Given how new the organization is, the team behind SitStaySpeakOut.org expects to be forging important relationships for many months to come. But we are pleased to report that already, seven people have joined the nonprofit’s board of directors.
Their résumés and skill sets are diverse, but each member brings a true dedication to improving the lives of animals. We invite you to “meet” each of them below.
Sam and Kathy Guadagnoli are among Colorado Springs’ most successful businesspeople and most generous philanthropists. In addition to running some of the most popular bars and nightclubs in the city’s downtown area, Sam and Kathy have funded The Mezzanine, a unique “social enterprise” that hosts cutting-edge arts performances for the community while raising money for the Colorado Springs Conservatory. They also stand at the heart of an ambitious effort to redevelop the city’s long-suffering South Nevada Avenue corridor into a haven of creekside cafes, restaurants and apartments. The Guadagnolis’ 40-plus years in business, fundraising and community-building, combined with their passion for animals, the arts and entertainment, make them indispensable members of the SitStaySpeakOut.org board.
Kevin Horton brings a cool head and steady hand to the SitStaySpeakOut.org board, strengths that have been developed and refined over years of flying airplanes. Kevin is an alumnus of the United States Air Force Academy and today flies internationally for American Airlines. When he’s at home in Colorado Springs, he is deeply engaged with the issue of puppy mills as the adoptive parent (with wife Pam) of rescued Italian greyhounds. A champion for Lil Olive — both the famous Italian greyhound and the film inspired by her life — Kevin is passionate about making lasting change in the world of animal welfare.
In virtually every arena you can imagine, Pam Horton has stepped up for animals. She has volunteered at animal rescues, protested outside of pet stores selling mill dogs, and brought multiple rescue dogs into her own home. While she slowly rehabilitated a badly abused 12½-year-old Italian greyhound named Lil Olive, she expanded her reach into the social media sphere, developing a Facebook page and persona that would attract more than 40,000 followers. Many of those followers — members of what Pam calls her “pack family” — have gotten their first taste of animal-welfare activism via her work. More are sure to do so through A Voice for Lil Olive, the documentary project inspired by Lil Olive’s story and fueled by Pam’s belief in its importance. Her continuing advocacy, she says, meets what is almost a biological need. Of her activism, she says, “It’s really just deep inside of me.”
Pete Schuermann is more than a storyteller — he is a director who understands what it takes to achieve commercial success. Pete has six feature-length films in distribution, his flagship being Haze, the definitive documentary on alcohol abuse on college campuses. Narrated by Robin Wright-Penn, Haze has been viewed by more than a million students in America alone, and is the most successful documentary on HULU and Snag Films. At SSSO, Pete will guide animal activists and care professionals in the crafting of their media — be they public service announcements, short web videos, full-length projects, or other ideas entirely — with an emphasis on creating media that is both educational and emotionally resonant. “Whenever I take on a film project, I tend to be very optimistic,” he says. “Maybe it’s ego talking, but I tend to be like, ‘We’re gonna change the world.’”
Lori Young comes to the SitStaySpeakOut.org board with 25-plus years’ experience in the nonprofit realm, technology, and marketing. At the Colorado Springs-based Space Foundation, she organized and helped facilitate events that included luminaries such as Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson. She has also worked for global companies including Boeing, Ball Aerospace & Technologies and Jack Morton Worldwide. Today, Lori runs the office for Intuitive Websites and serves as production assistant on A Voice for Lil Olive. Her technical skills, organizational strengths and ability to communicate with people of all backgrounds have buoyed the film project, and promise to do the same for SitStaySpeakOut.org.
Ashley Schuermann has a head for business and a heart for animals, especially shelter dogs. Her and her husband Pete’s experiences with a rescued Italian greyhound helped seed the idea for a film on puppy mills, which eventually evolved into A Voice for Lil Olive. As one of the film’s two executive producers, Ashley brings experience from the world of banking and finance, where she possesses FINRA Series 7, 6 and 63 securities licenses. Her educational background includes a B.A., an M.B.A. (with emphasis in marketing, international business and finance), and a graduate accounting certificate, all from the University of Colorado. Ashley is also one of SitStaySpeakOut.org’s most accomplished volunteers, having worked with such organizations as the Junior League, the American Cancer Society, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
From design to SEO to social media, Thomas Young knows the web inside and out. Tom runs Intuitive Websites, which helps corporate clients such as HealthONE, NEC and Forbes Industries better understand and more effectively communicate with their customers. Tom has also written books on web marketing and design, including Intuitive Selling and Winning the Website War. As executive director of SitStaySpeakOut.org, Tom gets to fuse his professional passion with a deep personal interest in animal advocacy. He envisions helping projects make the most of a social media space where 10-pound dogs can attract tens of thousands of followers — as demonstrated by the subject of SitStaySpeakOut.org’s first film, A Voice for Lil Olive. “I think the timing’s really good for this movie,” he says. “We want to build on it and do it right.”