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Who we are 🤗

Our Mission

We rescue and protect companion animals by providing for their wellbeing, uniting them with loving homes, and advocating for a compassionate society.

Our Vision

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, Ph.D.


Pronouns: she/hers/her

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 Kaylor

Program Director

Pronouns: he/him/his

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 Fredriksen

Communications Manager

Pronouns: she/her/hers

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.

Erin Turner

Associate Director of Donor Stewardship

Pronouns: she/her/hers

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!).

Cook English, DVM

Associate Veterinarian

Pronouns: he/him/his

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!

Stephen Zantinga

Shelter Manager

Pronouns: he/him/his

Stephen was born in Barcelona, Spain, and spent his early years with his family in Friesland, Netherlands. He moved with his family to America at the age of 7 and has resided in Georgia since then. He grew up around animal care his entire life with heavy influences to join the animal industry professionally, like his grandfather--veterinarian and patent holder of the influenza vaccine for pigs. Stephen graduated from Georgia Southern University with a Bachelor's Degree of Science and Biology with a Pre-Vet Pathway in 2017. Stephen has had numerous jobs in the animal care field spanning eight years, from Reptile and Small Animal Specialist at Petco to Kennel Technician at Clairmont Animal Hospital. He started volunteering at the Athens Area Humane Society in 2015 in the spay/neuter clinic and with our adoptable pets. He enjoys taking his dog, Tally, to the skatepark to run down the ramps and follow him around the park in his free time. One of his favorite moments in the world is going to the dog park and seeing animals he's adopted out--living their best life. He also enjoys creating music and spending time with close friends. Stephen has helped adopted out approximately 1,500 - 2,000 animals since his time working for the AAHS and can't wait to impact more lives, both furry and hooman!

Athens Area Humane Society Board of Directors

Community leaders and animal philanthropists

Christina J. Moore


Christina’s passion to rescue animals started in early childhood. In addition to the many dogs they adopted from the local shelter, her Dad also helped her catch, rehab and foster stray kittens often found in the neighborhood. Christina brings financial expertise to the board as she is the Retail Market Manager of Synovus Bank in downtown Athens. She has a passion for animal welfare and has four rescue dogs currently. Christina grew up in North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro before moving to Athens and falling in love with this beautiful city.

Allyson B. Hester

Vice President

Allyson has been actively involved in the Athens animal rescue community for 20 years. As the founder of www.athenspets.net in June 2001, a website dedicated to promoting the animals available at the Athens-Clarke County Animal Services shelter, reducing the euthanasia rate for homeless pets in Athens has been a lifelong crusade in which Allyson has been involved. As a former elementary teacher, Allyson currently works full-time at the Fanning Institute for Leadership at the University of Georgia and part -time bartending at the Southern Brewing Company. In her role at the Fanning Institute, she provides program support for the institute’s leadership programs that serve youth, nonprofits, and communities in the state of Georgia and surrounding areas. Her notable achievements include a 2,189 mile hike from Georgia to Maine along the Appalachian Trail in 2015, a seat on the board of directors for Athenspets Inc. and AAHS, and a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership (December, 2020).

Monica Figueiredo, DVM, Ph.D.


“I am passionate about the benefits that the human and animal bond companionship or positive influence for overall wellbeing.”

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.

Tracy Mathews


Tracy is a CPA with the local accounting firm Turner and Patat, PC since 1998. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Business Administration and a Masters of Business Administration. In addition to business and individual income tax compliance, Tracy specializes in working with non-profits of course she does, because her heart is made of gold. In addition, Tracy is part owner of to our local Plato's Closet - Athens, GA. Tracy has a passion for animals and is no stranger to rescue. Her five rescued kitties Annie, Poppy, Laly, Libby & Dottie and her Boxer canine companion named Gracie keep her home life exciting. Fun fact, Annie and Laly AAHS rescue alums adopted in 2008 & 2015. When Tracy isn’t advocating for pets, you can usually find her traveling, cooking, gardening, running, biking, kayaking, & teaching trapeze and fabrics classes at Canopy Studio.

Carol Bitner

At Large

I relocated to Athens in 1996 from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and It was love at first sight! It was hard to not become a Bull Dawg fan, even if football isn't my sport of choice. In September 2011, I joined Keller Williams Realty Greater Athens, where I found my niche and have been an enthusiastic and productive member within the Keller Williams family. I have become known for my energetic and straightforward approach in working with valued clients, many of whom have become friends. My team and I are passionate in giving of ourselves to our local community. We enjoy introducing our clients to charities that help children, seniors, animals, and special needs groups. My husband, Bill Caputi, and I enjoy living close to downtown Athens, where we spend our leisure time exploring the wonderful venues that the City affords – arts and entertainment, wonderful dining, and other adventures.

Dr. Carolina Darbisi

At Large

We are delighted and honored to announce that Dr. Carolina Darbisi has joined the AAHS Board of Directors. Dr. Darbisi is Assistant Director & Senior Public Service Faculty at the J.W. Fanning Institute of Leadership Development at UGA. She has more than 18 years of experience in leadership development, adult learning, and nonprofit management, with extensive knowledge of Georgia needs; in particular, how demographic changes influence the design, outreach, and delivery of programs and initiatives within and throughout multiple communities. Her work focuses on designing innovative leadership programs to meet the needs of specific populations such as women, public health professionals, Latino and migrant youth. Dr. Darbisi complements an already remarkable board leadership team of business leaders, community connectors, and animal welfare champions. Dr. Darbisi loves all animals but has a soft spot for dogs.

