Log in
Log in

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

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

Meet APHE's 2024 Panel Speakers:

Darlene Blackman - Director of Community Engagement, Marin Humane

Darlene has been with Marin Humane since 1991, serving in positions in education, adoptions and the behavior and training departments. As director of community engagement, she manages Pet Care Assistance, Pet Safety Net, Animal-Assisted Programs, and Youth Programs. Before joining Marin Humane, Darlene worked for 10 years at the Massachusetts SPCA, as an animal care technician at the Angel Memorial Animal Hospital, then farm animal care coordinator, humane educator, and volunteer coordinator. She also worked at the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s farm education center, and at a livestock auction where she worked to create a safer, more humane place for the animals. Darlene graduated from the University of Massachusetts where she studied animal science/veterinary medicine. She has been an APHE board member since 2019. Her extensive work on training volunteers and their dogs to volunteer together was published in Animal Assisted Interventions – Recognizing and mitigating potential welfare challenges in December 2023. She is a card carrying member of Red Sox Nation, enjoys hiking in the beauty of Marin, and traveling home to New England.

Lauren Golpl - Teacher, Buffalo Public Schools

A mom of two boys, a teacher in the Buffalo Schools, and the future wife to an amazing man. Having been part of the Buffalo Schools system for the past 15 years I have helped to transform our school into a diverse, welcoming environment for students. I have worked hard to transform the climate and the culture of the school while enduring the on going changes. Through mentoring of other teachers and leaders, I have been able to empower others to embrace the diverse community and culture of our students.

Kerry Muhovich, DVM - 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.

Sharon Spencer - Adult Education Specialist, Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

As a community connector and empathy advocate, Sharon pursues an ongoing commitment to unpuzzling how we can all neighbor better together, whether human, furry, scaled, feathered, or rooted.  She currently serves as the Adult Education Specialist at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, facilitating and developing curriculum not only for the zoo’s graduate program through Project Dragonfly at Miami University, but also cultivating community voiced conservation education.  She holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching Biological Sciences from Miami University, and is currently entering the dissertation phase of her EdD in Humane Education through Antioch University with a focus on empathy as a conservation education strategy.  She also holds a graduate certificate in Climate Justice and Faith from the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and is finishing a certificate in Wildlife Medicine and Conservation from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University.  

She serves on the Marine Mammal Rescue Team at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, assisting in their rescue, rehab, and release efforts of threatened Florida manatees.  In recognizing the scope of the emotional weight of rescue and care work, Sharon continues to develop compassion fatigue workshops as part of her doctoral research. As a member of the ACE Wildlife Network (Advancing Conservation through Empathy), homebased at the Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium, Sharon and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens hope to continue to transform the community relevance and educational responsibility that zoos and aquariums have to facilitate nurturing coexistence with our non-human neighbors and each other.

When: Wednesday, April 24th, 2:40 p.m.

2024 Conference:

April 24th - 26th

© Association of Professional Humane Educators