Vicky Keahey – President & CEO of In-Sync Exotics

vickyVicky has been working with animals for over 35 years. She first started with Afghan Hounds as a breeder and handler at dog shows. At the age of 20 she started her own grooming business and groomed dogs for 27 years. In addition to working with domestic dogs and cats, she has also worked horses for pole bending and barrel racing for playday activities. In 1990, while working as a veterinary technician, Vicky rescued her first cougar that was abandoned at the vet clinic where she worked. Eight years and two cats later, Vicky founded In-Sync Exotics and opened her door and her heart to many unwanted exotic cats. Vicky lives with her husband, over 50 exotic cats, a coatimundi, two lemurs, two horses, a dog and a whole bunch of house cats. Vicky’s son Justin has been a great help with the cats since he was 10.

Eddie Keahey – Vice President

eddieEddie owned and operated his own air-conditioning business and had just started his own pipe fencing business when he met Vicky. Since then he has worked with all aspects of electrical, mechanical, plumbing, construction and welding here at In-Sync. Eddie spent a year in Baghdad working as a civilian to install and repair air-conditioning units for the troops that were stationed at the palace. Much of the money he earned while he was there went towards the care of the cats of In-Sync. He now works as a conductor for the Kansas City Southern Railroad while still heading up the construction that goes on at In-Sync. In what little spare time Eddie has, he loves to sail.

Helen Truman – Secretary

helen

Helen joined the In-Sync family in 2007 as a volunteer to clean enclosures.  She is a former feeder and has been the Board Secretary for several years.  Besides her duties as Secretary she is also Enrichment Coordinator and Kids 4 Cats Coordinator.  Helen retired January 2016 after 25 years with Exxon Mobil Corporation as Sr. Staff Assistant in the Treasurers Department.  She now spends time with her family which includes 4 beautiful granddaughters, two rescued house cats and several feral cats. She is also a member of the IACUC committee.

Mandi Hash – Treasurer

Mandi grew up with a love of all animals. However, cats big and small were always top on her list. After graduating from Texas A&M Commerce with a BPA w/MBA degree she knew she wanted to dedicate her free time to volunteering at Insync. She began volunteering in January of 2017 and currently cleans cages, participates in cat companionship, and is a feeder. Her daytime job is working as a controller for multiple clients. She and her husband enjoy the country life and live with their their three rescues.

Valerie KayValerie Kay – Volunteer Coordinator

Valerie has been volunteering at In-Sync since Feb 2013.  Her love for animals goes back to her early childhood growing up with having animal around all the time.   In addition to volunteering, Valerie has a full-time job and she also Pet Sits part-time.  Making the decision to volunteer with animal was easy but knowing that she wouldn’t be able to volunteer for a small animal facility was key because she would take them all home.  She has always been fascinated with Big Cats, so it was the purrfect choice to join the In-Sync family.  Valerie current has a large 4-legged family that live with her in Wylie.  They like to spend as much time outdoors as they can.  She is also looking forward to spending some time kayaking.

Stephen Austin – Construction & Site Planning

stephenStephen volunteered to help build our leopard enclosure in 2006 and has been an integral part of our construction team ever since. He works closely with Eddie in all aspects of construction and maintenance. Stephen earns his living as a Building Engineer and has also volunteered his construction talents with other charitable organizations. He and his son Stephen, who are also volunteers at In-Sync, live in Wylie with their dog and 4 cats…all rescues.

Susan Adams – Donor Relations

Susan_A_picSusan has been volunteering at In-Sync since the Fall of 2011. To her, the opportunity to love and help these cats is a tremendous honor. Susan is current job is caring for a loved on with dementia. In what seem like past lives she’s been a serious photography hobbyist, Information Systems security auditor, and that horrible person at your cardiologist that makes you get on the dreaded treadmill. As you can see, she’s never been sure what she wanted to do be when she grew up, but one thing is for sure, she adores the cats of In-Sync!

Judy Chapla – Director of Grants

Before Moving to the Dallas area, Judy volunteered for 15 years with a Fire Department obtaining certifications as a CPR instructor, Emergency Medical Technician, Certified Texas Firefighter, Communications specialist and certified driver.

She started volunteering at ISE in the fall of 2010 to clean enclosures and for several years has been working in the commissary. Judy also trains people to work in the commissary, gift shop and is also a member of the IACUC committee.

