The staff at Brother Wolf Animal Rescue (and our supporting businesses, Second Chances Thrift Stores, and ReTail Pet Supplies and Grooming) are some of the most hardworking, compassionate, and wonderful people you’ll ever meet. Some have been here since the beginning in 2007, and each new team member brings a unique background and perspective on animal care and animal welfare. Meet our crew!
Rhiannon Banks, Animal Care Technician
I’ve been working for Brother Wolf since August of 2013 and was a regular volunteer prior to that. I’ve lived with animals my entire life and enjoy working with and caring for them. I have dogs, cats, chickens, horses, honeybees and even a feral little foster gerbil! I work in the Kennels with the dogs, and also up front with the kitties.
Paul Berry, Executive Director
Tamara Berry, Donor Relations Manager
Tamara moved to Asheville in July of 2013 with her husband, Paul, and their 2 daughters (Olivia & Lila), 6 dogs and 2 cats. They fell in love with Brother Wolf immediately.
She has been working in animal welfare for over 20 years. With her husband, Paul, she started and ran a successful mobile spay/neuter clinic in New Orleans for 9 years. Next they moved to Utah, where she managed the planned giving department at Best Friends Animal Society for 9 years, followed by 2 years at Alley Cat Allies.
Tamara loves being part of Brother Wolf and enjoys getting acquainted with our wonderful supporters and volunteers. She is so happy to be part of such a compassionate organization where people value the lives of all animals and everyone does their best to make sure they are loved and cared for, even when it is a long and difficult journey for them. As the mom of a formerly feral dog, she knows it is possible to reach them when we slow things down to their pace and give them time to come out of their shell.
She enjoys vegan cooking, reading, and hanging out with her big, wonderful family…that now includes 2 more cats adopted from Brother Wolf in 2014. In the warmer months, she loves float trips down the French Broad River.
Andee Bingham, Adoption Counselor
I moved to Asheville in the spring of 2015 from New England with my two cats, Nora and Ida. Asheville lets me experience the mountains and beauty of my home state of Vermont… but with more reasonable weather.
I’ve been an animal advocate and care taker for most of my life and spent several years as a professional Cat Writer before coming to Brother Wolf. I have a special passion for helping “unadoptable” animals become adoptable. I look forward to helping you find the purrfect addition to your family!
Denise Bitz, Founder, President
Denise grew up in Long Island, New York, a region where spay/neuter programs got an early start in reducing the numbers of animals ending up in shelters.
“Where I came from, only the very sick or aggressive animals were euthanized,” she says. “When I learned how many healthy, adoptable dogs and cats were being euthanized here in Buncombe County, I knew I had to try and do something about it.”
Kelly Brown, Transport Coordinator
Kelly was born and raised in Asheville. She has been with Brother Wolf since December, 2011. She has 4 dogs, Lucy, a Greyhound, Coco, a Beagle/Jack Russell mix, Darla, a Terrier mix and Elvis, a Plott Hound. Darla and Elvis were adopted from Brother Wolf.
She enjoys the Outward Hounds hiking group where she has made many new friends, 2 legged as well as 4 legged. During the summer months, she and her husband enjoy camping and hiking with their dogs.
Denise Carver, Rutherford County Chapter Thrift Sales Associate
Hi I am Denise Carver. I live Rutherford County, NC. I am a wife and a mother. Family is very important to me including my animals. My children are grown, but I still have babies at home. Bella is my 4 years old Chi, Mocha is my 1 ½ year old lab, and I have 3 cats Sassy, Cici, and Sadie. All are rescues.
I have been involved in rescue for years. I love the rewarding feeling I get knowing I am a small part of saving a life. I have been a Brother Wolf Volunteer for about 1 1/2 years now when a friend and I started pulling death roll dogs from our local shelter and finding rescues for them.
I admired the dedication and compassion BWAR has for all animals. I am so proud to be a part of that team.
Alicia Chickos, Executive Assistant
I am originally from Ohio. My family moved here in 1991. I started volunteering at BWAR in 2009 and soon after was an employee. I can’t imagine my life without seeing all the big and little furry faces every day. I have 1 dog, 3 cats and a foster dog.
The best part of my job is watching an animal, that is at first completely shut down, begin to trust again. That by far makes the work so worthwhile.
It is an honor to be a part of this organization and I am looking forward to the future of BWAR.
Jessica Chomos, Animal Care Technician
Hello! My name is Jessica, but I like to go by Jessey. I moved to North Carolina July of 2014 from Detroit, and started working at BWAR July of 2015. I’ll be graduating high school in 2016, and going on to be a full time student so I can become a veterinarian. My dream is to open up an animal shelter too one day.
