Who we are

We are ALIVE.

Founder and President ~ Kristen Gerali

67800_4861899274740_1529840521_nAs a child, Kristen spent time on her uncle’s farm in Wisconsin, where she developed a lifelong love for animals.  When Hurricane Katrina hit, she went to New Orleans to help the rescue effort. The week she spent there changed her life and led to more rescue volunteer work in Chicago; and ultimately the founding of ALIVE Rescue.

Kristen’s dedication to animals carries through in all areas of her life; she buys only cruelty-free products, is a strict vegetarian, and is an information source on animal cruelty not only locally, but also to her expansive network of rescue contacts.

Kristen founded ALIVE Rescue in 2008, and remains the life and breath of ALIVE today. She has served in every role within ALIVE at some point, and is currently the Board Chairperson, President, Treasurer, Director of Intake, and Director of Operations.  Kristen’s passion for ALIVE Rescue is apparent in the level of attention she gives in all facets of the organization: knowing each volunteer by name, planning all of the annual events, and being at the Little Barn each day to check on the residents and daily operations.

Kristen currently shares her home with four animals, all rescued from Chicago and in need of an understanding home: Anya, a a hound mix who was heartworm positive when Kristen rescued her; Fred, a spaniel mix; Tudy, a domestic short hair cat; and Grayson, the “million dollar kitty”, a very lucky survivor of a virus known as panleukopenia.

Contact Kristen: kristen.aliverescue@gmail.com

Co-Founder and Vice President ~ Greg Raymond

IMG_9648Greg helped to found ALIVE Rescue and serves as our Vice President on the Board of Directors. We are also fortunate to have him as the unofficial Director of IT/Building Maintenance/Infrastructure. His prior experience with the Furry Friends Foundation, history as a business owner/executive for more than 25 years, and overall patience provide priceless direction for ALIVE.

Greg is passionate about raising awareness of factory farming and animal testing. He is also a major advocate for wildlife and the environment.

He shares his home with three rescued animals: Ando, a shepherd/chow mix; Tilly, a black lab mix; and Josie, a domestic short hair cat.

Contact Greg: info@aliverescue.org

Director of Adoptions and Foster ~ Katelyn Aase

Katelyn is an animal lover through and through; she first got involved with ALIVE Rescue as a foster mom and continues to welcome her home to as many fosters as she can. She loves what ALIVE Rescue stands and is thrilled to be involved as the Director of Adoptions and Foster. Katelyn brings a project management and coordination background to this role and hopes to make the adoption process an efficient and positive experience for everyone. She lives at home with her lovable and spunky Siberian Husky, KJ, and usually has a foster in tow as well.

Contact Katelyn: katelyn.aliverescue@gmail.com

Director of Fundraising ~ Bianca Parra

biancaBianca’s favorite part of chairing the fundraising committee is when an event has come together   and everyone is enjoying themselves, and she knows all the hard work and efforts everyone put in is going to give more animals a second chance.  She has two pit bulls, Austin – the reason she became passionate about rescue and breed discrimination; and Potato, although technically her nephew, an ALIVE alumnus and her first and last foster dog. Bianca also worked at an animal hospital previously.

Contact Bianca: bianca.aliverescue@gmail.com

Director of Operations ~ Mia Lindner

miaMia is very excited to join the ALIVE Rescue family! Having fostered pitbulls and other abandoned, abused, and neglected dogs in California has given Mia perspective of the work that needs to be done to re-educate humans and save animals. What gives her hope is amazing rescue groups like ALIVE that truly give a damn, and are willing to go the extra mile to help animals find their forever homes. She is assisted in her journey by her two training dogs, Ruby Angel Pickles (boxer-pug) and Coco Louise Pickles (chihuahua-pitbull). Mia has already fallen in love with many of the ALIVE Rescue dogs and cats, and is dedicated to giving every pet a chance. ¨The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way it’s animals are treated¨ – Gandhi. Contact Mia: Mia.aliverescue@gmail.com

Director of Volunteers ~ Margaret Fraser

margaretSince starting as a volunteer at The Little Barn in 2014, ALIVE has become a very special place to Margaret. Working with the volunteers at ALIVE has been an incredible opportunity to give back to the community that inspires her every day by performing acts of bravery and kindness to help animals in need. She’s honored to be a part of the team that makes the big, bold decisions that make ALIVE Rescue so impactful in Chicago and beyond.

