Women of the Year

Finalists & Category Winners for the
Pet Industry Woman of the Year Award

Congratulations to
Yvonne Divita, Founder of BlogPaws,
who has been selected as the

Other winners, pictured below, are:
Carole Bryant in the  Advocate Category, Kristin Levine in the Corporate Category, Amanda Hessel in the Entrepreneur Category and Alissa Gander in the Solopreneur Category.

Scroll down to view all of our amazing finalists!

Advocate Finalists


Debra Jo Chiapuzio, The Emma Zen Foundation


From The Emma Zen Foundation website: “We are a non profit 501 (c) 3 organization. We raise funds for Pet Oxygen Masks and donate them to Fire Departments and other First Responders. These masks are used to deliver oxygen to pets that suffer from smoke asphyxiation and other breathing issue due emergencies such as home fires. “

Click here for Debra Jo’s Member Profile
Click here to learn more about The Emma Zen Foundation

Amy Cox, The Paws Cause


From The Shot Spot website: “Amy and her husband, Dr. Danny Cox, a Veterinarian, have traveled the United States and foreign countries including Mexico, Turkey, Greece, and Italy to participate and spearhead projects in animal rescue, disaster relief, spay and neuter programs and other animal related projects for over a decade. She is serving on the Board of Directors of the Sociedad Protectora de Animales in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and is president of her own non-profit organization called The Paws Cause.”

Click here for Amy’s Member Profile.
Amy is also involved with The Shot Spot & The Pet Vet.


Virginia Hamilton, Canine Commandos of Brevard


From the Canine Commandos website: Canine Commandos is a program gifted students “from Indialantic Elementary along with 18 other schools participate.  The Canine Commandos go to South Animal Care Center in Melbourne if they are south of 520 Causeway in Merritt Island and Central Brevard Humane Society in Cocoa if north to train homeless dogs.   The Commandos hope to improve these dogs’ behaviors in order to help them find forever homes.”

Click here for Virginia Hamilton’s Member Profile
Click here to learn more about Canine Commandos of Brevard

Patricia Jones, Paws PR

From the Paws PR website: “Paws PR, a division of P Jones Communications, is a marketing agency specializing in business development and communications for the pet industry and animal protection organizations.

Founded by Patricia Ellen Jones, former NBC News producer and Vice President of Media Relations for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Paws PR provides companies and organizations with results-oriented business strategies to brand building and business development.  We work with each client to create comprehensive and persuasive communication plans that are closely aligned with their objectives and strategic plans.”

Click here for Patricia’s Member Profile
Click here to learn more about Paws PR


WINNER: Teresa Rhyne, The Dogs Were Rescued (and So Was I)

Author & Speaker

From her website: “Teresa Rhyne is a lawyer, writer, dog lover and breast cancer survivor (though definitely not in that order). She loves wine, books, coffee and dogs (still not in order) and loathes exercise, Christmas, and chocolate (probably in that order). She has lived in Southern California (it’s like its own state) for her entire life but only recently has she lived in any one house longer than five years. She shares said house with her boyfriend Chris and their irrepressible, diabolically cute beagles.”

Click here for Teresa’s Member Profile
Click here to learn more about Teresa

Corporate Finalists


Gina Dial, John Paul Pet

VP Sales & Marketing

From PetPRcom: “Since joining John Paul Pet more than five years ago, Dial has infused the company with her compassion, care and drive to not only help animals in distress, but to help other organizations that share common goals strengthen and grow. Never losing sight of the potential for John Paul Pet to have an impact on the lives of pets and pet owners, Dial has never wavered from her commitment to making it happen.”

Click here for Gina’s Member Profile
Click here to learn more about John Paul Pet

Gayle Martz, SHERPA by Gayle Martz, Inc.

President & Owner

From her LinkedIn Page: “Gayle Martz is the creator of the SHERPA BAG for all the different modes of pet travel. Her mission is to change, improve and enrich the travel experience for people and their pets. The love we all share for animals is universal. For some, traveling is difficult. Traveling with a pet becomes an even more difficult situation. With Gayle’s help, you can share your success stories as you travel with your pet. You can also help others in your community and one day, you will be able to take your pets wherever you go. The SHERPA Bag is recommended by veterinarians, the ASPCA, the Delta Society, Humane Society and many four-footed customers.”