The work is hard, but it makes it worthwhile every time an animal gets adopted. Animals have always held a special place in my heart. They have helped me through a lot of hardships, and they’re sure to help me through many more to come. Since working at Brother Wolf, I know in my heart that the rest of my life will be devoted to shelter work and the countless lives of many animals.
I hope you find your forever companion!.
My name is Randalyn Crain; I am an Asheville native. I have been an animal lover my entire life.
I have 5 rescue animals (4 dogs and a cat); I also have a bird.
In my free time I love to craft, refurbish furniture, spend time with family and friends, and go camping.
Adam Drillings, Behavior Assistant
I am from Matthews, North Carolina. I got started in animal rescue as a community service project for a martial arts school when I was younger and found a love of dogs and cats.
I am an Animal Care Technician, and assist our behaviorist Tristan in working with the dogs in play groups, training, adoption counseling, and general animal care.
Alissa Eller-Murphy, Medical Manager
Elsa Enstrom, Animal Care Technician
My name is Elsa Enstrom. I moved from Champaign, Illinois to Asheville in September of 2012 with my boyfriend and my dog, Ryley, and cats, Sybil and Satan. I foster dogs and the occasional small animal.
I have been with Brother Wolf for about a year and a half and absolutely love it!
When I’m not at work I love hiking and watching crime dramas.
Leah Craig Fieser, Events Director
Leah Craig joined the team at Brother Wolf in 2015 and oversees Special Events. Leah Craig studied Communications, Animal Science, and Non-Profit Studies at NC State University and has a wide array of experience in the non-profit sector.
She has worked in marketing, sales, communications, fundraising and event planning for both animal rescue and child advocacy groups. She most recently was the Communications Director for an animal rescue organization in New York. Leah Craig now lives in Weaverville with her husband and their four-legged children.
Brooke Fornea, Director of Sales
Brooke provides daily support to our Second Chances Thrift Stores. She happily spends her days raising funds and accepting donations to support Brother Wolf’s nearly 550 animals at our adoption center. Brooke fell in love with nonprofits when she was only an adolescent. Inspired by a lifelong love for animals, she quickly developed a deep passion for charitable work. This resolve stuck with her through college, leading her to get her BA in Advertising.
After moving to Asheville she started the search to adopt an animal. That’s when she found BWAR. Her admiration only grew after adopting a Plott hound mix, Tuba, who can frequently be found around both thrift stores. Brooke is always happy to help in any way she can. Feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. ..
Willow Gaia, Adoption Counselor
Hi, my name is Willow! I moved to Asheville in 2013 from the NC coast where I had spent 6 years after leaving my home-state of Vermont. I knew I had always wanted to end up in Asheville, as my heart has always lived in the Appalachian mountains, but going back to Vermont winters wasn’t an option. While on the coast I worked with an incredible reptile rescue for a few years, and fell in love with rescue work. I adopted my first dog, Chief, a brindled boxer/greyhound mix from a rescue out there, and he has been an inspiring soul-companion since! I first became involved with Brother Wolf in July of 2015 as a foster-mom, and adopted my first foster, Bernie, a treeing walker coonhound, within a few weeks.
In August 2015 I joined the incredible staff at BWAR as an adoption counselor. I am so entirely grateful to be part of such a meaningful, compassionate team, and community. My passion for animals feels so empowered, inspired, magnified, and fulfilled by the work we do here. I love being part of organization that uses love, compassion, and ethical animal treatment as every driving force in decisions, policies, and environment.
When not at the shelter you’ll find me in one of two places; out in nature on a day trip with my dogs, or at home working on the beautiful homestead that my partner and I share with two dear friends, four resident dogs, and occasional foster dogs. I am so thankful for all these blessings along my journey, and look forward to many years with Brother Wolf!..
Kimberly Grace, Adoption Event Coordinator
I’ve worked for non-profit organizations for most of my life, as I am drawn to learning from members of society who typically don’t have a voice that’s heard. I have been taught by people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as those who have mental health issues, and most recently have been able to take my lifelong love of animals into my work as an adoption counselor at a Virginia humane society.
My favorite part of my job there was getting the animals out of the shelter and into the community where people can see how awesome they are and be encouraged to adopt a new family member.
When I moved to Asheville with my husband and two precious rescue dogs, I was so happy to learn I could join Brother Wolf in helping animals by making these adoption events happen. This is such a great team of people who really care and do incredible work for animals and I’m privileged to be a part of it.
