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Board of Directors

Our Board members are responsible for establishing policy and strategic direction, as well as creating opportunities and cultivating relationships that advance our mission and cause.

Jenny Dolce – President

Jen DolceSince 2009, Jenny and her family’s business, Metro East Industries, Inc. have been one of our most supportive corporate partners and philanthropic families. Jenny’s background as the Controller of the company has been vitally important in our financial growth over the past nine years. For several years, she served as Treasurer during a previous board term.

Kristen Burger – Vice President of Development

Kristen BurgerWith a fifteen year career in non-profit development, Kristen brings fundraising acumen and insight to our board. Since 2017, Kristen and her family have been active in our foster program, but Kristen has been engaged in the local animal welfare community for many years. Along with their four children and two dogs, Kristen and her husband, Gary love fostering and educating their friends about the benefits of choosing pet adoption.

Laura Placio – Treasurer

Laura PlacioLaura is a retired Business Manager for John Burroughs School in St. Louis. For over three decades, she established and maintained firm financial practices at John Burroughs School while taking time to mentor other business officers in the region. She is the recent recipient of the Will J. Hancock Unsung Hero Award, which is given to business officers who have made extraordinary contributions to their schools and exemplify exceptional integrity, knowledge and motivation.

Angie Schaefer – Vice President of Governance

Angie SchaeferAfter adopting from our shelter in 2014, Angie began fostering, training shelter volunteers and assisting staff at fundraising events. She also joined the Advisory Board and soon after, became a member of our Board of Directors where she served as Board President from 2017 – 2021.  Angie has a strong background in HR management and non-profit governance, serving as president of multiple professional non-profits, as well as an executive board committee member for the Saint Louis Zoo. Angie and her husband, Collin share their home with their cat, Remy and their five pups – Elwood, Milo, Daisy, Truman and Angie. As Vice President of Governance, Angie’s focus is to identify future board members and to ensure that operations align with our mission and bylaws.

Cheryl Smith – Board Member

Cheryl is Chief of Staff for the President of Ameren Illinois.  She fell in love with the mission, vision, and values of the organization after touring the shelter when it first relocated to East Saint Louis.  She has been employed by Ameren holding various roles of increasing responsibility for more than 30 years.  Cheryl has always been an advocate for animals and enjoys volunteering at the shelter as a dog walker.  She and her husband Doug have three children and two dogs.

Jessica Spatola – Board Member

Jessica is the Digital Product Owner for Pro.Petfinder.com at Nestlé Purina, responsible for the shelter and rescue experience on site. With volunteer experince in our pet food pantry, fundraising, and leading successful volunteer groups, she brings more than a decade of experince in the Animal Welfare industry. Understanding the joy her two pit mixes bring to her family, including her husband, Tony, and 1 year old, Gwen, she is passionate about helping Gateway Pet Guardians achieve it strategic goals in the community.

Kate Lyford – Board Member

Kate is a proud Arkansas native. She studied journalism and art history at Emory University, and her first job out of school was with The Oxford American, a nonprofit literary magazine printed in Arkansas. Kate moved to St. Louis in 2011 to fundraise for Provident, Inc., a social service agency. She joined the advancement team at Washington University in St. Louis in 2015 and is currently a Senior Regional Director of Advancement. Kate and her husband live in University City with their dog, Toto, and cat, Javert, whom they adopted from Gateway. 

Staff

Gateway Pet Guardians employs a powerful team of staff to execute day-to-day operations. 

Katie Anderson – Community Support and Volunteer Manager, MSW

katieanderson@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007, ext. 712 (she/her pronouns)

Katie joins us after serving children and families at an outpatient trauma clinic. She was previously involved with coordinating clinical services and providing supervision and consultation for a small team. Katie received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has six years of experience working in a nonprofit setting and volunteer experience helping families who are grieving the death of a loved one. Throughout her practice as a social worker, she has emphasized the importance of increasing resilience, building on strengths and protective factors, and fostering community partnerships. Katie loves animals of all kinds and raised two ducklings as a kid. She is currently a proud mom to Buddy, her 10-year-old black lab mix, and Annie and Parsley, her guinea pigs.

