Pet Haven Team


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...
Molly Larson
Operations Director
Molly Larson joined the Pet Haven team in 2023 as the Volunteer and Events Manager and has moved into the Operations Director Role. Molly’s background includes event planning, fundraising, marketing, volunteer management, and operations management. She began fostering in 2013 and instantly felt a pull to get more involved. In 2015 she hosted a 5k for Secondhand Hounds which became a successful yearly event. In 2019 she joined Coco’s Heart Dog Rescue as their Event, Fundraising, and Program Coordinator and fell in love with working fulltime at a foster based rescue.
She looks forward to growing with Pet Haven and continuing to advocate for animals. Molly also teaches yoga at Bodhi Studios in Prescott, WI. She lives in River Falls with her 2 dogs Diego and Doris and spends her free time with them going on hikes, playing frisbee, and relaxing in the country.
More about Molly...
Kelly Lessard
Animal Medical Director
Dr. Kelly grew up in the very northern part of the state, but has resided in the Twin Cities for many years. She received both her undergraduate and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from the University of Minnesota; in fact, she worked around exotic animals before attending vet school. She is passionate about public relations and all aspects of rescue, especially senior animals, hospice and end-of-life care.
She shares her world with a variety of animals at home, and in her free time, enjoys writing, visiting coffee shops, traveling to northern Minnesota and Canada, fostering animals (especially ones with special needs), watching Netflix, listening to podcasts, being on the lookout for fabulous wildlife, and planning adventures to see manatees.
Read more on Dr Kelly here....
Brittany Morris
Volunteer and Events Manager
Brittany Morris was a long-time Pet Haven volunteer before joining as the Volunteer and Events Manager in 2023. Brittany comes to Pet Haven with nearly ten years of nonprofit experience in marketing, fundraising, and volunteer management. She fostered for a handful of organizations prior to coming to Pet Haven in 2021. Holding a variety of volunteer roles, Brittany quickly fell in love with Pet Haven's culture and community. Brittany's career started as a Marketing Manager, juggling fundraisers, website management, and marketing strategy.
She believes that transparency is the key to successful communication and is what sets successful nonprofits apart. Prior to coming to Pet Haven, Brittany was a volunteer manager with one of the largest nonprofits in the state. Her experience with this team set her up for success in leading the phenomenal team of volunteers Pet Haven has, and growing the team in the future! Her passion for animals and mission-based work collided when she joined Pet Haven, and she has never felt more empowered and inspired to do this work. Outside of work, Brittany spends her free time with her two dogs, Goose and Bruce and whichever foster has joined her family! She loves all things spooky and scary, and has recently started her amatuer ghost-hunting career!
Read more about Brittany...
Kate SKillrud
Vet Care Manager
Kate joined Pet Haven in February of 2024 in the role of Veterinary Care Manager . She is a Certified Veterinarian Technician. Kate has worked with animals for 13 plus years including both private practice veterinary medicine and shelter / rescue medicine. Kate is well prepared for her work at Pet Haven. Kate has two adorable dogs, Linkin and Bennie two cats, Kuro and Marvin at home. Kate has the biggest soft spot for senior animals and you'll often find her giving them a little extra lovin'. Kate is very excited to join the Pet Haven crew and looks forward to changing more lives with Pet Haven. Kate has a big role and is responsible for overseeing the wellness, sterilization and care needs of the animals fostered with Pet Haven. We have an average of 50-75 dogs and 200 cats in our program at any one time.
Ashley Marks
Social Media Manager
Ashley Marks is Pet Haven’s Social Media Manager. Her role focuses on buidling awareness of Pet Haven and its mission through creative and impactful content and images. 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!
More about Ashley...
Veronica Bartsch
Lead Surgical Veterinarian
Dr. Veronica Bartsch graduated from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine in 2004. She went on to practice companion animal medicine in the Twin Cities for the next 18 years, working in both private practices and animal shelters. In 2020, Dr. Bartsch earned her Master of Public Health degree from the University of Minnesota. She joined the Minnesota Board of Animal Health in 2022 as a senior veterinarian in the companion animal sector. Outside of her work at the board, Dr. Bartsch is Pet Haven’s primary surgeon completing both high volume spay/neuter as well as more nuanced soft tissue procedures including amputation, various eye surgeries, and mass removal.
Katie Wernecke
Animal Care Assistant
Growing up Katie always enjoyed animals but found her passion for veterinary medicine in high school. Since then, Katie has worked in many aspects of the field including shelter, community, and emergency medicine. Outside of work, Katie enjoys hanging out with her family, both human and furry. She has four animals of her own: two dogs, Tanner and Charlie, and two cats, Barrett and Toby. Katie is currently in school at the University of Minnesota Veterinary program. When she has downtime, she enjoys reading as well as painting and gardening. Katie is very excited to join the Pet Haven family and we are thrilled she is part of our growing team!

