HAP Heroes

Humane Action Pittsburgh would be nothing without our amazing supporters.

As a thank you, we highlight someone once a month to celebrate their work for animals and give them a spotlight to speak out about the causes that matter most to them.

Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

May 2024: Martin and Donna Hauser

 

Meet Martin and Donna Hauser, passionate advocates from Steubenville, Ohio, who have supported HAP since our inception! Not only are they committed monthly donors, but their business, Hauser’s Furniture, is a steadfast sponsor of our esteemed Heroes Awards Reception. In addition to their financial support, Donna’s invaluable contributions include orchestrating both the annual Heroes Awards Reception and the highly anticipated Best Vegan Soup in the Burgh event. Their support has been crucial in advancing our mission of advocating for animals.

Their dedication to causes doesn’t stop there. Donna also serves on the Board of Directors of the Jefferson County Humane Society in Wintersville, exemplifying her profound commitment to animal welfare. Join us in expressing heartfelt appreciation to Martin and Donna for their unwavering dedication to animals and HAP’s mission.

End-of-Year Match This month, the Hauser’s generosity knows no bounds, as Martin and Donna have generously offered a spring, end-of-year match, pledging to double donations to HAP, up to $1000. “We are delighted to give HAP supporters an opportunity to make their donations to this wonderful organization go twice as far,” enthused Donna. Your support now means every donation you make will be matched dollar-for-dollar.

 

 

Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

April 2024: Jen Stratakis

This month, we shine a spotlight on Jen Stratakis, our April HAP Hero. Jen, a classically trained, professional yoga instructor, will volunteer her time and expertise to lead a yoga fundraiser to benefit HAP in May.

Her upcoming class for HAP is not the first time Jen has taught yoga to benefit environmental and animal-focused nonprofits. Her passion for animals also extends to her personal life, as she and her husband share their home with four rescued senior dogs.

In partnership with Harmony Dog Rescue, Humane Action Pittsburgh has collaborated on crafting invaluable resource guides tailored to those navigating crises with their animal companions, whether due to domestic violence, homelessness, or entering rehabilitation programs. Explore our resource guides here to learn how we’re making a difference together.

When she’s not practicing or teaching yoga or other mind/body topics, Jen enjoys distance cycling, hiking, DOGA, and paddleboarding.

Thank you, Jen, for your inspiring work and for advocating for animals and the environment! Don’t miss Jen’s benefit class for HAP on May 18 at Threadbare Cider House! Tickets are limited and can be purchased here.

Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

March 2024: Tim Lydon

In the spirit of compassion and community, we proudly feature Tim Lydon as our March Hero of the Month. As the founder of Harmony Dog Rescue, Tim has exemplified unwavering dedication to providing temporary foster homes for the beloved companions of individuals escaping dangerous and abusive situations. Tim’s selfless efforts have saved countless furry friends and offered solace and support to their human counterparts during times of upheaval..

In partnership with Harmony Dog Rescue, Humane Action Pittsburgh has collaborated on crafting invaluable resource guides tailored to those navigating crises with their animal companions, whether due to domestic violence, homelessness, or entering rehabilitation programs. Explore our resource guides here to learn how we’re making a difference together.

Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

February 2024: Dr. Sandra Sobel

This month, we spotlight Dr. Sandra Sobel for her exceptional work as the directing physician for Get Healthy Pittsburgh! (GHP), 2024. This transformative 7 day, plant-based challenge empowered participants to make positive choices for their health, the planet, and animal welfare.

Dr. Sobel, who is the founder of Summon Health and a true advocate for holistic well-being, used her medical expertise and her passion for plant-based living to provide valuable insights, resources, and support to GHP participants throughout their plant-based journey. Dr. Sobel’s work on GHP 2024 is a testament to her commitment to fostering a healthier, more compassionate world. We applaud Dr. Sandra Sobel for her outstanding contributions and invite you to follow her and HAP on social media for both updates on future initiatives and to gain inspiration from individuals like this HAP Hero who is making a meaningful difference in our community.

Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

January 2024: David Mongillo

This January, we proudly spotlight attorney David Mongillo of the law firm Tucker Arensberg, as HAP’s Hero of the Month. David’s unwavering dedication to our cause has been exemplified through the countless hours he has selflessly donated in pro bono work for HAP over the years.

His recent accomplishments include drafting the foie gras ban that was successfully passed by the Pittsburgh City Council in December, showcasing his commitment to positively impacting our community. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to David for his hard work, passion, and tireless efforts in advancing HAP’s mission. Thank you, David, for being a true hero in our midst.

Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

December 2023: Bruce Kraus and Erika Strassburger

In the wake of our new ban on cruel foie gras, we are thrilled to celebrate Pittsburgh City Councilmembers Bruce Kraus and Erika Strassburger as HAP’s Heroes of the Month. Their unwavering dedication to animal welfare and ethical legislation manifested in their pivotal role in championing this legislation, a significant stride towards a more humane society.

