[In alphabetical order by last name]
Michael Bricker, Chief Strategy Officer
Michael Bricker is the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) and Director of CARE Centers. Michael will be developing organizational strategy and sustaining that through the management of all of our departments. As CARE Center Director, Michael will curate strategies for each CARE Center and develop a national model for workforce development that partners from the community up to local shelters to provide sustainable change and save more animals. We have had the pleasure of getting to know Mike for a few years now and we can’t think of a better human to join us and help us grow.
Michael comes to us as the former Director of Operations for the Shelter Embed program at Best Friends Animal Society. He spent most of his time in Texas, as Interim Executive Director at different shelters, where he used his compassion and talent to get to know the staff, put the time in to connect with the community, all while saving more animals. During his time in Texas, he was able to take PVAC from a 34% live release to 93%, and Abilene from 55% to 89%. Before Best Friends, Mike was the Director of Operations at Camden County Animal Shelter (CCAS). In addition to rewriting the shelter’s adoption policies, Mike helped to create a Lifesaving Department, launch CCAS’s community cat program, pioneer the Rent-A-Dog program and modernize the shelter’s medical operations. Quite a human, right! We are beyond grateful and we look forward to you all meeting him in person.
Founder, Chief Executive Officer
James is a multi-awarding winning creative strategist and leader with 25+ years of experience developing relationships between organizations and their constituents. His expertise has been utilized across a diverse group of brands, both non for profit, and for profit. Specific brand experience includes: Timberland, Disney, The Mills Corporation, NAACP, Baltimore Health Department, Maryland Health Department, Kennedy Krieger Institute, CVS Caremark’s Project Health, Safe Streets Baltimore and many other brands.
James and his team have initiated several programs, including the ground breaking Gulf Spay/Neuter Campaign and HSUS’ Pets for Life, which helped reshape animal welfare, while simultaneously advocating for more diversity and inclusion throughout the field.
He has also played an integral part in AWO organization’s projects, including HSUS’ Adopters Welcome, Outdoor Cats Research, Stop Puppy Mills and Spayathon, as well as Best Friends Animal Society’s Outreach Action Team, Maddie’s Fund, and SPCA of Texas’ Let’s Fix This Campaign.
Jennifer Evans, Chief Operating Officer
Jennifer Evans is the COO and Art Director for Illume Communications. As a highly organized logistics expert, she manages CARE’s staff and workflow. Jen studied studio art in school and has over 20 years experience in marketing and publishing as both a designer and Art Director. Aside from her visual communications and organizational skills, Jen brings an in-depth knowledge of social media marketing strategies. Much of her recent work within the animal welfare field has included innovative campaign strategies and production for large scale projects such as Breaking Bias for HSUS Expo 2019, Stop Puppy Mills Video campaign, Petstablished, Let’s Fix This, HSUS’ Spayathon, and HSUS’ Adopter’s Welcome toolkit.
Johanna Falber, Director of Operations
Johanna spent her professional career working for mid-size and Fortune 500 organizations in leadership positions managing operations, sales and customer support groups. While successful, the human connection felt missing to her. She found herself gravitating towards departments that would offer her the opportunity to work closely with customers and consumers to resolve high-level escalations, and bring dignity, empathy and respect to the interaction. It was when she adopted her first dog, that key realizations changed her course. She recognized that her business acumen could be useful in the animal advocacy sector; while volunteering in city animal shelters, the sad truth of the over population of pit bull type dogs was alarming, as well as the euthanasia of adoptable dogs; and she witnessed the difficulties people in marginalized groups faced with adopting dogs, and in having access to equitable resources. Her response was Stubby’s Heroes, the non-profit she founded primarily to promote and highlight the pit bull type dog in an effort to increase adoptions and stop the vilification and stigma of the dog.
After working closely with national large animal welfare organizations like the HSUS and Best Friends Animal Society to stop Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) from going statewide in all of Georgia, the organization became synonymous with community advocacy, pro bono counsel, outreach programs, and marketing campaigns showcasing canine and community.Jo has said that it has been a personal dream to be able to connect her experience in the corporate world with animal welfare, and her love of serving people and her community. “I really did not think that there was a place for me until now with C.A.R.E. I’m honored to serve our communities alongside such committed, vibrant and exceptional leadership and team members. I’m finally home.” CARE wants to Welcome Jo and Thank her for years of dedication and compassion. She joins CARE as the Director of Operations. She is going to amazing things!
