Marcella’s life and she believes life is better with a pet. She started volunteering with rescue organizations in college and previously volunteered with Pet Haven from 2007-2013.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Marcella moved to Minnesota in 2005 and lives with her husband, Kyle, and two children, Lily and James. They share their home with three rescue pets, Ozzy, a hound mix, and Jack and Kevin, both black cats. Marcella is corporate counsel for a software company in Minneapolis. In her free time, Marcella likes to read, hike, go to concerts and watch her kids' soccer and hockey games.
More about Marcella...
Kate Mudge
Vice-President
Kate is currently serving as the VP of the board of directors and was previously employed as the ED of Pet Haven. Kate is excited to bring her ideas, energy, and love for animals to support the incredible work of Pet Haven volunteers. Kate lives on a hobby farm in Western MN and has dreams of converting her pole barn into a massive dog retreat!
With over 18 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Kate brings her operational know-how and love for animals to Pet Haven.
More about Kate...
Jenny Jurek
Secretary
Jenny Jurek joined the Pet Haven Board of Directors in 2013. Jenny has been involved in animal rescue and volunteering as long as she can remember and began volunteering actively in Minnesota dog rescue in 2005. After joining Pet Haven as a volunteer in 2008, she held various coordinator positions before becoming Co-Director of the Dog Division in 2011 and Director of the Dog Division in 2012.
Jenny is passionate about responsible animal rescue and care, and believes strongly in the human/animal bond as well as working human/animal partnerships. She does therapy work with her TDI-certified dog, Riley. Jenny has a background and degrees in business, music, and history. Professionally, she is a Senior Account Manager for an IT Managed Services company. Jenny shares her home with 3 adopted dogs and constant foster dogs.
More about Jenny...
Jack Novak
Treasurer
Jack joined the Pet Haven Board of Directors in 2017 and is currently serving as Treasurer. His first experience with Pet Haven was in 2016 when he and his wife, Nicole, adopted their first dog, a black lab mix named Penelope. Shortly after, the two began fostering dogs as well (though Penelope would prefer that she get all the attention). Professionally, Jack is an auditor for a public accounting firm. He has a CPA and received his bachelor’s degree and his masters in accountancy from the University of Minnesota.
Lucinda Winter
Board Member
Lucinda Winter is an award-winning writer, producer and senior manager who’s played an active role in the Twin Cities media community for more than 25 years.  In 2017 she founded Alpha Bravo Communications, the wheelhouse for her current writing, producing and account management work for a growing list of clients. From 2005 to 2017 Lucinda served as executive director at Minnesota Film and TV, Minnesota’s non-profit film commission charged with attracting new film, television, commercial and digital business to the state.
During her tenure Ms. Winter secured more than $25 million in state incentive funds and attracted more than $100 million in feature film, TV and commercial spending to Minnesota from studios and networks including HBO, Netflix, Fox Searchlight, Amazon Prime, Warner Bros and Anonymous Content. Previous to that post, Lucinda spent more than a decade in creative and management positions at Blue Earth Pictures, a Twin Cities-based production studio. While at Blue Earth she wrote and produced videos for a roster of corporate clients including Jostens, 3M, Caribou Coffee, Buffalo Wild Wings, Target, Best Buy, Mayo Clinic and Allina Health System.  Working independently, she produced TV programming in the U.S., Europe and Asia, successfully leading multi-cultural production teams and completing projects in six countries. Lucinda graduated from Michigan State University’s Honors College with a degree in advertising. She currently volunteers as a tutor with the children’s literacy non-profit Reading Partners and is a member of the Twin Cities Business Women’s Network.
More about Lucinda...
Dr. Katie Cartledge
Board Member
Katie joined the Pet Haven Board of Directors in 2020. She is a veterinarian and graduate of the University of Minnesota and currently practices in the Twin Cities. Katie was very excited about the opportunity to be a part of the Pet Haven team. For the past several years Katie has also volunteered with Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue to offer veterinary care during their wellness clinics. She is a co-Team Lead for the Street Dog Coalition which provides free medical care to pets of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
In her free time, Katie enjoys rowing with the Minneapolis Rowing Club, visiting local craft breweries, good food, traveling, and flower gardening. Katie and her wife, Colby, share their home with their two dogs Goose and Marta, and their four cats Ed, Louise, Chad, and Marlow.
More about Dr. Katie...
Jen Sposeto
Board Member
Jen Sposeto joined the Pet Haven Board of Directors in 2020.   Jen has been active with foster-based rescue organizations in the Twin Cities for the past five years – event coordinating, fundraising and fostering cats.  She is a proud cat mom to Franklin and Holly.  When she is not taking care of her #1 priority – snuggling with her cats – she enjoys traveling, bike riding, and spending time at her family cabin.  Sometimes, when the cats are sleeping, she pays attention to her husband, Andy.  When she must leave her cats, she goes to work for Best Buy, where she is a Marketing Director.
Jen is a 2x graduate of the University of Minnesota and a die-hard Gopher.   She believes that every animal deserves a good home and to be loved and is committed to supporting all the amazing work Pet Haven does.
More about Jen...
Elijah Berg
Board Member
Growing up in Plymouth, MN, Elijah's family always had dogs. In fact, for many years they had three dogs. Everyone in Elija's family had a love of animals and it is this connection to dogs that leads Elijah to join the Pet Haven Board of Directors and impact the lives of pets and people for the better. After attending the University of Minnesota, Elijah achieved his degree in Psychology and soon after started a career in Human Resources where he has been for 20 years.
His excitement for being on the board starts with being able to contribute HR experience to an organization whose mission is to partner people and animals to find a forever home. He feels very strongly that animals bring so much enrichment to people's lives and wants to be a part of helping that come to be. Elijah has 3 beautiful dogs - Truman, Ellie, and Carter.
More about Elijah...
Monika McDole-Russell
Board Member
Monika McDole-Russell joined the Pet Haven Board of Directors in 2021. An animal lover since receiving a sleek Siamese kitten at the age of 3 (whom she promptly named "Fluffy"), Monika has been a passionate supporter of animal advocacy, Trap-Neuter-Return, and ending pet overpopulation since she was a teenager.
Upon moving to Minnesota three years ago, she was excited to discover Pet Haven and its mission and is thrilled to be on the Board. When she is not doting on her feline fur babies - Remy, d'Artagnan, and Tissot - Monika works as a Senior Manager for a medical device company based in the Twin Cities. She enjoys spending her free time with her cats and her husband Sean. Any remaining free time is spent reading, traveling, and preparing or eating good food. Monika's dream is to see the end of pet overpopulation and animal testing in her lifetime.
More about Monika...
Annette Agner
Board Member
Annette Agner and her husband Jim joined Pet Haven as Supply volunteers in January 2018. Later that year, she assumed the role of Supplies Coordinator, overseeing the inflow and outflow of food and supplies that support the health and welfare of the hundreds of animals that Pet Haven welcomes each year. Annette explains, “It would be impossible to succeed in this role without the hard work and extreme dedication of Pet Haven’s incredible Supplies Team!
They are often unsung heroes in the vital work that we do.” Annette and Jim have hosted a number of Pet Haven dogs on one step or the other toward their “forever homes”. Their family includes 3 cherished Pet Haven alums, Yammi, Eli, and Kuma. Kratos, adopted by their son, Ian, rounds out the Agner alum roster. Over the years, Jim and Annette have welcomed several rescue dogs to their family through adoption. Annette brings to the Pet Haven team 30-years senior management experience in both accounting and operations for both public and private companies. Currently, she is Director of Operations of a commercial property maintenance firm serving over 40 million sq/ft of commercial real estate in the Twin Cities. She is delighted to bring the insight, intuition, and hands-on leadership she has gained in her long business career to the service of the pets and their “haven.” Describing her volunteer role with Pet Haven, Annette said “Every single interaction I have had with Pet Haven volunteers, staff, and animals has been amazingly positive and rewarding! I truly cannot envision working with a more devoted, interesting, and talented group of people. Pet Haven does a fantastic job to promote the welfare of our animal companions and I’m honored to play a small part in that mission.” In her leisure time, Annette enjoys listening to music, reading, indulging in a movie, and swimming. Her 3 furry companions are often snuggled in, incredibly well-loved, and happy in their forever home.
More about Annette...
Maren Willette
Board Member
Maren joined Pet Haven in 2015 and since joining has loved volunteering through providing support as the Dog Adoption Coordinator, helping out at partner rescue clinics, assisting with transports, and putting on monthly nail trim clinics. Most recently, she joined the Pet Haven Board and is excited to continue volunteering and supporting Pet Haven and the organization's mission, vision and values. Maren currently has three rescue pets in her family, two dogs and one cat, and is looking forward to rescuing farm animals in the future!

