Our Team

Board Members

Muriel Van Housen

Chair of the Board

A graduate of the University of Washington and a student at the Graduate School of Business at Seattle University, Muriel practiced financial planning in privately held firms before selling to US Bancorp. 

She established and ran the Private Asset Management Group at US Bank. She has a Certified Financial Planner designation. 
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She served on the board of Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Lynnwood, Washington, including several years as treasurer. She also served on the boards of the Seattle Opera, the Seattle Symphony Foundation (currently), the Seattle Symphony and the YWCA of Seattle-King County, serving as the treasurer of the latter two organizations.

Sherry Kellett

Treasurer

Sherry retired after a career in business where she served as a controller and executive focused on accounting and financial management responsibilities. 

She received her undergraduate degree from Duke University in chemistry and later took courses in accounting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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Sherry spent 19 years at BB&T Corporation and retired as Senior Executive Vice President & Corporate Controller. She was an auditor at Arthur Andersen & Co. She’s served and led on board committees focused on Audit, Risk, Compensation, Compliance and Corporate Governance.

Gerard Boss, M.D.

Dr. Boss is a general internist at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), having received his clinical training at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. 

He has been chair of numerous UCSD School of Medicine and campus committees and served as Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at UCSD for 10 years and as Co-Director of the Internal Medicine third year clinical core clerkship for seven years.
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He is principal investigator of a Physician-Scientist Research Training Program and of a Science Education Partnership Award Program designed to increase the number of under-represented minorities pursuing a health sciences career.

Gerry has had a life-long interest in animal welfare, having fostered over 100 dogs and cats and serving on the board of a local low-cost spay-neuter organization.   With his wife, he helps build houses in Mexico and supports adoption and care of Mexican dogs and cats.

Cynthia Griffin

A lifelong lover of animals, Ms. Griffin raised, fostered and cared for animals throughout her travels around the world.  

She currently has a dog named Asher who she rescued from a shelter in Australia, and most recently she rescued a homeless Doberman found on the streets of Beijing and is preparing him for a home with her sister in New England.
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Ms. Griffin is a member of the Senior Foreign Service and serves as Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Her previous postings have included: U.S. Consul General in Perth; Regional Director, Western Hemisphere for the U.S. Commercial Service in Washington, DC; Commercial Counselor in Bangkok, Thailand; Regional Senior Commercial Officer for West & Central Africa based in Dakar, Senegal; and Regional Senior Commercial Officer for East Africa based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Originally from Connecticut, Ms. Griffin speaks Mandarin Chinese and French, and is proficient in Thai.  She holds a B.A. in Chinese & Asian Studies, from Connecticut College, and an M.A. and post graduate degree in China Studies from the Johns Hopkins University, Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, and the Hopkins Nanjing Center. More recently, she studied Trade Policy at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Executive Education program. 

Marian Probst

Marian is one of the living legends in the animal movement, having been a full-time volunteer for the cause since 1967 when she founded The Fund for Animals with author and humorist Cleveland Amory. 

In 1978, she and Cleveland founded the Black Beauty Ranch, which became the nation’s largest and most diverse animal sanctuary (in terms of species types).
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When Cleveland Amory passed away in 1998, Marian became chair of the board of The Fund for Animals until 2018. She is a graduate of Northwestern University.

Réne P. Tatro

René grew up on small farm in rural Kansas, went to Kansas State, and then to Harvard Law School.  A trial lawyer and a founding partner of Tatro Tekosky Sadwick LLP, Mr. Tatro specializes in complex commercial litigation, defense of consumer fraud class actions, business torts, environmental and exposure-based tort litigation (including mass torts and class actions), and contractual disputes.
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He has had a lead role in some of the largest commercial and environmental trials in California and elsewhere, including the “Erin Brockovich” chrome six exposure suits against Pacific Gas & Electric, the cost-recovery suit by the United States and California and the separate personal injury suits by approximately 5,000 residents related to the Stringfellow Acid Pits, and the Orange County Water District v. Northrop, et al litigation.

He has been an outdoorsman for his entire life, and is deeply devoted to animal welfare, having testified on state legislative matters in his home state of Oregon and written frequently on the topic.  He is owned by a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Two.

Staff

Wayne Pacelle

President

Wayne is the former president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, which he transformed into the largest global organization for animals. 