Assistant to Foster Coordinator/ Adoption Counselor
I am an Army brat… I was born abroad to parents in the Army. My dad retired in Northern VA when I was 8 and that’s where I grew up. A year ago, I moved to North Carolina to be with family. I love it in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I started at Brother Wolf as a volunteer back in June 2015. Susy, the volunteer manager, asked me once what brought me to Brother Wolf. I must say, I honestly can’t remember. The best I can think of is I must have been googling animal rescues in the area and stumbled upon Brother Wolf’s website. I obviously liked what I saw and the rest is history! I have had a heart for animals since I was very young. I actually wanted to be a Veterinarian until I realized I can’t stomach blood, gore… etc. As an adoption counselor and assistant to the foster coordinator, I’ve found my niche! I still volunteer quite a bit for Brother Wolf, but in different capacities. You could say I’m a “jack of all trades” here at Brother Wolf. I’ve done a lot of a lot of different things within the organization. If you see me at the Adoption Center, feel free to ask me any questions! Chances are I know the answer, or I know who will know the answer. In my free time, I love spending time with my four dogs (one of which is an adopted puppy from Brother Wolf) and two cats (one of which is a foster fail from Brother Wolf!).
Will Hickerson, Front Desk Supervisor
I’ve been with Brother Wolf Animal Rescue since February of 2010 as a foster parent, along with my fiancé Haley. Three years later I became an employee, and have since held down positions as animal care attendant, adoption counselor, ReTail clerk, and Critter Camp director.
I have two dogs (Oliver and Ruby May) and two cats (Theodore and Wynn), all from Brother Wolf. In addition, I’ve always had a foster or two at home. I enjoy hiking, surfing, snowboarding, disc golf, soccer, and delicious craft beer.
April Johnson, Behavior Team
I have moved around a lot growing up but spent most of my time split between Florida, California and Indiana, where I attended Purdue. My family moved to North Carolina in 2012 and have loved it ever since.
I moved to Hendersonville in 2015 from Greensboro and started at Brother Wolf as a behavior intern and then became an official part of the behavior team in April. I love working with all of the dogs at Brother Wolf and helping them find their forever homes.
In my free time I love exploring Western Carolina and going hiking with my dog, Cali. I also love spending time with my cats, Goober and Walter..
Flo Klein, Foster Home Manager
From Brooklyn, then Long Island, NY, I have lived here for 18 years. I’ve been married for almost 24 years to Tommy, a very patient, kind and understanding man. I have 5 kids: Philip, Christina, Thomas, Nicholas and Alicia, and 2 grandchildren, Corinne and Aaron. I like to bake, garden and refinish furniture. But truthfully have no time to do any of it. Because my #1 favorite thing to do is foster puppies and mama dogs.
I have six dogs: Snoopy, Spice, Raina, Boudreaux AKA Boo Boo, Sam and Jonah, and one cat, Dolce. I started fostering with BWAR on Sept 6, 2006, at the very beginning, with my first foster dog Lacey. BWAR is my heart. I have fostered over 700 dogs in that time! I was a nurse forever and feel I have made the biggest impact fostering and working for BWAR as Foster Home Coordinator since August of 2012. It gives me the most satisfaction; I make a difference in the lives of so many animals and that is such a great reward.
Sandi Lee-Vielbaum, No Kill Community Outreach Coordinator
I was born in Ohio and moved to NC in 1997. I was blessed to have parents who were big on animal rescue. I felt the impact of what saving one life could do and knew it was something I wanted to be very involved in.
When I moved to Asheville in 2010, I immediately started volunteering at Brother Wolf. I fell in love with the organization and the vision, as well as the impact that was being felt all over the community. I happily accepted a position with Brother Wolf in January, 2016 and am doing what I truly love.
I currently have 2 dogs and 5 cats, all adopted from Brother Wolf.
Zoe Lent – Bews, Second Chances Thrift Store Assistant
My name is Zoe, I recently moved to Asheville in December 2015 after receiving the amazing opportunity to work for Brother Wolf’d thrift store team. I currently work at both the Glendale and West Asheville locations and enjoy every minute.
In my spare time I play on an APA pool league, hang out with friends and explore my new city and the surrounding mountains as often as I can.
Audrey Lodato, General Manager
Audrey Lodato relocated to Asheville from New York, where she most recently served as Executive Director at Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary. Her work with rescued animals began when she was just 12 years old, as a volunteer at a farm rescue called “The Red Barn.” Audrey and her husband Greg love to adopt special needs animals. Their current family includes three rescued cats and two rescued dogs. Audrey enjoys hiking, jewelry making, and meditation in her free time.
