Kathy Klotz - Executive Director

Kathy Klotz (with Tristan & Skye)

Co-Executive Director

I joined ITA as a volunteer right at its inception in 1993, and was a Pet Partner with my Australian Shepherd, Foster, for eight years until he died in 2002. (I regret that despite six other dogs and eight cats in my household since that time, none of them has wanted to be anything but my personal therapist.) I became Assistant Director in 1996 and Executive Director in 1997. After 25 years in academic (UCLA) and corporate environments, where I worked mostly in public opinion research, I had finally found what I wanted to be when I grew up. Putting people and animals together, for the happiness and healing of both, is among the most joyful and rewarding “work” on earth.

Kathy Burns

Karen Burns (with Riley)

Co-Executive Director

I joined ITA in 1996 and volunteered with my pet partner Maggie, a Harlequin Great Dane, for eight years in a variety of settings. We enjoyed working with kids at a residential treatment center, visiting brain-injured clients at a group home, and going to hospitals and assisted living facilities. The R.E.A.D. program was a great way for Maggie, as a senior dog, to keep on volunteering in one of my favorite settings. I began working for ITA in 1999, leaving the corporate environment for the rewarding world of animal-assisted interactions. Since Maggie died in 2004, I have enjoyed partnering with a Dutch Bunny named Clair and our Miniature Dachshund, Chloe. What fun I had going from large to little! This is Riley, who I’m hoping to convert from personal therapist to ITA partner one day soon. My free time is spent —mainly outdoors—running, hiking, skiing and biking.

Melissa Byrd - Administrative Assistant

Melissa Byrd (with Oliver, the ITA Office Cat)

Administrative Services

I have always loved animals and, though I didn’t fully understand it until I came to ITA, it’s because of the love they give so willingly to anyone who will accept it. Being able to witness the great works and small victories that our amazing volunteers and programs and their clients achieve on a daily basis never ceases to send chills up my spine and bring tears to my eyes. I have been lucky enough to be on the staff of ITA since 1996, and feel sincerely privileged to work for the organization and with my fellow staff members. I have had many beloved pets but, as we say in the office, they only enjoyed being my personal therapist and wouldn’t have enjoyed being in the AAI settings. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not big on group gatherings, but I do enjoy speaking with people individually and assisting when I can. I also like to cross-country ski, hike and spend time with my family.

Cindy Harris

Cindy Harris (with Keely & Bailey)

Office Manager

I’ve been with ITA since May 2011, and not a week goes by that we don’t hear a touching story about the miracles our many teams experience with clients. I so believe in the services ITA provides to the community, and even though I am in the office, I still feel a part of the overall miracles of the interactions.

Lilly Beaman

Lilly Beaman (with Louie and Odie)

National/International Coordinator for ITA Affiliates & the R.E.A.D. Program

Animals are my passion; always have been and always will be. My life has always revolved around them, starting as a kid when I was always bringing somebody home asking, “Can I keep it? Can I keep it?” Unfortunately, the answer was almost always no, until I moved out on my own. At this point, my house was overflowing with foster animals while I studied Animal Science at Utah State University. After fostering at least 5 million animals, I found myself with two of my own dogs and a gecko after graduating. I ended up in Salt Lake, looking for a place where my passion could be put to use. Intermountain Therapy Animals sounded like a dream to me, and I knew I had to work here. A work environment where you can talk about how amazing animals are all day? Yes, please.
My free time is spent hanging out with my friends, my handsome boyfriend, my cute pups, going on escapades, or drawing/painting. I’m spontaneous and outspoken, I love meeting new people (or animals), and I’m always up for a challenge or an adventure!

Brett Beasley

Brett Beasley (with Rachael, Jinx & Jagger)

Utah County Coordinator

Rachael and I joined ITA in 2003 with our Newfoundland, Jaro, a decision which began a life-altering association with ITA for Rachael and me that has lasted nearly two decades. Jaro served until his retirement on his 10th birthday. A second Newf puppy, Jett, joined our clan in 2005, and he began his 9-year tenure with ITA. Both of our older boys have now crossed the rainbow bridge, but while they served with ITA they created a legacy of animal therapy service that continues today with our two current Newf boys, Jagger, and Jinx. I have been privileged to serve as the Utah County Program Coordinator since 2004, which allows me help our new teams establish themselves in animal-assisted therapy work. I also serve as an ITA Team Evaluator, which allows me to see both halves of potential ITA teams working together. Our goal is to help our ITA teams find success with whatever clientele they serve in the community, inspired by the human-animal bond. Rachael and I love the quality time we are able to spend giving back to the community through our service with ITA. And the chance to spend enjoyable time with our boys, as they make their rounds, is more rewarding than we could have ever hoped for.

Nancy Dodd

Nancy Dodd (with Yuki)

Bozeman Montana Coordinator

I joined ITA in Montana in 2002, and am now volunteering with my 4th and 5th therapy dogs, Samoyeds Yuki and Jessie. Over the years I have volunteered at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, dementia care facilities, the library with the R.E.A.D. program, and the last few years mostly at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital, visiting the Cancer Center, some offices, and patient rooms. My dogs love to visit, and Jessie starts crying as soon as I approach the hospital in the car, whining all the way to the door. In 2006 I joined HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response with one of my therapy dogs, and we have worked on local, state, and regional deployments, offering comfort to those affected by crises and disasters. It has been a rewarding experience. I became an ITA team evaluator some years ago and also started helping Nancy Rosen with presenting workshops. In 2011 I retired from a Management Faculty position at Montana State University, and have been keeping busy with ITA, HOPE, running, yoga, reading, and grooming my dogs. I know I cannot fit into Nancy Rosen’s shoes (my feet are twice as large as hers!) but I will do my best to keep our wonderful ITA members in Montana active and happy.

Connie Sharkey - ITA Idaho Chapter Coordinator

Connie Sharkey (with Chevy & Cruiz)

ITA Idaho Chapter Coordinator

Connie Sharkey became a Pet Partner with the Delta Society in 1992, even before ITA was founded, and has been participating in therapy volunteering non-stop ever since. She joined ITA in November of 2001 and is our chapter leader for the entire state of Idaho, so she does a lot of traveling. She was inducted into ITA’s Hall of Fame in 2005, and her first partner Buddy was ITA Dog of the Year in 2010. Connie, along with her husband Jim and Chevy and Cruiz, spend the darkest, coldest days of winter in Arizona.