The key staff members responsible for the operations of our Shelter include:
Chalmers’ background, talent, and skills, blended with his passion for animals, provide the Humane Society with great leadership. Most recently, he served as the Chief Operating Officer for the industry-leading Vero Beach real estate firm of Norris & Company. Previously, he was the Chief Executive Officer of a development company in Colorado and spent over twenty years in the hospitality industry, having held key management positions with Westin, Adam’s Mark, and several independent resorts. Chalmers has served the Humane Society for a number of years as a volunteer and board member. In mid-2007, while serving as board president, he assumed the duties of acting director of the organization. Ultimately, he became our full-time Executive Director in 2009. Among his many civic and community roles, Chalmers presently serves on the Vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church.
Volunteer Program Coordinator
Gloria Allen has been a volunteer ever since starting our Humane Society eBay store, allforpaws32961, in 2008. She has raised over $60,000 for the animals from eBay alone, and continues to sell collectibles online. She was also a thrift shop volunteer and a foster parent.
In October 2015, she joined the staff to become the Volunteer Program Director at the Shelter. Coming from a fitness background, she enjoys teaching Yoga, Zumba & Pilates. Gloria is a cantor at St. Helen’s Catholic Church, and is a volunteer usher for the Space Coast Symphony and Vero Beach Opera. A Florida native from Palm Beach County, she was also a professional actress. Gloria has one son and three grandchildren who live in Michigan.
Dr. Debbie Anderson
A graduate of Virginia Tech's veterinary program where she concentrated her studies in zoo and wild animals, Dr. Anderson has long considered herself an advocate of animals who don't belong to owners — which, of course, includes shelter animals. She came to Florida in 1994 to serve Ft. Lauderdale's Wildlife Care Center, which treats over 13,000 animals annually and, since that time, she has teamed with leading animal care facilities in our area.
She worked extensively with the Humane Society of Broward County. the Brevard Zoo, and Melbourne's Florida Wildlife Hospital (a frequent partner of our shelter in caring for wild animals in times of distress). She resides in Fellsmere with her husband, whom she "rescued" along with their two dogs, two cats, and three horses.
Director of Thrift Shops
Annette has been our Thrift Shop Manager since 2001. A veteran retail manager, Annette arrived with 15 years of retail experience for the Humane Society. She has been an active community volunteer for many years. In fact, her own personal experience volunteering with a local parent-to-parent organization made working with a staff of volunteers an easy transition. Under Annette’s leadership, our Thrift Store became an essential funding source for the successful operations of our organization. Because of this success, in 2004, our second Thrift Shop opened in Sebastian and has become a north county bargain-hunters' favorite. Learn more about both stores by clicking here.
Dr. Elizabeth M. Bybee
Dr. Bybee grew up in the southeast and received her Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from Auburn University in Alabama. Upon graduation, she moved to Vero Beach and, for about 9 years, worked alongside Dr. Geneva K. Acor, as an Associate Veterinarian at Westside Animal Hospital. When Dr. Acor sold the practice, Dr Bybee started Shady Oak Animal Clinic in north Vero Beach. For the next 18 years, she worked as a solo practitioner, developing special rapport with her patients and their owners as well. In time, she accepted an invitation to join the Humane Society on a part time basis, serving as our surgeon and consulting veterinarian.
Dr. Tonya Ciacciarelli
Dr. Ciacciarelli graduated from Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1993. Immediately, she went into an equine medicine/surgery internship in Virginia, followed by an equine surgical residency program. Then she worked in a private mixed animal practice in Georgia for 7 years before coming to Florida. Her primary areas of interest are surgery and alternative therapies. She has a strong commitment to ending pet overpopulation and is committed to helping find homes for all homeless pets.
A native of Bergen County, NJ, Ed moved to Florida in 2004 to pursue his career as a professional plumber. In 2008, he joined the Humane Society, helping with the myriad of responsibilities involved with maintaining a full-service animal shelter.
Married and the father of 3 children (including twins), Ed provides a home for two dogs, Rommel and Zoe. His family lives in Port St. Lucie.
Director of Animal Protection Services
While Ilka spent much of her youth on her parents’ Arabian horse farm in Bucks County, PA; she found her way to Vero Beach in the late ‘70’s where she worked with veterinarians specializing in the equine, companion animals, and exotics fields. She joined the Humane Society staff in 2000 as an Animal Cruelty Investigator and now directs our Animal Protection Services. She enjoys kayaking, hiking, gardening, fishing, photography, and spending time with her two grandchildren, who live in Sebastian.
Assistant Director of Development - Special Events
Jennifer Downes joined the Shelter after amassing nearly a decade of experience in event management, marketing, and hospitality work. A graduate of Indian River State College with a degree in Organizational Management, Jennifer is a dedicated mom to three beautiful children, two dogs, two cats, and a tankful of fish. Jennifer and her husband Eric enjoy fishing, kayaking, photography and traveling.
Chief Financial Officer
In 2013, Rose joined the management team at HSVB&IRC as Controller. While maintaining her independent accounting and taxation practice which concentrates on small to medium sized businesses and individual tax issues, she brings her unique skills in financial management and forecasting to our Shelter's team. Rose’s diverse business experience ranges from conceptualizing and evaluating real estate projects for development companies to managing the financial affairs for a non-profit chemical dependency rehabilitation center. Rose earned her MBA in International Business Administration from the University of Miami and an undergraduate degree from Pace University in New York. She is fluent in Spanish.
Animal Care Manager
Robyn has always desired to work with animals. She fulfilled this desire when she joined the Humane Society animal care team in 1996. She now manages a team dedicated to the welfare of every animal that arrives at the shelter doors. Robyn and the Animal care team strive to ensure that the animals in their care receive compassionate, humane, high quality care while staying at our shelter.
Outside of work, she stays busy but enjoys spending time with her two children, nephew, three dogs, a brave cat, two birds, fish and, finally, her husband.
Director of Operations
Joining the Humane Society in 2000, Maria is responsible for overseeing the health and welfare of more than 7,000 animals that enter the shelter’s doors annually. She plays a front-line role in dealing with natural disasters and cruelty cases. Maria was instrumental in coordinating the care of 200 neglected reptiles removed from a local pet store, the treatment of 150 Dachshunds and Springer Spaniels confiscated from a puppy mill, the care for fifty cats confiscated from one mobile home, and rehabilitating over 233 neglected animals removed from a Vero Beach home. In addition, she was part of a HSVB&IRC team that traveled to Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to help hundreds of animals and families impacted by that storm. Her wealth of experience has lead to media interviews with the Press Journal, Florida Today, and area radio stations.
Director of Development
Sara brings a wealth of fundraising and marketing experience to her development position at HSVB&IRC. She previously served as Vice President for Advancement at Monmouth University in New Jersey, being the first woman appointed to senior executive leadership in the university’s history. She was Director of Advancement at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. In Vero Beach, Smith served as the Director of Marketing and Communication for Saint Edward’s School, handling the school’s communication’s strategy, admissions advertising, publications, and web content. Most recently, at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida, Smith was integral in implementing a record-setting $123 million Foundation fundraising effort. A graduate of Bard College in New York, she writes fiction in her spare time.
Animal Behavior Manager
After 20 plus years in retail sales and management, Cecelia "Cissy" Sumner came into dog training as a midlife career change. In 2002, she founded Best Behavior Dog Training to help teach dog owners how to train their dogs using motivational training methods. Cissy strongly believes that dog trainers themselves should be trained. She was first recognized as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) in 2003. In addition, Cissy has become one of the first Certified Behavior Counselor Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) in the world. This qualifies her to help with behavioral problems as well as training issues. Cissy strives to help pet owners have a better understanding of canine behavior and training, enabling them to keep more dogs in their homes.
Admissions & Adoptions Manager
Her career began as a young volunteer with HSVB&IRC, but by 2003, Maria V. (as we call her) had become a vital part of our staff as an Animal Care Technician. Her ever-advancing career path is testimony to her compassion and commitment, as well as her willingness to undertake new assignments and the challenges they present. Along the way, she has coordinated the Shelter’s Foster Homes program: provided adoption counseling and pet introductions with potential adopters: and worked in our Wellness Clinic, including serving as a surgery technician. She has worked tirelessly to help resolve confiscation cases and providing sensitive, caring service as our Receiving Client Services Supervisor. In 2005, she was a vital part of our Shelter’s team deployed to Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina for emergency sheltering assistance.
Sebastian Thrift Shop Manager
In 2007, Raewyn began her "career" by working as a Shelter Volunteer in our Thrift Stores. She demonstrated strong leadership and organizational skills so she was offered a post as Assistant Manager of the Vero Beach store. In December 2014, she accepted responsibility as the Manager of the Sebastian Thrift Store.
Born in Dunedin, New Zealand, Raewyn and her husband live in Vero Beach where they spend their time doing the bidding of their 13-year old Shelter cat, Ning-Ning.
Director of Eduation
While Janet came to HSVB&IRC in 2006, her career in animal protection spans nearly two decades. She is credited for key roles in programs dealing with exotic cats kept as pets, dog bite prevention for postal employees, and animal survivors of domestic violence. In 2002, she wrote the nationally distributed brochure “Caring for Your Pet When You Are Called to Duty.” A recipient of the 1996 Cat Writer’s Association Award, her articles have been published in major periodicals and her interviews have enlightened audiences of national newspapers as well as broadcast radio and television shows. In her role with HSVB, she works closely with children, teens, and adults; directing programs that promote kindness and compassion to animals.
Board, Foundation, &
Advisory Council Members
Mary Ryan, President
Samuel F. Beach, Jr., 1st Vice President
Susan Schuyler Smith, 3rd Vice President
Wendy Trimarche, Secretary
Andrew Sowers, Treasurer
Charles S. Cruice
Roger C. Haines
William N. Hudson, Jr.
Priscilla “Lala” Maresi
Virginia Schwerin, Chair
Harold Oberkotter, Vice Chair
William N. Hudson, Jr., Treasurer
Charles S. Cruice, Secretary
Jo Ann Becker
Stephen C. Frobouck
Frank M. Spitzmiller, II
Honorary Board Members:
Chalmers I. Morse