Meet our Team
Friends of the Animal Shelter relies heavily on close to 200 volunteers who generously and lovingly contribute more than 50,000 hours per year. We have a minimum of paid staff, full and part-time, to help organize the efforts of our volunteers.
The FOTAS Shelter office is located in the Jackson County Animal Shelter, 5595 S Pacific Hwy, Phoenix, OR 97535.
Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 11 AM to 4 PM and Weekends, Noon to 4 PM. PHONE: (541) 774-6651 | Email the FOTAS Shelter office
Our administrative office is located at 1875 Hwy 99 N, Suite B-10, Ashland, OR 97520. PHONE: (541) 708-0090 | Email the FOTAS Admin office
Mailing address: PO Box 1153, Ashland, OR 97520. We do NOT receive mail at either of our physical offices.
Sky Loos, Executive Director, email
Liz Obelenus, Volunteer Services Manager email
Hannah Teague, Support Services Associate email
Heather Helard, Social Media Coordinator email
Courtney Evans, Dog Foster Program Coordinator email
Terri Frazier, Cat Foster Program Coordinator email
Eliza Kauder, Bookkeeper, Donor Management and Development Coordinator email
FOTAS Board of Directors
Friends of the Animal Shelter, like most non-profit organizations, is run by a Board of Directors. FOTAS’ employees report to and are accountable to the Board. The Board sets policy and direction for the organization. It also oversees the organization’s finances, fundraising and promotion.
The members of our Board enjoy the Board meetings and their interactions with one another. At our Board meetings, the input of each member is valued and weighed in a creative atmosphere. All members of the Board are uncompensated volunteers.
If you would like to be considered for a position on our Board, please send us an email for more information.
TRICIA (ZHADDI) DE FELICE – PRESIDENT
Tricia (Zhaddi) has loved anything Feline as far back as she can remember and joined FOTAS as a volunteer in the cat rooms in 2013, shortly after moving from New York City. Wanting to enhance and extend the lives of shelter cats, she co-founded, along with another volunteer, Puck’s Place, a feline rehabilitation sanctuary for shelter cats needing a special place to recuperate before being placed into adoption.
Tricia currently Chairs the FOTAS Program Advisory Committee and serves on the Development Committee as well as fostering kittens and cats.
Part of Tricia’s work life includes holding several management positions in the field of Book Publishing including: New Business and Custom Publishing Director, Sales and Marketing Director for the Electronic Publishing Program at Time Warner, and VP, Sales and Communication at Simon and Schuster. After leaving the corporate environment, Tricia founded two companies before leaving the businesses and NYC for greener pastures (literally) and moved to Southern Oregon.
Currently, Tricia owns While They Happily Wait Pet Care, providing quality pet sitting services to the community as well as serves as a Coach and Creation Healing Practitioner at Invincible Heart Traditions, a personal development organization.
When not working and volunteering, Tricia enjoys spending time with family (feline and human) and friends, tennis, white water rafting and nature.
ROBYNNE WHITAKER – VICE PRESIDENT
Robynne Whitaker joined us as a Friends of the Animal Shelter Board member in 2021. She’s honored to serve “because every dog and cat should be as spoiled as mine have been.”
Robynne works as a real estate broker with John L. Scott, specializing in residential property from Ashland through Grants Pass. Before becoming a real estate broker, Robynne worked for 25+ years in public relations and editorial, primarily for insurance and finance-related businesses.
Over the years, Robynne has been very active in the community. She has volunteered in the schools, led Brownie and Girl Scout troops, held leadership positions in the local Girl Scout council, and was secretary and treasurer of Ballet Rogue. She volunteered with the Southern Oregon Humane Society as a dog-walker and Board president. She also volunteers with children’s camps at HOPE Equestrian, a therapeutic horseback riding center, where she gets to play with both horses and kids.
