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Conference Speakers:

Keynote Speaker

Barbara Carr

Prior to retirement Ms. Carr served as the Executive Director of the SPCA Serving Erie County. Ms. Carr fully committed to humane education programs after her speech, Humane Education Forestalling Violence Towards Women and Children, at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995.

Largely the approach she took to humane education was literacy based. While several programs that provided humane education took place during her tenure, EKK, Encouraging Kind Kids, a literacy-based program, reached nearly every fifth grader in the Buffalo City Schools. The SPCA provided four books a year to each fifth grader to keep as their own and humane educators provided four one-hour lessons per book, or 16 lessons all together during the year. At the end of the year each classroom was treated to a field trip to the SPCA. Altogether each student received a minimum of 18 hours a year of humane education programming.

In retirement Ms. Carr continues to be active in animal welfare. She serves on the New York State Animal Protection Federation Education Fund Board, she provides consulting services to shelters in New York State, and she also sits on the giving committee of the Department of Agriculture’s Companion Animal Capital Fund.

When: Wednesday, April 24th, 2:00 pm

Speaker Bios

Kelsey Fairhurst, PAWS 

Kelsey started at PAWS at the beginning of 2023 with over a decade of experience in the science communication and wildlife conservation field. Her career began with developing outreach programs for a wildlife center and she has since worked in informal education and volunteer coordination at zoos and aquariums, while growing her creativity and engagement skills. She has a passion for using storytelling to build empathy and is a firm believer that both conservation and humane education are all about empowering individuals and communities to ensure they have the power and resources they need to take action.

When: Thursday, April 25th, 1:15 p.m.  

Roll for Empathy! The Power of Tabletop Roleplaying Games in Humane Education

Heather Franco, East Bay SPCA

Heather Franco is a Bay Area native who grew up in San Francisco and now lives and works in the East Bay. The first 12 years of her career were with the Richmond Neighborhood Center where she delivered and then managed elementary, middle, and high school out of school time programs as well as youth workforce development programming. In 2019 she made a career shift and joined East Bay SPCA, where she is now the Humane Education Manager. Her passions outside of work include hiking, camping, kayaking, and her AmStaff, Lola.

Pre-Conference workshop: Wednesday, April 24th, 10:30 a.m.

Smooches for Pooches: Empathy, Compassion, and Fundraising

Margaret Hanzlick-Burton, Wayside Waifs Margaret Hanzlick-Burton is a versatile professional merging theater and education. With a theater performance degree, she transitioned to professional performance and teaching theater to children. Later, she earned a biology and environmental education master's degree, leaving a lasting impact as an environmental educator at the Kansas City Zoo and Seattle Aquarium. Currently a Humane Educator at Wayside Waifs Animal Shelter, she's passionate about preventing bullying and nurturing empathy for people and animals. Beyond work, she enjoys hiking, playing violin, and spending quality time with her dogs in Kansas City.

When: Thursday, April 25th, 9:45 a.m. 

Yes, And: Fostering Empathy through Improvisational Theatre

Melissa Logan, Alberta SPCA

Melissa started her teaching career in a high school science classroom, then moved to the Alberta SPCA in 2007. Engaging with teachers and other organizations, she has developed & collaborated on curriculum-relevant humane education programs & resources for Alberta teachers to inspire empathy for all living things, and enhance animal welfare across Alberta.  She holds a BSc., and a BEd. from the University of Lethbridge and an MSc. in Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law from the University of Edinburgh. Melissa hails from Treaty 6 Territory, spending as much time as she can with her dog in Edmonton's river valley. 

Don Seller, Alberta SPCA

Don graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Education degree, majoring in Elementary education, minoring in Social Studies. Combining both his passions: education & animals, Don joined the Alberta SPCA in 2017 as their Education Program Manager where he helps create curriculum-linked humane education resources for teachers to use in their classroom. Don has presented at several teachers’ conventions throughout Alberta, helping teachers understand the value of humane education & how it can help create a caring classroom, school, and community. Don lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on Treaty 6 Territory with his dog, Louis.


When: Thursday, April 25th, 8:50 a.m.

The Downside to Empathy - and how to overcome it

Monica Kothe, Humane Society of Southern Arizona

Monica is located at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona with a love for teaching and a passion for animals. As the Humane Education Lead, she runs the Kids Club, leads children's activities and camps, and hosts school visits. Before Monica joined in 2022, she served with FoodCorps and AmeriCorps in their school outreach program, later becoming a Garden Lead at an elementary school. She graduated from the University of Arizona with double degrees in Political Science and Public Management and Policy. In her spare time, Monica can be found spoiling and brokering peace between her two cats, Oz and Neptune.

When: Thursday, April 25th, 10:45 a.m.