A self-proclaimed dog lady, Margaret has two mutt-tastic dogs of her own: Bea Arthur (from Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue) and Gambit (from Alive – and the forest). Contact Margaret: margaret.aliverescue@gmail.com


Maria Berezniak ~ Animal Sponsorship Coordinator and Home Visit Coordinator

mariaMaria loves being able to enact her true passion and love for rescuing animals.  She enjoys being the bridge between fosters and sponsors, especially since they are such a critical part of ALIVE Rescue. Maria shares her home with the hunk in her life- her pit bull Norman, whom she previously fostered for ALIVE. Norman is her second rescued pit bull after Rodney, her first little pittie to whom she attributes her adoration of the breed!  Maria holds a degree in zoology, and previously interned at Brookfield Zoo.  She also worked at an animal hospital as a vet assistant, and previously fostered dogs for PAWS. Contact Maria: maria.aliverescue@gmail.com

Leah Bence ~ Barn Leader

leah_benceLeah was thrilled to join the ALIVE Rescue crew first as a volunteer and now as a Barn Leader Assistant and helping with adoption events. Growing up in Minnesota, there was nothing Leah wanted more than a dog of her own, but her mom’s allergies prevented them from having more than a goldfish. Thankfully, hypoallergenic Tucker came into their lives after 10 years of waiting, so Leah knows the sheer joy of finding the perfect dog for the whole family. Leah moved to Illinois to attend Columbia College Chicago to study illustration, and couldn’t wait to find the right apartment that would allow her to get a dog. After adopting her anxious Chihuahua/Papillon mix, Peaches, from a local rescue, Leah wanted to find a way to help other pups who needed a second chance. Each shift at ALIVE, she learns something new from the other incredible volunteers, like training hyperactive puppies to how to give a disgruntled kitten a ringworm bath, that there’s never a dull moment at the Little Barn! When she’s not working on improving Peaches’ manners, Leah loves exploring the city and trying out new vegetarian restaurants.

Cherie Breaux ~ Cat Home Visit Coordinator and Barn Leader Assistant

cherieCherie loves learning about the dogs and cats and experiencing how individual they all are. She volunteers as her way to contribute to the overall vision of ALIVE. She and her sister Brandy (also a cat home visit coordinator) have had cats all their lives.  Currently she has Jim and Phyllis, siblings of Brandy’s cats Pumpkin and Fonty. Cherie also volunteers at the Little Barn once or twice a week. Contact Cherie: cheriebb@gmail.com

Sarah Brewster ~ Webmaster

Sarah is proud to join the ALIVE Rescue family. Sarah became involved in animal rescue when she adopted her pitbull Stanley. It was an epic love story and Sarah knew she had to work towards bringing this love to other animals and people alike. Sarah is passionate about the “underdogs” and is constantly looking for the overlooked. In addition to rescuing homeless animals, Sarah is committed to keeping pets in their homes. Sarah is a co-founder of the Chicago Community Pet Coalition, a grassroots effort to keep animals in their home.

In the moments that Sarah is not doing animal rescue, she can be found binge watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer while knitting zombie dolls.

Contact Sarah: sarahb.aliverescue@gmail.com

Berkley Cameron ~ Alive and Running Coordinator

berkley_cameronBerkley credits her passion for saving animals to her dad. Growing up in Iowa she and her dad would save stray cats, turtles, birds, and just about anything that they came across on the farm.

She got involved with fostering animals 10 years ago and eventually adopted her two dogs, Duddley and Lucky, and her cat, Winky.

Berkley is excited to be involved in the Alive and Running program as it combines her two biggest passions— running and helping animals. She has run over 20 marathons and most all of them raising money for charity. Running while raising money for a cause that’s dear to your heart makes the whole experience that much more rewarding. She’s looking forward to growing the ALIVE team and cheering everyone on.

During the day Berkley sells 3D medical software for ultrasound and serves on several committees for charities in the Chicago area. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, working out, volunteering at the Little Barn and is an avid sports fan.

Rachel Cameron ~ Grant Writing Co-Chair

Rachel_CameronAn animal and nature lover, Rachel has only ever been a cat-mom to one of the world’s best kitties, a wonderful friend named Dodie who traveled all over the country with her and her family for over 20 years. But she’s now on the lookout for a dog to fill the furry void! In the meantime she helps ALIVE with grant writing and photographing many of their wonderful events, and feels very lucky to be a part of the team! Contact Rachel: rachel.aliverescue@gmail.com

Ranise Coppens ~ President, ALIVE Rescue Memphis

raniseBefore moving to Memphis, Ranise was involved in rescue in Chicago for a little over 5 years. She started out doing events and raising money, then moved on to volunteering with handling and dog walking, and eventually became a board member for another rescue for more than 2 years. She then became a foster coordinator for ALIVE.  Ranise took what she learned in Chicago and has started our very first “branch,” to help reduce the extensive overpopulation problem in Memphis. Ranise shares her home with Zelda, the very first dog rescued by ALIVE Rescue Memphis, and at least one other foster dog at any given time.  Ranise’s previous dog, Anita Riot, was her inspiration for getting into rescue.  Contact Ranise: ranise.aliverescue@gmail.com

Sara DePasquale ~ Adoption Coordinator

sara_dAs a child, one of Sara’s first words was “doggie”. Coincidence? We think not. Sara has always had a passion for pups, especially the “Bully Breeds”. Her hunk, Rocco (a Pittie), has shown her the love and companionship these dogs are truly known to give. Wanting to help change the minds of so many people regarding the breed, Sara started volunteering at the Little Barn through ALIVE Rescue. Shortly after, she realized that she wanted to do more than volunteer at the Little Barn. She wanted to also be a part of directly placing these dogs in their furever homes. Now as an Adoption Coordinator, Sara hopes to make the adoption process an exciting and fun experience while also giving these animals the homes they deserve.

