2020 North Complex Fire - Karima holding small dogs


Bring your expertise and love for animals to our team. As we continue to grow, so does the need for talented, enthusiastic team members in a variety of roles.

 Leadership Team

Executive Director

Elena Bicker

Prior to following her dream into animal welfare, Elena Bicker earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from St. Mary’s College of California and spent 11 years with GE Capital. She joined ARF as a volunteer in 1993 and became an employee in 1998. In her first year as a staff member she generated more than $1 million in funding, and her marketing and strategic planning skills quickly led to her promotion to Marketing Director. She was promoted to Executive Director in 2006.

Her accomplishments include increasing adoptions at ARF’s shelter by 23%, retiring the $3.1 million capital debt, and establishing an endowment for the first time in the organization’s history. She has streamlined efficiencies while growing programs, elevating ARF from two-stars to the highest four-star rating on Charity Navigator, the nation’s premier independent charity evaluator. In 2020, she secured a four-star rating for ARF for the 13th consecutive year, an achievement obtained by only 1% of charities rated.

Elena is a prominent member of the animal welfare community, developing long-term collaborative shelter relationships with national and local agencies. In 2007, she received special Congressional Recognition for Outstanding & Invaluable Service to the Community as a graduate of Leadership Contra Costa. In 2010, she was recruited by the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce for board membership and served a two-year term. In 2016, she was inducted into the Contra Costa Commission for Women’s Hall of Fame for Women Demonstrating Leadership. 

Elena resides in Danville, California with her husband and ARF rescue dog, Jax.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead

Chief of Staff

Wendy Taylor-Tanielian

Wendy’s background as a marketing and communication strategist includes creative engagement work for brands such as AT&T, DIRECTV, Tenet Healthcare, and a roster of political clients. A born storyteller (aka a Texan) she also is a dedicated problem-solver and passionately committed to our mission. When her nose isn’t in a pile of research or animal statistics, she’s often puzzling her teammates with obscure lyric references. Wendy and her husband share their Bay Area home with ARF rescue dog, Max, and rescue cats, Bella and Vougie.

“As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”

– Audrey Hepburn

Chief Administrative Officer

Cheryl McKenna

Cheryl joined ARF in 2019, bringing with her 20 years of accounting experience. She spent 15 of those years as a CFO in the non-profit arena, cultivating strong financial, human resource, and information technology systems within her organizations. She thoroughly enjoys providing leadership and has served on local, state, and national committees. Cheryl lives in Bethel Island, California with her partner, Jim, and their growing clan of canine kiddos.

“The best exercise for the human heart is reaching down to lift someone else up.”

Tim Russert

Animal Programs Director

Robert Lutz

Bob has over a decade of animal welfare experience with shelters and nonprofit organizations across the country. In 2014, he joined the ASPCA as an anti-cruelty behavior consultant for a federal, multi-state dog fighting case where he helped implement a comprehensive behavior program. Bob then advanced to become the Shelter Manager for Animal Alliance of New Jersey. He has strong experience in dog training and behavior modification, with a passion for positive reinforcement, reward-based training. As an ARF employee since 2016, Bob’s most recent Shelter Manager role involved leading the organization’s largest department and overseeing intake, behavior, and daily care.

Bob strongly believes in ARF’s “educator spirit” and has completed Fear Free Shelters, Koret Shelter Medicine‘s Capacity for Care, and PetSmart Charities’ Rescue Waggin’ programs. As a lifelong animal advocate, Bob is committed to strengthening community partnerships and serves as an alum for Leadership Contra Costa.

When he’s not working, Bob likes to spend his time hiking and exploring the Bay Area with his wife and son.

“The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

– Alan Watts

Community Programs Director

Rebecca Katz

Rebecca is a licensed attorney who has devoted her life and career to public interest, social justice, and advocacy for vulnerable communities. She was a Deputy City Attorney for San Francisco, where she drafted animal welfare legislation that has since been replicated across California and the United States.

