The Belleville Area Humane Society is lucky to have such a wonderful, award winning team supporting our mission day in and day out.
From numerous backgrounds, they all share one great love of animals.
Together, the BAHS Team works hard to serve our community in leadership through adoption, foster & volunteer programs, community outreach services, community events, and much, much more.
Want to join our team? View available job openings below:
Meet Our Team:
Vrooman shares, ” I am coming in after and with the support of transformative leaders, two past executive directors, Katie Nelson and Shoshana Mostoller, an amazing staff already providing outstanding support in our community, and board members who believe passionately in animal welfare.
She goes on to say, “I am excited to discover many more friendships in order to uplift the mission of BAHS and to empower our team! I look forward to serving each of you and our community.”
Vrooman’s family includes an outstanding partner, two cool kiddos, and rescue pup Charity.
She possesses 28 years of servant leadership experience. Moving to the area as part of a military family, she went on to earn an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, Illinois, a Bachelor’s Degree in English Composition from Pierre Laclede Honors College at University of Missouri St. Louis, a Master’s Degree in Theory of Communication and Composition from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and most recently a Postgraduate Certificate from Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in Developing and Leading Effective Teams.
She taught at SWIC, McKendree, and SIUE while founding Tapestry of Community Offerings 501(c)(3) and the TOCO Textile Pantry and Shop.
In her next role as Director of AmeriCorps in Belleville, Illinois at SWIC, Kim also helped strengthen the community partnership between BAHS and AmeriCorps. Many AmeriCorps volunteers have dedicated thousands of hours in service the BAHS over the past twenty years.
While serving as a Director at Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, Vrooman partnered with BAHS’s first Executive Director Katie Nelson in order to empower the collaboration between these two national organizations that both emphasize the importance of regional and local impact.
Business Manager Ryan Moore brings experience in money and business management to his job. Aside from BAHS, he is a financial empowerment and literacy coach.
Ryan and his wife Stephanie are parents to three children – Ally and toddler twins, Cole and Easton. But it is their dog, Milo, who runs the house.
“He is a mutt,” Ryan said, proudly. “We call him a terrorist because he’s a terrier mix. He was supposed to be a cross between a Yorkie and Shih Tzu, but he’s 27 pounds.” He’s also very demanding so it’s a good thing he’s cute.
“Everybody comes to the house to see him,” Ryan admitted. “If you don’t come to see him, he’ll cry till you acknowledge him.”
Like the Cowardly Lion, Milo is a tough guy who gets nervous sometimes. “Milo suffers from separation anxiety and we recently lost his four legged brother, so we’ve decided he needs a friend,” Ryan said. “Instead of taking home another dog permanently, my wife and I are going to foster a shelter dog and see how it goes. I’ve already warned the staff we’ll probably be a ‘foster fail.’ So get the paperwork ready.”
Savannah Rigley grew up in sunny Southern California and attended University of California, San Diego. She joined AmeriCorps and moved to the midwest to serve low income homeowners with Rebuilding Together Southwest Illinois. While there, she coordinated life changing home repair projects, such as teaming up with the St Clair County Sunset Rotary to build a new kitchen for the Violence Prevention Center.
In 2014, she adopted the love of her life, Betty, a super smart and ridiculous border collie mix. Shortly after, she trapped her first feral kitten and fell down the rescue rabbit hole. Savannah is very knowledgeable about feral cats and was quoted as a “cat nerd” by Deadspin and STL Today. Savannah sometimes accidentally wears cats on her shirt, shoes, and hair pins at the same time. Savannah volunteers with St Louis Feral Cat Outreach and runs a food pantry for colony caretakers.
Savannah has always been an animal nerd and became a vegan in 2004. Besides Betty the border collie, she has two bratty cats she caught as juveniles on a work site in East St Louis. (Yes: the adults were TNRed!). She also has a resecue reject, Cici, who was surrendered to an open admission shelter and flagged as unadoptable for aggression related to her painfully botched declaw. Savannah temporarily fostered Cici and fundraised to get her reconstructive surgery on her paws. After her surgery, Cici bonded to Savannah’s partner like a baby duck…so they had to keep her.
