About Animal Farm Foundation

Animal Farm Foundation (AFF) is a 501(c)3 whose mission is to secure equal treatment and opportunity for “pit bull” dogs through recognizing that all dogs are individuals. Established in the 1980s, AFF works to achieve this goal by offering free resources to animal care workers and community advocates, as well as through their assistance dog, detection dog, and grant programs.

The Awesome People Who Make Our Work Possible

(Listed in alphabetical order)

Bernice Clifford, CPDT-KA

Director of Behavior and Training

Bernice, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, is originally from Brookline, Massachusetts. She shares her life with 4 dogs, 2 goats, multiple chickens and the unexpected cat. She came to the animal world, working with Dr. Amy Marder and the New England Veterinary Behavior Associates in 2001, after adopting a “pit bull’ dog named Dixie and experiencing unexpected discrimination.

Bernice creates the enrichment and behavior protocols for the dogs at AFF and in other shelters and rescues. She travels nationwide working with other shelters and speaking at conferences about enrichment, training, and behavior modification for shelter dogs.

 

Nicole Juchem

Foundation Manager

We were fortunate enough to snag Nicole in 2013 when she traded in city life for a country view. She has a background in business and over a decade of customer service experience. Nicole oversees most Foundation matters but says the best part of her job is getting to work with the amazing folks in animal welfare as they redefine sheltering. Thanks to her excellent work, many shelters have dropped breed labels and view all dogs as individuals Got questions, need advice, or just want to tell us about your accomplishments? Shoot her an email.

When not working, Nicole prefers to either be outside doing anything in the sunshine or snuggled up with her fiancé and two dogs, drinking a craft IPA, and watching the latest true crime docu-series.

Melanie Lindmark

Director of Finance

Melanie joined our team in June 2013. Following 8 years of crunching numbers in a public accounting firm, Melanie was happy to align her skills with numbers and skills with animal welfare. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from SUNY New Paltz and obtained her CPA license in 2011.

Originally from the Hudson Valley region of New York, Melanie migrated to Tucson, Arizona, along with her husband, Erik, and their rescue dog, Chloe, and cat Charlie. When she isn’t balancing ledger accounts, she enjoys hiking, caring for horses and farm animals as a volunteer at a therapeutic ranch.

Regina Lizik

Communications and Fundraising Manager

Regina comes from the world of media publishing, having written for outlets such as the Daily BeastShe also worked for BarkPost as the Viral Editor, making lots of dogs famous and creating social media trends. At AFF, she handles all content, as well as social and fundraising campaigns.

Regina is legally blind and advocates for equality for people with disabilities on the FB page Buttons the Shiba. There, she discusses life with an unconventional guide dog, disability rights, and dismantles stereotypes about living every day life with a disability.

Ashley Pastor

Shelter Manager

Ashley received her BS in Environmental Science from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She’s a canine volunteer at the DCSPCA and helps with fundraiser events within the community. She’s worked with large carnivorous mammals at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, NY.

At AFF, Ashley provides daily care and enrichment for the dogs, in addition to working on basic training and behavioral protocols. She shares her life with dogs named Henry and Roxie, and a cat named Hershey. Ashley enjoys photography and watching old movies.

Christa Ploschke

Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper

 Assistant to Awesomeness and Ninja Bookkeeper.  That is what Christa brings to Animal Farm Foundation.  Christa left behind her mundane career in an accounting firm in pursuit of finding purpose and making a difference.  She found that when she began working at AFF.  Christa is happy to assistant in the awesomeness that is AFF and brings her bookkeeping skills with her.

Christa shares her life with her rescue dog, Kato.  When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, gardening and watching movies both old and new.

Cassidy Scalzo

Care and Enrichment Staff Member

Cassidy is a recent Marist College graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She has always loved animals, so much so that she started working with the Two by Two Zoo as an educator/handler when she was only nine years old. Cassidy also worked part time at a doggie daycare, where she learned the basics of dog introductions, playgroups and body language.

Although 9-year-old Cassidy would be disappointed that present-day Cassidy isn’t a “jungle girl,” she’d probably think working at AFF is a close second!

Erich Steffensen

Special Programs Manager

esteffensen@animalfarmfoundation.org

Before starting at Animal Farm, Erich worked at Adams Fairacre Farms for 25 years. During that time, he earned Mover and Shaker award from the Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce.

He has been heavily involved in dog sports for 19 years thanks to a little dog named Jake. Erich has competed in flyball, dock diving, and frisbee. He and his wife, Kara, founded Pawstars, and perform frisbee shows at fairs and festivals.  The Pawstars are lucky enough to have AFF alumni Santiago as one of the stars of the show, along with many rescued brothers and sisters!