Staff and Leadership

Azure Davis

Azure Davis

Executive Director, Founder

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Azure Davis

Azure Davis

Executive Director, Founder

Azure Davis is many things: the founder of Ruff Start Rescue®, a dog mom, a sushi enthusiast and a lover of learning and leadership. As the executive director, she oversees the overall progress of the rescue and works diligently to ensure its vision and mission is the organization’s core focus. She also oversees all departments and programs and researches effective and innovative ways to save the lives of animals in need.

Azure has been a passionate animal advocate her whole life. She spent her childhood growing up on 50 acres and saving animals of all shapes and sizes, including cats, dogs, squirrels, racoons and birds. She officially stepped into the world of rescue by fostering for other organizations and helping wildlife sanctuaries before starting Ruff Start® in March 2010 when she was 23 years old.

Professionally, Azure has an associate’s degree from Anoka Ramsey Community College and a bachelor’s degree in business from Metropolitan State University. She holds certifications in many areas that directly impact her role as executive director, including education, leadership and management. She is a firm believer in the importance of continuing education and consistently studies how to be a more effective leader, business owner, manager and nonprofit professional for the betterment of the rescue.

Azure currently lives just down the road from her childhood home in Princeton, on a plot of land with an apple orchard in the backyard. She shares her home with her best friends: Emma, a pit bull; Lance, a terrier mix adopted from Ruff Start in 2014; and Hershey, a tabby cat. In the summertime, you can find her gardening, canning, camping and kayaking. When the snow falls, she enjoys playing outside with her nieces and nephews, cooking, binge-watching and volunteering for the rescue she once thought was a far-fetched dream.

Julie Lessard

Julie Lessard

Director of Programs

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Julie Lessard

Julie Lessard

Director of Programs

Julie Lessard is the director of programs with Ruff Start Rescue®. She started volunteering with the Ruff Start® in February 2012 as a foster mom and soon became a placement coordinator to help other foster homes enjoy this opportunity as much as she did. A short time after that, Julie took on the placement coordinator manager role and was spending every free moment she had helping Ruff Start Rescue and all the animals. Julie's passion did not go unnoticed and she was offered the director of programs position. She quit her job in the Cities and opened her own business, which allowed her more time to work with the rescue and make her dreams come true! Julie is also a board member for Ruff Start.

Julie has had a love for animals since she was a young girl. She has a special liking for the overlooked black animals, seniors and very special shy dogs and cats. Julie is also an active volunteer with a nonprofit lost dog team called The Retrievers where she helps families bring their missing dogs home and ensures the safety of stray dogs.

Julie has three four-legged kids! Meela her shepherd mix, Gary the black mini schnauzer/doxie mix and Daisy, her black Lab mix. She plans her schedule and life around them. In the summer months, she enjoys garage sales and tubing down the river. She loves any outdoor activities such as golfing, fishing and barbecues and secretly wishes she lived in a state where it is warm all year long.

Lexi Johnson

Lexi Johnson

Director of Operations

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Lexi Johnson

Lexi Johnson

Director of Operations

Lexi Johnson is the director of operations for Ruff Start Rescue®. She started as a foster in June 2015 shortly after her resident dog passed away. She quickly started with different volunteer roles and claims, "The rest is history!" Lexi was the intake manager for the rescue from October 2016 to February 2019 where she was very hands on with the animals. She accepted the director of operations role in February 2019 to help with more behind the scenes of rescue and expand into a whole other area of Ruff Start Rescue!

Lexi’s passion for animals started when she was just a young pup herself. She used to lock herself in the dog kennels with family dogs and would be found sleeping on the dogs’ beds. Lexi has had a variety of different pets growing up, from dogs to hamsters. Her fear of bats and mice was put to rest when she had an internship with the Wildlife Rehab Center in the mammal nursery shortly before graduating from St. Cloud State University with a biology degree.

Lexi enjoys helping others and LOVES catering to her current resident pets and foster dogs. She lives in the St. Cloud area with her husband, their three dogs and two cats. If she ever has spare time, she enjoys playing outside with her four-legged babies (when it’s warm), curling up to a good book (when it’s cold), going for walks or just hanging out with friends and family.

Pamela Nelson

Pamela Nelson

Director of Development

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Pamela Nelson

Pamela Nelson

Director of Development

Pamela Nelson became director of development at Ruff Start Rescue® in February 2019 after relocating to the Twin Cities area from Iowa. Prior to joining Ruff Start®, Pam worked in the nonprofit arts field, primarily at the Des Moines Symphony & Academy in Des Moines, Iowa, where she held several positions including manager of member and donor relations, interim development director and development manager.

In her role as director of development, Pam is responsible for overseeing all contributed revenue to the rescue. This includes the annual fund, fundraising events, grant writing, major gifts, corporate sponsorships and planned gifts. Additionally, her team manages Ruff Start’s merchandise.

Pam received a Bachelor’s of Music from Drake University, along with minors in general business and human resource management. After graduating, she attended Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida and holds a Master’s of Arts in Arts Administration.

Growing up in rural Central Iowa, Pam was constantly surrounded by animals, whether it was her own dog (Sadie, a 130-pound German Shepard mix), friends’ cats and dogs, family friends’ farm animals like goats, cows and horses, or the random animals she would find while hiking with friends (deer, snakes, mice, foxes).

Pam lives in Brooklyn Center with her husband, Craig, daughter, Gemma, and their two rescue pups: coonhound/retriever Chip and sheltie Bowen. In her spare time, you can find Pam baking, exploring the Twin Cities and fishing with her family.

Juli Olson

Juli Olson

Adoption Manager

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Juli Olson

Juli Olson

Adoption Manager

Juli Olson is the adoption manager for Ruff Start Rescue®. Juli has been a volunteer at the rescue for over three years, starting out at transports and doing home visits. Previously, she served as a foster coordinator and an adoption coordinator.

Juli lives in Minneapolis with her husband and her four fur kids: Ollie, Jubel, Elroy and Chester the cat, who are all rescues. She loves all animals and grew up training and showing horses competitively across the nation. In her spare time, she loves to go to Minnesota Twins and Wild games, go on road trips to horse shows with her friends, and hanging out with her four-legged kids in her backyard.

Nicole Samborski

Nicole Samborski

Intake Manager

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Nicole Samborski

Nicole Samborski

Intake Manager

Nicole Samborski started her rescue journey with Ruff Start Rescue® in May 2018. It only took one transport for her to know that she wanted to have a bigger role within the organization. The next month she took on the intake coordinator role with her main focus being Ponca City, Oklahoma, out-of-state transports. She also began fostering in August 2018 as well. Nicole had worked for a great company, Allianz Life, for 14 years and loved it. But when the intake manager position became available, she knew in her heart that was what she wanted to do.

Nicole loves this role for the hands on aspect with the animals. One of her responsibilities is overseeing transport, which is what drew her to the rescue in the first place. She loves being a part of bringing the animals in and getting them into safe and loving homes where they get all the attention. Nicole lives in the Elk River area and shares her home life with her husband, Derek; kiddos, Kat and Lucas; and her fur babies, Shadow and Loki. She is also a grandma to Kat’s snake, gecko and cat. Nicole and her husband love the outdoors, so in the summer you can find them biking around town, camping, canoeing or hiking with their pups. She also enjoys dancing, singing and reading and just hanging out with family and friends.

 

 

 

 

Erica Jusczak

Erica Jusczak

Senior Medical Manager

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Erica Jusczak

Erica Jusczak

Senior Medical Manager

Erica Jusczak joined the vetting team with Ruff Start Rescue® in March 2017. As vetting manager, she is responsible for scheduling, training, inventory management and overseeing the vetting department and all vetting volunteers. Erica works alongside the medical director, Dr. Riddle, to provide in-house vetting care for foster animals at the Ruff Start® facility in Princeton.

Erica earned her associate’s degree in veterinary technology in 2012 and immediately began working in a veterinary hospital. Erica also worked in the ICU department for a specialty/emergency hospital and gained experience working with different diseases and conditions our companion animals can sometimes run into. In October 2016, Erica started searching for a pit bull to adopt from a rescue. She was shocked by how many animals were in need of a home. Erica became interested in rescue and searched for ways she could help animals in need. She found that the vetting manager position would be a perfect fit for her.

Erica and her husband, Jesse reside in Foley with their son Beau along with three dogs and two cats. In their spare time they enjoy taking on house projects and spending time with friends and family.

Dr. Jeremy Riddle

Dr. Jeremy Riddle

Medical Director

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Dr. Jeremy Riddle

Dr. Jeremy Riddle

Medical Director

Dr. Riddle is the medical director for Ruff Start Rescue®. He worked with Ruff Start® through his veterinary practice for a few years before joining the staff in December 2018. His role is to support the vetting department to provide intake and ongoing medical care for the pets in the rescue. Dr. Riddle graduated from the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine in May 2000 and worked at a clinic in Prior Lake, Minnesota, for four years before moving to Princeton and starting his own practice. Dr. Riddle also served as the mayor of the city of Princeton for six years.

Dr. Riddle lives in Princeton with his wife, Cindy; two daughters, Danika and Ainsley; and his English setter, Atreyu, pictured here with him. Together they like to camp and kayak, travel to various state and national parks, and spend more time traveling in warmer areas when the winter drags on. They also have two clinic cats, Aspen and Timber, and a whole flock of chickens, who all have names but are too many to list.

McKenna Lorenz

McKenna Lorenz

Large Dog Foster Manager

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McKenna Lorenz

McKenna Lorenz

Large Dog Foster Manager

Mckenna Lorenz has been with Ruff Start Rescue® since August 2017. She started as a vetting coordinator and has also taken on the role of impound intake coordinator. Mckenna has been involved in animal rescue since 2014 and adopted her dog Maggie, a four-year-old shar-pei mix. Mckenna is now the large dog/bully breed foster manager. She is in charge over any aged large or bully breed dog in the rescue. She is available for foster encouragement and support, as well as any vetting needs the foster dogs may need once they are with Ruff Start®.

Mckenna has always been passionate about pit bull type dogs and enjoys meeting and placing bully breeds into foster homes, as well as fostering them herself. She grew up with golden retrievers and has worked in many environments with almost every breed of dog there is. Along with her pit bull fosters, she also fosters the older, more heavy-set cats who love to just lay around the house. She loves being a Ruff Start staff member because everyone is so friendly and shares the goal of saving as many animals as possible. Away from rescue, Mckenna loves taking her dog hiking around northern Minnesota, as well as anything to do on a lake.

Steffani Patrick

Steffani Patrick

Small/Medium Dog Foster Manager, Critter Foster Manager

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Steffani Patrick

Steffani Patrick

Small/Medium Dog Foster Manager, Critter Foster Manager

Steffani Patrick is the small/medium dog foster manager and critter foster manager for Ruff Start Rescue®. She has been with Ruff Start® since August 2016, when she started as a foster mom. In addition to fostering, Steffani oversees the needs of all small and medium dogs as well as the critters in the rescue and their foster families.

Steffani has an associate’s degree in veterinary technology and worked in the field for many years before starting her position with Ruff Start. Steffani and her significant other, Chuck, have a little army of fur babies that includes Gladys and Wayne the Chihuahuas, Wilbur the pug, and Sophia the basset hound mix. They also have a herd of adorable rats.