Savannah is the Development Manger for BAHS. Besides Cici, she also fundraised tens of thousands of dollars for street cats with groups like Pound Pals Cat Aid and St Louis Feral Cat Outreach. “I learned early on that I can’t swing a hammer, but what I can do is help organizations raise money to save lives,” she said.
Operations Manager Dawn Blackwell has a shadow. A bulldog mix who looks more like a bullfrog, Wilma waddles behind the front desk giving “hugs” and melting hearts.
“It was kind of hard to resist her,” admitted Dawn, who adopted the snorting 2-year-old after starting work at the shelter.
Truth be told, Dawn finds most animals irresistible. “I was raised at the end of a dead-end street where people dumped off their unwanted cats and dogs. I found all of them homes after I vetted them. I guess that’s where my career in rescue began.”
These days, Dawn fosters puppies, kittens and special needs animals for BAHS and Gateway Pet Guardians. Her daughter, Maddie, 17, supports her in her efforts.
“I won’t tell you how many pets I have,” she said and smiled, “but it’s a lot. It just kind of came natural, my love of animals. I like big, square heads.”
She also likes the saying, “Adopt a Pit. Don’t Listen to the Bull.” Wilma likes that saying too.
“You can find just about any animal you’re looking for in a shelter. Big or small. And some of the biggest dogs can be some of the sweetest ones. I tell people not to pay attention to breeds. Pay attention to personalities.”
Growing up in Belleville, Jorden always loved animals. She even did her NHS project at BAHS in 2012. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she went on to work on a pig farm. The piglets were great but the long hours and high volume of animals began to take its toll.
“I really love pigs. They are much smarter than dogs and can teach you a lot,” Jorden, 26, recalled. “After three years on the farm, I learned a lot, but living 5 hours away from my family was difficult. I was ready to move back and find my place.”
That place was BAHS. Today, the energetic Outreach Manager makes a difference in the lives of both humans and animals.
“Our dogs and cats go to great homes and we get to be a part of that process of finding them someone who loves them even more than we do,” she said. “We also get to educate the public, offer spay/neuter and vaccine clinics and help the low income families who come to our Pet Pantry.
“People will break down crying and say thank you. When someone is living paycheck to paycheck, a bag of dog food or flea protection for their pet can really make a difference. The sense of community at the pantry is one of my favorite parts of my job.”
When she’s not at the shelter, Jorden is mother to a terrier-mix named Kylie, a cat called Luna and BAHS alum dogs named Sully, Toby and Tyson. If that weren’t enough, she brings home foster animals every chance she gets.
“My fiancé is great,” she said, proudly. “He’s very supportive of me. Basically as long as I ask him beforehand, he’ll go along with just about anything. We’re both animal lovers so it works out really well. We’d both add more if we had the space”
Administrative Assistant email@example.com
Layken Palma grew up in rural Lincoln county, West Virginia. Then, thanks to the Air Force, she was able to grow up and experience life from the east coast to the west coast.
First, living in Ohio where her little twin sisters were born. Then, moving to Texas where her love for cheerleading and dance really took over her life. Finally, moving to North Carolina where she graduated high school and attended East Carolina University. While at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, Layken met the cutest guy ever jumping out of airplanes, and followed him to Los Angeles after he got out of the Army. After getting married in Los Angeles, the two moved here where they welcomed their AUSome son, Dean, into the world.
Layken’s wonderful husband, Misa, and her both share a love for fostering. It started, unfortunately, after losing 2 dogs of more than 10 years, Joey and Bear. They didn’t think they were quite ready to take on another dog, but knew their house was empty without the paw-prints everywhere. Long story short, they adopted their very first foster, a blind baby, Stevie. Stevie Wonder has helped them foster so many other dogs: feral dogs, medical fosters, puppies, and nursing mamas. His biggest foster accomplishment is Lady Blossom, all the way from the Humane Society on the Virgin Islands and the newest addition to the family.
