Board of Trustees
Recipient of the American Bar Association’s 2012 Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law award, Mr. Karp exclusively practices animal law statewide from Bellingham, Washington. Having graduated from University of Washington with a J.D. and M.S. in statistics in 1999, he founded and served as first chair of the new Washington State Bar Association’s Animal Law Section and has held executive committee positions since its formation. He has also served in a vice chair position of the American Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee since its formation. Mr. Karp served six years as a contributing editor of the Animal Legal Report, produced by Animal Legal Reports Services.
Mr. Karp regularly writes on the topic of animal law. He has co-authored the ABA Tort and Insurance Practice Section’s Survey on Animal Tort and Insurance Law for five consecutive years, published three articles relating to injury to animals in Thomson West’s Causes of Action series, with further articles scheduled to be published in American Legal Reports pertaining to animal forfeiture, Am. Jur. Trials pertaining to veterinary malpractice litigation and co-author in Am. Jur. Proof of Facts pertaining to dangerous dog litigation.
Mr. Karp routinely speaks around the nation about animal law, including at Yale, Harvard, Vanderbilt, and Vermont Law School. He has chaired several animal law continuing legal education (“CLE”) conferences hosted by the WSBA, and has been a speaker at nearly forty CLEs around the nation, all on the subject of animal law, including in New Mexico, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Florida.
He teaches animal law at both the University of Washington School of Law and Seattle University School of Law. Mr. Karp also serves on various superior court arbitration panels around Washington State, and as a mediator for-hire to resolve animal-related disputes.
Marcy LaHart graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1992 and is licensed to practice law in Florida. Ms. LaHart practices in animal law and public interest environmental law. In the animal law portion of her practice she represents pet owners that have legal issues relating to their companion animals, including defending allegedly dangerous dogs, pet custody disputes, veterinary malpractice, service animals and emotional support animals. She also advises rescue groups and other animal welfare organizations. As an environmental lawyer, Ms. LaHart represents private citizens and grass roots environmental organizations in matters relating to wetlands and water use permitting.
In addition to her full-time, state-wide private practice, Ms. LaHart is also active in various bar sections and committees, including animal law, environmental and land use law, as well as administrative law.
Ms. Breyer is a licensed Illinois attorney whose practice focuses on animal law. She graduated from top-ten ranked Northwestern University School of Law in May 2000. During law school, she founded and ran a student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. About a year after graduation, she opened and ran Illinois’ first animal law practice in Chicago. The niche focused on all types of litigation relating to non-human animals, including civil cruelty, veterinary malpractice, negligence, due process, consumer fraud, contract disputes and zoning issues.
During 2002-03, Ms. Breyer became the principal founder and inaugural chair of the animal law committee for the Chicago Bar Association. In 2007, she became the founder and inaugural chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s animal law section. She has also served as chair of the CBA’s solo and small firm committee, a member of the ISBA’s agricultural law section as well as on several ABA-TIPS animal law sub-committees.
Ms. Breyer has chaired CLE conferences for both the CBA and ISBA, and guest lectured on various topics in animal law, including Yale Law School, UCLA, Northwestern and Valparaiso School of Law, as well as state bar conferences, around the country. She taught animal law at DePaul University College of Law for two semesters. Ms. Breyer also served several years as a contributing editor of the Animal Legal Report, a bi-monthly service that was available through Westlaw.
Staff and Professional Services
Executive Director – Amy A. Breyer (see above)
Marketing & Digital PR Coordinator – Dale Youngman
Dale Youngman is an art entrepreneur working to facilitate the flow of art in Southern California as an art curator, fine art dealer, staging consultant and writer. Her fascination with the local art scene and friendships with many LA artists prompted her to open a gallery in the center of Downtown LA’s Gallery Row in 2006, while it was still a controversial area. As the galleries began multiplying and the crowds grew, so did her love and knowledge of the exploding Los Angeles art scene. She is now widely regarded as an expert in local artists.
