Meet Our Team of Heroes
Our Board of Directors is a talented group of individuals who are dedicated to producing many fun humane education videos, which will teach compassion and show how acts of kindness can improve the lives of others, which, by its very nature, improves every life.
Lori founded HERO to pursue her passion of teaching children kindness and respect for all. A college Professor successfully argued to Lori’s class that education is the key to solving many problems. Although the Professor’s message stayed with her, she pursued a career in law. While law is intellectually rewarding, it is not warm and fuzzy, so she volunteered at a local animal shelter walking dogs and playing with cats. As she learned about the rescue community and all their good work, it seemed one piece was missing– education. She had come full circle; her college professor would be happy. She then started volunteer work as a humane educator, working with Bark Avenue Foundation and Lucky Dog Humane Education, and teaching in Los Angeles Elementary Schools.
When visiting the schools, the children asked to watch more vidoes with dogs and cats. The school staff also requested more videos. Although there is a lot of content online, finding videos that fit the curriculum, that the school would approve, and that we had permission to share, proved challenging. Thus, HERO was founded to produce fun, age appropriate videos with dogs and cats.
Lori continued to teach at elementary schools, until COVID, and looks forward to returning when possible. She is honored and grateful to work with a talented and dedicated Board of Directors who will launch HERO to its full potential and produce hundreds of videos to be used in school curriculums across the nation.
Lori lives with her boyfriend and their rescue dog, Layla.
Steven is a CPA who brings many years of business experience and a common-sense approach to running a non-profit. Steven was born in Budapest, Hungary and personally experienced the fall-out when hate dominates. His parents, forced to join a transport to a labor camp, managed to pass off their son to a Red Cross operative who placed Steven in a safe house under the protection of Swedish consular interests. After the war, Steven was reunited with parents. Steven was a teenager when he was again forced to flea for safety during the Hungarian Revolution and eventually found himself welcomed by a family in Santa Monica.
Steven, ever resilient, and now without his own parents for guidance attended high school and then graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a BS in Mathematics. He earned his MBA from California State University. He passed the CPA examination and became licensed on June 16, 1972.
Steven’s kind spirit and experiences will be invaluable when we teach respect for all cultures and religions.
Steven lives with his wife and enjoys times with his two daughters and two granddaughters.
Mary Smith is a Senior Fiduciary Administrator who works with her clients to administer their trusts and assist them with their fiduciary needs. She has worked in the financial services industry for more than 20 years. Mary completed the American Bankers Association National Graduate Trust School and holds the Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor (CTFA) designation. She also holds the Certified Specialist in Planned Giving (CSPG) designation from the American Institute for Philanthropic Studies.
Mary studied Theatre Design and Technology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Although she never pursued a career in theatre, she still enjoys attending live theatre productions and playing with theatrical and special effects makeup around Halloween to create different scary costumes.
Mary is excited to join the board of HERO because she has always had a love of animals and believes it is important to teach children to be kind to animals and responsibly care for them. As a child, her home was always filled with various pets, including dogs, cats, lovebirds, fish, hermit crabs, a rabbit, and even a pet snail named Sam (the reason that Mary has never wanted to try escargot). Over the years Mary has taken in a few stray cats and once fostered a dog. She currently lives with boyfriend and their cats, Squee and Coco.
Debbie believes there is a need to educate our children not only in reading, writing, and arithmetic; but, also kindness and humane treatment for all sentient beings. She has learned through her own experience how humane education imparts and enhances our children’s natural kindness; hence it is a profound investment in our children. Debbie is excited to be part of an incredible opportunity to provide innovative resources through video/media for a wide audience to obtain. Her vision is to see humane education embraced by our nation’s education system and implemented as part of the curriculum, not only for the current generation of students, but for many generations to come.
Debbie lives with her husband and enjoys spending time with their blended family of 3 children, 11 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. Debbie’s life-long commitment to helping others, and her strong organizational skills will be a huge benefit to HERO.
Margaret is a trusts and estates attorney, who devotes her practice to helping families plan for life’s difficulties. Margaret’s first career goal was to be a veterinarian, and she graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Husbandry. Margaret received her Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School in 1992.\
Margaret has been a long-time proponent of education, having participated for many years in an international philanthropic education non-profit organization for women. Margaret’s objective for education is to introduce informative, engaging, artistic expressions of human kindness in order to encourage creativity. Margaret feels the need to learn how to behave in a more humane manner toward animals and humans is evident in our culture; not only among children, but among the adults in the lives of the children. As the children learn, they can teach others. Her hope is that HERO will be an instrument of change in our culture toward this higher ideal.
Margaret has always had a soft spot for dogs, especially dachshunds. She lives with her husband and rescue dog, Jesscie, a dachshund/pit bull mix. Margaret’s daughter, an elementary school teacher, will act as a consultant for our video production.
Margaret has given her unwavering support of HERO since it was just a spark of an idea and her continued dedication will ensure our success. Initially she served as Treasurer and she continues to serve as a Member.
Kelly is an educator who has dedicated her career to improving the lives of children with special needs. Kelly earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in 1996, and completed her Master’s Degree in Special Education from George Washington University in 1999.
Kelly agreed to serve on HERO’s Board because she is a huge believer in the importance of social/emotional education. Teaching children about animal issues is a wonderful way to foster empathy and inclusion and teaching children to properly care for animals provides an incredible benefit to the animals. Kelly has seen how social/emotional learning has fallen aside due to the current education system’s academic benchmarks that must be met. Students themselves have a lot of pressure to meet challenging standards in all academic areas, which tends to create anxiety and leads to a lack of empathy skills. Learning about kindness and care for animals will provide the missing link for a well-rounded education.
Kelly lives with her two school age children, two rescue cats and a very large Sulcata tortoise. Kelly has always loved animals of all kinds. She grew up with dogs (a Westie and an Old English Sheepdog) and one of her college roommates was a blue Great Dane.
Kelly’s experience as an educator and mother to kids and pets, will be invaluable to HERO. Thanks to Kelly our videos will be fun, age appropriate, and contain talking points for educators and parents.
Layla declines to share the first six years of her life, but around that time she found herself in a Los Angeles City shelter, where she was rescued by Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill shelter, where she stayed for two years before being adopted by Lori. Now a mature and sophisticated 8 year old, Layla agreed to serve on the board on behalf of all companion animals and wildlife and also to snag a treat or two from her new friends. Layla reminds us that kindness is the key to making the world a better place.