He is the founder of Animal Wellness Action, a 501(c)(4) organization focused on animals in public policy and politics.
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A graduate of Yale University, he is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them and The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers Are Transforming the Lives of Animals

JENNIFER ASHTON MCCAUSLAND

Senior Vice President for Corporate Policy

As an animal welfare advocate, policy expert and strategic change leader, Jennifer Ashton brings a record of success in driving industry reform, building high-impact coalitions, and shaping new, humane policies at the highest levels of business and government.
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She excels as an industry thought leader, who can coordinate large-scale initiatives at every level. With a passionate approach to challenges and adept communication skills, McCausland brings together the best ideas and people, inspires action, and advances the crucial mission to defend animal rights globally.

As the Center’s Senior Vice President for Corporate Policy, she collaborates with leading animal rights organizations and directs top strategic initiatives to end the exploitation of animals by corporations.

Since joining the Center in 2019, McCausland has delivered key strategic wins, including an initiative that ended the state of Washington’s wolf eradication policy and a campaign that rescued more than 1,000 starving Thai elephants amid the pandemic and supported new ecosanctuary expansion. McCausland holds Masters degrees in both Public Policy & Administration and Innovation & Technology Law from Seattle University, and a Graduate Certificate in Artificial Intelligence from MIT.

Marty Irby

Senior Vice-President
Public Policy and Communications

Marty Irby is the executive director at Animal Wellness Action. Irby worked in the United States House of Representatives for Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) serving as Communications Director and Animal Protection and Agriculture Policy Advisor. He is a former president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, where he led the charge to bring an end to the painful practice of “soring” walking horses.
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Irby is a Heritage Foundation Congressional Fellow, former director of equine protection and rural affairs at the Humane Society of the U.S., and native of South Alabama who grew up on a horse and cattle farm.

He graduated from the University of South Alabama with a degree in Communications, attended Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., and was named by The Hill as one of nation’s Top Lobbyists for 2019. 

Scott Edwards

General Counsel

Scott has been deeply involved in educational, environmental and animal advocacy for over 30 years, leaving behind a career working with disadvantaged youth in alternate outreach programs in New York City, to pursue a law degree with a focus on environmental and community protection. 

For the past two decades, Scott has worked tirelessly to advance and enforce our system of laws that safeguard our airways and watersheds.
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Since 2000, he has also worked extensively to hold accountable our fundamentally inhumane and unsustainable factory farm method of meat production, where tens of thousands of animals are held in horrendous conditions, producing mountains of waste that are dumped indiscriminately on nearby fields, poisoning local rivers and streams.

In addition to a domestic body of work, Scott has also engaged on community protection internationally, working alongside activists in India, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Mexico, Canada, Europe and elsewhere to further environmental protections. He has written numerous articles and blog entries and his worked has appeared in the New York Times, Huffington Post, and several other outlets, as well as making appearances on several news outlets, including Fox News.
Scott lives just north of New York City with his family and 3 dogs and, every summer, hundreds of endangered Monarch butterflies that hatch from the waystation he and his wife maintain in their backyard.

Kate Schultz

Senior Attorney

Since graduating NYU School of Law in 2015, Kate has aimed to build her career around using the law in aggressive and creative ways to give power and voices to those who have none. Prior to joining CHE, Kate was the staff attorney of the Animal Law Litigation Clinic, part of the Center for Animal Law Studies of Lewis & Clark Law School and the first law school clinic in the country to solely focus on farmed animals. Before that, Kate was an Assistant District Attorney for five years at the Queens County District Attorney’s Office in New York City, where she specialized in investigating and prosecuting crimes against animals as part of the office’s Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit. 
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She also has broader experience prosecuting domestic violence, trafficking, and pattern financial crimes. Finally, Kate has also spent time working in the civil law sphere on behalf of local government.

Kate is currently an L.L.M. candidate in Environmental Law at Vermont Law School, and was a 2011 magna cum laude graduate from Columbia University. Nowadays, after well over a decade in New York City, she has returned to her native West Coast. She currently lives in Washington State with her family, which includes an emergency medicine healthcare provider, two cats (one of whom is her greatest achievement: a former feral turned cuddlebug foster fail), and one dog.

