EMMA NEWTON, MS - Interim Executive Director
Emma is a graduate of Vermont Law School's Masters of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy program and holds an MS in Anthrozoology from Canisius College. Emma focuses on the intersection between human health, animal welfare, and environmental conservation in policy and community organizing in our industrial food system. Emma first became interested in the human-animal bond as it relates to homelessness through her volunteer work for the Portland Animal Welfare Team. Through research for her thesis on housing barriers for homeless individuals and companion animals, Emma became connected with The Animal Museum and the My Dog is My Home exhibition. Emma brings a background in international research ethics, IRB research law, community organizing, capacity building, and cross-cultural communication to her work as interim executive director with My Dog is My Home .
Elizabeth Anderson - Communications Coordinator
Elizabeth is an alumna of AmeriCorps National Civilian Conservation Corps where she served over eight non-profits with work varying from humanitarianism to animal advocacy. She is an animal shelter volunteer enthusiast and an aspiring service animal trainer for children with Autism and people with hearing loss. She is currently pursuing studies in animal behavior. Elizabeth has been traveling the USA for 7 years in a motorhome and has been to all of the contiguous United States. Her top three favorite things are vinegar chips, the ocean, and her very sassy dog, Tootsie.
Steffen Baldwin & Katie Flannery - Dog Training TeaM, Los angeles
Steffen is an army veteran with a background in nonprofit administration. He spent ten years in Ohio running Humane Societies, working as an animal cruelty investigator, and forming his own nonprofit organization dedicated to helping undeserved and at risk animals in rural counties. In 2016, Steffen started Save Them Dog Training to focus on bite/behavior cases, and relocated to his home state of California in the beginning of 2018. Prior to his work with animals, Steffen was a case manager and program manager for a homeless resource center in southern California. During childhood, Steffen experienced homeless himself. After completing his original army assignment at West Point, Steffen pursued a degree of Public Administration at California State San Bernardino and Regis University. Steffen currently lives in Acton, CA, where he cares for approximately 30 dogs on a 10 acre ranch.
Pouneh Behin, DVM - Public Health Veterinarian
Pouneh Behin was raised in Switzerland by Iranian immigrant parents and migrated to the greater Los Angeles area as a teenager. For the last 15 years, she has been a transnational community organizer for racial justice, refugee support, immigration, workers' rights, human rights in Palestine, the rest of Southwest Asia/North Afrika and Latin America, QTPOC advocacy and access to education. Pouneh was part of SJA's "Food Not Bombs" project for two years, which distributed healthy and fresh foods on a weekly basis to those experiencing homelessness in West Los Angeles. Her connection to animals started as a small child rescuing injured animals from the nearby forest in her neighborhood and transformed into a lifelong commitment to veterinary medicine and public health. As a small veterinarian in West Los Angeles, she has had several clients with pets experiencing homelessness and she is dedicated to ensuring that veterinary medicine is accessible to all. Pouneh holds a B.A. from UCLA in French (Literature) and minor in Middle Eastern & North African Studies, a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from Western University of Health Sciences, and has received extensive veterinary public health/global health training from the Ohio State University. Pouneh is the proud owner of a red-eared slider and believes in the right for pets and their families to stay together regardless of housing status.
Richard Encarnacion, MPA - Human Resources & Volunteer Manager
Richard currently uses his data analysis skills to improve HR practices at the New York City Department of Education to benefit the 1.1 million New York City public school students. He graduated with his Masters of Public Affairs in December 2017 from Baruch College in New York City. Richard met his dog Ralph while working for an animal welfare organization providing assistance to low-income families. He was named after the main character in the film Wreck It Ralph due to his love for destruction.
Alynn Evans - Co-sheltering Collaborative assistant
Alynn currently lives in Denver, CO. She works at a natural pet company and trains dogs in her spare time. Always looking for ways to incorporate her passion for animal behavior and art, Alynn strives to facilitate compassion for human-animal interaction. Her love for animals has lead her to several animal welfare organizations and opportunities - interning at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, volunteering in the behavior department at the Denver Dumb Friends League, and studying free-roaming dogs in Arusha, Tanzania. Alynn graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with degrees in Neuroscience and Art History and received her dog training certification (CCPDT-KA) in spring of 2018. She shares her home and life with her boyfriend and their pint-sized adventure buddy, Skiff.
