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 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, Volunteer Program Manager/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, developing the humane education and Critter Camp programs. In 2015 she assumed the role of Volunteer Program Manager. 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.
Samantha Erickson, Medical Coordinator
In her sixth year as active duty Air Force, Samantha went to school to become a vet assistant. She fell in love with shelter medicine while working at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. Samantha is working on continuing her education so she can someday be a veterinarian. She has always had a passion for animals and truly loves everything about her job. Originally from California, Samantha returned to the state in November and joined VHS in December 2014. She has two dogs and a cat, all who she rescued and adopted. Samantha remains a traditional reservist with the Air Force.
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 enjoys cooking, reading and hiking.
Maureen Murphy, Operations Coordinator
Paul Saliski, Operations Coordinator
A VHS volunteer since 2013, Paul has worked in many roles, including as a Canine Comfort Pet Therapy team with his dog Duncan. He joined VHS staff in December 2013 and immediately fell in love with a rescued cat named Puffin. Paul and his wife adopted Puffin, who fits right in with the rest of the family: dog Duncan, another cat named Nautica, and two horses named Miles and Henry Higgins. Paul has been an EMS dispatcher for the last twelve years and is transitioning to a career as an Animal Control Officer.
Tyla Edward, Operations Coordinator
Tyla has been a volunteer at VHS for four years, coming all the way from Hayward because it was important to her that she work for a no-kill shelter. At home she has two dogs, five cats, and eight chickens.