Board of Directors

Krysten Plautz
Board President
Krysten joined the Board of Directors in 2023 but has been an active volunteer with Pet Haven for many years. Her last position at Pet Haven was as supplies manager, which was an incredibly rewarding experience. It has been amazing to see how Pet Haven has grown over the years and she is incredibly excited to be a part of this organization’s journey and mission. From a professional perspective Krysten is in quality leadership within the medical device industry. This work experience has allowed her to develop skills in project management, leadership, quality management, supply chain and operations execution. She has professional certifications as a quality auditor through the American Society for Quality and as a certified professional project manager through the University of Saint Thomas.
She has professional certifications as a quality auditor through the American Society for Quality and as a certified professional project manager through the University of Saint Thomas. She is also an adjunct professor with University of Minnesota – Crookston teaching project management. She has her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in Chemistry, her Master of Business Administration from the University of Saint Thomas and is currently in the Doctor of Business Administration program through Metropolitan State University. Her areas of research interest are the impact of process standardization on organizational performance and the impact of leadership styles on organization performance across all organizational employment levels.
Read more about Krysten....
Aaron C. Young JD, LLM
Vice President
Arron found his way to Pet Haven through his love of dogs, especially big ones! He is the proud companion to a Mastiff who thinks he is a lap dog! Aaron is very active in the business and charitable world and sits on Boards and Committees of several for profit and nonprofit Organizations, including the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, Legal Advisory Committee for Springboard for the Arts in St. Paul, MN, is a board member of the Coalition of Recovery Investment (“CORI”) in St. Paul, MN, and is a present board member and past President of Film North in St. Paul, MN.
Aaron C. Young, JD, LLM is the principle and founder of Young Entertainment Law, PLLC with clients that include the Twin Cities Film Fest, award winning Filmmakers, Producers, Authors, Painters, Sculptors, Song Writers, Recording Artists, Professional Sports Executives, Professional Athletes, and Professional Coaches.   Aaron received his Juris Doctor (JD) from Marquette University Law School (Milwaukee, WI), in 2001, and his Master of Laws (LLM) from Southwestern Law School (Los Angeles, CA), in 2003, specializing in Entertainment & Media Law.     Aaron is an Adjunct Professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law teaching The Business of IP: Independent Film Production, and a former Adjunct Professor of Law at Hamline University School of Law teaching Sports Law, Adjunct Professor of Law at William Mitchell College of Law teaching Client Representation, and Adjunct Professor at McNally Smith College of Music teaching Legal Aspects of Music & Entertainment, Business Law, and Contract Law.
Read More about Aaron....
Karl Breitbarth
Karl Breitbarth has a full plate managing our financial and administrative affairs for a major Law Firm but also has time to foster for Pet Haven. He has two Pet Haven Alumni, Coco a sweet senior pup and Kitty a big beautiful feline. Both pets were foster that found home with Karl. Thankfully, given his professional expertise, innate ability to gracefully multi-task, and congenial demeanor, Karl keeps things running smoothly in our financial department. Karl holds an Accounting degree from Mankato, a Business degree from Bethel University, and brings previous experience with law firms, CPA firms, work in technology, retail, and marketing.
Originally from Southern Minnesota, Karl has lived in the Twin Cities for more than 25 years. Karl is a member of the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants. More than your average “bean counter,” his depth of knowledge and astute insight are highly valued by all of us at Pet Haven.
Read more about Karl....
Janet Watson
Board Member - Secretary
We are so excited to have Janet Watson on our Board of Directors. She and her husband John are part of the Pet Haven Family having adopted their perfect pooch Shadow from us! Janet has her degree in Elementary Education from DePauw University. She has a long history in philanthropy and support of the Animal Rescue and Welfare community. She is a former board member of Cross Roads Shelter and brings with her passion and excitement to support Pet Haven's mission. We are incredibly grateful for the knowledge and expertise she brings to our board.
Dr. Julie Steller
Board Member
Dr. Steller (who just goes by Steller) joined the board in 2023. She is a veterinarian and assistant professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. She has extensive experience in shelter and rescue medicine. She has worked for and volunteered with numerous shelter and rescues in the Twin Cities in her 20 years as a veterinarian. Steller has always held Pet Haven in high regard and is excited to contribute by being a board member.
In her free time, Steller enjoys working on home improvement projects, cheering for the Vikings and Twins, traveling and camping. She has two cats of her own named Monarch and Maestro.
Read more about Dr Steller....
John Watson
Board Member
John came to the animal rescue world through Springer Spaniel Rescue, where he and his wife were fosters. They found Pet Haven by adopting not just a dog from Pet Haven but their "wonder dog," Shadow, and were enormously impressed with the organization. He joined the Board in 2024 to help Pet Haven achieve growth and a wider reach, bringing with him extensive experience in marketing and development and service to the non-profit sector. He is currently involved with the following organizations:
Social Venture Partners, an organization that supports underserved teens through grants and consulting. John has served as a consultant and performed due diligence on applicants. John is also a mentor at Redemption Inc., which provides education and job support and has a great record of reducing recidivism. John mentors felons and supports them in beginning a new life. John is also involved in the Strong Minds Strong Bodies Foundation, which engages Middle School students at the Ella Baker School in community-building programs. They are currently creating a neighborhood newspaper. He is also a pro bono consultant for the Hennepin History Museum, where he was a former board member and has served on several non-profit boards over the years. Beacon Interfaith Outreach provides affordable housing. PRISM social service agency: provides food, housing, and counseling to residents of Plymouth and Golden Valley​. Accord: supports people with intellectual and physical disabilities. Hennepin History Museum. Child's Play International: which provides play experiences to children in 3rd world countries. ​John is deeply rooted in giving back and finds great satisfaction in making a difference. He accomplishes that by working collaboratively with others. He is very excited to be a part of Pet Haven's growth and community support!
Read more about John....
Open Position
Board Member
Pet Haven is looking for engaged individuals with a passion for animal welfare that can help facilitate Pet Haven's growth and have areas of expertise in, Board Governance, Finance, and Development. If you are interested please fill out an application on our website!

