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Meet The Staff

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ADMINISTRATION

Kim Sturla, Executive Director, co-founded Animal Place in 1989. B.A. in Sociology/Psychology from University of California, Berkeley, Master’s in Social Psychology from CSU, Hayward; teaching credential in Special Education. She has been a central figure in the animal rights movement for more than 35 years, and wrote two precedent-setting state laws protecting students unwilling to take part in animal dissections, and 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 with even the wiliest of pigs! She shares her home and life with rescued dogs Marty and Poppyseed. kim@animalplace.org

 

Estelle Barber, Accountant and Business Manager, oversees the processing of donations, bookkeeping, and other vital administrative tasks. B.A in Elementary Education from Appalachian State University; A.S. in Accounting from Wilson Community College. 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. estelle@animalplace.org

 

Marji Beach, Director of Fund Development, has been with Animal Place since 2004. B.S.in Animal Science from the University of California, Davis. For more than a decade, she oversaw the education, social media, rescue and adoption programs, and fundraising efforts. 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! marji@animalplace.org

 

Stevie Walsh, Membership Coordinator. B.S. Animal Science from CSU, Chico. Her passion for animals grew after she witnessed the animal farming industry first-hand and decided to go vegan. She enjoys getting to know the animals’ personalities and helping complete rescues. Her hobbies include photography, hiking, scary movies, sports and baking vegan treats! Most of these activities are usually done alongside her best friend, Charlie the lab. stevie@animalplace.org

 

Kristin Rodriguez, Membership and Administrative Assistant, has been with Animal Place since 2010. She is responsible for updating our database and keeping in touch with our wonderful donors. She not only advocates for animals at her work, but rescues corgis and cares for dozens of chickens, pheasants and other birds at her home. 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. kristin@animalplace.org

 

PROGRAMS AND OUTREACH

Kelcie Leach, Director of Programs and Outreach, has been with Animal Place since 2016. B.A. in Business Administration with a focus on Marketing from CSU, Sacramento. Before joining Animal Place, Kelcie worked in veterinary medicine as a veterinary 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. kelcie@animalplace.org

 

Jennifer Leach, Intern & Outreach Coordinator. B.A in Psychology from CSU, Chico. She worked in the veterinary field for 7 years until joining the team at Animal Place, and is passionate about helping people as well as animals. In her free time, Jennifer likes to bake vegan treats, spend time outdoors, be with her family, and cuddle her two cats, Toby and Beetle. jennifer@animalplace.org
Crystal Kozlak, Campaign Manager for the Food for Thought Campaign, 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. Crystal started as an Animal Place intern, and then worked for the Brave the Cage program before joining the Food for Thought program. She is helping build a vegan community where she resides! She also enjoys traveling for vegan food, running half marathons, and spending time with her husband, Clark, and rescued Chihuahua, Akayla. crystal@animalplace.org

 

Jessica Janson, Central US & Canada Food for Thought Coordinator. B.A. in Theater. She has worked in animal advocacy, legislation, and rescue for animal welfare organizations, such as Big Cat Rescue and The Humane Society of the United States. In 2016 Jessica was a field organizer for the Massachusetts initiative to end cruel confinement for chickens and pigs. She also co-founded Animal Friends Yoga Retreats. She spends a large portion of her time advocating for prairie dogs, one of her most beloved wildlife species. jessicaj@animalplace.org
Beth Carper, East Coast Food for Thought Coordinator. B.S. in Animal Science from Purdue University and M.A. in Humane Education from Valparaiso University. Beth began their animal advocacy work as the Operations Manager of their local humane society. After seeing a need in the community, Beth founded a rescue for reptiles, amphibians, and other small exotic animals. Beth enjoys gardening, hiking, and spending time with their partner, Juan, rescued dogs, Groot and Summer, and rescued bearded dragons, Petree and Ghost. beth@animalplace.org