With unwavering determination, Kraus and Strassburger exhibited exemplary leadership, spearheading efforts that reflect an understanding of ethical animal treatment and a commitment to fostering a community rooted in empathy and respect. Their collaborative efforts are a testament to their vision for a kinder, more conscious world, setting an inspiring precedent for compassionate governance and paving the way for meaningful change in Pittsburgh and beyond.

Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

November 2023: Sherri Mosovsky

This month we celebrate Sherri Mosovsky, the masterful baker who made hundreds of delicious vegan desserts for this year’s gala. A long-time vegan and animal advocate, Sherri shares her love of animals with everyone around her, often in the form of treats.

She has a drive to create culinary delights, one that is enjoyed by her daughter—sidekick, taste tester, and biggest critic! When not in the kitchen or snuggling her 19-year-old cat, Sherri is often found outside biking. She had a blast making treats for the Gala and says that she feels honored to have had an opportunity to help such an important organization.

Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

October 2023: Ryan Walker

A round of applause for our October Ally of the Month, Ryan Walker! Ryan is the spouse of HAP Director of Operations, Shannon Dickerson, but we promise it was merit and not nepotism that earned him this month’s coveted spot in the newsletter. Despite not holding a formal volunteer position with HAP, Ryan is a consistent supporter of our mission and our campaigns. He’s an Advocate Level member who regularly volunteers for roles such as tabling or setting up for our annual gala. But in recent weeks he’s really upped his game pitching in to install HAP Hive’s pollinator garden in Swissvale! Ryan, a City of Pittsburgh firefighter, has dedicated dozens of hours of his free time to take on some of the most labor intensive tasks at the garden, including moving literal tons of top soil to fill the massive raised beds. Becaue of his hard work and diligence, we’re proud to say that the garden will be completed on schedule this fall! Thank you, Ryan, for all you’ve done and continue to do to support our mission–and for showing compassion to all animals. Here he is pictured with Hank, his rescued, special needs rooster.

Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

September 2023: Bob Fragasso

 
With more than five decades of experience in the investment management and financial planning fields, Bob leads Fragasso Financial Advisors as chairman and chief executive officer.
 
Bob has been honored by many national and local organizations and was named “Most Admired CEO’s & Top Executives” by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2016 and the “2015 Veteran of the Year” by the Veterans Leadership Program of Western PA.
 
Bob is the son of immigrant parents and grew up in the inner city of Pittsburgh. Bob earned his bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Bob may be best known for his tireless commitment to animal welfare in the region, serving as the treasurer for Animal Friends. He began the Animal Friends for Veterans program where trained emotional companion dogs are provided at no cost to veterans encountering physical and emotional challenges.
Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

August 2023: Amy Marie Cottrill

Amy Marie Cottrill is a huge friend to the animals and has made it her mission to spread the word about veganism throughout the City of Pittsburgh. From her beginnings hosting events in high school, to now as the owner and founder of pittsburghvegan.com, Amy organizes multiple events that focus on vegan food, vendors, artists, and performers to amplify the vibrant vegan scene in Pittsburgh. Her events have something for everyone and are all-inclusive. This year she has an event every month, and sometimes multiple within the month.  HAP is so grateful that Amy has chosen us as the beneficiary for several of her events – thanks for all you do for animals and HAP, Amy!

Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

July 2023: Mindi Callison

Mindi Callison is the Founder and Executive Director of Bailing Out Benji, a national nonprofit organization that focuses on building a grassroots effort to create change for puppy mill dogs.

At just 21 years old, Mindi founded Bailing Out Benji after unknowingly buying a puppy mill puppy from a pet store. She began ongoing protests at pet stores in Iowa, which inspired advocates from all over the country to do the same. In just a few short years, after being featured in a documentary, several books and a podcast with SONY, Mindi’s Iowa-based organization has expanded to include volunteer teams across the country. This nimble, innovative organization is entirely dedicated to ending the inhumane breeding practices of dogs and cats in commercial facilities. They work to research and reveal the links between puppy mills across the country and the pet stores and websites where the puppies are sold.

Their research has been crucial in passing many local and state bills across the country which regulate the sales of puppies, kittens and rabbits in stores. While most national organizations are headquartered on the coasts or in large cities, Bailing Out Benji’s Iowa roots allow them to serve as a much needed and powerful voice for animals across the Midwest, which is a stronghold for animal agriculture and dog breeding.

Pictured is Mindi with her dog Eleanor, who was rescued from the worst USDA licensed puppy mill in history.

Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

June 2023: Morgan (l.), Dominique (m.)  & Hanna (r.)

