Humane Action Pittsburgh would be nothing without our amazing members.
As a thank you, we highlight a member 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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
April 2022: Walter Orange, PhD
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”!
February 2022: Brian Bonsteel
January 2022: Irina Zambrano, UX Designer
December 2021: Linda Halloran
November 2021: Donna Hauser
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 families. Her 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” efforts. She plans to have a cat rescue of her own one day. Keara 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
June 2021: Rachel and Zach Sekine-Tenny
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!
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!
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.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!