Ellen Floren ~ Home Visit Coordinator

ellen-2Ellen loves doing home visits because she gets to meet potential owners, see the animals’ potential new homes, and have a hand in getting our animals placed correctly. Ellen has been in rescue her entire adult life. She worked at an animal hospital, has fostered hundreds of animals, and has been involved with TNR for cats for more than 20 years. In  the 90s, Ellen and her sister Arleen ran obedience classes in some of the park districts. She has 7 animals of her own: Timber, a Malamute/Shepherd mix; Buckley, a Cairn Terrier/Jack Russell Terrier mix; Duffy, a terrier/sheepdog mix; and 4 cats between the ages of 9-18 years.  Buckley and Duffy are also ALIVE alumni! Contact Ellen: efloren@ameritech.net

Nancy Fontanez ~ Special Events Coordinator

nancy_fontanezNancy volunteers at ALIVE Rescue because she feels our furry friends need all the help they can get and she wants to make a difference in their lives. With every donation and merchandise sale, it always makes her happy to know that food, vet visits, medication, etc. will be covered by the money we raise at these events. She’s truly grateful to see the public’s awareness and support for animals and how it can help keep a good cause going.

Nancy loves working at ALIVE’s charity events to help raise money while meeting different people and their wonderful dogs. She enjoys being a part of a team that cares about the well being of animals and who do everything in their power to make sure that they have a safe place to live and are taken care of. When she is not volunteering for ALIVE, Nancy works professionally as a spiritual healer and enjoys helping both individuals and animals alike achieve their maximum potential in life.

Nancy enjoys meeting and working with all the volunteers who dedicate their time to help out– their generosity truly comes from the heart. She appreciates the meaning of teamwork!

Ashley Garcia ~ Volunteer Coordinator

Ashley_GarciaGrowing up I have always had a wild assortment of pets; from turtles to birds, the bond I have felt for these amazing creatures has been overwhelming. After moving to Chicago and adopting my “street cat” Louie and foster-failing with my 9 yr. old boxer Rooke, I knew I needed to get out and do more. Being able to help an amazing organization like ALIVE Rescue and to work with animals whose life goals are to find a family to love unconditionally, is the greatest reward. I am excited to be a part of the volunteer team and look forward to meeting many more volunteers and the special animals that come into ALIVE. Contact Ashley: ashleyg.aliverescue@gmail.com

Rose Gaylen ~ Adoption Coordinator


Rose has lived in Chicago since 2012. Growing up in Colorado, Rose loves the outdoors, and when she travels it’s always adventure-travel. She has been dog sledding twice and plans to go more. Rose is an Office Manager at Wizard Software Solutions. She enjoys reading, writing and being active. Rose is excited to be doing volunteer work at ALIVE Rescue and looks forward to her times at Little Barn every week. Contact Rose: rosegayle.aliverescue@gmail.com 

Ashley Gear ~ Barn Leader

When Ashley moved to the city she felt lost without my pets from home. She’s always had animals in the house – dogs, cats, lizards, and fish! Ashley adopted her spoiled little meatball and cuddle buddy, Jaxon, but still needed to get her dog fix and is so happy she found ALIVE! After starting out with a different rescue, Ashley is so happy to finally be a part of a team with such strong values and high goals for helping animals in need. She feels like she’s learning something new every day she spends with these furballs and she couldn’t be happier. Ashley is looking forward to expanding her role from a walking/playtime volunteer to Barn Leader and helping those that aren’t in foster to feel more comfortable while getting them ready for their forever homes! Contact Ashley: ashley.aliverescue@gmail.com. 

