Our Human Pack

Brittany McDonald

Brittany McDonald

Executive Director and Bonafide Nerd

Brittany first fell in love with wolves when she was just 8 years old and has been actively pursuing her dream of working with them ever since! Though she is Minnesota born and raised, her passion for wildlife has led her all over the United States where she has gained experience caring for wolves, big cats, primates, reptiles, and so many more.
As a long-time supporter of Wild Spirit, Brittany has always admired the sanctuary’s dedication toward making our rescues’ health and happiness our number one priority, and with her knowledge of concepts like animal health and behavior, enrichment, and operant conditioning, she’s excited for the opportunity to further contribute to that philosophy!

It goes without saying that the role of Executive Director is one that encompasses many responsibilities, but as she prepares to follow in the footsteps of those that came before her, Brittany is confident about her abilities to lead the team toward continued growth that will forever aim to honor each of the “wild spirits” that call the sanctuary home.

Mike Budd

Mike Budd

Building and Maintenance Volunteer

VOLUNTEER OF THE DECADE!
Mike has been assisting our maintenance department for several years, and he personally handles many daily tasks that could otherwise fall to the wayside. Of course, our B&M team is always facing an overwhelming list of tasks, and Mike helps ensure that we are steadily accomplishing those tasks. Mike also goes on “meat-runs” for the sanctuary, meaning that he drives into Gallup or Albuquerque once a week to pick up meat donations for our rescues, without which we would not be able to survive.

Karen Burkart Guillén Yoko Ono Francis

Karen Burkart Guillén Yoko Ono Francis

Volunteer Animal Care Specialist

Karen came to WSWS in March of 2020 as a volunteer for six months after deciding a major change in her life was needed. Always a nature lover, it made perfect sense to her to come to a rural area and do animal care instead of being trapped in an office in a big city. She is Mexican, born and raised, but has since basically become a local after stealing the heart of our former Building and Maintenance Manager.
Karen now volunteers her time to help with animal care and lends a hand with design stuff when needed.
Stephanie Leitch

Stephanie Leitch

Gift Shop Superstar

Stephanie joined Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in 2019 working in the gift shop. She moved from the Philippines and is now living in the area. Stephanie helps with inventory, customer service, and keeping our gift shop nice and tidy. Stephanie says working at Wild Spirit where everyone welcomed her and made her feel like family has been life-changing for her.

Lisa McNitt

Lisa McNitt

Bookkeeper

As our Bookkeeper, Lisa bravely faces the difficult task of keeping a non-profit financially alive and running. With her help, we’ve managed to turn our organization into one that is healthy and growing, which is not an easy accomplishment. As a long-time Candy Kitchen local, Lisa understands how to survive in our extremely remote, rural setting, and she lends that knowledge to the rest of our pack whenever needed.
Shaina Miller

Shaina Miller

Education & Outreach Specialist/Intern Program Coordinator/Animal Care Specialist

Shaina’s journey to Wild Spirit began when she decided to make a career change from being a social worker in Manhattan to working full time with animals. Shaina has always had a passion for rescue and conservation efforts for both wildlife and domestics. She found herself beginning this new path by participating in Wild Spirit’s brand new internship program in 2020. After 7 months of working with large carnivores, she knew that this field was exactly where she was meant to be.

Shaina continued on with an apprenticeship at a children’s zoo in Nebraska working within their education and ambassador animal program. This amazing opportunity allowed her to work with many new species of animals and to use her social work background to connect with guests and children about these incredible creatures. Shaina knew she wanted to pursue working with large carnivores and never truly felt like she was ready to say goodbye to the human and animal family she made in Candy Kitchen. Since returning she has taken on the position of education specialist and intern program coordinator as well as remaining on the animal care team; and she is beyond excited to be a part of Wild Spirit’s growth in the upcoming years.

Megan Murphy

Megan Murphy

Animal Care Supervisor/Social Media Coordinator

Megan Murphy has been part of the Wild Spirit Team on-and-off since the summer of 2015 when she started as an Animal Care Volunteer. Megan returned the following summer after graduating with her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Hendrix College in Arkansas, resuming her role. However, later that year and throughout 2018, Megan transitioned into her staff position as Guest Services Coordinator.

After a few long trips back-and-forth across the country to Florida for work, and most recently Utah, Megan now returns to fill the role of Social Media & Outreach Developer. Of course, with her experience, she is one of our Animal Care Specialists, as well. Megan is very happy to find herself back “home” in Candy Kitchen. She is also excited to work alongside Tim Waite, Multimedia and Outreach Developer, to ignite Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary’s online presence into a passionate, informative, fun, and interactive experience.