Division Managers

Misha Smith
Cat Division Project Manager
We are excited to have Misha as the Cat Division Manager for Pet Haven. In her role as Division Manager, she leads our growing cat division helping improve processes, supervises, supports, and provides leadership for Pet Haven’s Cat Foster and Adoption programs. Misha brings her background in eLearning to the Pet Haven team, looking for new ways to innovate and create efficiencies to help Pet Haven reach more animals. Misha grew up surrounded by animals and holds a deep respect for all creatures, big and small. Joining Pet Haven in 2019 as a cat foster, Misha is proud to continue helping animals through rescue, fostering, and TNR.
Professionally, Misha is the VP of Marketing at a local cybersecurity firm. She lives with her husband and their three rescue cats, which are all acutely aware that they outnumber the humans. Misha enjoys vegan cooking, gardening, and updating vintage furniture. You can find her proudly walking her cats via stroller, repositioning earthworms from sidewalks to safety, and turning her home into a feline playground.
More about Misha...
Julie Urban
Cat Division Manager
Julie joined Pet Haven in January 2019 as a cat foster and transitioned to the role of Cat Division Manager in August 2019. She was key in the growth of our cat division. Julie fully embraces the "Crazy Cat Lady" mentality and loves that Pet Haven allows her to welcome new kitties into her home at all times. As a foster, she enjoys getting to know each cat while helping them find their forever homes. This also gives Julie the opportunity to meet families and build long-lasting connections in the community and understand how to fully support the organization as a Division Manager. Julie and her family moved to Minnesota from Kansas in 2017 and currently reside in Eden Prairie.
Julie is married to Brandon and they have three children - Grace, Molly, and Ben. They currently have six cats (four of which are foster fails through Pet Haven) - Nova, Sushi, Wren, Cloudpuff Squishmallow, Meredith Grey, and Raven. This number can always increase given they like to foster pregnant moms and litters! Outside of her Pet Haven role, Julie owns a pediatric speech therapy private practice, where she not only focuses on speech disorders and delays, but also advocates for pets in practice. Her other interests include writing, singing, puzzling, and spending time with family, friends, and felines.
More about Julie...
Jenny Jurek
Dog Division Manager
Jenny Jurek joined the Pet Haven Board of Directors in 2013. Jenny has been involved in animal rescue and volunteering as long as she can remember and began volunteering actively in Minnesota dog rescue in 2005. After joining Pet Haven as a volunteer in 2008, she held various coordinator positions before becoming Co-Director of the Dog Division in 2011 and Director of the Dog Division in 2012.
Jenny is passionate about responsible animal rescue and care, and believes strongly in the human/animal bond as well as working human/animal partnerships. She does therapy work with her TDI-certified dog, Riley. Jenny has a background and degrees in business, music, and history. Professionally, she is a Senior Account Manager for an IT Managed Services company. Jenny shares her home with 3 adopted dogs and constant foster dogs.
More about Jenny...

Engagement Team

Annette Agner
Supplies Coordinator
Annette Agner, and her husband, Jim joined Pet Haven as Supply volunteers in January 2018.  Also in January, they began fostering a shy/fearful four-year-old lab mix, Yam, through Pet Haven.  Yam’s progress has been a fascinating and heartwarming process for Annette.  She can’t think of better way to have welcomed the New Year!  Her senior resident dog (a tri-ped), Millie, was adopted from a local rescue 6 years ago.  Over the years, Annette & Jim have welcomed at least 5 large breed dogs into their home as cherished family members through adoption.
When describing her interest in expanding her volunteer role with Pet Haven, Annette said, “Every single interaction I have had with Pet Haven volunteers, staff and animals has been amazingly positive and rewarding!  I truly cannot envision working with a more devoted, interesting and welcoming group of people.  I couldn’t be more impressed by the fantastic job Pet Haven does to promote the welfare of our animal companions and I’m honored to play a small part in that mission.”
More about Annette...
Maggiy Emery
Events Coordinator
Maggiy has been volunteering with Pet Haven since 2016 and joined the Event Coordination team in 2021. She has a background in nonprofit development, communications, and political organizing, in addition to a long history of being a crazy animal person! She is active in many other nonprofits around town, from horse rescues to femnist theater collectives, and has a passion for improving the world for all people and animals. She lives in Saint Paul with her partner and three rescues: cats Jagger and Pippin, and dog Jojo. Other interests include running, reading, and cooking elaborate meals with veggies from her garden!