Sam Grzeskiewicz ~ Chicago Community Pet Coalition Coordinator and Foster Coordinator

Sam G

Sam has always had a passion for helping animals in need. She worked with dog and horse rescues when she was growing up, volunteered with multiple animal outreach programs in Latin America, and most recently served as an adoptions coordinator, foster, and full-time snuggler at a rescue in D.C. She has always gravitated to the more challenging “troublemakers” of the bunch and loves working with them and showing them unconditional love until they find their forever homes. Immediately upon moving to Chicago this winter, she knew she needed to get involved with a local rescue. After going to orientation it was clear that ALIVE is an amazing place to do that. She has spent the past few months volunteering with the residents at the Little Barn and is excited to expand her involvement by working with the CCPC, to not only make sure that fur babies are getting the care they need but to support their forever families in the process as well. Contact Sam: sam.aliverescue@gmail.com

Michelle Henstock ~ Social Media Coordinator and Barn Leader

MH and Moose

Michelle joined ALIVE after a friend suggested they attend volunteer orientation. After having moved to the USA from Australia to pursue a career in sports 11 years ago, Michelle was fortunate enough to be able to combine her love of basketball and her experience into a role with the WNBA Chicago Sky. Throughout her time as Vice President of Operations & Marketing at the Sky Michelle has been able to facilitate and participate in extensive community relations programming and found that being able to give back and make a positive impact in a person’s life and the community is where her passion lies.

As a dog lover it has been a match made in heaven to combine her passion for giving back with her passion for animals. Volunteering at The Little Barn is something she looks forward to every week and just seeing those adorable, furry faces and being able to enjoy quiet time on walks with them truly makes her happy. Through her role as Social Media Coordinator Michelle will continue to do whatever it takes to spread the word and advocate for ALIVE.

Michelle spends her spare time running, paddle boarding and enjoying everything in this beautiful city and she loves to travel, especially to her fave city in the world – Paris. Her fur baby is a 5lb shihpoo called Moose and like Michelle, he enjoys traveling and when he is not traveling he can be found at the Sky office helping out and making everyone smile!

Katie Hercher ~ Home Visit Coordinator


Katie’s love for animals dates back as long as she can remember, but her passion for animal rescue deepened while living in South Florida and witnessing the lives of so many homeless and abandoned pets wandering the streets of Miami.  She felt she had to do something more, so she started fostering dogs for a local rescue, which led to volunteering at events, conducting home visits, transporting and networking shelter animals, and eventually, she became the vice president of the rescue. And, of course, she foster failed and kept one of her foster dogs. (She lives by the motto that when the dog’s hair matches yours, it’s probably meant to be.)  Now that Katie has relocated back home to Chicago, she is excited to be a part of the ALIVE team.  She loves conducting home visits because it’s the very best feeling to see an excited adopter meet their potential new best friend in their element.  Katie is proud to be a very small part of the strong and amazing community of animal rescuers and advocates in sweet home Chicago.

Darcy Herman ~ Adoption Coordinator and Barn Leader Assistant

Darcy has been passionate about helping animals in need since she was a young girl, taking a small part in the rescue of orphaned raccoons, injured birds, mama cats—just to name a few. Darcy’s family joined in her love of animals, raising a mini zoo of three pugs and two cats—the reason for her lifelong obsession with all smushy-faced, snorting animals.

After college, Darcy fell in love with and adopted a pittie mix, Georgia, at a local no-kill shelter. Georgia had been returned to the shelter 4 times, so Darcy had her work cut out for her. After much work with training, research, tears and a behaviorist she and her pup, Georgia, are bonded beyond breaking!

Now a passionate advocate for all animals who need a second (or fifth) chance, Darcy credits Georgia with forever changing her life. When she’s not at The Little Barn or volunteering for ALIVE events, Darcy works as a Project Coordinator for an interiors construction firm. She lives in Chicago with her fiancé and their fur kids: a cat, Martin and, of course, Georgia. Contact Darcy: darcy.aliverescue@gmail.com

Carolyn  Jones ~ Reach Out Coordinator and Grant Team Member

carolynCarolyn loves that the Reach Out program provides the opportunity to give the joy and comfort of contact and interaction with animals to those most in need of a bit of cheer. She has been with ALIVE since its inception, and has volunteered in animal rescue for over 10 years. In addition to coordinating the Reach Out program, Carolyn also volunteers on our Grant Writing Team, hoping to help bring in funding to continue ALIVE’s life-saving mission and critical programs. She does temporary fostering for ALIVE as well, to give our rescues a much-needed break from the shelter and a little extra love. Carolyn has no pets currently, but is shown with her beloved and cherished previous mystery-breed-mix rescue, Moogley. In addition to her work with ALIVE, Carolyn is on the Animal Law Committee of the Chicago Bar Association, and volunteers for The Puppy Mill Project. Contact Carolyn: info@aliverescue.org