Steffani loves to spend time with her family, two- and four-legged in her free time. She likes to go for walks and spend time outside. She also loves to binge her favorite shows while enjoying a cup of coffee.

 

 

 

 

Carrie Schueller

Carrie Schueller

Adoption Application Manager

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Carrie Schueller

Carrie Schueller

Adoption Application Manager

Carrie Schueller has been married to her husband Jim, for 15 years. They have 2 sons, Tyler (24) and Andrew (14). They also have 2 dogs. Murphy, is a 10 year old English Springer Spaniel and Maggie is an 8 year old Miniature Schnauzer. For as long as Carrie can remember her and her husbands lives have revolved around their boys but they are now older so Carrie talked her husband into letting her foster. Carrie has fostered 6 dogs since February and have loved each and every one of them and she feels blessed that she was able to help their forever family find them. Carrie loves to foster dogs that are older and she's a sucker for the scruffys!!

Carrie learned about Ruff Start Rescue from her niece as she had not ever heard about rescues. So she started to follow all the animals that came through, and read through different ways she could help. She started as a volunteer and is now a placement coordinator and absolutely loves all of her foster homes.

Carrie believes that if everyone does one thing whether it be foster one dog, donate $10 or transport an animal to a vet appt or event, we are literally saving these babies one animal at a time.

Erica Jacobson

Erica Jacobson

Adoption Application Manager

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Erica Jacobson

Erica Jacobson

Adoption Application Manager

Erica Jacobson is our Adoption Application Manager. She joined Ruff Start Rescue in February of 2016, volunteering as a leash holder at adoption day events and helping out in the office.

Erica lives in Milaca with her husband and three fur babies; Sasha, an 8 year old American Pit Bull Terrier, Remi, a 5 year old American Pit Bull Terrier, and lastly Daisy, a 10 year old lab/ pit bull mix, who was Erica's first "foster fail". Erica recently graduated from St. Cloud State University with her Masters in Business Administration. In her spare time, Erica loves being outside with her fur babies and working on DIY projects with her husband on their first home.

Kayla Koscielniak

Kayla Koscielniak

Marketing Communications Manager

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Kayla Koscielniak

Kayla Koscielniak

Marketing Communications Manager

Kayla Koscielniak joined Ruff Start Rescue® in July 2019 as the marketing communications manager. She oversees the communications team and spreads the word about the great work Ruff Start Rescue does and how people can get involved in the organization. From St. Cloud State University, she has a bachelor’s in political science and international relations and a master’s in public administration nonprofit leadership and management.

Kayla loved animals from an early age. At her grandparents’ farm, you would find her rolling around with kittens, letting calves chew on her shorts, feeding horses or running away from turkeys. After pestering her parents for several months, they finally gave in and got her a puppy named Hayley for her seventh birthday. One year after Kayla lost her childhood dog, Hayley, she adopted her dog Juniper through a foster-based rescue. Juniper is one of the greatest loves of Kayla’s life. They did absolutely everything together in the four years they had until she passed away suddenly due to complications with her epilepsy. Her time with Juniper further solidified her life mission of helping at-risk animals in need.

Kayla lives in Foley, MN where she spends her time gardening, making jam, bird-watching, doing Peloton workouts, listening to podcasts and audiobooks and watching her favorite shows. She values the time spent with her family at home and at Elk Lake at her family’s cabin.

Brittany Meyers

Brittany Meyers

Events Manager

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Brittany Meyers

Brittany Meyers

Events Manager

Brittany Meyers began working as the Ruff Start Rescue® events manager in October 2019. As events manager, Brittany oversees planning, development, networking and smooth execution of Ruff Start® community, fundraising, and adoption events.

Brittany comes to Ruff Start from Petsmart, where she held a number of roles including overseeing store events. While at Petsmart, Brittany improved her store's National Adoption Weekend, increasing the number of participating rescue groups from one to 15 during her tenure. Her events became well-known at Petsmart as some of the best in the nation and were highlighted on company-wide newsletters as well as featured on Petsmart Charities national website. Brittany has a true passion for creating unique and exciting events that help animals find their forever homes.

A love for animals has always been part of Brittany's life as she has fostered pigs, ferrets, reptiles, cats and dogs. In her free time, Brittany enjoys fishing, DIY projects, ballooning and events. Brittany lives in Bethel with her husband, son and daughter, and her three rescue cats: Bud, Peanut and Blu.

 

 

 

 

Jenna Trisko

Jenna Trisko

Grants Manager

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Jenna Trisko

Jenna Trisko

Grants Manager

Jenna Trisko serves as the Grants Manager for Ruff Start Rescue. She has been with the organization for 3 years and oversees several areas of the rescue to ensure we meet our annual fundraising goals. Jenna manages grants, merchandise, animal sponsorships, donations, major gifts, planned giving, and assists the fundraising manager in executing special events. Jenna spends her time seeking out financial support for our valuable programs and services, and can also be found creating new policy/procedure documents. She communicates regularly with donors and ensures that all contributions are recorded and donors receive written acknowledgement of their support.

Jenna has 8 years of fund development experience working with various non-profits, government entities, and educational institutions. Additionally, she studied animal behavior in college with a focus on canine and primate behavior. She also holds a master's degree in experimental psychology from the University of North Dakota and conducted her master's thesis on the effects of pet preference on humans' health and relationship satisfaction. Before coming to the rescue Jenna volunteered for several years with Tri-County Humane Society writing grants and fostering. She also works as a freelance writer for a local newspaper where she enjoys writing stories on a multitude of community happenings.

In her spare time, Jenna enjoys spending time with her wonderful husband Ben, playing with her rescue dog Shyla, and two kitties Winston (Winnie-Poo) and Kimchi. She is an avid movie enthusiast, enjoys reading and baking, and has big dreams of writing a book someday. She is incredibly passionate about making a positive difference in the lives of animals and her household is often not without a foster kitty or two.

Kayla Knudsen

Kayla Knudsen

Creative Coordinator

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Kayla Knudsen

Kayla Knudsen

Creative Coordinator

Kayla Knudsen found Ruff Start Rescue® on Facebook and, after a few years of following the rescue, began her Ruff Start® journey in early 2018. As creative coordinator, Kayla identifies key, large-scale creative projects that need to be completed to continue enhancing the rescue’s overall communicative brand and vision and works to complete them within her skill sets.

A graduate of South Dakota State University, Kayla holds a degree in graphic design and minors in both professional writing and visual arts. Her career path to this point has included working in a wide array of environments as a social media manager, graphic designer and marketing strategist, among other roles. She realized in 2017 that animal advocacy was her true passion and decided to dedicate what she could of her life to helping the furry friends she loves by volunteering and fostering for the rescue as well.

On top of her responsibilities at the rescue, Kayla also works at a local vet clinic as a Veterinary Assistant. She currently lives in Harris with her husband, Nathan; two cats, Kunu and Pippin; and three-legged dog (who happens to be a Ruff Start alumnus!), Portage. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, writing, traveling, spending time on the lake, and cooking.

Lindsay Hamilton

Lindsay Hamilton

Finance Administration Assistant

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Lindsay Hamilton

Lindsay Hamilton

Finance Administration Assistant

Lindsay Hamilton is the finance administration assistant for Ruff Start Rescue®. She started near the end of June 2018. As the finance admin, she manages donations and bill payments, processes incoming inquiries through various outlets, and does anything else needed around the office.

A graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth, Lindsay holds a degree in finance and has a minor in marketing. Lindsay has been working with small businesses for the past several years. She also coaches girls’ basketball.

Lindsay has always had a passion for animals and had many pets growing up, including guinea pigs, bunnies, cats and, of course, dogs. She now lives in Elk River, Minnesota, and has two dogs, Zoey and Surly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Board of Directors

Azure Davis

Azure Davis

President & Founder

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Azure Davis

Azure Davis

President & Founder

Azure Davis is many things: the founder of Ruff Start Rescue®, a dog mom, a sushi enthusiast and a lover of learning and leadership. As the executive director, she oversees the overall progress of the rescue and works diligently to ensure its vision and mission is the organization’s core focus. She also oversees all departments and programs and researches effective and innovative ways to save the lives of animals in need.

Azure has been a passionate animal advocate her whole life. She spent her childhood growing up on 50 acres and saving animals of all shapes and sizes, including cats, dogs, squirrels, racoons and birds. She officially stepped into the world of rescue by fostering for other organizations and helping wildlife sanctuaries before starting Ruff Start® in March 2010 when she was 23 years old.

Professionally, Azure has an associate’s degree from Anoka Ramsey Community College and a bachelor’s degree in business from Metropolitan State University. She holds certifications in many areas that directly impact her role as executive director, including education, leadership and management. She is a firm believer in the importance of continuing education and consistently studies how to be a more effective leader, business owner, manager and nonprofit professional for the betterment of the rescue.

Azure currently lives just down the road from her childhood home in Princeton, on a plot of land with an apple orchard in the backyard. She shares her home with her best friends: Emma, a pit bull; Lance, a terrier mix adopted from Ruff Start in 2014; and Hershey, a tabby cat. In the summertime, you can find her gardening, canning, camping and kayaking. When the snow falls, she enjoys playing outside with her nieces and nephews, cooking, binge-watching and volunteering for the rescue she once thought was a far-fetched dream.

Julie Lessard

Julie Lessard

Director of Programs

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Julie Lessard

Julie Lessard

Director of Programs

Julie Lessard is the director of programs with Ruff Start Rescue®. She started volunteering with the Ruff Start® in February 2012 as a foster mom and soon became a placement coordinator to help other foster homes enjoy this opportunity as much as she did. A short time after that, Julie took on the placement coordinator manager role and was spending every free moment she had helping Ruff Start Rescue and all the animals. Julie's passion did not go unnoticed and she was offered the director of programs position. She quit her job in the Cities and opened her own business, which allowed her more time to work with the rescue and make her dreams come true! Julie is also a board member for Ruff Start.

Julie has had a love for animals since she was a young girl. She has a special liking for the overlooked black animals, seniors and very special shy dogs and cats. Julie is also an active volunteer with a nonprofit lost dog team called The Retrievers where she helps families bring their missing dogs home and ensures the safety of stray dogs.

Julie has three four-legged kids! Meela her shepherd mix, Gary the black mini schnauzer/doxie mix and Daisy, her black Lab mix. She plans her schedule and life around them. In the summer months, she enjoys garage sales and tubing down the river. She loves any outdoor activities such as golfing, fishing and barbecues and secretly wishes she lived in a state where it is warm all year long.

Lisa Kertz

Lisa Kertz

Secretary

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Lisa Kertz

Lisa Kertz

Secretary

Lisa Kertz joined Ruff Start Rescue® in 2011 as a foster volunteer. She and her family were looking to foster and her search brought them to Ruff Start®.They adopted their very first Ruff Start foster, and have continued to welcome fosters into their home while the animals wait for their own forever homes. In 2012 Lisa started volunteering with the vetting department with scheduling Ruff Start fosters for spay and neuter surgeries with the mobile vetting clinics. In 2016 Lisa joined the board of directors where she serves as the board secretary. Lisa and her family have enjoyed fostering many dogs and cats of all ages and breeds over the years, as well as helping out with any type of volunteer task that might come up.

