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
Director of Animal Care
Ashley Marks is Pet Haven’s Director of Operations. 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.
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...

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.
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Kate Mudge
Vice-President
Kate Mudge is currently supporting Pet Haven as the Interim Operations Director. She was previously employed as the ED of Pet Haven and also served on the Board prior to stepping into the interim operations role. Kate is excited to bring her ideas, energy, and love for animals to support the incredible work of Pet Haven volunteers. With over 18 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Kate has advocated for animals through her work as President of the Minnesota Partnership of Animal Welfare,
a statewide coalition of animal welfare advocates working to be the voice of Minnesota's companion animals. In her free time, you'll find her baking, playing music, making art, and spending an exorbitant amount of time walking her motley crew of rescue dogs and fat old orange tabby cat on her hobby farm in western Minnesota.
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.
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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...
Veronica Rucker
Board Member
Veronica joined Pet Haven in 2020. Her love of animals, dogs in particular, started with her first pup Duch. The grumpiest, sweetest old lady there ever was. From then on she knew that advocating for dogs and cats was something she wanted to be a part of. When the opportunity to work with Pat Haven presented itself she couldn’t help but apply. With experience in event planning and logistics, she plans to bring her analytical yet creative thought process to the Pet Haven family. In her free time, Veronica considers herself a connoisseur of anything tasty and will travel for food.
In fact, she and her husband have planned many trips around trying new foods. She enjoys spending time with her dog Misha, the rambunctious pittie mix who will steal your heart and potentially your lunch!
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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.
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Drew Coursin
Board Member
Drew joined the Board in 2020, and he has served in animal welfare philanthropy as a board member and volunteer for organizations in Minnesota and Wisconsin since 2014. Drew has been an animal lover his whole life, and currently lives in South Minneapolis with his two dogs, Winter and June, and cat, Maple. When he isn’t exploring the outdoors with the dogs, Drew loves to travel, bake, and roast coffee. Drew fell in love with Minnesota during his time at Macalester College, and moved back to the Twin Cities in 2018 to work as a fundraiser for Greater Twin Cities United Way.
Prior to working in the nonprofit industry, Drew practiced law and helped early-stage companies and nonprofits raise money and grow.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Jordan Hahn
Assistant Treasurer
Jordan joined Pet Haven in 2019. He and his wife Judy live in West Saint Paul with their dogs Archer and Brandi. Brandi was Jordan's introduction to the animal rescue community.  Jordan currently works as a Senior Tax Accountant at Thomson Reuters in Eagan. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking; fishing; exploring craft breweries; golfing; and spending time with friends and family.

Division Managers

Merry Sawdey
Dog Division Manager
Merry and her family 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 became a foster mentor, enjoying the connection and ability to support other fosters. Merry finds volunteering for Pet Haven especially meaningful because she values Pet Haven’s warm, collaborative community of staff and volunteers. Merry is a Kindermusik educator with Kindermusik of the Valley in Burnsville, a certified spiritual director, writer, and book artist. She has also worked in book publishing and helped to organize and run a creative arts day camp. She and her family enjoy working with shy and fearful dogs, continuing to deepen her 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. She lives with her husband and son who are also active as Pet Haven fosters. They have two resident dogs who are Pet Haven alums, Geordie and Rex, and room for two fosters. And occasionally a third. But that’s all. No, really.
More about Merry...
Misha Smith
Cat Division 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...

Engagement Team

Lauren Rauchwarter
Volunteer Coordinator
Lauren started with Pet Haven in fall 2018 after adopting her cat, Oscar, through the rescue. She has held a variety of roles since including assisting with short-term foster cat placement, working as the event coordinator and a dog foster. She “foster failed” and adopted her Pit-Dalmatian mix Klaus in summer 2019. Lauren’s most comprehensive work with Pet Haven is as Volunteer Coordinator where she works to connect volunteer passions and talents with the needs of Pet Haven. She also assists as needed with volunteer onboarding and special events coordination.
Professionally Lauren works as an Agile Communications Consultant with a variety of Fortune 500 companies. Her hobbies include being a gym rat at Lifetime Fitness, playing piano, and feeding her inner bookworm through voracious reading.
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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...
Angela Steele
Social Media Manager
Angela is thrilled to join the Pet Haven team as Social Media Assistant after volunteering as a foster alongside her family for the past year. Angela has a lifelong passion for animals, especially dogs, and grew up in a family that emphasized the importance of community service, helping your neighbors, and, of course, rescuing animals in need. Angela currently works as a professional actor in the Twin Cities. In her spare time she can be found wherever the nearest dogs are!