So much of what makes HAP the organization you know and love is what goes on behind the scenes.  And no team exemplifies the spirit of a humble hero more than that of HAP’s website team! With veteran volunteer Dominique Green at the helm serving as our Website Manager, relatively new additions Hanna Lennon and Morgan Kohler have proven their invaluable worth in a short amount of time!

Morgan (left) came to us by way of a client consultant course at Chatham University. Several months after that ended, she reached back out to join our volunteer team, and we’re all amazed at the speed and enthusiam with which she completes her tasks! What did we do without her?

Although Dominique (center) is a remote volunteer, living full time in Chicago, that didn’t stop her from attending our HAP strategy day in April. After two years of only getting to know her virtually, it was so lovely to see her commitment to the cause up close and personal. Thanks for leading the team!

Hanna (right) found us on Volunteer Match while living in Enid, Oklahoma, but moved back to Pittsburgh in April, and we’re so happy to have her. Originally from Germany, she has lived in the US for 6 years and — break out the extra congratulations — is expecting her first child in October!

We can’t gush enough about the amazing work this team does. Thank you, ladies, for your dedication, positivity, and love of animals and the environment!

 

Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

May 2023: Jessica Pendrick

Jessica Pendrick recently joined HAP as one of our Graphic Designers and leapt to work, which makes sense since Jessica is a passionate and experienced graphic designer who is using her artistic powers for good (which of course means for animal welfare).

With a BA in Digital Art and Media from Saint Vincent College, Jessica’s establishing herself in the field, and her works have been seen by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Saint Vincent College campus, and the surrounding community.

Clearly, Jessica is devoted to the wellbeing of animals everywhere, but admits she has a sweet spot for her orange tabby cat, Whiskers and one-eyed tuxedo cat, Mitsie.

 

Ally of the month April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

April 2023: Oleg Tovpeko

This month, we’re excited to feature Oleg Tovpeko, a Champion-level member of HAP and, coincidentally, boyfriend of HAP’s Director of Development, Kayla Seifert.

Oleg is an engineering professional and is founder and president of his consulting company, Machine Innovations Inc. He’s a lifelong animal lover, having gone vegan overnight at 18 years old. Along with his two rambunctious cats, he is particularly passionate about wildlife and bird species.

We’re so grateful to Oleg and everything he does to support the animals and HAP!

Hi Laurie

March 2023: Bec Deutsch

Bec Deutsch, MS joined HAP as our Humane Educator and hit the ground sprinting. Which makes sense, considering Bec holds a BS in K-12 Health and Physical Education and a MS in Exercise Science and Health Promotion. In the weeks since Bec’s been on the team, she’s made waves in the community, seen here posing with Hope Haven’s Karen Phillips to celebrate an upcoming partnership.

And of course, any volunteer highlight would not be complete without a shoutout to the furry friends; Bec lives with three *vegan* dogs: Lewie, Sneaker, and Raleigh.

Hi Laurie

February 2023: Myrna Newman

Myrna had a background in public education before studying Sustainable Systems at Slippery Rock University and going on to lead a powerhouse nonprofit that has removed over 5 million pounds of debris from waterways and riverfronts with a network of over 15 thousand volunteers.

We are overwhelmed by Myrna’s commitment to our local habitats; you can learn more about Allegheny CleanWays and find out how to get involved at AlleghenyCleanWays.org.

Hi Laurie

January 2023: Maddy Rice

This month, it’s Maddy Rice, HAP’s Newsletter Editor (breaking the 4th wall to say hello!)

When they’re not correcting their own grammar and spelling, Maddy’s the Production

Coordinator at City of Asylum, plays the guitar, dabbles in visual and performance art, and tries to keep reading books as an adult.

“Maddy has been an exceptional addition to our team since day one. Their contributions to the newsletter and the organization as a whole are just highly valued and appreciated!”

– Shannon Dickerson, Director of Operations

 

 

Hi Laurie

December 2022: Natalia Rosario Zapata

Having recently joined HAP as the Assistant Communication Manager, Natalia jumped in to contribute before even attending an official meeting. She’s quickly become a conscientious and dedicated member of the team, and we’re so lucky to have her on board!

Natalia has a B.S. in Business Administration, an M. Ed. in Innovative Instruction from Seton Hill University, and has been in the banking industry for over six years, currently as a Mortgage Compliance Specialist for Dollar Bank.

Natalia joined HAP due to her great love and passion for animals and the environment. She lives in Lower Burrell with her partner, dog, and four cats. Natalia and her partner foster animals from local shelters to help them until they find their forever families.

 Welcome to the team, Natalia!

 

Hi Laurie

November 2022: Richard Butler

Richard Butler is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director for Employ Inc. and the owner of Coachrtb Coaching and Leadership Group, an adjunct professor for Robert Morris University, and now HAP’s newest Advisory Council member!