Kristi Baur – Customer Service Manager

kristi@gatewaypets.org (she/her pronouns)

Kristi is a St. Louis native who graduated from Truman State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and french. From years of experience as a behavioral health case worker to her most recent role as a client service coordinator at a pet hospital, helping others has always been her passion. She is the devoted mom of two brilliant cats, Callie and Sheldon.

Shaun Case – Clinic Specialist
shaun@gatewaypets.org (he/him pronouns)

Since 2008, Shaun and his wife, Jamie who is also our former executive director, have made our mission their life’s work. When moving into our St. Louis shelter location in 2012, Shaun was the first animal care specialist hired and has been with us ever since. His calm demeanor and passion for large dogs has been vital to socializing adoptable dogs while at the shelter, including his proposal to establish playgroups for long-term residents. Shaun is a father to two children, three dogs, three cats and one bunny.

Sara Cordevant – Intake, Diversion & Networking Manager

sara@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007, ext. 710 (she/her pronouns)

Starting as a volunteer in 2014, Sara became our first Intake, Networking and Diversion Manager in January 2019. At home, Sara and her adorable son, Alec love to spend time with their resident pets and foster pets from our shelter.

Kristen Crady – Shelter Manager, MBA

kristen@gatewaypets.org (she/her pronouns)

Kristen obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Missouri S&T. During her time in Rolla, she had the opportunity to volunteer at a local shelter and also rescued her first dog. She left the corporate world in 2019 to pursue a career in animal welfare. Kristen previously worked at another rescue where she cared for dogs, specializing in canine training and behavior. Animals are her passion with baking and volleyball following close behind. Kristen and her husband, Jim, have two wonderful rescue pups, Chip and Noelle, who they love taking on adventures every chance they get.

Cara Dambach – Facilities Manager

cara@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007, ext. 708 (she/her pronouns)

Starting as a volunteer and foster in 2019, Cara quickly began managing the Cat Placement and Foster program, which allows her to oversee the journey of every feline who comes to our Pet Resource Center. In October 2020, Cara decided to get more involved by taking on bookkeeping and property management responsibilities as our first-ever Facilities Manager. Cara is a wife and mom to two teenagers, two cats and many foster kittens!

Chelsea Donaldson – Animal Care Specialist

chelsea@gatewaypets.org (she/her pronouns)

Chelsea was already a volunteer and foster with us, so her transition into the role has been seamless! She has four dogs of her own and a bearded dragon.

Melissa Donaldson – Animal Care Specialist
Melissa enjoys artwork and spending time with her husband and kiddos at home.  They have 2 dogs, a bearded dragon and a box turtle.

Alison Erazmus – Marketing and Development Manager

alison@gatewaypets.org (she/her pronouns)

Alison joined Gateway Pet Guardians in 2023 as Marketing and Development Manager. A lifelong ‘animal person,’ she began volunteering at local animal rescues after moving to St. Louis city in 2017. She’s excited to write grant proposals to support GPG’s many important animal welfare programs and to develop marketing strategies to best reach and serve the communities in East St. Louis. She has four cats: Manet, Penelope, Berta, and Ichabod.

Dr. Sarah Frei – Veterinarian

drsarah@gatewaypets.org (she/her pronouns)

Sarah is very experienced in shelter medicine and has a passion for helping pets and the people who love them. She received her doctorate in veterinary medicine from The University of Missouri-Columbia in 2008 and has been a practicing veterinarian ever since. Her background is primarily in shelter medicine and animal welfare, and she also has experience treating owned pets. Sarah shares her home with one cat, a handful of snakes/lizards, and two wacky Australian Cattle Dogs (Karl is pictured).

Mackenzie Groothius – Outcome Specialist

mackenzie@gatewaypets.org (she/her pronouns)

Starting as a foster and volunteer, Mackenzie quickly transitioned into a part-time animal care specialist position and is now our first-ever Outcome Specialist, which is a position focused on ensuring positive outcomes for all animals entering our shelter.

Jill Henke – Operations Director

Jill Henkejill@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007, ext. 705 (she/her pronouns)

Jill has been working and volunteering in animal welfare since 2006, fostering over 500 dogs (mostly bully breeds) and cats. Outside of GPG, Jill runs a small dog sitting business, Aunt Jill’s Dog Sitting & Walking. Needless to say, animals play a huge role in her life! Since her first ride-along as a volunteer feeding homeless community animals in 2012, Jill knew she wanted to devote her time and talent here, specifically in a role focused on community outreach and facility operations. Jill has three dogs of her own, Gus, Bessie and Howie, as well as two cats, Jada and Lincoln.  