Laura Bush
Social Media Coordinator
Laura is a marketing and social media professional and completely pet obsessed, She loves painting, distance hiking, and camping. She is a huge fan of the outdoors, especially when Rosie her pup can come with- they both love an adventure. Laura is forever on the hunt for the best taco and margarita and wherever life takes her and her life partner Josh, and of course our furry babies!
My cat is Cricket- he was found as a kitten in a dumpster and we have been together for 10 years. He loves eating, sunbathing, spying on our neighbors in the window, and chirping at me when I come home. Rosie is my doggie and we are soulmates. She was found as a very small puppy taped up inside of a diaper box abandoned in a field. After she was found I took her straight to a veterinarian where she was diagnosed with parvo. Through a little luck and pure determination and sheer will to keep her alive, we have had an amazing 9 years together. She’s a sassy old lady, but always up for cuddles with her BFF, Cricket.
More about Laura...

Adoption Team

Maren Willette
Dog Adoption Coordinator
Maren joined Pet Haven in 2015 and has enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people and helping to change the lives of animals. She chose to volunteer with Pet Haven because of the family-feel and Pet Haven’s commitment to spay/neuter initiatives. She has loved volunteering through providing support as the Dog Adoption Coordinator and coordinating monthly nail trim clinics.
Maren's fondest and most influential memory with Pet Haven is from when she traveled  to Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue to volunteer at the spay/neuter/wellness clinics. The experiences she had were unrivaled; seeing that the support and assistance was truly making a difference in the lives of the animals and the owners. When Maren is not at Pet Haven, she enjoys spending time with her family and two Pet Haven rescue dogs, and adventuring the outdoors!
More about Maren...
Leslie Bardon
Records Coordinator
Leslie began volunteering with Pet Haven in 2007.   She was tossing around the idea of a second dog to add to her home for their dog Butch (a Rat Terrier). She figured "why not foster... we wouldn't have the expense of another dog- PERFECT!" Leslie was hooked! Eventually, Miss Bella entered her home and she didn't want to leave after 2 1/2 yrs with us, although they tried their hardest! Bella chose her home permanently in June of 2012.
Leslie has done many jobs with Pet Haven and is currently the Records Coordinator. Someday she will be back to fostering because she misses it so!!!
More about Leslie...
Nassim Rossi
Cat Adoption Coordinator
Inspired by the joy unleashed when her family welcomed a cat into their home in 2019, Nassim and her youngest daughter Darya joined Pet Haven in February 2021 as a cat foster team and Nassim soon transitioned to the role of Cat Foster Mentor. She is daily awed and moved by the compassion and dedication of the people she meets through Pet Haven.
She loves making a difference in the lives of vulnerable animals and helping people find their perfect cat match. Nassim enjoys spending time with her family, including her foster cats and resident cat Lea, and bringing happiness and positivity into the lives of humans too through her wellness business worD.Aroma. In her free time Nassim enjoys crafting, playing piano and devouring audiobooks ... ok, fine, and also watching lots of cat videos.
More about Nassim...
Nick Campbell
Post-Adoption Support
Nick lives in Northeast Minneapolis and is currently working as a medical scribe with the goal to become a Physician Assistant. Nick grew up in Stillwater, Minnesota with golden retrievers in his home as a kid. Currently, he doesn't have any pets of his own, but loves taking advantage of being able to visit his family and friends' pets!

Intake Team

Meagan Maue
Intake Manager
Meagan Maue joined Pet Haven in 2011 serving as a Canine Intake Coordinator. She also helps manage our social media and is a dog foster.  Meagan has now moved into the Intake Manager Role supporting the Feline and Canine Intake Divisions ensuring the division runs smoothly, intake volunteers are supported, and flow is healthy for the organization. Her favorite thing about companion animal advocacy work is rehabilitating severely undersocialized dogs; "seeing them transform from a wallflower into a happy and healthy dog is the most rewarding feeling imaginable". Meagan enjoys all of the relationships she has built through her volunteer work, whether it be with adopters or fellow volunteers. "They're my extended family." Meagan brings her expertise in shelter intake to Pet Haven and we are lucky to have her on board!