Richard is the former Inclusion Manager for USRowing and presently is the Co-Chair of USRowing’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (DEI). He also served on the USRowing Diversity Taskforce and the United States Olympic and Para Diversity Committee, DEI Advisor for USA Ultimate Frisbee, Former City of Pittsburgh Housing Authority and Shade Tree Commissioner, and past advisor for the City of Pittsburgh Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Richard has been supportive of HAP’s mission for many years now, working on our Heart of a Hero program with the City of Pittsburgh in 2019, and most recently presenting at our annual Heroes Award Reception.

Welcome to the Council, Richard! We’re so happy to have your support and perspective.

 

Hi Laurie

October 2022: Sam Lynn

Sam Lynn has been interested in animation and video editing since high school and currently engages with that passion not only with the incredible work he’s done for HAP (thank you Sam!) but as Em-Media’s Production Specialist.

Sam has contributed his video production talents to HAP time and time again, creating content for the Love Your Wild Neighbor campaign to foster more humane relationships with our most common wildlife, Get Healthy Pittsburgh! to educate our community on plant-based health, and most recently, recording HAP’s annual gala.
Thanks for sharing your talents and creativity, Sam. HAP is lucky to have you!

 

Hi Laurie

September 2022: Mikayla Melby

Say hello and congrats to Mikayla Melby, HAP’s Habitat Regeneration Strategic Analyst. Mikayla joined the HAP team in July of this year and is already making a big impact taking on our Reimagine Takeout Campaign’s business outreach.

A native of Pittsburgh, Mikayla is enrolled in Yoga instructing classes and on track to being an instructor soon. She has a cat named Hank and he is the love of her life.
Mikayla says she is excited to volunteer with HAP because she cares so deeply about the environment and animals. Well, Mikayla, we’re excited to have you volunteering with us too! Congrats on being September’s Ally of the Month. 

 

Hi Laurie

August 2022: Marita Garret

Marita Garrett is not only our Ally of the month, not only the Founder & President of CIVICALLY, INC promoting civic and social literacy for self-reliance, not only the former Mayor of Wilkinsburg, where she passed laws and initiatives around animal protection, health eduction, urban farming, etc., and not only a current adjunct professor at Pitt.

She’s also the newest member of HAP’s Advisory Council.

Welcome, Marita! We can’t wait to have another passionate, dedicated member of the team.

Hi Laurie

July 2022: Jessica Hadley

In Spring 2022 Jessica Hadley became the Director of Habitat Regeneration for HAP. She has an MBA and is employed as Director of Human Resources for a national company.

Jessica has always had a passion for the environment and enjoys finding new ways to bring change and awareness to the community.

Currently she is working on a project to integrate viable alternatives for single use plastic cups. 

Hi Laurie

June 2022: Kat Procyk

Kat joined HAP in 2022 as an intern. She is currently studying Public and Nonprofit Management at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public & International Affairs. She continues to work in the communications field, but is hoping to focus more on policy initiatives which better the lives of others when she graduates. In her spare time, she loves playing with her two rescue dogs, Macklin and Tess, and hanging around the barn with her horses, Secret and Dillon.

Hi Laurie

May 2022: Laurie Kortowich

Laurie has been instrumental in helping HAP produce the “Get Healthy Pittsburgh! 7-Day Transformation“, which concluded on May 18. She has been with PLANTSTRONG for more than six years and feels lucky to be able to marry her purpse with her career.

“I am passionate about helping people find the path to food as medicine,” she notes. “My past professional experience focused on building strategic relationships and developing and managing events. This experience, coupled with my passion for the power of a whole food, plant-based diet, brought me to work with Rip Esselstyn at PLANTSTRONG, where our efforts impact tens of thousands of people across the globe.

“Every day here at PLANTSTRONG, we hear stories of people who went from ‘I could never’ to ‘I can’ in their plant-strong journeys. It is the most rewarding work to see people climb in the driver’s seat with their health and take back what they thought was lost.”

All of us here at HAP have been lucky to experience Laurie’s passion and enthusiasm for whole food, plant-based living. Thank you Laurie for your contributions to Get Healthy Pittsburgh! and serving as an inspiration for hundreds of Pittsburghers looking to improve their health.

 

 

 

 

Walter and Anna Orange

April 2022: Walter Orange, PhD

Walter is a retired mathematics professor, having taught for 25 years at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. He holds B.S. and M.Ed. degrees in mathematics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and an M.A. degree in Statistics and a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from the University of Pittsburgh.
Currently, he teaches in the Pittsburgh area as an adjunct professor of mathematics. He has a longstanding interest in animal rights and animal welfare issues. Walter lives in the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh with his wife Anna and their schnoodle Sasha.
Congratulations Walter, and thank you for your contributions to HAP and animal welfare!

