Learn more about Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch, and the passionate team behind it all!

 

Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch is a no-kill rescue and sanctuary in the Napa Valley for companion and farmed animals in need. The nonprofit provides transitional and permanent shelter, adoption and rescue services, humane education, animal advocacy, and is committed to ending animal hunger, cruelty, and overpopulation.

JARR also collaborates with and acts as a liaison for various local animal rescue groups.


  JARR's namesake, Jameson, a noble rescued boy who lived to the beautiful age of 14!    

JARR's namesake, Jameson, a noble rescued boy who lived to the beautiful age of 14!

 

Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch is a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit organization (#47-1230166).

 
 

Their love of wine brought them together; their love of animals and desire to give back to their community made the vision of Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch a reality.

 Photo credit: Sally Seymour

Photo credit: Sally Seymour

Monica Stevens 

Co-Founder

Monica, a dedicated vegetarian since the young age of 19, knew very early in life that animal rescue would be her life's mission. Fast forward a few decades, and she's even more passionate about protecting, sheltering, and saving animals. She has combined her two greatest passions — fine wine and animal welfare — into one remarkable concept:
Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch (JARR). 

She blew into the Napa Valley by way of Chicago in 2006, bringing her background in luxury lifestyle public relations and hospitality to the Poetry Inn in Yountville. As fate (and the wine business) would have it, Monica was introduced to the love of her life, David Stevens. In 2009, Monica and David opened a very distinctive retail wine salon — 750 Wines in St. Helena, CA — which specializes in high-end, limited production boutique wineries. They are fortunate to share their love of fine wine and animals with the wine community, as well as the many clients of 750 WINES.

Monica is a rescue mom to two "Gentle Giant" Great Pyrenees dogs, Homer and Jethro, and one St. Bernard, Betsy, as well as a menagerie of foster animals. She's been known to travel outside the state in order to bring an animal into her happy home. The memory of their beloved dog Jameson, an adopted Great Pyrenees who lived to the age of 14, inspires the spirit and mission of JARR, which is named after him.

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David Stevens

Co-Founder

David had the good sense to migrate west from the cold winters of Minot, North Dakota, arriving in San Francisco in 1975. After years in the restaurant business, he headed to St. Helena in order to direct the wine program at Tra Vigne and quickly built important bonds with winemakers and vintners. This seamlessly translated into the success of the local business that he and Monica own together, 750 Wines. These relationships blended music with wine when he became a bass player for the beloved Napa Valley rock 'n roll band, WRISTROCKET. He loves to talk about and recommend all kinds of music, and brings his enthusiasm for music, wine, and animal rescue to the WRISTROCKET performance at our annual fundraising event, WineaPAWlooza. David really became an animal lover upon first meeting Jameson, the gentle giant who JARR is named after. He continues to help Monica every day with the walking, clean-up, and caring for their big guys.

 

 

Monica Stevens, Co-Founder
David Stevens, Co-Founder


Vanessa Conlin

Board President

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Vanessa Conlin is thrilled and honored to be on the board of JARR, having been a passionate supporter of the organization from its inception. Vanessa has served as the auction chair for WineaPAWlooza for two years and as co-chair for an additional two years. She is proud to be the Mom to the namesake of Ella’s Cat House & Catnip Bar, her beloved cat who passed away in 2016. Vanessa and her husband Curt are currently the parents to five kitties – Frankie, Gracie, Ava, Snowball, and Vivian.

Vanessa Conlin is a native of Texas, the daughter of professional classical musicians. She moved to New York City to attend college at the Manhattan School of Music earning a Bachelor’s degree in music and then a Master’s degree in music at Boston University. After graduating she performed professionally as a classical musician in Europe and the United States including a stint on Broadway.

Upon having achieved her goals as a musician at a still young age, she decided to pursue wine  - another topic that fascinates her. Vanessa studied at the International Wine Center, earning her WSET Diploma, and worked in many facets of the wine industry while in New York City, ultimately becoming the wine director for wine bar and two wine retailers on the Upper West Side.

In 2010, Vanessa and her husband Curt, a classical pianist, moved to Napa so Vanessa could pursue her interest in being closer to the historic vineyards and wineries of the region. She worked in sales and marketing for Arietta Wines, Dana Estates, and Realm Cellars, and is currently Vice President of Wine for Wine Access, a national online wine retailer. She is enrolled in the Institute of Masters of Wine program as a stage-two candidate having passed the Theory portion of the exam. Vanessa loves teaching and is a frequent educator for the Napa Valley Wine Academy.

