Board of Directors


Heather ThomasHeather Thomas, President
Executive Director, Humane Society of North Central Florida
[email protected]

Heather Thomas is the Executive Director of the Humane Society of North Central Florida in Gainesville, FL. In 2018, Heather successfully led the Alachua County Humane Society, Gainesville Pet Rescue and Helping Hands Pet Rescue as they joined forces to become North Central Florida’s leading resource for pets and pet owners. The Humane Society is a member of the Alachua County coalition of animal rescue groups seeking to achieve a sustainable 90% live release rate in our community. The coalition has decreased euthanasia in Alachua County by over 90% since 2000 and achieved no kill status in 2017 and 2018 thanks to the group’s partnership, planning and patience.

Heather has served as Executive Director since 2010 and has worked in animal welfare for more than a decade. Heather’s expertise is in coalition building, collaboration, optimization of resources, strategic organizational development and mergers.


Karen SlombaKaren Slomba, Vice President
Animal Welfare Consultant
[email protected]

A ten+ year veteran of the animal welfare industry, Karen has worked tirelessly to save the lives of thousands of animals, with an emphasis on cats. Her career in this arena began in 2007 in Buffalo, NY where she was the Director of Operations for Ten Lives Club, Inc., responsible for the overall management of two free-roaming cat shelters, an off-site infirmary, and a mobile clinic. She was also a founding member of the Animal Alliance of Western New York, which launched the Maddie’s Pet Rescue Project of Erie County, a 5 year, $5,000,000 initiative designed to create a no-kill community. The project was a resounding success. Most recently, Karen served as the Executive Director for the Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County before moving into private practice as a consultant for animal welfare organizations across the United States.

In 2011, sunshine and a state-of-the-art cat shelter lured Karen to the west coast of Florida, where she became the Director of Operations for Cat Depot. In 2013, her attention turned to both dogs and cats when she was hired as Associate Director at Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue. She provided much of the leadership and experience to achieve considerable growth and recognition for this well respected organization. In August, 2018, she accepted the position of Executive Director at the Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County.

Having a love of both felines and football, Karen has also been a sports television producer and was instrumental in establishing Mike Ditka’s Gridiron Greats Charity, a 501(c)3, designed to provide dire need financial assistance and social services to retired professional football players.


Anthony Priore

Anthony Priore, Treasurer
Sr. VP of Administrative Services/CFO, Humane Society of Broward County
[email protected]

After 10 years working for a large corporate for-profit business, Anthony Priore entered the world of animal welfare in 1996 and has never looked back. Anthony started with the Humane Society of Broward County as the accounting manager and is currently the Senior Vice-President and CFO. During the last two decades, the Humane Society of Broward County has doubled in size, programs, and services provided to the public and have grown from a small local shelter to a well-respected organization serving the South Florida area. Anthony has served on several local and national boards including SAWA (Society of Animal Welfare Administrators). Anthony is a native South Floridian who enjoys the outdoors, several sporting activities and fine dining.


Sarah DavisSarah Baeckler Davis, Secretary
Executive Director, Humane Society Naples
[email protected] 

Sarah Baeckler Davis is a nonprofit leader with a track record of growing animal welfare organizations. A non-practicing lawyer, Baeckler Davis serves as executive director of Humane Society Naples where she leads a team of 70 dedicated to the mission of providing shelter for animals in need, providing loving homes through adoption, and promoting the well-being of companion animals. Before joining Humane Society Naples in 2017, Baeckler Davis spent the majority of her career running primate sanctuaries in the United States, including serving as the founding executive director for Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Washington state and Project Chimps in Georgia. She has a graduate degree from Central Washington University and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School.

Martha BodenMartha Boden, Immediate Past-President

CEO, SPCA Tampa Bay
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Martha Boden is the CEO of SPCA Tampa Bay. Located in Largo, FL, SPCA Tampa Bay serves the Tampa-St. Petersburg area and cares for over 10,000 animals each year. She previously worked as the CEO of the Humane Society of Indianapolis and is an author for the Small Animal Channel website. A past member of two national animal welfare industry boards, Martha also helped found a statewide alliance of animal agencies in Indiana.

Martha grew up riding and caring for horses and began volunteering with the Animal Relief Fund (ARF), an animal rescue group and cat shelter in Minneapolis, MN. She oversaw ARF’s foster network and facilitated the group’s efforts to collaborate with other local animal welfare organizations. 

Through her work with ARF, Martha met members of the Animal Humane Society (AHS) management team in Golden Valley, MN. Interested in shelter administration, she eventually left ARF to join the volunteer ranks at AHS, assisting over two years in three different AHS departments: Operations, Development and Veterinary Services. That experience allowed her to make the transition to animal welfare as a professional when she joined the Humane Society of Indianapolis. Martha earned a degree in classical languages at Macalester College and worked as an IT project manager before moving into animal welfare.

Martha currently shares her home with Bailey and Annie, two Toy Poodle mixes she adopted as seniors. After more than 40 years up north, Martha is very happy to now live in the warm, sunny climate of St Petersburg, FL.

Rich AndersonRich Anderson, Marketing Co-Chair
Executive Director/CEO, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League
[email protected]

Rich Anderson joined Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League in June of 2011 as Executive Director/CEO. Serving in the nonprofit sector for nearly 25 years, he started his career at The American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington DC in 1990. Since then he has devoted much of his life working with animal welfare and rescue organizations, including the Humane Society of Broward County as its Development Director, and as a consultant serving the ASPCA; North Shore Animal League; and World Society for the Protection of Animals.