 

 

 

 

 

Emma Wooten photo

March 2022: Emma Wooten

Emma is HAP’s event manager. She graduated from Pitt with a BSBA in May 2021, and currently works in marketing in Pittsburgh. She was heavily involved in several service organizations in college and was so excited to find HAP looking for an Events Manager volunteer. She believes that a great way to get as many people to support the protection and safety of all creatures is through various educational and fundraising events in the community. She lives with her 3 best friends in Bloomfield and is a huge farmer’s market enthusiast.

“HAP has really helped get me back on my feet in the world of volunteering. Coming from a very involved college career, once I graduated, I had no more student organizations and extracurriculars to invest in, but when I saw HAP had an opening for Events Manager (essentially my dream job), I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I am so excited to be planning events (like the upcoming Soup Cook-Off) to raise money for such an incredible group of animal rights advocates. This organization has welcomed me with open arms, and I am so thrilled to be managing different fundraisers and fun events for our community”!

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Bonsteel

February 2022: Brian Bonsteel

After years of volunteer efforts that focused on humans, Brian Bonsteel felt the need to give voice to those who truly didn’t have one, the animals. Brian discovered the most efficient and effective way to protect animals was through education, policy, and community action.
In 2015, he founded Humane Action Pittsburgh with the idea that “most people would help animals if they only knew how”. With over 100 educational events given, 17 laws passed, and a cohesive animal community, HAP has grown into a non-profit with over 20 volunteer professional staff members.
He continues to work as a practicing dentist in the Shadyside/East Liberty neighborhood. Whenever he hears someone mention the circus, he smiles quietly to himself knowing that the animals won’t have to perform in Pittsburgh any longer and that HAP members made it possible. See the article on him on page 23 in the Pitt Dental Medicine Magazine, Winter 2022 edition.

 

 

 

 

 

January 2022: Irina Zambrano, UX Designer

A huge shout out to our volunteer Website Manager, Irina Zambrano! Irina has put in so much work into updating and improving the website, and more changes are still to come!
Irina graduated from Chatham University in 2021 with a Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Design. Originally from Ecuador, Irina moved to Pittsburgh in 2013. She is a Web Developer/UX Designer and also has a certificate in Computer Information Systems.  She cares deeply about animal welfare and using her skills to innovate, redesign, and maintain the HAP website.

 

 

 

 

December 2021: Linda Halloran

A huge shout out to our volunteer Administrative Assistant, Linda Halloran! Linda has put in so much work to promote all of HAP’s initiatives, but she has been especially helpful in promoting HB2047, the bill to help end puppy mill misery here in Pennsylvania.
 
Linda works in the senior living industry. She lives in the North Hills with her husband, Pat, their two dogs, Charlotte and Danny, and has two grown daughters who live in Pittsburgh. She has a BA in Communications from the University of Pittsburgh. Linda has always been an animal lover and protector and appreciates being able to contribute to the HAP team.
Thank you, Linda!

 

 

 

November 2021: Donna Hauser

Donna is a valuable and vital contributor to Humane Action Pittsburgh! This month, her contributions to our HAP Heroes Award Gala 2021 were invaluable. We couldn’t have done it without her!
A native of Virginia, Donna moved to the Pittsburgh area in 1976. She and her husband Martin have owned and operated Hauser’s Furniture in Steubenville, Ohio since that time.  In addition to volunteering with HAP, Donna is a board member at the Jefferson County (OH) Humane Society and a volunteer for the Refuge for Women.  She is proud to support HAP through her volunteer efforts and through Hauser’s Furniture’s sponsorship of the organization.

 

 

October 2021: Dominique Green, Website Manager

Dominique’s hard work has kept the HAP website up and running and up-to-date–a monumental task she has taken on nearly single-handedly.

Dominique is happy to manage the HAP website while she is working on her Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction at DePaul University. She has received her bachelor’s in Psychology and Cognitive Science from Marquette University.

Thank you, Dominique, for all that you do for the animals!

 

September 2021: Jennifer Thomas

Jennifer joins HAP as an intern for the 2021-2022 academic year. She is a graduate student in the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in Community Organizing and Social Action.

Jennifer believes that policy practice is key for long-term and sustainable systemic change. Many social and environmental issues are linked and all human existence depends on the well-being of our animals and the environment. Jennifer hopes to contribute to HAP’s current legislative agenda and civic engagement projects by bringing a social work lens to the organization.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her two cats, playing tennis, and coloring.

 

August 2021: Keara Klose

Keara is a passionate animal advocate who began working with the HAP team in July 2021. She lives with four amazing rescue cats (Sophie, Reggie, Jeffrey, and Max) and volunteers at her local cat cafe, where great cats are matched with loving familiesHer favorite moments at the cafe include coaxing shy cats out of their shell as they adjust to a new environment, and being present at an adoption as someone takes their best friend home. Keara is a strong supporter of trap, neuter, return (TNR) and “adopt, don’t shop” effortsShe plans to have a cat rescue of her own one dayKeara is grateful for the opportunity to work with HAP and extend her passion to all beings, whether fluffy, scaly, or somewhere in between. In her free time, she enjoys practicing yoga and frequenting her favorite coffeeshop.

