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Get to know the Northern Oklahoma Humane Society's Board members.

Board President Justin Mathews

Q: Tell us about yourself(personally or professionally)

A: I graduated from PO-Hi in 2003 and returned to Ponca from Dallas in 2019. In 2021, I established my business, Paws On The Pavement, to have a more flexible schedule and spend more time with my dog, who was dealing with seizures at the time.

 

Q: What is your history with NOKHS? How many years have you been involved, and what roles have you held during that time? 

A: I started volunteering at NOKHS to align my free time with my professional interests. My first volunteer role was at the Petstival in 2021, where both the nonprofit and municipal shelters aimed to make Ponca City a No-Kill community by 2025. Inspired by the shelter's community impact, I joined the efforts. I became a board member in March 2022, contributing to event planning, fundraising, designing marketing materials, and participating in discussions on community support programs.

 

Q: How long have you served as President?

A: I assumed the role of board President in June of this year.


Justin Mathews

 

Q: Could you elaborate on the responsibilities associated with being the Board President?

A: The Board President significantly influences the shelter's direction and community engagement. They focus on guiding strategic decisions while collaborating closely with leadership to ensure effective operations, financial stability, and a dedicated commitment to animal welfare.

 

Q: What are your future plans for NOKHS, and what aspects excite you the most?

A: Our shelter has exciting plans ahead. As President, my aim is to foster a culture of compassion and creativity to reshape our approach to animal welfare. Despite the challenges faced by shelters and pet owners, embracing these qualities allows us to address issues with empathy and innovation, enhancing our organization's impact and effectiveness.

 

We intend to expand community outreach, raise awareness about pet resources, and develop educational programs for youth to promote empathy, kindness, and respect for animals. Additionally, forging partnerships with other organizations will create a comprehensive support network for those in need.

 

Q: Could you share your experience as President of the board or as a board member in general?

A: In the previous year, NOKHS successfully rescued 331 animals from unnecessary euthanasia at Ponca City Animal Control. Moreover, we funded over 1,000 spay/neuter surgeries for shelter and public pets and distributed more than 9,000 pounds of donated pet food to pets in need within the community. Despite our significant contributions to the community, we concluded the year with less community funding than anticipated. This financial shortfall presents a challenge to our sustainability as a nonprofit organization. Drawing from my experience as a former board member, I've gained insights into the operational complexities that now inform my leadership approach. This well-rounded perspective allows me to help guide the direction of the shelter toward a more financially stable future.

 

Q: What motivated you to take on this role?

A: My desire to contribute to a larger cause led me to the shelter. The joy animals bring and the importance of safeguarding their well-being inspired my involvement. Recognizing the value of my business administration skills, I offered my services without monetary compensation, benefiting the shelter and the community while minimizing labor costs.

 

Q: What aspect of working with NOKHS do you find most fulfilling?

A: Witnessing the positive transformations of animals under our care is incredibly heartwarming. Additionally, the sense of camaraderie and shared purpose among staff, volunteers, and board members is motivating. Knowing that we are collectively changing the lives of these amazing creatures makes it all worth it and I hope to establish a lasting pathway for animals in need to find loving homes and ensure NOKHS's ongoing success.

Stephanie Blum

Board Member Stephanie Blum

Stephanie Blum

Q: Tell us about yourself (personally or professionally) 

A: I was born and raised in Ponca City and live here with my husband, Danny, and our three children, Catie, Luke & Ella.  I am Managing Director of Instruction for Epic Charter Schools, which is a public state-wide virtual charter school. I serve as the vice president on the Opportunity Center board in addition to serving on the NOKHS board. I love our community and like to help where I can. 

Q: What is your history with NOKHS? How many years have you been involved, and what roles, if any, have you held during that time? 

A: I have been volunteering for NOKHS for a year or two and joined the board this fall.  My family and I regularly foster orphaned kittens or puppies and assist in any of the events that I can.  

Q: What motivated you to become involved in the animal welfare cause? 

A: I grew up with a house full of animals and my parents instilled a deep love for them.  All animals deserve love, care, and respect, just like we do.

Q: What would you say to someone who’s thinking about donating to NOKHS? 

A: Your support helps these animals get the care, food, and love they deserve while they wait for a forever family of their own. Your kindness truly changes their lives, giving them a better chance at happiness. Your donation isn't just money, it's hope and comfort for these forgotten creatures. 

