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 8 and 10 and faithful dogs Zoe, Mia, and Coco.
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 skills and learned to use social media. A San Diego native, Melissa has lived in the Tri-Valley for nearly thirty years. She shares a home with her husband, a toddler, 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, Humane Education 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, and went on to develop the humane education and Critter Camp programs. Shoshannah believes we can “teach a child and save a pet” by working with the youth of our community through character education and hands-on experiences. Our Critter Camp and Girl/Boy Scout workshops create responsible, caring, future pet advocates, and strengthen the human-animal bond. Shoshannah became active in early childhood education and continued to volunteer at her children’s schools after leaving an eight-year professional career to start her family. She is the mother of two teenagers and a wife of eighteen years. Together, her family has raised two cats, four dogs, a chameleon, and many other animals, in addition to fostering numerous cats and dogs for VHS.
Sara Luquin, Volunteer Program Manager
VHS welcomed Sara in February 2014. A Saint Mary’s alum with a BA in Sociology, a minor in women’s studies, and a Montessori teaching credential, Sara is well-versed in both the nonprofit world and managing large groups of people. She served as Program Manager at Monument Crisis Center, an organization providing emergency food to families and seniors, arranged activities and educational presentations for seniors at Valley Vista Senior Housing in San Ramon, and coordinated client services as a Bilingual Case Manager at Regional Center of the East Bay in Concord. A Tulare native, Sara was drawn to VHS through her love of animals, especially dogs. She appreciates the local community aspect of VHS and is looking forward to the rare perk of being able to visit with animals on the job!
Victoria Gallagher, Animal Health Care Manager
Victoria’s love of animals started at a young age. Outside of school, she spent most of her adolescence caring for and training her family pets, educating herself about animal species and behavior, and volunteering at a horse-boarding facility helping young children build their horsemanship. She finally achieved her dream of working with animals when she was hired by a Fremont animal hospital as a receptionist and part-time veterinary technician. Victoria quickly learned that there was much more to the animal welfare community than she imagined. Hoping to expand her knowledge of the field and make a bigger difference for animals, Victoria took a job at a municipal animal shelter. There she worked as a kennel staff member, providing basic care for the animals who made their way there off the streets. Very quickly Victoria worked her way to front desk officer and began educating the public, working as a rescue liaison, and helping under-socialized and abused animals adjust to the stress of the shelter. Recently, armed with years of hands-on training, she found her way to Valley Humane Society, drawn by her motivation to preserve the welfare of rescued shelter animals. Though Victoria has had many pets throughout her life, her heart is currently stolen by her lovable shelter-rescued dog, Slugger.