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Board of Directors


Michael Wagner


Michael has been an active donor in the San Jose rescue community for the last several years. As a lifelong animal lover, shelter activist, and champion of environmental issues, he is thrilled to be part of a team that is able to have an immediate impact on the quality of life of newborn kittens that come into the San Jose Animal Care Center every year.

A 4th generation Californian and Cal alum whose last football game attended as an undergrad at Berkeley was "The Play", Michael has always cherished his Bay Area roots and sports teams, even as he spent 10 years of his life in New York City as a commodity floor trader in #4 World Trade Center.

"I take great pride in being a native of this amazing environment that we are able to enjoy everyday here in the Bay Area. The incredible landscape, the people, the entrepreneurship, the food, the nature that is all around us and the amazing weather. As someone that has lived on both coasts, what we enjoy here cannot be taken for granted! Moreover, my late father taught me how to give back to our community here, and I can't think of a better way than to take my love of cats and leverage that into a greater good for the people of the Bay Area."

Michael is a private investor who lives in Walnut Creek, with his two tabbies Casey and Nini. He received a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of California in 1982.


Ashley Kotkin


Ashley comes from a long line of serious feline fanatics (seriously, her last name means little cat in Russian). After years of counting cat tchotchkes around her grandparents' house and helping raise her parents' furry menagerie, it was only natural that she would find her way into the world of kitten rescue.

Since moving to California in 2017, she’s become a passionate advocate for San Jose’s most vulnerable animals. She started out fostering, but quickly began supporting several groups with systems administration and project management to help improve the efficiency and efficacy of the critical life-saving programs these groups provide to the Bay Area. When she began volunteering with the San Jose Animal Care Center, she quickly fell in love with their staff, facility, and selfless commitment to the city’s constituents (of all species).

Ashley joined Kittens First for the San Jose Animal Care Center with the goal of helping educate our community on how to safely care for babies in need, building a network of volunteers to provide much needed manpower to work alongside shelter staff, and most importantly, showing people why supporting municipal animal shelters actually helps to save more lives.


Melanie Silva


Melanie has always had a strong love for cats. When she drove across the country with her own cat, Elphie, the first thing she did when settled was find a cat rescue to start volunteering at. She’s spent several years working with local rescues, and currently is employed with the Humane Society of Silicon Valley where she makes sure each cat goes to its’ purrfect forever home.

This cat lover joined Kittens First for the San Jose Animal Care Center for its passionate mission and focus on education. Her goal is to make sure everyone who wants to help save kittens is fully equipped and prepared to do so. When she's not helping with kittens, Melanie enjoys learning about a variety of historical cultures and holistic health care.

Board Member

Allie Hewett

Board Member

Allie started volunteering with shelters and rescues after adopting her first dog from the San Jose Animal Care Center in 2012. With a background in the mental health, education, and tech industries, she's passionate about cultivating an animal welfare organization that invests in both animal and human well-being. Allie is thrilled to be on the board of Kittens First for the San Jose Animal Care Center and continue advocating for the tiny creatures who make her smile every day.

Allie enjoys exploring tide pools, studying animal behavior, crafting, and live music. In between bottle feedings, you can find her adventuring with her dogs, Whiskey and Ruby, and cat, Perl, all of whom are alive today because of the collective effort of the animal welfare community.


Interested in Joining the Board?

Kittens First for the San Jose Animal Care Center is run by volunteer board members that guide our mission to save more kittens. If you want to improve animal welfare, then joining our team is a great way to give back to the community! As a board member, you will be expected to attend quarterly board meetings and to volunteer approximately 20 hours per month.

Want to chat more? We'd love to hear from you! Send us an email at and we'll see if you are a good match for one of our open positions.

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