Meet the Team

Our team is made up of people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs. One thing we all have in common is our dedication to creating a more humane world.

Our leadership team

Jeff Hassel

Executive Director
Jeff cut his teeth in the nonprofit world doing emergency home repairs with the Appalachia Service Project, based in Johnson City, TN. As a Methodist pastor in WNC, he served five communities, including East Flat Rock and Sylva. In the early 2000s, Jeff moved to Lithuania to work as a Construction Project Manager, returned to the States, and became the Mission Director at a large church in Davidson, NC. He moved to Guatemala in 2012 to learn Spanish, became the ED of a rural medical clinic, then led a large human services org in Massachusetts. He is glad to be back in Western NC! Jeff rescued four dogs in his life; his favorite was Chandler, a Great Dane. He is thrilled to be part of an organization that advocates for the well-being of animals daily. Fun fact: "In my off hours, I enjoy riding a motorcycle I call Rocinante.”

Laresa Griffin

Director of Fundraising and Engagement
Laresa Griffin is an experienced nonprofit professional whose passion is finding the intersection between a donor’s interests and a nonprofit organization’s needs. Laresa has been involved with nonprofit fundraising since 1999, and fully devoted her career to this work 16 years ago. She is a native of Western North Carolina and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Montreat College. Laresa is inspired by her husband, Robert and daughter, Haley. Her furry children are Petey Pup and Raggedy Andy (dogs); and Lucy and Ethel, (cats). Fun Fact: Laresa enjoys recharging by traveling, cooking, and spending time in the sun.

Adam Cotton

Director of Community Solutions
Adam Cotton graduated from UNC-Asheville and moved back years later to WNC to help start Asheville Humane Society's community outreach program in 2015. Working in the fields of civil rights, welfare-to-work, and domestic violence, as well as his leadership experience at other animal sheltering organizations throughout the country, give him a unique perspective on how to best support programs meant to keep pets and their people together. Fun fact: Adam and his wife live on a small farm in Mars Hill, NC, and care for 3 large breed dogs, 3 cats, 30 hens, 4 roosters, 4 goats, a duck, and a rabbit, most of which were adopted from AHS over the years.

Sarah Hammann

Director of Finance
Sarah graduated from UNC-Asheville with a degree in Environmental Studies. After a few years, she decided that accounting was her calling and returned to school. Afterward, Sarah worked in public and corporate accounting and obtained her CPA license. She is happy to be back in WNC after 15 years in Atlanta and finds applying her accounting skills for a cause like Asheville Humane Society very rewarding. Fun fact: Sarah grew up moving around frequently. The longest she’s ever lived consecutively in one place is 15 years.

Dr. Chelsea Fogal

Medical Director
Dr. Chelsea Fogal has spent the last 11 years working or volunteering in a variety of ways in animal welfare; through MASH-style pop-up Spay/Neuter and pet wellness clinics, training surgeons and veterinary students in high-volume Spay/Neuter techniques with the ASPCA, and developing and maintaining robust shelter medicine and surgical programs for five animal sheltering organizations. Growing up in the Asheville area, she was drawn back to the mountains of WNC after spending time in the Midwest. She once again feels at home after working for an organization as progressive and innovative as Asheville Humane.

Jen Walter

Director of Operations
Originally from Pittsburgh, Jen has always been deeply dedicated to animal welfare. Following growing up on a farm, Jen had her introduction to her career through a degree in biology and working as a Veterinary Tech and Practice Manager in general and emergency/specialty medicine. After serving as an adjunct instructor at the Vet Tech Institute, Jen transitioned into animal sheltering while volunteering with the Humane Society of the United States on dog-fighting cases. Prior to relocating to Asheville, she spent 9 years working for the City of Jacksonville, Florida as the Shelter Manager and Chief of Animal Care & Protective Services. Fun Fact: "I am probably the biggest Garth Brooks fan that you will ever meet!"

Quit your day job and join the team.

We have an amazing team of over 75+ animal lovers!