Division Managers

Britt Morris
Dog Division Manager
We are excited to have Britt add Dog Division Manager to her role at Pet Haven. She is eagerly supporting our growing dog division by improving processes, supporting the fosters and mentors, and working to bring more dogs in need into Pet Haven increasing our life-saving impact!

Engagement Team

Medical Team

Kate Skillrud
Vet Care Manager
Kate has 12+ years of being a Certified Veterinary Technician under her belt. She has worked in shelters, emergency and urgent care and private veterinary clinics. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position of Vet Care Manager.
Stephanie Di Lorenzo Sawyer
Queen & Kitten Care Manager
Stephanie recently joined our team as the Queen & Kitten Care Manager. She is a Certified Veterinary Technician at one of our partnering clinics and also serves as a cat and kitten foster for Pet Haven. She has over 17 years of experience in rescue, including bottle raising orphaned kittens and puppies. Since childhood Steph has had a strong compassion for animals and their welfare, which led her to the path of working in the Veterinary field.
We feel very lucky to have her on our team! Steph and her husband have 6 cats of their own. Some activities she enjoys outside of rescue include camping, hiking, supporting local farmer's markets, reading, trying new coffee shops and going to concerts.
Read more about Stephanie......
Katie Wernecke
Animal Care Assistant
Katie joined the Pet Haven Animal Care Team in 2022 and has been a wonderful addition to our team. Katie provides support to our Animal Care Manager and coordinates internal vaccination clinics and wellness care. She is currently a veterinary technition attending the University of Minnesota to beome a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. We hope her expreicne at Pet Haven is so positive she stays with us after graducation!
Randi Shimota
Vet Care Records Coordinator
Randi joined the Pet Haven team in February 2022 and her primary role is a vet care records coordinator. She has always loved all animals and over the years she has owned many hamsters, gerbils, dogs, a cat, and a bearded dragon. She got involved with her role as a vet care records coordinator because she wanted to find a way to help this awesome organization in a capacity that allowed her to work from home.
She says she has found the perfect position! She is great at it too, as she is organized and detail oriented when entering vet records and keeping upcoming standard care up to date. In her life away from Pet Haven, she has taken her dog Bones (12-year-old Morkie) on many adventures. During the winters of 2019 and 2020 she built out a campervan and she and Bones traveled around the southern United States. She also rides a Harley Davidson Iron 1200 motorcycle and played roller derby for 6 years (her skater name was Randi Stroyer)!
More about Randi...

Adoption Team

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 years 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. Every day she is 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 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...