She currently resides with her Pet Haven alumni German Shepherd mix, Otis. Outside of her Pet Haven volunteer work Meagan is a Senior Marketing Analyst for a local retailer and can be found on softball fields around the Twin Cities.
More about Meagan...
Jackie Schmiedlin
Cat Reservation Intake Coordinator
Jackie and her family became Pet Haven volunteers in 2016, starting with dog fostering and adding cats to the mix in 2018. Their current resident animals (3 precocious male cats and a very sassy dog) are all rescued from the Red Lake Reservation where Jackie also volunteers several times a year at spay/neuter clinics. Fostering animals has become their passion - in 2019 they opened their home to 30 cats and dogs in need. They especially love fostering kittens.
Jackie enjoys sharing knowledge with the fosters in her group and learning more about cat and dog care from other volunteers.
More about Jackie...
Jenny Jurek
Dog Reservation Intake Coordinator
Jenny Jurek joined the Pet Haven Board of Directors in 2013. Jenny has been involved in animal rescue and volunteering as long as she can remember and began volunteering actively in Minnesota dog rescue in 2005. After joining Pet Haven as a volunteer in 2008, she held various coordinator positions before becoming Co-Director of the Dog Division in 2011 and Director of the Dog Division in 2012.
Jenny is passionate about responsible animal rescue and care, and believes strongly in the human/animal bond as well as working human/animal partnerships. She does therapy work with her TDI-certified dog, Riley. Jenny has a background and degrees in business, music, and history. Professionally, she is a Senior Account Manager for an IT Managed Services company. Jenny shares her home with 3 adopted dogs and constant foster dogs.
More about Jenny....
Kayla Knoll
Municipal Shelter Intake Coordinator
Kayla joined Pet Haven in February 2018 as a dog foster volunteer. In 2019, she took over the position of Shelter Intake Coordinator in contact originally with Safe Hands Rescue with dogs being transported from Kentucky now working with Mutt Mutt Engine in collaboration with South Carolina shelters and Rockwall Pets with Texas shelters. In her personal life, Kayla is a neurological intensive care nurse. She enjoys writing poetry and recently accepted a writing apprenticeship via the Loft Literary Center with a locally based published poet.
Kayla has a resident cat as her companion but continues to foster both cats and dogs with Pet Haven and looks forward to continuing her partnership as an engaged volunteer.
More about Kayla...
Ali Hansen
Cat Owner Surrender Intake Coordinator
Ali Hansen joined the team at Pet Haven in 2019 as a dog foster and is now the Cat Owner Surrender Coordinator. A greatly needed role during these uncertain times. Ali moved from Iowa to Minnesota in 2018 after graduating college from Iowa State University. She has been an animal lover her whole life and loves that she can finally use that passion to help animals in need. She even convinced her family to adopt their first pet, Katy the beagle, when she was in middle school.
Professionally she is a Graphic Designer, but outside of work she loves to be outdoors, travels the world, and spends as much time with her animals as possible. She lives with her partner, Chris, their cat, Charlie, and their Pet Haven foster fail, Gunther.
More about Ali...
Kayla Brehmer
Cat Owner Surrender Intake Coordinator
Kayla's passion for helping rescue animals began in 2015 when she rescued her first pitty mix, Roxy and only grew when she rescued Kevin from Pet Haven in 2021. When her sister adopted Prince Louie, the kitty, her love for animals was magnified and can't imagine life without fur babies! She joined Pet Haven in 2021 as a volunteer on the Cat Surrender team helping to find foster homes by reviewing the surrender applications. When she is not playing with Kevin and Roxy, she enjoys reading and works for an IT organization as a Software Trainer.
When she is not playing with Kevin and Roxy, she enjoys reading and works for an IT organization as a Software Trainer.
More about Kayla...
Jessie Lohr
Dog Owner Surrender Intake Coordinator
Jessie joined the Pet Haven team in August. She loves to volunteer and was able to combine that with her love of dogs! Time not working in catering sales is spent with her husband, Ben, and wonderful pit mix pup, Bear. Her family just moved into the St Paul area from Atlanta a couple years ago and are loving it so far!