Laura Krill ~ Adoption Coordinator and Barn Leader

lauraLaura got involved with ALIVE after grieving the loss of her pets Herschel, JB, and Wrigley. Herschel, JB, and Wrigley have a horseshoe at the Little Barn with their names, and the simple phrase, “Life Goes On.” She now has four pets of her own: Fozzie and Frieda Feldstein, domestic short hair cats;  Elmer Q. Foster, a poodle mix (her first foster failure);  and Henri Victor Sanchez, a Chihuahua mix and an ALIVE Rescue alumni (her second foster failure).  Laura’s first job was with her childhood vet, and she continues in this field today. She has worked at multiple veterinarian offices as a vet tech, office manager, and currently as a therapy aid at Integrative Pet Care. She is in the process of getting her certification as a canine rehab assistant.  Laura also serves as a foster home for ALIVE. Contact Laura: lkrill.aliverescue@gmail.com

Michelle Lega~ Volunteer Coordinator and Barn Leader Assistant


After working at an animal shelter and volunteering at a few other places, Michelle was excited to find a true home with the people and animals of ALIVE! She has loved animals her whole life, and although she has a soft spot for rodents, she always looks forward to taking care of the dogs and cats at ALIVE. The dedication of Kristen, the Board, the Barn Leaders, and the volunteers is so inspiring and Michelle hopes to one day make saving animals her career.

For now, Michelle lives in Chicago with Fluff and Zuzu, her two chinchillas. She has an unhealthy obsession with Lil Bub (pictured above) who is by far the best Internet cat.

Mark Lukas ~ Barn Leader

Mark Lukas

A former commodities exchange director turned animal shelter volunteer, Mark was first introduced to ALIVE Rescue in April 2015 while volunteering for Animal Rescue Corps’ Operation Spring Break to rescue more than 80 dogs from a downstate Illinois puppy mill.

ALIVE took in five puppies from Operation Spring Break and as follow-up, Mark thought he’d tour the shelter. He was immediately impressed with ALIVE’s willingness to take in special needs animals that would typically be at risk of euthanasia at local open-access shelters. Una, a six-year old pitbull mix who is deaf with slight neurological issues as a result of previous abuse, particularly captured his heart.

Thanks to more than 10 years in partnering with several Chicagoland and national animal rescue organizations, Mark is experienced in animal behavior and shaping along with obedience and agility training. His special focus in creating a long-term guest enrichment training program for a larger shelter coupled with experience in using TV, radio and social media to attract adopters and donors, he knew that volunteering with ALIVE would be an opportunity to put his knowledge to work under one roof. When he’s not volunteering to find animals their forever home, Mark enjoys the company of his own four rescue dogs.

Meg Madden ~ Adoption Coordinator

meg madden

Meg first got involved with ALIVE Rescue through their Outreach Program, which combined two of her great loves: animals and hanging out with the elderly. She even got to bring her true love, a shih-apso named Dixie, along! An animal lover since birth, the Madden house always had a menagerie of animals running around and she would have it no other way. After volunteering at the Outreach Programs, she became an obsessed Little Barn volunteer and there was no looking back. Meg is excited to help adopters find their furever, rescue best friends and loves the ALIVE animals like her own. She formerly served as the Animal Law Society President in law school and volunteered with St. Francis CARES in Southern Illinois. Currently, the Madden pack includes Dixie (dressed as a ferocious velociraptor, as pictured), a German Sheperd rescue named Max, a silky terrier rescue named Finn, and a rescued poodle-mix named Henry. When not volunteering at the Barn, Meg’s other interests include dinosaurs, otters, and spamming her friends on social media to get the ALIVE animals exposure.

Grace Matson ~ Donation Correspondence Coordinator, Training Seminar Series Chair

graceGrace loves being able to thank people that donate to ALIVE. She really enjoys being able to see how generous and kind people are in their love for animals! She has one dog named Filbert – an ALIVE alumnus! Grace has had dogs her whole life, and has volunteered at a few other rescues. She loves being around animals, so she tries to do anything she can to help organizations like ALIVE. Contact Grace: grace.aliverescue@gmail.com 

Jaclyn Moriarty ~ Volunteer Coordinator

Jaclyn is excited to be a part of the fantastic ALIVE Rescue family! Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Jaclyn grew up without a pet to call her own (aside from numerous fish). She lived vicariously through friends and relatives by walking and snuggling their pets. Jaclyn also seeks out animal-related activities, like dog sledding in Minnesota.

Today, Jaclyn lives with her husband in Roscoe Village and continues to fulfill her animal obsession by volunteering at ALIVE and showering the Little Barn’s residents with love. She eagerly awaits the day she lives in a place that will allow a canine companion. Contact Jaclyn: jaclyn.aliverescue@gmail.com

Hannah Nicolet ~ Barn Leader

hannah_nicoletHannah grew up with pets, usually cats and dogs, but there has also been a turtle, rabbits, and for a time even a scorpion. Currently Hannah has two rescue cats and every day it’s a struggle to not add more to the mix. Her desire to have a dog, but knowing that that was impossible at this time with her work situation, is what brought her to ALIVE Rescue. Being able to help multiple animals at The Little Barn and get her puppy fix at the same time has been incredibly rewarding. Seeing the change in these animals lives from the time that they are rescued to the time that they find their forever homes has been amazing.

