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.


Anna Schaumburg

Director of Operations

Anna Schaumburg is the Operations Director for Pet Haven. Her career in animal welfare began in 2015, but her dedication to animals has been a lifelong passion. She has always been driven to help animals of all kinds and has progressed in her career to do just that. She has experience in shelter operations, building lifesaving programs, and leading a team that embodied a lifesaving culture as an Animal Care Manager in Fargo, ND. In her career, she also found a passion for fostering orphaned kittens. She has fostered dozens of bottle baby kittens, helped them grow up and find loving homes of their own, and has loved every sleepless night of it!

Her other interests include hiking, camping, reading sci-fi, and fantasy books, and cooking. Anna shares her home with her partner, Jeff, and their three cats, Cringer, Ichabod, and Tesla.

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.

Marcella McIntyre

President, Board of Directors

Marcella joined the Board in 2018 and currently serves as the Board President. 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. Marcella’s day job is as corporate counsel at a global information and technology company. Originally from Pennsylvania, Marcella moved to Minnesota in 2005 and lives with her husband, Kyle, two children, Lily and James, and three rescue pets, Walter, a beagle mix, and Jack and Kevin, both black cats. In her free time, she likes to watch her kids play soccer, go to concerts and read.

Kate Mudge

Vice-President, Board of Directors

Kate Mudge joined the Board of Directors in April 2019.  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. With over 16 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.

Jenny Jurek

Secretary, Board of Directors + Foster Mentor + Reservation Dog 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, constant foster dogs, and her sidekick, Dan.

Jack Novak

Treasurer: Board of Directors

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 of Directors

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.

Veronica Rucker

Board of Directors

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!

Will Mayer

Board of Directors

Will joined the Board in 2012. His roles have included Assistant Treasurer and Vice President, and President. Will spearheaded the implementation of the Doggy Dash and Pints for Paws summer events. Will’s day job is as an Assistant Tax Manager at Thomson Reuters in Eagan. He and his wife Laura, whom he graduated alongside at the University of St Thomas, live in Apple Valley with their Springer Spaniels, Brady & Grace. Brady was the catalyst for Will’s involvement in the animal rescue community and Grace was a stray from Fargo, ND who is enjoying the good life after coming into rescue in rough shape. Will’s other hobbies include attending as many concerts as possible at the amazing venues in Minneapolis, golfing, running, softball, and the dog park of course!

Dr. Katie Cartledge

Board of Directors

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.

Drew Coursin

Board of Directors

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.

Jen Sposeto

Board of Directors

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.

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

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.

Julie and Brandon Urban

Cat Division Managers and Foster Mentor

Julie and Brandon have been fostering with Pet Haven since January of 2019. They have been married over 20 years and in that time have gained much experience with kids and cats. They live in Eden Prairie and have three kids and five cats, their most recent cat being a foster fail. As  fosters, they have enjoyed getting to know each cat while searching for their forever home. It also gives them the opportunity to meet families and build long-lasting connections within the community.  Julie is also is a foster mentor and this experience has given her the insight knowledge to co-lead the cat division. Julie and Brandon are thoughtful and caring Division Managers.

In their spare time, Brandon works on his 1966 Ford truck and plays baseball and golf. Julie does puzzles, writes a blog, and balances work, play, and animal  rescue.  Julie and Brandon rarely say no to a new foster cat and are truly known as the Crazy Cat Couple.

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 12 year old Australian Shepherd, Ryker, and Pet Haven alumni German Shepherd mix puppy, 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.

Kayla Knoll

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.


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!



Taylor Witort

Cat Adoption Coordinator

Taylor joined Pet Haven as the Cat Adoption Coordinator in 2017. Pet Haven has been 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. Recently, Taylor adopted two snuggle bug Tabby brothers through Pet Haven, Pickles and Ollie! Outside of Pet Haven, Taylor works in advertising administration in downtown Minneapolis and loves anything involving pizza, warm weather, and iced coffee.

Leslie Bardon

Records Coordinator - Dog Division

My boyfriend and I started with Pet Haven in 2007.   We were tossing around the idea of a second dog to add to our home for our current dog Butch (a Rat Terrier). We figured “why not foster… we wouldn’t have the expense of another dog- PERFECT!” And we loved it! Eventually Miss Bella entered our home and she didn’t want to leave after 2 1/2 yrs with us, although we tried our hardest! She chose our home permanently in June of 2012. I have done many jobs with Pet Haven and am currently the Records Coordinator. Someday we will be back to fostering because we miss it so!!!