Joseph Grove

Director of Public Relations

Joseph Grove is a writer, journalist and editor whose involvement with the Center began in 2019, when he co-developed the Animal Wellness podcast for AWA. He continues to serve as host.

Grove is the recipient of multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and a former media and communications advisor for The Arrow Fund, a Louisville, Ky.-based organization focused on rescuing severely abused and neglected animals. 
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He shares his life with an infamously misanthropic Chihuahua named Apple.

Julie Marshall

National Communications Coordinator

Julie Marshall has more than 30 years of experience in print journalism and was the opinion editor for the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper before joining Animal Wellness Action and the Center in May 2022. She started her career as a city and police news reporter on staff for the Orange County Register in Southern California, and later worked as a features staff writer (and pet columnist) for the Camera.

Marshall also worked as a public information officer for Colorado’s Division of Wildlife.
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She is the author of “Making Burros Fly: Cleveland Amory, Animal Rescue Pioneer” (Big Earth, 2006), which could not have been written without help from the Center’s board member Marian Probst, with the foreward written beautifully by Wayne Pacelle.

She lives in Colorado, where she was born and raised, with her family that includes a husband and two teenagers, who are constantly recognized even wearing masks, for being featured in Netflix’s film “Unwell” about the lucrative wellness industry. The Marshalls have three cats (Minka, Tanjiro and Nezuko – from the anime “Demon Slayer”) and two dogs (Leo and Bella). Marshall rightly acknowledges that she has only named her pets.

Scott Beckstead

Director of Campaigns

After receiving his bachelor's degree from Utah State University and his JD from the University of Utah, Beckstead worked as an attorney in private practice on the central Oregon before going to work full-time in the animal protection sector. During that time he also served as the mayor of Waldport, Oregon from 2002 to 2007. 

He became known for his special expertise in the field of animal law, and has taught that subject at the University of Oregon and Willamette University law schools.
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In 2000, he co-authored Animal Law, the first casebook on the subject, and continues to teach animal law, wildlife law and policy, and Endangered Species Act as an adjunct professor of law at Willamette University.

Before coming to work for the Center and Animal Wellness Action, Beckstead served in a multitude of roles for the Humane Society of the United States, including Oregon state director, equine protection specialist, and Rural Outreach director. He also helped lead a successful ballot measure campaign in 2016 to ban the trade in endangered wildlife in Oregon.

Because of his close familiarity with horses, livestock, and farm animals, Beckstead provides training to law enforcement agencies on how to handle and work with those animals, and how to investigate equine and livestock cruelty and neglect.

Jennifer Skiff

Director of International Programs

Jennifer Skiff is an award-winning journalist, author, and animal advocate. Her best-selling inspirational books, The Divinity of Dogs and God Stories, are published in seven languages. Her latest book, Rescuing Ladybugs, has received three 1st place literary prizes including a Gold Nautilus.

For more than a decade Jennifer traveled the world working as an investigative environmental correspondent for CNN.
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Her independently-produced programs about animals have aired on The Discovery Channel and other networks globally. Among other honors, she’s received the prized Environmental Media Award.

Jennifer has more than 25 years of experience leading animal welfare organizations and she leads by example. After witnessing the torture of Asiatic bears in 1998, she initiated and led the successful campaign to build the first bear sanctuary in the country of Laos. Today that sanctuary is home to 22 bears. While on vacation in Indonesia, she witnessed extreme neglect of animals at a hotel zoo. She negotiated with management, facilitating the release of twelve chained monkeys into their natural habitat. Her intervention was credited for shuttering the zoo six months later. She is a trustee of the Dogs’ Refuge Home in Australia and an advisor to Animal Aid USA and the Institute for Humane Education.

Most recently, in 2019, Jennifer was appointed Director of International Programs for CHE & AWA in Washington, D.C. She specializes in public policy, treaty enforcement, and corporate reform initiatives to benefit animals and people globally.

In her aforementioned book, Rescuing Ladybugs, Jennifer coined the phrase “The Compassion Movement.” She defines it as “the collective quest to alleviate suffering for all forms of life.” Teachers around the world are using the book to inspire students to create lasting change.

Tamara Drake

Director of Research and Regulatory Policy

Tamara’s 30-year career included founding and running a successful nonprofit and working in busy, high profile law firms. She was also a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and EMT instructor.