Brad Obermeyer ~ Animal Sponsorship Coordinator, Webmaster, and Barn Leader

bradBrad greatly enjoys spending time with the animals in the Little Barn and getting to help them on the road to their new lives. His love of animals started at a young age, growing up with a menagerie of assorted pets–cats, fish, turtles, a hedgehog, lizards, a tree frog, and the occasional snake found in his parents’ garden. Prior to discovering ALIVE, Brad was an employee and volunteer Adoption Counselor at Chicago Canine Rescue, before they moved out of the building that now houses the Little Barn. Contact Brad: brad.aliverescue@gmail.com

Luise Ofei ~ Home Visit Coordinator and Barn Leader Assistant

After moving to Chicago a year ago, Luise wanted to get more involved in the community, meet some great like-minded pet-loving people, as well as spend a lot of time with some great cats and dogs in need of extra love and care. She says that the most rewarding thing about volunteering is seeing the difference in the rescued pets each week, watching their individual personalities shine (well, and puppy snuggles!!). Luise is looking forward to getting more and more involved with ALIVE through volunteering at the Little Barn, the ALIVE and running team, and being a Home Visit Coordinator.

Outside of volunteering, Luise works as a Graphic Designer, is attempting to run a half marathon in every state in the US, and spends as much time as possible with her own furry four legged buddy, Cockapoo Samson who follows her wherever she goes. Contact Luise: lulu.line2812@gmail.com

Peggy B. Oshefsky ~ Adoption Manager

Nanook Prairie Wolf Dog Park Nov 15
Peggy joined ALIVE Rescue as a barn volunteer after learning of ALIVE while her dog rehabbed at Integrative Pet Care for CCL surgery. She grew up in WI with dogs, cats, and a horse. After rescuing her Siberian Husky, Nanook, from another shelter she wanted to share the amazing rescue/adoption experience with others. Peggy has a background in trade show, event and supply chain management. She manages her Husky walking many miles each day! Peggy tries to stay grounded practicing yoga. Contact Peggy: peggyo.aliverescue@gmail.com

Indok Park ~ Home Visit Coordinator

indokIndok loves being able to meet the variety of dogs and cats that come through ALIVE. Not having much experience with animals, she was nervous that they would be scared or mean, but discovered that most of them are, in fact, just ready to give someone cuddles and kisses.  She feels proud to be a part of that. Indok’s only experience with animals prior to volunteering with ALIVE was pet-sitting for friends. In addition to being a home visit coordinator, Indok now volunteers at the Little Barn and serves as a temporary foster home for our animals. Contact Indok: indokp@gmail.com

Anne Planic ~ Barn Leader Assistant and Adoption Coordinator

anne-planicAnne started volunteering at ALIVE about 6 months ago, and it was the best decision she ever made!  Growing up, she was always the girl dog-sitting instead of babysitting.  As well as greeting her friends’ dogs at the front door before greeting her friends!  Anne’s first introduction to animal rescue was her brother’s dog Klifford, a big black lab. She loves all the work that ALIVE does especially for dogs that would otherwise go unnoticed.  The compassion and drive at ALIVE is truly phenomenal, and Anne is so excited to become more involved as a Barn Leader Assistant.

Jeni Pritchard ~ Foster Coordinator

Jeni had been with ALIVE for a little short of four months when she realized that she needed to do more. As a vegan of over two years, helping and saving animals is one of her passions. She has also done volunteer work in Haiti, before and after the earthquake, at an orphanage where she helped teach English.

She grew up with two Dachshunds, Boomer and Tootsie, and currently has a dog of her own (also a Dachshund) named Marley, who is an 8 year old rescue. Jeni’s goal with ALIVE is to help spread the message on animal abuse and senior dog awareness. Age is a privilege! Contact Jeni: jeni.aliverescue@gmail.com

Emmanuel Ramírez ~ Adoption Coordinator

Emmanuel_RamirezGrowing up, Emmanuel always had a dog, so naturally, he assumed he was a “dog person.” It wasn’t until he was an adult that he discovered his affinity for cats and realized he was an “animal person.” His passion for animals and the environment grew with time, and he wanted to find a way to help those without a voice. Upon moving to Chicago, he heard about ALIVE Rescue and found that ALIVE’s mission statement and core values really resonated with him. Two weeks later, he was volunteering at The Little Barn. When Emmanuel isn’t walking dogs or cuddling with cats at The Little Barn, he’s helping them find furever homes as one of ALIVE’s adoption coordinators. He and his husband have a rescue cat named Lukas and a stray cat named Allie. Contact Emmanuel: Emmanuel.aliverescue@gmail.com

Jessica Remitz ~ Home Visit Coordinator and Barn Leader

Jessica_remitzAs a recent Chicago transplant, Jessica has been thrilled to help her new community (and meet some amazing animals) through ALIVE. She is passionate about helping animals find their forever homes and helping people find their forever pets! When not volunteering, Jessica works as a managing editor at PetMD.com, a site devoted to providing veterinarian-approved answers to any and all pet-related questions, and spends her days trying not to helicopter-parent her beloved shelter pup, Darwin.