Intake Team

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. Originally she worked in contact with Safe Hands Rescue with dogs being transported from Kentucky, and now she is 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...
Snow Li
Intake Coordinator
Snow joined the Pet Haven team in 2022 in hopes of giving back to the community while being a full-time college student. Her love for animals and Pet Haven’s mission inspired her to become an intake coordinator. Snow works as a veterinary technician outside of volunteering. She loves to hike, ski, and spend time with friends.
Michael Rosenblatt
Intake Records Coordinator
Michael Rosenblatt is a retired Audiologist, currently working in Guest Services for the Minnesota Twins during baseball season. He volunteers for Pet Haven because of his love for animals, especially dogs. He and his wife, Cheryl currently own 3 dogs, Reuben age 2, Incus age 4, and Lily age 10.
Jessie Eubanks
Dog Owner Surrender Intake Coordinator
Jessie has been volunteering with Pet Haven as one of our Dog Owner Surrender Coordinators for the last couple of years. She works in catering sales, but one of her great passions is pet rescue! She and her husband live with their pittie, Bear, that they rescued five years ago.
She is an incredible ten-year-old pup but doesn't get along with other dogs and was about to be returned to the shelter and put down because of that. They couldn't let that happen so they drove the whole next day to pick her up from Pennsylvania and she's been the most amazing dog since. Jessie always had a love for pets but this solidified that for her and inspired her to work with organizations that helped other pets in this same situation and connect them with their forever homes.
More about Jessie....
Valerie Christoferson
Return Intake Coordinator
Val is an avid animal lover! She became a cat foster in May of 2020 while a full time college student. She now works in medical research and currently has no pets of her own (though has gotten very close to foster failing a few times). Val loves to read and hike in her free time and spends as much time as she can with her family.
Laura Vanic
Shelter Intake Coordinator, Application Reviewer, Dog Respite Foster
Laura joined Pet Haven in 2020 as a cat foster, and has grown in the organization into several other roles. She is now an intake coordinator for a rural MN shelter, application reviewer for the cat owner surrender program, and a dog respite foster. Laura grew up with a family dog and has loved her time venturing into the "cat world" during COVID (and beyond) which works well with her busy schedule!
She says, "Pet Haven has been an absolute joy to work with the last few years. I've learned so much about rescue and met so many INCREDIBLE people who are selflessly giving their time and energy. The work that we do hasn't stopped amazing me yet. This is a very special group of people and pets!" Outside of Pet Haven, Laura likes to read and wake surf, and is busy with a job in the investing world.
More about Laura...
Makayla Higgs
Intake Records
Makayla started volunteering with Pet Haven in January 2023 and does fantastic work as an intake records admin and a cat care volunteer. She found Pet Haven when she was looking for an organization to volunteer with and knew she loved being around cats. She loves ending the day and spending the weekend helping around the facility and hanging out with some adorable kitties! In her free time, she loves being outside and spending time near the lakes.
She also enjoys watching adventure movies and is a member of the youth and young adult choir called Known MPLS.
More about Makayla...
Laura Briggs
Intake Coordinator and Home-to-Home Coordinator
Laura joined the Pet Haven organization in 2010 as a dog foster. As both a dog and cat lover, she's served as a Dog Foster Mentor, Cat Foster Mentor, Cat Foster, and as Secretary of the Board. Currently, Laura is the Home-to-Home Coordinator and an Intake Coordinator for owner surrender dogs. Laura's passion for animal rescue has brought so many opportunities her way, such as helping with spay/neuter clinics at various reservations in Minnesota.
