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History and Mission

Poverty’s Pets was established in 2006, under the direction of the Founder and Animal Advocate, Kate Sivolella, with a mission to address animals in low-income and underserved neighborhoods, with a particular focus on spay/neuter clinics. Since 2008, Poverty’s Pets has facilitated the adoption of over 1200 animals and provides medical services to over 500 animals each year. We have created a foster home, known as the Columbus House, for any dogs that cross our paths. With a compassionate volunteer network, it is Poverty’s Pets goal to end animal cruelty, suffering, overpopulation and homelessness

Poverty's Pets is 501c3 non-profit.

Meet the Board
Kate Sivolella
Founder and Executive Director

Kate was born and raised in Montclair, New Jersey but has called Phoenix her home for over 20 years. She graduated from Fordham University and is a licensed Realtor and Property Manager, in addition to founding Poverty’s Pets.


Her work prior to starting Poverty’s Pets often brought her to underserved communities in downtown Phoenix where she began noticing that many of the dogs in this area were neglected, abused, and greatly in need of care and services. Moved by the suffering, Kate was inspired to help and did so in starting Poverty’s Pets. Besides Kate’s love of rescuing pets, Kate loves Ice hockey, she’s an avid NY Giants fan, and enjoys listening to music. She also loves spending time with her family, which uniquely consists of two sets of twins!

Angie Padgitt

Spending most of her childhood in Tucson, Angie was naturally a Wildcat fan and attended The University of Arizona for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Angie then moved to the San Francisco area for five years where she adopted her first pitbull, Emma, from the county shelter. She fell in love with bully breeds and began volunteering with BADRAP, San Francisco Bay Area, to help train shelter dogs to help make them more adoptable. Angie moved to the Phoenix area  in 2005 and adopted her first Poverty’s Pets rescue in 2007, LolaBug. About 1 ½ years later, she fostered a Poverty’s Pets rescue and became a foster failure when she adopted LexiLooWhoo. Angie’s husband and sons help to support Poverty’s Pets as well. They are an animal-loving family!

Margaret LaBianca
Vice President

Trained as a lawyer at the University of Arizona, and now serving as a commissioner with the Maricopa County Superior Court, Margaret first engaged with Poverty’s Pets through fostering and adopting her family’s much- loved dogs, Posie and Jacque, and then by providing pro bono legal services.  Before moving to Arizona in 1995 for law school, Margaret received a bachelor’s degree from Simmons College in Boston and a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York City.  Prior to becoming a lawyer, she worked as a political reporter and news editor for a community newspaper in Columbia County, New York, as well as for a goat cheese farm where she was involved in animal care, cheese making and selling at the Union Square Greenmarket.  Margaret serves on the board because she appreciates its clarity of mission and the long-time leadership in animal advocacy that Poverty’s Pets has established.

Dana Teel

Raised in Scottsdale/Phoenix since age six, Dana received her Associates Degree in Mortuary Science from the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science in 1995. She has since worked in Phoenix and Atlanta as a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer with a focus on Restorative Arts. She currently attending college part time in pursuit of a degree within the healthcare industry. Dana has spent many years volunteering with animal rescues and shelters and eventually discovered Poverty’s Pets, who’s vision, passion and goals aligned with her own.  She has been fostering dogs for Poverty’s Pets for four years. Two of her fosters, Maggie Mae and Willy, have found a permanent home with her family which includes her daughter, Riley and her son, Jake, three cats and her husband, John, who has been a wonderful help and support caring for the many rescues that have passed through their home.

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Sherri Hoffmann

Sherri grew up in South Lake Tahoe where her love for rescuing animals started. She is a graduate of Northern Arizona University and has been a special education teacher for over 30 years.  She retired this year and now has more time on her hands to take a more active role in Poverty's Pets. Sherri has been a part of Poverty's Pets for many years as a volunteer, helping organize fundraisers and is proud to now serve on the board.  She is married to Mark and they have two young adult sons, Blake and Connor. She currently has 5 furbabies - 3 dogs and 2 cats - and usually a fur foster. 

Yolanda Bejarano
Board Member, Community Education Program

Yolanda is a Senior Campaign Lead with Communications Workers of America where she recruits and trains members on running campaigns. Ms. Bejarano got involved in electoral work in 2010 and has since helped elect many pro-worker candidates. In 2014, she was awarded the Arizona AFL-CIO Activist of the Year. Ms. Bejarano sits on Congressman Ruben Gallego’s Women’s Advisory council and is a board member of the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center.

MJ Simpson
Board Member, Shelter Dog Program

MJ dedicates herself to serving Maricopa County through her law practice and community involvement. She has practiced law for 20 years in a variety of areas, mainly representing injured individuals and the families of those who lose a family member as the result of someone else’s wrongdoing. MJ makes time to give back to the community in which she was born and raised, assuming leadership roles in legal organizations, helping at-risk teenagers at Florence Crittenton, and working with One Love Pit Bull Foundation which lead her to her involvement with Poverty's Pets.

Chloe Liberman
Website Manager

Chloe is an Arizona native, born and raised in Scottsdale, currently living in Phoenix. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice in 2014.  When she isn't lounging at home with her 2 dogs, 2 cats and boyfriend, he spends her free time taking pottery classes or painting pet portraits. She became involved with Poverty's Pets when she was looking for another dog, and ended up with her first foster, and foster fail - Taylor now Clementine. 

Melissa Gogel
Board Member

Born and raised in Nashville, TN, Melissa graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BS in Marketing.  When she’s not cheering on her Vols during football season or snuggling with her dogs, Melissa is out and about supporting local boutiques and restaurants (translation: shopping and eating). She’s often accompanied by a Poverty’s Pets pup, giving them a special adventure and extra socialization. She and her husband Mike share their lives with two rescue dogs – Tanner the Chihuahua (7) and Hannah the Pittie (5).  Hannah is a Poverty’s Pets alum who was saved, along with her four puppies, during flyer distribution for a spay/neuter clinic. Melissa began volunteering for Poverty’s Pets in the summer of 2014.

Rachel Southard
Board Member

Born and raised in small-town Minnesota, Rachel is a project management professional with a special place in her heart for health and fitness, but more importantly, for Poverty’s Pets and its rescue and advocacy efforts.  In 2010, Rachel adopted the “untouchable dog” from Poverty’s Pets. With patience and love, Lila (formerly Jojo) was able to build trust and has blossomed, showing love and empathy towards all beings, including her guinea pig brother, Baldwin.  Because of Rachel's advocacy and networking, she has facilitated the adoption and transportation for countless rescue animals over the years and continues to volunteer and offer guidance to Poverty’s Pets from California. 

Bill Ross
Board Member

Bill was born and raised in and around Minneapolis, MN but has called Arizona home for the last 30+ years.  He graduated with a BS in Computer Science in 1989 from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from Arizona State in 2002.
Bill has served and supported local non-profits over the last 25 years including serving as Board Chair for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Arizona.  He retired from his position as a senior executive with a Fortune 100 company in 2021 after a 31 year career.  Since retiring, he enjoys traveling with friends and family when he is not supporting Poverty’s Pets animal rescue or fundraising activities.  Bill and his wife Jane are blessed with two adult daughters, Allie and Kristen, and their 14 year old dog Riley.  As a Board Member, Bill’s focus is working with local government officials and agencies to help drive change in local policies and ordinances to address long term challenges within our community related to animal welfare and over-population.

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