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!
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Taylor Witort
Cat Adoption Coordinator
Taylor joined Pet Haven as the Cat Adoption Coordinator in 2017. Pet Haven is the perfect outlet for her Crazy Cat Lady tendencies and loves that Pet Haven connects her to other people who share her passions for saving lives and cuddling kittens. Outside of Pet Haven, Taylor works in frozen food and loves anything involving pizza, warm weather, and iced coffee.
Neha Bressers
Cat Adoption Coordinator
Neha joined Pet Haven as a Cat foster in December 2020 and Cat Adoption Coordinator in February 2021. She rescued her very first pet - a cat named "Ben" who is very skittish and spent hours reading about cat behavior and training. She realized this knowledge is best put to use outside of training Ben and started fostering for Pet Haven and then taking on Cat Adoption responsibilities.
She works as Supply Chain Analytics Consultant for MN-based company and in her free time she enjoys all-season mountain and road riding, traveling or anything outdoors plus a lot of cooking and socializing.
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Danielle Freelove
Cat Adoption Coordinator
Danielle started volunteering for Pet Haven in 2018 as a Weekend Whiskers host and Cat Adoption Coordinator in January 2021. She has adopted two Pet Haven's very own alums, a sassy tortie named Tulip and a sweet as can be a black kitty named Dahlia. Danielle is an Export Analyst for a global agribusiness cooperative headquartered near St. Paul, Minnesota. With a love for agriculture and animals, her passion for animals started young with horseback riding and grew to study agribusiness and animal sciences in school. Danielle can be found enjoying a good book and a cat on her lap in her free time.
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!!!
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
Shelter Intake Coordinator
Meagan Maue joined Pet Haven in 2011 serves as a Canine Intake Coordinator. She also helps manage our social media and is a dog foster.  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." 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.
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...
Kayla Knoll
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.
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Heather Hall
Cat Owner Surrender Coordinator
Heather Hall joined Pet Haven in 2018 as the Cat Owner Surrender/Return Coordinator. Heather and her husband adopted a kitten in August from the Humane Society and after Wendy’s adoption, Heather knew volunteering with animals was something to pursue because every cat deserves a loving forever home. Heather has a degree and worked in the field of Social Work which has given her the skills of advocacy and enhanced her level of compassion and empathy.
Ali Hansen
Cat Owner Surrender Cooordinator
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.
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Katie Hey
Dog Owner Surrender Coordinator
Katie first discovered Pet Haven and their amazing work in 2018 when she adopted her pup Rocket. Rocket is a special reactive boy and required a lot of new parent training. Pet Haven’s volunteers were an incredible resource from the first meet and greet and into those first difficult months. In 2020, Katie and her partner Martin decided to join the community of fosters and welcomed three pups in three months into their home.
In November 2020, Katie shifted into the Dog Owner Surrender Coordinator role to provide support and resources for owners and their dogs. Katie lives in South Minneapolis with her partner and pups, Rocket and Ruby. Professionally she fundraises for a local arts non-profit.
More about Katie...