She has also done cross-country trips to save animals from euthanasia and bottle-fed abandoned newborn puppies. Outside of Pet Haven, Laura works as a Program Manager at a tech startup and recently started a coffee roasting business with her partner, Brian.
More about Laura...
Marilyn Clark Silva
Intake Coordinator, Social Media
Marilyn has been part of Pet Haven since 2013 when she adopted her first dog from the organization. She was so impressed with Pet Haven that she started volunteering as an outreach coordinator at events and says the experience has given her some of her fondest memories. In 2015 she was a shelter assessor for Pet Haven and, over the course of 2 years, she saved 120 dogs.
Now she volunteers as a remote intake coordinator for owner surrenders and helps with social media. She lives in Arizona but says that being able to make a difference with Pet Haven, even from a distance, is so rewarding. She’s had her dog for over ten years now, who brings her joy every day.
More about Marilyn...
Kate Aanestad
Kate, her husband Tim, and their son Jay joined Pet Haven during the summer of 2022. They originally signed up to be dog fosters, but within a few months, Kate wanted to do more. In early 2023 she became an Intake Coordinator for a local shelter and since then she has taken on that role for a few others. She also serves as her own Records Coordinator. Kate has volunteered with several other non-animal based organizations, but is loving her time at Pet Haven.
Professionally, Kate is a Senior Analyst at a Telecommunications company, and works with her husband on their family business. In her spare time, Kate enjoys going on adventures with her family. They love sailing on the Saint Croix, Ice Fishing on Mille Lacs, and escaping to a cabin in the woods to relax.
Read more about Kate...

Cat Foster Team

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...
Neha Bressers
Cat Foster Mentor
Neha joined Pet Haven in December 2020 as a Cat foster and later added the 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 and eventually she took in one of her family's animals permanently. This brought her to her max of three cats so she 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 in 2018, 8-year-old Braveheart. Braveheart came from the forget me not list at the Animal Humane Society and that adoption is what brought her to Pet Haven.
More about Jamie...
Krista Onadipe
Cat Foster Mentor
Krista joined the Pet Haven team the summer of 2022 and her primary roles are being a foster parent and a foster mentor for cats. In the last year, she and her husband have fostered 16 kittens with Pet Haven and she enjoys being able to guide other fosters with the experience she has gained. She got involved with Pet Haven because she loved that the adoption process encourages bonded pairs to be adopted together and that it has a mentorship program.
She and her husband have three cats of their own (Jasper, Buttons, and Della) and in her free time she likes to spend time outside hiking, biking, gardening, and doing yoga (sometimes even with her cats). She is very passionate about cats and loves to share that with likeminded people!
More about Krista...
Amy Clark
PetFinder Profiles
Amy joined the Pet Haven team in June 2023 and her primary role is to write bios for the cats and let people know how amazing they are. She is a great person for the job because she knows that every cat has something wonderful to offer, and she’s able to tell their story in a way that sparks interest among potential families. She and her boyfriend have five rescue cats at home, and she once rescued a tiny kitten in Athens, Greece in the era before smart phones and the internet – how crazy!
Professionally she is a writer and editor, but she is also a mom of three. In her free time she likes to do long trail runs and considers peanut butter to be the perfect food.
More about Amy...

