Melanie Sadek, Executive Director
Melanie brings a wealth of experience to VHS including 11 years of corporate and small business management. Melanie managed the traffic safety department for the California State Automobile Association. In this capacity she worked to build volunteer coalitions and developed education and outreach programs. She was also instrumental in screening non-profit funding requests, governmental affairs activities and facilitating effective marketing outreach programs. Most recently Melanie started a small start-up where she has built strong brand recognition and great community support. Melanie’s excellent relationship building skills coupled with her marketing and public relations experience has allowed VHS to step out of the shadows and start to become a more visible animal welfare organization within the Tri-Valley region. Recognized as a visionary, a collaborative leader and a strong communicator, Melanie has begun the process of expanding VHS’ donor development to include corporate sponsors as well as private donors to help meet the current needs of the organization and take VHS into the future as a recognized leader in animal care and community participation.
Sandy St. Dennis, Medical Director
Sandy has been an active volunteer for VHS since 2001, serving as VHS’s Medical Director, providing veterinary medical care and supervision for all VHS pets. A graduate of UCD veterinary medical school, Sandy has previously practiced veterinary medicine in Fremont and Livermore as well as working as a spay/neuter surgeon for the Tri City Animal Shelter in Fremont. She is an advocate for the humane treatment of homeless animals as well as responsible pet ownership. She is a member of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. Her family includes her husband, 2 children, 4 cats and 2 dogs.
Yayoi daCosta, Operations Manager
Yayoi started at VHS as a volunteer assistant vet tech in 2010. She has been in the animal medical field all of her life. She began by following a dairy cow veterinarian on his daily rounds by the time she started to walk. Her most recent involvement prior to joining VHS was volunteering at a SPCA in Southern California. On the business side, after graduating from UC Davis with a business degree, and being fluent in her native Japanese, Yayoi became an asset manager to the largest fee for service company and managed over 2 million square feet of commercial real estate all over the United States. Her family includes a husband of 20 plus years, boys 9 and 11 and faithful dogs Zoe and Mia.
Melissa Adkins, Marketing and Development Manager
Joining Valley Humane Society in February 2012, Melissa is in her second stint with VHS, having also worked for the organization from 2005-2008. In the interim, she worked as a marketing coordinator for Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation in Walnut Creek, where she honed her writing and social media skills. A San Diego native, Melissa has lived in the Tri-Valley for nearly thirty years. She shares a home with her husband, a fournado, and two black cats named Olive and Simone. Outside, she feeds a pair of black feral cats, dubbed Top-Notch and Sideswipe, and the occasional racoon.
Shoshannah Reed, Volunteer Program Manager
Shoshannah’s love of animals led her to become a volunteer for VHS in 2007, when she helped care for the beloved dog of one of our early Hope Hospice partnership clients. She officially joined staff in 2010 as Humane Education Manager, developing the humane education and Critter Camp programs. In 2015 she assumed the role of Volunteer Program Manager.
Emily Scholz, Office Manager
Emily started volunteering with VHS in February of 2012, working at the front desk, as an adoptions counselor, and at off-site events. In November of 2014, Emily accepted a staff position serving as the office manager. Emily also works in IT as a software project manager and lives in Pleasanton with a cocker spaniel, Poppy, and three cats, Minty, Salty and Olive. In addition to caring for her own pets, Emily also fosters dogs and puppies at home.
Emily Taylor, Humane Education Coordinator
Emily has worked with students of all ages as a Montessori teacher, caregiver, and Teach for America corps member. After earning her BA from UC Davis in Classical Languages, she taught grades 3-4 for the TFA Institute in the Bronx, NY, then taught K-1 in East San Jose for four years. Emily understands that Humane Education encompasses animal advocacy, human rights, and concern for the environment as essential aspects of a just society. She is currently completing the Mindful Educator coursework at Mindful Schools, and integrates mindfulness both at work and at home. Emily enjoys meditation, yoga, and spending time with her rescued pets: Professor Dog, and kitties Madeleine, Spencer, and Charlotte.
Maureen Murphy, Operations Coordinator
Michael Clark, Operations Coordinator
Michael grew up in Pleasanton and graduated Amador Valley High. He is currently attending community college, and hopes to pursue a career in biology and transfer to UC Davis. Michael has two dogs, Ace and Jack, and a cat, Bruce. Michael was introduced to VHS through his father, and animal control officer, and eventually decided to seek a staff position as an Operations Coordinator in 2015.
Robert Sterne, Operations Coordinator
Robert grew up in Livermore, and graduated from Livermore High School. He received his BS in Chemistry from University of California, Davis, and his MS in Chemistry from the University of Arizona. It was while in Arizona that he adopted his first pet, a black cat named Lex, in 2009. Robert returned to the Bay Area after graduation, and was introduced to VHS in 2014 when his mom adopted a dog. Soon after, Robert became an active volunteer working in both Cat Care and the AniMeals program. He accepted a part-time staff position as an Operations Coordinator in 2015.
Lauren Voorhies, Office Assistant
Lauren has been a VHS volunteer since November 2014. In June of 2015, she accepted the position of Office Assistant. Prior to joining VHS, Lauren worked with the Go Green Initiative to film an online web series that teaches children the importance of energy conservation; it has since been shown in classrooms all over the world. Lauren has three dogs—Emma, Zenyatta, and Teddy—and five cats—Primrose, Timmi, Star, Madeleine, and Belles—that she shares her life with.
Jill Bontilao, Medical Coordinator
Jill started working with animals in 2010 at a wildlife rehabilitation center as an Animal Care Coordinator from 2010-2015. She has worked as a vet assistant at several clinics and starting working with dogs and cats at the Hayward Animal Shelter in 2013. Jill continues her life-saving work at both Hayward Animal Shelter and VHS. At home, she spends time with a 4 year old husky/Malamute mix named Tyr.