Steering Committee Members

The BCSA Steering Committee provides general governance for the organization, including setting policies and objectives. The committee is made up of volunteers from member organizations who bring a range of expertise to the BCSA, in support of our mission of ending the private ownership and exploitation of wild cats in the United States. 

John Madigan

John Madigan

BCSA Steering Committee Chairperson

John Madigan serves as the Operations Manager of Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary (CRTS). CRTS is a big cat rescue facility funded through a 501c3 non-profit corporation, The Scott Foundation.  CRTS provides permanent lifelong care for abused, neglected or unwanted big cats.

John has a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Technology (University of Dayton). After working for five years as an Environmental Engineer for the USAF, John took a keeper position at CRTS. He has been with CRTS for seven years, being the Operations Manager for two. John has formally served as the Treasurer for the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance (BCSA), the Chair of the Development/Finance Committee, and is also an active member of the Membership Committee, the Communications Committee and the Planning Committee.

Noelle Almrud

Noelle Almrud

BCSA Steering Committee Vice Chairperson

Noelle Almrud is proud to serve as the director of the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, one of the nation’s largest and most diverse animal sanctuaries. In this role she develops and implements long-range plans, oversees strategic development, and enhances outreach and programming for Black Beauty Ranch. With almost 1,000 animals and over 40 different spices, Noelle also ensures that the animals and staff have what they need to thrive.
Before coming to CABBR in 2011, she spent many years as the Director of Animal Care for a large sanctuary and wildlife rehabilitation center in central Texas. Noelle left a career in commercial mortgage banking to dedicate her life to the care of rescued animals and has never looked back. She holds degrees in history from the University of Houston and wildlife and fisheries sciences from Texas A&M University.
Additionally, Noelle serves on the steering committee of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) as well as Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Primate Sanctuary. Noelle has served as BCSA’s steering committee chair since inception in 2017 – switching her role to Vice Chairperson in 2021, and is part of the recently formed BEAR Alliance.

Meredith Whitney

Meredith Whitney

BCSA Steering Committee Secretary/Treasurer

Meredith Whitney is the Wildlife Rescue Officer at the International Fund for Animal Welfare.  Meredith’s work at IFAW addresses a spectrum of welfare issues for wildlife affected by human actions and natural disasters; from improving outcomes for live animals confiscated in trade, to rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned wildlife, to addressing sustainability of lifetime care facilities.  She is a founding and active member of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance who has served as the Secretary of the BCSA Steering Committee in the past, and is currently serving in the newly combined role of Secretary/Treasurer.

Bobbi Brink

Bobbi Brink

BCSA Steering Committee Member

Bobbi Brink is the Founder and Director of Lions Tigers & Bears, a big cat and exotic animal sanctuary in Alpine, California. Bobbi has been working with and advocating for captive big cats, bears and other exotic animals since the early 90s, after witnessing firsthand the abuses and neglect inflicted on captive animals victimized by the exotic animal trade. Bobbi has made it her personal life’s mission to end the abuses that stem from this heinous industry, one animal at a time.

Bobbi serves on the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance’s steering, events, advocacy and education committees, where she brings her expertise to make major headway for captive big cats.

Bobbi has rescued hundreds of animals from captive abuse across the United States, providing them medical care and transport to new lifetime homes at reputable sanctuaries, including Lions Tigers & Bears. Bobbi is a prolific fundraiser and tireless advocate for abused and displaced animals, and she has testified before Congress, helping to advocate for legislation that would regulate the trade and private ownership of exotic animals.

Both she and Lions Tigers & Bears have won multiple awards and recognition for leadership and public service, including the Carol Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, and numerous accolades from the local Chambers of Commerce, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and the California State Assembly.

Catherine Doyle

Catherine Doyle

BCSA Steering Committee Member

Catherine Doyle is the Director of Science, Research and Advocacy for the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), which operates three sanctuaries in California, including the 2,300-acre ARK 2000 natural habitat sanctuary for rescued or retired elephants, bears, and big cats.

She designs and carries out research focused on animal behavior and human-animal relationships. Catherine also leads PAWS’ advocacy efforts and has been successful in passing protective legislation such as the ban on elephant bullhooks in California. She organizes the biennial PAWS International Captive Wildlife Conference.

Catherine has a Master of Science degree in Anthrozoology. Published work includes chapters in The Ethics of Captivity (Oxford University Press, 2014) and The Handbook of Practical Animal Ethics (Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2018), and a paper on captive wildlife sanctuaries (Animal Studies Journal, 2017).