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Ashley Kassis

Secretary

Ashley learned the value of prowess from a young age: at 12, she marched up to Kelly Brothers, a specialist in asset management and a well-respected business reporter for several news stations, and convinced him to be an emcee for her mothers’ latest fundraising event. That dexterity has continued through her life in both personal and professional aspects.

Although she completed her first degree in Business Administration at the liberal arts college, St. Mary’s College of California, she attributes her current path in hospitality to the two years studying in Barcelona obtaining her degree in PR and Communications. While completing her thesis, she took an opportunity to build an event management company alongside a business broker with strong ties in the Barcelona hospitality world and her pathway was formed.  

After her return to California and a two year stint developing the marketing initiatives for a mental health care facility, she was drawn back to the hospitality world and ran the events department for one of the most recognizable wine brands in the United States. There, she thrived, learning about winemaking, terroir, gastronomy, and the luxury world of Napa Valley.  

With over 7 years’ experience in marketing and events, including 5+ years in the Napa Valley hospitality industry, Ashley flourishes in her fast paced little town of Napa and finds enjoyment in searching out the next special experience for her guests.  Ashley also spends her days fostering animals through Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch, surviving off of smoothies and yoga, while trying to provide a little more sparkle to life through her valued friendships and family.  

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Susan Fickinger

A newcomer to both California and Napa Valley, Susan first attended WineaPAWlooza [as a guest of Realm Cellar’s Juan Mercado,] in 2017 and immediately knew she had to be a part of JARR.

Susan brings with her a combined passion for animal rights, environmentalism and social activism, along with a successful track record in marketing and advertising. Nearly a decade ago, she opened a yoga and wellness studio in northern New Jersey, and furthered her commitment to living a life of “non-harming” and ethical vegetarianism, and promoting the many benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

A graduate of Penn State’s College of Communications, she began her career in the late 80’s in advertising, learning the importance of research-based marketing and brand positioning for both corporate clients as well as advocacy interests. “Stretching” marketing dollars for the biggest impact was Susan’s “strong suit,” and led to innovative “outside the box” campaigns and promotions. Later, as a “philanthropist mom,” she utilized these same marketing strategies to help raise both community awareness and the need for funding for local charities, including two regional children’s hospitals as part of their capital campaign drives.

Besides her forever husband Tom, and three children, the loves of her life are Bella, a feral kitty she and her daughter rescued from a kill-shelter in New Jersey, and Brodie, a rambunctious mini husky with a very large ego. 

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Lars E. Johansson

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Lars Johansson is a corporate partner in the firm’s Palo Alto and San Francisco offices. He represents U.S.-based and international public and private companies, as well as investors, in connection with corporate transactions, including domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, venture capital financings, joint ventures, and international business transactions. He works with clients in a wide range of industries, including financial services, fintech, telecom, data analytics, information technology, software, medical device, nanotechnology, clean technology, and viniculture.

Mr. Johansson actively counsels boards of directors, special committees, and management executives with respect to corporate governance, fiduciary duties, strategic issues, privacy issues, securities laws, and general corporate and business matters.

In the corporate finance and securities areas, Mr. Johansson’s experience includes public and private equity and debt financings, representing both U.S. and foreign issuers and investors, ranging from simple debt and equity offerings to more complex financings coupled with recapitalizations and rights offerings.

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Ingebort Eggert (Inge)

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Inge was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She received her Bachelor of science from Michigan State University and her DVM from Michigan State University 1968. Inge has practiced veterinary medicine in Michigan, Hawaii and New Jersey eventually moving to  Arizona in 1976 where she practiced small animal medicine until 2008. Inge and her husband along with their menagerie of animals moved to Napa in 2012 and now reside on a small vineyard with her husband and sister and a large fur family consisting of llamas, dogs, cats, emus, donkeys, chicken, geese and a goat. When she is not taking care of her animals, Inge loves to tend her vegetable garden, cook vegetarian dishes, keep fit with Pilates, and enjoys crafting.