Stephanie Schmidt
Rural Shelter Intake Coordinator
Stephanie has always had a love and passion for animals. She has been bringing home stray and lost animals for most of her life. She joined Pet Haven in February 2022 after 4 years of fostering with other rescues. Her family has fostered over 70 cats, kittens, dogs, and puppies of all ages! She has been doing intake coordination for rural shelter partners located in Minnesota for a few years and really enjoys being an integral part of getting animals out of shelters and into foster homes.
Outside of her volunteer work, she is a pediatric and fetal cardiac sonographer. In her personal life, Stephanie has a very tolerant husband who puts up with all of her animal shenanigans, 2 young children, and a house full of resident rescue cats and dogs.
More about Stephanie...

Cat Foster Team

Jackie Schmiedlin
Cat Foster Mentor
Jackie and her family became Pet Haven volunteers in 2016, starting with dog fostering and adding cats to the mix in 2018.  Their current resident animals (3 precocious male cats and a very sassy dog) are all rescued from the Red Lake Reservation where Jackie also volunteers several times a year at spay/neuter clinics.  Fostering animals has become their passion - in 2019 they opened their home to 30 cats and dogs in need.  They especially love fostering kittens.
Jackie enjoys sharing knowledge with the fosters in her group and learning more about cat and dog care from other volunteers.
More about Jackie...
Nassim Rossi
Cat Foster Mentor
Inspired by the joy unleashed when her family welcomed a cat into their home in 2019, Nassim and her youngest daughter Darya joined Pet Haven in February 2021 as a cat foster team and Nassim soon transitioned to the role of Cat Foster Mentor. She is daily awed and moved by the compassion and dedication of the people she meets through Pet Haven.
She loves making a difference in the lives of vulnerable animals and helping people find their perfect cat match. Nassim enjoys spending time with her family, including her foster cats and resident cat Lea, and bringing happiness and positivity into the lives of humans too through her wellness business worD.Aroma. In her free time Nassim enjoys crafting, playing piano and devouring audiobooks ... ok, fine, and also watching lots of cat videos.
More about Nassim...
Rachel Korkowski
Cat Foster Mentor
After transitioning to working from home full time, Rachel began fostering cats and kittens in May, 2020 and joined Pet Haven a year later. She's opened her home to all different kinds of cats: adult cats, under socialized cats, pregnant moms, and kittens. Although she loves them all, moms and kittens have a special place in her heart.
During the day, Rachel works as an Engineering Senior Analyst at Securian Financial and entertains her coworkers during meetings by giving "kitten updates" and sharing the cuteness. Her favorite part of fostering is watching the cats and kittens learn the joy and relaxation of life in rescue, knowing they're never going to have to go back to the struggles they've dealt with in the past. She's excited to be a foster mentor and get to share her passion for fostering with others.
More about Rachel...
Roxanne Merriman
Cat Foster Mentor
Roxanne joined Pet Haven in early 2021 after 5 years of experience in the rescue community fostering kittens and cats of all ages and ailments nearing 200 foster kitties! She grew up in a family of cat lovers, thinking she’d be a veterinarian when she got older but, turns out fostering was the perfect fit! Roxanne has 2 cats of her own, Moe and Izzy, who do a wonderful job teaching kittens how to well… cat!
She started a social media page to track and share the bajillions of photos and videos being taken of all the adorable happenings, and has come to enjoy every piece of fostering from the fun, creative photos, bio writing, being the bridge between now and forever, and finding the purrfect homes! Becoming a Cat Foster Mentor is a wonderful compliment to her enjoyment of training and leadership opportunities, so getting to share her experience and guiding other fosters to success is one more reason to love all that Pet Haven does for the community and the pets who need us!
More about Roxanne...
Brandon Urban
Cat Foster Mentor
Brandon and his family began fostering with Pet Haven in January of 2019 as a way of adding new cats to the family without having to add new cats to the family. Little did they know that four foster fails later there would be six resident cats in the Urban household. They have fostered close to 200 cats and kittens in their time with Pet Haven and think the 2% foster fail rate is truly respectable.
Brandon and family foster mostly pregnant mamas, mamas and their litters, and kittens under 8 weeks. He truly embraces the role of “Cat Dad,” constantly hosting kitten photo shoots, making trips to the vet, and feeding the felines 2nd breakfast. In his spare time, Brandon loves to play golf and baseball. He also spends a ton of time working on his 1966 Ford truck. He is married to the Pet Haven Cat Division Manager, Julie, and they have three children- Ben, Grace, and Molly. Their resident cats are Nova, Sushi, Wren, Cloudpuff Squismallow, Meredith Grey, and Raven.
