One of the original founders of FOTAS, Jennifer and her husband Peter moved to Aiken in 2005 with her retired event horse, Junior. Prior to moving to Aiken, Jennifer worked in the retail automotive industry in Massachusetts, where she built and managed the largest independently-owned car rental company in the country at the time. She left the car business to pursue her love of training and competing sport horses.
Jennifer’s love of animals caused her and two other women to create the Friends of the Animal Shelter, Inc. (FOTAS) in 2009 to supplement the County’s resources with volunteers and privately donated funds. Jennifer was instrumental in the development of the highly successful public/private partnership with Aiken County and the planning and development of the new Aiken County Animal Shelter, along with the creation of a highly successful, volunteer, foster and transfer program.
Joanna Dunn Samson
Joanna joined the FOTAS Board in the Spring of 2012 and spearheaded the funding campaign for the construction of the new County Shelter, which opened in 2013. A practicing attorney until 2002, Joanna specialized in developing public/private partnerships for the development of large infrastructure projects. She served as the Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection until 2006, where she managed six operating departments and 3500 employees.
Joanna has been a Master of Foxhounds for Fairfield County Hounds in Connecticut for 11 years. She currently serves as President of the Board of Trustees of the Aiken Land Conservancy. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Hitchcock Woods Foundation. She lives in downtown Aiken with her husband, David, and their two beloved shelter dogs, Maggie and Jack.
Mary Lou Welch
Also one of the original founders of FOTAS, Mary Lou and her husband Ward moved to Aiken in 2003 and established a horse farm. Prior to moving to Aiken, Mary Lou worked in the technology field for 25 years, holding management positions in high tech firms such as Data General and Sun Microsystems and Digital Equipment Corporation.
Mary Lou was instrumental in the development of the highly successful public/private partnership with Aiken County and the planning and development of the new Aiken County Animal Shelter, along with the creation of a highly successful, volunteer, foster and transfer program. Mary Lou currently runs her own AFLAC insurance business.
A lifelong resident of Aiken, Frank is the City Executive with South State Bank. He has spent over 32 years in the Banking/Financial Industry and has been active in the South Carolina Banker’s Association, currently serving as a Course Coordinator for the S C Banker’s School. In addition, he is a Board Member for the Community Care and Counseling Center of Aiken. Frank’s previous community involvement has included past Chairman, Young Banker’s Division of the SC Banker’s Association, past Board Member of Mead Hall School, past President of the Southern Cross Sertoma Club.
Frank is married to Beth Ballard Townsend and has four children, Frank (20), Pinckney (17) and twins Wallace & Wright (13). He enjoys hunting, fishing and golf. The family pets include two shelter cats, Charlie and George. Frank joined the FOTAS Board in 2012.
Ellie and Bill Joos moved to Aiken 2 years ago from New Jersey with Ellie’s two horses, Bill’s love of golf and their two cats. Ellie worked in the home sewing, quilting and craft industry for many years before starting her own marketing and product development business. Currently, Ellie handles the public relations for a line of DIY cloth diaper making products she developed with her partner, and is sold nationwide.
After moving to Aiken and reading about the homeless animals at the shelter, Ellie began walking dogs and socializing with the cats. Gradually she became more involved with FOTAS and today serves as the FOTAS On Site Event Chairperson. Her committee has begun the Dog Ears reading program, the Puppy Socials, and other on site events to bring the attention of the shelter to the Aiken county community.
Jeri is a graduate of Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She holds a BA degree in English Literature and Writing and is a certified teacher in K-12. She has owned and operated Herbal Solutions for 20 years and makes her home in Aiken, SC. She and her husband Michael have two fur babies, Bebe and Shep (both dogs), who rule the household. Jeri joined the FOTAS Board in 2017.
Edie moved to Aiken in 2007 from the Maryland/Washington DC suburbs when she retired. Having spent 25 years with the IBM Corporation, as well as 16 years selling residential real estate after retiring from IBM, she immediately got involved in the Aiken community as a volunteer and in leadership positions with the Cedar Creek Property Owners’ Association Architectural Review Board, the Cedar Creek Ladies Club, and the Aiken Newcomers Club.
She joined the Board of Directors of FOTAS in 2013. Edie has chaired several highly successful fundraisers for FOTAS and was a passionate advocate for the construction of the new Aiken County Animal Shelter. In 2016 she moved to the Charlotte suburbs of South Carolina (Fort Mill) but remains involved in our cause and a member of the FOTAS Board.
Ellen is a native of Connecticut and resident of Aiken since 1988. In November 2017, she began her current role as Community Engagement Liaison with Aiken County Public Schools. From 2013 through 2016, she was President and Publisher of Aiken Communications, including The Aiken Standard and the North Augusta Star. From 2007-2013, she served as President and Publisher of Summerville Communications, including the Summerville Journal Scene, The (Goose Creek) Gazette, and the Berkeley Independent, while traveling to Aiken on the weekends to see her husband. Ellen served as the business manager of the Aiken Standard from 1988-2007.