Prior to joining Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, Rich most recently served as vice president of resource development for World Neighbors in Oklahoma City, which has benefited more than 25 million people in 45 countries around the globe by helping rural villages address their own food, water, health and education needs.

A native of Rhode Island, Rich received his bachelor’s degree in print journalism with a minor in international studies from American University in Washington, D.C. Rich lives in West Palm Beach with his wife Lisa, two daughters, and two dogs – Rex and Roxie – six year old Yorkie/Chihuahua siblings.

Stephen BardyStephen Bardy, Legislative Chair
Executive Director, Pet Alliance Orlando
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Stephen Bardy is the Executive Director of Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando (PAGO) which services the community through two shelters, two veterinary clinics and a mobile clinic plus numerous offsite partnerships. Prior to joining PAGO, he served Florida’s abused and neglected children in the nonprofit and governmental sector for 25 years. He has earned state and national awards for his program initiatives and introduced pet therapy in his foster care group homes. Steve has served on two national advisory boards. He has led successful fundraising campaigns resulting in more than $14 million of public support. He received his BS in Business from the University of South Florida and his Master of Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University. From a young age, he has shared his life with dogs who were once living in shelters. Each one left an indelible mark on his life. He is blessed with two current family dogs, Milo and Sophie.

Amy CarotenutoAmy Carotenuto, Legislative Co-Chair

Executive Director, Flagler Humane Society and Animal Services
[email protected]

A native Floridian, Amy has devoted the last 34 years to protecting and advocating for animals. 

Carotenuto worked through the ranks as a cruelty investigator, veterinary technician and supervisor at Halifax Humane Society in Daytona Beach and became the director of Flagler Humane Society and Animal Services in 1992. Over the course of fifteen years, she led the organization through tremendous growth and construction of new building. She prosecuted large scale animal cruelty cases including the Brinkley puppy mill in which over 500 dogs were rescued and received international attention. That same year there was a county-wide evacuation due to forest fires. FHS was the lead animal rescue agency, safely relocating hundreds animals that had been left behind by owners.

She became the Administrator for Edgewater Animal Services, worked with Volusia County to establish and operate a mobile spay/neuter hospital, and founded “Rescued Hearts”, a non-profit animal welfare organization. Back at Halifax Humane Society from 2010 to 2013 she played an integral role in the formation of the Prison Pups and Pals Program and the opening of an offsite spay/neuter facility.

In 2013 Amy was asked to return as Executive Director of Flagler Humane Society and Animal Services.

Since her return: * FHS opened a pet food pantry for pet owners in temporary financial crises * A thriving wellness clinic was established * Stray intakes have decreased 21 percent * Adoptions have increased 21 percent * FHS began helping animals from less fortunate shelters, thus animals saved through transfers have increased 99 percent * The number of animals euthanized has decreased 82 percent * The live release rate has increased to 92 percent

She has been a certified humane euthanasia and stress management instructor for 25 years, providing input for the current manual and test. It is her passion to ensure that if we must euthanize, it is done with respect and compassion. 

Jennifer BitnerJennifer Bitner, Board Member
Shelter Consultant
[email protected]

Jennifer Bitner's passion for people and pets and collaborative style has brought new and exciting programs to organizations. Jennifer has working partnerships with Best Friends Animal Society, the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, Maddie’s University, Alley Cat Allies, Humane Rescue Alliance and many more. 

Jennifer’s accomplishments include a certificate from the Maddie’s University Lifesaving Leadership Master Class, leads the Panhandle Coalition for Increased Life-saving in the NW Florida Panhandle through Best Friends Animal Society. She is active in lobbying on animal welfare issues in the state. She graduated from the Best Friends Animal Society’s Executive Leadership Class in fall of 2020. 

Kate MeghjiKate Meghji, Board Member
Executive Director, Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County
[email protected]

Kate Meghji joined the Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County in January 2019, and prior to that served as executive director of the Lawrence Humane Society in Kansas for 4 years, where she oversaw a $7.5M capital campaign to build a new, state-of-the-art shelter, increased adoptions by more than 30%, and achieved and maintained a live release rate of more than 93%. Kate began her sheltering career right after college at the Champaign County Humane Society in Illinois in 2005.

Kate's passions include coalition-building, using data to make informed decisions to improve animal welfare and capacity for care within a shelter environment, and utilizing evidence-based best practices to change and save lives.

Kate holds an M.B.A. from University of Illinois in Urbana and a B.S. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Evergreen State College in Washington.

Frank ValenteFrank Valente, Marketing Chair
President / CEO, Humane Society of the Treasure Coast
[email protected]

Frank Valente has been serving as the President and CEO of the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast (HSTC) since June 2007. Located in Palm City and serving Martin County and the Treasure Coast Region since 1955, HSTC is 501C3 nonprofit animal welfare organization that also provides contracted services for Martin County Animal Services. Prior to joining HSTC Frank served for six years as General Manager and Assistant Executive Director of the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League in West Palm Beach.

Frank has served as Chair of the former South Florida Animal Welfare Organization for two years, has been a member of the Pethealth CEO Advisory Council and is on the Best Friends Steering Committee for Florida. Frank also serves on the Board of Directors for The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness.

Frank Valente was born in New Jersey and has fond memories of growing up at the Jersey Shore. He received a BA in Political Science from Gettysburg College and lives in Palm Beach Gardens with his wife Julia and their Terrier/Chihuahua mix Bella. Bella was abandoned in a shoebox overnight at 2 weeks of age on the property of Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League 14 years ago.