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
Natalie monitors and evaluates pending policy, regulatory, and legal action at the federal, state and local level that may have an impact on animal protection. She works with local stakeholders, including policy makers, police officers, public safety officials, and elected officials to ensure current laws and policies are being enforced. In 2017, she was awarded as District Leader of the Year by the Humane Society of the United States and, in 2019, she was honored as one of the Incline’s “Who’s Next” Animal Advocates and PUMP’s and Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40 honorees for her work with HAP. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master’s Degree from The George Washington University.
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 eight 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 recently adopted a fully vegan lifestyle thanks to everything she’s learned from HAP. She is a nonprofit professional, having worked for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and Animal Friends, and she is also a volunteer with Forever Home Beagle Rescue. She lives in Regent Square with her 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 Living
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.
Rene Claypool, EdD
Compassionate Living Strategic Analyst
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.
Habitat Regeneration Educational Resource Designer
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 Assistant 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.
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.
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 that 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.
Elizabeth Ringler-Jayanthan, LCSW
Intern Field Instructor
Elizabeth is a licensed 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 a Humane Educator, Elizabeth hopes to help facilitate that connection between people and the environment.
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.
Educational Resource Designer and Strategic Analyst
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.
Emma graduated 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.
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.