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Our Team

//Our Team
Our Team2018-09-13T13:23:53+00:00

“Achieving no-kill means using every idea and tool at our command to rescue, nurture, and adopt homeless animals right now,” he says, “and to educate pet owners and future generations about the necessity of responsible pet ownership. Animal welfare is at tipping point. Society is changing. If we maintain our vision, engage our communities, and work together, the no-kill future is not a matter of if, but when.”

— J. John Stevenson, North Shore Animal League America President

J. John Stevenson joined North Shore Animal League America in 1978 as Special Counsel, becoming General Counsel in 1988. In 1993 he was named President.

Under his leadership, Animal League America has grown into the largest and — to our knowledge, oldest — no-kill rescue and adoption organization in the world, introducing such influential programs as Spay/USA®,  Global Pet Adoptathon®, Tour For Life®, off-site mobile adoption, Mill Dog Rescue, and most recently, the Mutt-i-grees® Movement. At the heart of this movement is our successful Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, a unique social-emotional learning program developed by Yale University that draws on the natural bond between children and animals to teach humane values and the importance of shelter adoption.

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John has also directed the development of our Long Island campus as it evolved into a comprehensive center for the rescue, care, and adoption of nearly 18,000 dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens annually. Our newest facility, now under construction, is Bianca’s Furry Friends Feline Adoption Center.Over the years, John’s extensive background in nonprofit law and his personal commitment to the welfare of animals have created an informed and compassionate foundation for the realization of Animal League America’s no-kill vision.

John lives in Connecticut, with his wife, Matia Finn-Stevenson, who developed our Mutt-i-grees Curriculum. Every day, John commutes from his home to our Long Island Adoption Center, accompanied by a few of the family’s eight adopted dogs.

John believes that, today, animal welfare has reached a momentous tipping point. “We’re on the brink of transformation — the no-kill transformation,” he says. “And since 1944, North Shore Animal League America and its no-kill mission have led the way.”

Senior Management Team


Valerie
Fields
Senior Vice President & CFO


Joanne
Yohannan
Senior Vice President of Operations


Dr. Mark
Verdino
Senior Vice President and Chief of Veterinary Staff


Jill
Burkhardt
Senior Vice President of Development


Diane
Johnson
Vice President of Shelter Operations


Diana
Russo-Albino
Vice President of Human Resources


Diana
Zaferiou
Vice President of Corporate and Foundation Giving

Board of Directors

John Stevenson, Esq.
Watertown, Connecticut • President • Appointed 1993

John Stevenson joined North Shore Animal League America in 1978 as Special Counsel, becoming General Counsel in 1988. In 1993 he was named President. John is also Managing Director of The Pet Savers Foundation™ (the marketing and program development arm of Animal League America), and a member of the boards of both organizations.

Prior to becoming President of Animal League America, John served as General Counsel and Special Counsel on regulatory and legal issues for several other nonprofit organizations. He has written extensively on the law of tax-exempt organizations, tax planning, and regulatory compliance.

Gerald N. Tirozzi, PhD.
Scottsdale, Arizona • Treasurer/Director • Appointed 2013

Gerald N. Tirozzi’s distinguished career in education includes serving as Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education (1983-1991), Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education (1996-1999), and Executive Director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (1999-2011). Dr. Tirozzi’s background complements our mission to educate future generations through the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum. Having had a dog and several cats over the years, Dr. Tirozzi understands the positive influence companion animals have in our lives, and believes that our Curriculum has great potential to enhance the social and emotional development of children in our nation’s schools. He is also greatly impressed by long-standing commitment to no-kill, our reputation as a leader in animal welfare, and outstanding record of adoptions.

Yasuko Yamaguchi
Port Washington, New York • Secretary/Director • Appointed 2011

Yasuko Yamaguchi is the owner (with her husband, Akira) of Restaurant Yamaguchi, a popular Japanese restaurant in Port Washington, N.Y. An advocate for homeless animals since her childhood in Japan, Mrs. Yamaguchi has been a friend and supporter of North Shore Animal League America for many years. She adopted her first feline, Sally, from Animal League America in 1985. Since then, she has dedicated much of her time and energy to rescuing many homeless cats and kittens. Her compassion for lost and strayed felines has made her a champion for adoption, spay/neuter, and rescue. In addition, her business acumen and prominence in the community have made her an invaluable member of our Board of Directors.

Beth Stern
New York, New York • Director • Appointed 2018

Animal advocate, bestselling author, and feline foster mom Beth Ostrosky Stern has been an influential, hands-on member of our volunteer community since 2003.

