About Us

Our Leadership

Board of Directors

The Gateway Pet Guardians Board of Directors oversees and supervises the activities of Gateway Pet Guardians.  

Angela Schaefer - Board President

Angie SchaeferAngie began volunteering for Gateway Pet Guardians in 2014 after adopting from GPG. In addition to fostering, training shelter volunteers, being a shelter guardian and helping at events she joined the Advisory Board and then became a member of the Board of Directors. Currently serving as President, Angie has a strong background professionally in HR management and in non-profit governance. Angie has served as President of multiple professional non-profits, and was an executive member and member for over 10 years with the Saint Louis Zoo Association Board of Directors and Young Zoo Friends Board of Directors. Angie and her husband Collin share their home with their cat Remy and their pups Elwood, Milo, Daisy, and Truman (three of the pups are GPG alumni!). As President of the Board of Directors for GPG Angie is focused on ensuring that GPG achieves its mission and operational goals in a fiscally responsible manner, adhering to all legal and ethical business standards.

Laura Nelson - Board Vice President

Laura NelsonLaura joined the Board of Directors in 2018 after she began her work with the ASPCA. Prior to the ASPCA, she was the first Program Director for GPG. Laura currently works on the transport team for the ASPCA and has done disaster relief after East Coast flooding. Laura has an incredible asset on the animal welfare industry on a national level and brings her expertise and professionalism to the Gateway Pet Guardians board.

Jen Dolce - Treasurer

Jen DolceJenny has been involved with Gateway Pet Guardians since 2009. In her previous board term, she served as the Board Treasurer for many years. Jenny is also a part of one of our most supportive corporate partners and philanthropic families, Metro East Industries. Their family business is located in East St. Louis. They bestow giving and compassion on all of their employees and clients. Jenny’s background as the Controller of her company has been vitally important in the financial growth of GPG over the past nine years.

Kristen Burger - Vice President of Development

Kristen BurgerKristen has been involved with Gateway Pet Guardians since 2017 when she and her family began fostering. With a fifteen year career in non-profit development, Kristen brings fundraising acumen and insight to the board. Kristen has been engaged in the animal welfare community in St. Louis for many years; she and her husband Gary, their four children and two dogs love fostering puppies and educating their friends about the benefits of choosing pet adoption.

LaKeisha Coleman - Secretary

LaKeisha ColemanLaKeisha has had a passion for helping animals since she was a child and even dreamed of opening her own facility to help strays in her local community. Being a part of GPG’s expansion to East St. Louis is one of the many reasons LaKeisha is excited to be serving on the Board of Directors.  LaKeisha’s non-profit experience includes fostering and starting a non-profit organization that specializes in mentoring young girls in the Metro East area. In keeping with her desire to help animals in her local community she recently opened an event planning business just for pets. LaKeisha currently works in the healthcare industry as a Hospital Services Specialist. She attained her academic experience from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville. She is a Navy veteran and currently resides with her two fur babies Miranda and Pepper who are both rescue pups. LaKeisha is excited to bring her passion for helping animals in need, her ties to the East St. Louis community, and her experience with non-profits and policy to the GPG Board.


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

Emily Stuart - Executive Director, MSW

emily@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007 x 703

Emily most recently served as the Director of Family Development and Program evaluation with LifeWiseSTL where she founded and led their Race Equity Action Plan and advocacy efforts. In addition, she established multiple programs dedicated to equitable access to resources such as credit building and behavioral therapy. Emily has a Masters in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis and experience with both nonprofit and public health organizations. She offers expertise in racial equity, mental health policy, program evaluation and fundraising, all of which is crucial to the mission of Gateway Pet Guardians. 


Jill Henke - Community Director

Jill Henkejill@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007 x 705

Jill Henke stepped into the Community Director role in October 2020 after serving as the Program Director for 2.5 years and most recently, the Development Director for 9 months. As Development Director, she oversaw all aspects of fundraising, development, marketing and PR. Her focus is on program and funding strategy, improving efficiency, improving communication and utilizing data to evaluate program effectiveness. Jill has been working and volunteering in animal welfare since 2006. She has two dogs of her own, Moose and Gus, and two cats, Jada and Carlton. In addition to her professional work at GPG, she also has a small dog sitting business called Aunt Jill’s Dog Sitting & Walking. Needless to say, dogs (and cats!) are her life! She has fostered over 300 dogs since 2006, mostly bully breeds. She’s been in love with GPG’s mission since she did a ride-along with PJ feeding strays in East St. Louis in 2012 and her love for GPG’s mission has only grown with an increased focus on community outreach efforts.

