Lori Gagen, Executive Director
Lori Gagen began volunteering at Black Pine in 1995 when the facility added a gift shop at the point of admissions. Lori was a founding board member of Professional Animal Retirement Center, Inc., the organization formed to manage the sanctuary when it became a 501c3 non-profit organization in 2001. In February, 2006, she joined the paid staff as Director of Development. Lori became Executive Director in September 2008.
"It is extraordinary to have come into this wonderful world of animal rescue as a volunteer just trying to lend a hand to friends who were living out their dream. To have continued this journey for so many years and learned first-hand how much impact a community of caring individuals can truly have on the lives of these animals we keep has been an inspirational, astounding, and unbelievably rewarding experience! I know how rare and special this opportunity is, and I cherish it and all my fellow caregivers and advocates deeply." - Lori Gagen
Kati Speer, Assistant Sanctuary Manager
Kati began volunteering at Black Pine in 1996 while attending Indiana University-Purdue University in Fort Wayne. In 1998, she transferred to Purdue University where she completed four years of veterinary technology studies. An extraordinary opportunity arose that took Kati on an 11-year career journey with PetSmart, where she ultimately opened and managed grooming salons in several locations around the nation.
In 2011, Kati returned to her first love, exotic animals, when she took on a job caring for black bears with The Great Bear Show based in Texas. When she returned to Indiana in the fall of 2011, she also returned to Black Pine as a volunteer, as well as co-owner and operator of Paw's-n-Claw's Pet Care Services (photo at left). Kati accepted the part-time Assistant Sanctuary Manager position with Black Pine in February 2012.
"Each day is about the animals and how I can make their lives better and educate the public on their needs and welfare. Black Pine has always been a part of my heart. I’ve worked in a variety of animal care situations since 1996, including grooming, and a summer spent working with bears. Making this 'full circle,' coming back to Black Pine, helps enrich what I can bring to the animals. I feel by educating the public we can make all the difference to the animals' lives. When you rescue an animal, then watch as it becomes familiar and safe in its new environment, you are truly blessed. When you work with others who share your love and dreams for these animals, it's an amazing opportunity. Each chuff, each purr, and every call just makes my day! Thank you to all of the supporters. Without you, we could never make all of this happen." - Kati Speer
Amy Hartzell, Animal Keeper
Amy came to Indiana in 2011 and is a native of McKeesport, PA. She and her husband, Tom, came to the area so Tom could pursue his Master's Degree in Environmental Education at Goshen College through a program at Merry Lea Environmental Center, just a few miles from Black Pine.
Amy has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology with a focus in Animal Behavior and has worked at Dolphin Quest and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium (photo at left). She began volunteering at Black Pine in late 2011, and assumed her full-time keeper position in April, 2012.
"I have had a life-long passion for animals and am thrilled to be able to lend my time and efforts to a place as wonderful as Black Pine. To me, there is no greater joy than having a part in giving an animal a second chance in life. Each animal's story is a reminder of the importance of rescue work. The animals here inspire me to work hard to find new ways of enriching their lives. I can only hope that I can provide half as much happiness to them as they bring to my life." - Amy Hartzell.