From 2008-2014, Rebecca served as the Director of Animal Care and Control (ACC) for the City and County of San Francisco, where she pioneered new policy initiatives and programs. This includes their highly successful WOOF program, which paired formerly homeless residents with difficult dogs requiring special training and attention.

In late 2014, Rebecca was hired to oversee the transition of Oakland Animal Services (OAS) into a standalone department under the City Administrator’s Office. She and her team made huge strides in advancing the quality of care for Oakland’s animals and people. Under her leadership, OAS saw great improvement in outcomes, including a jump in the live release rate from 56% to over 86%. The average length of stay for animals decreased dramatically, from an average of 31 days to 19 days. With better-trained, more knowledgeable staff along with an ever-growing pool of dedicated volunteers, OAS now operates well above industry standards.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

– Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt Jr.

Development Director

Stephanie Chew

Stephanie joined ARF in 2018, after 18 years of non-profit experience with Girl Scouts including community development, volunteer recruitment, fundraising, branding and strategic planning. She has been a recurring speaker at Girl Scouts USA’s annual Fund Development Conference and served on the Diversity Committee for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Her development team coordinates all of ARF’s marketing and fundraising campaigns, including our signature events and publications. Stephanie grew up in California’s Diablo Valley and earned her Bachelors of Arts in Photography from University of California, Santa Cruz.

For media inquiries, please submit a media inquiry.

“The best gifts in life are made with love and kindness.”

Pets and Vets National Program Director

Tammy Quirin

Tammy brings over 41 years of progressive military, law enforcement, and canine training experience to ARF as the National Director of Pets and Vets. She is retired from the U.S. Army and has served in a variety of roles, including: Military Police Officer, SWAT Team, Drug Suppression Team, Traffic Accident Investigator, Patrol Dog Handler, Patrol Narcotic Detector Dog Handler, Explosives Detector Dog Handler, and Green (initial) dog trainer. 

Tammy was an Instructor at the Department of Defense Military Working Dog School for trainers and students. Her resume also includes: Kennel Master Certification Authority, Major Command Military Working Dog Program Manager, Department of the Army Program Manager, Quality Assurance Director for the International Explosives Detector Dog Association, and published author. 

She has served as a canine trainer for federal, state, and local police departments; private industry; animal shelters; animal rescues; and private individuals. Tammy also held the roles of Field K-9 Coordinator and Regional K-9 Training instructor for The Department of Homeland Security.


Elaine and Tony La Russa

Tony La Russa was elected unanimously into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and inducted in 2014 for his outstanding achievements as manager for the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, and St. Louis Cardinals, solidifying his place as one of the greatest baseball managers of all time.

Tony led teams to three World Series Championships, and is the second winningest manager in major league history. He holds an incredible amount of records, including ranking second in total number of games managed, and is one of only two managers to win a World Series Championship in both the National and American Leagues.

After leading the St. Louis Cardinals to win the 2011 World Series, Tony took a break from his managerial career. He served as Chief Baseball Officer for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Vice President and Special Assistant to the President of Baseball Operations for the Boston Red Sox, and Senior Advisor for Baseball Operations for the Los Angeles Angels. In October of 2020, it was announced that Tony would be returning to the dugout to manage the Chicago White Sox, 34 years after last wearing the White Sox uniform. 

Tony met Elaine in 1972 in Richmond, Virginia while playing AAA baseball, and they were married a year later. Tony, an animal lover who had never had pets of his own, was greatly inspired by Elaine’s love for animals and her dedication to animal welfare. The couple was inspired to begin a rescue organization after a stray cat ran onto the baseball field during a televised Oakland A’s game in May 1990. They co-founded ARF in 1991. Elaine and Tony live in Alamo, CA with several rescued dogs and cats. Their daughters, Bianca and Devon, are also active, passionate animal rescuers. 

