November 7, 2013
HSUS National Council: Member Biographies
The Humane Society of the United States
Peggy Kaplan, Chair, Columbus, Ohio, 2011 - Present
Peggy Kaplan is a former TV entertainment host, reporter and producer. Her family foundation donated mobile spay and neuter clinic to a San Antonio, Texas, animal welfare organization to help with efforts to control pet overpopulation. Kaplan successfully lobbied the Ohio Legislature to pass two bills allowing for pet-friendly and horse protection specialty license plates with funds going directly to help animals in need. Serves as director of Ohio Pet Fund and Ohio Coalition for Animals. She worked on the Ohio farm ballot in 2010. She and her husband share their home with five rescued dogs (one former feral) and six former feral rescued cats.
Cheri Shankar, Vice Chair, Beverly Hills, Calif., 2008 - Present
Cheri Shankar is a member of The HSUS's Board of Directors and the Humane Society Legislative Fund. She is a full-time animal rights activist and fundraiser for animal protection and other progressive causes.
Roberta E. Ashkin, Esq. New York, N.Y., 2009 - Present
Roberta Ashkin has been in the forefront of tort litigation since the early 1980s. In her 30-year career, she has successfully litigated untold numbers of cases in the medical malpractice, consumer product and pharmaceutical liability fields. She is the principal in the Ashkin Law Firm in New York City and has served "Of Counsel" to a number of well-known and prestigious national firms. Roberta is active on many political fronts, starting in 2003 when she was named Senior Advisor of Women's Issues, by then-Representative Richard Gephardt's presidential campaign. Roberta serves on numerous legal committees, including the New York Manhattan Borough President' Scott Stringer's Working Committee on Animal Rights. Roberta has also served on the boards of numerous professional societies and organizations, including the Executive Board of Cancer Schmancer, actress and founder Fran Drescher's national organization devoted to ensuring that all women's cancers be diagnosed in Stage 1.
Arthur E. Benjamin, Sandy, Utah and Delray Beach, Fla., 2011 - Present
Arthur Benjamin has dedicated himself to education and animal rights activism for the past decade, combining his commitment to helping others with his experience in marketing, operations, and corporate management. As an activist, he has underwritten countless rescue missions and sponsored fundraisers that have raised millions to promote both animal and human welfare. He is the founder and president of American Dog Rescue (ADR), an all-volunteer organization for which he underwrites administrative costs so that 100 percent of ADR proceeds can go to animal welfare and projects to save and protect animals. He also is founder and trustee at the Gail L. & Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation, which fosters the formation and growth of new nonprofits in education, breast cancer survivor support, and animal rescue and welfare.
Howard M. Berk, Scarsdale, N.Y., 2008 - Present
Howard Berk joined MSD Capital, L.P. as a Principal in 2002. From 1998 to 2002, he was Managing Director of TG Investments, LTD, an investment group managing the capital of a single family, which acquires and invests in both public and private companies. From 1995 to 1998, he was with The Stenbeck Group, acquiring and managing businesses in multiple countries. Prior to that, Howard was with Goldman, Sachs & Co. in the Principal Investment Area. In 1987, he began his career at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in the Mergers and Acquisitions Department. Howard received his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1991 and graduated magna cum laude from The University of Texas in 1987 with a B.B.A. in finance.
James D. Berwind, Philadelphia, Pa., 2011 - Present
James Berwind is a director and trustee of the Berwind Group, a family-owned investment management company which counts among its partners Wellpet, a manufacturer and marketer of natural and holistic pet foods sold through pet specialty stores throughout North America. He is also a director of Main Line Animal Rescue in Chester Spring, Pa.
Michele Dillard, Bel Tiburon, Calif., 2013 - Present
Michele Dillard grew up in Baltimore, Md., and majored in psychology at Yale University. After teaching English a year abroad, she came home to study law at the University of Maryland. After graduation, she worked for several years in Baltimore in the business litigation practice of Tydings and Rosenberg before moving to California to practice for several more years in the corporate litigation departments at Epstein Becker and Green and Davis Wright Tremaine. In San Francisco, she met and married Doug Dillard, and now has three young children who keep her busy. Michele divides her time between real estate development, pro bono legal work, and philanthropic activities in health care (serving on committees for a local hospital that serves low-income San Franciscans and an organization that funds mobile health clinics in Malawi), as well as the arts and education. However, Michele's passion has always been animal welfare, and she is excited to focus her time and skills in helping The HSUS.
Joyce Doria, Potomac, Md., 2011 - Present
Joyce Doria is a former vice president and partner of Booz Allen Hamilton as well as having served on their board of directors. She is currently serving as treasurer of the board of trustees of the National Parks Conservation Association and as president of the Potomac (Maryland) Citizens Association. Joyce has served as a consultant on complex environmental issues for a long list of federal entities, including the Department of State, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy. She has worked with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of the Army Real Property division, the Department of the Interior, among many others. She is a long-time supporter and member of several animal- and environmental-protection organizations..