Lisa has been a hairstylist for over 25 years and loves the opportunities her career gives her to connect with people. She enjoys any activity that includes spending time with her family and friends. Cooking, reading, and spending some quiet time outside walking and hiking with her dogs are a few of her favorite things.

Denise Holmquist

Denise Holmquist

Treasurer

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Denise Holmquist

Denise Holmquist

Treasurer

Denise Holmquist joined the Ruff Start Rescue® board in January 2016. She was introduced by fellow board member. A career with Honeywell has given Denise more than 26 years of financial experience and she looks forward to applying financial and business acumen to serve on the Ruff Start® board. Raised in a small town in Nebraska and having graduated from the University of Nebraska (Go Big Red!), her heart belongs in the midwest and she's glad to have moved to Minnesota about five years ago. Her family has had the opportunity to live in many different parts of the country, as well as a year in Germany, and they seem to feel most at home here in the midwest. She and her husband recently celebrated 25 years of marriage and they have two teenage sons and two rescue cats.

Even with all the moves, there have been few times when a family pet wasn't in the picture and that was why she wanted to work with an organization that strives to rescue animals and bring them into those precious family photos. She's often amazed to see her teenage sons hearts connect with their cats—yes, they do think beyond themselves sometimes.

Denise spends her free time enjoying the outdoors and embracing all the seasons Minnesota has to offer: an annual trip camping and canoeing in the Boundary Waters, nordic skiing, gardening, golfing and just hanging out on the deck with her family.

John Check

John Check

Finance Committee

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John Check

John Check

Finance Committee

John Check was brought into the Ruff Start Rescue® family through his wife, Holly. He and Holly began volunteering in 2015 and have helped out by picking up donations, delivering food to fosters, running to Faribault for transports and fostering a guinea pig. During volunteer orientation, John heard the rescue could use someone on the board with nonprofit finance experience. Shortly after, he decided to volunteer his services.

His experience includes over 20 years in finance and accounting with more than seven years of financial accounting leadership roles in nonprofit organizations. His education includes a B.A. in Political Science, a B.S. in Accounting, and an M.B.A. He currently works for a national bank where he has lead accounting teams for 10 years. His love for animals started at an early age.

John grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs surrounded by dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters and other critters. His first rescue dog was a poodle mix named Cutty Sark adopted by his parents from the Golden Valley Humane Society. Currently John, Holly and their daughter Drew live in Crystal with two rescue dogs (Emma and CoCo) and a rescue guinea pig (Bella).

For fun John enjoys spending time with his family, hunting, fishing and working on projects in his man-cave/garage.

Daniel Young

Daniel Young

Legal Counsel

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Daniel Young

Daniel Young

Legal Counsel

Dan Young is a partner with a law firm, where he focuses his practice on all aspects of business law related to the strategic growth and ongoing success of his clients.

Dan serves as outside general counsel to variety of companies and is a trusted advisor to individuals and businesses. Dan's main areas of practice include general corporate and business law, mergers and acquisitions, shareholder, boards of directors and governance matters.

Dan has previously served as in-house, general counsel for a technology company used to support customers in the hospitality, financial services, transportation and package good industries. He was responsible for all legal, regulatory and compliance matters for the company and monitored and oversaw all outside legal matters related to the company's mission, operations and strategic direction.

Prior to and during law school, Dan worked as a research analyst for a major Wall Street brokerage firm in New York and as a research assistant for the Minnesota State Auditor's Office.

Dan works out of both the Minneapolis and Phoenix offices for the firm.

Peter Williams

Peter Williams

Legal Counsel

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Peter Williams

Peter Williams

Legal Counsel

Pete Williams joined Ruff Start Rescue® in 2019 as a member of the board of directors because of his personal experience rescuing the newest member of his family, Harley. A Christmas morning surprise! Harley came all the way from Houston to find Pete, after surviving a “ruff start.” That experience compelled Pete to help others discover the joy of opening one’s home and heart.

As in-house counsel in the insurance and construction industries, Pete brings a unique set of skills to the board. Providing advice and counsel to business leaders who seek to achieve their mission, while understanding their risks, is Pete’s primary function.

Pete’s experience advising executives and boards of nonprofit organizations has been a passion throughout his career. Serving several nonprofits in his community, parish and his children’s schools have given him valuable (and cherished) experiences. A hallmark of those efforts has always been a knack for having fun . . . while the work gets done!

Pete’s legal career began as a litigator in the insurance defense industry, which led to an opportunity to become general counsel of an insurance company for nearly a decade before it was acquired. Currently, Pete is corporate counsel of a nationwide construction contractor.

Pete, his wife, Diana, and their two children reside in Champlin. They enjoy boating, travel and dog parks with lots of dogs.

Susan Bloom

Susan Bloom

Human Resources

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Susan Bloom

Susan Bloom

Human Resources

Sue Bloom is mostly retired from a career in nonprofit human resources. She has worked for mental health, education, public policy and community services organizations. As a board member, she hopes to help out with human resources issues such as policy development and implementation, recruitment and retention, diversity and benefits management. She learned about Ruff Start Rescue® from a posting looking for a board member, but she is thrilled to be able to contribute to an organization that coincides with her interests and ideals.

Sue grew up in Minneapolis with only one cat and a horse she shared with her sister. She met the love of her life at Gustavus Adolphus College. She now lives in the northwest suburban metro (Corcoran) with her husband, Rod Baakkonen, animal lover and amateur photographer. She has retired from dressage riding and now enjoys gardening, going to the lake and rescuing stray cats. Many cats have been adopted, but three of their five cats they care for were strays that showed up on their five-acre property.

Kristen Bergstrom

Kristen Bergstrom

Human Resources

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Kristen Bergstrom

Kristen Bergstrom

Human Resources

Kristen Bergstrom first learned about Ruff Start Rescue® in 2011 when she adopted her duck tolling/golden retriever mix, Honey, through the rescue. She continued to follow Ruff Start® through the years, impressed by the difference the organization has made. When the opportunity to join the board of directors arose in spring 2019, she was excited to be able to bring her passion for animals and work experience together.

Kristen brings close to 15 years of human resources experience from the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. In her current role as an HR director for a global manufacturing company, she is focused on global business partnering and comprehensive people strategies that positively affect the employee experience.

Kristen has an M.B.A. from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and a B.S. from St. Cloud State University in operations and human resources business management. Kristen is an avid yoga practitioner and enjoys traveling. She and her extended family have four dogs, including Honey, and she resides in St. Louis Park, MN.

Kathy Rumpza

Kathy Rumpza

Community Relations Consultant

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Kathy Rumpza

Kathy Rumpza

Community Relations Consultant

Kathy Rumpza learned about Ruff Start Rescue® through the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. While joining a nonprofit board of directors had been on her mind for some time, Ruff Start® offered the chance to support an organization with a truly inspiring mission—to help animals in need.

In 2018, a dog named Arlee came into Kathy’s life when she and her husband, Matt, adopted the Yorkie mix through a Hudson, Wisconsin, rescue. They are so happy they found Arlee and now can’t imagine life without her.

Kathy brings more than two decades of experience in nonprofit marketing and communication to the board of Ruff Start Rescue. In her current role at a major research university, she plans, develops and directs comprehensive internal and external communication strategies. Kathy’s resume also includes 15 years at a Minnesota private liberal arts college, where she was director of marketing communications, and seven years in communications for an international nonprofit. She began her career in advertising at a local city magazine.

Kathy has a master of arts in organizational leadership and a bachelor of science in journalism and mass communication from the University of Minnesota. She, Matt and Arlee live in St. Louis Park.

Volunteers

Alice Darling

Alice Darling

Home Visit Coordinator

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Alice Darling

Alice Darling

Home Visit Coordinator

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Alison Robbins

Alison Robbins

Intake Coordinator

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Alison Robbins

Alison Robbins

Intake Coordinator

Alison Robbins started volunteering with Ruff Start Rescue® in November 2019. She has been volunteering in local shelters since 2012, and saw what a great job Ruff Start® does with placing animals and giving them amazing homes.

Alison has always been an animal person. As a child she had dogs, guinea pigs and birds. Alison adopted her first dog, Sasha, in her early 20s. As a thank you to Sasha, Alison began volunteering at the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley. She started to learn more about rescue which has led her to many opportunities and roles. In 2018 she started helping as a playgroup leader at Minneapolis Animal Care and Control and has loved learning about canine behavior and doing behavioral assessments.

Outside of rescue, Alison currently has an American foxhound named Harley and a blue tick/treeing walker coonhound named Doc. She works full time in property management and as a part-time realtor. Her hobbies include hanging out with the dogs, volunteering, true crime, horseback riding and book club.

Ally Pelletier

Ally Pelletier

Google Adwords Coordinator

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Ally Pelletier

Ally Pelletier

Google Adwords Coordinator

Ally became involved with the rescue in 2016 after adopting her dog, Winnie. Winnie is very spoiled, has a big personality, and brings so much joy to everyone she meets! After Winnie was adopted, Ally wanted to volunteer more with Ruff Start Rescue and started fostering. She loves fostering and feels so privileged to spread so much joy in the world by matching dogs with humans. Since fostering, Ally has become a Placement Coordinator to further help more dogs and their fosters!

Ally is a newly married to her husband Joe. Other than spoiling her dog and volunteering, Ally is a data scientist at the Star Tribune, enjoys traveling, and also loves to bake yummy treats for her family and friends!

Alyssa Westergren

Alyssa Westergren

Intake Coordinator

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Alyssa Westergren

Alyssa Westergren

Intake Coordinator

Alyssa Westergren has been with Ruff Start Rescue® since February 2019. She started as a foster mom and shortly after became the adoption application manager in March 2019. She manages and processes all submitted adoption applications. She works with foster families to ensure proper placement of all animals in their adoptive homes.

Alyssa grew up always having at least one dog in the house and currently has two of her own, a rescue named Penny and another rescue named Bailey. Hunting and fishing are two of her main hobbies. She also likes to spend time outside with her dogs.

Amanda Shofner

Amanda Shofner

Content Curator

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Amanda Shofner

Amanda Shofner

Content Curator

A lifelong animal lover, Amanda Shofner grew up with happy-go-lucky golden retrievers and spent time at her grandparents’, where there were deer, goats, cats, and peacocks (among others). Amanda was first introduced to Ruff Start in 2016 when she adopted her dog Scarlet, a independent and intelligent mutt who’s taught Amanda a lot about dealing with dogs . . . and people.

Amanda is the publicist for a Minneapolis educational children’s book publisher and has been known to write (and self-publish) novels. When she’s not adventuring around Minneapolis with Scarlet, you can probably find Amanda reading, exploring new-to-her restaurants, visiting breweries, watching one-hour crime dramas, drinking coffee or kombucha, or exclaiming, “There’s a Futurama episode for that.”

Amanda decided to work with Ruff Start because she wants to give back and volunteering for the same rescue she adopted Scarlet from seemed like the perfect fit. The best time to reach--and get a response from!--her is during evenings and weekends. Her only goal is to hold out as long as possible before she succumbs to the inevitable and adopts another dog.

