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Brandy Burke joined the Humane Society of Southern Arizona in August 2009, opening the first two retail adoption centers, PAWSH at Park and La Encantada malls. With 20 years of work experience in business operations, retail and district management, she felt it was time to put her knowledge and background to use in the field of a lifelong passion, animal welfare. “There is nothing more rewarding than working alongside people who want nothing but the best for the animals in our care and in our Southern Arizona community.”
Growing up in rural southern Illinois, Brandy spent much of her youth caring for stray and discarded pets, mostly cats. “Every year we would have one or two litters of kittens born that we would have to find homes for. My parents began spaying and neutering the stray cats that showed up on our doorstep (or those I found and brought home) by the early ’80s. I knew as a young child that preventing unwanted litters was the right thing to do.” Brandy and her husband, Tom, have fostered hundreds of cats and kittens over the past 10 years. “30 years later, I am still bringing them home.”
When she isn’t fostering pets, she enjoys reading and hiking. Brandy has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Eastern Illinois University.
Diana Cannon has never spent a day of her life without a dog. A Michigan native, she grew up in a family that loved and valued their pets as members of the family. Beagles were her father’s dog of choice until one day Diana asked if she could have a dog of her very own. Her parents took her to the humane society and there she found and adopted her childhood friend “Penny.” For 14 years, until Diana left for college, Penny was her constant companion.
Diana is a longtime resident of Tucson and deeply involved in the affairs of the Tucson community through her career and volunteer involvement. She has extensive experience in business development in both corporate and nonprofit. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Michigan University and numerous accreditations in sales management and leadership. Diana has a strong sense of volunteerism and has been involved in a variety of Tucson nonprofit organizations over the past 25 years.
Diana believes that pets teach us humanity: “They give us their absolute all and we owe them love, faith, and trust.”
Diana and her husband have three miniature dachshunds – Daphne, Dottie, and Dixie – and “grand-puppy” Oreo, who was adopted from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.
Clay Bacon is HSSA’s Chief Financial Officer. Clay comes to HSSA with over 20 years in nonprofit financial
management, most recently with Ascension Health, the nation’s largest nonprofit health network, where he worked for 6 years. Clay previously worked as the Finance Manager for Shop Natural Tucson Cooperative
Warehouse. “An organization’s mission is very important and I am very excited to have a role in assisting the HSSA in fulfilling its stewardship and mission in the Tucson community”.
Bacon is married to artist Betina Fink and in his spare time loves reading, painting, hiking and spending time with his children and pets.
Christian Gonzalez is HSSA’s Director of Operations, dedicated to the sheltering and placement of the thousands of pets that enter HSSA’s facility each year. In his 12 years of service, which started as a kennel technician, he has been an advocate for implementing new programs and creating a holistic approach to animal care.
Growing up on the Arizona/Mexico border, Christian knows all too well the number of stray and unwanted pets in our Southern Arizona communities. As a young boy, he would sneak injured and homeless pets into his bedroom and nurse them back to health. In his current role as Animal Services Director, he has been a driving force over the past 16 months to help find better ways to care for the pets needing temporary shelter. His tireless efforts have helped 95 percent of the animals entering our facility find new homes or alternative placement.
In his spare time, Christian displays great talent in the kitchen. However, his other true passion is spending his time caring for and rescuing reptiles. He has been involved in the rescue and placement of hundreds of reptiles nationwide.
Pat Brayer is HSSA’s Clinic Director. Pat comes with an in-depth and comprehensive background in animal care and animal welfare. Pat has served as the President of the Board and shelter director of the San Gabriel Valley Humane Society. She has also served as the director of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. Pat knows first-hand about working with a community to control animal overpopulation, making great strides with the Coachella Valley community to provide affordable spay/neuter and vaccination programs.
In her spare time Pat enjoys NASCAR, interior design, reading and writing and is currently working on her first book. Pat also enjoys the company of her cats, Toby, Punkin Ballerina, Meechi and Tuffy.
Lisa Gagnon is the HSSA Human Resources Director. Since she was little, all Lisa Gagnon wanted to do was work around animals. She was the one who brought home strays and begged her parents to keep them! She went to junior college for a couple of years but could never find anything she wanted to commit to. She was working at a martial arts school in 1986 when the opportunity for a part-time, temporary position came from a student’s mother to work at the Humane Society of Tucson. Yes, back then the name was a little different.
She started in a position in the bookkeeping department, which after three months turned into a full-time
permanent position in the shelter. Over the next 11 years Lisa worked in many capacities including Shelter Technician, Clinic Technician and Assistant Shelter Manager. In 1997, she became the first Training Coordinator for the HSSA. In 2001, Lisa was offered the position of Director of Human Resources. She runs the maze of employment law, employee benefits and training to keep all our employees safe and happy!
Lisa’s home is filled with four dogs and one cat, all from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.
Randy Peterson joined our team in February of 2015 as the new Director of Development. He brings more than 15 years of non-profit fundraising and management experience to the position, all with organizations here in Southern Arizona.
The proud papa of two dogs adopted from HSSA (Cleopatra and Lucille Fur Ball), Randy is also a long-time Big Brother and a one-on-one tutor at Imago Dei Middle School. Contact Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions on planned giving, the Guardian Angel program, the auto donation program, and other ways to support HSSA.
Vanessa “V” Ford, Director of Marketing and Communications, comes to HSSA with a background in public relations from the entrepreneurial and academic worlds. She holds a Masters from the University of Arizona and is in the dissertation stage of her PhD from the University of Georgia, focusing on how the human brain processes interactive narrative. In her time at HSSA, first as the Associate Director of Marketing, and now as the director, she uses this understanding of what motivates people to have meaningful, engaging conversations with our community about the needs of our animals, and the best ways to prevent animal suffering.
In her offtime, V directs and consults on virtual reality projects, loves puppets, sculpting, sewing and robotics, and is teaching her 13 koi fish to eat from her hand. You can often find her hanging out in her backyard with her three dogs, Tango, Zoey and Molly, and her husband, Tony.