Chelsea Pinkham, Content Creator, B.A. in Communication Studies and Minor in Environmental Science from Sonoma State University. Chelsea has been dedicated to a variety of animal welfare causes from a very young age. She is a published children’s book author and has worked as an animal welfare and sustainability journalist. Chelsea also coordinates animal rescues and transports, and over the years has placed, transported, rescued or fostered over 500 animals. In her spare time, Chelsea loves to hike, camp, travel and explore the outdoors. chelsea@animalplace.org

ANIMAL CARE

 

Hannah Beins, Director Animal Care. Hannah oversees the care of hundreds of farmed animals in residence at our Grass Valley sanctuary and the Petaluma Rescue & Adoption Center. She joined our staff after completing animal care internships with both an east coast sanctuary and Animal Place. She shares her home with three dogs, Squishy, Kody and Bodi, two cats, Brian, and Mila, and ten tiny chickens. hannah@animalplace.org

 

GRASS VALLEY SANCTUARY

 

 

Megan Aston, Manager Animal Care. B.A. in Communications from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. Following college, Meg worked in broadcast communications, finance, marketing, and retail management before adopting a pet rabbit in 2011 who inspired her to go vegan and subsequently change her entire career path. In 2016, Meg began working for a local animal shelter before accepting her first animal caregiving job in 2018 at a sanctuary in northeastern Pennsylvania. In 2020, Meg accepted a position with Animal Place and relocated to California with her husband, four cats, two guinea pigs, and leopard gecko.
megan@animalplace.org

 

Conor Beins, Supervisor Animal Care at our Grass Valley location. Has been vegan since 2012. He went vegan for animal rights, and recently developed an interest in plant-based nutrition and fitness. He loves working at Animal Place because it allows him to spend time outdoors, be active, and care for so many wonderful animals. conor@animalplace.org

 

Ariana Szymanski, Animal Caregiver, came to Animal Place with little sanctuary experience but quickly became fond of the animals, fellow caregivers and rewarding work. In her free time she enjoys gardening, listening to records and spending time with her cat Boo. blake@animalplace.org

 

Blake Caraska, Animal Caregiver. A.S. in Applied Art and Design and Computer Science from Sierra College in Rocklin, CA. Blake helps provide care to the 400 animals at the sanctuary. He first joined Animal Place as an ambitious volunteer before accepting a staff position at our rescue and adoption shelter. His hobbies include hiking, cycling, and cracking open a good book. Blake and his girlfriend share their lives with their two-year old daughter and three cats. blake@animalplace.org

 

Allison Hooson, Animal Caregiver, was vegetarian for 8 years, but once she learned about the egg and dairy industry, going 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. allison@animalplace.org

 

Liz, Animal Caregiver, has always wanted to work with animals. Before joining Animal Place, Liz worked at a Washington sanctuary. She loves all animals, but has a special fondness for llamas because of how sweet and kind they can be. In her free time she likes to explore, travel, and craft. elizabeth@animalplace.org

Jay Lynch, Animal Caregiver. Jay has had a deep connection and appreciation for animals as long as she can remember. After learning about the harsh reality of factory farms, Jay adopted a plant-based lifestyle and began advocating on behalf of farmed animals. In addition to her work with Animal Place, Jay has a background in dance and enjoys practicing circus arts in her spare time! jay@animalplace.org

 

 

 

RESCUE & ADOPTION CENTER, PETALUMA

 

 

Lee Gitter, Rescue & Adoption Center Manager, relocated to California from Nashville in February of 2020. While in Nashville he volunteered at various sanctuaries. He purchased a van to provide animal transport for sanctuaries and individuals. He then decided to turn his passion of helping animals into a career by working at Animal Place. He spends his free time working out, reading, and watching hockey (go Bruins!). lee@animalplace.org

 

 

BOARD MEMBERS

Diane Allevato

JP Novic

Joyce Tischler

Kim Sturla

Jessica Miller

Conflict of Interest Policy