Board of Directors
Brian Bonsteel, DMD
President & Founder
Dr. Brian Bonsteel is a practicing general and cosmetic dentist honored to be chosen as one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s “Top Dentists.” Understanding that lawmaking is key to solving animal problems that are too big for rescue alone, he founded Humane Action Pittsburgh (HAP) to introduce local legislation and educate the public about animal advocacy and lobbying. In 2015, the HSUS presented Brian with the “Advocates We Love” award.
Natalie Ahwesh, M. Ed.
Executive Director, Founding Member
Sam Ahwesh, Esq.
Treasurer, Founding Member
Sam manages fundraising monies and conducts all financial reporting as needed. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master’s in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University.
Secretary, Founding Member
Mario is a full time realtor with over 23 years experience in the greater Pittsburgh area. He is an avid horseman, having bred, trained, and raised horses in the U.S. and abroad. He enjoys gardening and is a certified Master Gardener with Phipps Conservatory. He has a BA in Psychology from John Carroll University with a background working with at risk juveniles and seniors. Mario has been with HAP from its inception and is serving as Secretary.
Shannon Dickerson, MA
Director of Operations
Shannon started with HAP in 2018 and moved from enthusiastic tabler, to Director of Marketing, to Vice President , and now is the organization’s first full-time paid employee in her Director of Operations role. Shannon is extremely proud of not only the work HAP does, but the way they get it done. She believes in resolving conflicts and coming together to solve animal and environmental issues humanely. She also founded Pittsburgh Ploggers in 2018 and is proud to now have the fitness/litter clean-up program under the HAP umbrella. Shannon is a Pitt alum and holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Colorado in communication and rhetoric. She has worked as a marketing strategist for the past 13 years and is an adjunct instructor at Chatham University. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, Ryan, two cats, and seven fluffy chickens.
Director of Fundraising
Kayla oversees all fundraising activities for Humane Action Pittsburgh. She has been passionate about being kind to animals since childhood and is proud to have adopted a fully vegan lifestyle thanks to everything she’s learned from HAP. She is a nonprofit professional, her day job being with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy helping to raise money for City of Pittsburgh parks, and she is also a volunteer with Forever Home Beagle Rescue. She lives in Westmoreland County with her partner, Oleg, and rescued beagle, Stanley.
Janice Bahary, MPPM
Director of Grant Writing
Janice works with our grant writing team, 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 NY 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.
Aimee Douglass, MA
Director of Compassionate Events
Aimee authors the HAP blog and has been a volunteer with HAP since 2018. She is an active participant in the Compassionate Living campaign and in 2019 tabled at her first event for HAP. Aimee works in the healthcare industry and has a bachelors degree in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and a masters degree in Communications with a health care focus from Southern New Hampshire University. She lives in Penn Hills with her husband and their three dogs.
Jessica Hadley, MBA
Director of Habitat Regeneration
Jessica has always had a passion for the environment and has been involved with environmental stewardship for many years. She joined HAP in March, 2022 and will oversee the strategy and implementation of the Habitat Regeneration campaigns. She has an undergraduate in Human Resource Management and a Masters of Business Administration from Clarion University. She is a Senior Human Resources Professional and is employed with a national company as the Director of Human Resources. She lives in the North Hills of Pittsburgh and enjoys spending time with her family and pets.
Director of Reimagine Takeout
Sabrina is HAP’s Habitat Regeneration Educational Resource Designer. She is motivated by a vision of Pittsburghers and Pennsylvanians that see themselves as empowered, responsible, and caring stewards of their local environment and the world-at-large. She also operates Recycle This Pittsburgh as a resource for city residents to find out more about the practical realities of recycling specific items in the Pittsburgh area. Sabrina is a professional game designer and runs her own boutique game design and consulting studio, Ludoliminal. She lives in Highland Park.
Dominique Green, MS
Dominique is happy to manage the HAP website while working as an Associate Research Analyst in research marketing. She has received her Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction at DePaul University. She has received her bachelor’s in Psychology and Cognitive Science from Marquette University.