Johnny Jenkins, Chief Research & Development Officer
Johnny Jenkins has twenty-five years of experience in grassroots community engagement and professional non-profit experience. His talents have been used to support mission-driven efforts across movements ranging from animal welfare and LGBTQ+ equality to racial equity, diversity and inclusion. He has had had the opportunity to provide leadership as an organizer, a non-profit board and program director, and a multi-million-dollar grant portfolio manager. As an experienced strategic grant-maker, Johnny has led philanthropic initiatives that support racial and economic Justice while also advancing social justice inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. Recently, he served as the adoption grants manager responsible for PetSmart Charities’ U.S. East Region to support shelters and rescues in finding homes for homeless pets.
Mr. Jenkins holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Western Michigan University, and is currently pursuing a graduate level degree from Arizona State University. His research interest includes organizing strategies, coalition-building, cooperative economics, leadership development (community wisdom), racial equity and social justice. He draws from lived experiences to engage people and communities to promote equity and access to opportunities that improve the quality of life for marginalized families and their pets.
Johnny has an extensive record of service in the LGBTQ+ and Detroit communities which has resulted in multiple community awards. In addition to his many community accomplishments, Johnny is also an accomplished spoken word artist who has produced and served as Slam Master for two national Detroit Poetry Slam Teams. In addition, he is a proud co-founder and former producer of one the oldest Black LGBT pride celebrations in North America – Detroit’s Hotter Than July (1996) which continues to operate today.
He is grateful for the opportunity to share his lived experiences and expertise to increase racial equity, diversity and inclusion in animal welfare. This is shared through his service as Co-Lead of PetSmart Charities’ Racial Equity Advisory, Steering Committee Member of PetSmart’s MOSAIC Associate Resource Group, Vice President of PetSmart’s Pride At Work (PAW) Associate Resource Group, and as a Co-Chair of The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement (AAWA) DEI Committee.
Kenny Lamberti, Chief Engagement Officer
Kenny Lamberti has spent his entire professional career being of service. In 1993 after college Kenny took his first professional position as a parent advocate with the Head Start program in his hometown of Boston. For more than a decade Kenny worked vigilantly on behalf of families living in underserved communities. Kenny worked as a counselor at a residential home for adolescent boys transitioning from the juvenile legal system, as a youth director for the Cambridge YMCA and organizer for a program called Gang Peace where he worked to broker community peace and positive alternatives for gang involved young people. It was in these early days of Kenny’s professional journey that he began infusing his love for animals specifically pit-bull dogs into his work with communities.
Kenny started bringing his own dog to work and saw how it created a bridge to engage young people who shared the same love for pets. While working in the Boston Public Schools his love for dogs and community truly crystalized. Like most teachers Kenny needed a summer job, thus began his journey to become a dog trainer. Kenny began offering free dog training in specific economically depressed areas of his beloved Boston and the animal welfare industry started to notice.
Kenny began his animal welfare career working for renowned behaviorist Dr. Amy Marder which lead him to Animal Farm Foundation in upstate New York. The HSUS identified Kenny’s unique skill set and passion for community-based work and recruited him to run their Philadelphia end dog fighting program. This is the moment Kenny’s career went national and he along with CARE CEO James Evans played an integral leadership role in the creation of the Pets for Life program.
Kenny went on to become Vice President of companion animals as HSUS and in 2017 came to Best Friends Animal Society to spear head their effort to mobilize the public to achieve the lofty goal of a No Kill Nation. Kenny’s vision, dynamic leadership, and passion for community gave birth to something called the 2025 action team which in a little over a year has more than 30,000 advocate members representing all 50 states.
Kenny Lamberti has played a key role and been a leading voice in shifting the animal welfare industry to be a more human focused, diverse, and equitable movement. With the founding of CARE Kenny finally has a true home and vehicle to use all his experience, passion, and expertise to fight for people and communities that to this day of no fault of their own still exist on the margins of the animal welfare movement. CARE has been a long time coming and is poised to disrupt and reshape the way this nation addresses the needs of not only dogs and cats, but more importantly the people across all boundaries who share their lives with them. Kenny Lamberti joining his long-time friend and colleague James Evans and the entire CARE family was written into existence long before now, but now that it is a reality the magic can finally be fully realized.
Mueni Rudd, Senior Director of Research & Development
Mueni is a Kenyan American scholar advocate with years of experience in racial justice, social activism, and evaluative research. She graduated from Huston-Tillotson University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Then went on to earn a Master of Social Work graduate degree from Texas State University. She has a consistent history of membership and participation in professional academic associations and service organizations. She is a published writer and proud TEDx speaker committed to filling the gaps of current Western training and approaches that avoid issues of racial diversity and ethnic cultural differences. She prioritizes Black and other historically marginalized group liberation in all her professional and community contributions. Her focus on accountability can be seen in her efforts to acknowledge systemic and institutional oppression by centering these populations. Mueni is always willing to dive deeply into literature and lived experiences to suggest equity centered and research informed recommendations. Her work amplifies historically oppressed communities, promotes authentic multicultural dialogue, and creates cross-cultural communication which fosters awareness and healing.