Tanoshia Johnson – Groomer

With over a decade of professional grooming experience and a sweet, calming presence, we are beyond excited to have Tanoshia who is always ready to make every pup in her care look, smell and feel furbulous!

Anna Kerr – Animal Care Specialist

anna@gatewaypets.org (she/her pronouns)

Anna Kerr is an O’Fallon, IL transplant from Quincy, IL and has six years’ experience in animal care and as a surgery tech at Quincy Humane Society.

Lori Klingbeil – Animal Care Specialist

lori@gatewaypets.org (she/her pronouns)

Starting as a volunteer, Lori quickly transitioned into a part-time animal care specialist position.

Amanda Loellke – Adoption & Foster Manager

Amandaamanda@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007, ext. 5 (she/her pronouns)

Before joining the team, Amanda worked with dogs at a boarding facility and also assisted with training hunting dogs. After working in criminal justice and psychology for a few years post college, Amanda realized she wanted to work with animals so she decided to pursue her passion full-time. Starting as a volunteer in 2019, Amanda joined the ranks as an animal care technician and seamlessly moved into a new role assisting clinic and various programming.

Rhianna Louis – Licensed Veterinary Technician/Surgical Department Lead

rhianna@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007, ext. 707 (she/her pronouns)

For nearly a decade, Rhianna has enjoyed being a vet technician. At home, Rhianna and her adorable son, Ramsey have a senior pitbull, Jayda and in 2020, they adopted a four-month-old pitbull puppy named Sunny Tails. In addition to the pups, her family also includes an eight-year-old cat named Darwyn and a bearded dragon with a foot injury named Kyle.

Lauren Pietrangelo – Retail Inventory Associate

Lauren joined the US Navy at the age of 18 and served for 10 years. She has worked for two veterinary clinics in the area and is currently in school. She has 2 dogs, Ridley and Sadie, and 2 cats, Lola and Sushi, who are her whole world. She loves any and all animals and thinks they deserve the world!

Diana Pupillo – Development Director

Diana Pupillodiana@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007, ext. 715 (she/her pronouns)

Diana brings more than 15 years of fundraising/development experience. Her last role focused on strengthening relationships with donors at University of Missouri-St. Louis and she has experience in both health care and education. Diana has served on the boards of two animal adoption agencies and has a passion for animal welfare. Diana shares her home with three cats and a retired greyhound.

Rin Robinson – Clinic Manager

Rin Robinsonrin@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007, ext. 714  (she/her pronouns)

Rin brings seven years of veterinary experience including some adoption counselor experience and most recently, in a management position at Banfield Animal Hospital.

Alisha Vianello – Executive Director
alisha@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007, ext. 704 (she/her pronouns)

Alisha grew up on a farm and has always been passionate about animals. Since 2016, Alisha has been a volunteer and foster, and in her professional career, she has experience working in both animal welfare and Human Resource Management (HRM). In 2019, she made the leap from the corporate world to her dream job helping our pet welfare community thrive. As Program Director, she oversaw all facets of animal care – shelter, veterinary and foster support, as well as intake/rescue, adoption and volunteer programming.

Read Alisha’s personal blog: One Paw at a Time

Keyshawn White – Facilities Specialist

keyshawn@gatewaypets.org (he/him pronouns) 

Keyshawn is our new facilities specialist and is also absorbing retail stocking duties. He is eager to help, a fast learner and is hardworking. We are grateful to have him on our team!.

Danielle Williams – Animal Care Specialist

danielle@gatewaypets.org (she/her pronouns)

Danielle is studying Animal Sciences at Southeast Missouri State (SEMO) and is the proud owner of three pups of her own. Starting as an animal care intern, Danielle quickly transitioned into a part-time animal care specialist position.

Mandi Williams – Customer Service Specialist

amandaw@gatewaypets.org (she/her pronouns) 

Mandi has over 10 years of customer service experience and most recently was a retail supervisor for five years. We were first introduced to Mandi when she visited our pet supply retail store and quickly became one of our many regular customers. Mandi started with GPG in early September 2022 as our first-ever Retail Inventory Associate and hit the ground running with her welcoming energy and can-do attitude.