Alisha Vianello - Program Director

Alisha Vianelloalisha@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007 x 704

Alisha Vianello grew up on a farm and has always been passionate about animals. She has experience working in both animal welfare and HR Management. In September 2019, she made the leap from corporate America to her dream job with GPG. She’s been fostering with GPG since 2016 and started volunteering with the adoption team in 2017. As the Program Director for GPG, she oversees the animal care (shelter, vetting, foster), intake/rescue, adoption and volunteer programs.

Diana Pupillo - Development Director

diana@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007 x 715

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.

Brittany Fleming - Adoption & Foster Manager

Brittany Flemingbrittany@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007 x 706

Brittany Fleming is the Adoption and Foster Manager for Gateway Pet Guardians. She has been with the organization since 2015. Animal rescue is her passion and behavior dogs are her specialty. Seeing an animal’s progression from shy, scared, or aggressive to confident, happy, and social dogs means everything to her and is why she loves to give every animal a chance no matter how they act on intake. She also oversees the placement of animals in foster homes.

Sara Cordevant - Intake, Networking & Diversion Manager

Sara Cordevantsara@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007 x 710

Sara Cordevant joined the Gateway Pet Guardians family as a volunteer in 2014. She became the organization’s first Intake, Networking and Diversion Manager in January 2019. She is the mother to a wonderful 3-year-old son Alec and a foster mom to many doggies & kitties.

Cara Dambach - Office Manager

Dr. Ed Mignecocara@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007 x 708

Cara Dambach joined the Gateway Pet Guardians family as a volunteer in 2019. After fostering several kittens, she quickly began managing the Cat Placement and Cat Foster programs. She enjoys overseeing the journey that every cat and kitten takes…starting as a frightened feline at intake, to placing them with amazing fosters and then watching them grow to become ready go to loving homes. In October 2020, Cara decided to get more involved and join the GPG team as the Office Manager. She continues to do all things cat related, but has added some bookkeeping and property management to her role. Cara is a wife and mom to two teenagers, two cats and many foster kittens!

Katy E. Megahan - Development & Marketing Coordinator

katy@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007 x 709

Katy recently joined GPG in August 2020 bringing eight years’ experience managing and supporting various marketing and development efforts, with a focus in database management, event coordination, and content development. In her last position, she worked for an animal welfare organization where she supported various development projects, including corporate and individual sponsorships. In her personal life, Katy and her husband, Justin are foster parents for both GPG and Tenth Life cat rescue, and also have three cats of their own – Jeremiah, Albert and Bertie.

Dr. Ed Migneco - Veterinarian

Dr. Ed Mignecodrmigneco@gatewaypets.org

From GPG’s inception in 2004, Dr. Ed Migneco has been a part of our mission. He is Gateway Pet Guardians’ veterinarian, providing veterinary care for all rescued pets and also owned pets through our public clinic. His shelter medicine expertise is vitally important to our daily medical decisions.

Rin Hornackova - Clinic Manager

rin@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007 x 701

Rin Hornackova is our first-ever Clinic Manager! Rin comes to us with seven years of veterinary experience including some adoption counselor experience and most recently, in a management position at Banfield Animal Hospital.

Rhianna Louis - Vet Techinian

rhianna@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007 x 707

For about 10 years now, Rhianna has enjoyed being a vet technician. Outside of work, Rhianna enjoys being outside, gardening and of course animals. She also loves going on hikes with her son, exploring new parks/trails around the area. Rhianna has a deep passion for pitbulls and speaking against their breed bias. She has a senior pitbull, Jayda at home and this year, she adopted a four-month-old pitbull puppy named Sunny Tails. In addition to her dogs, she also has an eight-year-old cat named Darwyn and a bearded dragon from Petco named Kyle who couldn’t be adopted out due to a foot injury. Rhianna is really excited to start fostering for GPG as it will be a new learning experience. On the vet side, she is excited to assist with surgeries and get the clinic up and running too!

Amanda Loellke - Animal Care Attendant

amanda@gatewaypets.org | 618-687-8007 x 712Amanda

Shaun Case - Animal Care Attendant

Shaun CaseShaun Case was the first animal care attendant hired when Gateway Pet Guardians moved into our first shelter in St. Louis in 2012. He was brought on to care for the animals that were staying at the facility temporarily. Shaun has been caring for the animals in our care since that day. His passion for large dogs and calm demeanor has been vital to socializing adoptable dogs while at the shelter. He was the first to start playgroups at the shelter for long-term residents which dramatically increased their fosterability and adoptability. Shaun is married to our former executive director, Jamie Case and they have two children, three dogs, three cats and one bunny. Shaun and Jamie have fostered hundreds of animals in their home since making GPG their life’s work in 2008. He has been a critical part of the GPG team since that time and is excited to see the work impact more lives as the journey continues in the new facility.

Sarah O'Donnell - Animal Care Attendant

Anna Kerr - Animal Care Attendant

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

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