Robynne has a BA in French literature and a MS in mass communication. She enjoys yoga, rock climbing, gardening, cello and of course, animals. She shares her home and life with husband Jeffrey Nagel, a Boston terrier, Sonora, and a betta fish named Louie.
SAMANTHA JOHSON – SECRETARY
Samantha became a FOTAS volunteer in July of 2012 as a dog walker and adoption ambassador. Instantly impressed by all the programs and people who make such a positive difference for the animals while at the shelter she was inspired to get more involved. She gladly started helping with fundraisers and became a regular volunteer at outreach events and monthly shot clinics.
Sam grew up in the SF bay area until her family moved to Ashland at age 13. Following high school and brief stints in San Diego and Montana, she returned to Southern Oregon, and finished her undergraduate degree at SOU. She and her husband, Karl, made their home in Southern Oregon and live in Medford with their two dogs, Ellie and Maizy, and cat, Peanut.
Samantha has enjoyed a career with a local non-profit health care provider. In her spare time she enjoys gardening and floral design, reading, baking, cheering on the Chicago Bears with her husband (their #1 fan), and meeting her friends for walks with their dogs.
Over the years they have adopted two cats and a dog from Jackson County Animal Services. In 1997 they adopted their first pet together, Jack, a special needs tabby cat who they had nine wonderful years with. In 2016 they adopted their big and beautiful orange cat, and after their first attempt at fostering, their darling pug, Ellie.
Sam enjoys helping with fundraisers and promoting FOTAS at outreach events. For several years she helped promote FOTAS and Jackson County Animal Services’ adoptable dogs with regular posts on FOTAS Facebook page. Volunteering alongside so many wonderful people dedicated to saving animals’ lives is an honor she feels blessed to be a part of.
MICHAEL MURRAY – TREASURER
Michael Murray joined the Friends of the Animal Shelter Board in 2021, and is currently the Treasurer, Chair of the Finance Committee and serves on the Development Committee.
He became a cat room volunteer in 2019 and has been heavily involved in increasing the capacity of the Working Cats Program, which has saves more than 100 cats each year by placing them on farms, vineyards, and Jackson County rural land that would benefit from rodent control. The Working Cats Program is the last resort for cats that cannot be returned to their original colonies, due to circumstances like development and disasters, like the Almeda Fire.
Professionally, Michael was the CFO and Chairman of the Board of a solar company that they moved to Ashland in 2018. He enjoys hiking, travel, music, reading and culinary experiences.
Michael and is wife Wendy fostered, and then adopted, two kittens from the Shelter in 2020, Luna and Pumpkin. Wendy is also a dedicated Friends of the Animal Shelter volunteer, and works with Michael on the Working Cats Program.
BECKY COHN – PAST PRESIDENT
Becky joined FOTAS in 2012 as a dog walker. She soon learned that the Shelter was often filled with Pit Bull mixes and her concern led to the founding of the Pit Crew together with other dedicated volunteers. Becky became President in January 2021.
Becky moved to Talent on a 10-acre farm in 2011. She and her husband raise animals and she tends a large veggie and fruit garden, and also works training dogs.
Prior to moving here, Becky was a Foreign Service Officer with the Agency for International Development. Her family spent many years overseas including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Jamaica, and Barbados.
An avid dog lover, Becky has 5 dogs of her own, 3 of which are rescues: one from a kill shelter in Fresno and two 9-year-old Chihuahuas adopted from the Jackson County Animal Shelter.
Lorna came to the Rogue Valley in 1962 from Southern California with her family when she was young and never moved because she “can’t think of a place I would rather be.”
Lorna always had a soft spot for animals growing up and all of her dogs have been rescues.
Lorna has been volunteering with Friends of the Animal Shelter since 2006 and her passion shows in everything she does, from giving dogs a little R&R at her house to see what they are really like away from the shelter, to participating on various FOTAS committees, heading up the Paws for a Cause Dog Walk, helping to organize the annual Volunteer Appreciation event, and serving as a FOTAS board member.