Judy has been married to Chris Chapla for 46 years, is a mother on 1 and grandmother of 2. Her daughter and grand kids have lived next door to her for the last 15 years. Judy and Chris have 3 fur babies of their own. She plays lots of poker, love talking to people and is a big Dallas Cowboy fan.

Angela Culver – Media

angela_culverAngela has loved animals for as long as she can remember, and at age six she decided she wanted to be a zoologist just like her uncle. She is currently pursuing her degree in Wildlife Biology while working full time. Angela had been working with birds of prey when she spotted a flyer for In-Sync’s Big Cat Birthday Bash in the summer of 2010. She went out for a visit, and was soon volunteering. Besides working with the cats and all of the amazing people at In-Sync, she loves talking with the visitors, educating them about the cats as well as their wild cousins. Angela lives with her fiance, Jedi, and their four cats, all rescues. In her free time, Angela loves hiking, camping, spending time with friends, and working on indie films.

Rachel Alvarez – Events Coordinator

Rachel visited In-Sync Exotics for the first time in May of 2015, for her birthday. She has a love and fascination for animals, especially exotic cats. So she was excited to learn about the sanctuary and volunteer opportunities. After cleaning enclosures for a year, Rachel joined the board of director as the events coordinator.  She is also a member of the feeding team. She lives with her husband Brandon and works as a medical receptionist.

Ryan Shaw – Animal Health

Ryan Shaw Ryan has been fascinated with animals since his first dog slept under his bassinet when he was a new born. Unfortunately, Ryan is also very allergic to domesticated animals.  However by being an animal care senior volunteer, he found out that he is not at all allergic to wild cats. Hallelujah!!  After visiting ISE several times and becoming a cat sponsor, he decided it was time to give of his time.  So he became a volunteer in 2014 and an member of the enrichment team in 2016.  Ryan lost his eldest son right after he started his volunteer orientation and quickly learned that ISE is a healing place & sanctuary for everyone.  He has been a RN for over 40 years and eagerly learning how to translate his human clinical care expertise into exotic feline clinical care.

Key Staff

Emily Wilson, D.V.M. – Vet

Ever since Emily’s first viewing of The Lion King at the young age of five, her interests have been primarily focused on lions and other big cats, with the ultimate goal of one day becoming a veterinarian. She accomplished that goal by completing her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 2015.

Emily spent many of her summers during her undergraduate years at Lee McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina, and throughout vet school, working as an animal keeper at Tiger Haven. This big cat sanctuary in Kingston, TN is home to 300 lions, tigers, and other big cats. She also completed internships at the Conservators’ Center in North Carolina, as well as the Nashville Zoo. Emily has traveled to South Africa for a wildlife conservation internship in Hoedspruit, and a summer with a veterinarian in Lephalale. On these trips, she participated in everything from collecting data on lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and various hoofstock, to assisting with immobilization of antelope and rhinos for relocation and veterinary care.

Emily enjoys all aspects of exotic cat medicine, and is especially interested in cancer and neurologic diseases affecting these felines. During her training UTCVM, she was privileged to contribute to research sponsored by the National Institute of Health, which she looks forward to continuing.

In her free time, Emily enjoys hanging out with her dog, Lulu, taking pictures, drawing, and collecting rocks/gemstones. She is very happy to be a part of the In-Sync family!

Andrea – Curator

Andrea first came to In-Sync as a volunteer in  2009. We knew in the first four months that Andrea was going to be a great asset to In-Sync. Andrea used to volunteer with the Kids wheelchair Basketball as a coaching assistant. She has always loved working with her own cats and wanted someday to work with and learn all she could about big cats. Andrea learned very quickly and showed that she could be very dependable. In 2012 we were able to hire Andrea as a keeper and we are very fortunate to have her on our staff. Andrea loves to read and feels it’s one of the best ways of learning about the cats she now cares for. She also likes to make jewelry and can play three instruments. Andrea wants to someday work with the big cats in Africa; we hope now, she is here to stay!

Brett Mappes – Lead Keeper

Allison DorshortBrett is native to Colorado and graduated with a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado. Brett started off his career with rehabilitating raptors in Colorado. After that he travelled to Alaska where he studied climatic effects on Canada Jays including researching and tagging eagles. Brett also participated in programs such as capturing and collaring ungulates through the Rocky Mountains. Brett’s work with exotic cats started with an internship at a sanctuary Minnesota. Some of his hobbies typically include outdoor activities like camping, hiking and sports. Brett states, “I am excited to be a part of the In-Sync team and to give these cats the best home we can give them!”

