Meet The Team
Founder & President
Jenny graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2002. After a brief time in banking, she accepted a position as a tax accountant for a small firm in New York. She left the position in 2008 to accept the Executive Director position at the Howard E. Stark Charitable Foundation. In 2019 she accepted the role of Executive Director to the newly establish Marguerite Jossel Charitable Foundation. She continues to work for both foundations from her home in Belchertown, MA.
In 2015 she co-created BARC (Belchertown Animal Relief Committee). The non-profit succesfully worked with the town and with the tremendous support of the towns people and local businesses, BARC was able to build and complete a beautiful municipal animal control facility.
In 2016, her family signed on to be foster parents for a local rescue. They received their first two puppies and fell head over heals in love. Since then they have fostered 14 puppies (keeping three as our own!). She started to volunteer with the foster-based organization and eventually accepted the role of Marketing Director in 2018 for a one-year grant position.
Jenny and her husband Nate have been married for 13 years. They reside in Belchertown, MA with their two sons Jack (10) and William (7). Their three rescue dogs Wren (4), Callie (3) and newest additon Marty (1)) keep them on their toes. Jenny has spent the past four years volunteering as the PTO President for her sons school. She made successful strategic changes to the organization which brought in more funding for the school, staff and students. In the Spring of 2022 she will be graduating from Southern Utah University with a Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Contemporary Animals Services and Professional Communication.
Megan Keefe resides in Barkhamsted with her wife, Lisa Marecki and their 5 dogs and 6 cats (the majority who are rescues).
Graduated cum laude from Sacred Heart University with a degree in English after receiving a full scholarship to play basketball and softball for 4 years and then went on to earn a master's Education. For the past 10 years she has sold AFLAC supplemental insurance and won several sales awards and trips and recently joined an agency to independently sell life and disability insurance and start to work on Medicare certification.
Realizing there was a desperate crisis and need for help for the voiceless animals in the southern states, for the past 3 years she has been an independent rescuer. She helps to network and raise funds to pull dogs from shelters or the streets in the south, particularly TX and find fosters and forever homes for them. She tries to recruit others to network and to educate others on ways to help spread awareness. To date she has helped to rehome more than 100 dogs in that time. She plans to travel to TX this fall to visit shelters to see how we can work together to move more dogs to the Northeast.
She recently became a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and am a member of the Cherry Brook Chimes Bell choir at the Canton CT Congregational Church.
In her spare time she likes to garden, cook, travel, kayak, exercise, golf, hike, and spend time with her animals and family.
BTDR Board Member
BTDR Board Member Lauryn Ploof, from a very young age to now age 19, knew that animals were her biggest passion in life. Lauryn is born, raised, and resides in Western MA with her furry family consisting of four pups, Luna, Liam, Scout, and Samson. Two cats, Sully and Charlie. Three guinea pigs, two rabbits, and a chinchilla.
In 2013, Lauryn and her family made the life changing decision to start fostering and volunteering for a local rescue. This is where Lauryns love for rescuing began. Since then, her and her family have fostered over 100 animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs.
Lauryn graduated from Animal Behavior college in 2021 with her Veterinary Assistant certification, and now works full time at a VCA Animal Hospital. She is currently enrolled in Penn Fosters Veterinary Technician program, and looks forward to graduating.
BTDR Board Member
BTDR Board Member Giselle Gonzalez Vendrell was born in Mexico City. Her family then moved back to Puerto Rico where she grew up. Giselle enjoyed going to visit her grandfather out in the country, this is where her love for animals began. Giselle grew up visiting her grandfather who at times, had horses, cows, goats, pigs and chickens. At her own home, she was surrounded by dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs as pets. After graduating from high school, she went to study Animal Husbandry at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. After completing her Bachelor’s Degree in 2000, Giselle became interested in education. In 2003, she and her husband, Carlos moved with their son Kai to Western Massachusetts to continue their graduate studies. In 2006, Giselle completed her Master’s in Elementary Education at UMASS Amherst.
Giselle’s first job was at Martin Luther King Charter School in Springfield. She worked there for 6 years. She then started working at Pelham Elementary school, and has been there for 9 years now.
Giselle brings her love for animals to school. Her 1st grade classroom has had guinea pigs, and bearded dragons as pets. Every year, students learn about life cycles enjoying the presence of chicks, caterpillars, butterflies, and brook trout.
Giselle has been a foster for small animals for a local rescue organization. She continues to love animals and be around them. Her family has a Golden Retriever Mix that they brought from Puerto Rico called Taina who is 9 years old. They rescued their cat Nube from Dakin 11 years ago. They also have Valentino, a Flemish Giant rabbit, Leo the Gecko, and three Degus named Mar, Sol and Luna.
She is very excited to be a part of Better Together Dog Rescue and be able to help dogs in need of love and nurturing, and a new home!
BTDR Board Member
Board Member Amanda Monette is a life long resident of Chicopee Massachusetts. She is a Branch Manager, AVP at People’s United Bank in West Springfield with 20 years experience in retail banking. She graduated from Chicopee High School and studied Vocal Performance at Berklee College of Music and Liberal Arts at Holyoke Community College.
Amanda has been an animal lover since childhood. She spent most of her time playing in the woods and ponds near her childhood home and rescuing any animal her mother would let indoors. Amanda lives with her Boyfriend John, her stepson Elliot and their two rescue cats, Stashu and Fluff. She is passionate about the well being of all animals and is excited to represent and support the Better Together Dog Rescue.
BTDR Board Secretary
Jenna Novotny Schmidt is a licensed attorney from Northampton, Massachusetts. She graduated cum laude from Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2013 where she earned her juris doctorate. At Quinnipiac one of her favorite classes was Animal Law which explored much of the existing legal regulation of animals at the state and federal levels, as well as the legal rights of animals. In 2008 she graduated from Smith College with a B.A. where she majored in English Language and Literature. As a practicing attorney she specialized in mental health law and elder law for several years, representing many of the area’s hospitals, nursing homes, as well as individuals. She now currently focuses on supporting causes that are important to her. She most enjoys traveling, reading, watching movies and television, and spending time with family and friends. Jenna recently relocated to her hometown of Northampton where she resides with her husband Justin. She has always loved animals but has never had any as an adult. Jenna and her husband look forward to hopefully adopting a dog from BTDR in the near future!
BTDR Board Treasurer
BTDR Board Member Lisa Marecki resides in Barkhamsted, CT with her wife, Megan Keefe and their 5 dogs and 6 cats (the majority who are rescues). Lisa is the Senior Vice President of Life, Disability and Voluntary Products at Symetra Financial located in Enfield, CT. She has over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry with various leadership positions at Symetra, AIG and The Hartford.
When Lisa is not working she works alongside her wife Megan helping countless voiceless animals in the south and is an avid contributor to many rescues across the country. In her spare time Lisa enjoys spending time with her family (two, three (yes we have a tripod) and four legged), relaxing at the pool, gardening and new yard projects to tackle and always enjoys a good bonfire!