Meet the Team

HART employs thirteen (13) full and part time employees. HART is very fortunate to employee very qualified and dedicated individuals. Shelter work is very physically demanding and well as very emotionally draining. The majority of HART’s staff has been employed five (5) years or longer.

2Donna-Wambeke-HART-Executive-Director

Donna Wombeke

Executive Director

It all started 31 years ago when I walked by a card table set up at the mall. Sitting there was a stranger getting the word out about a new Humane Society that she was trying to establish. I stopped and chatted and little did I know that this stranger would become my best friend and I would become involved in what we all now as HART, for the rest of my life!!!

The stranger was of course Vicki Peterson. With many devoted hours, triumphs and heartbreaks, HART became the Humane Society it is today. We lost Vicki in 2001 to a terminal illness and I promised her that I would see the mission that we both shared soar to new heights.

Today I am Executive Director, but I started out with the help of my husband Bill, doing foster care at our Pillager home. I also owned the Pampered Pet Place boarding kennel for twenty-six years. I guess you can say critters are my life....

HART has always been a big part of my life and I served as president of the organization for many terms, did investigations, held many injured and sick animals while they crossed over "The Rainbow Bridge", cried for the many we could not save and rejoiced for the many that have found forever homes. Bill and I spent countless hours doing construction work, cleaning, and whatever else needed to be done. And when I look back, I would not change a thing, as it is the most rewarding job I will ever do.

In the 31 years we have had the pleasure of adopting seven wonderful "Boys". Thank you Cody, Sundance, Chase, Shadow, Snappy,” Tempe" and, Mr. Beans, for bringing so much joy and love into our lives. SHELTER DOGS ROCK.....

So, I guess a person never knows what path life will lead you on, but I am thankful every day that I stopped at that card table.

2Janet-Larson-HART-Office-Manager

Janet Larson

Office Manager

I grew up on a farm so I have had many different kinds of animals in my life. I raised three boys and thus was introduced to the slimier side of the animal world from tadpoles & salamanders to various members of the snake family. We had cats, dogs and school projects that seemed to find their way home. When I started working at HART in January of 1998, I was without pets at the moment. In the spring of 2002 I fostered a young cat that came into HART and delivered 7 little fluffy kittens. I ended up adopting the mother cat and one of her babies.

I feed lots of wildlife on my 5 acres so they have an endless procession of critters to watch from the window.

I enjoy working at HART and being able to help the animals. Even though there are days that can be heart wrenching and frustrating, there are many days that prove to be rewarding.

It has been rewarding being able to house some of the older, scared and very shy cats in my office to help them through the adjustment process when they are surrendered to HART. I have had nearly a dozen cats that have been adopted out of my office and all are doing well in their new homes.

2Brittany-Nelson-HART-Shelter-Manager

Brittany Nelson

Shelter Manager

Hello there, my name is Brittany Nelson and I am the Shelter Manager at HART. I graduated from Minnesota School of Business in 2011 with my degree in Veterinary Technology and have worked with HART for a total of 5 years, 1 as shelter manager. I married my husband Cody in 2014 and we welcomed our first daughter, Allis in 2017. We have all kinds of animals we care for; we have dogs, a cat, a guinea pig, a potbelly pig, chickens, cows, and horses. We enjoy spending time together, and love being outside.

I love working at HART and seeing all the different animals come through the door. No two days are the same here; it’s a fast paced, rewarding job. While the animals are in our care, it is very easy to get attached and fall in love with them, so when that animal is adopted, it is the best feeling in the world. My favorite thing is when past adopters come in with pictures and stories to share of the animal they adopted from us.

2Camille-Yaunick-HART-Assistant-Shelter-Manager

Camille Yaunick

Assistant Shelter Manager

I'm Camille and I have been part of the HART family since 2010. From starting out as kennel staff, I am now the assistant shelter manager.

I live with my husband Chad and our twin son & daughter. Animals have always played a big part of my life. I grew up around a variety of critters, dogs, cats, horses, goats, birds, rabbits and many others! One of my hobbies includes mushing. I was 11 years old when I got my first husky! Currently we own 10 dogs, 2 potbellied pigs, and the occasional chickens.

Working at the shelter is definitely a rewarding job. It's great to see an animal walk out the door to their new forever home!

2Dr-James-Van-Stone-HART-Shelter-Vet

Dr. James Van Stone

Shelter Vet

Dr. James Van Stone has owned and operates the Pierz Veterinary Clinic since 2012. He grew up near Aitkin, MN and has known he wanted to be a veterinarian since he was about 10 years old.