Her smiling face and infectious laugh are delightful additions to the Shelter.
Virginia Brown joined the Friends of the Animal Shelter Board in 2022. Both she and her husband, Chaz, have been long-time supporters because they strongly believe in the mission of the organization. They have enjoyed cats and dogs as their pets for many years and are currently entertained by their dog, Bucky. He is a labradoodle who is passionate about chasing rubber balls and jumping into the tiny pond in their front year, including poking holes in the ice to get water!
Virginia was an Occupational Therapist for 22 years, treating sensory processing disorders in children and adults, working with the blind, and providing Craniosacral Therapy and Myofascial Release to patients in her husband’s Chiropractic Neurology Clinic. Following this, she was President of the BioElectric Shield Company for the past 32 years. Closing on April 1, 2023, the company provided people sensitive to EMF (electromagnetic radiation from WiFi) or other people’s energy with products that balance and protect their energy.
Virginia was a dog walker at the Shelter in 2005. She was the Co-Chair of the Jackson County Master Gardener Practicum from 2012-2020. She continues to teach in this program as a mentor. Virginia has served on the Board of Directors for both the Siskiyou Singers and currently serves on the Board of the Talent Garden Club.
Virginia has a BS in Psychology and MS in Occupational Therapy. She shares her home with her husband, Chaz Brown, and their dog, Bucky. She enjoys singing with the Rogue Valley Chorale, yoga, and gardening.
Cynthia Cavanaugh and her husband Sid moved to the Rogue Valley in 2020, and she joined FOTAS as soon as new volunteers were accepted post-COVID as a cat volunteer on Mondays. Since Mondays closed to volunteers, she has devoted her “cat” time to those temporary guests at Puck’s Place. Cynthia joined the Board in 2023.
A lifelong animal lover, Cynthia has volunteered in animal shelters and rescue groups since 2003. Currently she and Sid share their home with two kitties, Desi and Lucy, and Pit Bull Reggie, all from different shelters in two states.
Her career has been in the art world as a textile designer, art educator, and museum art collection manager. Since 2012 she has owned Studio Lizzy textile design and she also creates hand-painted greeting cards.
Life outside the shelter also includes the Schneider Museum of Art where Cynthia is a docent, the Ashland Food Project, travel, and enjoying numerous cultural and outdoor activities in the beautiful Rogue Valley.
Ben was born in Singapore and raised internationally until he attended college at the University of California, San Diego, where he attained a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. He became a licensed CPA in 2019.
Ben enjoys spending time with his wife, Christina, and their dog, Chance. They love the wonderful outdoors of Southern Oregon and frequently go hiking, biking and adventuring.
Aiden Costello is a veterinarian and owner of “a” street animal clinic in Ashland, OR. He graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2009 and has lived in the Rogue Valley since 2012. Aiden has had a long history of working with shelter animals and participating in high-volume spay and neuter clinics both prior to and after becoming a veterinarian. As a technician he helped to establish the facility for the Bend Spay and Neuter Project in Bend, Oregon helping Dr. Byron Maas to carry out 50-60 feline spays per day.
In his first position as a veterinarian he worked for Dr. Jeffrey Young and would set up a spay and neuter clinic in a local gymnasium in Eastern Colorado and regularly hold high-volume spay and neuter clinics. He also participated in a traveling clinic to provide these services on Native American reservations in Wyoming and Montana.
At “a” street animal clinic he has worked with SNYP, Jackson County Animal Control, SNIP (in Yreka, CA) ,So Humane and the Street Dog project to provide low-cost procedures to the community.
Aiden joined the FOTAS board as a consultant to help develop a much-needed spay and neuter mobile clinic program, and is happy to help in providing this service to the Rogue Valley.
He lives with his wife, Dr Jessica Voellm and their cats Gigi and Weeone and their newly adopted shelter dog Shelby.
After 33 years of service with AT&T, Bob and his wife, Jo Cooper, moved from California in 2014 to a home on five acres in Ashland. Both Bob and Jo decided to spend a lot of their time benefitting animals by volunteering for FOTAS. In 2017, Bob started walking dogs at the Shelter and then became a weekly participant in the dog’s “Playing for Life” playgroup program. Over time, Bob eagerly became involved with a little bit of everything at the Shelter.
In 2018, Bob was elected to the Board of Directors, and when they needed someone to get the new spay/neuter trailer ready for surgeries, Bob raised his capable hand. He now sets up the trailer for each spay/neuter clinic and participates in everything from surgical assistance to animal recovery.
When Bob isn’t volunteering for FOTAS, he can usually be found working on their property or kayaking with Jo. He enjoys woodworking projects and, of course, taking care of their animals. They have six dogs, all of whom were rescued, 4 Rescues and 2 from the Jackson County Animal Shelter, Eddie and Darla. In September 2020, Bob and Jo fostered a large dog, Eddie, who ended up at the Shelter’s temporary set-up at the Expo Center during the evacuation prompted by the Almeda fire. A few months later, Eddie became a permanent member of their household. Prior to adopting Eddie, they fostered Darla, who had some medical issues that would make her challenging to put up for adoption. She, too, never left this loving home. In addition, Bob and Jo also have 10 cats and 2 miniature donkeys. All the cats were rescued from the streets or abandoned.
An animal lover, George Hines grew up with dogs (Snoopy and Joe) and a cat (Domino) and eventually met his soul dog, Bradley (a Rat Terrier Mix), in 2017 when George and his wife visited him at an animal rescue in Arizona. “I never realized until adopting Bradley that animals don’t have a voice unless we give them one. The unconditional love they give and impact they have on our lives is absolutely humbling, and I know that giving them a voice is one of the most important things I can do. Helping a dog get adopted into a loving home is part of my purpose now thanks to what I have learned from Bradley.” (Sadly, Bradley has passed away.)
After moving to Medford, Oregon, George began volunteering to walk and handle dogs at the Jackson County Animal Shelter in February 2022. George and his wife Wendy regularly donate to organizations that promote animal welfare.
Professionally, George serves as the Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation & Technology Officer for Lithia Motors, Inc. and focuses on the use of technology and data for the competitive advantage of Lithia. He is passionate about creating delightful, frictionless experiences with innovative technologies and completed sturdies in the Stanford d.School for Design Thinking and Innovation.
Additionally, George has lived and worked in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Spain and the United Kingdom. He holds a B.S. in MIS from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.
John Littleton is a lifelong cat lover, a happy “staff member” for his former pets Kelly, Bo, Phoebe, and Juno, and forever thankful for how his life has been so enriched by their presence. His most recent “employer,” Juno, was a feral cat who “adopted” John after appearing in the yard during a heavy snow. It helped that Juno looked exactly like Phoebe, John’s indoor cat. Fortunately, with Phoebe indoors and Juno outdoors, both get along well.
John found his professional calling with computers early in life and is now retired after a 35 year career in Information Technology serving in technical and management roles with National Semiconductor, National Cash Register (NCR) and other financial service organizations. John migrated from California in 1994 to Albany, Oregon, later moved to Brookings, and finally settled in the Rogue Valley, finding “all four seasons” offered a wide variety of year round outdoor activities.
John is no stranger to volunteering, helping to establish new Scout Troops in California and Oregon and serving on the Rogue Community Health Board for six years as Secretary and Treasurer. After retiring, John became a FOTAS volunteer in September 2022, and works with cats, cleaning kennels and providing loving socialization. He also volunteers with the Working Cats adoption program and is a regular volunteer for the many FOTAS outreach events.
John’s personal interests: Travel, SCUBA diving, science, culinary adventures, wildlife, the arts, interesting people, and cats of all kinds.