Susan Holcomb, President
Originally from New York City, Susan is a visual artist who lives and works in Santa Monica. She also works as the Administrative Coordinator at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and is Managing Director for the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability.
A lifelong animal advocate, she’s honored to be working with the Friends of Shelter Animals crew towards making a difference in the lives of shelter animals. Although it often seems as if the needs of abandoned, abused, and homeless animals are overwhelming, Susan agrees with the Taoist proverb that it’s “better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”.
Jack Perez, Vice President
Jack Perez is a motion picture & television director, professor of film, and lifelong animal lover. Besides directing stuff like the pilot for Xena: Warrior Princess, independent features Some Guy Who Kills People and La Cucaracha – and teaching directing at USC and the Academy of Art University in SF – Jack also created the Cat House on the Kings viral YouTube video, promoting Lynea Lattanzio’s one-of-a-kind animal rescue/adoption center, which put it on the map. Jack is currently Head Programmer of the YouTube movie channel, Cinefix, where he works with fellow FSA member, Allan Havey, on the animated comedy series, Trailer Hitch.
Valerie Vigil, Treasurer
Valerie has been an animal rights activist for over 20 years. She founded FSA with Susan Holcomb because she couldn’t afford to adopt every animal at every shelter and take them all home.
Allan Havey, Secretary
Allan is an accomplished comedian and actor who has been advocating for animal rights for over 20 years. Born in St. Louis and raised in Miami, he spent many years in New York City before finding his way to Santa Monica, where he resides with his wife and their irascible cat Moochie – a proxy for shelter animals everywhere. “Animals have provided me with love, companionship and unspeakable joy all my life. I want to be an active part of a solution to animal welfare in any way I can.”
Patricia L. Learned, J.D., Board of Directors
Patty developed a love of animals at a very young age, leading to her decision to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. That career path lasted about a year into college, when the rigors of chemistry and an agricultural college whose focus was on farming animals for slaughter took her off the veterinary medicine path. Eventually, her mother bribed her into going back to college, and she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Connecticut followed by law school at Western New England College.
Feeling that something was missing, Patty packed up her dog, two parakeets, and her cockatiel and moved to Los Angeles, where she secured the position of Executive Assistant at the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control. Her job responsibilities include drafting and implementation of policies and procedures; helping to draft and train on County ordinances; risk manager; safety officer; claims handler; litigation liaison with County and Outside Counsel; content manager for training in several aspects of the Department; Custodian of Record; responding to particularly unusual referrals from the Board of Supervisors; and working with the Board deputies.
Patty lives in Lakewood, California with her three dogs: Katie, a pointer mix, Stuart, a Chihuahua mix, Simon, her “foster-failure” Lab mix; and her cat, Sprite. While struggling with some of the unique challenges of municipal sheltering, including the immense loss of life and the senselessness of irresponsible pet ownership, she is still convinced that working for the Department is her best chance for truly making a difference in the lives of animals.
Susan Shahoda, Board of Directors
Susan has more than 25 years of experience as a marketing and communications specialist. While she started her career as a journalist covering the commercial-production industry in Chicago, Susan gravitated towards copywriting and spent several years at Leo Burnett Advertising Agency. In 1994 she moved to the West Coast and joined Herbalife International as its Global Marketing Director. After a 10-year stint at the company, Susan left the private sector for an opportunity at UCLA, where she is currently managing communications for the university’s Human Resources Department. Susan is an animal-welfare advocate who volunteers at several local and state dog-rescue organizations. In addition, she has raised funds for animal welfare by participating in numerous half-marathon events. She and her husband, Ben, own four rescue dogs: Vincent, Koda, Ash and Jackson.