More about Brandon...
Samantha Buckman
Cat Foster Mentor
Bio Coming Soon!
Neha Bressers
Cat Foster Mentor
Neha joined Pet Have in December 2020 as a Cat foster and added a role of cat adoption coordinator. Neha's resident cat - Ben was rescued just a year prior and is the most skittish cat (EVER). Ben needed to learn proper social skills and exposing him to other felines was one way to do so. Not having any pets growing, it was a very welcome challenge - to learn and understand cats and kittens with different personalities. She has fostered cats of all ages and traits and holds a special place for senior cats. Neha transitioned to become Foster Mentor soon after to help other fosters have equally great experience fostering a furry friend with Pet Haven.
Neha and Scott enjoy the outdoors - backpacking, hiking, traveling, puzzling in cold winter evenings, drinking delicious beers and generally everything Minnesota offers.
More about Neha...
Jess Guernsey
Cat Foster Mentor
Jess joined Pet Haven in February 2022 after 4 years of fostering with other rescues. They have now fostered 49 cats and kittens! They couldn't have done it without the help of their 3 resident cats. Finnegan is a grumpy gray giant who all their foster kittens love to snuggle. Dandelion is mostly white with an orange mullet. He's sweet and silly. Zealand is black with bright green eyes. This goofball has so much energy he can keep up with the 5 week old kittens! When Jess is not fostering, they are typically hiking somewhere on the other side of the world.
They enjoy traveling almost as much as fostering. Almost. Jess is looking forward to many more years of fostering and mentoring with this awe inspiring, brilliant Pet Haven team
More about Jess...
Jamie Darst
Cat Foster Onboarding Coordinator
Jamie joined Pet Haven in June of 2021 fostering cats, she fostered five cats between June and September eventually she took in one of her family's animals permanently which brought her to her max of three cats, and had to pause on fostering. She decided she still wanted to volunteer her time and become a foster coordinator. Jamie grew up in Lake Elmo Minnesota, and has now jumped across the bridge and become a Wisconsin resident.
She had many animals growing up including dogs and cats. Her passion for animals really took flight when she adopted her first pet of her own,8 year old Braveheart from the forget me not list at the Animal Humane society in 2018 and that is what brought her to Pet Haven.
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Stephanie Ransdell
Welcome Visit Volunteer
My name is Stephanie Ransdell and I currently live in Farmington, MN. I have always had a love for animals and the desire to help them however I can. I currently have two cats, two dogs, two bearded dragons, a ball python and most recently a crested gecko. I have previously fostered cats and absolutely loved it, but after having my last foster fail I needed a break from having more animals in the house. I decided I still wanted to be involved with helping rescue and was lucky enough to be brought on by Pet Haven.
Lauren Rauchwarter
Welcome Visit Volunteer
Lauren started with Pet Haven in 2018 after adopting her cat, Oscar, from the organization. She has worked across the organization in different roles from respite coordinator to event coordinator to volunteer coordinator and as both a cat and dog foster before landing in her current role as a cat welcome volunteer. Lauren enjoys long walks or hikes with her two dogs Klaus and Bear as well as snuggle sessions with her cats Nike and Louie.

Dog Foster Team

Sarah Hoops
Dog Foster Mentor
Sarah Hoops' passion for improving lives, including her own, lead her to Pet Haven in 2014. One week after losing Pet Haven-alum black lab, Suzy, Sarah knew her quiet home was ready to make a difference for other dogs. She began fostering and quickly evolved into one of our Foster Mentors. As an account executive, Sarah loves the empathetic approach to helping identify a good-fit - whether it's the best technology solution in her career or the perfect fit for a dog's furever home (and the foster). Sarah understands that supporting and encouraging the community is equally as important as caring for the rescued dogs. Sarah is able to enjoy it all with her crew helping out; husband Todd and son Ryder, as well as two social mutts, Andi and Willie.
Jenny Jurek
Dog Foster Mentor
Jenny Jurek joined the Pet Haven Board of Directors in 2013. Jenny has been involved in animal rescue and volunteering as long as she can remember and began volunteering actively in Minnesota dog rescue in 2005. After joining Pet Haven as a volunteer in 2008, she held various coordinator positions before becoming Co-Director of the Dog Division in 2011 and Director of the Dog Division in 2012.