Q: What makes volunteering with NOKHS worth it? 

A: We have the best staff and volunteers!  NOKHS truly appreciates their volunteers! 

Jane Thomas

Board Vice President Jane Thomas

Q: Can you share your history with NOKHS, and what roles have you had during your time there?

A: Hi, I'm Jane Thomas, a Newkirk native. I've been with the Northern Oklahoma Humane Society for three years. I've served as the treasurer for two of those years. I joined to help abandoned animals who sadly don't have homes. I've been surprised to see so many homeless animals and feral cats in our communities.

 

Q: What inspired your involvement in animal welfare?

A: I believe in spaying and neutering animals. It helps by reducing the number of unwanted pets in our community. It also keeps your pet healthier and prevents them from wandering. Responsible pet owners spay, neuter, microchip, feed, shelter, and love their animals.

 

Q: How do you think the organization can sustain itself?

A: Our shelter is often full due to neglected animals. This makes it hard when owners must surrender their pets due to life circumstances, and we can't take them in. I encourage people to join us, especially as foster parents. Our animals will bring incredible richness to your life.

Jane Thomas

Q: Is there an achievement or contribution you're proud of?

A: One of our organization's greatest accomplishments in the past two years has been offering the "Big Fix" for free to Northern Oklahoma residents. We also run monthly low-cost spay, neuter, and wellness clinics. Our "Fix a Feral" program, focusing on community cats, is successful in reducing the number of unwanted pets in need of loving homes. I'm proud of these programs, as they help us work toward our goal of becoming a "No Kill" society by 2025.

 

Q: What would you tell someone thinking about donating to NOKHS?

A: The Northern Oklahoma Humane Society relies on donations from caring individuals and the support of volunteers to connect animals with people who care. Your financial support or volunteering can make a big difference in helping these animals find loving, forever homes.

 

Q: Why is volunteering with NOKHS worthwhile?

A: It's incredibly rewarding when one of our animals finds a loving, permanent home, knowing they won't be abandoned again. These pets leave lasting paw prints on your soul

Board Member Megan Sweaney

Megan Sweaney
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Q: Tell us about yourself both personally and professionally.
A: I grew up in Newkirk, graduated from The University of Oklahoma, lived in Texas for 6 years, traveled, then finally had the opportunity to move back in 2021. I truly feel blessed to be back home in a community I love and as Human Resource Manager at Cherokee Strip Credit Union, helping create company culture I’m proud to be a part of. As a board member of NOKHS, I’m able to support an organization that I cherish dearly since it united me with my first fur baby in 2021 when I moved back. It has been such an amazing journey, even through hard times with bringing a new puppy into my household and the struggles that come along with it, I feel in the end it has made me stronger and has strengthened my bond with both of my pups.   
 
Q: What is your history with NOKHS? How many years have you been involved, and what roles, if any, have you held during that time? 
A: I remember volunteering at the Humane Society when I was in high school. I adopted my first puppy from NOKHS in 2021. When I first started at CSCU in 2023 I volunteered for the spay and neuter clinic, helped out with multiple fundraisers through CSCU, then was elected to the board January 2024.

Q: What has been most surprising to you about animal welfare since being involved?
A: There are so many resources available that I feel are underutilized. Many people choose to surrender their pets in difficult situations instead of searching for a solution or using available resources that can help you manage almost any situation. Some of these include techniques to avoid triggering situations for certain pets, tips for certain types of weather, behavioral training, pet sitting, dog walking, and so many more resources that are available to our community. We just have to spread the word!
 
Q: How do you imagine the organization might achieve sustainability?
A: Continue providing quality care to animals, maintaining responsible practices at all levels of the organization, and having the resources available to connect animals with a loving home and the necessary care until we find that for them.
 
Q: With so many great organizations to support, why should others choose to support NOKHS?
A: This group of people are so dedicated and passionate about helping animals. Karlissa, Justin, staff, and board members go above and beyond dedicating their time, efforts, and money for this cause. This can be seen through the long days, late nights, problems solving, fundraising, networking, dirty work, you name it. Donating to the cause truly makes an impact on the community and the welfare of animals here. I encourage anyone to donate – if not money, your time as a volunteer. The memories you make while volunteering is something that will stick with you for a lifetime. They’re only here for a short time so we should try to make it the best life possible for them!
 
