Tanya Hilgendorf

President and CEO

Tanya’s been leading HSHV for over 14 years. With a BA in Political Science and a Masters in Social Work Administration and Public Policy and having served as Executive Director of Ozone House, her passion centers on protecting the vulnerable (human and non-human animals) and transformational leadership that helps nonprofit organizations achieve mission success. With an incredible team of staff, volunteers, and supporters, HSHV has become a thriving, dynamic animal welfare organization with a multi-service organization, with 100+ employees, 2500+ volunteers, and a 95%+ save rate focused on rescuing, healing, saving and protecting. Tanya currently is the proud mom of several fabulous felines and a beautiful teenaged human.

Matt Schaecher

Chief Operations Officer

Matt has been a Detroit firefighter for 15 years. Although always an animal lover, that is where he first saw the animal suffering that he knew he wanted to help end. Matt started as cruelty investigator at HSHV in 2005 and in 2015 he became HSHV’s Chief Operating Officer — helping to put out HSHV “fires.” He is passionate about protecting animals and saving every life possible and wants HSHV to be the best it can be. He is grateful to HSHV’s community of people who give so much of themselves to animals in need. He currently has a furry dog and two rather furless human babies.

Chad Wood

Human Resources Manager

Chad’s first job was obtained specifically to support his pets, which have ranged from cats and dogs all the way to geckos and snakes. Chad has always loved animals, almost as much as helping others. This is what brought him to work in HR, non-profit HR specifically. The opportunity to serve others as well as help animals is the perfect combination for a workplace, and Chad is thrilled to be part of the HSHV team.


Michele Baxter

Cruelty Investigations/Emergency Rescue & Back of House Manager

Michele began as a volunteer at an animal shelter in Detroit.  Since then, she’s been an adoption counselor, wildlife rescue officer, veterinary assistant, police officer, and cruelty investigator. She’s even cared for “Katie,” an African Lion cub who wound up at the Detroit Zoo! Michele is passionate about education, and has taught law enforcement personnel and prosecutors on the subjects of animal cruelty and animal fighting.  She enjoys working for HSHV “because it’s innovative, and dares to be different in trying new things for the betterment of animals.”

Ann Edwards

Foster Care Manager

Travel bug satisfied? Check. Kids all grown up? Check.  Looking for a career change? Check.   Best shelter in the state? Check.  Ann started working part-time with shelter volunteers and quickly segued to full-time, running the foster program and taking lots of photos.  She’s transitioned from a degree in Biology, working at GM – Brasil in the Economics Department, to an MBA, to working in the music biz, then running a communications company, now back to her first love: working with animals. She’s inspired by foster parents, who’ve become her second family.

Tawn Hinze

Volunteer Manager

Tawn’s always had a love of animals having had chickens, rabbits, cats, and two German Shepherds growing up. Pair a love of animals with a passion for volunteering that started during college through various student organizations, becoming a volunteer at HSHV seemed like the perfect fit. She began volunteering in 2009 and was hired as an assistant to the Volunteer Manager in 2014. Tawn feels lucky to be a part of such a wonderful, dynamic, and talented group of volunteers. Outside of HSHV, you can find her at local coffee shops, going on hikes, doing yoga, or spending time with family & friends.

Jessie Hitt

Humane Education Manager

Jessie was planning to pursue a Master’s degree in library science when she happened to attend an information session on the newly formed Humane Education department at HSHV. During that info session, led by Karen Patterson, she learned about the existence of the Master’s degree program in Humane Education from the Institute for Humane Education. She knew right away that was what she wanted to do! Jessie enjoys talking to people of all ages about the interconnectedness of animal welfare, humanitarianism and environmental protection. She has a special place in her heart for black cats, and shares her home with two: Pablo and Little Cat.

Karie McMahon

Intake Manager

Sharp wit. Compassion packed. Star Wars lover. That’s Karie, who, with her degree in biology and anthropology, considered working in the medical field until she realized she liked animals better than people. Since then, she’s worked at the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, at UM’s Unit for Laboratory Animal Medicine, and now at HSHV — a position she considers life-changing — for over 6 years. Karie feels fortunate to work alongside amazing people who are always looking to try to better themselves and HSHV.

Catherine Pappas

Leadership Giving Officer

Catherine was a fundraiser long before she knew it.  As a kid, she enjoyed tagging along with her mom, helping her raise money for various worthy causes.  Although she has had other jobs along the way, including waiting tables in college, being a “mystery shopper” and working as project manager for an incentive travel company, Catherine has been raising money for non-profit organizations the majority of her career.  A life-long animal lover, she is delighted to be working with HSHV’s generous donors, volunteers and staff.

Karen Patterson

Vice President of Volunteers and Humane Education

Karen Patterson is a life-long animal lover who has a passion for education and animal welfare. Teaching others about showing kindness and compassion for both animals and humans is her passion in life and is the inspiration of her first published book, Harley Saves the Day. Karen has ten years of formal teaching experience in the classroom and has since worked with students and teachers throughout Washtenaw County in her role at HSHV. She holds a Master’s of Education degree (in humane education) and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Humane Education Coalition.  Karen currently lives in Chelsea with her son and four furry kids.

Merri Priddle

Director of Data and Process Management

Data, process and technology is not the most glamorous, but animals don’t judge!  In a past life, Merri was a computer programmer and project manager.  She values details, data, results and sustainable practices, but is passionate about 4-legged friends, as “they give us 2-leggeds unconditional love, endless forgiveness and demonstrate the utmost resilience.”  Merri is proud to work for our admin cats; fearful, nervous dogs and all the other critters who find their way to HSHV, and finds great satisfaction in seeing the results.

Jaci Schaecher

Vice President of Development and Marketing

Jaci (pronounced jack-ee) developed a passion for fundraising while pursuing her Master’s in social work — realizing the importance of adequate funding for nonprofits in order to fulfill their mission and beyond. At HSHV, Jaci combines that passion with a love for both animals and animal-lovers. “I love our donors and what they allow us to achieve every day,” she says. She’s a strong believer in the human/animal bond… so much so, that she has a hard time not adopting every cat who comes through our administrative offices!

Jon Trevathan

Director of Finance

Combining a love for his college town with a life-long love of animals and his admittedly unnatural passion for all things finance and accounting related, the Director of Finance position opening up at HSHV was a dream come true for Jon. If he isn’t sharing his desk chair with a cat, you can probably find Jon feeding treats to some wiggly dogs. Outside of the shelter, Jon spends time indoors and out with his family, including three HSHV alums. Hazel and Huck, two social cats, and Juniper, a high energy blue heeler mix that took the Love Train up from Tennessee.

Wendy Welch

Director of Communications

After selling fast food to kids and convincing people to buy unnecessary insurance, Wendy yearned to put her advertising skills to good use. HSHV was just the ticket. Originally a volunteer, then a human resources manager, and now in her dream job of communications director, Wendy is continually inspired by HSHV’s generous donors, passionate volunteers and unconditionally loving animals. She loves all things beagle, and is very grateful that coming to work with cat hair on her clothes is now, more than acceptable.