Intake & Medical Specialist (Dogs)
Kat Vrieswyk, BAHS Intake & Medical Specialist (Dogs), discovered her love of animals at the young age of 8 when she helped her grandma foster kittens. Ever since then, Kat has had a passion for helping animals.
After high school, Kat attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and graduated with her Bachelors degree in Animal Science in 2019. Post graduation, Covid 19 struck hard on the job industry. Kat was offered a position at the Saint Louis Zoo working with the stingrays and sharks. This new found love for ocean animals expanded her love and knowledge for all animals. Working at the Saint Louis Zoo opened her eyes to how important zoos are to the world of animal welfare.
Kat has now found her way to BAHS and is loving every minute of it. Currently she is helping with adoptions, animal enrichment, and everyday tasks around the shelter. Kat is excited to continue her journey at BAHS and expand her knowledge and love of helping animals.
Volunteer coordinator Kelly Turner says she has found her niche.
“I really enjoy what I do,” said Kelly, a former public information specialist. “There’s never a dull moment when you work with people and animals.”
Some volunteers enjoy walking dogs and playing with cats, while others prefer cleaning and doing laundry. “We need volunteers to help with yard work, maintenance work, you name it. Not every job is glamorous but they are all really important.”
Each volunteer brings his own unique talents to the table. But loving animals is something everyone has in common.
At the moment, Kelly, who also mans the shelter’s front desk, is mother to Suzy, a 15-year-old dachshund and FooFoo, a 15-year-cat.
Married with four bonus kids, 11 grandchildren and one great grandchild, Kelly also enjoys cuddling with Macy, a boxer-mix puppy she adopted after starting work at BAHS.
She’s also fostered a host of kittens. That’s not something she’d ever thought she would do, but it’s very rewarding.
“My brother told me, ‘You can’t save them all,’” she said. “I know we’re full up for permanent residents at our house. It’s great to foster, however, which allows the humane society to save more animals. A great part of my job is seeing animals go to other good homes. There’s nothing better than watching a dog or cat ‘pick’ their people.”
Adoption & Foster
Placement Counselor Amanda Roos is a lifelong animal lover and the mother of five cats. She also feeds the feral kitties and wildlife that visit her yard. Don’t judge. It’s in her blood.
“My grandmother always had three or four dogs or three or four cats running around her home,” Amanda, 23, said and smiled. “They kept her company. And she fed the squirrels and the birds and raccoons too. So I guess I come by it naturally.”
A former college admission counselor, Amanda now spends her days matching potential adopters with animals, working on building the BAHS Foster program, and monitoring the Lost and Found Pet Reports for the county.
A newlywed whose husband, Elliott, also loves animals, Amanda doesn’t hesitate when asked about her favorite part of her job.
“I love working on the foster program to place animals with loving temporary homes while they wait on their forever homes. The BAHS Foster community is very dedicated to our mission and helping get animals out of the shelter. When an animal is placed into foster care, that opens up a space for us to take a new animal into the shelter and save another life. Rescue takes a village and I am proud to be a part of the BAHS village.” Amanda says.
Amanda, a graduate from Webster University with a Bachelors in Educational Studies and Masters in Community Engagement, is excited to continue her work with the BAHS community and animals.
Intake & Medical Specialist (Cats)
Melissa has been fortunate to learn many jobs since she began working at BAHS in August of 2011. Currently, her focus is on animal care and enrichment.
She has always had a passion for charitable work with an emphasis on the most vulnerable in the community. No one is more vulnerable than our four-legged friends, and she feels privileged to be able to return the love they so selflessly give us.
Outside of her work at BAHS, she volunteers with CARES, another animal-focused non-profit, and spends time with her goofy English Bulldog, Lenore.