Board of Directors

In addition to its volunteer corps, APA!’s leadership includes accomplished professionals in the fields of nonprofit management, marketing, government, law, fundraising, animal behavior and veterinary medicine. We have been implementing small scale projects to help Austin’s pets, pet owners, and shelters since 1997.

Dr. Ellen Jefferson, Executive Director

Rusty Tally, President and Capital Campaign Chair

Rana Smith, Vice President

Gretchen Meyer, Marketing Chair

Gerri Kappler, Program Chair

Bill Symon, Development Chair

Derek Wright, Budget & Finance Chair

Kimberly Storin, Advisory Board Chair

Elizabeth Yeager

Tom Albright, Former Board President

Ellen Jefferson, DVM, Executive Director

Dr. Jefferson joined Austin Pets Alive! in 2008 and began applying best practices in efficiency and operations to resolve Austin’s problem of killing thousands of healthy and treatable pets each year. Within the first year of her leadership, Austin Pets Alive! reduced the killing of homeless cats and dogs in Austin by more than 20%, with the downward trend continuing and Austin reaching a 91% save rate for 2011.

Ellen’s experience with EmanciPET, which she founded in 1999 and directed for nine years, had already made her a leader nationally as well as in Austin’s animal welfare community. Before that she worked nights as an emergency room veterinarian and days volunteering at the local animal shelter. She graduated from Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in 1997.

Under Ellen Jefferson’s leadership, Austin Pets Alive! has helped keep Austin the largest No-Kill city in the United States since 2011. In addition to being a featured speaker at conferences for Maddie’s Fund, Best Friends and the No Kill Advocacy Center among others, Maddie’s Fund published an article by Ellen called “Using Data to Make Austin a No-Kill City.”. Ellen also served on the National Spay/Neuter Task Force from 2007-2009 and has had work published in the Journal of Veterinary Medicine.

Rusty Tally, Board President and Capital Campaign Chair

Rusty can draw upon 37 years’ experience advising affluent, ultra-affluent, and institutional clients in both “bull” and “bear” markets alike, and he has received numerous recognitions.

Rusty was named by Research Magazine as one of the top 20 financial advisors in Texas in 2006. In 2007 and 2008, the financial industry magazine Registered Rep ranked Rusty as one of The Top 100 Advisors among large financial institutions in the U.S. From 2008-2010, Rusty was recognized in the Austin American-Statesman Fortune 500. Additionally, in 2009, Rusty was recognized as Austin American-Statesman’s “Fortunate 500 Business All-Star”. He and his wife Mary, were named 2011 Out & About All-Stars for their community involvement.

Rusty, who joined UBS Financial Services in 2008, holds the professional designation of Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®) from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Rusty attended Air Force Academy and received his B.S. degree from the University of Colorado.

Rusty and his wife Mary, have been actively involved in the Austin community for many years. They have served in support of, and on numerous non-profit boards. They include The Long Center for the Performing Arts (Chaired), Austin Symphony Orchestra (Exec. Board), Helping Hand Home for Children, American Lung Association (Chaired Austin Advisory Board), Zachary Scott Theatre, Center for Child Protection, Emancipet, Austin Pets Alive! and Citizens Generation to name a few.

Rana Smith, Board Vice President

Rana joined the SouthWest Affiliate of the American Heart Association in May 2013, bringing with her over 20 years experience in development, marketing and volunteer engagement within the nonprofit sector. In her role as Senior Vice President, Major Gifts, Rana is responsible for building successful major gifts and individual giving programs and enhancing donor relationships by creating an affiliate-wide stewardship strategy. Working in partnership with her AHA colleagues, Rana engages personally with individuals and family foundations to help them accomplish their philanthropic objectives while maximizing AHA’s potential to save more lives.

Prior to joining AHA, Rana served as the Chief Development Officer of Best Friends Animal Society, a $64 million national animal welfare organization based in Utah where she led the development and communications teams to a record 25% increase in revenue in 2012.

Rana served nearly twenty years with United Way, including eight years as the Chief Development Officer for United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. During her tenure in Dallas, Rana raised nearly $400 million for annual campaigns through corporate giving, workplace campaigns and major gifts. In addition to growing the Tocqueville Society to over 650 members and $8.4 million, Rana was instrumental in launching their Women of Tocqueville affinity group.

Rana also served as Vice President of Resource Development for United Way of Greater Austin, where she achieved the highest percentage increase among all United Ways nationwide for three consecutive years.