URI Fintzy - Graphic Designer
Uri is a graphic designer with experience in marketing, branding and journalism. He volunteered in the past at homeless shelters in Brooklyn and in Vancouver, and is a proud supporter of a local cat rescue in his neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen in New York City, as well as a wild animal and elephant orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Uri Graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism and Communications. He loves traveling and is the proud father of his two cats, Lanna and Tommy.
Matthew Lerch, ESQ - Legal Counsel
Matthew is a lawyer dedicated to the universal right to quality housing. His legal housing work includes constituent service housing cases for elected officials, former service as the president of a tenant association, and volunteer representation in housing court. Matthew’s professional affiliations include memberships to the New York City Bar, Queens Bar (committees - Animal Law, Labor Relations, Landlord and Tenant Law, LGBT law), and LeGal the greater LGBT Bar Association of New York. Matthew received his BA from NYU with a concentration in the Politics of Social Justice and his JD from CUNY School of Law. He currently cares for a semi-feral indoor/outdoor cat that came with his apartment. The cat enjoys eating mushrooms picked out of takeout, dancing in the rain, and sunbathing on the fire escape.
Dana Teel, MS - Animal Care liaison
Dana currently lives in Providence, RI and is currently the Cat Program Coordinator at the Providence Animal Rescue League. She is also a recent graduate of the Master of Science Anthrozoology program at Canisius College. Dana's love for animals began as a young child and since then her passion for animal welfare issues and the human-animal bond has continued to develop, with particular interest in animal behavior, animal health, and pet retention programs. She is excited to use her experience and passions to promote programs and best-practices that support the well-being of animals and the humans that care for them. Dana currently shares her home with her cat Special One Six, although she shares her heart with many more cats and dogs, both past and present. She enjoys reading, yoga, and spending time outdoors.
Board of Directors
Ann is a Program Manager at Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH). She is also spearheading CSH's Supporting Housing Community Advocates Program, which empowers peers to use their stories to promote supportive housing. Ann was the PATH Hollywood shelter director in 2008 and was responsible for opening the shelter's adjoining kennel space for homeless residents' companion animals.
Mireille Fauteux, LMSW
Mireille's social work practice focuses on project management in the areas of training, education, and the implementation of best practices. She worked at the National Center for Social Work Trauma Education and Workforce Development until 2015, and she is currently at the ACT Institute/CPI/Division of Mental Health Services and Policy Research. Mireille received her MSW from the Silberman School of Social Work and her BA in Art History from SUNY Purchase.
Tony Weaver, LCSW
Tony Weaver earned his Master's in Social Work from Hunter College in New York City and holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from University of North Alabama. He is currently the Director of Transitional Housing at St. Anne's--a Los Angeles based organization that serves at-risk pregnant young women, mothers, and children. He comes to My Dog is My Home with 10 years of experience working with Transition Aged Youth and individuals and families in Permanent Supportive Housing in Skid Row and in the South Bronx. Prior to his career in social services, Tony served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania engaging in Community Health Education.
Christopher White, MFA
Chris White has worked on a wide variety of film and television productions and has overseen post production on the award-winning documentary For the Love of Liberty: The Story of America's Black Patriots and popular television series including Californication, Heroes Reborn, and The Florence Henderson Show. In 2014, Chris launched his own production company, Anabatic Entertainment, which is devoted to developing and producing enlightening, inspiring, and engaging entertainment. His work has earned him membership into the Producers Guild of America as well as the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Kate Cahill is an architect and researcher in the Master of Design Studies program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where she studies Urbanism, Landscape and Ecology and serves as the lead research assistant for the Mumbai Portal of the Harvard-Mellon Urban Initiative. Recent work includes research on the paradox of affordable housing shortage and neighborhood abandonment in Cancún, Mexico; and the interrelationships of housing, livelihoods and urban form in Mumbai, India. She is currently interested in the development of inclusive forms of collaborative practice; coastal resilience and adaptation planning; and the intersection of social justice and urban design. Kate is co-founder of the GSD Design Research Forum and co-edits the student journal Process. She is a 2015 AAUW Selected Professions Fellow, a recipient of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies Research Fellowship, and a board director of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature and Dance (iLAND) in New York City.
