Meet The Staff
Kim Sturla is our Executive Director and co-founded Animal Place in 1989. She has been a central figure in the animal rights movement for more than 35 years and wrote two precedent-setting state laws: one protecting pre-university students unwilling to participate in animal dissections, another requiring shelters to sterilize adoptable animals. Before co-founding Animal Place, she served as director of the Peninsula Humane Society. Kim is our resident Pig Whisperer, able to communicate beautifully with even the wiliest of pigs! She shares her home and life with dogs Ralph, Marty, and Poppyseed.
Estelle Barber is our take-no-prisoners full-time donor steward who oversees the processing of donations, bookkeeping, and other vital administrative tasks. Estelle has been doing non-profit bookkeeping for over 20 years. She enjoys the gratifying work at Animal Place, especially going on hen rescues. She shares five sons, one grandson, and two well-trained goldfish with her partner, Mark.
Marji Beach is our Education Director and has been with Animal Place since 2004. She earned her BS in Animal Science from the University of California, Davis. She oversees the education, social media, Rescue Ranch, and onsite programs at the sanctuary. She is editor of the quarterly magazine and website, and puts to good use her writing skills. You can see her photography of the animals here. She loves the cows and chickens! Marji is owned by 8yr-old blue-eyed Mexi-mutt named Celeste and 2-yr-old Mexi-mut mop-dog Tobi.
Jan Galeazzi is Manager of our Rescue & Adoption Center in Vacaville, overseeing the operations and animal care of our 60-acre rescue and adoption center in Vacaville. Rescue Ranch specializes in the rescue of hens from the egg industry, as well as the rescue of roosters, goats, sheep, and other farmed animals in need. Jan joined the Animal Place family in Grass Valley in 2012, pursuing a life-long desire to become more active in animal rights. Between rescues, you can find her camping, hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing, and enjoying the great outdoors with her best friend and fiancé, Rocky. Jan and Rocky live on site at Rescue Ranch with seven companion chickens and kitty-cats Velcro and Breezy.
Hannah Beins is our Animal Care Director, responsible for overseeing the care of hundreds of farmed animals in residence at our Grass Valley sanctuary. She joined our staff after completing animal care internships with both an east coast sanctuary and Animal Place. Hannah is a die-hard fan of the British alt rock band Placebo and has twice followed them on European tour. She shares her home with 2 dogs, Squishy and Princess, and two cats, Brian and Mila.
Katie Garvey is a full-time residential Animal Caregiver at our Grass Valley sanctuary, responsible for feeding, cleaning, and administering medical treatments. She takes great pride and care in making sure that all of our animal residents are healthy and happy. Katie joined our staff after completing a three-month internship with the animal care department. In her spare time she enjoys drawing, painting, hiking, watching The X-Files, and is currently in training to become a pilot.
Virginia Shedd is our Social Media and Events Coordinator. She was a public school teacher in Maryland for several years and is now putting her English and environmental science degrees to work for Animal Place. She shares important information and issues on social media channels, coordinates events to raise awareness of Animal Place and our mission, and strives to educate the public about the lives of farmed animals and what people can do to help them. She loves all the animals, but has a special place in her heart for the cantankerous ones who take no guff.
Kelcie Leach is our Adoption Coordinator for the Rescue & Adoption Center in Vacaville. She coordinates adoption events throughout California and interviews adopters to ensure that adoptable animals find the best possible homes. Kelcie previously worked as a Veterinary Assistant and loves to help animals in any way that she can. For fun, she likes spending time with family, eating delicious vegan food, and going on hikes with her handsome dog, Whiley.
Patti Nyman is our Intern, Volunteer, and Campaigns Manager. She holds a Master’s degree in Social and Political Thought from York University in Toronto, and has taught undergraduate courses in the social sciences. A former Animal Place intern herself, Patti oversees our internship and volunteer programs, as well as Animal Place’s Food for Thought campaign, which works with nonprofits to help them adopt animal-friendly menu policies for their events. She also enjoys playing guitar, eating carbs and spending time with rabbit companion, Binksopolis.
Lauren Heitke is a full-time residential animal caregiver in Grass Valley. She was drawn to Animal Place by her newly found vegan lifestyle and years of experience working with animals. In her spare time she loves to attend music festivals and local shows, as well as take road trips all over California – mostly to try amazing new vegan restaurants! She aspires to one day open her own vegan cafe & coffee shop.
Caryn DeFrees is a full-time animal caregiver in Grass Valley. She graduated from Humboldt State with a B.A. in International studies and currently lives with her boyfriend and pet snake. For fun, Caryn plays roller derby for Sacred City Roller Girls and enjoys downhill mountain biking.
Stephanie Bain is our National Coordinator for Animal Place’s Brave the Cage campaign, supervising tour coordinators who visit universities and hold special events educating the public on what life is like for 95% of hens in the egg industry–by letting them experience confinement inside a human-sized battery cage. She is also the California and Southwest Regional Coordinator for our Food for Thought campaign. Stephanie loves making vegan tacos, practicing yoga, and spending time at the beach with her husband Ryan and her dog, Ihi.