Roundtable: On the Struggle Bus


Dr. Kerry Muhovich, Caring Pathways

Dr. Kerry Muhovich is a 2001 graduate from Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Since earning her degree nearly 23 years ago Dr. Muhovich has worked in many areas of veterinary medicine including animal behavior, shelter medicine, vet tech instruction, regulatory medicine, general practice and end of life care. Dr. Muhovich has worked in end of life care since 2015 where she has helped thousands of families say goodbye to their beloved pets. Dr. Muhovich is also certified in canine rehabilitation and is in the process of completing certification in veterinary human support; both through the University of Tennessee.


When: Friday, April 26th, 9:45 a.m.

Neurodiversity and Empathy, Appearances May Vary

Dr. Amy Johnson, University of North Florida, Safe Humane 

Dr. Amy Johnson, EdD, MA, MAT, LPC, CPDT-KA, UW-AAB, is a clinical assistant professor and coordinator of the Animal Assisted Intervention programming at the University of North Florida and adjunct faculty at Husson University in Maine where she teaches animal assisted intervention classes. She founded and directed the Center for Human Animal Interventions at Oakland University in Michigan. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Michigan and is a certified dog trainer through Council of Professional Dog Trainers. In 2005, she  founded and still directs the non-profit animal assisted intervention program called Teacher’s Pet: Dogs and Kids Learning Together. This 40 hour program (10 week program) pairs troubled and at-risk youth through the court and community mental health systems with harder-to-adopt shelter dogs for the benefit of both. Additionally, she is the Secretary of the Board for the American Psychological Association’s Human Animal Interactions Section 13 and Co-Chair of the Uniform Terminology Committee for an IAHAIO/AAII collaboration. She has published several journal articles and book chapters on the topic of Animal Assisted Interventions.

Keri Burchfield, Northern Illinois University

Keri Burchfield is a professor of sociology and criminology at Northern Illinois University. Her primary research interests include communities and crime, specifically investigating the effects of neighborhood structure and community organization on crime prevention and control. Her recent research involves projects examining the link between animal violence and human crime in urban communities, as well as broader correlates of animal welfare. She is also the Program Liaison for Safe Humane and runs two animal-assisted intervention programs west of Chicago.

When: Friday, April 26th, 9:45 a.m.

And Welfare for All: Improving Socio-Emotional Learning Outcomes for Vulnerable youth Populations With Evidence-based Dog Assisted Interventions

Heidi Muir, Seattle Humane

Heidi Muir has been encouraging teen leaders since she was a teen herself, and has been facilitating a youth development program called Humane Teen Club since joining Seattle Humane in 2018. She has a Master of Arts in Teaching and prior to her work in animal welfare, she has been a middle school teacher and and TEFL volunteer with the Peace Corps in Ukraine.


Rahni Singh, Seattle Humane 

Rahni is a Freshman at NYU and has been volunteering for Seattle Humane since she was 13. She has also piloted her own teen advocacy program: Humane Teen Club National.




When: Thursday, April 25th, 1:15 p.m.

The Kids Are Alright: Empowering Teen Advocates

Karen Verderame, Penn Vet Shelter Medicine and Community Engagement

As an outreach educator, Karen develops and provides educational opportunities at Penn Vet, focusing on humane education, STEAM outreach, and pipeline-type programming. Karen has a rich professional background working with and caring for various taxa of animals in zoo and museum settings, and developing a variety of programs, curricula, and engagement opportunities.

Pre-Conference Workshop: Wednesday, April 24th, 10:30 a.m.

Bridging Accessibility and Empathy: Building Inclusive Programs with Bugs!

When: Thursday, April 25th, 9:45 a.m. 

Introducing and Exploring Guiding Principles for Veterinary Community Engagement

Emily Tronetti, Antioch University & Coexistence Consulting

Emily holds a Master of Science in anthrozoology and a Certificate in Applied Animal Behavior. She’s currently a Doctor of Education (EdD) candidate in Educational and Professional Practice with a specialization in humane education through Antioch University. Her dissertation work explores how to recognize, support, and teach about the agency of farmed animals in the context of sanctuary education. Emily is also a consultant and humane educator who teaches in various settings about the well-being of other animals. Through her work, she aims to inspire humans to compassionately coexist with each other and the more-than-human world.

Andie Springirth, Open Sanctuary Project

With a background in humane education, farmed animal care, and wildlife rehabilitation, Andie utilizes her experience as an educator, caregiver, scholar, and activist to research and create practical, actionable resources to help animal sanctuaries develop and improve their education and outreach programs. She shares her home with cats Harry, Lloyd, and Nell, alpacas Moose, Ceja, and Goldie, and four humans.



When: Thursday, April 25, 2:15 p.m.

Agency-Centered Humane Education: Transformative Practices for Nurturing Empathetic Connections with Other Animals

2024 Conference:

April 24th - 26th




Meet APHE's 2024 Panel Speakers: (Coming Soon!)

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