July 2021: Rene Claypool

Rene is passionate about education, health and wellness, and advocating for animals.  She has been working in higher education since 2005 and is dedicated to promoting education and life-long learning. Rene has an EdD in Education and Leadership in Healthcare, MA in Curriculum and Instruction, MS in Health Education, and a BS in Health and Wellness.  She has been involved with animal rescue for several years, volunteering at a local animal shelter and fostering dogs to provide them with a safe and loving home until they are adopted. Rene also enjoys gardening, which has created a strong commitment to supporting efforts to promote awareness about the benefits of growing and eating healthy foods, an appreciation of bees’ impact on the ecosystem, and utilizing this hobby to connect with nature and promote overall wellbeing. Rene has been helping tremendously with Get Healthy Pittsburgh! Thank you for all you do, Rene!
 

June 2021: Rachel and Zach Sekine-Tenny

At our summer picnic, we also got a chance to celebrate Rachel and Zach Sekine-Tenny who will be moving to Indiana this summer with their growing family. HAP grew dramatically thanks to Rachel and Zach and achieved major animal victories in Western PA from their efforts. Rachel and Zach want to express their deep gratitude for the years they have been able to volunteer for this wonderful organization. They will forever be following along to see all that HAP does in the future!

May 2021: Sam Ahwesh

Sam is our Treasurer, Board Member and husband of Executive Director Natalie. He is an attorney with a background in property use, evaluation and negotiation. He has a bachelor’s and JD from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University. Sam and Natalie live with their dog (Grover), cats (Blanche and Sid) as well as foster cats. Sam provides strategic direction, financial controls, and ordinance editing for HAP. Thank you for all you do, Sam!

April 2021: Akanksha Satyarthy

Akanksha is a digital marketing strategist with over 9 years of experience in social media, advertising, graphic, and website designing, we are excited Akanksha has joined our team as our Social Media Manager. She loves creating content for HAP and No Plastic Please social media networks. It gives her the power to reach out to more people and spread the message. We are so thankful for her contributions thus far!

March 2021: Ashton Caldwell

Ashton Caldwell has recently joined our Social Media Team as our Assistant Social Media Manager. Ashton is a recent Penn State Communications graduate. He has a deep passion for communicating with people, social media, and making a difference in people and animals lives. He loves the Pittsburgh community, it’s people, and is proud to be a part of a team that is making a difference. Thank you for all of your work, Ashton!

January 2021: Brittany Menhart

Congratulations to our January member of the month, Brittany Menhart. Brittany is our Fish and Wildlife Strategic Analyst, having recently moved to Pittsburgh after earning her Bachelor of Science in Biology. Brittany spends most of her time caring for her many animal companions (horses, rabbits, cats, dogs, ponies, and fish) and organizing local animal rights activism events. Read about her amazing recent Betta fish rescue in her guest blog above!

Janice Bahary

December 2020: Janice Bahary

As our Director of Grant Writing, Janice Bahary leads our fundraising team in raising funds to support HAP’s initiatives. She is a nonprofit management professional with a background in fundraising, grant writing, policy, and advocacy. She has a bachelor’s from Binghamton University in New York and a Master of Public Policy and Management from the University of Pittsburgh. Janice and her family foster dogs from local animal shelters to help them rehabilitate and become adoptable. We are so thankful for all of Janice’s hard work with HAP, and we feel very lucky to have her as part of the team!

Hankrietta the chicken

November 2020: Hankrietta the chicken

Hankrietta the chicken joined HAP as an Animal Ambassador and Assistant Marketing Director (since she lives with Shannon, our Director of Marketing) in July of this year. She’s very passionate about farmed animal rights, particularly poultry species. With Thanksgiving coming up, Hankrietta reminds you that turkeys are a cousin of hers and she would prefer you leave them off your plate. When Hankrietta isn’t busy repping regal fowl, she’s starring in tiktok videos to show a broader audience just how sweet and personable chickens can be. In her free time, Hankrietta enjoys honking gently as a request for treats, getting physical therapy on her injured leg, and snuggling with her 7 silkie companions. You can check out the girls on their mom’s social media @crazysilkielady and support all of these precious, sentient beings by choosing plant based foods.

Emma Powis

October 2020: Emma Powis

Emma Powis is fresh to the HAP team and assists leadership with research, communication, and education as our new Administrative Assistant. She turned vegetarian at age 11 and then vegan at 19 due to her love and compassion for animals. She is originally from England and currently living in Melbourne, where she regularly fosters cats from local animal shelters. Her hobbies include roller skating and learning Spanish. Thank you so much for all of your good work, Emma!