Cat Foster Team

Julie Urban
Kitten/Queen Program Manager
Julie joined Pet Haven in January 2019 as a cat foster and transitioned to the role of Cat Division Manager in August 2019 and was key in the growth of our cat division. Julie has now passed the torch of Cat Division Manager. With the increase of the cat division, Julie saw a need for more focused care on our pregnant moms and kittens so she created the new position of Kitten/Queen Program Manager supporting fosters with the care of our pregnant moms and kittens.
We are excited for this new position and Julie leading the way! 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. It also gives Julie the opportunity to meet families and build long-lasting connections in the community. Julie and her family moved to Minnesota from Kansas in 2017 and currently reside in Eden Prairie. Julie is married to Brandon, who is a Cat Foster Mentor, and they have three children - Grace, Molly, and Ben.  They currently have four cats - Nova, Star, Sushi, and their first foster fail, Wren, but this number can always increase given they like to foster pregnant moms and litters! Outside of her Pet Haven volunteer role, Julie is an early childhood speech-language pathologist in the Eastern Carver County School District. Other interests include writing, singing, puzzling, and spending time with family, friends, and felines.
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Angel Stoffel
Cat Foster Coordinator and Mentor
Angel joined the Pet Haven team in February of 2021 as a Welcome Volunteer and now has moved into the role of Cat Foster Coordinator onboarding fosters and managing the welcome volunteer team. She is also a Cat Foster Mentor. She was born and raised in Minnesota and now lives in St. Paul. Growing up, Angel always had a pet of some sort by her side and she currently has one cat named Binx. Angel is currently a student at the University of St. Thomas studying Marketing and Sustainability. She is a huge animal lover but orange tabby cats have a special place in her heart.
In her free time, Angel enjoys traveling to new places, going on long hikes, hammocking by the Mississippi River, and watercolor painting.
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Elysia Wells
Cat Foster Mentor
Elysia grew up in a household full of cats and a few dogs too.  Many of the earliest photos of Elysia include cats her family rescued.  She “speaks” cat and enjoys hanging with her furry friends. Her day job is as a design researcher, where she helps make designs more people-friendly, and her evening job is to make cats more people ready!
Anna and Colin Carpenter
Cat Foster Mentors
Anna and Colin Carpenter both grew up surrounded by animals (at one point Anna and her siblings had 3 cats, 1 dog, 4 fish, a parakeet, and a gerbil in her childhood home at the same time!). They began fostering kittens for Pet Haven in the spring of 2019, after finally having a house big enough to do so and realizing that one of their resident pups, Princess, showed an incredible desire to be around little kittens that seemed to satisfy a maternal instinct she has.
Their first fostering adventure turned into their first foster fail when they adopted special lil Miss Yoda (pictured with Anna) after helping her battle illness for many months, during which time she became inseparable from Princess. Since Miss Yoda, they have fostered 23 kittens and become foster mentors. They greatly cherish the relationships they facilitate between kittens and their adopters. Beyond fostering, Colin works as a content strategist for home furnishings websites and Anna works as a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse, a profession that has proven very handy in caring for little, sick kittens that often end up in their care. They both love to play sports, hanging out at local breweries in the summer, and traveling.
More about Anna and Colin...
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...
Brandon Urban
Cat Foster Mentor
Brandon joined Pet Haven in January 2019 as a cat foster and transitioned to the role of Cat Foster Mentor in 2020.  Brandon and his family moved to Minnesota from Kansas in 2017 and currently reside in Eden Prairie. Brandon is married to Julie, who is the Cat Division Manager, and they have three children - Grace, Molly, and Ben.  They currently have four cats - Nova, Star, Sushi, and their first foster fail, Wren. Brandon never says "no" to a cat in need. Outside of his Pet Haven volunteer role, Brandon is a Senior Territory Manager for an electrical manufacturer.
In his spare time, Brandon works on his 1966 Ford Truck and plays baseball and golf.
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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.
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Brian Dorn
Foster Welcome Volunteer
Brian began volunteering at Pet Haven in 2018, and is a Welcome Volunteer for new cat fosters. He has loved cats since getting his first pet as a child. Since then he has had cats most of his life, but also loves dogs and had an adorable beagle for seven years. He currently has two cats that he adopted from the Humane Society 12 years ago.
He has also done volunteer work at the Animal Humane Society and with another rescue organization. After working as a claims adjuster for an insurance company for 34 years, Brian is now retired and enjoys travel, outdoor activities and spending time with friends at his cabin, reading, movies, checking out microbreweries, and exploring nearby cities both small and not so small.
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Dog Foster Team

Holly Nicollet
Dog Foster Coordinator
Holly began volunteering with Pet Haven in December 2018 after moving to the Twin Cities area from Wisconsin in the Summer of 2018. Holly always knew she was interested in finding a way to help animals in need and is happy she found her niche with Pet Haven. Growing up with dogs of all different sizes and breeds, as well as several farm cats and horses, she has a strong compassion and deep-rooted love for animals’ well-being. Holly has a beloved Cockapoo named Bugglesworth who is 13 but still acts just like a puppy. Together they enjoy going on long walks and adventures! She hopes to one day be able to help foster animals in her own home.
Holly works as a paralegal at a local law office. She enjoys spending her free time with her family and pets, traveling, cooking, and exploring new parks and hiking trails.
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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.
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.
More about Darlene...
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.
More about Beth...
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.
More about the Sawdey's...
Kristin Jaffe
Dog Foster Mentor
Kristin began volunteering with Pet Haven when she moved to the Twin Cities in 2020.  Her passion for helping rescue animals began as a child - while her family had two dogs and two cats, they didn't let that stop them from helping other cats, dogs, and even bunnies.  Kristin continues this family tradition, as she and her partner not only have two rescue dogs, Chaski and Raya, and two Pet Haven foster fail cats, Ayla and Hermione, but also continue to foster Pet Haven dogs and cats and support other fosters.  In addition to volunteering with Pet Haven, Kristin also runs a consulting business and an artisan goods store, and loves spending all of her spare time outdoors hiking and exploring new places.
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 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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Vicki Karr
Foster Welcome Volunteer
VIcki has been a volunteer with Pet Haven since 2018, but has been an animal lover her whole life. In 2015 she adopted the family’s first senior dog Scooby through Pet Haven and has since adopted two more pets through the organization. She appreciates the companionship and energy of pets in her home and enjoys spending time with them in nature when they’re able to go to the lake. Vicki believes all homes need a pet and all pets need a home.