Our Board of Directors
Shafonda D. Allen, Board Member
Executive Director at Animal Protection Society of Durham/Durham County Animal Shelter
Shafonda D. Allen is a CAWA (Certified Animal Welfare Administrator) who has worked in Animal Welfare for over twenty years. She is the current Executive Director of the Animal Protection Society of Durham in Durham North Carolina. She serves on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the Association of Animal Welfare Advancement and is a former Board Member of the North Carolina Animal Federation.
Shafonda feels privileged to work in a diverse community in the South with a diverse staff that work together to create a better world for animals through sheltering, outreach and spay neuter assistance.
Having started in Animal Welfare with very few people that resembled herself, Shafonda is hoping to contribute to a future where all of Animal Welfare is accepting and inclusive.
When Shafonda is not working she spends time with her large family, loving pets, and animal welfare friends.
Kara Beverly, Board Secretary
Johns Hopkins University, Equity Compliance Investigator
An experienced labor & employment attorney, Kara D. Beverly is an Equity Compliance Investigator in Johns Hopkins University’s Office of Institutional Equity, where she is responsible for investigating reports of discrimination and sexual misconduct, as well as training University community members on how to prevent all forms of discrimination in professional and academic environments.
Kara is committed to serving her community and is currently the President of the Board of Directors of the Women’s Housing Coalition, Parliamentarian of the Psi Phi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Junior League of Baltimore, and a member of the Young Hearts Board of the American Heart Association. A Prince George’s County, MD native, Kara Lives in Towson and enjoys spending time with her rescue dog.
Dr. Michael J Blackwell, Board Chair
Dr. Michael J Blackwell, DVM, MPHDirector, Program for Pet Health Equity, University of TennesseeAssistant Surgeon General, USPHS (Ret.)
A life of public service is what exemplifies Dr. Michael Blackwell. Like his father, he earned a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Tuskegee University. He also earned a Master of Public Health degree from Loma Linda University. Dr. Blackwell’s career has been anything but traditional. He currently serves as the Director of the Program for Pet Health Equity, College of Social Work, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His mission is to improve access to veterinary care, especially for families with limited means. He chairs the Access to Veterinary Care Coalition.
Previously, Dr. Blackwell served as chief of staff, Office of the Surgeon General of the U.S., chief veterinary officer of the U.S. Public Health Service, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, and chief veterinary officer of the Humane Society of the United States. He achieved the rank of Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General during 23 years on active duty with the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. In addition, he has served on many national boards and committees Dr. Blackwell has received numerous awards and recognitions, most notably, the U.S. Public Health Service Distinguished Service Medal (which is the highest personal honor award), and the Meritorious Service Medal (the second highest personal honor award). He also twice received the Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medal.
Clare Callison, Board Member
Clare Callison is the Maddie’s Canine Lifesaving Advisor for American Pets Alive in Austin, TX. She provides guidance and hands-on support to animal welfare organizations all over the country. Her focus is helping organizations increase their live release rate through proactive adoptions, rescue partnerships, innovative marketing, and embracing a foster-centric sheltering model. Before coming to Austin, she was the Director of Operations for San Antonio Pets Alive for 5 years. While in San Antonio, she helped develop one of the largest northern transport programs in Texas which targets the most at risk population in the municipal shelter – large dogs. Because of her heavy involvement, San Antonio has gone from a 28 percent save rate to 90 percent over three years. Clare enjoys helping others seek lifesaving solutions to common challenges that exist in working in a high-volume, fast-paced rescue environment.
Ivy Collier, Board Member
Executive Director at the Animals and Society Institute
Ivy Collier earned her Bachelor of Science in Social Psychology and a Masters of Public Affairs focusing on fundraising and nonprofit management. She also earned the title of Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).
Ivy is the Executive Director at the Animals and Society Institute, a human-animal relationship think tank that promotes scholarly work in the human-animal studies and policy fields. Ivy has worked in the animal protection field for more than a decade. She also brings over a decade of experience in nonprofit management, program development and fundraising and has served in key roles with animal welfare and conservation organizations. Ivy is committed to serving in the animal welfare community and is working to make it more inclusive.
Ivy resides in Delaware and enjoys spending time with her husband, three cats and dog.
Janet Reich Elsbach, Board Member
Janet Reich Elsbach writes about how all the numerous things going on in the average life collide with making dinner on her blog a Raisin & a Porpoise. A home cook inspired by seasonal food, the particular cravings of those she loves to feed, and the idea of bringing people together at the table, her book, Extra Helping: Recipes for Caring, Connecting, and Building Community One Dish at a Time, was recently published by Roost, and addresses the most fundamental building block of mutual aid: nourishing the people near us.