“The best part of working in animal welfare is knowing that I’m making a sustainable impact. It’s much easier to be on the inside of a problem working to solve it than to be on the outside feeling helpless. I’m so grateful for this path I’ve chosen and the lives I get to change every day.”
Jamie McCorvey, Groomer, Medical Assistant
I am originally from Asheville.
Grooming dogs has been my life for over 25 years. The reason I love Brother Wolf is that here, the profits go to our organization. Plus, I help the dogs feel better that have been in bad situations. It gives me a purpose.
I have seven dogs and one FIV positive cat.
Brian McDermott, Animal Care Technician
Emilia Moncayo, Animal Care Technician
I was born and raised in Ecuador, then moved to Charlotte, and then Asheville for college. I started as a Behavior Intern and now work in the kennels, making sure the dogs are happy and taken care of.I’ve always known I wanted to work with animals which is why I love working with the cats and pups in Brother Wolf, and hope to later on get experience rehabilitating non-domestic animals at a sanctuary or zoo.
In my free time I like to read and play with my recently adopted kitten, Kiwi.
Karen Parker, Rutherford County Chapter Manager
Hi my name is Karen! I am a lifelong resident of Rutherford County NC. I am a mother of three and love spending time with my human, canine and feline family. I am also a Brother Wolf foster.
A few years ago, I became actively involved in rescue after visiting the local shelter to adopt and realizing just how many adoptable pets were being euthanized. This is when I began finding ways to encourage rescues to pull from the small, rural shelter by becoming a foster, transporting and recording the animals to compliment the still photos and to give a better idea of their personalities.
Brother Wolf and the animals of Rutherford County have my heart and dedication. It is an honor and dream come true to continue to represent such an admirable organization as adoption center manager for the Brother Wolf Animal Rescue – Rutherford County Chapter.
Leslie Pardue, Communications Manager
Leslie Pardue, Brother Wolf’s Communications Manager, works on writing projects and grant research. She has a long history of work and volunteerism on behalf of animals and the environment. She has worked for several nonprofit organizations as a writer, editor, graphic artist, webmaster, marketer and administrator.
She earned her BA in Environmental Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Leslie grew up in Georgia and lived in California, Connecticut and New York before moving to North Carolina in 1995. She lived and worked for 20 years in the Durham area, and moved to Western North Carolina in 2016. Leslie lives in the mountains near Burnsville with her pup Zeke (adopted from Brother Wolf) and cats Dusty, Henry and Kat. In her free time Leslie enjoys hiking, camping, kayaking and other outdoor activities.
Jaclyn Parker, Groomer
I came to Asheville from Phoenix, Arizona in 2012, and started working for BWAR May 2014. I love working at BWAR as a dog/cat groomer because the proceeds of what I do goes into an organization that truly cares for the well being of animals, not only in our care but in the community as well. I love my job and working with animals of all types and sizes.
What I love most is when you get an opportunity to make a difference. Usually for me that’s shaving the matts off a animal who is in pain because of their previous situation. Being able to make an animal feel better and let them know they are in a good place with caring people is a beautiful thing and watching them transform with love into a happy feeling good animal is truly a blessing.
I have a German Shepard mix who I adopted in Alaska in ’07. We love to go on hikes and swimming in the river. Oh, and don’t forget the tennis balls! I also have a Siberian mix cat who I adopted in ’14 in a blizzard where I had to hike 2 miles in the snow to adopt her and bring her home. We enjoy watching the birds in the morning and cuddling.
Jerod Parthe, Animal Caretaker
Hi my name is Jared Parthe. I am originally from Ohio and moved to Kernersville, North Carolina in 2000. I moved to Asheville in the summer of 2014 and graduated from Mars Hill university in December 2015. I have a degree in Zoology with a minor in Business Administration. As a dog caretaker I cleaned crates/ runs, feed and take care of the dogs, help adopters find the perfect match for them and help train dogs to be more sociable toward everything in their environment.
What I like about my job is that I get to work with animals and take care of them as well as build a connect with each and every dog I work with. I have a few pets at my house which include two huskies, one cat and one bearded dragon. My cat is actually one that my fiancé and I fostered and then later adopted him. I love each of my pets very much and treat them as my children. In my free time I like to swim, hike, fish, spend time with family and friends, and play soccer.
Eric Phelps, Field Operations
Aubree Pierce, Donor Relations Manager
I began working at Brother Wolf in the summer of 2016. I have a lifelong passion for helping, saving, and snuggling animals, and I am thrilled to be part of such a compassionate network of individuals.