Humane Action Pittsburgh Podcast Host
Born and raised in Claysburg, PA, Jason 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! Jason has dabbled in internet radio a few times in the past decade and is now hosting the Humane Action Pittsburgh Podcast. He lives in Virginia with his wife, Janice, and four very fun, very beautiful, and very funny dachshunds.
Jessica is a student at Penn State specializing in Macroeconomics. She is bilingual in English and Chinese and also identifies French, German, and Japanese. She loves animals and technology and has had pets such as rabbits. She looks forward to reducing animal suffering by using her research skills.
Hannah Lewis, MA, M.Ed.
Grant Writer and Blogger
Hannah has been working with HAP since July of 2020. By day, she works as a literacy educator. She is an avid hiker, but also loves to spend time indoors curled up with a book and her long-haired cat, Frejya.
Compassionate Living Strategic Analyst
Ashley joined HAP in November 2022 as a strategic analyst volunteer for the Compassionate Living team. She works as a communications manager in the electric utility industry and is a certified holistic nutritionist. She’s also in the process of becoming a certified health and wellness coach. Ashley has a deep desire to support animal welfare, promote environmental stewardship and help people adopt a healthier diet centered around whole plant-based foods. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, cooking hearty vegan meals and catching up on an endless list of shows.
Habitat Regeneration Strategic Analyst
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 is excited to volunteer with HAP because she cares so deeply about the environment and animals.
Event Management Assistant
Monica currently has a Bachelor’s Degree in Cinema Production and is obtaining her second Bachelor’s in Information Technology at Point Park University while working as an Associate Consultant for an IT Company. Her love for animals and environmental issues is what drew her to HAP. Her hobbies include spending time with friends, playing video games, and watching television.
Walter Orange, Ph.D.
Candidate Outreach Liaison
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.
Paige Ottaviano, Intern
Paige joins HAP as an intern for the 2022-2023 school year from the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. She believes that using social work values to educate individuals about the well-being of all creatures is a great way to spread awareness of HAP’s mission. Paige is excited to see where she can help implement these social work values through her time at HAP. In her spare time Paige enjoys running in Pittsburgh’s city parks and cooking seasonal meals.
Maddy Rice (they/them) is a designer and multidisciplinary artist with a professional background ranging from theater to Big Tech to bartending.
They can make a sweet Google Slides presentation.
Maddy graduated from Georgetown University in DC with a degree in Justice and Peace Studies and the puzzle of how to align an ideological worldview with the gritty reality of being an early career professional. Still working on it tbh, but working with Humane Action Pittsburgh is an excellent option if you’re thinking about volunteering 🙂
Elizabeth Ringler-Jayanthan, LCSW
Intern Field Instructor
Elizabeth is an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and trauma therapist and enjoys integrating nature into her work with clients. Elizabeth has volunteered with animal related causes for many years including previously volunteering with the South Florida SPCA Horse Rescue in Miami, Fl. Elizabeth believes deeply that caring for animals and the environment intersects with the well-being of people. As the social work intern field instructor, Elizabeth hopes to work with students to help to engender a positive connection between people, animals and the environment.
Natalia Rosario Zapata, M. Ed.
Assistant Communication Manager
Natalia joins HAP as Assistant Communications Manager. She has a B.S. in Business Administration and a M. Ed. in Innovative Instruction from Seton Hill University. She has been in the banking industry for over six years and most currently as a Mortgage Compliance Specialist for Dollar Bank. She 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. Natalia is excited to join the HAP team to use her skills to help educate and empower people to effect positive change in our environment and all animal beings.
Social Media Manager
Akanksha is a digital marketing strategist with over 9 years of experience in social media, advertising, graphic, and website designing. 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. Akanksha is a fitness enthusiast and lives in Pittsburgh.
Emma graduated Pitt with a BSBA in May of 2021, and currently works as an Event Coordinator at Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland. She is very passionate about volunteering, and has a heavy hand in HAP’s annual Soup Cook Off in March (including being an MC). 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 is a big farmer’s market enthusiast, especially the Bloomfield Saturday Market.
Irina joins HAP as a Website Developer volunteer. She graduated from Chatham University in 2021 with a Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Design. Irina is originally from Ecuador and 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 is hoping to fight for them using her skills to innovate, redesign, and maintain the HAP websites.