Janet has a master’s degree in education and now teaches writing to adults with disabilities, a position she has loved for over ten years. She has been working in non-profit organizations for decades in various capacities, as a founder, an employee, a board member and a funder. She has spent a lot of time on both sides (seeker and giver) of development work, which she sees as a narrative exercise with the challenge of helping people identify across what they perceive as barriers and expand their sense of common humanity. She has leaned hard into justice work in recent years, seeking out under-resourced Black- and BIPOC-led organizations and working to amplify both their visibility and their capacity.
She has been around animals all her life. She grew up with a horse-loving sister and ran a small sheep farm and kept chickens for ten years. A life-long dog lover, she has always had the company of at least one dog, and has trained two as therapy animals to visit children and the elderly. She began fostering in earnest three years ago and has fostered and placed over 60 dogs. Working with half a dozen different rescue organizations over this time, it has become increasingly clear that the glaring whiteness of rescue critically impedes the soul mission that drew her into the work–greater freedom, safety and joy for all beings—and is beyond excited to discover Care’s work just as she realized there was no longer any room to compartmentalize her animal welfare work and her justice work.
Amy Mills, Board Treasurer
Chief Executive Officer, Emancipet
Amy Mills is passionate about solving tough social problems, both professionally and through service as a board member, volunteer, and consultant to non-profits. Since 2006, Amy has served as CEO of Emancipet, a non-profit building a national affordable veterinary care system to serve the underserved. Under her leadership, Emancipet has opened seven low-cost pet health clinics in five cities — Austin, Pflugerville, Killeen, and Houston, Texas and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and launched a national social change training program. Emancipet’s low-cost clinics provide care to over 100,000 pets living in underserved areas every year, keeping those pets healthy, happy, and safe with their families.
Amy works with a staff of 140+ brilliant, dedicated, and optimistic veterinary and non-profit management professionals to build a national low-cost veterinary clinic system for the underserved. Emancipet drives social change by listening to and serving their clients — low-income pet owners who have been economically excluded from accessing veterinary care.
Emancipet is scaling through two primary strategies — opening new clinics in areas historically underserved by veterinarians, and by offering training and consulting to equip and inspire change makers working in the animal welfare, veterinary, and public health industries to take action to improve the health of animals and the people who love them.
Emancipet’s network of clinics currently includes one mobile and six brick & mortar clinics that provide direct services in 20 cities in Texas and Pennsylvania.
Zach Skow, Board Member
Senior Program Manager at Pawsitive Change Inmate-Canine Training
Zach’s life has been dedicated to the service of man and mutt. He is a sober liver disease survivor, dedicated to rescuing dogs, so they may help rescue people.
Zach founded Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue (a 501-(c)(3) org) in 2009 while still battling to receive a liver transplant. His dogs and his people helped save Zach’s life, putting him on a trajectory of service. They have saved over 5,000 dogs since then and have spearheaded countless community programs to better both human and canine lives. Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue spay and neuter program renders aid to vulnerable populations, providing 1,600 per year. Their miracle mutts program has teamed with nearly 100 local non profits to bring the power and magic of the human canine bond to those in need.
Zach Skow’s focus is growing out organizations and it’s program so they may reach a No Kill Kern County (less than 5%). Since their inception, kill rates have gone from near 80% to now below 40%. Over the last two years, Zach’s focus is healing men and mutts in prison through the Pawsitive Change inmate canine training program. “This program has breathed new purpose into my life and, I believe, is what I was put on this earth to establish and grow.” Pawsitive Change began at California City State Prison with 25 inmates and 8 dogs and has quickly expanded to over 100 men, 40 dogs, in 4 state prisons, including level 4, MAX Corcoran State Prison. Their programs exist because of support from the public and they are always looking for assistance and support.
In 2011, Zach Skow was awarded the American Red Cross Real Hero Award.
In 2017, Zach Skow was earned Leukemia and Lymphoma Man of the Year Award.
Zach resides in California with his equally mission driven and animal loving wife Heather Skow and is a father to Shiloh and a new one on the way!
CARE Center Advisory Committee
Newly Chief of Strategy and CARE Center Director (June 2021), former Director of Operations for the Shelter Embed Program for Best Friends Animal Society
Chair of the Neighborhood Planning Unit in Atlanta (NPU-R)
Administrative Support Supervisor for UNC Health Care, former HSUS Pets for Life Coordinator of Philadelphia
Program Manager for The Jackson Galaxy Project
Investment Associate at the Raza Development Fund
National Municipal and Shelter Support, Best Friends Animal Society