Drake coordinates research regarding regulatory testing methods for new product development, monitors agency rule-making changes, and drafts guidance policies. 
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She has co-authored three Citizen’s Petitions to the US Food and Drug Administration on behalf of the Center for Responsible Science, requesting regulatory change to update decades-old preclinical testing requirements, to allow for and incentivize use of human-relevant test methods.

Drake also coordinated litigation in Center for Responsible Science v. Norman E. Sharpless, MD, in his official capacity as Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration in DC District Court and the United States Court of Appeals, for the District of Columbia.

Dr Jim Keen, D.V.M., Ph.D

Director of Veterinary Sciences

Graduating with his veterinary medicine degree and doctorate in epidemiology from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Keen has 30 years of experience in veterinary and biomedical research, with a specialty in livestock infectious disease issues, public health and more recently, industrial farm animal protection and advocacy. Dr. Keen spoke publicly about abusive treatment of animals at the USDA Meat Research Center in central Nebraska in 2015 gaining worldwide attention. 
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These revelations were instrumental in driving reforms toward better livestock welfare, better science and more accountability in dozens of federal farm animal research laboratories.

He is currently a visiting fellow in Harvard Law School’s Animal Law and Policy Program, focusing on laws and policies that can reduce the use of livestock, dogs, cats and primates in federally funded in-house research programs.

Thomas Pool, D.V.M, MPH, Dipl. ACVPM

Senior Veterinarian

Thomas Pool, MPH, DVM, earned his Masters in Public Health (tropical medicine) degree from Harvard University, and doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Oklahoma State University. He is a 30-year diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine.  He spent 26 years in the US Army, and served as commander of the US Army Veterinary Command, a worldwide, tri-service command.  He also graduated from the US Army War College
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Earlier he worked in the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command writing peer-reviewed publications on leptospirosis and dengue hemorrhagic fever. Upon retirement as a full colonel from the Army, Dr. Pool served as the Territorial Veterinarian for Guam for 17 years. He continues to serve as adjunct professor for the University of Guam and the University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy.  He joined Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy in July 2022.

Brandon Burr

Director of Food Policy

Dr. Brandon Burr is a practicing optometrist in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to helping patients, Brandon serves as a consultant to Clear Conscience, a cruelty-free eye care brand. 

Growing up with his beloved Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the Chicago suburbs, Brandon developed an early understanding of the sentience and intelligence of all animals. It was only natural for him to make animal advocacy his Personal Legend, as inspired by The Alchemist.
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Brandon previously served on the HSUS – Arizona State Council, and was chosen as the 2019 Volunteer of the Year in recognition of exceptional leadership to advance animal protection efforts in Arizona and nationally.

Brandon’s role as Director of Food Policy is to engage local and state governments and corporations about their food policies, and inspire change, to protect farm animals, wildlife and their habitats, and our planet’s fragile biodiversity. His dream is to create a humane economy with a shift towards a plant-based culture.
< br> In his free time, Brandon enjoys practicing yoga, playing tennis, hiking, reading, traveling, and spending time with his companion animals.

Natalie Ahwesh

Director of State Affairs​

Natalie earned her Bachelor's Degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Legal Studies, Administration of Justice, French, and Mathematics. She received her Master's Degree from The George Washington University in Secondary Mathematics Education. After working as a collegiate mathematics instructor for over a decade, Natalie is proud to take her passion for animal welfare full-time with Animal Wellness Action.
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Currently residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Natalie helped found Humane Action Pittsburgh, a grassroots organization advancing animal protection through education, policy, and community action. She has helped to pass dozens of local laws, including PA's first ban on circus animal performances. She is passionate about farm animal protection, reducing single-use plastic, and ensuring existing laws are properly enforced.

Karen Duarte

Director of Philanthropy

Karen Duarte guides the organization’s philanthropic efforts and is responsible for the oversight, planning, and implementation of a comprehensive fundraising program.  She comes to the Center with more than 34 years of fundraising experience serving in leadership positions at various animal welfare and health and human service organizations.
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She recently held the position of Vice President of Conferences and Special Events at the Humane Society of the United States where she led a team executing award-winning fundraising galas and educational conferences. In addition to events, she created the HSUS’ next generation philanthropy group (Humane Generation) and oversaw the donor travel program, Humane Journeys. Prior to her VP position, she served as the Regional Director of Major and Planned gifts and Senior Director of Philanthropy.