Amy Goetz

Amy Goetz

Donation Recorder

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Amy Goetz

Amy Goetz

Donation Recorder

Amy Goetz started with Ruff Start Rescue in April 2015 as a Volunteer Coordinator. Amy now volunteers with Ruff Start Rescue as a Vetting Administrative Assistant and Donation Recorder.

Amy currently works remote from her home office as an Operations Coordinator for a third party administrator based out of Madison, WI called Total Administrative Services Corporation. Amy assists with the financial aspects of the Business Technology Services department. Amy has been with TASC for over 10 years and enjoys her position!

Amy is married to her husband, Ryan and they live in Princeton, Minnesota. They have a daughter named Jordana who is the joy of their lives. They also have four German Wirehaired Pointers (Cheyenne, Max, Letty and Mia) and a Shorkie (Half Yorkshire Terrier and half Shitzu) named Diesel. In Amy’s spare time she likes to garden, shop, fish and hang out with the family!

Andrea Drontle

Andrea Drontle

Graphic Designer

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Andrea Drontle

Andrea Drontle

Graphic Designer

Andrea Drontle started volunteering with Ruff Start Rescue® in January 2016. Having been an animal lover all her life, she finally got her first dog at age 35. After realizing how amazing dogs truly are, she searched for a rescue to volunteer with that would help the ones that needed homes. She is constantly amazed by the talent and dedication of the Ruff Start® team.

Andrea has helped in different areas of the rescue including graphic design, home visits, events and transport. Her first transport experience was an emotional one that left a mark on her heart. That firsthand experience of seeing dogs and the amazing volunteer drivers who have made the long trip from out of state and being able to meet them when they arrive in Minnesota makes you realize the impact the rescue really has.

By day, Andrea is a freelance graphic and product designer. She has a daughter and lives in Buffalo with her husband and sweet and spoiled corgi, Meg. Andrea enjoys being outside, especially near the water, four wheeler rides on dirt roads, traveling, and hanging out with family, friends and any dogs she might meet.

Andy Willman

Andy Willman

Home Visit Coordinator

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Andy Willman

Andy Willman

Home Visit Coordinator

Andy Willman has been volunteering for Ruff Start Rescue® for several years, helping where needed at transport events, adoption events and completing home visits. His new role is as a home visit coordinator.

Andy is an alumnus of Saint Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, and received an MBA at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. He works at an insurance company doing process improvement. He is an environmentalist and animal rights advocate, and tries to do all he can to help all animals and the environment.

Andy is from Wisconsin and has lived in Minnesota for seven years with his wife, Jessica. They have two dogs and two cats. All are rescues, except their boxer, Bailey, as Andy always wanted a boxer. Their other dog, Seven, was a rescue from Ruff Start® in December 2016. Andy enjoys running his high-energy dogs often and taking walks.

Anne Johnson

Anne Johnson

Microchip Coordinator

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Anne Johnson

Anne Johnson

Microchip Coordinator

Anne Johnson has been volunteering with Ruff Start Rescue since February of 2017 as a foster with her husband Dan. They have adopted two dogs through the rescue, Peanut and Mac, and also have a cat, River. Anne will be moving into a role as a microchip coordinator, making sure microchip records are kept up to date and accurate for the rescue's animals.

Anne lives in Alexandria MN and works as an occupational therapy in Long Prairie. Ruff Start Rescue has provided her first opportunity to participate in animal rescue, but has had a love of animals since childhood, constantly hounding her parents to let her get a dog and taking in any other animals that seemed to need a home.

In her spare time, she likes to spend time with her husband and the animals as well as friends and family. Cheering on the Packers is a favorite pastime, as well as working in the garden and reading books.

Anne is reachable evenings and weekends and hopes that her work with RSR will help reduce animal overpopulation.

Ashley Jozelic

Ashley Jozelic

Microchip Coordinator/Photographer

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Ashley Jozelic

Ashley Jozelic

Microchip Coordinator/Photographer

Ashley started with Ruff Start Rescue in mid 2017 as a Microchip Coordinator making sure animals information was up to date on their microchip in case they went missing. She has since expanded her role to include being a Photographer for transports and those already in foster homes and a Receptionist for the office.

After realizing her childhood dream of being a vet was not going to work out, she decided to go to school and get an Associate Degree for her other love of Photography. While working her day job as a Librarian in St. Michael Ashley would get asked what she wanted to do with her self since she didn't have the normal degree for a Librarian. Every time she was asked the answer remained the same, taking pictures of animals to help find them a home which she is glad to say she has finally made it a reality.

In her free time Ashley can be found hanging out with her four legged Pit-bull buddy. Is most likely outdoors unless it is winter then Ashley is completely down for hibernating like a bear, and thinks every day is Halloween. Along with taking even more pictures that may or may not include animals, reading, and being a nerd who likes to re-watch movies especially Marvel ones.

Becki Murphy

Becki Murphy

Online Auction Assistant

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Becki Murphy

Becki Murphy

Online Auction Assistant

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Beth Anderson

Beth Anderson

Intake Coordinator

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Beth Anderson

Beth Anderson

Intake Coordinator

Beth Andersen is a foster for Ruff Start Rescue® and manages the public rescue Foster Homes Needed page on Facebook. Beth adopted her pup from Ruff Start® and knew she wanted to get involved and give back to the rescue. She started fostering in March 2018 and also became a volunteer at that time.

Beth lives in Amery with her husband Kent, their son Jacob, and their lab Ike (a Ruff Start alum). Beth works for Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in the Standards and Compliance Department. In her free time she loves to be outdoors with her family, going “up north” on weekends, riding her horse Kit Kat and just enjoying life.

Beth Chase

Beth Chase

Intake Coordinator

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Beth Chase

Beth Chase

Intake Coordinator

Beth Chase began volunteering with Ruff Start Rescue® in June 2019 as an owner surrender intake coordinator. She works with people in difficult situations who are looking for options for pets they can no longer care for.

Beth and her husband Kevin are IT professionals with over 20 years of experience. They currently have two dogs, a Chihuahua named Milo and a black Lab named Odin. Beth and Kevin love to travel to Colorado with the dogs and hike. Both their dogs love hiking the mountains.

Beth has been an animal lover all of her life. This is her first time working with a rescue organization. She is looking to help out in any way needed and is eager to learn more about educating the public about the animal overpopulation.

Beth Moran

Beth Moran

Adoption Coordinator

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Beth Moran

Beth Moran

Adoption Coordinator

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Brenda Smith

Brenda Smith

Intake Coordinator/Receptionist

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Brenda Smith

Brenda Smith

Intake Coordinator/Receptionist

Brenda Smith joined the Ruff Start Rescue® team as an intake assistant in September 2018, then took on a placement coordinator role in November. As an intake assistant, she is responsible for assisting the intake coordinator with finding and bringing animals into the rescue and working with shelters, impounds, owner surrenders, etc. As a placement coordinator, she assists foster homes throughout the entire foster experience until adoption.

Brenda has lived in Princeton for 19 years with her family. She is a former special education teacher. Over the years, she has volunteered as a Girl Scout leader, cookie mom, president of the high school football booster club, and secretary of the Princeton Education Association Committee. Brenda has also provided personal home care for her grandparents. Currently, she is a stay-at-home wife with lots of free time.

Brenda has been married to her best friend, LeRoy, for 25 years. They have two children, Laura and LeRoy IV. Laura is a vet tech in the Red Wing area. Brenda and LeRoy have four fur babies: Bella (a rescued rottie mix), Chewy (a Pekingese), and two cats, Milo and Snickers. In her free time, Brenda enjoys riding motorcycle, gardening, knitting and snuggling with her fur babies.

Bridget Parsons

Bridget Parsons

Intake Coordinator

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Bridget Parsons

Bridget Parsons

Intake Coordinator

After the amazing experience she had with her first Ruff Start® dog Lilly, Bridget Parsons become a foster with Ruff Start Rescue® in August 2017. She continues volunteering by fostering bully breeds and the occasional litter of puppies. Bridget expanded her role to intake after assisting with temperament testing in an impound setting and realizing how much help was needed in this area.

Other than rescue, Bridget loves spending time with her pack by walking in a nearby park and advocating for equal treatment of pit bull breeds. Her pack includes Gus (shih tzu), Penny (French bulldog/Boston terrier) Lilly (Staffordshire/shepherd) and Taz (American bulldog/pit bull terrier).

Carolyn Narikawa

Carolyn Narikawa

Intake Coordinator

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Carolyn Narikawa

Carolyn Narikawa

Intake Coordinator

Carolyn joined Ruff Start Rescue in September of 2017 after being with the AHS of Woodbury for 2.5 years.

She will be doing temperament testing on dogs to see if they would be a good candidate for the rescue.

Carolyn is married, with no children, but she has a house full of critters. There are 2 dogs, 3 cats, 2 box turtles, and a cockatiel. Carolyn does temp fostering when needed so every now and then another dog gets thrown into the mix!

She enjoys anything animal related, out door water activities such as kayaking, canoing, or even just going to the beach to hang out, and traveling. For work Carolyn does administrative work for a research facility full time in downtown Minneapolis.

Cathryn Jones

Cathryn Jones

Legal Committee Member

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Cathryn Jones

Cathryn Jones

Legal Committee Member

Cathy Jones joined Ruff Start Rescue® in 2019 as a member of the legal committee to use her legal background to support an organization that does amazing work for animals in need. In this role, she assists the rescue in addressing various legal issues that may arise.

Cathy currently works as an attorney at a law firm in Minneapolis. She attended law school at the University of St. Thomas. Prior to law school, she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

Cathy lives with her husband, Travis, and their two dogs, Benny and Joon. In her spare time, she enjoys camping (also one of the dogs’ favorite activities!), playing volleyball, reading and playing pool.

Christina Hart

Christina Hart

Intake Coordinator/TNR Specialist

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Christina Hart

Christina Hart

Intake Coordinator/TNR Specialist

Christina Hart has been in the finance industry for more than 10 years. She works full time as a support specialist with Wolters Kluwer Financial Services in St. Cloud. She is working on completing her Bachelors in Business Administration at the Minnesota School of Business. Christina has always been an animal lover and has always wanted to be part of the rescue world. She got her foot in the door about 4 years ago, when she fostered for a non-profit rescue and experienced her first foster fail (don’t worry, this is a good thing). Christina now has two dogs, Eureka (4 years old) and Lola (1 year old). They are both pit mixes which has sprung her love for their breed and has set a goal to show the world just how loving they are. She has 3 girls who are 17, 12, and 5. Along with a Grandson who is almost 8 months old. When she’s not working, going to school, or volunteering her time, you can find her drinking coffee, watching movies, and creating memories with her very eventful family.

Crystal Polipnick

Crystal Polipnick

Volunteer Coordinator/Intake Coordinator

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Crystal Polipnick

Crystal Polipnick

Volunteer Coordinator/Intake Coordinator

I started fostering in November 2016. I had seen some dogs at a TSC event through another rescue, and they had suggested that I get in contact with Ruff Start. I started fostering for 2 reasons: Our resident boxer is pretty low energy and I felt that the house was missing "something," and the second reason is more on a personal level, kids weren't always around and the house felt lonely. I also wanted to help in some way and make a difference in an animal's life.

