Meet The Team - Gulf Coast Humane Society

Meet The Team

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Gary Willoughby

Executive Director

Gary Willoughby

Executive Director

Gary Willoughby serves as the Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Humane Society. Gary joined GCHS in 2021 after leading animal welfare organizations previously in New York, Ohio, and South Carolina, while volunteering and/or serving as a board member for a number of animal welfare organizations in Florida. Gary was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan, but lived in Florida for most of his life. He earned an Associate’s Degree at then Edison Community College in Fort Myers, then later went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications from the University of Mobile in Alabama. He earned a certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, another in nonprofit management from the Harvard Business School of Buffalo, as well as a graduate certificate in Gerontology and a Master’s in Public Administration from Florida Gulf Coast University. Gary is a member of the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement and is a former board member for the New York Animal Protection Federation, as well as with the Medaille College Veterinary Technician School. Gary also serves on the Advisory Council for Lincoln Memorial’s College of Veterinary Medicine. ​Gary and his wife, Meghan, share their home with their dog Oliver and their cat Emmett. Gary and Meghan love being back home with their family, spending time on the water in their kayaks, and searching for new vegan restaurants. Gary is pictured with GCHS shelter dog, Toby.

Gloria Letendre

Clinic Manager

Gloria Letendre

Clinic Manager

​After a successful career in real estate, Gloria decided to use her college degree in animal science and switch fields to animal welfare. She went to work at Lee County Domestic Animal Services and became a state certified Animal Control Officer and worked in the neighborhoods throughout Lee County. She was then promoted to kennel supervisor and worked with various fosters and rescue groups to increase adoptions of the many homeless pets. After several years she was recruited to join the Gulf Coast Humane Society as Clinic Manager to help expand and grow the affordable clinic which is open to the public. Recently GCHS was donated a former medical office building and the clinic operations moved to the off-site location and is now able to accommodate more clients and their pets. ​She resides in Cape Coral with her three rescue dogs-Kelsey Lee, Parker Jack (her foster failure), and the newly adopted Paxton Blue. She wishes everyone would…Adopt, Not Shop when looking to add a pet to the family.

Kristin Sampson

Shelter Manager

Kristin Sampson

Shelter Manager

Gulf Coast Humane Society’s Shelter Manager, Kristin Sampson, is originally from Kansas City, Missouri, where she started working with animals at a young age through her family’s grooming and boarding business. She quickly realized she wanted to make a career out of helping animals, so she started fostering with a rescue before accepting a position at her local Humane Society. Since then, she has worked at several shelters, in a variety of roles, throughout Missouri and Kansas. She moved to Florida in 2015 to work at the Humane Society Naples, first as the Volunteer and Foster Manager, then moving into the role of Shelter Manager. In her 20 years of animal welfare work, Kirstin has also helped on a national level with large-scale disasters, hoarding, puppy mills, and implementing no-kill strategies in underserved shelters. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, gardening, and spending time with her three cats: Jack, Little Bit, and Teddy, along with her two dogs Maggie and Juju. Kristin has been the GCHS Shelter Manager since August, 2022.

Brian Wierima

Community Relations Coordinator

Brian Wierima

Community Relations Coordinator

Brian Wierima and his beloved DJ, who passed away in July of 2019. Brian Wierima is a Minnesota native, living in the land of 10,000 frozen lakes for four decades, before seeking the Florida sunshine in August of 2014. Wierima was the Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Newspapers for 18 years, before departing (with his family, wife Chrisy and son Brody) for Fort Myers, Fla. He worked for the Breeze Newspapers as Editor for the News Reporter on Sanibel for 1.5 years. There, he wrote several articles about the GCHS, including the Sunset – Bait Dog series, which literally captured his heart. Wierima has three passions in life – besides family – including animals, rock music and football. He has three dogs, including Sota (GCHS adoptee wire-hair Jack Russell mix), ZaZa (border collie and GCHS Foster Failure) and an English/French Bulldog named Lemmy, who was another GCHS adoptee. Nash, who was his 16-year-old yellow lab in Minnesota, and beloved DJ (pictured) each have crossed the Rainbow Bridge, but are still deep in the family’s heart. The Wierima family currently resides in Cape Coral, Fla.

Jessica Purdy

Volunteer & Intake Coordinator

Jessica Purdy

Volunteer & Intake Coordinator

Jessica Purdy, Volunteer & Intake Coordinator ​Jessica originally joined Gulf Coast Humane Society in 2015 as Event Coordinator, rejoining GCHS as Volunteer Coordinator in 2017. Coming from a retail management position of 12 years at Aqua Beachwear, Jessica works closely with the staff and volunteers. Previously, she was a Compassionate Pug Rescue volunteer and held a successful live & silent auction for the rescue. Jessica is from Monticello, Minnesota and currently lives with her husband, Dirk, in Fort Myers helping run Your K9’s Come 1st doggie daycare & boarding. They have a Purdy Pack of 12 dogs: Mercury, Pinky, Lamb, Sage, Cashew, Cleo, Thomas, Taylor, Grace, Ceena, Ellie, and Lucky.