After graduating from UNCA’s MLAS program, I knew that I wanted to be involved in improving the lives of our furry friends. I focused on doing this largely through food systems reform. I spent a year in Alaska working as an AmeriCorps VISTA towards food security in Fairbanks, and this experience made me certain that I wanted to continue to work in a non-profit. Although I fell in love with Alaska, my heart truly belongs to my hometown in the mountains of WNC. As an Asheville native, I am proud to be making a difference in my community and surrounding areas by working with Brother Wolf.
Heather Polechio, CPDT-KA, CTC
Adoption Trainer, Pet Retention Specialist
Heather Polechio, an Asheville native, has been working with animal welfare and companion animal organizations for the past twelve years and with Brother Wolf for the past two years. Finding several years ago, that she had a passion for gaining a deeper understanding of canine behavior, Heather attended the California based San-Francisco Academy for Dog Trainers & Behavior Counselors, graduating in 2009, which then led her to acquire her national dog training certification in 2010.
As well as having a passion for helping animals, she also has a great passion for helping people! Heather’s work with Brother Wolf is centered around helping adopters and foster homes maintain harmonious and healthy relationships with the dogs they share their lives with. Ultimately keeping these animals out of the shelter system, allowing more animals to find refuge in the end. Heather shares her home in Asheville with her two German Shepherd mixes, Otchot & Eppy.
“Working with Brother Wolf is more than just a job… its a lifestyle…a community! The energy, love and passion that exists in this community is unlike that of any other I have ever experienced, and this why I can genuinely say I love my job!” – Heather
Tristan Rehner, MS, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, CBATI; Animal Behavior Manager
I have been working primarily with sheltered and rescued animals since I started training dogs almost 20 years ago (yikes!). I feel privileged to have been a part of Brother Wolf, first as a volunteer then as an employee, since we first moved into the Adoption Center on Glendale Ave. in 2009.
I love having the opportunity to help animals who might otherwise not be given a second chance, as well as supporting our staff, volunteers, fosters and adopters. In addition to my work at Brother Wolf, I am one of the founders of Pet Behavior Aid, a non-profit organization that provides training and behavior support to help keep pets in their homes, and I also volunteer with the Literacy Council of Buncombe County.
When I’m not at Brother Wolf I might be hiking with one of my 5 dogs or watching Orphan Black with one of my two cats.
Rebecca Roberts, Medical Manager
I’m originally from Timmonsville, South Carolina, and moved to Asheville in August 2012 in hopes of being in a more animal friendly community and work in the medical field to help save the lives of animals. I started working at Brother Wolf in April 2013 and I am currently working on my RVT degree.
While my dreams were always surrounded by hopes of working in a veterinary hospital, I have found that shelter medicine is just as challenging and possibly even more rewarding. The animals that I get to see, help, and treat at Brother Wolf do not belong to anyone yet and are often so thankful that someone is taking the time to care for them the way they deserved to be cared for. But that’s not where it ends. I get to be there when they come into the shelter and I get to see them when they’ve found that special family to spend the rest of their lives with and there is nothing that compares to that feeling.
Mike Stiles, Manager of Business Relationships
I’ve always had a strong bond with animals. I previously worked for the Gentle Barn socializing and healing farm animals from severe abuse and neglect. I’ve helped oversee many fundraisers and events for my previous job along with working with major sponsors to promote different events we had.
I spend my time not working with my animal kids which consists of Two dogs, three cats and a Cockatoo. I enjoy Golf, playing guitar and anything outdoors. Brother Wolf and its mission is truly something I believe in.
Jackie Teeple, Marketing Director
Originally from northeast Pennsylvania, Jackie has lived in the Asheville area for over a decade. She brought a background in illustration, graphic design, and marketing to Brother Wolf, along with a strong desire to fight for animals in need and assist the people who help them.
Jackie joined the Brother Wolf team in 2009 as a cat foster parent and never looked back.
Jackie shares her West Asheville home with six cats and a dog, along with a running cast of foster cats, kittens, dogs, puppies, and –just once– an overambitiously rooting pig.
Heather Thompson, Adoption Counselor
I am from Austin, Texas. I moved here to Asheville about 8 years. I am an adoption counselor at the front desk. I enjoy seeing best friends meet for the first time and the walk to finalize adoption is my favorite.
My own cat Ophelia, I adopted at Brother Wolf 7 and a half years ago. She plays fetch and follows me as if she were a dog. She thinks she is. I enjoy being productive and active.
Katherine Walker, Community Cat Coordinator
I’m originally from Banner Elk, N.C., but have lived in the Asheville area since 2008. My husband, two dogs — Molly and Teton — and I currently live in Arden.
I work for the community cat program and in my free time I enjoy being outside running or spending time with my family.