top of page

California’s Animal Welfare Leaders Meet in Roseville for 6th Annual Animal Welfare CEO Forum

Sacramento, CA, November 8, 2019 – The top dogs of 45 of California’s animal care and control agencies, SPCAs, and humane societies met in Roseville last week for the California Animal Welfare Association’s (CalAnimals) sixth annual Animal Welfare CEO Forum. Thanks to the generous support of Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation, California’s animal-welfare leaders came together to discuss the key issues facing animal shelters, animals, and communities across the state.

“With the collective responsibility of sheltering more than 800,000 animals each year, it is imperative that California’s shelter leaders develop and maintain strong relationships to support one another and further progress for animals in our state,” explains Jill Tucker, CEO of CalAnimals.

Hot topics included strategies to encourage more veterinarians to work in shelters, the collection and use of statewide statistics, increasing adoptions, change management, and developing new leaders.

“The CEO Forum is the best thing that I have seen to bring California’s animal welfare, service and enforcement brain trust together constructively, productively, and respectfully to further the interests of our animals and those who love them,” remarked Madeline Bernstein, President of the CalAnimals Board.

Kelly Miott, manager of Fremont Animal Services and a first-time attendee to this gathering found it immensely valuable. “Meeting other industry professionals and sharing best practices is imperative to our success as animal welfare organizations. Taking a step back from the day to day shelter challenges and looking at what we are doing as colleagues on a statewide level is crucial to advancing the mission of our agencies,” Miott explains.

Kirsten Gross, director of Madera County Animal Services agrees. “Comparing notes and meeting people that have the same passion and issues is a great learning experience. It also puts things into perspective that we are not alone in our efforts to resolve the pet problems in our communities," Gross explains.

Plans for the coming year include a collaborative, concerted effort to engage more private practice veterinarians in shelter work, the implementation of a new statewide Animal Control Officer Certification Program, development and cultivation of future animal welfare leaders, and best practice trainings to support lifesaving and community engagement.

These are the animal-welfare leaders who participated:

Kenn Altine, Sacramento SPCA

Gabrielle Amster, Palm Springs Animal Shelter

Brenda Barnette, City of Los Angeles Department of Animal Services

Madeline Bernstein, spcaLA

Cindy Burnham, Monterey County Animal Services

Kerri Burns, Santa Barbara Humane Society

Brian Cronin, San Bernardino County Animal Care & Control

Staycee Dains, Long Beach Animal Services

Daniel DeSousa, San Diego Co Dept of Animal Services

David Dickinson, Sacramento County Animal Care and Regulation

Virginia Donohue, San Francisco Animal Care & Control

Dia DuVernet, Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA

Donna Fernandes, PhD, Wallis Annenberg PetSpace

Veronica Fincher, Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center

Vicky Fletcher, Yolo County Sheriff

Leilani Fratis, Placer SPCA

Kirsten Gross, Madera County Animal Services

George Harding, Antioch Animal Services

Bill Harford, Inland Valley Humane Society & SPCA

Renee Harris, Top2Cats Consulting

Sean Hawkins, CAWA, Santa Maria Valley Humane Society

Lorie Hennessey, Sammie's Friends

Gina Knepp, Michelson Found Animals Foundation

Kim Latos, Siskiyou Humane Society

Allison Lindquist, East Bay SPCA

Bobby Mann, Sacramento Front Street Animal Shelter

Marcia Mayeda, CAWA, County of Los Angeles Animal Care and Control

Kelly Miott, Fremont Animal Services

Al Mollica, Pets In Need

Stephanie Nistler, Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe

Annette Patton, Stanislaus Animal Services Agency

Wendi Piscia, Napa Humane

J.J. Rawlinson, DVM, Wallis Annenberg PetSpace

Nickolas Riddick, Shafter Animal Control

Teri Rockhold, Fresno Humane Animal Services

Jackie Rose, Ventura County Animal Services

Melanie Sadek, Valley Humane Society

Tom Snyder, Animal Samaritans SPCA, Inc

Mark Storrey, Haven Humane Society

Jill Tucker, CAWA, CalAnimals

Beth Ward, ContraCosta County Animal Services

Denise Woodside, Southeast Area Animal Control Authority

Interested in learning more about the California Animal Welfare Association? Visit

bottom of page