About
Board Of Directors

Board Of Directors

The Leadership Team

Animal Rescue Project is led by a Board of Directors with ten members, as defined by the organization’s bylaws. There are four officer positions and an additional six Board members.

Officers are James Di Loreto, Board President; Torry Chafty, Board Vice President;  John Hertel, Board Secretary; and Sally Higgins, Treasurer.

Board members are appointed by the Board and serve two-year renewable terms. The Board provides general direction for Animal Rescue Project, safeguards its Code of Conduct, and provides financial oversight. The Board is organized into three committees:

Governance Committee

Charged with oversight of the Board of Directors
  • Oversight of the organization’s Bylaws
  • Recruitment of new Board members
  • Recruitment and election of Board officers

Sustainability and Development Committee

Charged with ensuring a sustainable future for Animal Rescue Project
  • Responsible for developing succession plans
  • Responsible for the oversight of website 2.0 development
  • Responsible for capital improvement prioritization and projects

Fund-Raising and Community Outreach Committee

Charged with oversight and planning of all fund-raising and community outreach activities of the organization
  • Develops an annual calendar of activities and events
  • Oversees messaging content and vehicles—local media, social media
  • Chairs the annual Lucky Paws Dinner and Silent Auction
James Di Loreto

James Di Loreto

President, Board of Directors

Jim is one of the founders of Animal Rescue Project. He has been President of the Board since the organization’s inception in May of 2010. He is the owner of The Catalyst Group, a small management consulting firm that he has operated since 1991. A native of Madison, Wisconsin, Jim was educated at the University of Chicago and Yale University.

“My heart is with pet rescue,” Jim writes, “and if I could, I’d save every last homeless pet. Fortunately, we have people in Animal Rescue Project who think with their heads and not just their hearts. The success of ARP has everything to do with Jack Frost and his team of employees and volunteers. They do extraordinary work day in and day out. They are amazing! And though they are no longer with ARP, I’d like to celebrate the accomplishments of Robin Vleugel and Eric Arnold, co-founders of the organziation and Board members and officers for many years. We miss them.”

Torry Chafty

Torry Chafty

Vice President, Board of Directors

A native of California, Torry has lived in Kalamazoo since 1997. She is married to Dr. Michael Chafty and has five wonderful children. The oldest lives in Atlanta, the next three are triplet boys who are juniors in high school. The family is completed by a daughter who is a sophomore in high school. The Chafty family also includes three happy rescue dogs that have added to the household’s “beautiful chaos.”

Torry stays at home to run the show and enjoys her pasttimes of gardening, traveling, reading and golf when time allows. She also loves to make time for her treasured friendships and of course enjoys her time serving on the board of Animal Rescue Project.

John Hertel

John Hertel

Secretary, Board Member

Born in Holland, Michigan, John enjoyed growing up with a big family and a loyal doggy sidekick. Not wanting to leave his beloved pup, he attended college in Holland at Hope College, graduating in 2012. When his companion was at peace, John continued onto the University of Michigan Law School. After graduation, he returned home to the west side of the state and has lived in Kalamazoo ever since, working as a corporate law attorney at Honigman LLP and assisting companies at all stages of existence, with a focus on private securities offerings and capital raises, mergers and acquisitions, and general commercial matters.

He has been a proud member of the Animal Rescue Project Board since 2019 and serves as the Secretary for the organization. Although he’s currently petless, John is not above claiming his housemate’s fluffy adopted Maine Coon Daz as his own—and forcing Daz to pose for photos with him. On his days off, you can find John on the golf course, out for a run, or visiting friends and family—but most likely golfing. So if you see him around, give him a wave and remind him to get his own furball.

Sally Higgins

Sally Higgins

Treasurer, Board Member

Sally was born and raised in Grand Rapids. She met her husband Kip there and relocated to Kalamazoo in 1991. They have two daughters and two furry boys. The oldest daughter recently graduated from Nursing school in Atlanta and accepted a position there. Her youngest will be starting her senior year at the University of Michigan in the fall.