Jason Hinkledire

September 2020: Jason Hinkledire

Born and raised in Claysburg, PA, Jason Hinkledire has loved popular music since he was a kid. After DJing in high school and throughout his 20s, Jason entered the world of trivia hosting in 2010, and in 2014, he broke the Guiness World Record for Longest Marathon as a Quiz Master with 33 hours and 8 minutes of nonstop trivia action! Because of COVID, Jason’s trivia business, Hinkledire Entertainment, has taken a real hit, but he still does private parties both online and in person. For inquiries, he asks that you contact him directly at hinklediretrivia@gmail.com. He lives in Virginia with his wife, Janice, and four “very fun, very beautiful, and very funny” dachshunds. Jason has dabbled in internet radio a few times in the past decade, and we are so thankful he has agreed to help us get Humane Action Radio off the ground! Jason plans to host a trivia podcast on the station, and he will add quite a lot of trivia throughout the regularly scheduled radio experience, as well. Thank you, Jason! We cannot wait to see what you do with Humane Action Radio!

Bob McGrogan

August 2020: Bob McGrogan

Bob McGrogan joined HAP as part of the “no plastic please” campaign in March of 2020 just as the pandemic was becoming a reality. In Bob’s words, NPP’s challenge has become how to reimagine take out during and after the COVID crisis. Bob brings years of experience in food service and non-profit fundraising to the group. He is thrilled to be part of such an important organization. Thank you for all of your important work, Bob!

Walter and Anna Orange

July 2020: Walter Orange

Walter Orange is a retired professor of mathematics and statistics who taught at Pitt-Greensburg for 25 years. He lives in Shadyside with his wife Anna and their schnoodle Sasha. He has been a vegetarian (then vegan) and an animal advocate for many years. He has been a proud member of HAP for several years. Thank you for all you do, Walter!

Rachel Sekine-Tenny

June 2020: Rachel Sekine-Tenny

Rachel Sekine-Tenny is our Director of Communications and has been an active HAP member since July 2016. She is a passionate animal advocate who has been vegetarian (now vegan) for almost twenty years. An attorney with a Certificate in Animal Law, Rachel lives in Point Breeze with her husband, son, and two cats.

Carolyn Fletcher

May 2020: Carolyn Fletcher

Carolyn Fletcher joined our “no plastic please” campaign with a true passion for the restaurant industry. She is helping our campaign tremendously by finding new ways to help restaurants reduce single-use plastics for both delivery and takeout while also helping consumers learn more about recycling and ways to reduce non-compostables. We are so grateful for Carolyn’s work with HAP!

Aimee Douglass

April 2020: Aimee Douglass

Aimee Douglass has been a member of HAP for over two years, starting as a member at large and becoming more and more involved in activities. She is passionate about doing all she can to help end suffering for animals and believes that all actions, no matter how small, can only lead to a more compassionate world. Aimee is involved in our Compassionate Living campaign and currently writes the HAP blog. She lives in Penn Hills with her husband and three dogs. Thank you for all you do, Aimee!

Kate Porigow

May 2019: Kate Porigow

You may recognize Kate Porigow from speaking at our gala, or from our Compassionate Events campaign, but Kate has been involved in animal protection for quite some time! Kate has been vegan for over seven years and is the Senior Director of Programs at NutritionFacts.org. Her past volunteer work includes work with Vegan Pittsburgh, Animal Rescue League, Hope Haven Farm Sanctuary, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and RIF Pittsburgh. She lives in Penn Hills with her husband and three rescued furry family members. Thanks for your work on behalf of ALL animals, Kate!

Sean Moundas

March 2019: Sean Moundas

Sean Moundas grew up on the beautiful island of New York City, enjoys helping people and animals, and eats plant based. Not only a HAP member, Sean is the Director of our Compassionate Events campaign, and a member of the “no plastic please” team! Thanks for all you do Sean!

Christin Bummer

January 2019: Christin Bummer

Christin Bummer has been a HAP member since 2015! Though she worked in the pet care industry for 23 years, she went vegan in 2011 when she finally made the connection between her passion for animals and her food choices. She became involved in humane legislation in 2012 volunteering for HumanePA and HSUS. Christin is HAP’s Director of Compassionate Living, which involves steering people away from consuming animal products and moving toward a plant-centric diet. She is currently working on a HAP project that will help up to 10,000 Pittsburghers go vegan! (More on that to come!) Christin published a quick-start guide to going plant-based in 2018 and in her spare time she offers plant-based education and coaching via her blog: www.TheNourishingLife.net.

