Sarah Cheesman

Executive Director

Sarah Cheesman joined Pet Haven as Executive Director in 2018, bringing from the nonprofit sector combined with a passion for animal welfare.  Her background includes serving as Executive Director for the Foundation for Eden Prairie schools, volunteer management in hunger relief, fundraising for a humane society, operations and administrative experience for a variety of nonprofits.  She also served on various board of directors including for another animal rescue organization. Prior to working with nonprofits, Sarah stayed home with her son Matthew and also worked in the for-profit field.   Sarah lives with her husband Shawn, has one son, Matthew and two labs – Shelby and Piper, who rule the roost!  She is excited to be a part of an organization where the animals placed in our care have a great team of volunteers and staff to support them until they are adopted!


Ashley Marks

Director of Operations

Ashley Marks is Pet Haven’s Operations Manager. Her role focuses on supporting all of the volunteers in the dog and cat divisions. Ashley joined the Pet Haven team in 2017 as a special events volunteer. She has also opened her home to foster dogs and helped with foster outreach. Ashley’s background includes event services, operations management, and organizational development. Ashley has had a life-long passion for animals- she likes to say it’s in her genes. Many of her family members are those crazy animal people. Her other interests include going to concerts, fishing, and being creative. Ashley shares her home with her partner, Brian, and two Chihuahuas named Frank & Beans.

Will Mayer

President: Board of Directors

Will joined the Board in 2012. His roles have included Assistant Treasurer and Vice President; he currently serves as 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!

Laura Briggs

Vice-President: Board of Directors

Laura Briggs started volunteering with Pet Haven in 2009. Since then, she’s opened her home to foster cats, served on the spay/neuter grant committee, served as an adoption coordinator and was elected to the board in 2015. Pet Haven’s spay/neuter initiatives is what makes Laura proud to be a part of the organization. She is passionate about working towards fixing the root of the cause. By day, Laura works in finance at a software development company in the Twin Cities. The best part about her job? She can bring her Pet Haven alumni: Sophie, a Bullmastiff and Agatha, an English Mastiff, to work with her! Her rescue cat has to stay home though.

Sally Morton

Secretary: Board of Directors

Sally Morton has volunteered her time and energy to human rights, social service, and animal welfare organizations for over 40 years. Sally began volunteering for Pet Haven in the mid-1990s as a foster; since then she has volunteered in a variety of roles. Sally was elected to the Pet Haven Board of Directors in 2004, and is currently the Board Secretary. Sally volunteers with Pet Haven because she supports the organization’s focus on the prevention of companion animal suffering by addressing the overpopulation problem with spay/neuter efforts, and is passionate about the many ways Pet Haven works to advance the value of companion animals in our society. Professionally, Sally is employed in local government as an IT Manager. She and her husband Erich, who is also a Pet Haven volunteer, live in Bloomington, MN and share their home with a poodle, a yorkie, and a small terrier mix, all adopted from Pet Haven.

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.

Mary Ann Cameron

Cat Div. Director: Board of Directors

Mary Ann came to Pet Haven in the 1990s as a foster and soon began coordinating and scheduling adoption events. She has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2004, and currently serves as the Board Vice-President. While raising 3 children, she supported early childhood education by volunteering in committees and leading projects which support both children and newborns in the United States and abroad. Mary Ann believes that Pet Haven has provided her the opportunity to do work she loves- working to adopt so many homeless pets while providing spay and neuter to those in need. Her husband affectionately refers to their home as “The Cameron Cat House”, although the occasional grand-dog still comes to visit.

Jenny Jurek

Dog Div. Director: Board of Directors

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.

Dr. Cindy Guss

Board of Directors

Dr. Cindy Guss, DVM, joined the Pet Haven Board of Directors in 2015. Cindy is a practicing small animal veterinarian; prior to entering veterinary practice, Cindy spent fifteen years in nonprofit hunger relief. Cindy brings a unique perspective to the intersection of social services and animal care, and feels passionate about enabling stronger human/animal bonds. In her time outside of her practice, Cindy can be found sharing her home with an animal-loving husband, two strong willed dogs, and an undisclosed number of feline friends.