Outside of work, Megan is a proud dog mom to three super cute pups: Logan, Carmella, and Tater!

Kiera Newman

Kiera Newman

Animal Care Intern

Kiera was born in the wild, abandoned, and found by a pack of pygmie otters, who raised her on the waters of the Biloxi river, near a Dollar General store in Wortham, Louisiana.

She can catch crawfish with her teeth, and her belch can be heard up to 40 miles away!

The story she prefers people belive about her:
I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and my family and I have always valued spending time together in nature. As a child my mom would take my siblings and I to the local zoo at least once a week during the summers, which is where I gained my love of animals. As I aged, I knew with every trip to a new sanctuary, refuge, or zoo, that this was the field that I wanted to work in. I have a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico in Biology with a minor in psychology. After graduating I started looking for jobs and internships in the animal care field and was lucky enough to find Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. I love the ideals that Wild Spirit has and I am so excited to be a part of the pack.

Danielle Steakley

Danielle Steakley

Animal Care Intern

Danielle has always had a passion for animals especially large carnivores so Wild Spirit is a perfect fit. She has a degree in Exotic Animal Training and Management from Moorpark College. Danielle has lived in California all her life so she was excited to make a change and move to New Mexico for the summer internship. She enjoys the rescue aspect of Wild Spirit and giving animals in need a forever home.
Tiffany Thurow

Tiffany Thurow

Animal Care Intern

Tiffany was born and raised in Portage, MI. As a Michigander her love for the outdoors and wildlife sprouted at a young age due to the countless number of “up north” trips and always being able to go to the lake. Growing up she always had a pet by her side and currently has three dogs back home. From a young age she always knew that she wanted to be a veterinarian and pursue a career helping any animal that came across her path. Tiffany graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Zoology back in May of 2021 and has applied to five veterinary schools to continue on her path.

Tiffany would love to pursue a career in wildlife conservation and provide support to the many animals that are being affected by human interference to their natural habitats. So, an intern position at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary seemed like a great way to get into that field. In her free time, Tiffany loves to draw and paint and also go hiking.

Perhaps her greatest achievement was in a previous life, when Tiffany, then known as Augustus Pennyweather, was Ring Master of Colonel Tom Wilde’s O’Possum Circus and Marsupial Menagerie. For 30 long years she (he?) travelled the country in a ramshackle wagon, hawking everything from hair restoration oils to varmint removal salves.

Victoria Uliano

Victoria Uliano

Donor Relations/Animal Care Specialist

As opposed to many of my fellow animal-lovers, my passion for canines did not start from childhood. In fact, I was scared off of dogs for the first fourteen or so years of my life, after being knocked around by one as a toddler. It wasn’t until after high-school that I felt a draw toward animals, and in a total life-changing decision, I left my major in graphic design and started working at a small town shelter called All Breed Rescue. This ended up being the best decision of my life. I spent the next three years at the shelter, learning everything I could about the domestic dog from medication distribution, to body language and behavioral training. I fell in love with animals and can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

Being a born and raised small town Vermonter, opportunities in the animal care world did not come easily. My time at the shelter had reached a point where I couldn’t learn anything more from them, and I was itching to broaden my experience. My desire to work in animal conservation was only growing, and after hearing about Wild Spirit, I applied as soon as I could. I’ve never been off the East Coast in my life, so it’s a huge but welcomed change. My experiences so far in training here have been amazing. In this short time I’ve learned much about wolves and their differences from domestic dogs, and the team I’m working with is a very close and incredible batch of people. I can’t wait to learn more about the canid family and get the most out of my experience here.

Tim Waite

Tim Waite

Web & Multimedia Developer/Part-Time Intergalactic Defender

Tim is responsible for most of the digital madness that happens at the sanctuary. He has worked in a number of tech-related fields, including web design and development, video production, computer networking and server management, and customer support for large broadcast news systems. He spent 13 years in the US Army, including several years overseas, in Germany and two tours in Southwest Asia.

More recently, Tim was a photography instructor at a community art center and taught courses at his own studio, both near his former home, south of Boston, MA. In fact, he and his wife Stephanie came to Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary for the first time in July, 2016, bringing with them ten photography students for an adventure to photograph the wolves. They returned with another group in July, 2017, and that was the end of their time in Massachusetts! They went home after that trip, closed their two successful businesses, sold their house, bought a 36′ RV, and traveled across the country to their new home in Candy Kitchen, NM, arriving in December, 2017, with two dogs and two cats.

We open today at 11:00 AM, Mountain Time.