Cynthia Jennings

Clinic Front Office Supervisor

Cynthia Jennings

Clinic Front Office Supervisor

Cynthia Jennings grew up in central Illinois in a small town called Minonk. Cynthia moved with her family to Florida when she was eight years old. Growing up and going to the Lee County School system for her education, she realized at a young age that animals were an interest that may prove to be a career for her. After she graduated from Cape Coral High School, she realized one of the best paths forward for this career was to continue her education. Seizing upon opportunity, Cynthia joined the Gulf Coast Humane Society in February of 2016 and is now the Front Office Supervisor for the Veterinary Clinic. Since she was the Copy Center Expert at Staples for eight years prior, she is bringing a strong background in customer service. Ever since Cynthia was a little girl she always had a great love for animals and being able to finally work with them is a dream come true for her! Cynthia has two pets in her life at the moment, a cat and a dog. Jazmine, a Siamese Mix and Cassie (pictured), the Miniature Australian Shepherd. She also plans to foster animals from the Gulf Coast Humane Society Shelter to continue assisting the pet population in the local county in the near future. Cynthia is attending Florida Southwestern State College in hopes of becoming a “Large” Animal Veterinarian in the future.

Tricia Boone

Outreach/Foster Coordinator

Tricia Boone

Outreach/Foster Coordinator

Tricia joined Gulf Coast Humane Society in December of 2018 to grow the Senior to Senior Foster Program funded by United Way, which allows residents at independent and assisted living facilities and 55 and older communities to foster these animals in their home. “This program is limitless and delivers much love and companionship to both the older pets and senior residents.” She received her BSW from North Carolina State University and worked as a social worker for Hope Hospice for 6 years before joining her husband in his family business. Tricia has managed the office at Boone Electric for the last 20 years. Tricia attended her first event for Caloosa Humane Society in 2009 and knew she wanted to be involved with animal rescue and do what she could to benefit homeless pets. Tricia joined the Board of Directors and worked as the Events Chairman, organizing all of the fundraising efforts for the shelter. She also brought strong social media skills increasing the visibility of CHS. Tricia served as Vice President and President of the Board, which was a boots on the ground organization. In 2013 Tricia received the Jim Dellas & Cheryl Deering Animalitarian Award from Humane Society Naples for her efforts in animal rescue. In her spare time, she enjoys boating and photography. She loves spending her time at the Gulf Coast Humane Society taking photos of the pets in search of a forever home. Tricia is grateful for the opportunity to work for the senior pets at GCHS. Tricia shares her life with five dogs, Joey, Shoney, & Oliver, adopted from Caloosa Humane Society. And Sammy & Penny adopted from Gulf Coast Humane Society. She recently added 2 cats to her pack, Theo & Polly, both adopted from GCHS.

Ashley Davis

Processing Supervisor

Ashley Davis

Processing Supervisor

Cassi Cossia

Spay/Neuter Clinic Manager

Cassi Cossia

Spay/Neuter Clinic Manager

Cassi Coccia started with the GCHS Spay and Neuter Clinic in 2017 when she moved back to Florida from Colorado. In 2018, she became the lead surgical technician and then accepted the management position in November 2019. Cassi was also previously employed with the Gulf Coast Humane Society Veterinary Clinic from 2014-2015 before moving to Colorado. She has a Bachelors in Biology from FGCU in 2013 and attended Penn Foster College where she received her certification as a Veterinary Technician in November 2018. Cassi has three rescue dogs (Dakota – pictured – Sampson and Chevy) and a rescue cat named Po. Cassi loves kayaking, boating, going to the beach and hiking with her dogs. She is married to Ryan Coccia. ​Originally from Iowa, her family moved to Florida when Cassi was three, so she considers herself a Floridian.

Tammy Rhoades

Controller

Tammy Rhoades

Controller

Tammy Rhoades is originally from New Jersey, but moved to FLorida from Pennsylvania 10 years ago. Tammy recently adopted Belle from GCHS, and she has had dogs and cats her entire life (adopted or rescued), most recently two retired racing greyhounds. Her work experience includes working in the accounting field her entire career. She has worked in Non-profit accounting for the last 10 years at The Salvation Army and Area Agency on Aging prior to GCHS. Working at GCHS is a perfect fit, combining her love of animals, working for a non-profit and her accounting experience…all of which benefits the shelter animals!

Lori Hardacker

Events Coordinator

Lori Hardacker

Events Coordinator

Lori Hardacker is originally from Massachusetts, but before Lori made Florida her home, she was living in her RV full-time, traveling and working around the country with her dog, Essie, and her two cats, Satine and Tonks. ​She began this journey in May of 2016 and decided to come off the road in July of 2019. During her RV adventure, she worked in Maine, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, New Mexico, Michigan and Wyoming. Lori has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and now has a small event company for which she hosts single’s events, dating and relationship trivia, “Hound and Human Happy Hours” and mixology events. Lori graduated from Roger Williams University and received a BA in Dance and a minor in Theater. For four years, she owned and operated a successful dance studio and then later on created a traveling dance and fitness program that she brought to preschools, daycare and recreation centers and YMCAs in New England. Lastly, her “kids” are one canine and one feline and she is planning on keeping it that way!