Tony La Russa’s Accomplishments

  • 1963 – Made major league debut with the Kansas City Athletics.
  • 1969 – Graduated from University of South Florida.
  • 1978 – Graduated with a JD degree from Florida State University College of Law.
  • 1979 – Became manager of the Chicago White Sox, becoming the youngest manager in baseball at the time (35 years old).
  • 1983 – Named American League Manager of the Year.
  • 1986 – Hired as manager of Oakland Athletics.
  • 1988 – Won the American League Pennant with the Oakland Athletics and named American League Manager of the Year.
  • 1989 – Won the World Series with the Oakland Athletics.
  • 1990 – Won the American League Pennant with the Oakland Athletics.
  • 1991 – Co-founded ARF with wife Elaine LaRussa.
  • 1992Named American League Manager of the Year.
  • 1996 – Hired as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • 1998 – Inducted into National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.
  • 2002Named National League Manager of the Year, becoming the fourth Manager to win the award in both leagues.
  • 2004 – Won the National League Pennant with the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • 2006 – Won the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, becoming the second manager to win the World Series in both the National League and American League.
  • 2008 – Inducted into Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum.
  • 2011 – Won the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, and temporarily retires from managerial career.
  • 2012 – Released memoir One Last Strike, a New York Times bestseller, and had number (#10) retired by the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • 2013 – Unanimously elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.            
  • 2014 – Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, hired as Chief Baseball Executive of Arizona Diamondbacks, and inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame
  • 2017 – Joined the Boston Red Sox as Vice President and Special Assistant to Dave Dombrowski, President of Baseball Operations.
  • 2018 – Won the World Series as part of the Red Sox front office.
  • 2019Joined the Los Angeles Angels as a Senior Advisor of Baseball Operations and was inducted into the Oakland Athletics Hall of Fame.
  • 2020 – Hired as manager of the Chicago White Sox, becoming the first manager in baseball history to return to managing after being elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager.

Board of Directors

  • Gregory L. McCoy, Esq., President,
    Gagen, McCoy, McMahon, Koss, Markowitz & Fanucci
  • Steven C. Parrish, Vice President,
    Steve Parrish Consulting Group, LLC
  • Dayna Sayres, Treasurer,
    Community Leader
  • Morgan Forsey, Secretary,
    Office Managing Partner, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, San Francisco
  • Steve Degnan,
    Chief HR Officer, Nestle Purina PetCare North America
  • Kevin Fick,
    Chief Executive Officer, Worldwise, Inc.
  • Jennifer Hall,
    Senior Vice President, Intuit (retired)
  • James V. Heim,
    President of Business Development, Central Garden & Pet
  • Alice Tillett,
    CEO, Petmate

Hall of Fame Board

  • Bradley N. Blake,
    Blake Griggs Properties
  • Bill Blase,
    Senior Executive Vice President – Human Resources, AT&T, Inc.
  • Sandy Block, DVM,
    Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital, San Ramon
  • Maria Brunner,
    Owner, Insight Mgt.
  • Glenn Colacurci,
    Retired Managing Director, Morgan Stanley
  • Brenda de la Ossa,
    Community Leader
  • Michael Duffield,
    Maddie’s Fund
  • Grant E. Finlayson,
    Managing Director, Pacific Ventures, LLC
  • Bill Goldberg,
    Professional Wrestler and Actor
  • Roger Haughton,
    Retired Chairman & CEO, The PMI Group, Inc.
  • Frank Johnson III,
    Business Development and Consulting
  • Timothy Krisch,
    Maze & Associates, CPA’s
  • Mark McGwire,
    The Mark McGwire Foundation for Children
  • Neal Mitchell,
    Community Leader
  • Dan O’Brien,
    Olympic Athlete
  • David Pratt,
    Owner, St. Louis Cardinals
  • George Riggs,
    Publisher, San Jose Mercury News
  • Dan Roberts,
    The PMI Group, Inc.
  • John Schiavo,
    Retired President and Chief Executive Officer, Otis Spunkmeyer, Inc.
  • Marsha Servetnick,
    Community Leader
  • Jim Sexton, DVM,
    The Sexton Clinic
  • Keith Thomas,
    President, KRT Marketing
  • Amy Trask,
    Football Analyst CBS Sports, Former CEO of the Oakland Raiders
  • John Watson,
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Chevron Corporation

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