The Staff at the Humane Society of Jefferson County


Her Royal Majesty, Queen Kira of the HSJC

Kira was a key “staff member” for several years and proudly served as our Shelter Ambassador.   Her duties included educational and promotional appearances, comforting new arrivals, and ensuring that not a single speck of canned food went uneaten.  She also assumed supervisory duties and closely monitored the daily activities of staff and volunteers.   Kira lived through some very hard times before finding her mission in life at the HSJC.  She is a wonderful example of animals who endure great hardship yet go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives. After retiring as our Ambassador, Kira became the housemate and beloved companion of an HSJC staff member.  Although she passed away in May of 2016, Kira lives on in the hearts of all who knew and loved this very special dog.

Jeff Okazaki, Executive Director

Jeff brings a background of nearly 20 years of experience in non-profits and public service to the role of executive director.  Before coming to the Humane Society of Jefferson County, Jeff spent time working for one of the largest non-profit hospices in Illinois, serving as director of communications and overseeing their business data management.  Growing up he helped rescue local box turtles and snapping turtles from an adjacent bird sanctuary.  He also participated in dog training for the family’s German Shepherd Dogs.  He currently lives with his wife, Grace, their dog, Tucker, and their cockatiel, Opie.

Terri Presper, Public Information Coordinator

Terri is the writer and editor of shelter publications.  She writes profiles of our adoptable animals for our website, and other adoption sites, creates the content and layout of our quarterly newsletter, writes the “Pets of the Week” feature for the Daily Jefferson County Union and other newspapers, composes the wording and design for direct mail pieces, and writes content for our website and Facebook page.

Taylor Marshall, Community Outreach Coordinator

Whether she is at the shelter or visiting schools, youth groups, libraries, colleges, businesses, and churches, Taylor is busy providing humane education to the citizens of Jefferson County. She organizes all of our fundraising events and works to develop new opportunities for people to support the care of lost, homeless and abused animals. Our shelter could not function without the numerous volunteers who give of their time and talent, and Taylor’s goal is to find just the right spot for them!

Chandra and kittens
Di and dogs
Danielle and Bess

Heather Traxler, Shelter Manager, Working Cat Coordinator; Sam Maurice, Computer Administrator; Nina Beeney, Chandra Gates, Gina Groskopf, Emily Hoessel, Renee Stodola, Taylor Vehlow, Animal Care Specialists; Barry Vandergriff, On-call Animal Care Specialist

Our remarkably dedicated caregivers work very hard to provide conscientious and compassionate care to every animal at the HSJC. Cleaning and disinfecting cages and kennels, administering medications, assessing animal behavior, tailoring animal care to individual needs, and providing 24-hour stray pick-ups are just a few of their many duties. Through the tireless efforts of the HSJC’s “Dream Team,” every animal receives top notch care in a clean, comfortable and loving environment.

Angie Ripley, Office Manager, Misty Moltzau, Adoption Counselor/Intake Coordinator, Donna Ciciva, Adoption Counselor

Angie, Misty, and Donna provide excellent service to visitors and callers while juggling the multitude of administrative tasks that are essential to shelter operations.  These very busy women also coordinate all animal intakes and adoptions, serve as adoption counselors, and do their utmost to ensure that our animals are placed in loving and permanent homes.

Dan Ellis, Maintenance

Dan’s skills help to keep our facility in tip top shape.  His “behind the scenes” expertise ensures that the building and grounds provide optimal comfort and safety for our animals, staff and visitors.

Dr. Kellie Kuzdas, DVM

The HSJC is very proud that all of its dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, and rabbits are spayed or neutered prior to adoption.  Dr. Kellie performs spay and neuter surgeries at the shelter every week, along with surgery and treatment for ill and injured animals. She also administers rabies vaccinations, performs health exams, and issues health certificates for our adoptable canines.