Q: What makes volunteering with NOKHS worth it?
A: Being actively involved in the community and a board member of NOKHS, I’m in a position to lead by example, to support a cause that’s dear to my heart, and to help find loving homes for animals so they can enjoy the little time they do have with us, especially since they give us so much love in return. Seeing that joy and love exuded from the animals, as well as their owners, is what makes it worth it for me. Just knowing I’m a part of something bigger than myself and that one person really can make a difference.
 

James Tyner

Board Member James Tyner

Q: Tell us about yourself (personally or professionally) 
A: From a young age, I've been immersed in various technology roles. I served as a Signal Support Specialist and Team Leader for the networking team within my battalion in the Oklahoma Army National Guard. My career in the educational software sector began in 2018 when I joined ADPC in Ponca City. During my tenure at ADPC, I have led the modernization and expansion of the company's capabilities, with a consistent emphasis on enhancing security and user-friendliness. My passion for learning new technologies drives me to develop high-quality solutions for educational institutions. 

Q: What is your history with NOKHS? How many years have you been involved, and what roles, if any, have you held during that time?  

A: I started helping NOKHS off and on about a year ago with varying technology related questions.  

Q: What motivated you to become involved in the animal welfare cause? 

A: My wife, Vanessa, volunteers as the NOKHS volunteer coordinator. Her passion for the cause led us to adopt two incredible dogs and one cat. Initially, I began volunteering my time as a way to be with her. However, I quickly became captivated by the significant impact I observed on the community. 

James Tyner

Q: How do you imagine the organization might achieve sustainability? 

A: The Northern Oklahoma Humane Society can achieve sustainability through diverse funding, community engagement, efficient adoption programs, operational innovation, educational initiatives, strategic partnerships, and eco-friendly practices. This multifaceted approach involves securing varied financial resources, enhancing volunteer participation, streamlining adoptions, leveraging technology for efficiency, educating the public on animal welfare, collaborating with other organizations, and adopting sustainable operations to ensure long-term success and community support for their mission. 

Q: With so many great organizations to support, why should others choose to support NOKHS? 

A: Supporting the Northern Oklahoma Humane Society (NOKHS) is a unique opportunity due to its direct local impact, comprehensive animal welfare services, deep community engagement, commitment to transparency and accountability, enriching volunteer and educational programs, advocacy for systemic change, and the potential for a personal connection to their mission. Choosing NOKHS means contributing to tangible, community-wide improvements in animal welfare and supporting an organization that fosters a compassionate and responsible society. 

Q: What would you say to someone who’s thinking about donating to NOKHS? 

A: If someone is considering donating to NOKHS, I'd encourage them by highlighting the direct and immediate effect their contribution can have. Your donation to NOKHS isn't just a monetary gift; it's an investment in the community's wellbeing. You'll see your dollars at work right away, whether it's in providing care and shelter for animals in need, supporting adoption initiatives, or contributing to educational programs. 

Katie Biby

Board Secretary Katie Biby

Katie Biby

Q: What can you tell us about yourself both personally and professionally?

A: I was raised in Ponca and I currently own Ponca City Urgent Care and Family practice. I also work here as a Nurse Practitioner, and I love serving my hometown community. I'm married to my wonderful Husband Seth, and we live on a little farm east of Ponca. I love helping people and animals in any way I can. I have a niche for finding random animals or they show up at my house and I try my best to get them healthy and find a good home for them. I love to travel, hunt, and fish and I’m a huge foodie.

Q: How long have you been involved with NOKHS, and what roles?

A: I’ve been volunteering for NOKHS for about a year and a half now. Mostly with the TNR program and transitioned to becoming a board member.

Q: What motivated you to become involved in the animal welfare cause?

A: I feel that animals are like children- all are innocent and depend on us to protect them, care for them, and help them out of unfortunate situations. 

Q: How do you imagine the organization might achieve sustainability?

A: I believe it's crucial to inform the community about our work. It's not just about rehoming animals; we do a lot for both the community and the animals. Bringing in new board members and making the most of volunteers regularly brings in fresh ideas and diverse ways to help our organization thrive.

 

Q: What makes volunteering with NOKHS worth it?

A: Volunteering my time has been incredibly fulfilling. Witnessing an animal transform from scared to sweet/comfortable and eventually finding a forever home is an experience everyone should have. These innocent creatures rely on us, much like children. I highly recommend supporting NOKHS through donations because every dollar directly contributes to helping both the community and its animals.

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