Leadership and Program Managers
Heather Gehrke, Executive Director
Heather graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a Bachelor of Business Administration, majoring in Finance and Real Estate. She has also taken non-profit management courses through UW-Milwaukee. Most of Heather’s career has been in the non-profit sector. It is Elmbrook Humane Society (EBHS) who moved Heather to become involved in animal welfare. After adopting Teki from EBHS in 2000 during the first ever “Scratch and Dent Sale” of 2000, she was moved by the great work our team at the time carried out each and every day and became a volunteer. She spent time with our dogs, volunteered at Wag Walk (now Wagfest), and served on our Board of Directors before moving to Onalaska, WI. Heather was the Executive Director of Coulee Region Humane Society from 2004-2012. She took a short break from animal welfare and joined the EBHS team once again in April 2013. When Heather thinks about the work we do every single day to positively impact the lives of animals and humans, she can’t imagine anything more rewarding! Heather is very lucky to have parents who involved pets in her life since childhood! She has currently been adopted by a 7 year old Siberian Husky who is deaf and super smart, knowing sign language and working to become a pet therapy dog. She also has an 8 year old DMH feline who found his way into her life first as a foster as the result of being a burn victim and then permanently as a result of adoption. Heather enjoys traveling – returning from time to time to a few of her favorite spots as well as exploring new places. When not traveling, working, or volunteering, she enjoys sticking close to her home spending time with her dog and cat, family and friends, and relaxing in her backyard. Choosing a quote is tough as there are many quotes Heather finds inspiring; one of her favorites is, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou
Anita Alfaro, Annual Giving and Special Events Manager
Anita attended UW-Whitewater with a BA in Communications and a minor in Recreation. Before working at EBHS, Anita’s family fostered cats and kittens through another organization for four years. Anita has worked in development and event planning in the non-profit sector for over seventeen years and she loves it! Anita’s family has three cats (Nacho, Sweetie and Callie), two cockatiels (NeNe and CoCo), and five goldfish that have all been won at area church festivals by Anita’s son. In her free time, Anita loves spending time with her family and friends, crafting, reading, shopping, being active at her son’s school, and watching Brewers games. She and her husband also enjoy watching their son swim, playing video games with him, and watching him play percussion in his Middle School band. Two of Anita’s favorite sayings are “You Rock” and “Always Smile”!
Doreen Brecheisen, Accountant
Doreen handles the finances for EBHS. Over the years she has worked as a pharmacist and in finance. She was drawn to EBHS because she believes in the health benefits of pet ownership and thought this was a great way to help promote that aspect. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, quilting, and playing fetch with her dog, Inga. One of Doreen’s favorite quotes from a woman she admires is, “One thing life has taught me: if you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Natalie Hoskins, Interim Director of Animal Care and Field Services
Natalie is a graduate of Winona State University. She majored in Mass Communications. In addition, Natalie attended East West Healing Arts Institute to become certified in Massage Therapy. Natalie has been a member of the Elmbrook staff since 2009, and through her time here she has been an essential part of our team in several capacities. She got her start as an Animal Caregiver and got her certification as a Humane Officer. Natalie was promoted to Shelter Operations Assistant Manager, moved to Customer Relations Manager, and in April 2016, became our Director of Animal Care and Field Services. Natalie has three pets of her own; Lt. Dan is a one year old Siamese mix from EBHS, Stormageddon is an eight month old Siamese mix, and Nightwing is handsome three year old brown Tabby from EBHS. Natalie enjoys most outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, kayaking, and paddle boarding. The only outdoor activities you won’t catch Natalie trying are hunting or fishing since she is a vegan. In addition to enjoying the outdoors, Natalie loves watching her son’s sporting events. When it comes to a favorite quote, Natalie does not have one!