Catherine has been serving on the steering committee for the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance since its inception in 2017, and chairs or is active in various committees. She is a member of the BEAR Alliance and the advisory board for The Whale Sanctuary Project.

Emily McCormack

Emily McCormack

BCSA Steering Committee Member

Emily McCormack attended the State University of New York at Oswego where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology.  Her initial internship at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, commenced in January of 1999.  Upon completing her six-month internship, Emily was hired on to become a permanent animal care staff member. In 2002, she became the Volunteer & Intern Coordinator.  Emily was also promoted to the position of Animal Curator in April of 2011.  She has been a speaker at multiple conferences, including AZA, AAZK, & Bear Care.  Emily has also traveled and spoke at multiple zoos and universities to spread awareness of the big cat crisis in the U.S.   Currently, Emily sits on the Steering Committee for the BCSA and is part of the recently formed BEAR Alliance.

Kristin Leppert

Kristin Leppert

BCSA Steering Committee Member

Kristin Leppert is a Program Director with the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), where she helps wildlife sanctuaries in North, Central, and South America earn accreditation. Prior to her work at GFAS, Kristin was campaign director for Save Endangered Animals Oregon, a statewide coalition that successfully banned endangered species trafficking. In Washington, D.C. she led the Fur-Free Campaign for The Humane Society of the United States, directing investigative research that led Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Kenneth Cole to adopt fur-free policies and supported the passage of the Truth in Fur Labeling Act. She has appeared in national media including The Today Show and Good Morning America. Kristin holds a degree in Political Science from Portland State University. Kristin previously served as former Steering Committee member, Allan Kornberg’s alternate on the Steering Committee. She also serves on the BCSA’s Advocacy Committee.

Pam Fulk

Pam Fulk

BCSA Steering Committee Member

Pam holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from IU and has worked in the nonprofit field since 1979.  Along the way she has helped birth over a dozen nonprofits, served on local, state, and national boards of nonprofits, and continues to do private consulting.  Pam brought her nonprofit building skills to Carolina Tiger Rescue in 2003. Since then, Carolina Tiger’s budget has grown from $250,000 and 5 staff to 1.3 million dollars and 20 staff, and they’ve undergone a complete rebranding of the organization. In 2012 they were awarded the Small Business of the Year Award by the Chatham Co. Chamber of Commerce and were chosen as one of the best big cat sanctuaries in the country by Tigers in America. In 2013 they hosted the first national big cat conference with the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and were awarded the Nonprofit Stewardship Award by the NC Center for Nonprofits. In 2014 they were named one of the best big cat sanctuaries in the country by Big Cat Allies. Carolina Tiger Rescue is a founding member of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance and Pam has formally served as Vice Chair of the Steering Committee.

Tammy Thies

Tammy Thies

BCSA Steering Committee Member

Tammy Thies is the founder of the Wildcat Sanctuary, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit that provides a safe home to felid species including, cougar, tiger, lynx and other wild cats in need of shelter.

Thies has a marketing and journalism degree from the University of St. Thomas.  After graduation, she developed and managed advertising campaigns for clients such as Coca-Cola, BMW, Holiday Inn and Timberland. 

She is a native Minnesotan and during her advertising career became aware of the need for a sanctuary through her exposure to big cats during photo shoots. She learned that, throughout the United States, tens of thousands of these animals are privately owned as pets and used as performers or for-profit breeding. Too often, the cats outlive their usefulness and have nowhere to go.

Thies made a mid-life career change to become a voice for these animals.  She began The Wildcat Sanctuary on 10-acres in Isanti, MN. Now, years later, the Sanctuary houses over 100 residents on 40 acres in Sandstone, MN.  Animals are not bought, sold, bred or traded. Each resident is given every opportunity to behave naturally in a wonderful free-roaming environment and receive the best vet care at the on-site animal hospital.

The Wildcat Sanctuary provides educational outreach seminars to educate the public about the captive wildlife crisis across the United States, as well as supporting legislative efforts banning these practices. Thies was very instrumental in testifying on behalf of the Minnesota Exotic Animal Law that bans the ownership of dangerous exotic animals as pets.

Thies has appeared as an expert on the captive wildlife crisis across national media outlets such as the History Channel, Animal Planet and the CNN iReport.

The sanctuary is accredited by The American Sanctuary Association, Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, recognized as a top sanctuary by Tigers in America, a member of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance, and awarded a 4-star rating by Charity Navigator. The Wildcat Sanctuary is the only big cat sanctuary in the upper Midwest. Tammy has also served on the board of the American Sanctuary Association, as well as steering committees for the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance.