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.
- Ellen Jefferson, DVM, Executive Director
- Tom Albright, Board President
- Ellis Winstanley, Treasurer and Board Member
- Gerri Kappler, Secretary and Board Member
- Sheldon Ekland-Olson, Board Member
- Jeff Cohen, Board Member
- Judy Matula, Board Member
- Michael Matula, Board Member
- Suzette Blackburn, Board Member
- Kim Borron, Board Member
- Dan Graham, Board Member
- Thomas (T.) Harper, IV, Board Member
- Kimberly Storin, Board Member
- State Representative Eddie Rodriguez, Advisory Board Chair
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.
Ellen has been the Mayor’s appointee to Austin’s Animal Advisory Commission since 2008 and was a 2009 finalist for the Austin Under Forty Awards. She also served on the National Spay/Neuter Task Force from 2007-2009 and has had work published in the Journal of Veterinary Medicine.
Tom Albright (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.
Ellis Winstanley (Treasurer and Board Member)
Ellis Winstanley, along with twin brother Austin, specializes in business turnarounds and startups, including Cain & Abel’s Bar and Grill, beloved among University of Texas students, and Aztec Promotional Group. The twins started Company Six Productions in 2006 to produce and promote events. They formed Tradelogic Software Group in 2003 to create business management software.
Ellis graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003 with a degree in Spanish language and culture. His household has included three rescue animals: a Catahoula mix, a Siamese cat, and currently, Buddy, a Catahoula/Lab Mix adopted from Austin Pets Alive! in 2007. He joined Austin Pets Alive!’s board in 2010 as treasurer.
Gerri Kappler (Secretary and Board Member)
Gerri worked professionally as a corporate finance manager for 15 years, she now spends her time raising her family and many pets, volunteering as lead for the APA’s adoptline response team and is a many time over APA cat and dog foster.
In the two years she’s been volunteering for APA! she has seen amazing growth and progress in APA’s no-kill mission and is thrilled to be part of such an amazing organization.
Sheldon Ekland-Olson (Board Member)
Former UT Provost and Dean of Liberal Arts, Sheldon is the author of six books. He is an award-winning teacher and expert on criminal justice and prison reform. He has lived in Austin for 40 years and comes from a family of pet lovers and no-kill, animal-rescue advocates. He recently became acquainted with APA! and both he and his wife Carolyn are proud to be part of the organization’s no-kill efforts.
Jeff Cohen (Board Member)
Born and raised in the Chicago area, Jeff received a BS in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1985. He then spent 21 years as a floor trader in the commodity option pits in both Chicago and New York. After leaving the floor in 2006, Jeff moved to Madison, Wisconsin where he spent three years volunteering with the Dane County Humane Society both as an adoption counselor and in the front office.
Jeff moved to Austin in 2009 and began helping APA! soon after arriving in the city. Currently, he trades stocks online and lives in Southwest Austin with his wife and six kids all of the four-legged variety (three cats and three dogs).
Judy Matula (Board Member)
Judy holds an MA from the University of Texas and taught psychology at Austin Community College until 1999 when she became mom to daughter Grayson. Both are animal lovers with a special affinity for cats.
Judy first became involved with APA! in 2009 by sponsoring Billy’s Bottle Baby Trailer, named after the family’s beloved rescue cat. Since then she continues to sponsor Billy’s Cat Adoption trailer on SoCo, and sponsors and serves as marketing lead for the Petco Sunset Valley cat adoption site. In addition to Grayson, husband Michael, and Billy, her family now includes Diego, a rescue cat adopted from APA! in 2010.
Michael Matula (Board Member)
Michael has accumulated a diverse business background over the past twenty-five years. He holds a PhD and JD from the University of Texas, and has been a practicing attorney and businessman with experience in real estate development, oil and gas exploration and services, investments, and law. From 2004 to 2009 he was President & CEO of an oilfield services company in Carthage, Texas. Currently, he is an investor and member of Central Texas Angel Network.
Michael and his wife Judy have been involved with APA since 2009. Their family includes daughter Grayson and two rescue cats, Billy and Diego.
