Our Team

Muriel Van Housen

Chair of the Board

Muriel Van Housen has been advocating for animals most of her life — donating her time and resources, demonstrating, campaigning, and speaking up and out for those who cannot speak for themselves. She has served on the board of Idaho Humane Society in Boise, Idaho, and was a member of the Washington State Council of the Humane Society of the United States. She is currently a board member of the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Lynnwood, Washington, and is Chair of the Board of the Center for a Humane Economy in Washington D.C.
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Professionally, Muriel practiced personal financial planning and wealth management in privately held firms until selling the last one to US Bank. At US Bank she founded and managed the Private Asset Management Group. She later joined U.S. Trust Company and helped establish and lead its Seattle office until 2007.

In addition to her work with animals, Van Housen has devoted time to numerous arts and community organizations. She has served on the boards of the Seattle Opera, the Seattle Symphony and the YWCA of Seattle-King County, and was Treasurer of the latter two organizations. She is currently secretary of the Seattle Symphony Foundation board.

Muriel holds a BA from the University of Washington and is designated as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). She has shared her home with numerous dogs and cats over the years. Luciano, a long-haired Tuxedo, is her current feline companion.

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.

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 Chupka 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.

Zach Bennett

Senior Policy Counsel

Zach Bennett is a former legislative counsel to Senator Rand Paul, M.D., R-Ky., for whom he worked on the FDA Modernization Act 2.0, the first bill introduced since the 1960s to reduce animal testing that was enacted into federal law. Before working in politics, he worked in development as assistant director of the Washington Fund at Washington College, among other private sector roles. 
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Zach holds a B.A. and M.A. from Washington College, an M.A. from George Washington University, and a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School.

Don Green

Political Director

Don Green is a former senior policy advisor to Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., for whom he worked on a wide range of animal policy measures over more than seven years. He also has worked for John Linder, R-Ga., and three other U.S. House members and for U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe in a congressional staff career spanning more than 25 years. He also has worked on a U.S. Senate campaign and a presidential campaign, and done private consulting on policy and government relations. 
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Don holds a B.A. in History from Bates College. He and his wife are empty nesters residing in Virginia.

Joseph Grove

Senior Director of Communications

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.

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.

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 and the Center for a Humane Economy
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Currently residing in Pittsburgh, Penn., Natalie helped found Humane Action Pittsburgh, a grassroots organization advancing animal protection through education, policy, and community action. She has helped pass dozens of local laws, including Pennsylvania’s first ban on circus animal performances.

Natalie has several awards and accolades, including the 2023 City & State PA Power 100, 2019 Incline’s “Who’s Next” Animal Advocates, and PUMP’s and Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40 honorees. She was awarded a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship in 2023.

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.

Jennifer Skiff

Director of International

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.

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.

Ryan Luterman-Sevel

Director of Social Media

Ryan Luterman-Sevel is a Maryland-based videographer, editor, and animator with over a decade of experience in the creative space. He joined Animal Wellness Action in 2023, taking charge of the various social media channels, infographic output, and video productions produced by the foundation. Ryan lives in what he jokingly calls “the farm,” after he and his wife rescued a dog, a cat, a guinea pig, and a rabbit.
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Ryan’s video prowess enabled him to work on productions of all sizes, from consumer product advertisements to museum documentaries, from animated comedy specials to multi-cam live events with celebrity guests.

Julie Marshall

Director of Public Relations

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.
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Marshall also worked as a public information officer for Colorado’s Division of Wildlife.

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.

Desiree Bender

Executive Administrator

With more than 25 years of experience in diverse roles with national animal protection organizations, Desiree Bender has effectively led local, state, and federal initiatives, driving critical animal welfare reforms. She developed campaigns and secured landmark laws to shield animals from cruelty and needless suffering. Additionally, she combatted measures detrimental to animal welfare, pushed for regulations to implement existing laws, and secured vital funding to enforce new and existing animal protection laws.
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Her efforts have included protecting animals from cruelty and fighting and protecting wildlife from trophy hunting, human conflict, and commercial exploitation. Most recently, she worked to eliminate unnecessary animal testing and defund government animal experiments. Furthermore, she worked to prohibit the substandard exhibition and private ownership of exotic animals and curtail the exotic pet trade.