Dr. James graduated from the University of Minnesota for both his Bachelor's of Animal Science in 2007 and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2011.

He works on all animals and particularly enjoys performing surgeries, counseling about nutrition and providing good services and education to help people keep their animals healthy.

During his free time, (though limited!) he enjoys traveling, four-wheeling, and relaxing watching movies. Dr. James lives in Pierz with his wife, Heather, their 4 cats and one dog, Penny.

2Mary-Kirzeder-HART-Receptionist

Mary Kirzeder

Receptionist

Having grown up on a farm, animals have always been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I now only have one cat (Peter), however, when my son was growing up our family included dogs and cats. One of our dogs was a blue eyed, white Siberian Husky "Katie" adopted from HART foster care in 1991. We had one Siberian and decided she needed a friend.

My first job was with the State of Minnesota for 38 years. In 2003 I retired and started working part-time at HART one month later - long retirement!

I feel fortunate to be part of HART as I have always had a love for animals - just ask my cat "Peter."

2Mary-Hannahs-HART-Receptionist

Mary Hannahs

Receptionist

As one of the newer members of the HART family, I love coming to work each day. Helping people find that perfect addition to their family and our furry friends find that forever home is the reason I love working at HART.

As a child there were always dogs and cats on the farm. I have a deep love for my fur children. They give complete unconditional love and in return we procvide them with the love and security of knowing they will never want for anything. My husband and I always had a dog or cat as our children were growing up. We have adopted many animals over the years and currently have two fur children as part of our family. Odie is a terrier mix and our newest member is a cat we adopted an appropriately named Chaos. Life with them is never boring.

2Jenny-Hoffman-HART-Gambling-Manager

Jenny Hoffman

Gambling Manager

I moved to Brainerd from Owatonna, MN in 1972. My first job after high school was working for my father at the Hardware Hank store in Brainerd. I worked for twenty years as the book-keeper.

In 1992 I was employed by the Brainerd Civic Center as their gambling manger.

Growing up we had dogs and cats. We adopted a cocker spaniel from Donna in 1991. We added two more cockers to our family in 1992.

In the 18 years that I have been gambling manager for HART I have met many interesting people and have enjoyed the variety of challenges and experiences that I have encountered.

2Pam-Boucher-Maintenance

Pam Boucher

Maintenance

My name is Pam Boucher and I have been with HART for over twelve years. Love of animals has been with me since I was a young child way back in Zumbro Falls.

Currently my husband and I have 4 dogs and 7 cats that allow us to love and cherish them. Lucky us!

2Amy Houde-HART-Kennel-Staff

Amy Houde

Kennel Staff

I have loved animals all my life and started working at animal hospitals with vets early in life until I started at HART. I love the fact that I have a bigger impact on the animals finding forever homes and seeing them with their new doting parent makes me happy and proud for the "kids."

Amy has two Great Danes, both adopted from HART.

2Tami-Boe-HART-Kennel-Assistant

Tami Boe

Kennel Assistant

I am originally from St. Cloud, moved up to the Brainerd area about four years ago. I have been working at HART for about two months. I worked at a veterinary clinic in St. Cloud for two years. I love working with animals. Animals are my passion and I have had them all my life. I currently have four cats, one dog and a turtle….. they are family. I really love working at HART and helping all the animals. It makes my day.

2Holly-Hines-HART-Kennel-Staff

Holly Hines

Kennel Staff

My name is Holly Hines. I’ve been at HART for 2 years. I came to HART because I love to work with animals and to see them get adopted to great families. That is the best part of working here.

2Rosina-Colombini-HART-Kennel-Staff

Rosina Colombini

Kennel Staff

I grew up on an avocado farm in Southern California. We always had at least one German Shepherd and several cats when I was a kid and I grew up with a deep love for animals of any kind. I worked as a veterinary assistant for almost 6 years and absolutely loved getting to work with animals every day. So when I moved out here and heard that HART was hiring I decided to apply, and I couldn't be happier that I did. Getting to find forever homes and reunite lost pets with their owners is awesome and I love the team I work with. Every day is a new adventure!

2Ellen-Smith-HART-Kennel-Staff

Ellen Smith

Kennel Staff

I have three beautiful children that I love dearly. My two passions in life are taking care of the elderly as a certified nursing assistant and taking care of animals, small and large.
I grew up in California and moved to Brainerd in 1992.