Who we are 🤗
We rescue and protect companion animals by providing for their wellbeing, uniting them with loving homes, and advocating for a compassionate society.
We envision a society where all dogs and cats have a loving home and the bond between pets and people is celebrated.
AAHS Staff Members
Cheryl McCormick is a nonprofit CEO with a passion for fund development, board relations and strategy development and execution. Her highest calling is generating excitement and momentum around an inspiring vision that strengthens organizational commitment and attracts donor investment.
Dr. McCormick is the CEO of the Athens Humane Society and Founder of Ascend Nonprofit Consulting & Executive Coaching, providing fundraising services, strategic planning, and board training to small and mid-sized nonprofits. She has served as Executive Director of several California-based NGOs, including AIM Youth Mental Health (Carmel), Lindsay Wildlife Experience (Walnut Creek), YWCA Monterey County (Salinas), and the American Cetacean Society (Los Angeles). She also served as Director of Conservation at the Santa Lucia Conservancy (Carmel).
Dr. McCormick received a BA in Environmental Science from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, MA in Geography (GIS & Remote Sensing) from the University of Georgia, and Ph.D. in Ecology from the Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia. In 2018, she received an appointment as Visiting Research Scientist at the Center for Geospatial Research at the University of Georgia, directing graduate research investigating anthropogenic impacts in the Loreto region of the Peruvian Amazon.
In 2019, Dr. McCormick received a Certificate in Fund Raising Management (CFRM) from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Indiana University. She was certified in 2012 as an executive coach through the International Coach Federation. She is an active member of the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
Dr. McCormick is a co-author of Identification and Biology of Nonnative Plants on Florida’s Natural Areas (2nd Edition), and has published numerous literature reviews, statewide invasive species management plans and research articles. She has served on a number of nonprofit boards, most recently the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Monterey Bay Chapter and BlueVoice.org. In her personal time, Dr. McCormick enjoys long distance trail running and creating unforgettable artisanal buffalo milk gelato.
Jed began his professional career with animals in the year 2000 at Bowdon Animal Hospital in his hometown, Bowdon, Georgia. He has always had an affinity for all animals, owning several family pets and farm animals. A particular favorite of his is the humble goat, for their quirky personalities and their cute appearances. Jed would work there until graduation in 2004 before moving to Athens, GA and landing his next job in the veterinary field at South Athens Animal Clinic. He would where he worked until 2014, before becoming a part of the AAHS family in August of 2014 as the Kennel Manager of what used to be just a cat shelter. He would go on to implement a dog rescue program, our widely known food bowl program, a foster/volunteer program, a transport program, and so much more. With his guiding hand and heart, AAHS put itself on the map as Athens' favorite animal rescue. It wasn't long before he was working his way through the ranks and earning himself the title of Shelter Director with 6800 + pets adoptions under his belt and with so many more lives to save. Even as an administrator, he still finds himself amongst the day-to-day action, like personally driving our transport vehicle across state lines for the sake of disaster pet rescue relief during hurricane season. Jed Kaylor now serves as our Program Director, where he hopes to impact more lives and extend our reach even further.
Kelsey was born in Atlanta and graduated from the University of Georgia in 2013. Before joining the staff at AAHS, Kelsey had a career singing opera and writing fiction. It was through these fields that she discovered her love for story-telling. Finding the words and ways to connect and communicate our unconditional love for animals is the best “happy tale” she can ever think of telling.
Being an animal lover and advocate since childhood, her pets have kept her grounded as she traveled internationally for work. When Kelsey and her husband bought their house in Athens, they discovered a colony of feral cats living on the property. She has fallen in love with community cats and the TNR programs that keep them healthy and safe. Right now, her colony headcount sits at a lucky number 13.
When she’s not busy cuddling her two indoor cats (successfully) and her 13 feral cats (less successfully), Kelsey’s hobbies include figure skating and mixed martial arts.
Born and raised in Georgia, Erin attended the University of Georgia, graduating in 2017 with degrees in Psychology and Communication Studies. She spent a few years trying different things and fell in love with non-profit work. While spending two years in Development at the Clarke County Mentor Program, Erin began a part-time position with us as our Donor Relations & Stewardship Coordinator. When the opportunity arose for Erin to dig deeper into fundraising, she couldn’t wait! As of July 2021, Erin is our Associate Director of Donor Relations and helping build relationships with the folks who make our program what it is.