“Once my daughters were grown and moving on,” Sally writes, “I determined that I needed something else to fill my time. A friend at work suggested that I become a volunteer at Animal Rescue Project, so I signed up to go through the volunteer orientation class. Shortly afterwards, I began helping with accounting and joined the Board of Directors as the Treasurer. Ever since I was little, I’ve loved dogs of all shapes and sizes. Once I got married and had a house of my own, getting a dog was the top priority, and I haven’t been without one ever since! When I’m not helping at the shelter or working at WMU School of Medicine I enjoy traveling, golfing, and skiing.”

Jack Frost

Jack Frost

Director of Operations, Board Member

Jack is one of the founders of Animal Rescue Project. He has been Director of Operations since the organization was created in May of 2010 and has been involved in animal rescue since 2000, serving in a variety of organizations and a variety of roles. He is a native of Chicago

“I do this work,” Jack says, “to give voice to those who have no voices. I am passionate about saving pets and turning them into family members, and I want to make sure they find forever homes. The hardest thing I face in my role as shelter director is deciding how much to spend on medical care for sick animals that we have rescued—when you don’t have the funds to do so. Animals come to us with so many issues—sometimes people drop them off knowing what’s wrong with them, we take them on and treat them—heartworm, parvo, skin issues, eye issues, orthopedic surgeries, amputations, tumors. You need a lot of grit and tenacity to do this work. You finish addressing one animal’s needs, and half an hour later another animal comes in who needs your help. And then there’s the emotions of the volunteers and the employees—and your own emotions that can get in the way. It does get you down at times, but you have to get through it. Sometimes, I feel that my experience running the shelter is similar to the experience of an ER doctor or nurse.”

Sarah Torrence

Sarah Torrence

Board Member

Sarah Torrence is an active community volunteer with a professional background in the non-profit world, specifically disability advocacy work. When she isn’t chasing her three teenage children around on the football, soccer, and lacrosse fields she can be found curled up with a good book or enjoying a sunset on Lake Michigan with her husband Phil and her three canine kids Dutch, Jeter, and Maui.

As a lifetime animal lover, Sarah is thrilled to be involved with the work that ARP does on a daily basis in the Kalamazoo community and beyond.

Kathy Eckler, DVM

Kathy Eckler, DVM

Board Member

“I always wanted to be a Veterinarian as far back as I can remember,” Dr. Eckler writes. “Helping pets and their families who love them is so rewarding. I especially enjoy helping the homeless pets. Treating an illness or injury they may have come to us with, then see them find their forever homes. It doesn’t get much better than that. I have been working with Animal Rescue Project and serving on its Board since the beginning and have witnessed thousands of dogs and cats find loving homes. I also enjoy my general practice at Gull Lake Animal Hospital in Richland, MI, and the wonderful clients I have. Rescue work is just icing on the cake. In my own time, I have a very cute dog named Cooper. We have discovered agility training and love it. It’s a great outlet for his energy! I have two kids, who, although they did not go into the Veterinary profession, share my love and understanding of how much joy a pet brings into your life.”

Jill Murphy

Jill Murphy

Board Member

“Rescue can change your world,” writes Jill. “When I moved to Kalamazoo, I asked the realtor to find me a fence with a house attached so I could get involved with rescuing dogs. I met some volunteers at a pet store event, went home with a dog to foster and haven’t stopped. In the beginning I had a list of “I’ll never take home a ________” breeds. Ha! After 295 foster dogs and puppies, I have learned to love every breed. I am partial to the small breeds and especially enjoy helping little rescued mamas birth their puppies.

Along the way I’ve learned so much, met some wonderful people, and changed the world for a lot of dogs and occasionally a cat. In my work day, I manage a group of staff at the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. We help people with disabilities prepare for employment and land jobs.”

Sarah VanderMolen

Sarah VanderMolen

Board Member

Sarah lives with her husband and children in Richland, Michigan. She writes, “I have been in love with animals since I was a very young girl. I’ve always had a soft spot for homeless animals in particular. I grew up in a household filled with animals both domestic and wild as my mother volunteered for a Wildlife Rehabilitation program that became an all-hands-on-deck family commitment. Since then, I have adopted and found homes for many stray pets. That is why I am drawn to Animal Rescue Project and our mission.”

Animal Rescue Project

Animal Rescue Project focuses on saving at-risk pets in pound facilities. We save homeless pets, one at a time, give them medical care and a safe temporary home, and provide responsible adoption services to those seeking pets.

Animal Rescue Project
219 Peekstock
Kalamazoo, MI 49001

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