Sheila Postotnik, Humane Educator
Sheila graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with degrees in English and Film Studies. After many years with the Milwaukee YMCA directing a variety of education and youth development programs, Sheila joined the EBHS team in December 2015, leaving for a short time to pursue another opportunity and returning in November 2018. Over the years, Sheila has volunteered for several rescues and shelters through fostering, community outreach, dog walking, and animal care. She was on the first Friends of MADACC board, helping to raise funds for various shelter improvement and outreach initiatives. One of Sheila’s passions is dog training and behavior and playing a variety of canine sports with her pups. Sheila has three dogs: Frankie, a senior poodle mix who she rescued from MADACC; Sailor, a havanese and certified therapy dog who joins Sheila at various EBHS humane education visits; and Ro, a young whippet who is loving life! Sheila’s hobbies include running, reading, and classic films/TV. Her favorite quote is, “Only the educated are free.” – Epictetus
Victoria Shevey, Customer Relations Manager
Victoria attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh achieving a Bachelor of Science and Human Services Leadership degree. Victoria completed an internship at the Oshkosh Area Humane Society in the volunteer department. She has one dog named Raisinet, who was adopted from EBHS. In her spare time, Victoria enjoys being outdoors, traveling, taking pictures, and spending time with her dog and family. Victoria admires the quote, “Our prime purpose in life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” -Dalai Lama
Carol Sumbry, Dog Training and Behavior Manager
Carol attended Parkland College and the University of Illinois. Her field of study was Management/Personnel psychology. She joined the team at EBHS in 2007. Carol now loves the study of dog behavior and is an Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (one of only four in the state of Wisconsin certified by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with almost 2 decades of experience. She does Behavior Assessments, Treatment Plans and Behavior/Training Protocols for dogs who exhibit problems or behaviors due to lack of early socialization, temperament, training or other issues such as aggression, anxiety or fear. She also teaches classes and does private consultations to help clients raise a great dog.
Carol also fosters dogs and has fostered hundreds of dogs over the years, most with behavior issues. She has two foster “failures” from EBHS. Leine and Timber were puppy mill dogs rescued by EBHS. When she isn’t working Carol loves to paddleboard, walk/run, do therapy work with her dogs, do yoga, and spend quality time with her dog and human family. Carol’s favorite quote is “Be the change you want to see in the world”. –Ghandi
Becky Tetzlaff, Community Outreach Events and Volunteer Manager
Becky graduated from American InterContinental University in the winter of 2013 with a degree in Business Administration with a focus on Management. She joined the EBHS team in March of 2014. Becky has always had compassion for animals and discovered this was her passion shortly after graduating High School. With that, she has volunteered for the San Clement/Dana Point Animal Shelter and was an active foster parent and Cat Foster Coordinator for the Okinawan-American Animal Rescue Society while living overseas with her husband. She has also fostered several litters of kittens for EBHS. She has three rescued feline furbabies at home; Maverick, Freckles and Nacho. In her free time, you will find Becky enjoying her family and friends. She loves bird watching, being outdoors, and quiet nights at home with her husband and daughter. A quote that is meaningful to Becky is ”There isn’t enough room in your mind for both worry and faith. You must decide which one will live there”. – Author Unknown
Beth Twaddle, Director of Animal Care and Field Services
Beth graduated from MSU-Mankato with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Zoology. Beth also graduated from RCTC in Rochester, MN, with a certification in Animal Health Technology. While attending college, Beth interned at a veterinary clinic in Rochester, MN, Jardin Zoo in La Marina, Costa Rica, and Zollman Zoo in Byron, MN. After graduating, Beth spent 6 years working at the Pine Grove Zoo in Little Falls, MN, starting as a seasonal staff member and working her way to Assistant Director/Curator. Beth has 7 adopted pets of her own: 5 cats including Maige (DSH Tortie), Zero (Orange Tabby), Warlow (Brown Tabby), Neville (Gray Tabby), and Godric (deaf heterochromic White DSH) and 2 dogs, Bru (Rottweiler/Lab mix) and Daenerys (Siberian Husky). In her free time, Beth enjoys spending as much time as possible with her pets and family, watching movies, listening to music, rock climbing, and making essential oil perfumes. Beth’s favorite inspirational quote is “Make your life a masterpiece; imagine no limitations on what you can be, have, or do.” -Brian Tracy
Dawn Wollenzien, Director of Philanthropy
Dawn joined EBHS as the Director of Philanthropy in June 2019. She has worked in the non-profit sector for over three decades and says that fund development and event planning, as well as stimulating and fostering relationships, is in her blood. She’s always had a heart for animals and believes that working for humane animal welfare is her life’s purpose after adopting her first rescue dog, Buddy.
She enjoys volunteering her time with many local non-profit organizations as well as spending time with her family and friends. Her favorite vacation spot is Disney World. A resident of Pewaukee, she loves to be at the dog park or at home with her two very playful rescue labs, Nova and Onyx, and her two daughters, Becca and Sam. Dawn has many favorite quotes but one that resonates to the top is “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Shelby Adkins, Counseling and Environmental Teams
Shelby volunteered for about two years as a cat socializer at EBHS before she became part of the team. Before this she worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant at an Assisted Living facility for seven years. She loved taking care of the elderly almost as much as they loved her. As hard as it was to leave, she decided to change her path and help animals and people as an Animal Caregiver. She has always loved animals since she was a little girl and her aunt always told her she’ll either be helping animals or people. Shelby hopes for a program that she can help out with that includes animals and the elderly as it is very therapeutic to them. During her free time, she loves to be at home with her two cats, Callie and Tweet who were adopted from EBHS, visiting her past residents, camping, being around family, and enjoying life as it is. Shelby’s favorite quote is advice from her father, “If it scares you or it’s out of your comfort zone, do it anyways, it will almost always be the change you needed”.