While growing up with pets, Erin didn’t fall in love with animals until adopting Cali, a tortie, from the Athens Area Humane Society in 2015. Erin currently resides on a few acres in Oglethorpe County, with her husband, two cats (Cali & Archie), dog (Brooks- AAHS Alum too!), five chickens, and one rooster (Peggy!).
Dr. English is a Class of 2020 graduate of the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, and he wears the title of “Dawgtor” with pride and panache. Dr. English grew up just down the road in Macon and earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Furman University in the upstate metropolis of Greenville, SC . After a brief stint in private practice in Arizona, he is thankful to have the opportunity to return to Athens and is extremely excited to serve the Northeast Georgia community. Dr. English particularly enjoys diagnostic imaging and surgery in the clinic. Outside of work you can find him hiking, kayaking, or enjoying a local beer and a board game.
Fun fact: Dr. English owns approximately 50 succulents!
Dr. Varner is a recent graduate (Class of 2021) of The University of Georgia’s College of
Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Varner also received her Bachelor of Science, as well as her Master of Animal and Dairy Science, from the University of Georgia making her a “triple dawg.” Dr. Varner is from a small town near Savannah, Georgia but always had big dreams of becoming a veterinarian. She enjoys preventative care, dentistry, soft tissue surgery, and client communication and education. Dr. Varner is married to her husband, Brandon, and has 2 beautiful dogs named Chesney and Millie.
When not at work, Dr. Varner enjoys Zumba and relaxing at home watching TV. She’s also an avid Disney fan and frequents Disney World multiple times a year.
Denae grew up in the Athens area and moved to Atlanta after high school to attend Georgia State University. After graduating in 2019, she moved back to Athens. She joined the AAHS team in September of 2021 and quickly realized that animal rescue work was her calling. As of June 2022, Denae is the Foster Care Coordinator for AAHS, connecting pets with loving, temporary families.
Denae grew up around animals and has always strived to become a better steward to them by learning more about their behavior, feelings, how they communicate and the ways in which they interact with their world. She has two dogs, one cat, and three guinea pigs. In her spare time, Denae enjoys cooking, playing guitar, hiking, and foraging.
Heather studied accounting at Lanier Technical College in Oakwood, GA and her background is in banking and construction accounting.
She grew up in Flowery Branch, GA and has resided in the Banks County area for the last 20 years. Heather currently lives on a small/hobby farm in Carnesville with her husband, 4 children, 2 dogs (Birdie & Bug), 2 cats (Pinky & Fatty), 8 goats & 20+ chickens. 🐐 She also enjoys gardening, beekeeping and DIY projects around the farm.
Her love of animals began early at the age of 5 when her brother gave Heather her first pet, a kitten she named Bandit. She was fortunate to have Bandit until she was 17. Her parents and siblings also share this love and they've had many family pets during her childhood.
She is very excited about her position here at AAHS because she can put her professional experience to work helping improve the life of cats and dogs, because they have brought so much joy to her life.
Vito grew up in Coastal Georgia before moving to Athens to attend the University of Georgia, where she earned a double major in Psychology and Sociology. Like many others, she fell in love with the Classic City and has now called Athens her home for the past 13 years. Before joining the Athens Area Humane Society team, Vito worked at Epting Events, which gave her a chance to meet many amazing people and see many different sides of Athens. One of the moments she will always value about her time at Epting was getting a chance to go feed a group of Afghan refugees in Quantico Virginia. It was this experience that led her to find a job that made an impact, and voila!
Growing up Vito had many animals, and has always had a soft spot for anything snuggly. She and her wife currently have two fur babies, Ramsey and Idgie. Her favorite hobbies include hiking with her doggos, swimming and jamming out to some good ole music.
Dr. Calvird is a 2019 graduate of the University of Tennessee’s college of veterinary medicine. She completed her Bachelors of Science in Biology at the University of Georgia, so football season is always exciting for her! Dr. Calvird completed a shelter medicine externship at Young Williams Animal Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, then spent 3 years in private practice as an ambulatory veterinarian in North Georgia. Her favorite part of veterinary medicine is helping people through caring for the animals they consider family. Outside the clinic, Dr. Calvird enjoys camping and hiking adventures with her dog Dale as well as running and cycling. She is thrilled to be home in Athens again to serve the community she loves!