Today her independently-produced curatorial projects include charity fundraisers and special art events, including major exhibits at the LA Convention Center, Stagecoach Country Music and Art Festival, and the LA Mart. Her charity exhibits have benefitted Art Share LA, Portraits of the Fallen Memorial, Christian Health Centers, and Free Arts for Abused Children. Dale also stages homes and commercial properties with leased art, and consults and shops for private collectors. She writes about art for multiple publications, including the regional Fabrik Magazine and the international Art Voices publication.
Social Media Consultant – Nicholas Venezia
An expert in social media, Nick Venezia’s dominating virtual presence, @NickVenezia, is one of the most viewed Twitter handles in multiple Twitter business communities. Each day, 60,000 – 200,000 users view his tweets. The site has great impact: for example, a search for “Gross Domestic Product” reveals that @NickVenezia was the third-most read contributor across all of Twitter.
Nick’s insightful and targeted media approach has drawn a loyal following. Clients range from individuals such as Chris DeWolfe, founder and ex-CEO of MySpace.com, to the City of Pasadena, California and Direxion Shares, a company with securities valued at over $50 billion. Quiet and amiable in person, Nick becomes a force of nature online. In his own words: “I blow shit up. I am the Jerry Bruckheimer of Facebook and Twitter advertising.” You can learn more about his highly-sought-after services at www.socialoutlier.com.
Facebook, Social Marketing & PR – Rachel Chistyakov
Rachel is a junior at Boston University studying psychology, English, and religion. She has worked with many different rescues in the Los Angeles area and has even begun independently fostering homeless dogs from the city shelters and helping them find their forever homes. Rachel hopes to dedicate her life to animal activism and hopes to start a rescue of her own in the near future.
Social Media Coordinator – Edna Wong
An accomplished Social Media Specialist with expertise on Twitter, You Tube, and Pinterest, Edna Wong is one of the social media mainstays in the companion animal e-verse. Edna created and then organically grew the reach of our fashion show hashtag, #InspireAHM, into one of the most tweeted about events of the Fall 2014 season in the pet market niche. She is experienced in developing creative content and on line special events to drive consumers to websites. Edna is proficient in relationship building, engagement, and cross promoting products via videos and other social media platforms and has effectively developed organically grown Followers and achieved a retweet rank of 98% and consistently rank in the upper 90% in Twitterverse.
Edna Wong has been employed at The Nutro Company since 2006 as both a Pet Nutrition Specialist and Online Ambassador She is an amateur photographer, an avid reader and has been described as a Jill-of-all-trades. Edna is a animal lover, especially Dalmatians and black cats. She is a San Franciscan native, and currently resides in Sacramento, California.
Inspire Show Director – Abbi Puanani
Abigail Puanani Rinderknecht (Abbi Puanani) began competing in gymnastics followed by cheerleading and dance at the age of three. The self-discipline, determination, drive, confidence, goal-setting abilities, tenacity, and the strength of character she gained through those competition years have served her well in her professional life.
Abigail retired from professional dancing and coaching to form her own company, LA Dollhouse, Inc (now Dollhouse Entertainment). The skills she gained at an early age, along with love and knowledge of fashion, choreography and art have helped her company become the premiere model and dancer-booking boutique in Los Angeles. Her carefully-screened models, dancers, cirque performers, and stylists have worked throughout the west coast from San Diego to Seattle. The Dolls are a fixture at Grammy, Oscar, and Emmy events, corporate venues and product launches, fashion shows, charity fundraisers, and Dollhouse self-produced performances. She is known for being straightforward, budget conscious, no-nonsense, and professional, working well with event personnel, and handling each event as if it were her own. With Abbi and her partners push, Dollhouse Entertainment has become a staple in the corporate and live entertainment world.
In addition to her duties for DHE, Abbi is also the Founder and Executive Director for the Miss Hollywood Regional USA pageant, Co-Director and Choreographer for the Miss Malibu USA, Miss Beverly Hills USA, and the Miss Santa Monica USA pageants.