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Dr. Vanessa G.B. Rood

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Dr. Vanessa G.B. Rood (formerly Dr. Vanessa Gant Bradley) is a U.C. Davis Veterinary School graduate where she emphasized in large animal medicine with a focus equine health and welfare.  Vanessa grew up in Marin County riding in the hills, however she took her first-ever gallop on the back of horse in the hidden vineyards of St. Helena.  It has felt deeply fortuitous that her journey in large animal medicine drew her back to the Napa Valley.  She has relished the opportunity to travel and work at equine hospitals across the country and globe, including Gissen Germany, Copenhagen Denmark, and Lexington Kentucky.  After graduating in 2010, Vanessa did a clincal internship and subsequent fellowship year with an emphasis in equine emergency and sport horse medicine at Peninsula Equine Medical Center in Woodside, CA.  Vanessa was then drawn back to the San Francisco North Bay, joining the team at Napa Valley Equine in 2013.  Vanessa has a special interest in equine critical care, geriatric wellness, and the support the equine athlete with balanced approach to care including a focus on nutrition, holistic medicine, and acupuncture.  It is with great joy that Vanessa has been able to aid many local animal welfare organizations in in the valley with veterinary care and consultation.  A driving and most rewarding force behind Vanessa’s daily practice is nurturing the human-animal bond through client education.  Vanessa competed in three-day eventing before she found riding in the vet truck even more thrilling, however she is looking forward to getting back into the saddle soon.  Vanessa enjoys her days hiking or road-tripping with her daughter Vivienne and her husband Nicholas or when at home, laughing at their comical three cats Paul, Minnie and Biscuit whom she refers to as the “Three’s Company” of cats.  It is a tremendous honor for Vanessa to join the JARR Board of Directors and to have an avenue to blend animal welfare with our local community development. 

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Brenda Burke, Manager of Community Outreach & Strategic Partnerships

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Like many others, Brenda Burke moved tothe Napa Valley to pursue a career in the wine industry. The universe had a slightly different plan and steered her to open Simplebliss Professional Body and Skincare Spa in 1991. Brenda has a knack of connecting with people and in 2007, she and Monica Stevens met and became fast friends, sharing an unparalleled passion for animals. When JARR was founded in 2014, it was no surprise when Monica invited Brenda to spearhead the JARR community outreach work that is so necessary in this community. We credit Brenda with saving the life of Annie, Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch’s first rescue dog, and she hasn't stopped sharing the importance of animal rescue ever since. 

Brenda excels at finding new ways to engage the community and creating and refining programs to help keep animals healthy, safe, and with their human families as well as keep the Mission of JARR front and center. Brenda's first foray into community outreach work was her creation of JARR's monthly Pet Food Drive: Paws On Wheels. A partnership with Meals On Wheels Napa County, this program provides pet food every month, to Low-Income Families, Seniors Citizens, and the Homeless of Napa County. 

If you are looking for a community project to help the animals, Brenda will surely create something special with you.

If she is not working within the community with JARR, you’ll find Brenda working her magic in her spa, or running or cycling the beautiful roads of the Napa Valley.  

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Amanda Vollstedt, Community Animal Assistance Fund Manager

Having lived in Sonoma since the age of three, Amanda continues to reside in Sonoma with her daughter and two pets. She has worked in the Veterinary field for the past 10+ years at two top-rated hospitals in Sonoma. She adopted her first Pitbull within a month of working in the field. The sweet-natured dog was brought in as a stray with a multitude of medical issues, and due to be euthanized. After months of recovery, she became a healthy and friendly Pitbull ambassador who continues to spark change in the minds of people with a misguided view of the breed. Amanda also grew up loving horses and began riding at the age of eight. She has a strong passion for thoroughbreds, whom she would later rescue off the racetrack to retrain and find new loving homes.  She’s excited to continue helping people and their pets thrive, working with JARR as the Emergency Fund Manager.

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Julia Orr, Director of Communications

After being handed a flier on factory farming at a subway station in London, Julia became an animal advocate and committed to eating a plant-based diet. She has since worked as a communications specialist on many animal protection issues for clients such as Mercy For Animals, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! Beagle Freedom Project, Animal Justice Project, and the Farmed Animal Rights Movement. 

Previous to following her passion for raising awareness for animals, Julia spent ten years at Walt Disney Studios working in the theatrical and animation divisions of the publicity department. During her tenure at Disney, Julia worked on some of the most successful box office releases such as three of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Pixar films such as Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Up and Cars, Hidalgo, Tangled, National Treasure, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more. At DDA Public Relations, a well-known international PR company, Julia oversaw publicity campaigns for clients and film releases worldwide. 

Julia was one of the 2016 recipients of the "Lisa Shapiro Award for Unsung Vegan Hero" for her animal advocacy efforts, which included Trap/Neuter/Return of local feral cats and organizing campaigns against animal cruelty. As a life-long animal lover, Julia is currently caretaker to three mischievous cats, Sherpa (aka Mr. Grumpy), Assata, and Prince Harry. When not working to make a better world for all, Julia loves to travel, write, and find a great beach to read a good book. 

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Heather Leake, Volunteer Coordinator

“All creatures great ands small…” have been, well, since forever, a passion for Heather in her professional and personal life.  She brings to her position as Jameson’s Volunteer Coordinator a rich and varied range of experience, combining strong interpersonal skills honed in the hospitality industry with a deep understanding of the value of the human-animal bond and its therapeutic promise. 

