Meet our Team
Friends of the Animal Shelter (FOTAS) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was formed in 1990 to support the programs of the Jackson County Animal Shelter.
FOTAS strives for a time when all cats and dogs in Jackson County have a responsible owner or caretaker.
FOTAS is dedicated to the well-being and adoptability of animals at the Jackson County Animal Shelter. It also supports programs promoting the humane treatment of homeless cats and dogs in the community.
OUR VALUES ARE:
Service ∙ Compassion ∙ Integrity
Meet the 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.
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.
Friends of the Animal Shelter relies heavily on close to 200 volunteers who generously and lovingly contribute more than 60,000 hours per year. We have a minimum of paid staff, full and part-time, to help organize the efforts of our volunteers.
The FOTAS office is located in the Jackson County Animal Shelter, 5595 S Pacific Hwy, Phoenix, OR 97535.
Our office is open Tuesday – Friday, 11 AM to 4 PM and Weekends, Noon to 4 PM.
Our mailing address is: PO Box 1013, Phoenix, OR 97535.
PHONE: (541) 774-6651 | Email the FOTAS office