Disaster Response & Support
When disaster strikes, we are here for you. Email our CEO immediately if an emergency arises in your area and you need any guidance, assistance, or support in the coordination of resources. You will be connected with one or more of our committee experts that are able to assist. During active disasters, our committee is prepared to convene for regular check-in meeting to support the coordination of resources, outreach to shelters statewide, and troubleshoot any challenges.
We are proud to introduce the members of our Emergency Management Committee to you below.
Stefanie Geckler is the Supervisor of the Animal Control Division at the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada City, CA. Stef’s newest endeavor is the Nevada County Sheriff’s H.E.A.R.T (Humane Emergency Animal Rescue Team), of which she is the founder and president. This team is a volunteer group run and fully supported by the Sheriff’s Office, that responds anytime a disaster is declared and animals need to be rescued. The building of this team, with the full support of her Sheriff, has been in her heart and mind for years and to see it come to fruition has been a dream come true.
Karalyn currently serves as the Vice President of Operations for the East Bay SPCA in Oakland, CA. Prior to serving here, Karalyn completed two Master of Science degrees in Ecology and Evolution and Animal Behavior and has over a decade of experience as a leader in numerous facets of animal welfare. Karalyn has achieved her Certified Animal Welfare Administrator credential and has served on a number of national animal welfare committees, guest lectured to Animal Science students at UC Davis, and contributed to the development of the Shelter Playgroup Alliance guidelines for shelter dog playgroups and enrichment. Karalyn has served during response operations to disasters in both California and Florida and managed the temporary emergency sheltering facility for the Canine Influenza Outbreak in the bay area during the summer of 2019.
Bryan Bray, the Field Services Manager for Ventura County Animal Services, began his career in the Animal Welfare Industry in 2005. He has extensive experience in coordinating evacuation efforts during natural disasters and is currently a member of the Ventura County EOC Team (Emergency Operations Center). During his tenure, Bryan was able to obtain two (2) AKC pet disaster trailers and develop a livestock shelter supply trailer through a grant program. He has acted as the Disaster Response/Evacuation Coordinator during the incidents including the 2009 Guiberson Fire, 2013 Spring Fire, 2017/18 Thomas Fire, 2018 Hill Fire, 2018 Woolsey Fire, and 2019 Easy/Maria Fire.
Bryan has been a speaker at local town hall meetings, neighborhood councils and safety day events promoting disaster preparedness. He recently was a speaker at the 2020 CalAnimals Animal Care Conference for Community Planning in Disasters.
Kelly Campbell joined the County of San Diego's Department of Animal Services as Director in March of 2020. She has held various leadership roles with large national animal welfare nonprofits since 2011. With an early career in operations team leadership and an analytical approach to tackling tough animal welfare challenges, Kelly sees the companion animal homelessness issue as a complex, multivariable equation - and if we can identify the right variables, community by community, and target our resources to address them, we can effect positive change at scale.
Cindy began her career with Marin Humane in 1984. She currently serves as the Director of Animal Services and is a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator (CAWA). She has a strong interest in animal disaster preparedness and response and coordinates response efforts during Marin County disasters. She has extensive expertise working in Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) to assist in animal response coordination efforts. Cindy’s expertise in helping communities has resulted in her deployments throughout California and out-of-state. Her ability to collaborate with local, regional, state, and national organizations has resulted in identifying critical resources and partners in disaster preparedness and response. Cindy also enjoys helping to develop disaster plans and works hard to ensure a variety of animal disaster preparedness plans are in place for Marin County animal guardians, community members, and animal facilities. She routinely speaks on helping animals in disasters and is always willing to help others with disaster-related activities.
Paul Maradiaga has dedicated nearly a decade of his life to serving the community. His journey began as an Animal Control Officer, a role where his passion for making a difference in the lives of animals and the community first ignited.
Today, Lt. Paul Maradiaga serves as the Emergency Operations Coordinator within the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control’s Public Safety Division. In this vital role, he works in close partnership with Los Angeles County’s first responders, seamlessly blending expertise in animal welfare with emergency response efforts.
Paul Maradiaga’s role is instrumental in maintaining the Department’s emergency readiness, assisting both the public and their beloved pets during natural disasters. Underlining the commitment to the welfare of residents, human and animal alike. His focus extends beyond the immediate response, he is committed to training department staff and engaging in community outreach efforts to ensure preparedness for any potential emergency.
Nancy B. McKenney, MNPL, CAWA, feels fortunate to have worked for a private humane society, a public animal care and control agency, an animal grant-maker, a consultant and now in her dream job at Marin Humane, which provides both humane society and animal services functions (and more!).
Nancy began a career in animal welfare and non-profit management in 1983 when she was hired as the Public Relations Coordinator for the Humane Society for Seattle/King County, a nonprofit humane society with a public boarding facility and housing contracts for the City of Renton. In 1986, the Seattle Humane Society board asked her to become the Executive Director/CEO, a position she held for 19 years.
