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.
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!
Katrin's favorite animal as child (beside her family dog) was her very own donkey, Pedro, who she got to love and take care of for over 25 years.
After living in Germany all her life, Katrin and her family moved to the US last year, and she fostered dogs and helped a local rescue with administrative work. Dedicating her life to animals was what she has always aspired to do!
Katrin lives in Jefferson with her husband, two teenagers, four dogs and a leopard gecko, but there is always room for more animals in her heart and house. Katrin loves the outdoors, taking pictures, camping, and traveling the world.
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! Erin has been our Associate Director of Donor Relations since 2021 and helps build relationships with the donors and businesses that support our mission.
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, toddler, two cats (Cali & Archie), and dog (Brooks- AAHS Alum too!).
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. 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.
Lexi was born and raised in a small town in the mountains of Walhalla, South Carolina. Ever since she was little, she always had a passion and love for all animals; she can recall crying over sad animal commercials all the time... and still does! She spent most of her career in management. She recently moved to Athens in late May of this year with her fiancée and knew she wanted to find a job that involved what she was passionate about: helping animals! Lexi has four cats of her own, but she also grew up with dogs, so she loves them all! AAHS has shown her that helping animals is her calling in life. Every day is rewarding! In her free time, Lexi enjoys hanging out with her cats and fiancée, reading books, and traveling!
Being an animal lover since childhood, her beloved pets have always kept her grounded across countless moves nationally and internationally. A verified "crazy cat lady", she couldn't be more thrilled that the house she recently bought in Athens came with its own feral cat colony of 13 cats to join her two indoor kitties, Lila and Cookie. She has a special place in her heart for senior pets and community cats.
When Kelsey's not busy cuddling her two indoor cats (successfully) and her 13 feral cats (less successfully), she can be found testing out her life motto: try anything once. Her hobbies include figure skating, sewing skating costumes, mixed martial arts, digital art, reading, writing, singing, or fiddling around in her ham shack. She is a licensed amateur radio operator, call sign: KQ4GUW.
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.
Originally from Good Hope, GA, Zach has always had a lifelong love for pets. Most recently, he served as general manager of a large pet boarding facility for over seven years. He now resides in Watkinsville with his wife and their pets: Zena (Belgian Malinois), Odie ("the mutt!"), Hammy (the Garfield Cat), and Honey (calico).
Besides animal rescue, Zach's other interests include automotive racing, the outdoors, and a fascination with big cats.
Athens Area Humane Society Board of Directors
Community leaders and animal philanthropists
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.
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.
Makayla is from Oconee County and resides in Athens Clarke County with her three rescue cats, Toothless, Cricket, and Minnie. Makayla adores all animals but holds a special place in her heart for senior and special needs pets, as well as a strong admiration for those who provide love and life-saving care for all animals.
She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia.