The operations and management of AWSHC are guided and instructed by its Board of Directors. The current board was initially established on December 7, 2020, when the new administration took control of the organization and the former administration was dismissed of any further involvement. At this time, all the members of the previous administration reached a joint resolution with the new members of the organization to empower the new administration to take over AWSHC. Many of the members of this new administration hailed from Canine Humane Network (CHN) as a result of their proven track record as an exceptional rescue in Howard County. This change, however, did not make AWSHC part of CHN nor did CHN take over AWSHC, the two organizations simply shared board members for a period of time. Since that resolution, the makeup of the Board of Directors has evolved and the board no longer contains CHN officers or board members. Although still evolving, the AWSHC Board of Directors is currently comprised of the following individuals.
ROBERT HOLLIDAY HICKS III, President, Executive Director
Mr. Hicks was elected to the position of President by the Board of Directors on January 3, 2021 and was elected to the position of Executive Director by the Board of Directors on March 27, 2021. Mr. Hicks has an eclectic professional background including US Naval Submarine Service, a land surveyor, a recording and performing musician, and a 30-year career in the US intelligence community where he did software development and systems engineering as well as establishing his own consulting firm for over 17 years. Now retired, in his most recent 5 years of work experience, Mr. Hicks has been substantially supporting the operations of Canine Humane Network, a dog rescue in Highland, Maryland founded by his wife Mona. He now volunteers most of his time to the resurrection of AWSHC and to continued support for Canine Humane Network. Mr. Hicks lives with his wife Mona and their three rescue dogs Eva, Max, and Teddy.
LISA PELLEGRINO, Member Board of Directors
Mrs. Pellegrino was elected Board Member by the Board of Directors on April 25, 2021. Prior to joining AWSHC, Mrs. Pellegrino taught in Howard County Public School System. She earned her Masters of Teaching at Loyola University, and has an undergraduate degree in psychology. She has also worked in bank management, retail, and for the Federal Government as a Bankruptcy Analyst. Over recent years, she has devoted more time to her passion for animals in need or crisis. A lifelong pet owner, and current owner of two senior rescued dogs, she has worked with a variety of non-profit groups in Maryland as both a foster and a dog walker. Currently, she works part-time at a veterinary hospital and for the Howard County Education Association. Mrs. Pellegrino is married with four children and lives in Columbia. She loves to read, walk, and spend time with family and friends. She is thrilled to be part of the team working to rebuild AWSHC and help more animals and families find each other.
CAROLE KNISTER, Member Board of Directors
Ms. Knister was elected Board Member by the Board of Directors on June 7, 2022. Carole spent many years in an event planning/fundraising capacity both in her local community and within the public school system. Currently employed with a local accounting firm, after running a surgical office for several years. She is a Columbia resident, has 4 adult children, and several grandchildren. Carole was lucky enough to be able to adopt two rescue dogs from AWSHC, so being able to be a part of the resurrection of this establishment is very dear to her heart. Carole also serves as our Volunteer Coordinator.
MANUEL PEREZ, Member Board of Directors
Mr. Perez was elected Board Member by the Board of Directors on June 7, 2022. Manuel was born and raised in Costa Rica, where he helped build his family’s hospitality business. After relocating to Maryland, Manuel started his own business that has grown into a successful project management company. Manuel lives in Ellicott City with his wife, daughter, and their 3 rescue dogs. Over the years, Manuel and his family have fostered dozens of dogs. He is excited to join the AWSHC team.
DEANNA MAHANAND, Member Board of Directors
Mrs. Mahanand was elected Board Member by the Board of Directors on June 7, 2022. She is a US Navy veteran, having served for 8 years as a Navy corpsman. After being discharged from the Navy, she went back to school to study business. She has an undergraduate degree in Business Management and an MBA. She has worked in acquisitions for the US Government for the last 15 years, where she has served as an auditor, contracting officer and policy analyst. She has three rescue dogs, and volunteers at a local shelter. She is married with three children, and lives in Clarksville. Her passion is helping dogs in need find their people, and she is thrilled to be part of AWSHC!
The AWSHC Board of Directors relies on the expertise and experience of a number of individuals who comprise the AWSHC Board of Advisors. The Board of Advisors are elected by the Board of Directors and their responsibility is to provide expert opinion and advice as it pertains to the operations of AWSHC. The Board of Advisors has no voting authority but they do provide invaluable guidance and insight to the Board of Directors who do make those voting decisions. The AWSHC Board of Advisors is comprised of the following individuals.
MONA HICKS, Member Board of Advisors
Ms. Hicks was appointed to the Board of Advisors by the Board of Directors on July 23, 2021.
Prior to animal welfare, Ms. Hicks spent her career at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ultimately serving in the Office of the Inspector General. Mona has had a lifelong interest in saving dogs having “rescued” her first dog at the age of eight. Her passion for animal welfare includes rescue, humane education, and behavior and training. Mona has a degree in Psychology and Social Work and has completed an internship in positive, force-free dog training as well as many continuing education courses. Mona is the Founder, President, and Executive Director at Canine Humane Network in Highland, Maryland. She is a member of APHE, SAWA and IAABC.
JANE LESHCHINER, Member Board of Advisors
Ms. Leshchiner was appointed to the Board of Advisors by the Board of Directors on July 23, 2021. She has worked with people with special needs for over 35 years as a therapist, manager, and finally as the regional director for a residential program for adults with intellectual disabilities. More recently she changed over to quality oversight and now works as a Quality Improvement Director for several programs across the country. She has worked with and loved animals for many years and has seen how animals bring joy and relief to people through pet therapy, emotional support and assistance with activities of daily living. She is a mom to two human boys, as well as three adopted dogs, one rescue kitty and several chickens. She loves knitting, gardening, reality television and taking walks with her people and doggies. She is proud to serve as a board member for Canine Humane Network where there is a true mission to help both people and dogs find their right match, and she is equally proud to serve as an Advisor for AWSHC where she can help mold the future of this important rescue.
MUSTAFA TANKUT, Member Board of Advisors
Mr. Tankut was appointed to the Board of Advisors by the Board of Directors on September 7, 2021. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and has worked as a data programmer in the field of direct marketing since then. Mr. Tankut currently works for a company in southern Maryland where he has been since 2008. He was raised and educated in England until he graduated from high school and moved to the US with his family at age 19. He lived in the Annapolis area until 2018 when he met his wife and moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia. He has been involved with AWSHC since 2000 when he first started volunteering here, helping with the adoptions, fostering, transportation and training. He recalls his love for animals and their welfare starting at a young age when he had his first dog, and that love has continued since. Being involved with AWSHC for all these years, he has seen many ups, downs and changes. He now feels that he can see a very bright future for AWSHC going forward, and could not be prouder to be part of a great group. AWSHC has always and will always have a very special place in his heart.
AWSHC endeavors to be as transparent as possible about its operations, to include its internal governance. The foregoing profiles should give you an idea about the personalities who make up these governing bodies. Should you need to reach any of these individuals they can all be contacted at our corporate mailing address as follows.
Animal Welfare Society of Howard County, Inc.
9557 Red Apple Lane
Columbia, MD 21046
Attn: (Your desired recipient name)