Dog Foster Team

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 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.
More about Beth...
Rita Widmer
Dog Foster Mentor
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 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.
More about Rita...
Sara Diedrich
Dog Foster Mentor, OS Application Reviewer
Sara has been with Pet Haven for several years, as she got her first dog Ani from Pet Haven in 2002. Her current focus is helping dog owner surrenders find new homes and is proud to be part of the community outreach to which Pet Haven is committed. Through her years of experience, she has found that she really likes shy dogs and has had a few success stories where scared and timid puppers transform into better adjusted and adoptable dogs.
She continues to be an avid Siberian Husky fan and has 5 of her own who have become excellent helpers in getting other shy dogs out of their shells, and even keeping younger puppies in line by modelling calm behavior. Sara continues to be enthralled by dogs and has been shown a lot of guidance in her own life by her dog Ani. In her free time, Sara teaches piano and voice lessons from her home and says that her students love meeting the foster dogs she brings in.
More about Sara...
Aimee and Geoff Mihock-Pender
Dog Foster Mentors
Aimee and Geoff joined the Pet Haven team in 2020 and their primary roles include fostering and being foster mentors. They got involved with the organization because Aimee’s dad volunteered for Pet Haven when she was little, so she grew up tagging along to adoption events and helping out. She says that fostering is so rewarding and that it felt good to come back. They have fostered 7 dogs and “foster failed” 2 of them – meaning they ended up keeping them.
One of their foster fails Phoebe, came from an animal hoarding situation so she started out super skittish and wouldn’t come out from underneath their futon. Nearly three years later she has blossomed out of her shell and is a sassy, confident lady. In their time away from Pet Haven, Geoff is a paid-on-call firefighter and Aimee is a huge crafter. They are also working on getting their other foster fail Odin, trained as a therapy dog. At home they have what they call a “zoo crew” which consists of 4 dogs (3 are Pet Haven alums), 2 cats, 1 leopard gecko, and 4 fish tanks.
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Brittany Tedford
Dog Foster Mentor
Brittany joined the organization in 2021 as the Dog Foster Coordinator and fell in love with Pet Haven. What started as a few hours a week volunteering has changed her life. She quickly fell in love with the community and never looked back, joining the team as a foster as well. Now, Brittany serves as a foster, mentor, and the Volunteer and Events Manager!
Brittany and her wife are moms to two of the best rescues around. Goose and Bruce are the best big brothers to their foster siblings and are a perfect example of how there is always room for another dog!
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Molly Larson
Respite Dog Foster Mentor
Molly joined the Pet Haven team in 2023 as the Volunteer and Events Manager, and now serves as the Operations Director. A long history in rescue, she has worked with many of our rescue partners in the Twin Cities! She looks forward to growing with Pet Haven and continuing to advocate for animals.
Molly also teaches yoga at Bodhi Studios in Prescott, WI. She lives in River Falls with her 2 dogs Diego and Doris and spends her free time with them going on hikes, playing frisbee, and relaxing in the country.
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Kourtney Kulseth
Welcome Visit Volunteer
Kourtney started volunteering with Pet Haven in summer 2022 and is a rock star who takes on any project that’s available. She is a foster friend and a new foster parent herself. She is also a regular supplies helper every Thursday, helps at events, and helps the vet team on pet surgery days. Kourtney started volunteering because she has always had a deep love and passion for animals. She sees them as pure and loving creatures and believes we can learn a lot from them!
At home she has two dogs of her own, with a couple fosters coming and going, who she loves to hike and adventure with. Her dogs love tricks, obedience, and barn hunt and she puts so much time and energy into giving them the best home possible. She is a self-proclaimed crazy dog mom and feels she is so lucky to be part of the Pet Haven team!
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