Ellen has two children and two incredibly spoiled fur-babies. She is a graduate of USC Aiken with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting. She joined the FOTAS Board in 2015, and serves on nine other boards, including as past-chair of the Child Advocacy Board, USC Aiken’s Partnership Board, United Way, Aiken Downtown Development Association, Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, First Tee, Advance Aiken, and as the Immediate Past President of the South Carolina Press Association. She is also a member of the Rotary Club of Aiken.
Dr. Charles Timmerman
Charlie brings his passion for Veterinary Medicine and his expertise in the care of small animals to the FOTAS Board, which he joined in 2013. A graduate of Clemson University and the University of Georgia Veterinary School in 1970, he moved to Aiken after graduation, married an Aiken girl, Colleen Kneece, and worked for Dr. Grady McElmurray. Charlie opened his own small animal practice in 1972. Charlie and Colleen have 2 children and 3 grandchildren. He is an avid Clemson Tiger sports fan, raises hunting dogs, and enjoys quail hunting, golf and his grandchildren.
Always looking for new ways to promote health and healing for our animal friends, He is working closely with the County in the development of new standards and practices at the new Aiken County Animal Shelter.
Allison H. Tyler, Jr.
Allison is a life long resident of Aiken County. He is the third generation owner of Tyler Brothers, a Wagener business opened by his grandfather in 1904. Also, he is president of Piggly Wiggly #72 in Wagener. His passion is aviation—sailplanes, power planes and radio controlled model planes. He is past Chairman of the Soaring Society of America and was a member of the US team at the World Gliding Championships in Hungary in 2010.
Allison, his wife Rhonda and son Wesley currently have three rescue dogs—Ellie, Abby and Shadow. Their daughter, Carmen, also has two rescue dogs and fosters dogs for her local shelter in North Carolina. He joined the FOTAS Board in 2017.
Fr. Grant Wiseman
Father Grant Wiseman moved to the Diocese of Upper South Carolina in 2009 with his wife, Heather, and his twin daughters, Audrey and Abby. Prior to becoming the rector for St. Thaddeus Church in Aiken, Grant served churches in Nebraska and Ohio, and prior to becoming a priest, he worked in boarding schools, owned a legal services firm and was an Arabic Linguist in the Army. He earned his Masters of Divinity from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.
Grant, his wife Heather, have twin daughters, Audrey and Abby, have fostered hundreds of momma dogs and puppies for FOTAS and the Aiken County Animal Shelter. Grant and Heather are also fostering two children and are in the process of adopting them. These foster children are enjoying leaning how to take care of the puppies. Grant joined the FOTAS Board in 2013.
Heather has a Master’s Degree in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has twenty years of experience teaching Spanish at the high school level. Currently, Heather teaches two classes and spends the rest of her day working as a legal assistant.
Heather and her husband, Grant, have lived in Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, and South Carolina. They have twin daughters, Abby and Audrey, who help them take care of all of the foster puppies that they have helped. Heather and Grant are also fostering two children and are in the process of adopting them. These foster children are enjoying leaning how to take care of the puppies. Heather joined the FOTAS Board in 2016.
Shana Ryberg Pearsons
Shana Ryberg Pearsons returned to Aiken after living in Boston, the green mountains of VT, NYC, and northern FL. She recalls spending her entire 8th summer coaxing 3 feral kittens from under her grandparents’ home—an affection for animals that continues today. She and her husband Phil have adopted two dogs from the shelter – Dually and Pepper – who, she believes, are the cutest and best dogs in the world. Shana and Phil also enjoy fostering dogs from the shelter. Dually is a Good Canine Citizen and has started Therapy Dog training. He continues to teach Shana and Phil new tricks. Shana is a school teacher in Aiken County.
Caroline was one of the first volunteers recruited by Jennifer Miller in 2009. She devoted four mornings a week, every week, to the shelter walking and socializing dogs, assisting new volunteers, and helping evaluate dogs for transfer and still volunteers today. Before she and her husband Bill moved to Aiken in 2004, Caroline worked at the New York Stock Exchange, raised a daughter and worked for an international company that sold cars and vehicles to the military, diplomats and embassies.
“After I moved to Aiken, I volunteered with other community organizations, but once I started working with FOTAS,” said Caroline, “I knew I had found my calling.”
EX OFFICIO MEMBER
Councilwoman Rawls has been a consistent, effective and passionate political advocate for the development of a modern County shelter that provides a safe and healthy haven for the County’s homeless, abandoned and abused animals. Born and raised in Conway, South Carolina, Councilwoman Rawls has served as the District 1 representative on the Aiken County Council for twenty-six years, sixteen of which she has served as the Chair of Council’s Development Committee. Councilwoman Rawls also has served on the Lower Savannah Council of Governments for 20 years, and was Chairman in 2008.
Married for 54 years, Councilwoman Rawls has three children and seven grandchildren ranging in age from 13 to 22, including twins. Kathy gardens, enjoys reading and loves to travel. She and her husband have one dog. In addition, they are proud guardians of an affectionate shelter cat.