By Rachel Jones

Dustin Hook, Amanda Greenberg, Jason Bertocchi, Shawna Foyle. Photograph from Cassandra Yeager.

Looking for a way to engage and energize Pittsburgh’s most creative, ambitious, and philanthropic professionals to support Animal Friends and its life-saving mission, the nonprofit created the ’43 Friends campaign. “This select group of 43 professionals (and the pets who inspire them!) are honored for their career success, involvement in our community, and contribution to the growth of our region,” says Sarah Galiotto, director of individual and foundation giving for Animal Friends. “The number 43 was chosen as a way for us to reflect on our humble beginnings as a matchmaking service for unwanted pets when we were founded in 1943 and to celebrate how Animal Friends has progressed into the full-service companion animal resource center that we are today.”

Meredith Ambrose, Amanda Fillipponi, Christen Malone, Kent Beaver, Brooke Anderson. Photograph from Linda Mitzel.

David Swisher, Stefania Romoff. Photograph from Linda Mitzel.

The inaugural class had three months to raise funds for Animal Friends, with the campaign culminating at the annual Black Tie & Tails gala in September. There, the group’s grand total was revealed: $95,476! After such a success, Animal Friends is looking forward to making the program an ongoing tradition. “We know that with the commitment of this group of ‘43 Friends, Animal Friends will be able to continue to put forth progressive and compassionate solutions for the challenges that threaten the well-being of our animal friends,” Galiotto says. “Through their time, energy, and talent, lives will be saved and communities will be enriched.”

Erika Daxbeck, Michelle Martin, Bonnie Loya, Peggy Archinaco, Helen Behn. Photographs from Linda Mitzel.

Sherry Ringer, Dan Ringer, Tammie Smelko, Sean Bogosta, Melissa Ernst.

Not pictured:

Deb Doyle, Brittany Carlon, Dan Lavallee, Danielle Mashuda, Debbie Kane, Dunnegan McKay,
Jan Kerr and Clark Nicklas, Jason & Caitlin Ewing, Jeff & Jenn Mulrooney, Keri Bozich, Aaron Doubt, Mallory Milchak, Marlene Wirfel, Rick Tutich, Stephanie Christiana, and Stephanie Monroe.

If you’re already looking forward to next year, nominate someone (or yourself!) for the 2018 Class of ’43 Friends by contacting Sarah at or visiting

2017’s Top Fundraisers

Dan Burda & Steven Perrine: $10,913

Photograph from Morgan Triska Media.

Tim Komen & Damian Ruyechan: $7,645

Photograph from Jamie Greene

Niki & Neil Walker: $5,000

Photograph from Niki Walker

Animal Friends, 562 Camp Horne Road, Ohio Twp. 412.847.7000.


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