Crystal Kozlak is our Southern California Brave the Cage Outreach Tour Coordinator. As a recent university graduate in Mathematics and Philosophy, Crystal now dedicates her life to vegan activism. With her logical background, she applies strong arguments for veganism to educate students about what life is like for 95% of the hens in the egg industry. In addition to her work at Animal Place, Crystal expands her activism through her own personal blog based on the interconnection of spiritualism and veganism. She also loves cooking vegan junk food with her husband, Clark, and running half marathons!
Roxy Kushner is the Northern California Brave the Cage coordinator. Before getting hired, Roxy had done an animal care internship for Animal Place, which jump-started her life as an activist. Working with the animals every day for her internship inspired her to be more active as a student at UC Santa Cruz, where she helped strengthen the presence of the campus animal rights group. Now with Animal Place, she tours universities and special events to educate people about what life is like for 95% of hens on egg farms by inviting them to stand inside a human-sized battery cage. In her free time, Roxy enjoys salsa dancing and hiking.
Roni Seabury is an animal caregiver at our Grass Valley sanctuary. She has been vegan and a strong advocate for animal rights since 2007, around the same time she started volunteering for Animal Place. Now she works as a part time animal caregiver. When she’s not snuggling with her cats and foster dog, she’s stealing cow kisses.
Blake Caraska is an animal caregiver at our Vacaville Rescue Ranch, providing direct care to the thousands of animals that find temporary sanctuary at Rescue Ranch each year. He first joined Animal Place as an ambitious volunteer before accepting a staff position. His hobbies include hiking, cycling, and cracking open a good book. Blake and his girlfriend share their lives with four cats.
Darren Roth is an animal caregiver at our Vacaville Rescue Ranch. When he is not nurturing our rescued animals back to health, he makes time to leaflet with vegan groups to help educate the public on the plight of farmed animals. Beyond his efforts in animal protection, Darren enjoys practicing Buddhism and learning Swedish.
Alicia Santurio is an animal caregiver at our Vacaville Rescue Ranch, charged with caring for sick and injured animals so they can find their forever homes. She joined Animal Place as a barn cleaner and quickly advanced to her current position. Alicia was the first in her family to go vegan, and shortly thereafter influenced the rest of her family to do the same. Beyond her caregiving duties, she also leads an activist group in Solano County. Alicia spends her down time relaxing with her pug Booby, cat Smokey, turtle Myrtle, potbellied pig Rupert, and a flock of rescued leghorn hens.
Deva Holub is our Northeast Regional Coordinator for the Food for Thought Campaign. Vegetarian since the age of seven, Deva made the change to a vegan lifestyle in 2009 after reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals.” She currently resides in Glen Arm, Maryland with her husband, Matthew, and two cats, Alphie and Sophie. She is also the proud co-owner, manager, and full-time baker of Sweet Dukes Vegan Bakery, a small-batch organic, vegan bakery she founded with her husband.
Barbara Troyer is our Wildlife, Environmental, and Northwest Regional Coordinator for the Food for Thought Campaign. She also passionately advocates for animals, people, and the earth as the producer and co-host of All Things Vegan Radio; as Co-Executive Director of VegNet Bend; and through her work with a nonprofit that teaches nonviolent communication skills. Barb holds a M.A. in Humane Education and is always seeking more ways to use her degree and her talent for writing, design, and IT in service to nonhuman animals. She has shared her home with many rescued cats and dogs and is currently ruled by four cats and an unruly Sheepdog/Muppet mix.
Liz Walch is our Great Lakes Regional Coordinator for the Food for Thought Campaign. Liz grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but has lived in Chicago for the past ten years, where she received her B.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and started volunteering at an animal shelter. With her passion for animal advocacy and education, Liz went on to earn a certificate in Animal Studies from Humane Society University and her M.A. in Humane Education from Valparaiso University. During graduate school, Liz began a humane education internship in the Chicago Public School system with HEART (Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers). After her internship, Liz continued on as a humane educator for HEART in Chicago and also combines her love of working with both kids and farmed animals by working as a summer camp counselor at Heartland Farm Sanctuary in Wisconsin.
Brent Ratkovich is an animal caregiver at our Grass Valley sanctuary. Brent joined our team after a year of volunteering, which included helping with two large-scale chicken rescues and several Brave the Cage and adoption events. Brent spends his extra time fighting for animal rights and advocating for veganism.
Michelle Ciraulo is the store manager at our vegan store in Berkeley, Animal Place’s Vegan Republic. She has a B.A. from UC Berkeley, and before joining Animal Place, Michelle managed the store at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. When she’s not researching and pushing awesome vegan products, she enjoys watching basketball, reading and napping with her kitty Hank.
Dr. Ned Buyukmihci
Nedim Buyukmihci, VMD