I have been married since 2012 to Brandon, he has also done some volunteering through Ruff Start. Have 3 sons 18,16,13 who have done some volunteering with Ruff Start. I work at Industries Inc. in Mora, this is a place where adults with disabilities go to work and learn community and employment skills. I am a Hospice Volunteer through St.Croix Hospice. I have a boxer, Hercules, foster fail, Buck and plenty of fosters that keep us busy. In my spare time, if there is any, I like to garden, fish, travel, cook, make quilts, go to Bed&Breakfast establishments, and spend time with the family & furbabies

Dave Rich

Dave Rich

I.T. Coordinator

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Dave Rich

Dave Rich

I.T. Coordinator

Dave started volunteering with Ruff Start Rescue in the summer of 2016, helping with fostering and home visits. In addition, Dave is a Sr. Software / Web Application Developer with an extensive background in developing full software suites, database and server setup and administration, and system security.

Dave has had animals most of his life, but became passionate about helping animals around 5 years ago when he volunteered for a transport leg in through Tennessee. Since then he has moved to Duluth MN from Memphis TN, spending more and more time getting involved in rescue and helping in any way he can. While living in Memphis, Dave was a Skywarn Certified Severe Weather Spotter and licensed Amateur Radio Operator, spending time volunteering with others to give live, on the ground weather and tornado reports directly to meteorologists in the area, assisting with early warning of potentially deadly weather conditions.

For fun, Dave likes going to the beach with his German Shepherds (Lexi, Luna, Xander), hiking, canoeing in the Boundary Waters, and hammock camping in the winter. Dave also enjoys amateur photography and just about anything to do with the outdoors.

Deb Kelly

Deb Kelly

Donation Recorder/Receptionist

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Deb Kelly

Deb Kelly

Donation Recorder/Receptionist

Deb moved to Princeton in 2015 after retiring from American Airlines in Washington, DC as the Chief Pilot’s Admin. Soon after she started volunteering at Tri County Humane Society in St. Cloud. She became familiar with RSR when her sister fostered two dogs for them. After being present for an intake van and viewing the process in person, she felt RSR might be a good fit. Administrative work is where her comfort zone is so donation recorder and one day a week in the office was her preferred volunteer work.

Deb and her husband Tim, live with two fur babies. Molly is a rescue rat terrier/corgy mix from Missouri. Toby is an older bichon who was a foster fail. Deb and Tim love to travel. They have children in Dallas and St. Louis whom they see frequently. They spend the cold weather in Texas where the dogs love to run on the beach. In Minnesota, hobbies are being outside, mostly cutting down dead oak trees. She spends much time taking care of family and friends dogs when they are out of town.

Dre Moll

Dre Moll

Adoption Day Event Coordinator

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Dre Moll

Dre Moll

Adoption Day Event Coordinator

Andrea (Dre for short) Moll has been a volunteer with Ruff Start Rescue® since 2012. She has fostered dogs, cats, birds, rats and a rabbit with Ruff Start®. Her first rescue experience was in 2001 when she took in a 100-plus pound malamute, Sydney, from the family she was nannying for. The family couldn't keep Sydney and were going to give her up, so Dre offered to take her. That opened up the world of animal rescue to her and her husband.

After Sydney's death, Dre joined an animal rescue, which is where she fostered and ended up adopting Trigger, a shepherd-husky mix. She waited a couple years after adopting Trigger to start fostering again, and since her previous animal rescue was no longer active, she found and joined Ruff Start Rescue as a foster! Since joining Ruff Start she has adopted two dogs, Roxy and Ebby, and a rabbit, Bun-Bun. She also has two parrots, Jetta and Piper. Her house is a bit of a zoo and definitely not the quiet house on the block.

Dre is married with two boys, Tyler and Conner. She has worn many different hats since joining Ruff Start. Since she's had the freedom to stop working, she has been able to follow her passion with animal rescue and take on more roles within the rescue. She's currently the adoption day event coordinator, a foster coordinator, supply house for the Northern suburb fosters, temp/emergency foster, and a home visit volunteer. She loves being able to help save the lives of animals and can't imagine doing anything else.

Erika Gearen

Erika Gearen

FTA Vetting Coordinator

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Erika Gearen

Erika Gearen

FTA Vetting Coordinator

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Gina Rasset

Gina Rasset

Adoption Coordinator

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Gina Rasset

Gina Rasset

Adoption Coordinator

Gina is so excited to help out in a new role with the rescue! She has always been an animal lover and has a background in animals, large and small! She first learned about RSR when they were looking for a cat to adopt. She started as an adopter, became a board member and soon after a foster. She lives in the Becker area with her husband, son, 2 horses and whatever foster(s) they have at the time! She works full time and has her own small business in direct sales but animals are her passion! She looks forward to being able to help RSR get more fosters!

Ginger Nosbusch

Ginger Nosbusch

Merchandise Assistant

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Ginger Nosbusch

Ginger Nosbusch

Merchandise Assistant

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Heidi Ennenga

Heidi Ennenga

Board Member

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Heidi Ennenga

Heidi Ennenga

Board Member

Heidi Ennenga joined the Ruff Start Rescue® team in April 2014. She volunteered with other rescues, but wanted to be more involved with an organization. After meeting with a Ruff Start® volunteer, she decided a placement coordinator role would be a good fit. Heidi has always had a passion for helping animals and could always be found outdoors. While growing up on a farm, she not only cared for the farm animals, but helped injured wildlife as well.

Heidi graduated with a degree in business/accounting, and after years of working in an accounting office, she decided to pursue her passion of working with animals. She completed grooming classes and opened a grooming business that she operated for ten years before relocating with her husband and their three fur kids to their current home. She is now an accounting consultant for small businesses and in her spare time helps animal rescues with grooming, home visits, fostering and now a coordinator role.

Heidi and her husband, Steve, live in the country just west of the metro and enjoy the great outdoors with their three Labs: Tucker, Kita and Carbon. Some of her favorite activities are hunting (especially upland bird with their kids), fishing, running, hiking, snowshoeing, gardening and anything outdoors, as well as traveling with her husband.

Holly Skalak

Holly Skalak

Intake Coordinator

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Holly Skalak

Holly Skalak

Intake Coordinator

Holly is a foster matchmaker for Ruff Start Rescue. She started volunteering and fostering with the rescue in November 2016 a few months after adopting an Australian Shepherd mix puppy, Zipper, from Ruff Start. She had such a great experience through the adoption process that she knew she wanted to get involved with the rescue.

Holly lives in Zimmerman with her husband Sam, their two cats Meeko and Zoey, and their Aussie, Zipper (RSR alum). Holly works for a native restoration company maintaining native landscapes. In her free time Holly loves to go hiking, camping and traveling with her husband and their dog! This past year the three of them went on a backpacking trip in Wyoming and are excited to make backpacking an annual vacation.

Jackie Olsen

Jackie Olsen

Mobile Clinic Coordinator/Donation Recorder

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Jackie Olsen

Jackie Olsen

Mobile Clinic Coordinator/Donation Recorder

Jackie Olsen is one of our Mobile Clinic Schedulers. Her responsibilities are to schedule any required vetting needs for the cats/dogs in the rescue with our Mobile Vet Clinics. She started fostering and volunteering with RSR in July 2013 when she saw a Facebook plea for a foster for a puppy mill dog named Asher.

She recently moved to Grantsburg, WI with her husband Ron, their 3 dogs (Striker, BB, and her former foster Asher) and their 4 kittens (Tsunami, Blacky, Penny and Miko) who are all former fosters of hers. With 7 kids and 2 grandkids between her and her husband, they stay busy with family, but in her spare time, Jackie is involved in the local garden club, the book club and loves to go out for rides with her husband on their Harley.

Jenni Smith

Jenni Smith

Intake Coordinator

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Jenni Smith

Jenni Smith

Intake Coordinator

I joined RSR as a foster in the Spring of 2017 after moving to Minnesota from Wisconsin. My previous foster experience was with a rescue that primarily took in dogs from the Indian Reservations in South Dakota. When I moved to MN, I contacted Lightshine Canine Rez Dog Rescue to see which rescues in Minnesota they worked with and they referred me to RSR. This has now come full circle for me as I am transitioning into the Intake Coordinator role for Rez Dogs!

After a few months of fostering with RSR, my family signed up to foster a puppy that was coming to RSR from the DMT in South Korea. Needless to say, another passion was ignited and one DMT foster quickly turned into another and another and another. Now, to be the RSR Intake Coordinator for DMT dogs is nothing short of a dream come true!

During the day, I work in the Human Resources / Organizational Development field but secretly wish rescue was my full time job! My husband Brady and I spend most of our time shuffling our kids, Travis and Rowan to their practices and sporting events . . . and we always have a dog or two with us! My fur kids include three rescues: Jovie, Weylin and my most recent DMT rescue, Yeondu. In my spare time I enjoy cabin time, anything outdoors, CrossFit and my Bible.

Jennifer Norstrem

Jennifer Norstrem

Foster Coordinator

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Jennifer Norstrem

Jennifer Norstrem

Foster Coordinator

Jen started fostering with Ruff Start in May 2017 and quickly fell in love with it and decided she wanted to help others begin their journeys into fostering as well so became a Foster Coordinator in August 2017. Jen has always had a love of animals and has always been a dog owner. Since rescuing her current dog 2 years ago, she has developed a love of pit bulls and would like to work to reduce the stigma attached to the breed.

Jen works as a middle school social worker and enjoys having her summers off to spend with her family. She loves to travel, garden and play tennis. She lives with her husband, 2 kids and spoiled 3 year old pit bull Chloe.

Jennifer Ponnam

Jennifer Ponnam

Foster Coordinator

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Jennifer Ponnam

Jennifer Ponnam

Foster Coordinator

After following Ruff Start Rescue on social media for several years, Jennifer decided to get more involved with the rescue and started as a Foster Coordinator in January 2018. She has always loved animals and a passion for saving them.

Jennifer lives in Saint Louis Park with her husband and terrier mix Chloe. They are planning on moving from their apartment into a house in the next few months. After moving, Jennifer and her husband are planning on adopting a second dog and hopefully start fostering. In Jennifer’s free time, she loves kickboxing, craft breweries, trying out new places and traveling.

Jessica Sundet

Jessica Sundet

Vetting Assistant

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Jessica Sundet

Jessica Sundet

Vetting Assistant

My family and I moved to Princeton 6 years. I have worked in healthcare for the last 19 years and have lots of experience with drawing blood, giving shots, assisting with medical procedures, and taking vitals on humans. I have two teenagers Louden who is 17 and Madison who is 16. With the support of my husband and kids I just recently finished my degree in Human Resource. I had been working full-time, going to school, and raising a family, so I am grateful to be done. Having some extra time on my hands I wanted to be involved with an organization that helped animals. I had heard about Ruff Start Rescue on Facebook and my husband had brought our three fur babies to have vaccines updated at the event in Zimmerman this summer, and he had said that he was impressed with how well the event was organized and the people really cared about the animals. I knew after that I wanted to volunteer with Ruff Start.