Earlier in her career, Bender spearheaded countless multi-agency investigations and the rescue of thousands of animals from criminal animal neglect, fighting, and cruelty. Moreover, she was pivotal in educating lawmakers, advocates, prosecutors, law enforcement, veterinarians, and other stakeholders nationwide on animal protection laws and enforcement.

Bender lives in Arkansas, sharing her life with four dogs and six horses, all rescues.

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.

Samantha Miller

Campaign Manager for the Cats Aren’t Trophies ballot measure campaign

Samantha has spearheaded critical legislative victories in the domain of wildlife policy making, including an effort to block a spring black bear hunt in Washington in 2023 and promoting the adoption of a 2023 Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Accountability and Reform Study that programs the outlook of a conventional fish and wildlife agency. Bruegger has worked on environmental conservation policy as well, with experience on Colorado water policy through the Outstanding Grand Lake Foundation.
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She has also served on the board of directors for the local animal shelter. Her academic background includes a Master of Public Policy from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Riverside.

In her free time, she enjoys horseback riding with her son, Sawyer, and is an active member of Backcountry Horsemen.

Fred (Freddie) Hudson

Director of Equine Welfare

Freddie Hudson is a former driver/trainer who grew up in the harness racing industry and was the protege of Hall of Fame driver/trainer Del Insko. He has written for several harness racing publications and authored books, including Amazon bestsellers Roosevelt Raceway Where It All Began and his most recent The Superfecta Trial
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Hudson is a strong supporter of equine welfare and rescue programs and has spoken several times on Capitol Hill representing the harness racing industry on equine welfare legislation. He lobbied in Washington D.C. with Animal Wellness Action and the Jockey Club on both the Horseracing Integrity Safety Act (HISA) and Save America's Forgotten Equines Act (SAFE Act.)

Hudson is the founder and CEO of the U.S Harness Racing Alumni and host of the weekly Harness Racing Alumni Show. He also acts as an adviser to several harness-horse owners and has organized several fund raisers for the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, for which he is spokesman.

In 2017 as a candidate for the United States Trotting Associations presidency, Hudson's platform was anti-drugs and anti-slaughter. He is a vocal supporter of sanctuaries, non-profits, and organizations that support horses after their racing careers end. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Susan, and dog, Dex.

Jana Germano

Digital Media Specialist

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.

Zaher Nahle, PhD, MPA, MBA'27

Senior Scientifc Advisor

Zaher Nahle is an interdisciplinary executive scientist. He served in senior positions at U.S. medical foundations, including as Chief Scientific officer, Vice President for Research, and Chief Executive Officer. Earlier in his career, he served on the faculty at major research universities where he led scientific teams and published groundbreaking work in top journals like Nature.

Dr. Nahle earned many recognitions, most recently as a Dean's Scholar at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, a merit award “For outstanding academic achievement, demonstrated leadership abilities, and commitment to Carey’s values of relentless advancement, boundless curiosity, unwavering humanity, and collaborative leadership.”
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He is an awardee of the American Heart Association (AHA), the Department of Defense (DoD - CDMRP), the American Cancer Society (ACS) Scholar program (Pay if), and the National Priorities Research Program (NPRPQF). He is also a founding investigator of an NIH-funded U24 Data Management and Coordinating Center (DMCC) and the recipient of the White label PEER award from Genetic Alliance/RWJF.

Dr. Nahle is a staunch exponent of credible modeling in science, including the New Approach Methodologies (NAMs). He is a frequent organizer and speaker at international conferences in the U.S. and Europe, and served on specialized workgroups at federal agencies like the NIH and the CDC. For years, he has been making the case for change through written professional publications, contributions to committees and panels, engagement with health officials, and impactful advocacy on Capitol Hill. He is the founder of IVYCTORY Group.

Dr. Nahle earned his Master's degree in Public Administration (MPA) alongside a certificate in Public Policy & Management from Harvard University, where he was a Mason fellow. He received his PhD in Physiology and Biophysics from the Stony Brook University/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) joint programs. He was a pioneer in developing and manufacturing high-throughput technologies like microarrays. His doctoral work uncovered new mechanisms for viral oncoproteins in genomic instability, cellular toxicity, and cancer.

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.

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.

In his free time, Brandon enjoys practicing yoga, playing tennis, hiking, reading, traveling, and spending time with his companion animals.