A native Angelino, Don Atkinson combined an early career in the Los Angeles advertising industry with a formal education and degrees in animal science and communications. Working with young horses at the renowned Kellogg Arabian Horse Center at California Polytechnic University in Pomona, Don developed a deep interest in the protection and promotion of the equine species. Don received recognition for a series of published research papers related to animal health and protection laws in California’s horse show and horseracing industries, and his assertive advocacy for animal rights eventually led to a second career in law enforcement. Don graduated from the State Humane Officers’ Academy in Marin, California, and later became a full-time peace officer, dedicating nearly two decades to public safety, retiring from rank in 2011. During his law enforcement career, Don was instrumental in the establishment of mounted unit training standards and policies within police agencies in Nevada and California. Throughout his career, Don continued to produce published photographic images used prolifically in advertising, promotional and marketing campaigns in a variety of regional and national markets.
Today, Don is recommitted to the field of fine art imagery and is a successful commercial photographer. He holds the position of senior photographer and Creative Director for Los Angeles-based Melrose Image Group. As a long-time companion and caregiver for both horse and dogs, Don continues his work in the field of animal rights, and now donates time and resources to a number of animal and wildlife protection groups, equine and animal rescues, and wild horse and wolf restoration projects throughout the United States. As a veteran rescue diver and underwater photographer, Don also concentrates his charitable efforts on marine mammal protection and sea life rescue in California and Hawaii.
ArtWalk Curator – Jesse Freidin
Recognized as the Best Dog Photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area from 2010 through the present, Jesse Freidin is one of America’s leading fine art dog photographers. He works exclusively with traditional analog film processes and is dedicated both to craftsmanship as well as lifting up the household dog to its rightful place as contemporary muse. His photographs offer a rare view into contemporary American households, each piece telling a unique story of modern domesticity. Jesse Freidin’s dog photography is in over 80 private collections throughout the United States, and has been exhibited in California, New York, Los Angeles, Utah, Louisiana and Virginia. His work has appeared in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, Garden and Gun Magazine, The Bark Magazine, Inside Edition, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Modern Dog Magazine, The Sunday Times (UK), The Globe and Mail (Canada), East Village Boys, The Impossible Project Blog, and many more.
Tax Attorney/Accountant – Gregory A. Zbylut
Greg Zbylut is licensed to practice law in Illinois and California. He had 15 years of experience as an accountant and Certified Public Accountant before graduating from the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law in 2005, where his studies focused on international law and taxation. He’s also admitted to practice in several federal jurisdictions in Illinois and California as well as U.S. Tax Court. He holds an MBA (with emphasis in international business and finance) from Loyola University Chicago Graduate School of Business as well.
As an accountant, Greg has served in various accounting positions for several companies, including Fortune 500 members Exelon & General Motors, as well as advising small to mid-size businesses on various strategic matters, including organizational form, operational strategy, and minimizing tax liability. As a tax and business attorney, he has represented businesses and their owners in front of the IRS, state tax authorities and the Tax Court, as well as a wide range of commercial litigation and transactional matters.
Greg is the 2011-12 Chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Federal Taxation Section Council and a member of the ISBA’s Corporate Law Section Council. He is also a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Tax and Business/Corporate Law Sections, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, and the Tax Section of the State Bar of California. In addition to his bar activities and speaking engagements, he has written numerous tax and non-tax related articles, including a humorous look at lawyering in the American Bar Association’s January 2011 GP/Solo magazine.
Intellectual Property protection – DLA Piper
Instagram Coordinator/Newsletter Editor – Kat Thompson
Our inaugural newsletter editor, Kat Thompson is a sophomore at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA and an aspiring writer. Her love of animals, reading, and writing sparked her interest in working with the animal history museum. She has two dogs, three cats and is an avid horseback rider.
