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PAWS Officers and Directors
In memory of Pat Derby
"Pat Derby: Celebrating A Remarkable Life"
Ed Stewart co-founded the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in 1984 to advocate and provide sanctuary for abandoned, abused and retired performing animals and victims of the exotic animal trade. Mr. Stewart has positioned PAWS as the leader in the "confront captivity" movement which examines the ethics and efficacy of confining wild animals for novelty, education and conservation. Stewart and PAWS co-founder the late Pat Derby established the nation's first elephant sanctuary in Galt, California, in 1986.
Mr. Stewart oversees all aspects of the organization, including its captive wildlife sanctuaries, direct action advocacy, and legislative efforts. Currently, PAWS operates three sanctuaries in Northern California including the 2,300-acre natural habitat ARK 2000 refuge, and cares for elephants, tigers, lions, bears and other wild and exotic species. PAWS is a charter member of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). In 2013, Stewart, Derby and the elephants of ARK 2000 were featured in the critically-acclaimed HBO documentary "An Apology to Elephants."
Recognized for his expertise in the management and care of wild animals, including his innovative habitat designs at the ARK 2000 sanctuary, Mr. Stewart regularly consults for organizations around the world on wild animal rescues and habitat design, and has worked in range countries on projects aimed at mitigating human-elephant conflict. He also provides expert verbal and written guidance to other organizations on cases of animal abuse, neglect, conditions, rescue, transportation and housing.
Mr. Stewart serves on the Director’s Advisory Committee on the Humane Care and Treatment of Wild Animals for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. He also sits on the advisory committees for the Detroit Zoological Society’s Center for Zoo Animal Welfare (CZAW) and The Whale Sanctuary Project. He is a popular speaker at various events and conferences, both locally and around the world, where he educates the public about issues affecting wildlife in captivity and in the wild. He regularly provides expert testimony at state, county and city public policy hearings.
Board Member Since 2003
Board Member Since 2013
Debbie Morrow has been part of the PAWS family since 1999 — as a volunteer, and later as an employee trained to work as an elephant keeper. As a PAWS volunteer she has worked on building projects, repaired fences, participated in fundraising events, handled security, organized landscaping projects and worked as a docent at the Amanda Blake museum.
In 2007, after 25 years of service, Debbie retired from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. After her retirement she accepted a position working at ARK 2000, where she was trained as an elephant keeper — still volunteering for PAWS in her spare time. She resigned from her keeping job a year later to care for her elderly parents, but has continued her volunteer work.
Board Member Since 2007
Steven Pape was a staff accountant with CalPERS Investments before his retirement in 2013. He was responsible for ensuring that all investment income was received and that all security transactions were properly recorded and settled for several billion dollars worth of investments.
Steven previously worked for the State of California in other, mostly audit-oriented positions, beginning with the Office of the Auditor General where he obtained his C.P.A. certification. That was followed by positions as an internal auditor at CalTrans, and the Department of Consumer Affairs, before joining CalPERS in 1998. He holds a B.A. in Physics from Franklin and Marshall College and an M.B.A. from the University of Arizona.
Steven’s involvement with PAWS began in 1992 when he met Pat Derby at Miss Kitty’s Attic in Sacramento. He immediately began volunteering on a regular basis at the PAWS facility in Galt and has helped with many of the fundraising events that have been held during the last 25+ years.
Board Member Since 2015
Katia Bagatta was a sales executive for a large corporation before joining her family's restaurant and catering businesses where she has proven herself in business leadership.
Katia is a long-time PAWS supporter. Her philanthropic efforts have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for PAWS at events she has hosted at her restaurants. In addition, she is a creative and driven animal protection activist and has presented testimony at public meetings held in her city and county on bullhook bans and exotic animal circus bans.
Board Member Since 2016
Kevin has enjoyed a rewarding career as a composer and performer, releasing several solo albums as well as working and touring with award-winning artists from Chuck Berry to Stevie Wonder. His multimedia production company creates original music for CDs, soundtracks, commercials, feature films and movie trailers. Mr. McCourt’s work includes campaigns for Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Toy Story 3D, Pearl Harbor and Starship Troopers Marauder. His work has been featured at the Cannes Film Festival. He is a member of the Ovation Award-winning Troubadour Theater Company, and has served as music advisor on Garry Marshall’s “Pretty Woman: The Musical.”