Heather knows animals and how to create the best partnerships between animals and their humans, having trained hunter/jumpers, coached clients for national and international competitions, managed riding programs for international resorts, and provided equine therapy for disabled and at risk youth, veterans suffering PTSD, not to mention victims of abuse and trauma.  And she knows people, having managed a variety of customer service functions in the hospitality industry around the globe, in addition to her therapeutic work. 

Added to her varied and relevant career experiences, Heather studied history as an undergraduate, and completed graduate work in counseling and psychology. Not to mention having a certificate as a Level I Equine Specialist with the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. Coupled with her on-the-job experiences, a perfect fit for building and sustaining a strong volunteer cadre at Jameson.

When not guiding the therapeutic connection between horses and humans in need, Heather has found time to foster dogs for California rescue groups, and became a “furever” family for her own rescue, a lively and engaging terrier by the name of Lila. Heather’s connection with Jameson started in 2015, as a volunteer ambassador and equine specialist.  But her skills and expertise made her a perfect fit for coordinating our myriad volunteer people and opportunities, so we persuaded her to make the move to being our Volunteer Coordinator.


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Rachael Poer, Director of Development

A longtime resident of Napa Valley, Rachael first arrived in wine country in 1998 to pursue a culinary career. After working for several years as a chef, she transitioned to the related fields of event planning and management and led hospitality teams at several well-known wineries. With a desire to “do more” and give back in her own way, Rachael parlayed her big-picture organizational skills into directing high-profile fundraising galas in Napa Valley. As both an associate director and consultant, she has helped to raise millions of dollars for cutting-edge technologies for local hospitals.

Today, Rachael drives fundraising strategy and management for JARR. She has a passion for getting to know donors and understanding what they value. She places a particular emphasis on helping people execute their philanthropic goals by learning how to elevate their donor experience. Rachael manages all gift-giving for JARR, including annual giving, major gifts, and planned giving, the combination of which transcends the organization to increase JARR’s rescue services. In her personal life, Rachael spends her time devoted to her daughter and husband—and to their rescue terrier, Sydney, who has brought “so much more to our family than we have given her.” 

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Willow Duggan, Call Center Coordinator and Administrative Support

“Why’d it have to be snakes?” asked Indiana Jones. Well, because snakes need love too, as Willow Duggan can tell you in great detail. And ferrets, chinchillas, sugar gliders (think really cute little marsupials who need lots of care) – all of whom Willow got to know well when she ran an exotic pet rescue in Arizona.

But, fast forward, this travelin’ girl (all over the U.S.) came to Napa and fell in love with the JARR mission on Ella’s opening day. She’s been a stalwart member of the team ever since, first as a volunteer and now as Jameson’s call center manager/ operations coordinator.  Not to mention exercising her special skills with rescued cats needing special love and medical attention.

Willow has what it takes to get the endlessly tough but also endlessly rewarding Jameson job done: brains, passion, grace under pressure, humor, optimism, persistence and team spirit. Not to mention management skills, honed in some of the toughest kinds of retail work environments. Her good spirits are contagious, and her touch with critters, customers and colleagues is always spot on.

And, no surprise, she’s a happily failed foster mom to four felines – Racer, Puck, Luna and Nova.

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Andrea Jordan, Ranch Manager

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According to reliable sources, at age two, Andrea announced “I want a ranch.” Shortly after, she announced “I will be a vet.” Fast forward to 2018, and her dreams have come true. She’s the full-time guardian, protector, educator and on-call doctor for the diverse four-legged community at Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch.

A native of Mexico City, Andrea received her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Veterinary Medicine and Zootechnics in Monterrey, N.L., and then embarked on an amazing and varied professional journey – from scholarly research on Argentine ants at Stanford to rescuing and raising orphaned wildlife at the Silicon Valley Wildlife Center to managing all aspects of a veterinary hospital, to supervising the operations of a major animal shelter in Santa Cruz. Not to mention educational and therapeutic work at the Oakland Zoo with lions, tigers, bison, elks and camels.

Her experience has been a perfect preparation for the many-faceted job of managing the Ranch, including development of creative solutions for the physical, intellectual, and, yes, spiritual, needs of the ranch’s horses, dogs, cats, pigs, and other as yet to arrive residents.

Add to the above her remarkable ability to get on the wavelength of almost any sentient being and help it to its best potential, and Andrea will be making great things happen at the Ranch. In English or Spanish for the humans, ably assisted by her Bernese Mountain Dog, Kardia.

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St. Helena Star
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Jan. 3, 2017
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