Sally Kenny

Board of Directors

Sally Kenny joined the Pet Haven Board of Directors in 2017. Her role as Development Strategist is focused on developing the fundraising strategy and diversifying Pet Haven’s revenue streams.  Sally’s background includes managing and consulting for private and publicly listed corporate organizations including extensive experience in veterinary services. A Minnesota native, Sally moved to Florida after completing her undergrad to lead a direct marketing company and then spent seven years in Ireland leading marketing teams in the software industry. She then relocated to Australia where she was the head of marketing for Australia’s largest publicly listed vet group.  She has since returned home is the President of Hustle Marketing (, a full-service marketing agency that specializes in finding and keeping clients for the veterinary and allied health industries. Sally has an MBA from JCU in Queensland, Australia and a BA in Business Communications from The College of St Scholastica in Duluth, MN.  Sally lives in northwest Minneapolis with her husband David, their two children Lauren and Kieran and their English Cocker Spaniel, Buddy who has accompanied his parents on their international travels and may be the most well-traveled dog in the world.

Marcella McIntyre

Board of Directors

Marcella joined the Board in 2018. 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.

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.

Cynthia Farrell

Ex Officio: Board of Directors

Cynthia Farrell first volunteered with Pet Haven in 2007. She was elected to the Board in 2011, and served as the Board President until June, 2018. Cynthia is passionate about companion animal welfare and health, volunteering time, and donating funds to multiple organizations focused on animal rehoming and animal science/health. She is inspired by the compassionate and supportive adoption experience Pet Haven provides to adopters, as well as by the organization’s commitment to providing low-cost spay/neuter across the state of Minnesota. Cynthia’s professional background is in talent development, with a career spanning a variety of industries including high tech, financial services, health care, and consumer packaged goods. Cynthia lives in South Minneapolis with her husband Chris and their two dogs, who are both rescues: Andy, an Australian Cattle Dog (Red Heeler), and Ronan, a 100% mutt who has been given his own breed of “Black-Tongued Korean Spaniel.”

Meagan Deutz

Shelter Intake Coordinator

Meagan Deutz 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 husband, Parker, their 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.

Kate Mudge

Intake Coordinator

Kate Mudge is an Intake Coordinator for  Pet Haven’s Dog Division and loves to witness dogs find warm, safe beds in foster families’ homes. She shares her home with a gaggle of furry critters (including two Pet Haven alumni) and her wife, Amy. When not working in the community organizing field, Kate can be found baking, gardening, and doing art projects. Her main goal in life is to get her cattle dog, Bizzie, to do the army crawl without treats, which is usually a fiasco, yet, nevertheless, brings her much joy.

Laura Leonard

Reservation Intake Coordinator

Laura began volunteering with Pet Haven in 2007. After losing her father, she was looking for something to fill the void and make a difference in the world. Helping homeless dogs find loving families was just what she was looking for. Since joining, Laura has done a variety of jobs including foster mentor, transport, and supplies volunteer, large dog intake coordinator, and (her favorite job)-fostering dogs. Laura now serves as the intake coordinator for Reservations. After many trips up north to Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue on the Red Lake reservation, she has seen firsthand the plight of the stray rez dogs.

Laura shares her Bloomington home with her niece and a senior springer/poodle mix. She enjoys making art and doing jigsaw puzzles. She loved taking care of the dogs so much that she gave up her art career and starting a dog boarding business out of her home. Her business motto is “Saving the world, one dog at a time.”

Maren Dahle-Koch

Dog Adoption Coordinator

Maren joined Pet Haven in 2015 and has had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people and help change the lives of animals! She chose to volunteer with Pet Haven because of the family-feel of the volunteers, Pet Haven’s commitment to spay/neuter initiatives, , and loves the opportunities  to help within the organization and community.

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 Pet Haven rescue, Chalupa, adventuring the outdoors, watching football, and being with family, friends and (of course) animals.

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!!!

Paige Burchstead

Social Events Coordinator

Paige found Pet Haven in October 2015 and was thrilled to find a volunteer position open that combined two of her passions: organizing and animals. As the Social Event Coordinator, Paige plans Pet Haven’s fundraisers and special events, including Pints for Paws and Doggy Dash. She uses her background in public relations and communications to coordinate volunteers, sponsorships, and logistics to drive attendance and raise money for Pet Haven’s programs.

Paige and her boyfriend, Nate, reside in Minneapolis and are planning on adopting a puppy this summer. Outside of Pet Haven, she works in tourism marketing and enjoys sports, traveling and supporting various political causes.

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.