Karen served as the Executive Director at the American Heart Association where she oversaw all fundraising events and initiatives along with board development and recruitment. Karen also held leadership positions at United Cerebral Palsy in NYC and United Way of Tri-State.

Karen earned a B.A. in Political Science from Pace University in NYC.  She lives North of New York City with her family including two foster-fail cats, Justin and Jolene.

Natasha Dolezal

Deputy Director of Campaigns

Natasha leads the Center’s international corporate campaign, Kangaroos Are Not Shoes, to end the exploitation of wild kangaroos. She is responsible for the strategic design and delivery of the efforts required to drive corporate system change working with partners in the United States and abroad. She also plays a role in the planning and implementation all CHE campaign strategy, communication, fundraising and litigation goals.
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Natasha has more than 15 years in animal advocacy working in global, legislative, law enforcement and education contexts. Prior to joining CHE, she advocated for animals internationally, primarily in east and southern African countries, promoting the importance of law enforcement and the value of the individual animal in the larger wildlife conservation agenda. She is a former prosecutor with a background in wildlife management and conservation.

Barbara Stagno

Deputy Director of Humane Science

Barbara has worked for nearly three decades in numerous roles at several national animal protection organizations. In 2014, she founded Citizens for Alternatives for Animal Research and Experimentation (CAARE), to see significant change for animals used in experiments. CAARE engages in education, legislation and advocacy to promote the replacement of animals in research with modern and superior methods.
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CAARE’s advocacy work has successfully ended lethal experiments on beagles at University of Missouri, and a decades long experiment on cats at The State University of New York, College of Optometry.

Prior to starting CAARE, Barbara worked for over two decades, coordinating numerous campaigns to protest animal abuse in corporate, university and government laboratories, including several that led to the termination of experiments.

Barbara holds a bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College and a degree in nursing from Excelsior College. After working as a Registered Nurse for twelve years, she now applies her knowledge of clinical medicine and health care needs to exposing the unjustified use of animals in science and medicine.

Larie Flaherty

Policy Assistant

Larie lives in the Bay Area with her family and several animals. Her background is in media and marketing, but her true passions are animal advocacy and environmental protection.

She has worked in different marketing capacities including media (CBS San Francisco), entertainment (PIER 39) and film (Mill Valley Film Festival).
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She integrated her experience and worked to help important causes and organizations more aligned with her passions including California’s Earth Day, Coyote Point Museum and the Marine World Foundation.

She recently started an organization to help fire victims during the California fires and worked with local animal shelters to reconnect pets with their owners. She currently helps a shelter with their foster program and volunteers at a farm sanctuary where she enjoys sheep meditation and goat yoga.

Larie’s family has deep roots in conservation. Many in her family were lifelong champions for wildlife and the environment. Her uncle, a renowned scientist, was the primary architect of the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Her paternal grandfather was Director of the National Parks and was responsible for reintroducing the wolves into Yellowstone, and her maternal great-grandfather worked with Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir and was one of the founders of the National Geographic Society.

Tina Meredith

Investigation Specialist

Originally from Wisconsin, Tina moved to Phoenix in 2000 and very soon after found herself rescuing dogs, volunteering for rescues and for the last six years serving on the Board of a local all-breed dog rescue. 

Advocating for dogs and learning about their plight seemed to naturally lead to an awareness and examination of the unfortunate issues that other animals like farmed animals and wildlife also face.
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A love for all animals and the desire to work on their behalf with other determined advocates is what draws her to an organization like the Center. Tina shares her life with her husband and four dogs, two chihuahuas a pit bull, and a boxer.

Jana Germano

Website Manager

After running a graphic design studio in D.C. for non-profit organizations for 12 years, Jana received her M.F.A. in Film and Media Arts with a focus on Digital Media from American University. She has worked in Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia in film post-production and advertising as a 3D and visual effects specialist.

An expert in web development and design, Jana has supported organizations and content teams with her technical and creative skills.
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As a life-long animal companion and animal-lover, she is proud to be part of Animal Wellness Action’s team and mission.