Holly Nicolet

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.

Lauren Rauchwarter

Volunteer Program Manager, Cat Interim Care 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.


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.”

As a kid, Annette routinely begged her parents for a dog.  Although her pleas were unsuccessful, her love of, and delight in, dogs have been a lifelong passion.

She works as the Director of Operations for The Maintenance Team, Inc.  a company providing repair and maintenance services to over 30 million square feet of commercial real estate in the Twin Cities.  Annette & Jim live in Eden Prairie and have one adult son, Ian.

Heather Hall

Cat Owner Surrender/Return 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 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.

Misha Smith

Cat Foster Coordinator

Misha is the Cat Foster Coordinator for Pet Haven. In her role as coordinator, she reviews all new incoming cat foster applications and works with a team of welcomers to guide prospective cat fosters through the onboarding process. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 with us.

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 special ed paraprofessional and job coach to high schoolers. Plus she is working on getting her Bachelor’s in Social Work

Amanda Kellie

Cat Foster Mentor

I have been with Pet Haven since 2017 and foster both dogs and cats.  If there was a sport called “extreme fostering” I could be on the Olympic team! I started volunteering at a local shelter as a teenager.  My love for animals led me to work part-time jobs at multiple vet clinics- first as a dog groomer for Petco and also as a summer internship on the Northern Trail at the Minnesota zoo.  I stumbled upon a “fosters needed” ad on Facebook two years ago,  and have loved helping animals find forever homes ever since. By day I work as a microbiologist for HealthEast, identifying bacteria, fungus, and parasites.  I own a home in Cottage Grove with my 3 children, 2 dogs, and 2 cats.  My foster animals get to experience living with cats, dogs, and busy kids.  My dog Sam has been an amazing big brother to our foster dogs, helping to socialize them, build confidence, trust other dogs, and teach them how to live in a home happily!

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!

Jackie Schmiedlin

Cat Foster Mentor & 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.

Kayla Reilly

Cat Foster Mentor

Kayla’s nearest and dearest are well aware that she embraces the crazy cat lady lifestyle! Kayla’s love for cats started at age 8, where she had to fight (ok, beg) her dog-lover dad to allow a cat into the home. Well, it worked, because soon after Kayla’s family welcomed 3 cats and a dog!

Kayla’s childhood love for animals never faltered, and in 2019 she discovered fostering. She now lives with her 4 cats (including one Pet Haven foster fail), works as a graphic designer, and in her spare time enjoys Photoshopping her cats into space suits. Kayla strives to help as many families as possible find their purrfect match.”


Jessica Brandt

Cat Foster Mentor

Jess and her husband, Lucas started fostering cats and kittens with Pet Haven in December 2019. They reside in the Twin Cities with their three pets, Stanley (orange tabby cat), Duncan (brown tabby cat), and Surly (beagle chihuahua mix)! In addition to volunteering with Pet Haven, Jess works full time as a leasing agent for a property management company. Meeting and interacting with new people is something Jess really enjoys! Pet Haven has allowed her to meet a lot of new people and make new connections within the organization. She is also an extreme animal lover, which is how they got into fostering! Fostering has quickly become one of their passions and they are very thankful to be a part of Pet Haven!

Sara Waterman

Cat Foster Mentor

Sara and her family started fostering cats in the winter of 2019 when her freshman daughter selected fostering for her High School’s community service project. She enjoys getting to know the cats and loves helping them find the perfect home. In July, she moved into the Mentor role where she hopes to help fosters have the same positive, enjoyable experiences she has had fostering with Pet Haven.
Sara lives in Hopkins with her husband and two children, Trey & Soso, and a Bengal cat, Simon and owns a small home improvement business. In her spare time, she enjoys everything outdoors – from gardening to hiking and camping – traveling and spending time with her family.

Paige Myers

Social Media Coordinator

Paige joined Pet Haven at the end of 2019 as a cat foster, and in 2020 took on the responsibility of managing Pet Haven’s social media channels. Paige loves being a foster home for cats and looks forward to fostering dogs once she’s done with apartment living! She has one resident cat, Rudy, who is inarguably a “big boi” Maine Coon rescue and who loves being pet while eating, taking naps, and tearing through the apartment at 4am.

Professionally, Paige works in communications and fundraising in the nonprofit space, and is looking forward to bringing these skills and passion to the Pet Haven team! You can usually find Paige with an iced coffee and knitting, surrounded by cats.”