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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.
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.
Katie Jo has many years of experience in animal rescue including vetting, programs, and fostering. Over the years she has welcomed dozens of fosters into her home, most of them special needs. She has a special place in her heart for bottle-fed kittens and puppy mill survivors.
Katie Jo also works full time as a Veterinary Assistant at Burnsville Parkway Animal Hospital. She started working at her first vet clinic when she was 16. After a decade long detour into retail management, she is back where she belongs in veterinary medicine. Passionate about making sure all animals get to benefit from quality medical care, she is excited for the opportunity to help Pet Haven’s animals.
A lifelong Minnesota resident, Katie Jo now lives in Burnsville with her three rescue animals- Pansy, a pitbull and Neville and Bella the cats. She enjoys eating out with friends and family and cross-stitching in her spare time.
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 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 are 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.
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 around her Midway neighborhood in St. Paul.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 Reservation Intake Coordinator in the cat division. 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.
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 Urban joined Pet Haven in January 2019 as a cat foster and will transition to the role of Cat Division Manager in August 2019. Julie fully embraces the “Crazy Cat Lady” label 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 searching for its forever home. It also gives Julie the opportunity to meet families and build long-lasting connections within the community.
She currently resides in Eden Prairie with her husband, Brandon; three children, Ben, Grace, and Molly; and four cats, Nova, Rocket, Star, and Sushi. Outside of her Pet Haven volunteer role, Julie is an early childhood speech-language pathologist in the Eastern Carver County Schools. Other interests include writing, watching soccer, singing, and advocating for her children (and pets)! She will continue to foster cats for Pet Haven and is excited to learn more, give more, and be more!
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 and Josh joined Pet Haven in February of 2018 as dog foster volunteers. Recently, they have taken over the position of Shelter Intake Coordinator in contact with SafeHands Rescue with dogs being transported from Kentucky. In their personal lives, Josh and Kayla both work as intensive care nurses; Josh specializing in cardiovascular and Kayla specializing in neurological. They both enjoy concerts & practically living on their boat in the summer! They recently “foster failed” and adopted their first dog Hemi, the Dogo Argentino from MACC, to add to their family. These two continue to foster dogs with Hemi as their confident furry mentor and look forward to their ongoing involvement with Pet Haven MN!
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.
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 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.
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 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 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, 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 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.
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!
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’ 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 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, 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.
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 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!
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.”
Christi grew up with animals of all kinds, from cats to dog, to bunnies to guinea pigs but always had a special place in her heart for cats. Before starting to foster with Pet Haven, Christi adopted a cat from Pet Haven and loved the process and the people she met along the way. After she took in a stray kitten and went through finding a forever home for it, she was hooked and signed up to foster. Christi loves being able to help all the cats she can even the challenging cases. She sees the value in their companionship. She would like to save all of the cats but at least she can help save a few at a time.
After Christi spent time being a foster she seamlessly moved into the role of Mentor. Christi enjoys meeting new people and helping adopters and new fosters learn about cats. She loves sharing what information she has and learning from and with her fosters. Collaboration is key to what she does. Every new animal she takes on seems to bring a new situation in which Christi so enjoys.
She is known as a crazy cat lady, a badge she wears with pride. Christi lives west of the cities in a small town with her husband Thomas, daughter Lily and two cats, Griffin and Sassy.
Melissa joined Pet Haven early in 2020 as a Foster Friend to help animals find forever homes and (selfishly) to get in some dog play time and begin the search of adding a dog to her family. Melissa began training as the Event Coordinator shortly after joining Pet Haven and now works to set up adoption events. Professionally, she works within Human Resources in Minnetonka. She enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, live music, being introverted while watching Netflix and reading, craft beer, and anything to do with animals. She has a cat, Arya, that she adopted in 2015. Arya lives up to her Game of Thrones name and is as fiesty as they come.