Leslie Irvine, PhD
Leslie Irvine is Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Primarily a social psychologist, her research focuses on the roles of animals in society. Her latest book, My Dog Always Eats First: Homeless People and Their Animals (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2013), examines homeless people's relationships with their companion animals. In addition, Dr. Irvine has studied animal sheltering, human-animal play, selfhood among animals, and the feminizations of veterinary medicine. Dr. Irvine's book, If You Tame Me: Understanding our Connection with Animals (Temple University Press, 2004), received the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the Animals & Society Section of the American Sociological Association.
Chance Krempasky, WHNP-BC
Chance Krempasky is a vegan cyclist, house plant enthusiast, and mediator. He works as a family nurse practitioner specializing in queer and transgender medicine, harm reduction, and care for people living with HIV. He is a practice leader at New York Insight Meditation Center, and is a co-author of Developing Trans*Competence: A Short Guide to Improving Transgender Experiences at Meditation and Retreat Centers.
Melody Martinez, CVT
Melody is a Certified Veterinary Technician with a decade of experience in small and large animal medicine. She grew up in low-income housing where companion animals were not allowed. She knows firsthand the love and security a companion animal gives and is familiar with the fear and frustration of having to find creative ways to keep her four-legged family members "secret" from housing authorities. Melody is a community organizer, facilitator, and racial equity consultant. In Portland, OR, she has primarily worked with statewide non-profits to oversee programmatic work and organizational development focused on creating meaningful, just outcomes for historically underserved communities. In her current role as Oregon Program Manager at Social Justice Fund NW, she organizes and trains community members to understand power and privilege and fundraise for social change.
Carolyn Merino Mullin, MNM
Carolyn is the founder and director of The Animal Museum in Los Angeles, CA. She has over 16 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and a long history of successful animal protection legislative campaigns. On the museum front, she has been involved in all aspects of museology including work with The Miami Science Museum, Casa Dolores, and the Miami Children's Museum. In 2016, she was awarded the Belton Mouras Grassroots Leadership Award from the National Council for Animal Protection.
Michael J. Smith, PhD, MSW
Dr. Smith has provided research and statistical consultation to Human Genetics students on their thesis projects for 15 years. He also has taught a program evaluation course in the Health Advocacy Program at Sarah Lawrence College. He is Professor Emeritus at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and in the PhD Program in Social Welfare at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Dr. Smith has authored two texts on program evaluation and numerous single and co-authored articles, the most recent published last year in the American Journal of Public Health. He received his PhD from Columbia University School of Social Work, his MSW from University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work, and his BA from Seton Hall University.
Erica Tumbaga, LCSW
Erica is a licensed clinical social worker committed to community mental health. She specializes in providing therapeutic individual and group services that recognize and treat trauma in the homeless population. Previously, Erica worked as a clinician for Project 50--a multi-disciplinary treatment team which provides holistic services to Los Angeles' 50 most vulnerable, chronically homeless individuals. Erica is currently a clinician at the John Wesley Community Health Institute in addition to having a private practice. She received her MSW from Columbia University.
Steve Wayland is the Program Director for PAWS/LA, a non-profit organization that assists people living with disabilities and low-income seniors to keep and care for their support animals. Founded in 1989, PAWS/LA assist over 1,200 individuals throughout Los Angeles County with pet food, vet care, and in-home assistance. Steve also oversees PAWS/LA's Housing Information Program, providing education, advocacy and referrals to individuals facing housing challenges because of their support animal. Steve celebrates his 24th year with PAWS/LA this year. A graduate of Occidental College, he shares his home with his rescue cat Bruno.
Christine Kim, MSW
Christine is a macro social worker with a specialized interest in building programs and policies that recognize the power of the human-animal bond. During her time working in supportive housing, Christine became acutely aware of the barriers people experiencing homelessness with animal face when attempting to access shelter and housing services. Christine’s research and work with human-animal homeless families includes a publication in the pioneering book Animals in Social Work: Why and How They Matter (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), an exhibition for The Animal Museum called My Dog is My Home and the founding of the non-profit organization by the same name.