Stephanie Nistler, Executive Director

Stephanie Nistler is the Executive Director for the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe. After volunteering for one year raising funds for the organization, she was hired as the first employee in 2004. She and her team are deeply committed to saving the lives of homeless pets in our community and beyond.

Steph has been working in animal welfare since 1996. She has held many positions including Volunteer & Education Director, Special Events Director and Development Director for organizations such as No More Homeless Pets in Utah, Best Friends Animal Society, and The Humane Society of Utah.

Steph received her bachelor of science degree from the University of Utah in 1998. She and her husband, Justin, are the proud parents of four HSTT alumni; Rosebud, Leroy, Wyatt & Catfish.

Dale Lawrence, Development Director

After a number of years volunteering for the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe, Dale jumped at the chance to join the organization's staff. A variety of experience, including many years as a graphic designer in Sacramento and for non-profits in the Tahoe area, combined with her time as the Membership Coordinator for the Truckee Donner Land Trust, made Dale a perfect fit as Development Manager for the Humane Society. Earning a degree in Humanities from Sacramento State University heightened Dale's awareness that an individual can make a difference in one's community and she has integrated that philosophy into her life here in Truckee.

Growing up on a farm surrounded by animals ranging from family dogs to turkeys, Dale's love for animals goes back as far as she can remember. Dale has spent many years fostering HSTT dogs and puppies and has a beautiful dog, Alyeska, a pure bred Siberian Husky and Scout an Australian Shepherd-Sheltie mix, both adopted from HSTT. Dale lives with her fiance and dogs and hopes to add a cat to the family soon.

Erin Ellis, Volunteer and Humane Education Program Manager

Erin Ellis started with the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe in May of 2008 as the Volunteer & Foster Progam Manager. Her position has evolved to Volunteer and Humane Education Program Manager. She oversees volunteer programs including all shelter volunteers and the pet assisted therapy program as well as all Humane Education progams. She has had a love of animals and the desire to help them since she was very young. Over the years she has volunteered and worked as a Public Relations Intern for different animal welfare organizations.

Erin was originally from Sacramento, but came to the beautiful Truckee area in 2006 after graduating from the California University of Sacramento with a degree in Organizational Communication. She worked as a marketing manager before taking the position here at the Humane Society. She lives with her husband, Nate, daughter, Emma, and two dogs, Chloe and Joie.

Emily Holmes, Animal Programs Manager

Originally from the Chico area, Emily’s passion for the outdoors coupled with her love for adventure led her straight to the Tahoe Basin. Here she enjoys volunteering, hiking, biking, camping, swimming, and all that the Truckee area has to offer! Utilizing her love of animals and creativity Emily has the tools it takes to find you the perfect pet.

Emily lives in Somersett with her husband, adopted cat moose and two adopted dogs Ruby & Murphy, all HSTT alumni.

Kara Carstensen, Outreach Programs Manager

Native to St. Louis, Kara received her BA from the University of Missouri - Columbia. Her goals within HSTT are to bridge the gap between intention and access to care for local pets, assist in the reduction of homeless animals through spay/neuter outreach, and continue to advocate for every pet in our community and beyond. Kara understands the importance and significance of pets to people from all walks of life, and seeks to support our community members in nurturing their animals, resulting in retention within their loving homes. Her hopeful wish is that every pet in our community is spayed or neutered and is given the opportunity to experience the loving bonds built through adoption!

Kara lives in Truckee with her sweet and hilarious adopted dog and HSTT alumnus, Johnny Thunders.

Samantha Van Ruiten, Adoption Specialist

Samantha grew up in a small farming town in California’s central valley, and has spent the majority of her life in Truckee.  Her love for the mountains and the outdoors led her to remain in the Truckee Tahoe area where she obtained her BA in Sustainability from Sierra Nevada College. She is driven to make a difference in the lives of the animals here at the shelter and hopes that her role with the Humane Society will make a positive impact in our community. Becoming part of HSTT’s amazing staff has been such a rewarding experience for her and she looks forward to growing with the organization.

Samantha loves to ski, hike, camp, water ski and is currently working on her fly fishing skills. She lives in Truckee with her Fiancé Mike and their adopted dog Leo.

Kathy Rutschmann, Adoption Specialist

Ecuadorean born and raised in Los Angeles, Kathy has had a love affair with animals since her first cat rescue at the age of 7. She has adopted strays as well as fostered both cats and dogs. Kathy has been volunteering for the better welfare of animals from foster events for her local shelter to wild animal rescue facilities in Ecuador and Costa Rica. Her current dog, Lobo, was rescued as a puppy when she was back packing in Ecuador in 2011. 

A love of nature and adventure prompted a need to look for new surroundings from the Bay Area. Kathy and her partner decided to not only move to Truckee in 2015 but also have it as the back drop for their wedding. Her drive to connect with community combined with her passion for giving has brought her to HSTT. Working with animals is a life long passion and she looks forward to adding a HSTT rescue to her family.

Tara Guerrette, Adoption Specialist

Tara was born and raised in the Lake Tahoe area, where she discovered her passion for animals at a very young age. Tara started volunteering at the Tahoe Vista animal shelter where she ended up adopting her first dog Leroy at the age of 16. It didn’t take long after that to realize how much a shelter animal can impact your life for the better.

Tara has recently joined the HSTT team to turn her passion for caring about animals into a career and help you find your new best friend. Tara lives in Tahoe vista with her HSTT rescue Norman and hopes to add another to their family eventually.