Caitlin Rowlands ~ Animal Sponsorship Coordinator

caitlinCaitlin feels extremely fortunate that her position allows her to observe the progress of sponsored animals from their ALIVE Rescue introduction to their adoption into a devoted family.  Each month she loves receiving heartfelt updates from foster homes that work to show the animals that they are loved and safe. She does not own any pets currently, but would love to adopt a dog in the future. Contact Caitlin: caitlin.aliverescue@gmail.com

Melanie Sampson ~ Newsletter Coordinator

melanieAs the newsletter coordinator, Melanie loves getting the opportunity to learn about all the facets of ALIVE Rescue as well as animal rescue in general. She has a terrier/ chihuahua mix named Bruno. Volunteering at ALIVE has been Melanie’s first experience working with animals. She loves volunteering at the Little Barn every week! She also serves on our grant writing committee. Contact Melanie: melanie.aliverescue@gmail.com

Liz Schock ~ Home Visit Coordinator

lizLiz got involved with ALIVE rescue while volunteering for “The Big Pull” event at Animal Welfare League in 2012. She wasn’t planning on signing up to be a foster parent that day, but knew she had to get this one brindle pit puppy out of there. After getting Sweet Dee home she quickly became a foster failure and calls Sweet Dee (formerly Jelly Bean) her soulmate. Liz grew up on a small farm where she gained her love of animals from her parents who were always fostering litters of puppies for The Anti-Cruelty Society. Liz currently works as the Patient Services Manager at Integrative Pet Care and has a weakness for pit bulls and cats with pink noses. Besides Sweet Dee, she shares her home with 2 cats, Lemmy and Sassy. Contact Liz: easchock@gmail.com

Lindsay Schwartz ~ Bequests and Planned Giving Coordinator


Lindsay learned about ALIVE Rescue’s mission when searching for her own rescue pup. She and her boyfriend, Phil, adopted Gatsby, one very special ALIVE Alum. After watching Gatsby overcome his fears and learn to trust, Lindsay understood the importance of ALIVE’s work and wanted to help other animals find their forever homes. Lindsay is an attorney who specializes in estate administration and is excited to bring her skill set to ALIVE Rescue and develop the planned giving/bequest area.

Contact Lindsay: Lindsay.s.aliverescue@gmail.com 

 Brandy Simkins ~ Home Visit Coordinator and Barn Leader

brandyBrandy has had cats all her life as well as a love for all animals. She has been a Little Barn volunteer since 2013- getting her dog “fix” and enjoying learning about dog behavior. She says she falls in love with all the dogs ALIVE rescues, but Una is very special to her heart. She lives with 7 rescued cats and 3 rats (3 of those cats are ALIVE Rescue alumni ~ Brittany, Jake & Keebler).

Contact Brandy: brandy.aliverescue@gmail.com

Hanna Smith ~ Adoption Events Coordinator

Hannah SmithHanna is honored to be a volunteer at ALIVE Rescue. From an early age she experienced the joy a rescue animal brings to a home as she grew up with cats and dogs adopted from local animal shelter. As a new resident to Chicago, Hanna started volunteering with ALIVE in the summer of 2014 at the Little Barn and was so impressed to find a dedicated community of volunteers who passionately carry out ALIVE’s mission. She lives with her partner, Thomas, and naughty rat terrier rescue, Baron. Contact Hanna: hanna.aliverescue@gmail.com 

Mary Ann Sornito ~ Home Visit Coordinator

Mary Ann stumbled onto the animal rescue scene as a form of therapy from her everyday job as a mental health consultant and clinician. After almost 2 decades helping people with disabilities live independently in the community it only seemed natural she would help pups and people with their journey to find each other to create lifetime bonds. Mary Ann helped to introduce animal assisted therapy to her hospital as she believes strongly in the healing potential of animals. She adopted an adorable pittie mix named Bodhi who resembles a spotted holstein cow with the most soulful eyes. Bodhi is a certified therapy dog and perfect ambassador for bully type breeds. His sister is a Min Pin/Doxie Mix named Lily, who is a retired therapy dog that spends her days lounging in the sun. Mary Ann also volunteers with Safe Humane Program helping to rehabilitate court case dogs. Contact Mary Ann: maryann.sornito@gmail.com.