Jennifer Hatch – Lead Keeper

Jennifer Hatch

Jennifer has always been drawn to animals, especially cats, reptiles, and raptors. Jennifer started volunteering in January 2016,  and knew that she wanted to work with big cats in the future.  Jennifer attends Tarrant County Collage and is working towards a degree in zoology.  She was hired as a staff member in October 2016, and is very thankful for her opportunity to work with these majestic animals. She really likes learning everything she can to help out the cats. Jennifer enjoys being with nature, going on hikes, and camping. She loves to see wild things in their natural state.  She wants to learn more about big cat species in the wild and hopes to see less harm to them all, one day.

Allison Dorshort – Keeper

Allison has always had a love and a deep bond for animals and knew she wanted to pursue a career fulfilling it from a very young age. Allison graduated from West Texas A&M University with a degree in Wildlife Biology. There, she volunteered with Texas Parks and Wildlife collecting data on turtles, turkey’s, horned lizards, frogs, etc. She was a part of the Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society and participated in many wildlife events. She also completed internships at other sanctuaries where she learned the components of caring for big cats. Allison is one of our lead feeders on Friday nights and is one of the few that is knowledgeable in feeding almost any cat in the facility. When she’s not working, Allison enjoys to be outdoors – hiking and camping. She currently resides in Dallas with her crested gecko, Chester.

Chelsea Stark – Keeper

Chelsea grew up with animals her whole life and knew from a young age she wanted to work with animals. She graduated from the University of Oregon with degrees in biology and anthropology. Chelsea has completed internships at other rescue facilities with big cats and rehab facilities that house a variety of species.  Chelsea has always loved cats and was thrilled when she was given the opportunity to work with big cats at In-Sync Exotics. She loves learning everything she can about the cats and hopes to give them the best home she can. Chelsea is also on our feeding team on Thursday nights. In her spare time, Chelsea loves to read, go hiking and spend time with her two kittens, Milo and Sebastian.

Fabiana Meadows – Keeper

Fabiana Meadows

Fabiana Meadows was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She attended the University of Alaska, Fairbanks where she received her B.S. in Wildlife Biology and Conservation with a minor in Marine Science. During her schooling, she had the pleasure to volunteer at Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage in Zimbabwe for three weeks. To this day, this is her most cherished experience and what led her to pursue a career in animal care.  Fabiana completed an internship in Minnesota where she spent six months working with rescued exotic felines and hybrids. She continued as Lead Intern and eventually was hired as a Seasonal Caretaker. Next, she pursued a Keeper position at In-Sync Exotics, where she currently lives with her rescued Bengal, Jazzy, and her boyfriend, Brett Mapes, who also works at ISE. Fabiana loves hiking, participating in aerial silks, and loves coffee.

Helen Fortman – Keeper

Helen Fortman

When Helen was young, she fell in love with big cats and decided she was going to work with them and help raise awareness about the issues they face. She has always loved animals and wanted to do whatever she could to give a voice to those who don’t have one. She first came to In-Sync in June of 2017 as an intern and after completing her degree in biology with an emphasis in ecology, evolution, and organisms from Western Washington University, she returned in March of 2019 as a keeper. She has worked with a variety of animals, including helping to train young horses. When Helen isn’t working, she loves playing guitar, singing, watching movies, and spending time with her chinchilla, Molly Toast.

.

Kyra Martakis – Keeper

Kyra Martakis

Kyra was born and raised in New York, and received a degree in Wildlife Conservation & Management from Delaware Valley University in May 2017. Kyra was raised to love and care for all animals from a very young age and knew that was where her career path would lead her. After doing internships at various facilities, Kyra knew she wanted to work with big cats. In February 2018 she was offered a keeper position at In-Sync Exotics and was only too happy to accept. From her first day she completely fell in love with the cats and has enjoyed every day since. Kyra also acts as the staff representative for our team building program keeping our volunteers connected with our staff members. Kyra is also on the feeding team for the cats and helps to feed out bones every Sunday. When she’s not working Kyra enjoys reading, swimming and horseback riding as well as spending time with her friends and family and her own kitties at home.