As Kat explains: “I hope to one day be a writer, or editor, or in any field that deals with publishing, reading, and writing. I was drawn to volunteer for Animal History Museum because I knew it’d be a position in which I can utilize the skills I’ve learned in college (hooray for being an English major!) and do what I love. Additionally, I align myself with the ideals that this non-profit organization promotes and I felt inclined to donate my time for something I truly believe in. With that being said, I am so happy to be on the team and excited to write more newsletters for you!”
Online Gallery Developer – Kristen Carr
Kristen Carr is a professional pet sitter, blogger, and freelance writer. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from California State University, Long Beach, enjoyed time as an account manager and copy writer at a Southern California graphic design firm, then opened Well Minded (www.wellmindedpets.com) professional pet sitting service in the summer of 2005, following her passion.
In the spring of 2013, Kristen began writing a blog about family wellness as it relates to animals. In her blog, she has melded together her greatest passions: her family, animals, her experience in pet sitting, health, environmental wellness, and writing. In addition to writing her own blog, Kristen is a contributor to other blogs and local publications, such as Hybrid Rasta Mama, Square Roots Preschool, Childsplay and Inside Ahwatukee Magazine. She is also a member of several animal-related organizations, including Pet Sitters International, DogTime and BlogPaws. She was featured in Hybrid Magazine‘s “Amazing Ways Moms Make Money” and was a founding member and past president of Maricopa Women in Business and is co-founder of the Maricopa Mutt March.
Museum Consultant – Emily Gardner
Ms. Gardner’s museum experience is specifically in the realm of animal-related exhibits. She served as the assistant curator for the ichthyology (fish) collection at Honolulu’s Bishop Museum, where she was responsible for sorting, identifying and cataloging specimens, processing all incoming and outgoing loans, as well as maintaining the integrity of the collection. The Bishop Museum is the largest museum in Hawaii and the premier natural and cultural history institution in the Pacific; it is recognized throughout the world for its collections, scientific research and extensive library and archives.
In addition to museum experience, Ms. Gardner also has extensive policy experience. She served as the Marine Protected Species Coordinator for the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and the University of Hawaii Center for Conservation Research and Training. Other policy work has included The Endangered and the Protected: A Survey of Hawaii’s Marine Wildlife, a curriculum plan developed for Earthtrust and the State of Hawaii Department of Education. She also served as an educational consultant for Paradise Pursuits, an environmental television quiz show for Hawaii’s high school students developed by the Hawaii Audubon Society and the National Audubon Society in Honolulu . She continues to work as an independent consultant, providing research and analysis of legal and policy issues associated with marine mammals and fisheries at the international and domestic level.
Ms. Gardner holds a Master’s of Science degree in zoology from University of Hawaii , a Juris Doctor from University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law, as well as certificates of specialization in Environmental Law and Ocean Policy. She has served as an adjunct professor of animal law at the law school as well. Ms. Gardner has authored dozens of articles and columns, as well as spoken around the country on various subjects in both animal law and marine law. In 2011, she became the award recipient of the Law of the Sea Institute competition for her work The Legacy and Fate of Bluefin Tuna Under International Law.
Russ Mead is Vice-President and General Counsel for Animal Law Coalition. He is an experienced business lawyer particularly in laws relating to non-profits. Russ previously served as General Counsel for Best Friends Animal Society and Farm Sanctuary.
Russ is a hands on attorney – He was on the front lines working to rescue animals during Hurricane Katrina. He has also worked to rescue animals from hoarding situations, over 1,000 rabbits in one case and more than 800 cats in another. He worked with local authorities on the prosecution of those cases.
Russ also worked to organize a program to stop local governments from passing pit bull bans. He has successfully worked with local government attorneys and animal control to avoid breed discrminatory law and instead implement laws that will protect communities from negligent dog owners. Russ is an advisor to the StubbyDog project.
Russ is a frequent speaker at animal law conferences, law schools and bar associations. He has been a guest lecturer at Cornell University School of Law, Vermont College of Law, Duquesne University School of Law, Lewis & Clark Law School, and Vanderbilt University Law School. He participates every year as a judge in Harvard University’s animal law moot court program.