Jason Leonard

At Large

Jason Leonard is a longtime Athens resident who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Georgia. Jason became owner of his first small business in Athens when he was just 21-years old. Over the next decade, he grew his entrepreneurship to four businesses in downtown Athens and eventually developed a leadership role in the downtown community. In 2019, he attended the first Inter-City Leadership to Columbia, MO, which was hosted by the both cities Chambers of Commerce. Jason is also a real estate agent who specializes in residential development and commercial properties. Currently, Jason serves as chair of the Athens Downtown Development Authority, where he works closely with the local government in a variety of capacities to improve the economic growth of downtown Athens. He has served on several Athens community organizations, including the North Downtown Development Steering Committee, Crime Stoppers Board, Homeless Coalition Board, and the Mayor's Task Force for Inclusion and Equity. Outside of work, Jason enjoys spending time with his wife, Susan. At home, they have two dogs, Yogi the pug and Caesar the doberman, who are best friends.

Allison E. McCarthy, Esq.

At Large

Allison is a strategy-driven and proactive Attorney with a drive to move issues forward, even in unfamiliar territory. She is a motivated, personable counselor who thrives, especially when collaborating with a team; she’s an ambitious Attorney with a reputation for being driven and unshaken. She is an Attorney with 15+ years in litigation, administrative law, and experience in the governmental regulatory space. She studied at the University of Georgia for a Bachelor of Sciences, Consumer Economics, and Journalism and then graduated from John Marshall Law School.

Lindsay Lucas McConnell

At Large

Lindsay Lucas McConnell, Vice President for Phil Hughes Automotive Group. She graduated from UGA’s Terry College of Business in 2012 with a BBA in Marketing and never left Athens! Lindsay and her husband, Chuck, live in the Five Points community with their two cats. Tibi and Lucy are bonded pair of shorthair tabby sisters, rescued from an apartment complex dumpster with their littermates in 2015.

Dawn Porter

At Large

Dawn was born in the Northwest and raised in Athens, where she attended the University of Georgia. Upon graduation, she and her husband Lee Porter moved to the Atlanta area where Dawn explored her passion for travel as a flight attendant with Delta Air Lines. Dawn traded a life of travel to enjoy her role as homemaker and mother. She is the proud mother of her, son Alex, and daughter-in-law Rachel, both UGA graduates. Dawn takes pride in her role as part-time caretaker for neighborhood cat Jade and sitter for Alex and Rachel’s adopted dog, Benji. Dawn has an affinity to making environments functional, organized, prospering and beautiful. She has been able to pursue these passions through work in real estate, home décor and renovations (her own home), holistic healthcare and most recently, merchandising representation. You’ll also often find her enjoying time in her yard as a novice gardener, and when time allows, trips to Florida.

Joseph Quirk

At Large

Favorite pet: Our family’s dog, Ro, who is a 3-year-old Golden retriever. He has the most hilarious, strange personality of all the Dogs our family has had. He loves playing dead, chasing deer, playing in creeks and in the woods. Ro is extremely protective and territorial or our family. It takes time for him to warm up to strangers, but our family loves and appreciates what we believe is his blind loyalty. Fun fact, Ro and I share the exact same birthday. Like any person and their dog, he is truly a best friend.

Luke Rabun

At Large

Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Luke has been involved with a number of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. He has held several roles within Triumph Services and the Reed Founda 5 tion, located in the Birmingham area, and has volunteered with the Philippine Red Cross. Luke is a full- 5 me student enrolled in the University of Georgia’s MBA program and is excited to contribute to AAHS. Outside of work and school, he enjoys being outdoors and spending me with his friends and family. His favorite pet is the family dog, George, who they rescued back in 2010.

Dana Skelton

At Large

Dana Skelton, the Director of Operations & Advocacy for Georgia River Network. She has served many roles within Georgia River Network since joining in 2002. She is a lover of nature and wildlife and takes walks in the woods almost every day. She has volunteered at Bear Hollow, recording animal behavior observations, and worked for ZooAtlanta in the education department. Dana has adopted three cats from AAHS since she moved to Athens in 2000 and currently enjoys sharing her home with Mystic and Rider.

Tom Spencer

At Large

Tom joined Ford Motor Company in 1977 after earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and MBA from Penn State. After a career in marketing and general management with Ford that took the Spencer family through nine relocations from coast to coast, he and his wife Ginny arrived in Athens in 2008 when he accepted a job as Dealer Network Manager with Carrier Transicold.

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 B. Woodard

At Large

Lindsey Woodard focuses her practice in estate planning and estate administration. She enjoys working with clients to develop an individualized, comprehensive estate plan and regularly drafts documents such as wills, trust agreements, powers of attorney and health care directives. Lindsey also assists clients with matters involving taxation, special needs planning, asset protection strategies and business succession planning. She is also a registered mediator with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution.

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.