As our National Spokesperson (2004) she uses her celebrity to communicate our no-kill mission in the media and in person, appearing hundreds of times on television, in print, and online. In addition, she has hosted the Kitten Bowl series on Hallmark Channel since its debut in 2014, as well as Hallmark’s Paw Star Game (2015) and Summer Games (2016).  Each of these popular television specials showcases adoptable cats and kittens from Animal League America, inspiring countless adoptions across the country.

Beth has written three books, two featuring Yoda, a Persian cat she adopted from Animal League America, “Yoda, The Story of a Cat and His Kittens” (2014) and “Yoda Gets a Buddy” (2015) both focus on the importance of shelter adoption — especially of adult and special-needs pets — while telling charming stories of resilience and love. Beth also writes a monthly blog featured on our website.

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Since becoming a foster parent in 2013, she has personally nurtured and re-homed more than 700 cats and kittens. She works closely with our rescue and adoption staff to review and approve all potential adopters, hand-delivering her “nuggets,” as she calls them, to their new families. Most of her adopters come to her through her Instagram feed, which has nearly 450,000 followers around the world. She uses Instagram and other social media to chronicle her daily life as the socializer, caregiver, and champion of an ever-changing cast of fosters. She also highlights her own resident felines, Walter, Bella, Yoda, and Pebble, all adopted from Animal League America. Her social media have become tools for encouraging shelter adoption and educating the public about everything from spay/neuter (yes!) to declawing (no!).

A Pittsburgh native, Beth grew up with pets who were considered valuable members of the family. She attended the University of Pittsburgh, where she majored in English literature, before moving to New York City to pursue an international modeling career. She and her husband, radio legend Howard Stern, were the loving companions of a Bull Dog, Bianca, who died in 2012. In 2014, during our annual Gala, the couple announced the launch of a fundraising campaign for a state-of-the-art feline facility named Bianca’s Furry Friends Feline Adoption Center (BFF, as we affectionately call it), in honor of their beloved dog. Since then, the Sterns have co-hosted the Gala and spearheaded fundraising for this project, which is now under construction on our campus. In addition, Beth takes part in our Lewyt Humane Awards Luncheon each spring, which supports BFF, and also donates proceeds from her books to the project as well as hosting numerous fundraising events.

Beth’s passion for animals includes turtles, birds, and other wildlife. She trained with The Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons to transport injured wildlife and assist with rescue and release. She also works with no-kill pet rescue groups in Florida, where she and her husband have a home, and co-hosts the America Humane Hero Dog Awards on Hallmark Channel.

Beth’s commitment to the humane treatment of animals and shelter adoption is personal. She frequently helps behind the scenes, lending a hand to our rescue team as it takes animals from our Mobile Adoption Units to our Pet Health Centers. And in 2010 she completed the ING New York City Marathon, raising nearly $300,000 to support our mission to Rescue, Nurture, Adopt, and Educate.

Roger Weeks
Colchester, United Kingdom • Director • Appointed 2009

Roger Weeks worked in the food and health sector where, as a consultant, he was responsible for developing the French, Scandinavian, and United Kingdom markets for several major United States and United Kingdom multinationals. He has also worked with the United Kingdom Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, as well as with Danida, Denmark’s development cooperation, under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

For 10 years, Mr. Weeks was Director of North Shore Animal League International’s programs, during which time he set up, together with two United Kingdom charities, a re-homing center in Romania and multilingual education packages for use in English-speaking and Spanish-speaking countries. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Pet Savers Foundation, as well as on the boards of other nonprofit humane organizations. Mr. Weeks is also a member of animal welfare advisory organizations in Europe.

Norma M. Meek
Ashland, Kentucky • Director • Appointed 2017

Norma Meek combined a 40-year commitment to education with a life-long concern for the wellbeing of companion animals. During her impressive career as a teacher and innovator, Norma held a variety of titles and positions. In addition, she was active on several local, state, and national boards, received many education and civic awards, and was a prime mover for our Mutt-i-grees Curriculum in Kentucky and elsewhere. Now retired, Norma enjoys the company of her dog, Scooby, and is an active member of the Board of Directors for the Ashland Area Rescue Foundation (AARF). She also works with the Ashland Mutt-i-grees Teen Council to promote adoption across the state. Two of her grandsons, McKinney (Mac) and Layne, have been leaders as National Mutt-i-grees Student Ambassadors.

All board members are independent, voting members except for the President who is an employee.