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 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 Director of Fund Development and has been with Animal Place since 2004. She earned her BS in Animal Science from the University of California, Davis. For more than a decade, she oversaw the education, social media, rescue & adoption programs, fundraising efforts, and onsite education programs. In 2019, she transitioned to Director of Fund Development to focus efforts on expanding, improving, and nurturing all areas of fundraising…so that we can save even more lives! You can see her photography of the animals here. She loves the cows and chickens! Marji is owned by Mexi-mutt mop-dog Tobi, Podenco Canario Audrey, cat Shawn, and human Izzy – all adopted!
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. She shares her home with two dogs, Squishy and Kody, three cats, Brian, Mila, and Blue, and eleven tiny chickens.
Patti Nyman is our Food for Thought Campaign Director. Patti holds a Master’s degree in Social and Political Thought from York University in Toronto, and has taught undergraduate courses in the social sciences. Patti oversees Animal Place’s Food for Thought campaign, which works with nonprofits to help them adopt animal-friendly menu policies for their events. Patti also enjoys playing guitar, eating carbs and spending time with rabbit companion, Binksopolis.
Michelle Miller is the Animal Care Manager and a residential caregiver at our Grass Valley sanctuary. She shares her life with Levi-her husband of 13 years, their 11 year old son- Cash, 2 dogs (Howdy and Freya), 2 cats (Wednesday & Ygritte), 4 hens and 1 rooster. Prior to Animal Place, Michelle worked with companion animals in various capacities. She is passionate about advocating for pitbulls and other dog breeds targeted by negative legislation and breed specific bans.
Blake Caraska is the Animal Care Shelter Coordinator at our Grass Valley sanctuary, providing care to the 300 animals at the sanctuary. He first joined Animal Place as an ambitious volunteer before accepting a staff position at our Vacaville Rescue Ranch facility. His hobbies include hiking, cycling, and cracking open a good book. Blake and his girlfriend share their lives with four cats.
Claire Couron is our Social Media Manager. She creates content for Animal Place’s social media and engages with our online community. Claire first joined the Animal Place team as an Advocacy Intern, quickly fell in love with the mission, and became a staff member. Claire spent a year in China, and hopes to continue exploring and trying vegan food all over the world.
Crystal Kozlak is the West Coast Coordinator for Animal Place’s Food for Thought Campaign. Crystal was inspired to go vegan after taking a philosophy course on animal ethics during her undergrad at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Dedicated to making this movement her life, Crystal completed Animal Place’s advocacy internship and then worked as a campaign coordinator for the Brave the Cage campaign for two and a half years, traveling to college campuses in the Southwestern United States to educate students about the egg industry. In addition to her work at Animal Place, Crystal volunteers for The Humane League’s corporate outreach campaign, writes articles for her vegan and spiritual blog, and is helping build a vegan community where she currently resides in Long Beach, California. She also enjoys traveling for vegan food, relaxing in hot tubs, running half marathons, and spending quality time with her husband, Clark, and rescued Chihuahua, Akayla.
Deva Holub is our Wildlife & Environmental 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.
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
Stevie Walsh is our Membership Coordinator. She studied Animal Science at CSU Chico. She loves photography, hiking, true crime, scary movies and baking vegan treats(especially sharing them with non-vegans)! Her dog, Charlie, is her absolute best friend and she takes him everywhere with her. Stevie and her boyfriend have been vegan for two years now and he is a chef and makes awesome, creative entrees!
Rachel Hardy is our Animal Care Supervisor. Rachel spent over two years working in a veterinary office and then went on to attend Humboldt State University. After graduating she spent a year living in South Korea and traveling. She loves being an animal caregiver because it allows her to be around animals all day and spend time outdoors.
Allison Hooson is an Animal Care Assistant. She was vegetarian for 8 years, but once she learned about the egg and dairy industry, being vegan was a clear choice. She enjoys hiking, running, painting, and working with the animals. She has two wonderful rescue dogs– border collie/mcnab mix Theodore and mini Schnauzer Finnagan. She loves her job, her life, and all the animals she is fortunate enough to look after.
Rachel Barrington is our Outreach Manager, responsible for managing events and tours and expanding outreach efforts. She earned her B.A. in Communications from CSU Sacramento where she focused on organizational communication, and went on to research the connection between food systems and our health at UC Davis. Prior to becoming a staff member, Rachel was a socializer volunteer at Animal Place and has also volunteered at a cat shelter and wildlife rehabilitation center. Besides becoming friends with any animal she meets, Rachel is usually training for her next marathon, kayaking, reading, or cooking (and eating). Rachel enjoys sharing her life with her husband, Michael, their two German Shepherds, Dexter and Darla, two cats, Stumps (he has 3 legs) and Arya, and Nibbs, the guinea pig.
Antonio Lieberum is our Volunteer and Intern Manager. His background is in restaurants and he has a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Sacramento. He has been vegan for two years and loves animals! Some of his hobbies include movies, cooking and finding great vegan food while traveling. He is a dog dad to a loveable lab named Charlie.
Kelcie Leach is our Program Director. She has been with Animal Place since 2016. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus on Marketing from California State University, Sacramento. Prior to working at Animal Place, Kelcie worked in veterinary medicine as a vet assistant. She enjoys spending her off time training her rambunctious pup, Milo, cuddling her cat named Pig, and spending time with her human family members.
Kelly Soria is a co-manager at Animal Place’s Vegan Republic, an all vegan specialty store in Berkeley, Ca. She earned her B.A. in Political Economy and a minor in Food Systems from the University of California, Berkeley in 2019. She enjoys working with food, meeting people, and sampling new products for the store! In her spare time, she likes exploring the bay, searching for old records, cheering for Washington sports, and planning her next tattoo.
Christina Yasi is an Animal Care Assistant. In the past decade, she has fostered 100 animals! She has been vegan for almost 20 years, so the transition to working with farmed animals was natural. Christina shares her home with 3 rescue cats, 1 rescue dog, and a myriad of foster animals.
Conor Beins is an Animal Caregiver at our Grass Valley location.
Brandon Carrier is a Co-Manager at Animal Place’s Vegan Republic, and found veganism as a way to express his continuity and compassion for animals, the planet, and himself. Having studied psychology in college, he is fascinated by consciousness and hopes to attend graduate school in Germany. In his free time, you can find him working out, songwriting, exploring nature, practicing his German, or simply “chilling”.
Liz is an Animal Caregiver at our Grass Valley location. She has always wanted to work with animals and worked at another animal sanctuary for 1.5 years before coming to Animal Place. She loves all animals, but she especially loves llamas because of how sweet and kind they can be. In her free time she likes to explore, travel, and craft.
Not Pictured (but appreciated!):
Kristin Rodriguez is our Membership and Administrative Assistant, she has been with Animal Place since 2010! She is responsible for updating our database and keeping in touch with our lovely supporters. She not only advocates for animals at her work, but rescues corgis and cares for dozens of chickens, pheasants and other birds. She’s taken in displaced and disabled birds for over 20 years now! In her spare time, she travels, attends anime cons, and spends quality time with her animals.
Juliana Hooson is a Store Clerk at Animal Place’s Vegan Republic in Berkeley, CA.