Staff

 

 

 

 

Leadership and Program Managers

Executive Director, Heather Gehrke
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

 

Annual Giving and Special Events Manager, Anita Alfaro

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”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Director of Animal Care and Field Services, Natalie Hoskins

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 four pets of her own; Gump is a two year old French bulldog/Pitbull mix from EBHS, 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!

 

 

 

 

Customer Relations Manager, Victoria Shevey

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dog Training and Behavior Manager, Carol Sumbry

Carol_2017-10-09Carol 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

 

 

 

 

Community Outreach Events and Volunteer Manager, Becky Tetzlaff

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Humane Educator, Jennifer Thomas

Jennifer graduated from Alverno College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. She taught in area elementary schools for several years before having children. Jennifer’s passion for people, education, and animals makes this a great position for her. Jennifer has a golden retriever puppy named Charlie and a cat named Jack. Jennifer enjoys spending time with family. Jennifer’s favorite quote is a Chinese proverb, “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Executive Assistant, Dawn Noska

Dawn graduated from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a degree in Accounting. She joined the EBHS team in September of 2005. Dawn’s family had a menagerie of pets growing up, from mice and ducks to the obligatory dog and cat.  Dawn and her children have fostered many cats and dogs for EBHS.  What a fun experience, especially with teenaged children! Dawn currently has a golden retriever named Lacy who came into her life when an EBHS adopter could no longer care for her.  Lacy is seven years old now! Dawn also has a cat named Bob who showed up on her back porch one winter day a few years ago with both his ear tips frozen off. Dawn loves to travel. She wants to experience everything in life. In Susan Sontag’s words, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”. Dawn’s favorite quote is The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” -Matthew 7:12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Care and Adoption Counselors

 

Emily Carl

Emily graduated from Lawrence University in 2011 with degrees in Psychology, English, and Film Studies. She joined our team in July of 2014.  Studying Animal-Assisted Therapy made Emily realize that she wanted to work with animals. Her senior capstone examined how reading education assistance dogs could help children with Down Syndrome learn to read, combining her passion for helping those with developmental disabilities as well as therapy dogs. Since then, she has worked with animals through dog sitting and working at PetSmart before starting at EBHS. She has also taken her love for animals to Best Paw Forward, where she works part-time as a training assistant. Emily has two cats, Otto and Loki. When she isn’t at work, Emily enjoys watching movies, going to concerts, writing, reading, and doing pretty much anything on the water! Emily’s favorite quote is, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”- Albus Dumbledore

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breana Condon

Breana graduated from Globe University in 2016 with a degree in applied science to become a Veterinary Technician. Shortly after, she received her certification and is now a Certified Veterinary Technician in the state of Wisconsin. She joined our organization in May of 2018. She is living her dream as being an advocate and helper to animals. She has 2 cats of her own that were from rescues, Valerie and Ajax. She loves to relax with a good book or spend time with her family. Her favorite quote is “An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” – Martin Buber.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephanie DeSwarte

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mikenna Gapinski

Mikenna graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point in the winter of 2016 with degrees in Biology, Chemistry, and Spanish. Before becoming a member of the Elmbrook team in August of 2017, she interned at the Wildlife in Need Center in the animal care department. She also spent a summer at the Minnesota Zoo working as a zookeeping intern for tropical and Minnesota native mammals. Mikenna has always had a love for animals and began caring for them at a young age by pet sitting, dog walking, and volunteering at local shelters. She currently doesn’t have any pets, but plans to adopt in the near future. When she’s not at work, she likes to spend her free time exploring outdoors. She enjoys doing almost anything outdoors, but especially likes to run, hike, and camp. She also loves traveling, spending time with family, reading, and doing puzzles.  Mikenna’s favorite quote is, “Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” – Malcolm Forbes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Horvath

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 Raman

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea Wirtz

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

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”.

Customer Relations

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 Bublitz

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 DeSwarte

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 Graeve

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 Robertson

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

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Jacqueline graduated from Alverno College with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business and Management. Prior to her time at EBHS, she spent over twenty years working in the private sector and nearly nine years working for the State of Wisconsin.  While working, she volunteered as a cat socializer at the Humane Animal Welfare Society (HAWS). Upon her retirement from the State, she started volunteering as a cat socializer at EBHS as her primary area of interest was working with cats.  After volunteering for about a year, Jacqueline accepted a part-time position as a Customer Relations Associate. Her main duties were working with the public via in person, telephone, and email and database work related to animal record keeping and adoption documentation. She has recently joined the Animal Care staff as an Animal Caregiver where her main focus will be on adoption counseling and related duties. Jacqueline has been a pet lover all her life and currently has one adult rescue cat at home.  When she is not working or volunteering at EBHS, Jacqueline enjoys spending time with family and friends, 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 Lauersdorf

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.