Melanie Sadek, Executive Director

Melanie Sadek 2017_squareMelanie Sadek is the Executive Director of Valley Humane Society (VHS). She has worked in both for-profit and non-profit environments, including 11 years of corporate and small business management. As manager of the traffic safety department for the California State Automobile Association, Melanie worked to develop education and outreach programs and build volunteer coalitions. She was also instrumental in governmental affairs activities, facilitating effective marketing outreach programs, and screening non-profit funding requests. Melanie opened Murphy’s Paw, a retail store in downtown Pleasanton selling dog and cat supplies in 2007. During the four years she owned the store, Melanie created strong brand recognition and great community support, which she passed along the new owners in late 2011. Melanie’s excellent relationship-building skills coupled with her marketing and public relations experience have allowed VHS to step out of the shadows and become a more visible animal welfare leader within the TriValley region. Melanie’s dedication to supporting the community was recognized in 2016 when she received the TriValley Hero Award for her Community Spirit.

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 DaCosta with Zoe2_squareYayoi 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

Melissa Adkins_squareJoining 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 Reed_squareShoshannah’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 Scholz_squareEmily 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 TaylorEmily 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 CoordinatorMaureen Murphy_square

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, an animal control officer, and eventually decided to seek a staff position as an Operations Coordinator in 2015.

Robert Sterne, Operations Coordinator

Robert Sterne_and_Lex_squareRobert 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 AssistantLauren Voorhies_edit

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 Hayward Animal Shelter, and joined VHS as Medical Coordinator in 2016. At home, she spends time with a 4 year old husky/Malamute mix named Tyr.

Anna Moniz, Operations Coordinator

Anna Moniz_cropAnna began volunteering for Valley Humane Society in 2015 doing cat care in Kitty City and the isolation ward. Having grown up with a variety of pets, Anna’s love of animals extends back her entire life. After earning her degree from UC Davis in microbiology, Anna worked for a biotech company as a microbiologist, later moving into clinical research. During her spare time she trained her Rhodesian Ridgeback in AKC obedience trials, and her Siberian Husky in Canine Nose Work. After getting married and having children Anna expanded her family by adopting two cats from VHS in 2010. She now shares her home with her husband, four kids, one dog, four cats, one corn snake, and a leopard gecko.