Meet Our Staff and Board
Darren Young is the Executive Director and one of the Co-Founders of Sammy’s Hope, along with current Board Members Elda Hubbard and Christine Young. Darren has been directly involved with the development and management of the majority of Sammy’s Hope’s programs since the organization’s inception in September 2010. His passion for working with long stay shelter pets has lead him to create programs and services to meet their needs while they are homeless and to ultimately help them find their forever homes.
In addition to his work with Sammy’s Hope, Darren is also a volunteer at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center where he works with fearful and under socialized dogs rescued from cruelty cases throughout the country. Darren recently earned certification through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers(r) (CCPDT(r)). They join other certified trainers nationwide who have earned this unique certification demonstrating their skill with canines. Darren is Board President of For This One, a non-profit he Co-Founded with his wife Christine in 2009 to support their aid work efforts in Haiti. Outside of his not-for-profit efforts, Darren has had a career in Information Technology since 1997. He left the corporate world as an AVP of IT Security in 2006 and is currently Co-Owner, along with wife Christine, of Tekpro Systems LLC.
Lora Muckin is a former board member and volunteer with Sammy’s Hope. From 2011 to 2014, in conjunction with a municipal Animal Shelter, she evaluated and implemented health and enrichment protocol for cats at the Shelter. She oversaw implementation of the Kitten Foster Program and application of successful $10,000 grant award for shelter programs.
Lora supervised volunteers and networked with other rescue groups and animal welfare organizations to place cats, including special needs cats (FIV+, FeLV). She provides independent TNR services to residents and businesses and provides consulting services to other shelters regarding cat behavior and shelter protocols impacting the health and welfare of the cats. She is also a certified animal control officer and a member of the board of Woodlands Wildlife Refuge.
Director of Fundraising and Development, Board President
Cara Ianniello has been volunteering with Sammy’s Hope since 2010 and has served as Foster Coordinator for dogs. She was elected Board President of Sammy’s Hope in 2013 and continues to serve in that role as well as Director of Fundraising. Throughout her tenure with Sammy’s Hope, Cara has focused on the socialization and adoption of shelter dogs, behavior evaluations, dog volunteer supervision and overall fundraising support for the organization.
Cara is currently Senior Vice President, Network Operations at Consolidated Services Group and has been employed there for the past 20 years. She is responsible for the overall CHN PPO network development and maintenance, including credentialing, provider and facility contract negotiations, PPO data integrity and the retention of PPO Providers, Hospitals and Ancillaries.
Director of Volunteer Services, Board Vice President
Elda has been volunteering at animal shelters since 2004. In 2010, together with Christine Young, current board member, and Darren Young, Executive Director, Elda co-founded Sammy’s Hope. She has been involved in many areas of the organization, including hands-on work with dogs, socialization, adoptions, canine evaluations, events, and volunteer recruitment and training.
Prior to the founding of Sammy’s Hope, Elda founded a student volunteer club to educate students and the community about responsible pet care and homelessness, and set up and supervised a student volunteer group at a municipal shelter. She was instrumental in the start up of a spay/neuter program for the shelter’s animals and the community residents’ pets. Funding for the shelter’s animals was provided from the club. She also volunteers with the ASPCA Fearful Dog Rehabilitation Center , where she works with fearful and abused dogs rescued from cruelty cases. As an educator for 22 years, Elda plans to continue her work with homeless animals and educating the community about responsible pet care and reducing pet homelessness.
Director of Feline Behavior, Board member
Trish began her work with Sammy’s Hope as a volunteer in 2010 and was elected to the Board in 2012. She initially spent the majority of her time working with shelter cats to ensure their comfort, safety and health in a shelter environment. Trish has also fostered both healthy and hard to place cats and kittens as well as managed other foster families in our network from foster placement, care and ultimately adoption.
As an adoption coordinator, she composes bios and takes photographs for promotion. Through her hands on work with cats that have behavior problems as well as ongoing education she brings thoughtful and successful methods to our organization to help the cats find their adoptive homes. Trish assists individuals performing TNR. Her day job is as an office manager at a successful law firm.
Medical Coordinator, Board Secretary
Naomi joined Sammy’s Hope in 2010 and was elected to serve as secretary in 2013. Previously, Naomi served as medical care coordinator at Sammy’s Hope. She attended to the needs of the animals at a municipal shelter, has fostered and adopted many special needs dogs, and will continue to address the medical needs of the animals, serving as the Medical Coordinator. Naomi has also been involved in fundraising, shelter enrichment, and foster/adoption programs for Sammy’s Hope.
Naomi has been working as a registered nurse for 25 years and has been working in critical care at a level one trauma center for the past 17 years. Naomi has been working in management, as head nurse, in two surgical intensive care units since 2010, and helped both units to obtain the Beacon Award for Excellence. Naomi is board certified in critical care nursing and has presented nationally at NICHE, Trends and NTI conferences.
Director of Strategic Partnerships, Board Member
Joan Cenicola joined Sammy’s Hope in December 2010 as Outreach Coordinator and was elected to the Board in 2011. She now serves as Director of Strategic Partnerships for Sammy’s Hope. Since 2010, Joan has performed a wide range of duties including adoptions, canine evaluations, kennel enrichment, events and fundraising.
Joan is a N.J. licensed Real Estate Salesperson and Vice President of NAI James E. Hanson in Hackensack, NJ, with 35 years’ experience in sales, leasing, and project management.
Director of Public Relations and Marketing, Board Member
David Gaier joined Sammy's Hope in March 2013, and is the Director of Public Relations/Marketing. He served on the board from 2014 to 2018.
David is the spokesman and communications director of NRG Energy Inc., the nation's largest independent electricity provider. He is also a former U.S. Marie and former foreign service officer, with 25 years' experience in marketing, media relations and corporate communications.
Director of Compliance, Board TREASURER
Lisa Santoro began volunteering with Sammy’s Hope in 2010 focusing on the socialization, evaluations and adoptions of dogs in a shelter environment. She is currently a board member and Director of Compliance for Sammy’s Hope. She also volunteers with the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center to provide a short stay foster home for dogs graduating from the center to determine further socialization needs or how to better prepare them for living with an adoptive family.
Lisa has been employed by CHN PPO for 21 years. Her current role is Assistant Vice President responsible for provider relations and contracting, and has been responsible for various operational areas including finance, human resources, IT and project management.
Christine T. Young
Director of Canine Behavior, Board Member
Christine T. Young is Director of Canine Behavior for Sammy’s Hope, serves on the Board of Directors, and is a co-founder of the organization, along with Executive Director Darren Young, and fellow Board member, Elda Hubbard. Since Sammy’s Hope’s inception in 2010, Christine has worked hands-on with socialization, training, behavioral evaluation, and adoption-matching for shelter dogs. In the past, Christine has also been involved in various administrative duties for the organization such as marketing, web design and photography. Christine and her husband Darren have fostered many of Sammy’s Hope’s adoptable dogs and take a special interest in helping those that need extra socialization or specialized care.
Outside of Sammy’s Hope, Christine volunteers at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, working with under-socialized and fearful dogs rescued from cruelty cases across the country. Christine recently earned certification through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers(r) (CCPDT(r)). They join other certified trainers nationwide who have earned this unique certification demonstrating their skill with canines. She also serves on the board of For This One, a non-profit co-founded in 2009 with husband, Darren Young, to support their aid efforts in Haiti. Christine is Co-owner of Tekpro Systems, LLC, a technology firm she started in 2002.