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Staff

President Priscilla Feral has presided since 1987 over the international non-profit animal advocacy organization, which places critical habitat, wildlife protection, veganism, environmental and animal rights issues at the core of animal advocacy. She also serves as president of the San Antonio sanctuary Primarily Primates since 2007, which operates as a subsidiary of Friends of Animals. As a food activist, she has authored three vegan cookbooks for Friends of Animals —Dining With Friends: The Art of North American Vegan Cuisine, The Best of Vegan Cooking and her most recent, For the Love of Dog Biscuits. Priscilla believes that social movements, where people work together to bring about positive change in a society, are both inspiring and powerful and that giving up is not an option. Priscilla can be reached at feral(at)friendsofanimals.org.

Director of Operations Bob Orabona, who started as a volunteer, oversees day-to-day operations and the creation of strategies and policies for Friends of Animals. He became a vegan in 1980 and says his work here is the job of his dreams. With him every day at work are his rescue dogs, Papa, a bulldog and Harry, a black lab. Bob can be reached at admin(at)friendsofanimals.org.

Vice President of Development Dustin Rhodes started working at Friends of Animals in 2007 in the Washington, D.C. office. His primary job is fundraising and donor relations, but he’s also a contributing writer to Action Line. His passions include: wild animals, hiking, vegan baking, dogs, capuchin monkeys, writing, modern dance (as spectator), bicycling (for fun) and eating (vegan, naturally). His favorite part of his job is getting to know our inspirational supporters — many of whom have been with Friends of Animals for decades. He now resides (again) in Asheville, North Carolina — a progressive, animal-loving community in the Blue Ridge mountains. Dustin can be reached at dustin(at)friendsofanimals.org.

Director of Administration Michelle Hopson joined Friends of Animals in 2020. Michelle manages the organization’s administrative services focusing on fund development and business sustainability. She’s an experienced nonprofit specialist with over 10+ years of diverse, innovative business and educational experience at the administrative and advisory levels. Michelle is biodiversity fanatic who lives in CT with her husband, daughter, and Mika, the family shih tzu. Michelle can be reached at mhopson(at)friendsofanimals.org

Editor-in-Chief; Media/Government Relations Nicole Rivard started working at Friends of Animals in 2013. She brings 18 years of journalism experience to FoA’s Action Line and to the front lines— protesting and documenting atrocities against animals exploited by the carriage horse, fur and hunting industries, as well as the Bureau of Land Management’s mismanagement of America’s wild horses. Nicole also helps direct FoA’s legislative outreach. She enjoys photography, wildlife watching and wild places. But her happiest place is with horses at the barn, her home away from home. Nicole lives in Connecticut with her rescued goldfish, Deniro and hopes to adopt a horse someday. She can be reached at nrivard(at)friendsofanimals.org.

Creative Director Jane Seymour has been an animal rights activist for her entire life. After receiving her BFA in photography from Parsons School of Design, Jane went on to work in the publishing industry as a photography editor and director for 10 years. She oversees the design of Action Line, and all visual campaigns. Jane she resides in CT with her husband and their rescue dog Bullet. She can be reached at jane(at)friendsofanimals.org.

Communications Director Scott Smith joined Friends of Animals in May 2021. He’s held similar positions with the Stamford Museum & Nature Center and, most recently, the Bruce Museum of art and science in Greenwich, CT, Scott’s a former staff writer and editor for a variety of magazines, including Bon Appetit, where he launched Health Matters, the magazine’s first special section covering health and nutrition. Scott lives in Westport, CT, and is an avid backyard composter, beachcomber and protector of horseshoe crabs. He also enjoys nature photography and wildlife watching, especially the large fauna of the Yellowstone ecosystem. He can be reached at ssmith(at)friendsofanimals.org.

Digital Content Director Meg McIntire joined Friends of Animals in 2013. Meg is the creative force behind FoA’s and Primarily Primates’ social media and websites. She is also a contributing writer for Action Line. Meg is a news junkie and loves writing about politics, tech trends, rescue stories and pet parenthood. She lives with her rescued cats, Cecilia and Stevie, and rescue dog Harvey. Meg can be reached at mmcintire(at)friendsofanimals.org.

Accountant Bob Bock joined FoA in 2016 bringing with him 40 years of experience ranging from Fortune 500 companies to startups. He lives in Hamden, CT with two adopted dogs, Blue and Bear, who are his closest companions.

Bookkeeper Belveley Russell joined the staff in 1988 and has worked in a variety of capacities including answering phones, processing spay and neutering certificates and recruiting veterinarians. She lives in Bridgeport, CT with her two Yorkies, Piper and Pebbles. When she’s not watching tennis, she enjoys listening to Motown.

Assistant to the President Donna Thigpen oversees travel arrangements for the staff, conference calls and assists in proofreading FoA’s quarterly magazine, Action Line. She has been with the organization since 1996. She particularly enjoys caring for her brother’s Shih Tzu, Sable, when he is traveling.

Secretary to the President Shelly Scott is responsible for secretarial duties. She joined the staff in 1989. She is pleased to be part of an organization that has battled on behalf of animals. She finds office dogs Harry and Papa a joy to be around.