Erin Tackett ~ Foster Coordinator

ErinTErin’s first “foster” animal was a butterfly with a damaged wing she nursed back to health while in kindergarten. Since then she’s taken in and cared for many animals in need, including rabbits, turtles, cats, dogs, and even a pigeon once. She became involved with animal rescue in 2009, fostering cats and kittens through the Humane Society in Albany, NY. Erin, her husband, and their foster-failure pup, Brutus, continue to foster dogs with ALIVE, and Erin is always excited to talk to people about the important role fostering plays in rescue work. As a foster coordinator her favorite thing is seeing how living in homes allows the animals to relax, grow, and get ready to meet their forever families. Contact Erin: erint.aliverescue@gmail.com 

Emily Van Laan ~ Barn Leader Assistant

Emily’s love for animals started with her very first memory, adopting and naming her family dog Trixie (named for her favorite movie, Lady and the Tramp) when she was 2 ½ years old! From that moment on, Emily has been in love with just about every dog she’s ever met, eventually leading to the adoption of her sweet rescue pup Lincoln. Emily’s whole career has been about sharing the things she loves, most recently focused on teaching people of all ages about animals, animal welfare and conservation at the Lincoln Park Zoo. It’s seemingly impossible for her to get enough dog time, so joining the ALIVE team and getting to see pups heal and find forever homes has been incredibly special. She can’t wait to meet and snuggle all the dogs and cats ALIVE will save in the future!

Leah Wardak ~ Open House Manager

leahLeah loves being able to work with animals that have come from rough pasts – to see the looks in their eyes, knowing that they are loved, is remarkable. She has two shih-tzus: Billie Jean and Sweet Lorraine.  Both were puppy mill breeder moms who now enjoy a quiet life of walks, treats, and naps.  Leah’s adoption of Billie Jean changed her life.  Instead of focusing on the neglect and abuse Billie Jean suffered, Leah got her healthy and began working on things such as trust, love, discipline, and how to be a dog. She volunteers for ALIVE because she wants to try and help other animals and humans rescue each other. Contact Leah: lwardak1@gmail.com

Lauren Willette Strzempek ~ Foster Coordinator

Lauren loves being an Adoption Coordinator because it allows her to help find the perfect match for an animal that needs a home. All rescue animals are deserving of an ideal forever home, and Lauren gets to make that happen. For Lauren, there is no other feeling quite like that which comes watching a happy dog or kitty start their new life with their new forever home. Lauren has two cats: Sammy, a Maine Coon; and Stella, a DSH; plus the occasional rotating foster cat. Prior to joining ALIVE, Lauren volunteered for five years at Michigan Animal Rescue League prior to moving to Chicago, and more recently with PAWS Chicago. Contact Lauren: lauren.aliverescue@gmail.com 

Ted Williams ~ Barn Leader Assistant

ted_williamsTed was literally raised with a dog — his mother kept him and the family puppy in the same play pen and crib. While his love for dogs never waned, adopting kittens and cats was a better fit for his lifestyle and accommodations. A few years ago, he started fostering kittens and cats. He never looked back, and there are usually two to four fosters running around. He also has two “perma-cats.”  Luca is exceptionally smart and hates the rain more than anything — check with Luca if you want to know whether it’s going to rain; he’s almost never wrong. Ted trapped Noel in his alley on Christmas Eve and brought her to his apartment. After a few weeks, it became clear that she was there to say. Ted enjoys working with ALIVE Rescue, especially gratifying is when an abused or special needs dog blossoms into the perfect adoptable dog.

Kim Yeagle ~ Adoption Coordinator

kimyeagleKim is proud to be a part of the ALIVE Rescue team as an Adoption Coordinator. Kim became involved with animal rescue when she moved to Chicago and right next door to Arlene and Ellen (fellow animal rescue friends). Kim volunteered at Chicago Animal Control, walking homeless dogs. From CACC, she was able to connect with amazing individuals in the Chicago rescue world, including Kristen, of ALIVE!

Kim firmly believes there is nothing better than placing a rescue pup with their forever family!

Kim lives in Chicago and is a dog mom to Maggie, her spunky 13 year old pug mix.

Dana Zemanovic ~ Social Media Coordinator

Dana credits her mother’s love for animals and willingness to take in those who lost their homes as to why she has the passion herself. Having a variety of furry family members growing up in Wisconsin allowed her to learn about caring for all kinds.

Expanding her volunteer role, Dana looks forward to connecting foster parents with the animals she often spends time with at the barn.  Fostering is a key piece of the ALIVE program, so she is excited to help provide a second chance through these efforts.

Dana currently lives with her feisty rescue cat Lilly. When not volunteering or working, she enjoys traveling, interior design, and watching the Blackhawks and Packers on game day. Contact Dana: dana.aliverescue@gmail.com