Dr. Simpson graduated from UGA Veterinary College in 2016. Prior to veterinary college, she worked in her hometown with a private practice that provided surgeries for the local humane society in Greenville, SC. After graduating, she worked for 3 years in small animal private practice before deciding to work with a local nonprofit in Duluth, GA. She has been there for the past 3 years serving pets and people in need. During that time, she discovered a passion for surgery, shelter medicine, and rescue veterinary work. Dr. Simpson and her family have been living in a small camper for the past year while waiting for their home to be built here in Athens. Dr. Simpson currently has 2 older dogs, Pepper (Catahoula mix), and Zeke (Great Dane), who saw her through vet school, and recently adopted kitty foster failures, Maybelline and Dior. When not at work, Dr. Simpson enjoys traveling with her husband, reading, and enjoying the outdoors.
Fun Fact: Dr. Simpson used to breed and show betta fish, and she had over 300 betta fish in the basement of her home. Time will tell what the next adventure will be!
Crystal was born in Athens and has lived here for most of her life. Her love for all things furry, feathered, and scaly began at a very young age, and she has always had a wide variety of species in her life. The Athens Area Humane Society has always been important to Crystal, and in 2021 she officially joined the team as a Licensed Veterinary Technician. As the Clinic Manager, Crystal strives to make the AAHS Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic a place where pet owners can seek affordable veterinary care without fear of judgment and where team members enjoy coming to work and go home feeling good about the care they provide and the lives they save. Crystal loves all animals, but is a proud crazy cat lady. She currently has two feline children of her own, Willie and Emmylou, along with two feline step-children Marley and Mando. When she’s not at work, she enjoys going to the beach, gardening, being outdoors, visiting theme parks, and spending time with her family and her boyfriend Bryan.
Ashley began her career with animals in April of 2018 as an adoption counselor here at AAHS. She was a freshman at UGA with hopes to become a veterinarian. However, she quickly fell in love with animal rescue and continued to work part time as an adoption counselor. While spending a few years also working in private practice, Ashley realized her love for rescue was a full time passion! She missed being an advocate for animals who had no one else in their corner. After a short stint away from AAHS, Ashley returned in September of 2021 as a lead cat pet care specialist. She was quickly promoted to shelter manager by the end of September given her long rescue experience combined with her additional experience in private veterinary practice. She has a special interest in neonatal kitten fostering, specifically kittens with special needs. She has fostered close to 100 animals, from kittens of all ages to puppies and dogs since 2020. She loves to read, paint, and spend time with her pets. She lives in Athens with her cats Maylene, Dopey, and Stevie and her dog Bandit.
Athens Area Humane Society Board of Directors
Community leaders and animal philanthropists
Monica D. Figueiredo earned her veterinary degree at the Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Following graduation, she completed a two-year Equine Internship at the Marion DuPont Scott Equine Medical Center, Virginia, followed by a three-year residency program in Large Animal Medicine at Cornell University, New York. She then moved to the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia, where she earned her PhD in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. Monica joined Merial, now part of Boehringer Ingelheim in 2008 as a Veterinary Scientist in R&D, where she primarily worked in the area of canine vaccine development. In 2013 she moved to a role in External Innovation in the Biologicals and Pharmaceutical R&D groups in which she worked with the latest technology in a variety of fields related to improving animal health. Monica is now part of the Animal Health Quality team at Boehringer Ingelheim and is responsible for global product quality improvement. Monica lives in Watkinsville with her daughter, husband and their one-year-old Cavapoo dog.
Tom’s work experience includes positions as Regional Manager; National Franchising Manager; General Marketing Manager and Customer Satisfaction Manager. He has worked extensively with automotive and refrigeration dealer networks.
Tom and Ginny have three grown children in Cincinnati and the Twin Cities and are lifetime dog lovers who previously owned a Golden Retriever and Shetland Sheepdog.
Tom joined the Humane Society Board in January, 2021 after retiring from Carrier in 2020.
Lindsey and her husband, Thomas, are both Oconee County natives and currently live in Watkinsville with their goldendoodle, Simba. In her free time, Lindsey enjoys running, playing amateur tennis and taking on household DIY projects.
Laura's love for animals began at an early age, but strengthened after she adopted Rooster, a fearful Australian Cattle Dog who came into the shelter as a stray. Rooster needed a lot of training but earning his trust and affection over the past year has been one of the most rewarding experiences of Laura's life! She's excited to embody servant leadership in order to learn from, contribute to, and drive forward the mission of Athens Humane.