Hannah Schewe

Training and Behavior Coordinator

Hannah serves as Pet Haven’s Behavior and Training Coordinator, which means she supports fosters by providing helpful (essential) information on common dog behaviors so they are better equipped to raise happy, well-adjusted foster dogs for adoption!

Hannah began learning about dog behavior on her own about 3 years ago. In September she adopted Cassi, a pit mix, and became more involved in the training community. Currently, she’s working towards becoming an assistant dog trainer at Twin Cities training and Obedience Club and Cassi is working towards her Canine Good Citizen certification and Tracking Dog title.
Hannah has a special interest in dogs who display separation anxiety and resource guarding, as these are some of the issues most commonly present in rescue dogs. Yet she is also a great resource for those with questions on training, exercising, or other behavioral ‘quirks’.
In non-dog news, she also fosters cats and works in data science at a healthcare venture research firm.

Marlene Hunkins

Cat Foster Coordinator

Joining Pet Haven as a cat foster in 2015, then working toward semi-retirement after years of owning an antique store, I’ve come to realize that having more time to devote to volunteering for animal welfare is one of the things that will make my ‘silver years’ most rewarding.

It was wonderful having foster cats in the house, and eventually one stole my husband’s heart too, so guess what….. we adopted her.  Her “imperfections” from having a rough start in life are now the things we love most about her!

Pet Haven’s growing cat division gave me the opportunity to become the Cat Foster Coordinator in January of 2017 and learning a new “job” has been great.

I also enjoy travel, many creative projects, theater & live music (especially Elvis impersonators!) and avoiding housework at all costs.

Life in SW Minneapolis with husband Paul, niece Marin and resident cats Nina & Belle, is busy and never dull which is how I like it!

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.

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.

Dan Conybeare

Dog Foster Mentor

Dan Conybeare started rescuing dogs in 2012 while living in Chicago. He joined Pet Haven in 2014 after moving to Saint Paul and became a Dog Foster Mentor in 2018. He is eager to help our dog fosters through the adoption process, from start to finish. He has fostered over 30 dogs, ranging from teeny-tiny Teacup Chihuahuas to hulking lab mixes—although he is best known for his love of Chihuahua-Terrier mixes. He has one of his own, Becca, a senior Jack Russell-Chihuahua mix, and their favorite places to hang out are Arlington-Arkwright and Battle Creek Dog Parks. Dan understands the variety of challenges that can arise while fostering and how to overcome them. He also knows that fostering is one of the most rewarding experiences you can possibly have. He loves watching foster dogs blossom over weeks and months, nothing makes him happier than seeing a Facebook feed full of happy ex-foster dogs in their loving forever homes.

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.

Ryan Harjula

Dog Meet and Greet Coordinator

Ryan began volunteering with Pet Haven in January 2017. Ryan handles the planning and organizing of all adoption events within the dog division, as well as acting as the point of contact for local businesses and organizations interested in partnering with Pet Haven for an adoption event. What he enjoys most about volunteering with Pet Haven is all of the wonderful people he works with. He loves the positivity and determination that other volunteers exhibit with the dogs and cats in their care. In his professional life, Ryan works in marketing and holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management from the University of St. Thomas.

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.

Lauren Rauchwarter

Cat Respite Coordinator and Cat Meet and Greet Coordinator

Lauren started with Pet Haven in 2018 after adopting her cat Oscar through the rescue.  She loves both cats and dogs and grew up with both.  Her family and friends still think of her as the “crazy cat lady” though, even with just one.  Lauren graduated with her MA in Communications, Technology and Society from Clemson University (South Carolina) and BA in Communications Studies from Luther College (Iowa).  Professionally she works in Technical Writing and Project Management in the medical field.  Her hobbies include being a gym rat at Lifetime Fitness, playing piano, and feeding her inner bookworm through voracious reading.

Arielle Mathre

Dog Owner Surrender/Return Coordinator

Arielle began volunteering with Pet Haven in summer of 2017. As the Dog Owner Surrender Coordinator, Arielle works with individuals and families who have made the tough decision to surrender their dog.  She has a day job as a social worker and finds the skills she uses in that job also help her as the OS Coordinator. She loves volunteering because it allows her to meet and pet so many different kinds of dogs…as well as meet a lot of great people who are passionate about saving animals. She has one good rescue pupper named Leon Kennedy.  When she isn’t working, she’s probably at the dog park with Leon, volunteering at a political event, or re-watching The Office for the fiftieth time.