Emily Skopov

October 2018: Emily Skopov

Emily Skopov is the only HAP member to run for office and is currently running to represent the 28th legislative district of PA. Emily grew up in a working-class community where her mother was a public-school teacher and her father a small business owner. It was a tight-knit, family-focused community where Emily learned to think on her feet and look out for her friends and neighbors. She received her bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and her master’s degree from UCLA. In 2011, Emily founded her non-profit, No Crayon Left Behind, to collect crayons from partner organizations. They work with the disabled, elderly, veterans, folks with special needs, social workers, and law enforcement. In less than 10 years, they’ve gifted of one and a half million crayons and other supplies to schools and organizations in the Pittsburgh area and around the world! Emily and her husband raise their children, both human and animal, in Marshall Township. They live with six rescue animals, including three cats, two dogs, and a snake! Emily has been rescuing dogs her whole life, even driving overnight to New York to pick up a dog from a shelter who was set to be euthanized the next morning. Emily has also helped HAP with some of our projects, including helping to educate local law enforcement about Libre’s Law. Emily is thrilled to be our Member of the Month and looks forward to continued collaboration. Please visit Emily’s campaign site to learn more about her stances on issues and her campaign for State Representative.

Katie Thorne

September 2018: Katie Thorne

Katie Thorne is a dental hygienist who has been involved with animal legislation for four years. She chose to become more involved in advocacy after the passing of her dog, Mr. Bojangles, a puppy mill rescue. Katie is an HSUS District Leader and was a huge help in planning HAP’s recent Vegan Tailgate with the Riverhounds. Katie also hosted HAP’s gala in 2017. Katie enjoys spending time with her boyfriend, Nick, and his cat, Jack.

Kayla Seifert

August 2018: Kayla Seifert

Kayla Seifert has been a member of HAP since January 2018. Already during her time at HAP, she has been soaking up information on getting legislation passed for animals and has been an integral part of the newly-formed Compassionate Events team, even taking the lead on creating a vegan resource guide for organizations to reference! Kayla has a rescue beagle named Stanley adopted from Forever Home Beagle Rescue, where she is an active volunteer assisting with transports, adoptions, special events, and fostering! A Pittsburgh native, Kayla works in the nonprofit sector during the day and loves everything to do with the outdoors and Harry Potter!

Zach Sekine-Tenny

July 2018: Zach Sekine-Tenny

Zach Sekine-Tenny has been an active HAP member since July 2016. During his time at HAP, he has volunteered with tabling and assisting with many campaigns, including enforcing Pittsburgh’s puppy mill advertising law, creating an animal resource sheet for judges and police officers, and working with HAP’s “no plastic please” campaign. A passionate vegan and animal lover, Zach loves traveling, cooking, and spending time with his wife and two cats. Originally from the south suburbs of Chicago, Zach is a math teacher and Indiana University grad.

Susan Smith

June 2018: Susan Smith

Susan Smith has been passionate about animals and the environment from age 6, when her grandfather started taking her to clean up the beach and watch birds. At the same time, her father took the family to photo galleries on the Cape and along with him while he took photos of the nature-human relationship. In high school, she became passionate about banning fur and started following animal rights groups. Susan has a Masters in Socio-Cultural Anthropology, but her work life has focused on non-profits. She has worked as a veterinary assistant, rescued many animals and currently lives with four special adopted alley cats. Susan’s words to live by: “See something, Say something. You can always do something to help some other being!” Susan will be directing a new Humane Action campaign that will be sure to help thousands of animals!

David Pinski

May 2018: David Pinski

David Pinski has been involved in HAP since September 2016, helping advocate for a state bill protecting circus animals and becoming a leader with our Compassionate Living team! A Master’s student at Carnegie Mellon University, he studies public policy and data analytics. David is originally from Florida – he studied economics and applied math at New College of Florida, graduating in 2017. He has been actively helping animals since 2014, completing internships at organizations like Mercy for Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. In his free time, David enjoys playing and watching soccer, reading, and exploring new places with friends.

Norma Clouse

April 2018: Norma Clouse

Norma Clouse is one of the greeters at the HAP meetings and always has a smile on her face when she gives members their paperwork upon arrival. In addition to her greeting duties, Norma has visited 9 Allegheny County police stations to educate our local departments on PA’s new animal cruelty code! Norma is retired and lives with her husband Keith and four cats in O’Hara Township. She has volunteered with FosterCat for the past eight years and with Homeless Cat Management Team. To raise money for animal rescue, Norma makes cat beds and catnip toys to donate to local rescue organizations for their rescued cats. She also makes jewelry, crocheted scarves and wall quilts to donate for animal fundraisers. You can currently buy her items for cats at the Beaver County Humane Society Gift Shop, where 100% of the sale goes to BCHS. Norma’s support of animal rescue is driven by her saying that she never saw a cat she didn’t love at first sight!

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