Lori began her career as an Animal Control Officer at the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA in San Mateo in 1983 and became the Captain of Animal Control for the San Francisco Animal Care and Control Department in 1989. Lori currently works for the County of San Mateo, where she oversees the Animal Control & Licensing contract with the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA, along with the all-volunteer Large Animal Evacuation Group (LAEG). Her disaster experience is extensive, spanning earthquakes, fires, floods, and hoarding cases, and including the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Oakland Firestorm, the Tubbs Fire, CZU Lighting Complex Fires, and the Caldor Fire – a sampling of some of California’s most devastating events.
John Peaveler is an animal welfare professional with over 18 years of global experience in the fields of animal control, animal population management, disaster response, and animal handling and capture. He has extensive experience in international and US disaster as a responder as well as experience as a disaster manager in the State of California with the San Diego Humane Society. John is also an expert in free-roaming population management programs and currently serves as the Director, Field Operations, for Greater Good Charities where he supports high volume sterilization efforts.
John Skeel most recently served as the Director of Animal Services for the City of Chula Vista and has 35 years’ experience serving government agencies, City, County; Special District as well as Non-Profit agencies. Although relatively new to animal services in 2015, where he joined Sonoma County Animal Services as their director, he has now been involved in nine disaster response and preparedness events over the past 6 years. These disaster events include what were at the time the most devastating fires in California history, and some of the worst floods. Among them were the Valley Fire, Clayton Fire, Sonoma County Floods, Sonoma Complex Fires, Kincade Fire and Glass Fire. Through responding to such disasters as the lead animal services agency, to providing mutual aid to other county's, and animal service organizations, along with working with his talented and dedicated peers on the CalAnimals Emergency Management Committee, he has gained through direct experience an understanding and appreciation for animal services disaster response and preparedness.
Ryan “Cowboy” Soulsby is the Program Manager for Butte County Animal Control. As a licensed RVT, Ryan has been working in the animal field since 2001. While becoming Program Manager in 2016, Ryan has been the Animal Incident Commander for events such as the Oroville Spillway, Ponderosa, Wall, and Wind Complex fires in 2017. The devastating Camp Fire that decimated the town of Paradise in 2018 and most recently, the North Complex fire in 2020. Ryan has experienced first-hand the importance of preparedness and the need for trained personnel within the animal operations. Ryan has specialized experience navigating the state resource request process to procure regional, state, and federal resources to assist the Animal Operations.
Alana Weissman’s work experience has been with animals; as a ranch hand at a horse boarding facility, kennel attendant at a dog boarding facility, and veterinary assistant. She started as an Animal Services Officer with Contra Costa County Animal Services in 2015, promoted to Sergeant in 2019 and Lieutenant in 2021. In addition to supervising field staff, as a Lieutenant she supervises the County Animal Response Team (CART) of volunteers, serves as the liaison for the Office of Emergency Services and oversees the field services training program. She has firsthand experiencing evacuating herself and her pets from the LNU Lightning Complex Fire in 2020 and provided professional assistance at the Caldor Fire in 2021.
Cherish Vaught, MPH, MHA, CEM
Cherish has 7 years of experience as an emergency management professional, specifically in mass care, public health and medical. Prior to emergency management, she spent 12 years in patient care in two hospital systems in San Diego County.
She has worked for county and state public health emergency preparedness departments; And has managed and led disaster related programs and teams for nonprofits, county, and state government. She has responded to various disasters and emergencies in California and across the country.
Currently she is the Animal Emergency Response Manager for the San Diego Humane Society, an emergency management consultant, as well as a Public Health Advisor for the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Region 9, Incident Management Team (IMT) under the Administration of Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR). Cherish also holds multiple certifications in emergency management and disaster response and is a certified ICS outreach instructor and FEMA indirect instructor.
Brian Whipple is the Operations Manager of Sonoma County Animal Services with over 27 years of experience working in law enforcement and animal care. He has a passion for the protection and humane treatment of animals, as well as disaster emergency response and educating the public and those working within the animal care field from his experiences. Brian developed the Sonoma County Emergency Animal Response Plan in his current position and has been involved in numerous disaster response field operations including local floods and snowstorms in New Hampshire and Delaware, Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Wilma, Hurricane Sandy, Lake County, CA fire response in 2015, Sonoma County fire response in 2017, 2019, 2020 and local floods in Sonoma County, CA. He was also deployed to the Camp Fire in 2018 and the Caldor Fire in 2021. He served as Incident Commander for the animal response to the October Firestorm in Sonoma County, CA in October 2017. Brian spoke about this experience on the national level at the 2017 National Alliance of State Animal and Agricultural Emergency Programs (NASAAEP) summit. In addition to his experience, Brian has several certifications specifically related to disaster and emergency response along with management and field investigation.