Kevin, along with his wife, Susan McCourt, founded Project OneSong, a non-profit, humane education adventure that has been partnered with PAWS since 2004. Project OneSong teaches at-risk kids empathy and compassion by introducing them to sanctuary animals. As a way to raise money and awareness for Project OneSong and PAWS, Kevin formed Who Doesn’t Love Kids n’ Pets? – an ALL-STAR, super group of musicians and animal lovers whose roster includes members of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, band mates of Elton John, Ringo Star, Earth, Wind and Fire and a host of others who came together to create catchy, upbeat, from-the-heart songs about what matters to them most — their families and their furry friends.
Dr. Kristina Wiley, DDS**
Board Member Since 2021
Dr. Kristina Wiley received her Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS) at the age 24 from the University of Southern California. She has been in private practice for more than 20 years, during which time she has successfully treated thousands of patients, including difficult cases involving patients with special needs who often have trouble finding dentists willing to help them.
Dr. Wiley is engaged in numerous charitable activities and her dedication to helping others in need is unparalleled. She frequently acts as a mentor to local at-risk youths in need of life and career guidance. She has financed and led multiple volunteer surgical mission trips to remote areas of Haiti, helping hundreds of people who lack access to the most basic healthcare.
Dr. Wiley began her association with PAWS in 2014 when she hosted the first of several fundraisers in memory of PAWS' co-founder the late Pat Derby. The events were held at her tea salon, opened years ago in honor of her grandmother. She continues to generate funds for our sanctuary by donating original art she creates, and personally funding retail gift shops at PAWS events – with all proceeds going to help fund PAWS' animal care and the dental program at the Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center. Her love for animals began as a child and she is fully dedicated to the mission of PAWS and the welfare of all animals.
In recognition of her significant contributions to society through public service, business, education, and local advocacy, Dr. Wiley was chosen by Congressman John Garamendi, representing the Third Congressional District of California, as one of the 2019 Woman of the Year honorees.
Dr. Jackie Gai, DVM*
Board Member Since 2021
Dr. Jackie Gai joined PAWS in 2001 as our first full-time veterinarian. As PAWS' Director of Veterinary Services, she leads a talented team of veterinary professionals to ensure that all animals at our sanctuaries receive the best medical care possible. Dr. Gai designed the Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center located at ARK 2000, and many animals have received life-saving treatment in this well-equipped facility since its opening in 2017.
Dr. Gai began working with wild animals in 1989, as a volunteer, docent, and later a zookeeper and veterinarian at the Oakland Zoo. She has cared for wild animals from tiny frogs to elephants, in a variety of captive settings including sanctuaries, zoos, theme parks, licensed educational facilities, and private ownership. It is this diverse breadth of experience that helped define her standards of animal welfare, and which have established her as an expert in her field.
Dr. Gai is a strong advocate for wild animals, whether they are captive or free-ranging. She is a member of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director's Advisory Committee on the Humane Care and Treatment of Wild Animals, and the Legislative and Animal Welfare Committee of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. She has a strong commitment to mentoring students interested in caring for wild animals, and is a popular speaker at veterinary schools and conferences, finding great fulfillment in sharing her knowledge with interested veterinary students.
In addition to her expertise in caring for wildlife, Dr. Gai also brings a diverse and impressive skill set earned during previous career experience in law enforcement, management, sales, marketing, conflict resolution, and community service. She considers it a great honor to care for elderly animals, and those who have trauma and neglect in their past. She treasures her many years working alongside, and learning from, PAWS' co-founders Pat Derby and Ed Stewart.
*Compensated board member
**Independent voting rights
In memory of Ed Minghelli
Ed Minghelli served on the PAWS Board from 1999 until his passing in February 2021. Utilizing his skills as a financial planner, his strategic approach to organizational development was instrumental to PAWS’ growth, plans for future funding and long-range financial viability. His executive oversight provided important leadership to the organization. Ed, along with his Cindy founded Fat Kitty City, a non-profit organization that rescues, spays, neuters and adopts out cats and dogs, and also provides a home for more than 200 feral cats at their 25 acre sanctuary in Northern California.
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