Stephanie Nistler, Chief Executive Officer

Stephanie Nistler is the CEO 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, Stevie Nicks, Wyatt & Catfish Jones.

Emily Holmes, Operations Director

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 the incredible Tahoe community! Utilizing her love of animals and creativity Emily has the tools it takes to find you the perfect pet.

Emily lives in Truckee with her husband, young daughter and her three HSTT alumni Moose (cat), Murphy (dog) & Ruby (dog & household sheriff).

Dale Lawrence, Development and Marketing 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 two HSTT canine alumni, Scout and Rider.

Erin Ellis, Community Engagement Director

Erin Ellis started with the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe in May of 2008 as the Volunteer & Foster Progam Manager. She's held several different position titles over the years and is now the Director of Community Engagement. She oversees volunteer programs including all shelter volunteers, Pet Assisted Therapy programs, Humane Education progams as well as  the shelters PR. 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. She has also been featured as a speaker at several conferences. 

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, twins, Isabella and Kellen and pup Oscar.

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 advocate for every pet and their person 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 so they stay in their loving homes. Her hopeful wish is that every pet in our community is spayed or neutered and that our tight community embraces the opportunity to experience the loving bonds built through adoption.

Kara lives in Truckee with her shy, sweet & hilarious dog Johnny Thunders, and his aggressively affectionate cat adversary Sir Mazer Lazer, both adopted from HSTT.

Mariel Berei, South Lake Tahoe Program Manager

Mariel is the newest hire for HSTT as the Program Manager for South Lake Tahoe. She was born and raised in a rural, eastern Iowa farming community where caring for animals are a way of life. She graduated Arizona State University with a degree in Communications before heading to South Lake Tahoe in 2007. But not without her rescue from the desert, Jillian McGillicuddy. Hiking with her dog in the summer and snowboarding in winter are her favorite mountain pastimes. She is beyond excited to join our team and help restore the services that South Shore has been desperately in need of.  She still resides in South Lake with her husband, Stephen, and her now 11- year- old elderbull.


Samantha Laroche, Volunteer & Foster Programs Manager

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 bachelor’s degree 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 and travel. She lives in Truckee with her husband, Mike, baby daughter, Tatum and their rescued dog, Leo.

Katrina Johnson, Fundraising and Special Event Coordinator


Originally from a rural Northern California town, Katrina grew up immersed in animals and the outdoors and was drawn to the Truckee community and way of life from her first visit as a child. With a BS in Special Events from CSU Chico, she moved to Florida and eventually landed here in Truckee and has worked in the local nonprofit community for the last 6 years. Before landing her dream position, she was an avid HSTT Volunteer, signing up for every event she could. Katrina’s diverse event experience includes corporate teambuilding at Disney World, local youth programming, eco-event design and fundraising events for multiple non-profits. Over the years, she has honed into her devotion and appreciation for the nonprofit sector – seeking to improve the quality of life, and animal life in our region; one event at a time. Her favorite quote provides some insight into how her personality fuses with her event style - “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun” - Mary Poppins. In her free time, you can find her volunteering, acting, painting or adventuring with her dog in the great outdoors.

Katrina lives in Truckee with her boyfriend, Gary, her HSTT Alumni pup, Remington and her other rescue pets; Smokey (cat), Bandit (cat) and Turt Reynolds (turtle).

McKenna Purdy, Adoption Specialist

McKenna Purdy is one of the lucky ones who can truly say she is a born and raised Truckee local. Living in the Truckee area, McKenna has always had dogs. In 2016 she adopted a cat named Maddy who changed her life. In 2017 her family adopted a second cat named Luna. When McKenna was a senior at Truckee High School she adopted her crazy dog Oliver. After adopting him, McKenna was very fascinated in the adoption process from start to finish, so she worked at the pet store in Truckee for about a year. After learning about animal nutrition, she wanted to help change the lives of the little furry creatures we call family. McKenna began working for HSTT in June of 2021 and is attending Sierra College to get her associates degree in Marine Biology.

Alexa Gross, Adoption Specialist

Alexa was born and raised in Truckee and quickly took an interest in the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.  She fostered kittens for years before adopting her first animal from HSTT, her cat Coco.  She has always had a passion for helping animals.  She volunteered at a horse rescue in Reno, ultimately rescuing a companion pony for her own horse. She also enjoyed helping her friends and family with pet sitting and dog walking in her spare time. 

After she graduated from Truckee High in 2016, Alexa attended Seattle University where she obtained a Bachelor's degree in Communications and Spanish in 2020.  She is now working on her Master’s in Communications and Leadership at Gonzaga University! Go Zags!  Before moving back to Truckee to start the next chapter in her life, she rescued her two dogs, Shasta and Shiloh, the lights of her life.  She is now working for HSTT, with the goal of finding a forever home for every animal that comes through our shelter!

Liz Alstott, Adoption Specialist

Liz came to Truckee 4 years ago, in hopes of joining a beautiful, family-oriented community to raise her son. Once her little family settled in, Liz decided she needed a career change to something more fulfilling. Her love for animals and desire to make a positive difference led Liz to the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe. She quickly learned that finding the perfect family for homeless pets never gets old!

In Liz's freetime, she enjoys exploring Truckee with her son, Luke, taking her HSTT alumni pup, Dobby, on long hikes, and wandering the aisles of Grocery Outlet.