Janet Testerman is a Knoxville native, and before joining Young-Williams Animal Center as CEO, she spent nearly a decade in internal communications with Scripps Networks Interactive and earlier with E.W. Scripps’ as executive editor of custom publications, Knoxville Magazine and skirt! Magazine.
Janet has served on numerous boards including Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation (now Visit Knoxville), Bijou Theatre, Leadership Knoxville and Young-Williams for five years prior to joining the organization full time. She is also immediate past board president of Dogwood Arts.
She earned her BA in Communication from Southern Methodist University and MA in Strategic Communication from American University. Janet resides in Knoxville with her husband, Joey Creswell, and 13- and 15-year-old stepdaughters, Georgie and Elie. And when she’s not catering to the needs of her Golden Retriever/Corgi mix, Buddy, and rescue Dachshund, Lollie, you can find her enjoying Knoxville’s great arts and food culture as well as bringing her passion to many of the community’s great causes.
Boudreau joins Young-Williams Animal Center with more than 15 years of nonprofit experience with 10 years spent at the Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV), where she served as director of intake, behavior and adoptions. During her time at HSSV, Boudreau increased adoptions by 56 percent without an increase in the adoption return rate. In addition, she increased rescue intake of animals from other shelters by 200 percent. Boudreau also launched community programs, including the opening of two “Neighborhood Adoption Centers” and implementing a community cat management program utilizing trap-neuter-return (TNR) methods.
Barry Rivers began working for Young-Williams Animal Center in 2008 after a 12 year career in Hospitality Management. He is a dedicated animal lover and an advocate for Type 1 Diabetes. Barry lives in Strawberry Plains with his wife Amber, 2 children, 3 dogs and 3 cats.
Dr. Lisa Chassy is originally from the Washington DC area, and is a 1994 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. She moved to the Knoxville area in 1995, and quickly became involved in animal welfare. She has worked for YWAC since 2005.
Dr. Michele Franco started working with Young Williams as a part-time veterinarian on the Young-Williams Spay Shuttle. Michele comes from a large family where her mother was a prime influence for all the family pets being spayed and neutered. It was a lesson that led to a passion after Michele graduated vet school. Michele now works full-time with her Young-Williams family in the vet clinic. When she is not at work you can find her volunteering in Knoxville with other homeless pets at VPHO and Feral Fixin’ events. When not working or volunteering, Michele loves spending time with her family, especially her husband and six dogs at their farm in Kingston.
Jen Reed is a Kentucky native who moved to Knoxville in 2010 after earning a degree in Music Education. She began working at Young-Williams Animal Center in 2012 and realized her true passion: working to help save homeless pets. Jenifer resides in the Fountain City area with her husband, Ryan, and two Brittanys, Tegan and Gabriel.
Kliman earned her Bachelor of Science degree in communications from the University of Tennessee and embarked on a career in journalism. She moved to New York City after college to intern at News 12 Long Island, and eventually landed a reporting job in Augusta, GA. She loved living in both states. But, nothing compares to the mountains of East Tennessee. She took on a career covering her home region, and became an overnight and morning anchor for WVLT Local 8 News before joining Young-Williams Animal Center. Courtney has two rescue cats Merlin and Marty McFly. Courtney’s favorite past time is spending time with her twin sister, friends, and husband… (but, not necessarily in that order.)
Ashley Thomas started her life with YWAC in January of 2009 as a member of the Animal Care Team. She launched head first into the world of animal welfare, eager to learn everything she could to help animals in need. Ashley spent time in the Intake and Adoption Departments before becoming our Placement Coordinator in 2013. Over the last few years she has made it her mission to expand our foster care program and raise our rescue placement numbers. In her free time, Ashley can be found surrounded by her rescue pets while gardening, roping people into nerdy comic book conversations, or reading a good book with coffee close by.
Manuela Connatser began her journey with Young-Williams four years ago, but took a break to open up her own business, The Canine Club Haus Dog Training. Her love for helping Animals brought her back to Young-Williams this year as a Behavior Program Coordinator. Manuela was born and raised in Germany and lived there for 30 years until she followed her military husband in 1998 all over the US to land back in Tennessee. She became a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant in 2008 and worked with various pet stores, rescues, shelters and other pet related entities to help over 5000 dogs, cats, birds, reptiles and small mammals. She owns three working line German shepherds, and in her spare time she rides her motorcycle, hikes and practices shooting at the gun range.
After 34 years as a private business owner, Tammy retired from the business world to fulfill her lifelong passion and goal of working with animals. Since 2012, Tammy, a native of Knoxville, has been managing Spay/Neuter Solutions at Young-Williams Animal Center. Tammy is the proud mama of Lilly, a spirited and loyal golden retriever, who often accompanies her wherever she goes. In her free time Tammy enjoys culinary adventures, art, traveling (preferably the east coast) and reading books on history.
Sophie Nguyen officially joined the Young-Williams team after 3 years of volunteer fostering. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Tennessee. Her background includes working with local non-profits and a personal interest in animal welfare. She has a wonderful husband and 3 cats.
Sarah Mezga Palmer has been living and breathing adoptions for the last decade. With a calling to public service and a background in nonprofit work, she found her “happy place” many years ago, as part of the adoption team at YWAC, and has never lost the joy of connecting a furry friend with his new forever family! Although she loves animals of all kinds, Sarah is particularly fond of hamsters, birds, and cats. If she’s not at work, you can probably find Sarah spending time with her beloved husband and pets, stalking the bird feeder in the yard, or baking sweet treats for her loved ones.
Stephanie started working at Young-Williams Animal Center in the Fall of 2012 as an Intake Specialist after moving back from Florida earlier that year. In Florida, she worked as a veterinary nurse at Ocala Equine Medical Center. She is currently the Intake Manager at Young-Williams, but can be found in any part of the facility on any given day. When away from the shelter, Stephanie enjoys the gym, her garden, hiking, but mostly her cats!
Hannah Overton began her journey with Young-Williams by volunteering four years ago. After two years she began photographing the adoptable animals, and she has not stopped since. Hannah has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Tennessee, almost ten years of experience and training in the art of photography, and a passion for animal welfare that lasts a lifetime. In her spare time she can be found enjoying The Great Smoky Mountains, cuddling with her cat, drinking coffee, or creating art.
Joyce Seibert Gouge was born into a world of animals, which included growing up on a greyhound farm in Brooksville, FL. Joyce went on to start one of Northern Kentucky’s first successful rescues to accept and fight for bully breeds. Joyce served as the founder and director of that rescue until 2010. She then moved to Knoxville and became an active volunteer and foster parent with Young-Williams. Joyce graduated from Roane State with a degree in Applied Science. In Joyce’s spare time she loves to spend time with her husband, three horses, five dogs and her diva cat on her small mini farm just on the outskirts of town.
Shaver earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in management from Strayer University, and she currently is pursuing an MBA in business management at Strayer. She joins Young-Williams Animal Center with more than 25 years of experience in finance and business administration. Most recently, Shaver served as vice president of strategic projects and finance for VMC Facilities, LLC, in Knoxville.