Jenny is passionate about responsible animal rescue and care, and believes strongly in the human/animal bond as well as working human/animal partnerships. She does therapy work with her TDI-certified dog, Riley. Jenny has a background and degrees in business, music, and history. Professionally, she is a Senior Account Manager for an IT Managed Services company. Jenny shares her home with 3 adopted dogs and constant foster dogs.
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Darlene Johnson
Dog Foster Mentor
Darlene has always had a soft spot for animals and spent most of her childhood in Malaysia rescuing animals in ditches, drains, and culverts (while trying not to get swept out into the river). She joined Pet Haven in 2015 as a dog foster and quickly stepped into the role of being a Foster Mentor - where she could grow her love of working with fellow fosters and the dogs they have come to share their homes and hearts with. Professionally, Darlene is a Network Engineer and all-around nerd.
This geek at heart is passionate about social welfare and finds herself helping out at various social programs in Minnesota and overseas, in her home country of Malaysia. When she does have spare time, she is always on the lookout for the next travel opportunity, searching for new culinary adventures, flying the skies in a single engine plane and working her way onto the next Lego kit. Darlene shares her home with her senior cat, Kiwi, and 2 goofy dogs, Mochi and Archer, and the occasional foster dog.
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Beth Alexander
Dog Foster Mentor
Beth Alexander began volunteering with Pet Haven in 2013 as a puppy foster. After adopting 2 of her foster dogs, she could no longer foster so she became a foster mentor to support fosters in their journey. Beth has loved dogs her entire life and is very passionate about saving as many as possible! Beth says, "I love helping our new fosters start out and supporting the ones who have been with us a while. One of my most memorable stories is being involved in helping another foster with her semi-feral pup. We worked with very hard to get him to trust and love. The day he started coming out of his shell is a day I'll never forget. Two years after being adopted, his dad still brings him to our events to visit and he still remembers and loves me."
Another passion of Beth's is volunteering with Red Lake Rosie's Rescue in northern Minnesota at their spay/neuter/wellness clinics: "These clinics have a big impact on the community and I'm proud to be able to help." In her spare time, Beth enjoys spending time with her two rescue pups, a Shepherd mix, and a Staffie mix. She also enjoys spending time at her cabin with her husband and two adult children.
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Merry and Aaron Sawdey
Dog Foster Mentors
Merry, Aaron, and their son Ian entered Pet Haven through the adoption of their first rescue dog, Geordie, one of five puppies left in a dumpster in Iowa in 2008. When their beloved black Lab, Angus, died in 2009, they started fostering with Pet Haven, and the floodgates opened from there. When your heart breaks, it breaks open and there’s so much more room. They continued to foster, adopting Jack, and eventually foster failing with Mikey, then Rex. In 2017, Merry and Aaron became foster mentors, enjoying the connection and ability to support other fosters. While all three love working in animal rescue, they find volunteering for Pet Haven especially meaningful because they value Pet Haven’s warm, collaborative community of staff and volunteers.
Aaron is a computer engineer with IBM and also volunteers with Leech Lake Legacy at spay/neuter clinics. He also enjoys reading science fiction,  tinkering with cars, and following SpaceX launches. Merry is a Kindermusik educator with Kindermusik of the Valley in Burnsville, a certified spiritual director, writer, and book artist. All three enjoy working with shy and fearful dogs, continuing to deepen their knowledge and understanding to help the sensitive pups see that the world can be a good place. Merry appreciates how her spiritual direction training, her work with young children, and her work with animals is connected through the common needs for empathy, presence, and creativity. They currently have two resident dogs, Geordie and Rex, and room for two fosters. And occasionally a third. But that’s all. No, really.
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Rita Widmer
Dog Foster Mentor and Welcome Visit Volunteer
Rita has been volunteering with rescues since 2016, and joined Pet Haven in 2018. She started out as the dog spay/neuter coordinator, and has helped welcome new fosters into rescue as a new foster home visit volunteer. She is also a dog foster. She is looking forward to helping out fosters find the right dog for their home, and be there for all the ups and downs of fostering like having to say good-bye. In her four years in rescue, she has taken on hospice, medical cases, bite issues, skin issues, and much more.
When Rita isn't helping rescue dogs and cats, she works full time as a Special Education paraprofessional and job coach to high schoolers- plus, she is working on getting her Bachelor's in Social Work.
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