Rana received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from The University of Arizona and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). She resides just outside Austin in the Lake Travis area with her husband Bill, two children, Carson and Delaney, and rescue dog, Daisy.

Gretchen Meyer, Marketing Chair

Gretchen Meyer joined Austin Pets Alive! as the volunteer Marketing/PR Director in 2008 when Ellen Jefferson became the Executive Director with the intent of making Austin a no-kill city. She continued in this role until 2013, when she moved on to help lead APA’s marketing efforts by joining the APA Board and establishing and leading an executive marketing committee.

Gretchen is a regular speaker at the American Pets Alive conference, where she presents on Marketing and PR. She also presented on Marketing at the 2012 Best Friends No More Homeless Pets national conference.

Gretchen received her Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Today, she designs and builds websites and software applications for a financial services company and is married to Amos Lowe, President, brewer,and owner of The ABGB.

Gerri Kappler, Secretary and Program Chair

Gerri has been with APA since 2009. Initially becoming a medical foster and customer service team leader, she took on the role of Volunteer Director in 2011.

Gerri received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin. She worked in various finance management roles for 15 years prior to focusing on raising a family. Gerri, her husband Peter, and their two children Jordan and Joshua share their home with 2 dogs and 1 cat, and have fostered countless animals through APA.

In the 5 years she’s been volunteering for APA! Gerri has seen amazing growth and progress in APA’s no-kill mission and is thrilled to be part of such an amazing organization.

Bill Symon, Development Chair

Bill Symon’s bio information will be updated as soon as it becomes available.

Derek Wright, Treasurer and Budget & Finance Chair

Derek Wright joined the Board of Austin Pets Alive! in 2013 as the Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee. He utilizes 20 plus years of business experience and 10 years of business ownership to assist APA! in building its Finance, Accounting, Compliance, and oversight functions, and will assist the organization with its plans to build a new location and grow the overall mission of APA!

Derek has served on the Board of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and acted as its President in 2008-2009. Additionally, Derek helped found the Dr. John Pittman Endowed Scholarship at Spring Hill College and currently serves as its Chairman.

Derek is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of 5 Point Enterprises, the management company overseeing the operations of 22 New Horizons Computer Learning Centers.  Derek has served in this role since April 2004 when he originally purchased New Horizons Computer Learning Center of Austin, Texas.  Since then, Derek has expanded his initial venture to become the largest conglomerate of New Horizons Computer Learning Centers franchise locations in the World. Derek also owns ARG Publications, a relocation magazine with operations in five markets, and 5 Point Property Management, a real estate holding and management company with approximately 200,000 square feet of real estate in nine markets.

Derek received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Spring Hill College while playing on the men’s basketball team.

Derek and his wife, Brandi, have two wonderful children along with their family Bloodhound. Derek and his daughter actively volunteer at APA! and he is excited to be a part of the future growth and success of such a great organization.

Kimberly Storin, Advisory Board Chair

Kim is currently the Director of Global Brand at AMD. Prior to joining AMD, Kim was at Dell and at Deloitte Consulting in San Francisco, where she managed more than 15 mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. Kim graduated with a BBA from the University of Texas at Austin and has a MBA from the University of Southern California, where she was the President of the Graduate Women in Business and on the Board of Directors for Challenge for Charity. An avid runner, Kim has completed ten marathons, with a personal best in Portland 2009. She is has two awesome APA rescue dogs, Bixby and Bernadette.

Elizabeth Yeager

Elizabeth is currently a lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright. Elizabeth’s primary areas of practice are real estate and corporate law, with an emphasis on acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures and corporate governance matters. She has experience in a wide range of industries, including technology, biotechnology, information technology, healthcare, real estate, and financial and investment advisory. She graduated with a Juris Doctorate from the University of Houston and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Elizabeth is actively involved in the Austin community and serves on several committees for the Austin Children’s Shelter, SafePlace and I Live Here, I Give Here. When not practicing law, Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her husband, Alex, and her rescue dog, Wrigley, running Lady Bird Lake, and exploring the Austin food truck scene.

Tom Albright, Former Board President

Tom is a board certified trial lawyer with more than 30 years of experience in commercial litigation. Tom holds both a Bachelor’s degree and JD from the University of Texas. After a long tenure with a premier Austin law firm, including ten years at the helm, Tom is now a solo practitioner who is happy to devote his advocacy skills to APA!

Tom is the father of three grown sons and has lived in Austin for most of his life. Tom and his wife Cindy Meston, a UT clinical psychology professor, have fostered a variety of homeless pets for APA! and are the proud parents of five cats and one maltipoo.

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