Sylvie Armstrong, Medical Team
Sylvie has loved animals as long as she can remember. She started volunteering extensively in animal welfare while working on a degree in Art at Lawrence University. Since then, she has worked in veterinary clinics, animal shelters and rescues, and dog daycares. She became a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) in 2016. Sylvie lives with her husband, 3 quirky and lovable rescue dogs, and a cat named Spooky (who is a registered therapy animal) – and often shares her home with foster animals as well. One quote she finds inspirational is from Albert Schweitzer- “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”
Jessica Horvath, Behavior Team
Jessica graduated from Milwaukee Career College in 2016 with a Veterinary Assistant Certificate. Jessica spent one year volunteering with shelter cats at EBHS as a Cat Socializer. Jessica has one dog named Lacy. Jessica enjoys running, hiking, practicing yoga, reading, writing, painting, and drawing in her free time. Jessica’s favorite quote is, “This, too, shall pass”.
Christine Murphy, Behavior Team
Christine graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Education. Prior to joining EBHS in February 2018, she spent the last 7 years running her own pet sitting and dog walking business. She began volunteering with EBHS in 2004, as a dog walker, small animal socializer, special events helper, transporter, foster parent, and various other jobs to help the shelter animals. She spent 3 years on our pet therapy team taking her rescued Pit Bull to nursing homes, schools, and other educational events. She has been passionate about the welfare of all animals since a very young age growing up around small animals and horses. She enjoys combining her passion for animals and personal experiences to educate others about the humane treatment and care of all animals. Outside of work, Christine enjoys spending time with her 2 dogs Neela and Marie (both EBHS alumni), hiking, nature, and spending time with family and friends. One of her favorite quotes is, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Gandhi
Asja Richman, Environmental Team
Asja is continuing her education to achieve her veterinary assistant certificate and a BA within the animal field. Asja has volunteered for local shelters including Wisconsin Humane Society and Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission for the last 8 years helping with animal care, adoption counseling, special events, animal behavior, and administrative duties. She has rescue cats of her own as well as mice, neither of which are named Tom or Jerry. While not at work she enjoys spending time in her butterfly garden, bird watching, hiking in state parks, and spending time with friends. A quote that she admires is “I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful – an endless prospect of magic and wonder.” ~ Ansel Adams.
Katie Sensiba, Counseling Team
Katie decided to pursue animal welfare as it has always been her true passion. She has always loved animals and helping them find their forever homes has provided a true sense of accomplishment and joy. Katie attended UW-Milwaukee and WCTC and has a degree in Marketing. When she is not helping animals at our organization, she loves hanging out with family and friends, watching Wisconsin sports teams, especially the Packers, and hiking. As for her furry family members, she adopted Mya from Elmbrook Humane Society, a beautiful Pitbull Terrier mix named Mya and two cats named Izzie and Murphy. Her favorite quote is “No one is you, and that is your power.” Dave Grohl
Andrea Wirtz, Medical Team
Andrea graduated from Northern Michigan University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology. She joined our team in March of 2016. Her involvement with a Michigan nature center is where she discovered her passion for education and gained previous animal care experience. Andrea doesn’t currently have any pets but does hope to adopt in the future. When she isn’t at work, Andrea enjoys hiking, camping, traveling, and spending time with her family. She loves to read, so you may also find her curled up with a favorite book. Her favorite quote is by Aldo Leopold, “There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.”
Shay Woodley, Medical Team
Shay attended Milwaukee Career College earning her Veterinary Assistant degree. She has taken additional coursework at Waukesha County Technical College and is currently attending UW-Waukesha, pursuing another passion of hers – to provide education to underprivileged children with special needs. Shay joined the EBHS team in September 2014 as an Animal Caregiver and currently continues to fulfill this important role as well as our Surgery Assistant. Shay enjoys her work as she is able to care for animals who temporarily do not have a home. Additionally, she enjoys providing individualized care for each animal she works with as well as tending to their surgical needs. She currently shares her home and life with an orange and white Tabby named Edgar Annie Polo or Ed for short. When not working or attending school, she enjoys playing music, riding her bike, hiking, and reading comics. She has many favorite quotes by Muhammad Ali, who she happens to share a birthday with, with the following two being at the top of her list: “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life” and “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth”.
Lauren Zimmer, Environmental Team
Lauren is a graduate of Milwaukee Career College’s Veterinary Assistant program as well as Penn Foster’s Dog Training program. She is currently studying Holistic Animal Care at Penn Foster. As a child, she and her family fostered mother cats and kittens through our organization and Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission. She continued to volunteer in several shelters as a teen and even traveled to Costa Rica to volunteer at The Ara Project where she helped rehab and repopulate wild Scarlet macaws. Currently, Lauren has a dog named Lana who was adopted from our organization, a cat named Phyllis, and an African grey parrot named Grayson who are also rescues. She enjoys taking her pets for walks and taking dance classes in her free time. Her favorite quote is “Being kind is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.” – Taylor Swift.
Zak Heebsh, Customer Relations Assistant Manager
Zak has been working full-time since he graduated High School. Zak volunteered at Wisconsin Humane Society reading to dogs and he was a dog walker at MADACC. He has also volunteered with Green Acres Boxer Rescue at their Boxer Bash event. If Zak had to pick a specialty, he would choose the customer service aspect of his job. He has always enjoyed interacting with people. Zak has a dog (Clara) and three cats (Buddy, Kettle & Ira). Zak has trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for six years at Red Schafer MMA. He loves to read, play video games, and travel. His favorite quote is, “It wasn’t until I’d met everyone else’s measure of success that I realized I’d failed myself.” – Rick Remender
Kira graduated from Carroll University in 2013 with a major is Psychology and minor in Sociology. Kira has been the director and volunteer coordinator of the Wisconsin Boston Terrier Rescue (WBTR) since 2014. She started working at EBHS in January of 2015. Kira loves working with animals, and her passion is fostering dogs and cats for WBTR and EBHS. In addition to her foster animals, Kira has four dogs (Stella, Remi, Marley and Ria) and three cats (Lily, Henrietta and Jack). In her free time, Kira and her husband love to go camping and hiking with their dogs! Kira’s favorite quote is, “Adopt don’t shop!”
Stephanie attended University of Wisconsin Green Bay and University of Wisconsin Whitewater. Her field of study was elementary education and history. She joined EBHS in September of 2017. Stephanie has always had a passion for animals. She has had dogs all her life and used to breed guinea pigs. She currently has a dog named Sabrina who is a former resident of EBHS. When Stephanie is not at work she enjoys going hiking with her dog, traveling especially on cruises, shopping, and spending time with family and friends. One of her favorite quotes is “Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.”- Einstein
Kelly graduated from UW- Oshkosh with a degree in Education. Working at EBHS is a great job for Kelly because she enjoys working with people and animals. Kelly has cats of her own and she also enjoys fostering cats and kittens. In addition to working at EBHS, Kelly also transports animals with Badger Rescue Animal Transport Services (BRATS). When she is not at work, Kelly enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.
Brenda is currently enrolled in the Criminal Justice Program at Waukesha County Technical College. She has been volunteering at EBHS since 2014. She has two dogs named Charlotte and Fezzik. In her spare time, Brenda enjoys reading fiction, watching documentaries, and spending time with her dogs and family. Brenda’s favorite quote comes from 2 Corinthians 4:18, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Jacqueline Sommers Smith
Jacqueline graduated from Alverno College with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business and Management. In the past, she volunteered as a cat socializer at the Humane Animal Welfare Society before volunteering and eventually working at EBHS. Her primary area of interest is working with cats. In addition to her own cat as well as a cat she adopted nearly a year ago who currently resides with a relative, Jackie had the ultimate privilege to foster a cat with special needs about three years ago. When she is not working or volunteering at EBHS, Jackie enjoys yoga, reading, music, travel, cooking, and sewing. Jackie’s favorite quote is, “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” -Henry James
Building and Grounds Maintenance
Glen’s time at EBHS began in 2017 as a volunteer, transporting injured wildlife to Wildlife In Need Center from our organization. As he thought more about retirement from HP as a Datacenter Hardware Specialist, he thought he better find something to do to stay busy. So the Maintenance Associate position became available, he felt this would be the perfect fit and indeed it was! He has always enjoyed being a handyman around the house, plus he has assisted with many others with projects. he also volunteers with BRATS (Badger Rescue Animal Transport Services) transporting animals in WI between shelters to increase their chance at adoption. Over the years he has had many cats and dogs, however at this time he does not have any pets other than fish. His goal is to start taking in senior Great Pyrenees dogs that cannot find homes. Glen’s favorite quote is “Never give up – never surrender.” – Jason Nesmith
Photos courtesy of Erin Beckett, www.erinbeckett.com.