Jennifer Fagá, D.V.M., Montauk, N.Y., 2008 - Present
A commercial real estate investment consultant with Robbert Gaarlandt Inc. since 2001, Jennifer Fagá is an equestrian and founder of Beshraka Egyptian Stud, a breeding program dedicated to the preservation of rare straight Egyptian Arabian horses. Although Jennifer is a veterinary school graduate, she does not practice. Jennifer actively lobbies for animal protective legislation in Florida and New York.
Linda Godard, Essex, Conn., 2011 - Present
Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Linda Godard completed a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from New South Wales University. She came to the United States In 1992 to work at Special Olympics International in Washington, D.C., obtained an MBA at Yale University, and joined Pratt and Whitney's management program. During her ten year career with Pratt and Whitney, Linda was based in the United Arab Emirates, France, Singapore, Australia and the U.S. working in both the military and commercial divisions. She is currently President of the Board at Pine Point School in Stonington, Conn. Linda is a life-long lover of animals and has supported animal-protection groups in both Australia and the United States.
Frances Hayward, East Hampton, N.Y., 2008 - Present
Frances Hayward divides her time between The Bahamas, Palm Beach, New York, and East Hampton, where she is very involved in animal welfare projects and issues. She is an active member of the board of The Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons as well as Honorary Chairman of The Humane Society of Grand Bahama where she lived for over thirty years. Frances is known as one of the leading proponents of animal welfare throughout The Bahamas.
Christian Keesee, New York, N.Y. and Oklahoma City, Okla., 2012 - Present
A lifelong animal lover and long-time grant maker in the field of animal welfare, Christian Keesee is the chairman of the Kirkpatrick Foundation, a family foundation headquartered in Oklahoma City. The Foundation recently launched its Safe & Humane initiative whose vision is to make Oklahoma one of the safest and most humane places to be an animal by elevating the standards of care and welfare, improving the lives of Oklahoma's animals and those who care for them. Christian is chairman of the Kirkpatrick Bank (Okla. and Colo.) and the Kirkpatrick Oil and Gas Company (Okla., Texas, Colo.) and is engaged in the support of numerous civic and cultural endeavors.
Stacey Dorfman Kivowitz, Dallas, Texas, 2012 - Present
Stacey Dorfman Kivowitz is the founder and sole proprietor of Sheers The Bodywear Bar in Dallas. She has been an active leader in animal welfare issues, including serving as the North Texas chapter president for the Texas Humane Legislative Network, event chair for the SPCA Dallas and HSUS Dallas Spotlight Humane. Stacey is widely known for her far-ranging civic involvement with the North Texas Food Bank, Johns Hopkins Alumni Association, World Affairs Council and Dallas Jewish Community Foundation. In earlier years, Stacey also worked for Ed Rollins in the post-Reagan White House and with Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).
Nikki Lafferty, Pacific Palisades, Calif., 2011 - Present
As a long-time animal advocate, Nikki Lafferty has been especially active on the board of the California Wildlife Center, where she serves as a volunteer in the Baby Care Unit and for whom she has chaired their annual fundraising event. Nikki also co-hosted an HSUS Saves the Seals event in Los Angeles in 2011.
Ardath B. Rosengarden, Boca Raton, Fla., 2009 - Present
Ardath Rosengarden has been a philanthropic leader and volunteer with Florida's animal care and rescue for many years. Living in Boca Raton, Ardath has been an integral member of the Board of the SPCA Wildlife Care Center which is now an affiliate of The HSUS and has assisted in numerous projects at the Center. She is especially known in southeast Florida as an active proponent of feral cat and feline issues.
Richard Schechter, Wellington, Fla., 2013 - Present
Richard Schechter is chairman, CEO, and managing principal of the Bainbridge Companies LLC, a major national multi-family housing developer, owner, and manager. He has been active since childhood in the support of animal welfare organizations and causes, and as an adult has extended that support to medical and veterinary colleges and research. An avid equestrian, Richard's Bainbridge Farms show program includes hunters and jumpers, and he also owns reiners and cutters. The Bainbridge Companies is the Wellington Winter Equestrian Festival's longest continuous sponsor, supporting the horse show as it has grown and progressed. Richard is a member of the New York State Bar, D.C. Bar, and Florida Bar and holds a B.S. in chemistry from Clarkson University and a J.D. from the Syracuse University College of Law. Richard resides in Florida with his 17 horses, seven cats, and two dogs.
Alanna Tarkington, Solvang, Calif., 2013 - Present
Alanna Tarkington is a licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Malibu and a long history of helping animals and people alike. Since 1998 she has been on the board of directors of the Pet Adoptions Fund in Los Angeles, and has also served as a board or council member for Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, which was set up to become a role model for the state of California's shelter system; the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Council; the President's Advisory Council of the National Wildlife Federation; and the Women's Clinic of Beverly Hills, where she also volunteered her services as a psychotherapist to help abused women and children. A graduate of Union College with a master's degree in clinical psychology from Antioch University, Alanna is also a former vice president of Variety International Pictures and the author of Now It Is Our Turn, a book about environmentalism and how women can change their lives and save the world.