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Darren Kipnis

DARREN KIPNIS BOARD OF DIRECTORS Darren is a Vice President & Senior Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch's Global Private Client Group.   He and his partners operate a wealth management practice for the benefit of affluent families and corporations. Our process encompasses Financial management, legacy implementation, estate coordination, retirement management and tax minimization. He is a Past President of The Rotary Club of Tampa, the area's oldest and largest Rotary Club, is currently Co-Chair of Major Gift’s for Rotary District Read More

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Mary Lou Geis

MARY LOU GEIS BOARD OF DIRECTORS Mary Lou is an Independent Director and has been a dedicated volunteer since 1997.  She holds the record for the volunteer who has sent the most advocacy based letters via our system. She has been a donor of both time and money to the sanctuary. Mary Lou gives of her time and energy and even donated a home to the sanctuary to help us care for the animals at a time when money was really scarce. Mary Lou is a Green level keeper at Big Cat Rescue. Meet the Big Cat Rescue Team. See a typical Read More

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David Ganje Esquire

  DAVID L. GANJE, ESQUIRE ADVISORY BOARD   David L. Ganje lives in Florida but maintains a practice in SD and NY where he is a natural resources attorney and commercial law and commercial litigation attorney. David has grounded his legal experience as a practicing attorney, a former commodity arbitrator, a member of the board of directors of an S&L and an adjunct professor to hone his skills in these areas of practice. In his natural resources practice he handles matters related to mineral law, oil and gas law, energy law Read More

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Afton Tasler

Afton Tasler MEDIA PRODUCER Afton has been a Green Level Keeper at Big Cat Rescue for years, and has a terrific sense of humor.  You can hear her laughing all across the sanctuary with an infectious laugh. When our Media Producer moved to California, Afton was a natural choice.  Check out her funny cat videos on our YouTube site. Meet the Big Cat Rescue Team. See a typical day at the sanctuary.   Read More

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Honey Wayton

HONEY WAYTON GIFT SHOP MANAGER Honey Wayton is responsible for merchandising and maintenance of inventory for our gift shop.  On a typical day, you will find her greeting our guests, answering our phones, running our cash register, maintaining the appearance of our gift shop and tour waiting area, and coordinating the responsibilities of our Partner Volunteers in the gift shop. She also fills orders for our online gift shop and is our onsite intern housing representative. In 2010 Honey's management of the Gift Shop resulted in over a quarter Read More

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Chuck Stairs

Chuck Stairs CAGE BUILDER Chuck has volunteered with Big Cat Rescue from its very beginning and began helping with the lawn maintenance of the sanctuary and the properties that support the sanctuary. He helps Vern build the cages and can always be seen singing and smiling. He retired from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office in 2015. He had been with the Sheriff's Office for 25 years, and has worked in the jail, on patrol in a zone, and for the last 7 years as an Accident Investigator. He worked the midnight shift for at least 10 years, Read More

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Barbara Stairs

BARBARA STAIRS RECORDS MANAGER Barbara Stairs has been a volunteer of Big Cat Rescue since 1997 when she took over the record keeping for the sanctuary.  She handles all of the banking and credit card reconciliation and manages all of the rental properties that provide income for the cats. Barbara met Vernon at WEDU in Tampa in 1959, where she was a secretary and he was a camera man.  She asked him out first to a Sadie Hawkin's Day picnic at her church.  They married in 1960.  Carole was born to them in 1960 and Chuck was born to Read More

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Jarred Smalley

Jarred Smalley GROUNDS KEEPER Jarred has been a volunteer at Big Cat Rescue for many years and has earned his Green Level status.  He was hired in 2014 to help with the grounds maintenance as we expanded and had a LOT more grass to mow. If you hear a lawn mower, a weed whacker or a chainsaw in the background at Big Cat Rescue, it is probably Jarred. Meet the Big Cat Rescue Team. See a typical day at the sanctuary. Read More

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Katie Nikic

Katie Nikic DATA DIVA Katie Nikic formerly worked for the Hillsborough County Sheriff but after marrying she wanted a job that had more flexible hours so that she could care for her family.  Katie helps Barbara Stairs manage the real estate holdings for the sanctuary as well as a number of other record keeping duties. Katie is also responsible for the database management in Raiser's Edge to insure that we are able to stay in contact with our supporters and fans and not waste money on mail that can't be delivered. Katie's signature line Read More

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LaWanna Mitchell

LaWanna Mitchell WEBMISTRESS I had spent a couple years traveling various zoos and learning how to make web sites and website goodies, just looking for a way to make a difference for animals;  tumbling around trying to find my 'place in the sun', my purpose in life.  then in July 2004 I found Big Cat Rescue's web site and offered to make games for them.  Carole sent me some photos and the fun began. That progressed into being blessed with getting actually visit Big Cat Rescue for eight heavenly days taking photos in September 2004.  If Read More