We’ve always known where we wanted to go with the Show Your Soft Side campaign, but we haven’t always been so clear about the best route to get there. Not surprising, considering the organization began with three people working on a volunteer basis while straddling other responsibilities and even full-time jobs. When you’re that small and thin on assets, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Knowing that, we set out to expand our resources and, over the past few years, have built an all-volunteer team of passionate “do-ers.” They’re the reason we’ve been able to not only hold on through the pandemic, but launch a number of new programs in the process. We’re thrilled to introduce you to the individuals who make up our board and help us maximize our efforts to end animal abuse before it starts.
Sande Riesett, Co-Founder & President
After 30 years as a copywriter and creative director in D.C., Baltimore, and London ad agencies, Sande now directs her talents toward helping defenseless cats and dogs. Mom to an FIV+ former street cat named Bugsy, Sande’s days (and a lot of nights) are focused on crafting Soft Side’s communication and expanding the campaign’s reach through partnerships with Softies and other like-minded businesses and organizations.
Caroline Griffin, Co-Founder & Vice President
Caroline practiced law for 20 years before devoting herself full-time to animal protection. In 2009, she was appointed Chair of the Mayor’s Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission in Baltimore, following the brutal burning death of a dog named Phoenix. In 2011, she received the ASPCA’s Presidential Service Award for her work. Caroline devotes much of her time to overseeing programs and shares her home with 2 rescued cats, Ginger Babette and Mason Magoo.
Tanya Keitz, Secretary
You wouldn’t know from her numerous titles in real life (Director of Product Development, Masters of Science in Information Technology and now closing in on her MBA) that Tanya is behind most of Soft Side’s fun social media posts. Perhaps it’s her full-time sideline of fostering cats and kittens that allows her to find the light side of any situation? (For instance, when asked to guesstimate how many cats/kittens she’s fostered, she responded “186,232.”) Mom to five cats of her own (Loki, Riley, Bandit, Mildred, and Journey) Tanya works on Soft Side’s social media, administers the Prison Cats Program, Street Kitty Fund, and is one of our two official kitty wranglers for shoots.
Genny Resch, Treasurer
In addition to her full-time job as VP of Accounting for a major ad agency, Genny is responsible for Soft Side’s finances being in such impeccable order. (She’s the only treasurer we know who can demand you follow processes, whip you into good financial shape, and make you laugh while doing it.) Mom to two rescue dogs (Skye and Tito) and three cats (Yoda, Ginger, and Stanky Leg) Genny has been a dedicated foster for the past 15 years. Her specialty is unsocialized kitties and bottle babies, as well as senior hospice cases who get to live their final days being loved at the Resch compound.
Robin Boyle, Board Member
Robin has spent her life raising funds and organizing activities for a long roster of schools and colleges. With her kids now grown, she’s refocused her efforts 24/7 on behalf of Soft Side and is the brains behind our online auctions and fundraising events. Mom to two rescue dogs, Reagan and Cali, when she isn’t pitching sponsors, sweet-talking new Softies on board, planning events, or administering The Phoenix Fund, Robin somehow still finds time to volunteer for Pets on Wheels and is a Wish Granter for Make A Wish Foundation.
Dawn Cannella, Board Member
Dawn is one of the OG’s of Baltimore’s colony caretaker world. Not only has she been doing TNR and caring for multiple colonies since before Soft Side was even created, a few years ago she transformed a building on her property into a kitty recovery center known around town as The Cat Shack. A lot of famous feline names have gotten a new lease on life because of Dawn’s tireless work and care. Her knowledge, experience, and passion are critical to growing Soft Side’s veterinary relationships and sustaining our Street Kitty Fund. Although it’s hard to put a number on how many cats reside at The Cat Shack (anywhere from two to 18), Dawn also keeps tabs on her own nine cats (Timmy, Bella, Neela, Marty, Babee, Merlin, Ella, Lacey, and Evie ) which explains why we often shanghai her in as kitty wrangler on shoots.
Kim Skillman, Board Member
With a career spanning 30 years in sales (the last 9 of which as District Sales Manager for a national pet boutique) Kim brings a unique set of talents to Soft Side. Not only is she responsible for Soft Side finally putting together a volunteer program, but she’s also put the kibosh on our reluctance to ask for support. Mom to one pup (Sebastian) and three kitties (Dunkin, Crook, and Bear) Kim’s long-running relationships with rescues in the tri-state area have been essential to her work administering The Phoenix Fund.
Lori Smyth, Co-Founder & Board Member
You don’t work 24 years in the rock radio world without making some serious contacts and Lori used every one of them to get the Soft Side campaign off the ground and running. In between her work securing new Softies, assisting on shoots, and administering The Phoenix Fund, Lori is Mom to seven rescue dogs (Regis, Chewy, Dreyfuss, Beaker, Einstein, Benson & Leo) and six cats (Charlie, Lucy, Higgins, Baxter, Amos & Oatman). Although Lori is the first to confess she’s a serial foster failure (hello Chewy, Dreyfuss, Beaker, and Leo), she has successfully fostered an additional 10 dogs and one cat who did go on to find loving, forever homes.