Suzette Blackburn (Board Member)
Suzette Blackburn, Managing Partner of CapStar Financial, has 15 years of estate planning experience and an extensive financial planning background. Ms. Blackburn started her retirement planning career in 1989 with a firm that researched and developed long-term care insurance. While working as a Senior Manager for the organization, Blackburn discovered that many of the seniors whom she cared so much about had never fully planned for their retirement years. Realizing that she had both the caring demeanor and the expertise to help them, she turned her attention toward a broader career in financial and estate planning.
Kim Borron (Board Member)
Kim Borron is a UT Austin graduate from the business school and worked for Capstar Broadcasting for 13 years as the vice president of human resources. Kim became a city shelter volunteer in 2006 and found her passion for saving homeless animals, but wanted to do more, so she became a volunteer for APA in 2007 and started the volunteer program as volunteer coordinator, transport coordinator, and dog rescue. Kim started working in 2008 for Texas Exes, the alumni association for University of Texas, and currently employed as VP of Administration overseeing HR, Career Services and Travel departments. Kim is proud of the success of APA and the employees and volunteers who all have the same goal of saving lives.
Dan Graham (Board Member)
Dan Graham serves as Founder and CEO of BuildASign.com, where he oversees growth strategy and plays a key role in the company’s philanthropic efforts and talent acquisition. A native Austinite, Dan co-founded BuildASign.com in March 2005 and has since bootstrapped the company to great success, with operations in four countries, more than 230 employees and $30 million in revenue. Through the BuildASign Gives program, BuildASign.com — a three-time Austin Business Journal Fast 50 award winner and three-time INC5000 company — has contributed more than $450,000 worth of in-kind donations to over 450 local and national non-profit organizations. In addition, the company has donated over 245,000 Welcome Home banners to families and friends of returning military, totaling more than $7.8 million in retail value. Dan was named a 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist and the 2012 Austinite of the Year by Austin Under 40, recognizing his success as a business owner as well as his commitment to philanthropic work. He personally gives back to the Austin community through participation on Boards and Steering Committees for numerous organizations including Austin Pro Bono, Lights. Camera. Help., the Executive Committee for the Austin Chamber, the Innovation and Science Enterprise Program for the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas, the City of Austin, Amplify Austin, and UT Law Non-Practicing Alumni Advisory Council. He also acts as a mentor to aspiring young entrepreneurs, working with Tech Ranch Austin, Incubation Station and The University of Texas at Austin’s 1 Semester Startup. Dan earned undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin and a J.D. from the School of Law at UT Austin.
Thomas (T.) Harper, IV (Board Member)
T. Harper, family owner and manager of Capitol Chevrolet, Inc. has worked in the automotive business for over 20 years. Capitol Chevrolet has been a family owned and operated business in Austin, Texas since 1935. T primarily focuses his time on service, business development, and marketing for the business.T currently serves as Chairman and Founder of the Texas Dealer Academy, a group designed to prepare candidates for the role of Dealer Principal and nurture friendships in the automotive industry. He also chairs the Young Leaders Network of the First Tee Greater Austin as well as a current board member of Komen Austin. T is an active member of Tarrytown United Methodist Church, Young Texans Against Cancer, Austin Breakfast Group, and the Seton Forum.T enjoys hunting, fishing, and golfing on his spare time. He currently resides in Austin with his wife, Taylor.
Kimberly Storin (Board Member)
Kim is currently a Director at Dell in the Enterprise Solutions Group. She currently manages the Compellent integration and leads the Channel workstream under the Enterprise Full Potential initiative. Prior to joining Dell, Kim was a manager at Deloitte Consulting in San Francisco. Over the past eight years, Kim has managed more than 15 mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. Her core expertise is driving and executing customer, partner and sales/employee experience strategy during and following a transaction. 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 seven marathons, with a personal best in Portland 2009. She is also an active Austin Pets Alive! volunteer and has two awesome rescue dogs, Bixby and Bernadette.
State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (Advisory Board Chair)
Eddie is the State Representative for District 51, serving East Austin and Southeast Travis County in the Texas Legislature since 2003. He has served on APA!’s board since 2004. Eddie became involved in Austin animal welfare after rescuing several puppies from the street and seeing the need for pet-related resources in his neighborhood. He believes strongly in the mission of APA! and its ability to work with both private and public sectors to achieve its goals.