Membership Clerk Veronika Johnson has worked at Friends of Animals since 2002 and helps track donations. She considers the staff a second family and feels FoA’s mission to give our four-legged friends a voice is critical. She particularly enjoys working with office dogs Harry and Papa.

Receptionist Dana Visi joined the staff in 2015, bringing with her a background in veterinary care. She especially enjoys helping callers with their pet issues. She lives in Darien, CT with her golden retriever who competes in dog sports.

WILDLIFE LAW PROGRAM

Wildlife Law Program Director Michael Harris has been an environmental law attorney for 25 years, working directly on litigation to protect wildlife and natural ecosystems. Michael received a B.A. in Environmental and Political Studies from Pitzer College in Claremont, California, a M.S.L. from Vermont Law School, and a J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California-Berkeley, where he was an executive editor for the Ecology Law Quarterly. Before coming to Friends of Animals, Michael was an associate professor at the University of Denver, where he directed the school’s Environmental Law Clinic. Mike, who lives in Colorado with his family, is an avid hiker, adventure guide and enjoys teaching his son to respect wildlife. He can be reached at michaelharris(at)friendsofanimals.org.

Wildlife Law Program Assistant Legal Director Jennifer Best received a B.A. in philosophy from Lewis & Clark College with a minor in Political Science. She earned her J.D. from University of Denver Sturm College of Law in May 2013 with a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resource Law. She has been specializing in animal and environmental law since she graduated. She loves spending times outdoors and pursued a legal career because she believes all people and species deserve the right to be heard in our legal system. She is thrilled to be working with Friends of Animal and to promote the respectful view of non-human animals.

Stephen Hernick is Senior Attorney in the Wildlife Law Program. He received a B.A. in History from Cornell University and earned his J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 2009. He joined Friends of Animals in May 2019, after beginning his legal career as a commercial litigator at large law firms in Boston and Cincinnati. Stephen has been an animal lover his whole life and is ecstatic to now be using his legal skills towards helping animals of all species. He spends most of his weekends outdoors pursuing his passions of mountaineering and skiing in Colorado’s majestic mountains.

Andreia Marcuccio is a staff attorney at FoA’s Wildlife Law Program. She received a B.A. in Environmental Studies with a minor in philosophy from Siena College. She earned her J.D. and master’s degree in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. Andreia believes animals have intrinsic value and has always been passionate about animal equality. She is excited to be able to use her skills to protect wildlife and ensure that animals have a right to ethical consideration. In her free time she enjoys hiking, geocaching, cheerleading, snowboarding, and identifying trees. Andreia can be reached at andreia(at)friendsofanimals.org.

Adam Kreger is an associate attorney for the Wildlife Law Program. He became involved in animal rights in 2010, and received his J.D. from Washington University School of Law in 2019, where he founded the Animal Law Society during 1L. He also participated in the Environmental Law Clinic and served as a litigation intern for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. He is elated to be using the law to protect the environment and its inhabitants. Adam can be reached at adam.kreger(at)friendsofanimals.org.

Bill Clark is FoA’s Senior Policy Advisor. He has worked with wildlife since the spring of 1959, when he successfully hand-reared an orphaned red fox he named Khrushchev. Her mother had been killed by a vermin hunter. Khruschev taught him to love Nature, and to be intolerant of abuse. Bill worked about 20 years as a wildlife biologist, slowly coming to realize he was merely documenting the decline of wildlife due to human abuses and greed. He learned that, left alone, protected Nature could usually manage herself quite well. That realization brought him to make a lateral shift to wildlife law enforcement. The biggest threat to wildlife worldwide is the persistent violation of laws already enacted to protect wildlife. Bill has worked as a law enforcement ranger for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, been a delegate to every CITES CoP since 1979, flown as a patrol pilot for Kenya Wildlife Service, served as an anti-poaching technical advisor for Senegal National Parks, and as chairman of INTERPOL’s Wildlife Crimes Group. He has been associated with Friends of Animals since 1977. He holds a PhD in wildlife ecoethology and has been knighted (Ordre du Merite) by the President of Senegal.

Kira Abramovitz is the Conservation Coordinator of the Wildlife Law Program. She received a B.S. in Environmental Science at Portland State University. Having volunteered in Bali at a sea turtle sanctuary, multiple animal shelters, and worked as an animal keeper at wildcat sanctuaries, Kira has dedicated her life to animal welfare and conservation. These experiences have provided her with the foundation for building new ventures in animal rights as a conservation coordinator. Kira is thrilled to support the advocates in the Wildlife Law Program and Friends of Animals.

Primarily Primates

Krystal Mathis is the Executive Director of Primarily Primates. After earning her zoology degree from Texas State University, Mathis began work as a zookeeper at the San Antonio Zoo. She cared for a wide variety of animals, from addax to zebras. She also was on the operant conditioning teams for okapi, giraffe, hippos, otters, squirrel monkeys, sloths, and birds. Since then, Mathis has worked for seven years at Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, Inc., including nearly two years as the chief administrative officer overseeing the organization’s 180-acre sanctuary, wildlife rehabilitation hospital, and a satellite facility in San Antonio. In between, Mathis worked in development for the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm and San Antonio Pets Alive!