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.

Emily McCormack

Emily McCormack

BCSA Steering Committee Vice Chairperson

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.

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.

Jonathan Kraft

Jonathan Kraft

BCSA Steering Committee Member

Jonathan Kraft, Founder, President, and Executive Director of Keepers of the Wild is an animal behaviorist. He established Keepers of the Wild as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit animal sanctuary in 1995 . The nature park and wildlife sanctuary is currently located on 175 acres in Valentine, Arizona on historic Route 66.

Jonathan has worked with local, state, national, and international law enforcement and animal welfare agencies to assist with rescues, rehabilitation, and providing a life-long home to wild and exotic animals.

Jonathan’s high standards of animal care have earned numerous commendations and awards from organizations including Nevada Wildlife Federation, the S.P.C.A, the Humane Society, and Arizona’s Attorney’s and Sheriff’s Associations.

Jonathan has starred in movies and has been featured in a number of local, national, and international educational film projects, documentaries, news broadcasts, articles, and magazines. Highly regarded for his expertise with animals, Jonathan has served as an expert witness in court proceedings against animal abusers, worked as an independent consultant to other sanctuaries, and is a highly sought-after presenter for special speaking engagements. 

Kathryn Bertok

Kathryn Bertok

BCSA Steering Committee Member

Kathryn Bertok studied Zoology at NC State University before starting her career at Carolina Tiger Rescue as an animal care intern and then being hired on as a full-time Animal Keeper.  After gaining years of experience in animal care, she was promoted to Senior Animal Keeper and then to Curator of Animals.  As Carolina Tiger Rescue grew, so did the demands of the job.  Eventually the Curator of Animals position was changed to Assistant Director.  She now supports the entire program staff, including animal care, site, volunteer management, and education. 

After over 20 years at Carolina Tiger, Kathryn has been honored to watch Carolina Tiger Rescue grow into a thriving rescue that is a proud founding member of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance.  She loves not only helping improve her own sanctuary, but greatly enjoys working to support others. She firmly believes that everyone benefits from the success others.

Kathryn served as an Alternate on the Steering Committee for Pam Fulk for several years and has also served as Chair of the Education and Membership Committees. She currently serves on the Rescue, External Communications, and Events Committees and is the current Chair of the Membership & Education Committee.

Noelle Almrud

Noelle Almrud

BCSA Steering Committee Member

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 and Vice Chairperson, 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.

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.

Trish Nichols

Trish Nichols

BCSA Steering Committee Member

Trish Nichols has been Black Pine Animal Sanctuary’s Executive Director since 2019.

She has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector  business management and politics. Her past roles include Executive Director for the Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County, President of the Boys & Girls Club, Director of Operations for Superior Landscape Products and Excavation and Councilwoman at large for her community.

Black Pine Animal Sanctuary was established in 2004 to provide life-long refuge to displaced, captive-raised exotic animals and to educate people about responsible animal care and conservation.