I love all animals, I attended a church horse camp in my youth and that really peaked my interest in horses. I have also helped raise goats,and bunnies. I have grown up with dogs in the home, and can not imagine not having a dog. We had basset hounds when I was growing up and my favorite thing was to lay on the floor and howl with them, even now it brings a smile to my face. We have three fur babies at home, shilo who is going on 7 he is a cocker, Tasha who we think is around 5 is a springer, and Cooper he is 2 this month a coonhound. They bring us a lot of laughs they each have their own personalities. If I didn't have to work, I would spend my days playing with dogs and learning to train them. Being around dogs is so rewarding. I am excited to be involved with Ruff Start and look forward to getting to know everyone.

Jessica Wallace

Jessica Wallace

Adoption Coordinator

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Jessica Wallace

Jessica Wallace

Adoption Coordinator

Jessica grew up in Green Bay, WI and, yes, she is a Packers fan! She has always had a love for animals and, as a kid, relentlessly begged her parents for a dog. When she was a sophmore in high school, she finally won the battle with her very first puppy: a black lab/coon hound mix. Since then, there has been at least one dog in her house at all times.

She currently lives in Richfield with her fiance and their furbaby Cal, a 5 year old shepherd/pix mix. She works full-time in Human Resources and enjoys summer patios, knitting, wine, traveling and, of course, anything involving pups! She is starting as a vet admin assistant, but also hopes to start fostering soon (only pups that allow Cal to be the boss are allowed!).

Jillian Caspers

Jillian Caspers

Intake Coordinator

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Jillian Caspers

Jillian Caspers

Intake Coordinator

Jillian joined the Ruff Start team in the summer of 2018. After starting to foster with RSR in the Spring, she wanted to get even more involved.

Jillian has been in the rescue community, both fostering and volunteering with other rescues, since 2015. She took a break from rescue after she adopted a senior pit bull mix, Chewy, to focus on making the last few months of his life the best they could be. After he passed, she decided it was time to jump back into the rescue game. She has always loved animals, growing up with animals like cats, dogs, hermit crabs, lizards, and rats.

Jillian lives in Kimball, MN with her dog AK, and two rescue bearded dragons, Mushu & Ping. She is excited to have joined the team, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for her at RSR.

Jody Ambroz

Jody Ambroz

Public Relations Coordinator

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Jody Ambroz

Jody Ambroz

Public Relations Coordinator

Coming Soon!

 

 

 

 

Julie Harms

Julie Harms

Microchip Coordinator/Receptionist

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Julie Harms

Julie Harms

Microchip Coordinator/Receptionist

Julie Harms has been a receptionist for Ruff Start Rescue® since fall 2018. In this role, she greets everyone that comes to the office, files vet records, puts away donations and assembles adoption folders. She also helps welcome the pups that come in on transport days. Julie found Ruff Start® through a friend who fosters for the rescue. Her friend told Julie about the opportunities to volunteer, and Julie knew she wanted to help these animals get a second chance. Julie worked as a health unit coordinator at Grace Point Crossing in Cambridge, Minnesota, for many years, and she enjoyed helping patients in the short-term care area with their appointments and medications when they were ready to be discharged. In her spare time you can find Julie relaxing with her dogs at the cabin, going on scrapbook retreats, or just hanging out with her grandchildren. Julie lives with her husband, Jeff, their dogs and a cat in Ramsey, Minnesota.

Kari VanBruggen

Kari VanBruggen

Pet Profile Coordinator

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Kari VanBruggen

Kari VanBruggen

Pet Profile Coordinator

Kari VanBruggen started with RSR in April 2017 as a foster. Kari has experience fostering pregnant dogs, puppies, senior dogs, cats, momma cat and kittens. Kari enjoys being part of the adoption process for her fosters. She started as a Placement Coordinator in November 2017. Kari previously volunteered as a dog walker and foster for the Animal Humane Society for a couple years. Kari has been a pet owner all of her life and dog sits for friends and family whenever needed.

Kate Nelson

Kate Nelson

Social Media Representative

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Kate Nelson

Kate Nelson

Social Media Representative

Kate joined Ruff Start Rescue in June of 2017 as a social media strategist and graphic designer. She is currently a full-time Graphic Designer at a local marketing agency in downtown Minneapolis. Kate adopted her first dog, Margie, from Ruff Start Rescue in 2015. Margie has brought a lot of light, happiness and fun into her life and has officially become a dedicated Dog Mom. Kate loves spending time in the outdoors whether its camping, being by the lakes or biking. (And even better if Margie can tag along too!)

Kate is so excited to combine her experience with social media and skills in graphic design for Ruff Start Rescue and help out in anyway she can.

Kathy Swan

Kathy Swan

Donation Recorder

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Kathy Swan

Kathy Swan

Donation Recorder

Kathy Swan began volunteering with Ruff Start Rescue in 2017. Kathy has always had a huge love for animals and decided to put this energy towards volunteering; having experienced the rewards of adopting through RSR, she joined the organization and performs home visits and recording donations.

Kathy and her husband Steve live in Royalton with their two children and three dogs. Kathy has worked at the St. Cloud VA for the past seven years as an Administrative Secretary. She enjoys reading, shopping, traveling and exercising.

Katie Leyendecker

Katie Leyendecker

Pet Profile Coordinator

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Katie Leyendecker

Katie Leyendecker

Pet Profile Coordinator

Katie Leyendecker is a Pet Profile Coordinator who started fostering and volunteering with Ruff Start in 2013. Katie works with our Fosters and Placement Coordinators to make sure the website is up to date with their animal's most up to date bio's and photos.

Katie grew up in rural central Minnesota where her family always had dogs growing up. Katie and her husband Jason adopted their first dog Cooper when they lived in Arizona. Cooper is now an old man of 11 who spends most of his days sleeping on the couch. Her family also has a 2 year old black lab/ border collie named Trigger.

Katie is a busy stay at home mom, keeping up with their two daughters, Audrey (7) and Olivia (4). They are expert foster mommies to all of the dogs that come through the house! The family has fostered around 15 dogs with Ruff Start. The girls love having puppies in the house to spoil, so they become a family favorite!

Kelly Erickson

Kelly Erickson

Intake Coordinator

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Kelly Erickson

Kelly Erickson

Intake Coordinator

Kelly grew up in Merrfield, a small town 20 miles north of Brainerd where she resides there as of today. She found Ruff Start Rescue after seeing a post on Facebook. Where she lives there is very few resources for animal rescue and wanted to bring rescue awareness in her area.

She is a huge dog lover and currently owns Pixie Marie, a chihuahua mix who had been abused and Nova Jean, a German Shepherd who she adopted almost a year ago from a humane society who has behavioral issues but making great progress and recently foster failed on Rico Alexander, a tiny 5lb Chihuahua.

Kelly met her husband, Jeremiah on match.com and one of the first questions to him was if he loved dogs! He does and the rest is history. Her passion has always been to help those that don't have a voice. In her spare time she loves spending time with her four year old niece, crafting, training Nova, and just hanging out at home.

 

Kelly Hipsag

Kelly Hipsag

Adoption Coordinator

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Kelly Hipsag

Kelly Hipsag

Adoption Coordinator

Kelly Hipsag is a Adoption Coordinator and Foster with Ruff Start Rescue. She started volunteering with the rescue in the summer of 2011 as a Foster. About a year later she decided she wanted to get more involved and became a Placement Coordinator. Kelly has fostered 15 dogs so far and looks forward to saving more in the future. As a placement coordinator she has help placed many dogs and some cats into their forever homes which is the best feeling in the world.

Kelly has always loved animals and dreamed of growing up on a farm where she could have lots of them. Guess what - her dream came true! She started out volunteering with Tri County Humane Society. Seeing all of the sad animals in cages made her want to help save them all. She did some research and found Ruff Start Rescue and has been hooked ever since.

Kelly has a hobby farm with her family where they have cattle, mini donkeys, horses, chickens, goats, three dogs, fish, and a cockatiel. For fun she likes to spend time on the farm with her animals and also spend time with her family. Living on a farm is a lot of work and she loves the time she gets to spend with her animals. She also has three kids. Two are in college and one is in ninth grade.

Lara Clasen

Lara Clasen

Email Marketing Strategist

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Lara Clasen

Lara Clasen

Email Marketing Strategist

Lara joined the Ruff Start team in the summer of 2018 as a Email Marketing Strategist within the Communications Department. Lara currently works in marketing, which she hopes will add value to the efforts of the rescue! In her free time, Lara loves to be outdoors with her husband doing anything from scuba diving, hiking or snowmobiling, hanging out with their two dogs Remi and Otto, and having bonfires with friends at their new home in Princeton. Lara has had many pets in her life, from cats to Irish Woflhounds to rabbits, and she is a big fan of large dogs and Labradors. She can be seen snuggling up to cats even though she's allergic. Her dogs tend to have quirky qualities, like sleeping with their mouths open, swimming in pools, and eating their food one piece at a time. But hey, that’s what makes it interesting…right? She has adopted many animals from rescues and is excited to now be a part of one where she can have a true impact on animal welfare!

Laura Downs

Laura Downs

Graphic Designer

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Laura Downs

Laura Downs

Graphic Designer

Laura Downs joined Ruff Start Rescue® in September 2017 as a graphic designer. She lives and works in Northeast Minneapolis, but will take any chance to get out of the city and be outdoors! Laura adopted her first dog, a blue heeler/terrier mix named Jake, from Australian Cattle Dog Rescue of Minnesota (ACDRMN) in 2012. During the five years she volunteered for them, she learned all about the rescue world and how important it is to help out. She is excited to bring her design experience and knowledge to Ruff Start® and join another wonderful rescue family!

Leslie Day

Leslie Day

Intake Coordinator

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Leslie Day

Leslie Day

Intake Coordinator

I started volunteering and fostering with Ruff Start two years ago after adopting my first pitbull, Luna. I had an awesome experience adopting her and wanted to get more involved so I started doing home visits and fostering dogs. More recently, I started doing temperament tests for dogs at impounds near where I live, so it made sense to go further and join the intake team so I could help with the background paperwork side of things as well.

I've loved dogs my whole life and have been involved with rescue off and on since I was 16 years old when I volunteered every weekend for two years with a shelter in Katy, Texas. On any given day they had 70+ large breed dogs, most of them pitbulls, rottweilers, German shepherds, chows and mixes of those. That was the start of my love for the "bully" breeds, although I can honestly say that at the time I hadn't even heard of pitbulls. Since then I think I've become a little obsessed with working with and saving these stigmatized breeds.

Outside of rescue, I have two dogs, a 14 year old Chihuahua/Italian greyhound and a 4.5 year old pitbull, and an African grey parrot. My hobbies include walking my dogs, fostering pitbulls, gardening (with a long term goal of growing all my own food), working locally to educate people about the importance and decline of pollinators (especially bees), and enjoying a good glass of wine with friends! I'm looking forward to getting more involved with RSR and to meeting more of the great volunteers and fosters we have here!

Lindsey Monroe

Lindsey Monroe

FTA Placement Coordinator

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Lindsey Monroe

Lindsey Monroe

FTA Placement Coordinator

Lindsey Monroe has been with Ruff Start Rescue since 2018. She started fostering and quickly desired to become more involved, she now volunteers as a placement coordinator and volunteer coordinator. She enjoys helping out in other areas as needed.

Lindsey has always had a love for animals. She grew up with a dog named Bootsie and a cat named Mittens and would even feed the wild geese out of her hands. She later adopted a black lab/blue heeler (Maggie) from a local shelter of which she had for 11 years. She first heard about RSR when her and her husband started looking to adopt and came across a red heeler mix named Skipper. They immediately fell in love with him and through the adoption process met some wonderful people and still keep in touch with his old foster family.

Lindsey works as an RN and in her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, gardening, running, camping, motorcycling and pretty much anything outdoors.

Lizz Whitacre

Lizz Whitacre

Analytics Coordinator

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Lizz Whitacre

Lizz Whitacre

Analytics Coordinator

Lizz is our Google Analytics/Google Adword expert. Her responsibilities include monitoring RSR's reports and analytics and to make recommendations to grow RSR's online presence. She started volunteering with Ruff Start Rescue in 2017 after falling in love with RSR's culture from states away. Lizz is originally from Eden Prairie but currently lives in Lincoln, Nebraska for school. She has loved animals all her life, however, due to her allergies, she was unable to get her first pet till 13 years old! That dog, Rex, has since been her inspiration for continued determination in saving the lives of animals.

As a senior in high school, she co-owned a no-kill shelter in Buffalo, Minnesota called Adopt-A-Pet Inc. During her sophomore year in college, she founded the No Kill Advocacy Club at UNL, a student organization that works with no-kill groups in and around Lincoln, NE. Later that same year, she founded another organization called Progressive Animal Welfare Rescue, a no-kill rescue based out of Minnesota. Most recently, in January of 2016, she founded Family Pet project, a website aimed at keeping pets with families and out of shelters. Since adopting Rex in 2007, she has had many rescues in her home. Her current pets include 3 pit bulls, 1 shih-tzu mix, 3 cats, 2 ferrets, and a horse!

Lori Johnson

Lori Johnson

FTA Vetting Coordinator

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Lori Johnson

Lori Johnson

FTA Vetting Coordinator

Lori Johnson is originally from Princeton, but now lives in St. Cloud with her 3 feline friends (Bob Loblaw, Finnegan and Jinx) and a retired greyhound (Nita)!

She has been a Certified Veterinary Technician for 23+ years, and recently obtained her B.S. degree in Veterinary Technology Management through the Minnesota School of Business while working as an instructor in the veterinary technology program for the past 5 ½ years. Prior to working at MSB, she was the practice manager in a small animal clinic in a NE suburb of the twin cities. She also has 10+ years' experience working full and part time in veterinary emergency medicine between two different ER clinics located in the twin cities.

After completing her B.S. degree, she decided she wanted to devote her spare time to an animal rescue organization. She learned about RSR while working at MSB, and decided that RSR was the rescue for her. She started volunteering with RSR late 2014 and found that she very much enjoyed being a Vetting Coordinator.

She has seen the growth that RSR has made since it first started, and can see the big picture of what the organization does for the many animals that need our help, and wanted it be an everyday part of it! So she accepted a position of Vetting Manager so she can now devote more of her time to the animals and the rescue.

She has met a lot of great people in the rescue group and is looking forward to meeting many more!

Maddy Simondet

Maddy Simondet

Adoption Center Coordinator/Placement Coordinator

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Maddy Simondet

Maddy Simondet

Adoption Center Coordinator/Placement Coordinator

Maddy started as a foster with Ruff Start in October 2017. She quickly realized she wanted to become more involved and decided to take on the role of Placement Coordinator just a few months later. In her role Maddy assists foster families with tasks such as finding a foster that fits their home, answering any questions they may have throughout the fostering process and finalizing adoptions.

Maddy lives in Big Lake with her husband Nate and four furbabies. Her dogs are Drake a 5 year old black lab/corgi & Quinn (RSR alumna) a 5 month old black lab/collie. Her two cats are Duncan (4 years old) & Charlee (3 years old). Maddy graduated from North Dakota State University in 2014 with her bachelor's of science degree in Medical Laboratory Science. She currently works as a lead technologist in the Infectious Disease Laboratory at Fairview. Maddy and her husband are huge Minnesota Wild fans and enjoy attending as many games as they can.

Madi Bromberg

Madi Bromberg

Graphic Designer

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Madi Bromberg

Madi Bromberg

Graphic Designer

Madi joined the RSR Communications Team in November 2016, bringing her professional background in business marketing, and event planning. She is very passionate about increasing awareness of the RSR mission, and looks forward to becoming involved and making a difference! She is excited to help generate graphics, social media posts and website content.

Madi recently moved to Milaca, MN where she lives with her husband and boxer fur baby. Ranger is a 75lb young boxer pup/lap dog who has a big personality, loves to play, cuddle, and continues to surprise his parents with his sense of humor. With great possibility, she hopes to help RSR by fostering and/or adopting in the future.

Maren Ahlberg

Maren Ahlberg

Foster Coordinator

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Maren Ahlberg

Maren Ahlberg

Foster Coordinator

Coming Soon!

 

 

 

 

Maria Megas

Maria Megas

Intake Coordinator

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Maria Megas

Maria Megas

Intake Coordinator

Maria Megas started volunteering with Ruff Start Rescue® the winter of 2017, doing transfers and home visits. She then became a foster, volunteered as a placement coordinator, and is also an adopter. (She foster failed a few times!) When Ruff Start® restructured their volunteer roles, Maria joined the intake team in August 2019 to continue helping the rescue. Her new role is to help local people find homes for pets they are no longer able to care for. Her strengths are husband negotiations for more foster animals and loving all that's furry. She has a big soft spot for animals in need of love.

Meaghan Dubbs

Meaghan Dubbs

Intake Coordinator

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Meaghan Dubbs

Meaghan Dubbs

Intake Coordinator

Meaghan Dubbs is an intake coordinator and works to find and bring animals to the rescue. She is married to TJ and they have four dogs: Winston, Frankie, Spike and Jack. She learned about Ruff Start Rescue® through her sister, Brooke, who had fostered for years. Meaghan and TJ decided to foster-to-adopt their fourth dog, Frankie, in February 2018, and then kept fostering. At any time, their house will have between five and seven dogs (all male) running around. After Meaghan had finished getting married and planning a wedding, she decided to get more involved in the rescue with all her free time. Currently, they are a supply house in Bloomington, and Meaghan helps with the public foster Facebook page. She's also joined intake to help bring up dogs from Louisiana.

During the day, Meaghan is a closer at a time company. Outside of work, she's constantly with the dogs, doing dog stuff, hanging out with family or reading.

Meredith Athman

Meredith Athman

Vetting Admin Assistant/Microchip Coordinator

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Meredith Athman

Meredith Athman

Vetting Admin Assistant/Microchip Coordinator

Meredith joined the Ruff Start Rescue vetting team in July 2017. As a Vetting Admin Assistant, Meredith’s responsibilities include filling preventative medications for foster animals to be mailed out to Ruff Start Rescue foster families. Meredith works as an Office Manager at St. Cloud State University, where she is also a psychology student. But her real passion is rescue animals; loving on as many as she possibly can, and helping every rescue animal find their fur-ever home.

Meredith and her husband Neil live in Princeton, Minnesota. They have four kids, RaeAnn (19), Carter (16), Taylor (14) and Logan (12). They also have one fur-baby, Lemon, a spunky Chihuahua mix who rules the house. The family enjoys barbecues, volleyball, archery and hunting together.

Michelle Donner

Michelle Donner

Donation Coordinator

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Michelle Donner

Michelle Donner

Donation Coordinator

Michelle Donner was prompted by posts from her son's uncle posting on social media about Ruff Start Rescue to adopt from the organization in 2017. Shortly after adopting a wonderful young cat from RSR she began to foster. Then felt she needed to help more by volunteering in some form. Michelle will be joining RSR as the Donation Coordinator position. She will be responding to emails, phone calls, Facebook messages, and coordinate transport of donations through Facebook and emails. She will also send information to donation recorders and social media team for receipts and thank yous as necessary.

Michelle has a B.S in Accounting from SCSU. She currently works for the US Dept. Of Treasury. Michelle grew up in Princeton out by Long Siding and had many animals dropped off in her area that her family took care of. She currently lives in Big Lake. She has five active children ages 24 to 7, one son-in-law, and a granddaughter born in September of 2017. Her fur babies include 3 cats Wolfie, RSR 2017 Loretta and RSR 2018 Mittens, and one 13 year old dog adopted in 2005 Cece, and up to three fosters at a time. The three children still in the home help pick the fosters and help care for them to make it a family effort. The children are learning responsibility and giving of self to something or someone who comes from a rough situation. In her free time, (insert giggle) she enjoys going to her children’s sporting or musical events, snuggling the fur babies, participating in Big Lake Women of Today events, and loves a good book. Once a year she takes an out of state vacation with her children.

Myla Tolmie

Myla Tolmie

Vetting Admin Assistant/Microchip Coordinator

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Myla Tolmie

Myla Tolmie

Vetting Admin Assistant/Microchip Coordinator

I have had dogs for as long as I can remember- beginning with Sandy, Pepper, Tippy, Sheena, Boomer, Buddy, Jack and Bubba. I never had a cat until Chewie (short for Chewbacca) adopted us. Now we have our cat, Skitters, who loves to hunt and bring treasures home to momma and papa!!. Bubba, is a lab mix and terribly afraid of thunder storms and hunters with guns – actually most loud noises!!. He is now 12 years old and has been lonesome since Jack passed. He is really attached to me and misses me terribly when I am gone. So, I try not to be gone very long. I always wanted a black lab who would hang his head out the window from the car and let the breeze blow his ears out!!

This is my first year volunteering with RSR where I am currently learning the ropes for micro chip data entry. I hope to be able to work hands-on at some point with the animals. My hobbies include baking, spending time with family and friends (9 grandkids), swimming at the pool, gardening and embroidery.

Nick Orbe

Nick Orbe

Intake Coordinator

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Nick Orbe

Nick Orbe

Intake Coordinator

Nick is a Placement Coordinator at Ruff Start Rescue. Nick started volunteering with the rescue in mid-2017 after he adopted his dog from Ruff Start back in late 2016. After spending some time around the rescue, Nick wanted to take a more active role in the organization, becoming a Home Visit Coordinator in late 2017.

Nick lives in Saint Cloud with his roommate Ashley, his Italian Greyhound/Dachshund Mona, and Ashley's corgi Rowdy. Nick got Mona when she was about 3 or 4, a rescue from a shelter in Texas that was overcrowded. After spending months looking for the perfect dog for him, Nick saw Mona's bio on Ruff Start and decided he HAD to have her. He set up a meet and greet and a home visit and the rest is history!

Outside the rescue, Nick works as a store manager at an electronics retailer in Saint Cloud. In his off time, he enjoys playing video games, hanging out with his dog and spending time with close friends. Nick also enjoys taking his "quarterly trip" to visit his family back in New Jersey (where Nick is originally from).

Nick Taylor

Nick Taylor

Social Media Specialist

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Nick Taylor

Nick Taylor

Social Media Specialist

Nicholas Taylor serves as the Newsletter Designer for Ruff Start Rescue. He has been working as a volunteer for transports and housing animals overnight for over a year now, and recently came on to help in his new role. Nicholas loves working with the animals, but also has a passion for communication and design so he is excited to have the opportunity to merge the two.

Nicholas has 5 years of experience working at colleges in the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system. He works primarily with advising college students, with a focus on communications, marketing, and social media. He holds a master's degree in Higher Education Administration from St. Cloud State University and is currently an Academic Advisor at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Nicholas looks forward to using his skills from the academic field to help our animals "graduate" to their forever homes.

In his spare time, Nicholas enjoys spending time with his partner Andrea, spending time with family, watching pro wrestling shows, and checking out new places to eat. He's a big movie fan, collects Funko Pops, and enjoys any work that helps others. He is excited to be part of the Ruff Start Rescue team!

Nikki Jackett

Nikki Jackett

Photographer/Videographer

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Nikki Jackett

Nikki Jackett

Photographer/Videographer

Nikki Jackett started with Ruff Start Rescue® in January 2017 as a volunteer photographer and videographer.

Nikki first heard of Ruff Start® when she found a neglected, stray dog running the streets. After countless calls to rescues all over Minnesota, Ruff Start was the only one that called back and was able to get this dog the help it so desperately needed. So appreciative of this, Nikki wanted to return the favor and knew she could volunteer her skills in photography and videography.

Nikki takes photos of incoming dogs at transports as well as helping create videos for events like Give to the Max Day.

Nikki is married with one son. She also has two dogs (Attie and Basil) and two cats (Josie and Tegan). In her spare time, Nikki likes to sightsee, hike with her dogs and spend time with her family.

Pam Lowry

Pam Lowry

Donation Recorder/Receptionist/Vetting Assistant

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Pam Lowry

Pam Lowry

Donation Recorder/Receptionist/Vetting Assistant

Pam Lowry started volunteering for Ruff Start Rescue at the start of 2018, and has jumped in with both feet since completing orientation. Prior to becoming a volunteer, she was primarily a financial contributor. She first became acquainted with RSR through Azure’s Mom who worked with Pam at a local hospital where they were both RN’s. Pam has done various tasks around the office, has volunteered for events, is volunteering as receptionist one shift a week (most weeks), and is now taking on the additional responsibility to volunteer as a donation recorder.

Pam’s professional background is in nursing. She initially obtained her Associate’s Degree in 1988, and went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in 1997. She worked at HCMC (now Hennepin Health Care) for the first 8 years of her career, and went on to work as as RN for almost 21 years at Fairview Northland Hospital in Princeton, MN. While there, Pam was the lead Union Rep for 7 years, served on various committees, was a preceptor, earned and maintained her speciality certification in Emergency Nursing, and was named Employee of the Year for 2015. With the increasing physical demands of her job, and after 2 neck surgeries and 1 back surgery, Pam retired at a younger age than she expected to in October of 2017, but maintains her license and keeps looking for a part time job that fits with her experience, and won’t interfere with her volunteering. In the past Pam has also served as a church Financial Secretary, served as a board member for a dog agility club, and has been a part of a team that taught classes for medical professionals in rural hospitals in Minnesota and other states, as well as medical teams from US Embassies from around the globe. Pam is currently a member of The Civic Betterment Club of Princeton, and enjoys knitting, scrapbooking and reading.

Pam’s passions are rescue animals and literacy. She and her husband have adopted multiple dogs and cats during their life together. They have intentionally adopted 5 senior dogs, with 3 of them being big black dogs (which have a history of being difficult to find homes for). Pam has trained some of her dogs in Obedience, Rally obedience, Agility, and Tricks. One of Pam’s dogs was the first mixed breed dog of any size from the state of Minnesota to earn her C-ATCH ( CPE agility championship title). Pam’s beloved fur babies have earned multiple championship titles in agility and HIT’s (High in Trial) in Obedience, Rally and Agility. Currently, the 2 resident dogs have just both earned their Novice Trick Titles from “Do More With Your Dog!” and Pam is working with one dog in Nosework and the other toward certification as a R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dog). This is a program where kids read to dogs, and it helps build their confidence in reading and hopefully builds their love of reading. Pam’s other volunteer position is as a Reading Buddy substitute for second graders in Princeton. She enjoys having different kids each time she volunteers, so she can get to know different kids and share her love of reading. Asking kids about their pets or showing them pictures of her pets is a great way that Pam uses as an icebreaker with these kids.

 

 

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Rachel Ness

Rachel Ness

Marketing Events Assistant

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Rachel Ness

Rachel Ness

Marketing Events Assistant

Rachel joined RSR in the fall of 2015. In 2018 she joined the team as a marketing events assistant responsible for the promotion of events through social media and online community groups and internal rescue groups. In this role, Rachel will support the leadership team in marketing and sharing fundraising opportunities to ensure events are successful and revenue goals are met. Professionally, Rachel is a financial analyst at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors where she works on performance, planning and operations. In her free time, Rachel enjoys volunteering and spending time with family. Her favorite family activities include spending time on Lake Minnetonka, visiting and playing games at her family’s farm in North Dakota and tailgating during football season. While she currently does not have any furbabies, Rachel enjoys being the favorite aunt to her brothers four legged family members.

Renee Baier

Renee Baier

Office Assistant

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Renee Baier

Renee Baier

Office Assistant

Coming Soon!

 

 

 

 

Shaina Thompson

Shaina Thompson

Social Media Representative

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Shaina Thompson

Shaina Thompson

Social Media Representative

Shaina Thompson was first introduced to Ruff Start Rescue® in 2015 and started volunteering in 2019. She works with the social media team to help grow and cultivate our Instagram community.

Shaina lives near Plymouth with her cat Luna—a truly unique and feisty tabby who starts every morning by hopping in the shower and getting sopping wet—and her ball python named Sisyphus. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Minnesota and currently works as the trade sales account manager for an educational children’s book publisher in Minneapolis.

When she’s not trying to casually “bump into” all the dogs in her neighborhood, Shaina fills her free time with yoga, volleyball, flea markets, breweries, Dungeons & Dragons game nights, and a lot of books.

Shannon Lindboe

Shannon Lindboe

Foster Coordinator

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Shannon Lindboe

Shannon Lindboe

Foster Coordinator

Coming Soon!

 

 

 

 

Teresa Salberg

Teresa Salberg

Home Visit Coordinator

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Teresa Salberg

Teresa Salberg

Home Visit Coordinator

Teresa moved to the Becker area and got involved with Ruff Start Rescue in early 2016. She is a Home Visit Coordinator, conducts home visits, assists at the office and has assisted with intakes. Teresa has worked in the insurance and financial services industry, primarily in a compliance/product capacity, for over 20 years. She has been involved with other rescue organizations for years, in varying areas, but has chosen Ruff Start Rescue to get even more involved. Teresa has always loved animals, and has always had pets in her life. Currently she has two rescue dogs, Clyde (collie/corgi mix) and Flash (basset hound/cattle dog mix), and plans to add chickens to the family in the near future. In her free time she likes to garden, read, cook, walk the countryside, and spend time at her cabin in the summer.

Tina Davis

Tina Davis

Website Designer

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Tina Davis

Tina Davis

Website Designer

Tina Davis loves all animals and was told as a child that she would have to own a farm to satisfy her animal obsession. She volunteered for an animal hospital for two years in high school, and during that time she realized her horrible allergies were a big problem in the farm plan! Fast forward a few years . . . sadly no farm, but Tina has a hubby of 18 years, two kiddos (a boy and girl), one dog (Chewie, a Mammut bulldog), one rabbit (Snowflake), and seven aqua babies.

In her daily job, she's a business analyst whose passion is to help businesses become paperless. Tina has been building web applications for 20 years and looks forward to helping Ruff Start RescueⓇ with their website.

In her daily job, she's a business analyst who's passion is to help businesses become paperless. Tina has been building web applications for 18 years and looks forward to helping RSR with their website.

Vicki Tompt

Vicki Tompt

Home Visit Coordinator

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Vicki Tompt

Vicki Tompt

Home Visit Coordinator

Vickie Tompt, lives in the Kerkhoven area (Willmar area). Vickie works for a wholesale distributor of farm inputs in Willmar, She has been in the accounting department for the last 10 years, she enjoys her job. In the summer Vickie spends all her weekends at the lake cabin and of course the fur kids go with they both love to swim and go boating. Winters are spent snuggling on the couch.

Vickie heard about RSR on Facebook while searching for another fur baby to join her household. Vickie adopted Peaches the sweet little Shih Tzu from RSR in November 2013. Vickie is just coming into the volunteering program with RSR as a Home Visit Coordinator, and doing home visits in her area so RSR can adopt out of the metro area and people out in this area will be able to find the fur baby of their dreams and we can find more furever homes.

Vickie lives with Jim, her significant other and they have 2 Shih Tzu’s Sammy Rae 11 years old and Peaches 9 years old. Vickie has always had a love for dogs and so has her siblings. Vickie does dog sitting for family and friends when a loving home for their pets is needed while they are out of town as all would say, we know they will be taken good care of. Vickie’s sister Shannon adopted Braxton (Lab mix) from RSR, so we are keeping RSR in the family.

Wendy Baumann

Wendy Baumann

Donation Recorder

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Wendy Baumann

Wendy Baumann

Donation Recorder

Wendy grew up on a hobby farm in Becker County, Minnesota, middle child of 5, and had a beloved toy poodle as well as outside dogs and cats. She was very involved in music activities in high school, and cut a full album of popular music with 4 friends in 1974 as "The Mighty Quinn". She earned a BS in Accounting from Minnesota State University - Moorhead, and has worked in the Fargo-Moorhead area as an accountant, office manager, human resources coordinator, and currently works at the NDSU Student Activities Office.

She fell in love with Doberman pinschers as a young adult, and she and husband Jerry recently added a new Doberman pup (their 4th, over many years) to their family - Samantha. This pup joins RSR alum rat terrier, Emmma. Emmma came from RSR after a spotting online, and followed a much-loved rattie named Panda, though they never met. It's a Dog's Life!

Wendy enjoys spending time with her dogs, shopping (online!), and hanging out with family and friends. Besides doing home visits and computer work for RSR, she volunteers for a Fargo-Moorhead area dog rescue group. She also serves on the board of directors for the Begunahi foundation, supporting education for girls and young women in India.

Wendy Koewler

Wendy Koewler

Development Assistant

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Wendy Koewler

Wendy Koewler

Development Assistant

Wendy Koewler serves as the development assistant and is responsible for recognizing the efforts and support of our volunteers, fosters, nonprofit partners, businesses, vendors and more. Wendy Koewler was introduced to Ruff Start Rescue® by another volunteer. Through research and learning about the organization, Wendy fell in love with the Ruff Start® mission and their compassion for animals. In college, Wendy was a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma, a national service (volunteer-based) sorority. It was then that she fell in love with volunteering. After moving to the Twin Cities, she began searching for an organization that would allow her two passions to intertwine. She reached out to Ruff Start in late 2015 about volunteer opportunities that would work well with her full-time schedule. Wendy now does home visits and home-based office work to help with administrative tasks. Wendy takes advantage of her employer's volunteer match program to help her volunteer time go even further.

Wendy lives in Brooklyn Park and works full time as a retail manager. She and her husband have three adopted dogs: two border collie mixes (Rio and Ollie) and one purebred keeshond (Meeko). Wendy enjoys taking her dogs to the local dog park, attending concerts and theater, getting together with her friends and helping in the community. After some home remodeling (in the near future), Wendy and her husband would like to foster animals in need.