Click here for Gayle’s Member Profile
Click here to learn more about SHERPA


Amy Nichols, Dogtopia


From the Dogtopia website: “Dogtopia® is an award-winning dog daycare, boarding and spa provider. Visit a Dogtopia location near you for open play dog daycare, overnight boarding or spa services and experience personalized care and exceptional customer service. Our convenient live webcams offer a peek into your dog’s day and peace of mind that they’re having the time of their life with their canine friends and our well-trained, loving team.”

Click here for Amy’s Member Profile
Click here to learn more about Dogtopia

Stacy Pursell, The Pursell Group & The Vet Recruiter

Founder & President

From The Vet Recruiter website: “The VET Recruiter ®  is a premier direct hire executive search and recruitment firm based in the United States. We specialize in executive search and recruiting in the Animal Health, Animal Nutrition, Veterinary, Pet Products, and Agriculture Industries.”

Click here for Stacy’s profile
Click here to learn more about The Vet Recruiter


WINNER: Lorien Clemens, PetHub Inc.

Director of Marketing

From her LinkedIn profile: “I live and breathe the brand I work for…PetHub. I would call myself “driven and creative,” but that is ridiculously over-used, so I like to say that “I make stuff look pretty with the stuff I find at the bottom of my purse.” Essentially, I make incredible things happen on very little time, money and resource: I thrive in a fast-paced, start-up environment, and I look fabulous wearing many different hats. I’ve cultivated my ability to seek out relationships with like-minded individuals and brands to build a kick-ass network of “co-opetition” that drives PetHub’s mission forward…to get lost pets home FAST.”

Click here for Lorien’s Member Profile
Click here to learn more about PetHub

Entrepreneur Finalists


Stephanie Boone, Wondercide

Founder & CEO

From her member profile: “Stephanie Boone founded Wondercide in 2009 after she nearly lost her dog Luna to pesticide poisoning from the flea & tick control prescribed by her vet. When she couldn’t find a safe and effective alternative, she invented one! Today, Wondercide is shaping a world without pesticides, where pets are instead protected by powerful natural solutions.”

Click here for Stephanie’s Member Profile
Click here to find out more about Wondercide

Colleen Demling, Pawtopia

Owner & Dog Trainer

From the Pawtopia website: “With over 20, 000 hours and 13 years of HANDS ON dog training experience, Pawtopia’s founder, Colleen Demling, has vast experience in a variety of methodologies. She is a CPDT-KA and a CBCC-KA as well as an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. She trained Service Dogs for Canine Companions for several years before starting Pawtopia. She has been a frequent contributor to  local and national media including Yahoo, The Huffington Post, Woman’s Day and many more. She is also a regular contributor to numerous radio shows including Pets Teach Us So Much.”

Click here for Colleen’s Member Profile
Click here for more information on Pawtopia


Shannon Heggem, Luxury Unleashed


From Shannon’s LinkedIn profile: “Shannon has designed high-end pet care facilities on four continents, earning the distinction as the “go-to” person for true luxury in pet care. Her design work has been featured in magazines and on reality television. She now translates her two decades of pet industry experience into designing luxurious AND utilitarian-focused areas for dedicated pet owners who want to honor their loyal companions with customized spaces.”

Click here for Shannon’s Member Profile
Click here for more information on Luxury Unleashed

Dorla Salling, K9 Medicinals, Inc.


From their website: “Equipped with a special ability to find silver linings, Dorla Salling, president of K9 Medicinals, founded her business after becoming a member of a club no one ever joins by choice: Pet parents whose dogs have a cancer diagnosis.

There’s nothing Pollyannaish about it when Dorla says with complete candor and sincerity, “Once you’ve been forced to join this dreaded club, it becomes a blessing to help others through the trauma of a canine cancer diagnosis.” ”

Click here for Dorla’s Member Profile
Click here for more information on K9 Medicinals Inc.


WINNER: Sylvia Wilson, Bark Busters

Co-Founder & COO

From their website: “Bark Busters was founded in Australia over 20 years ago by Sylvia and Danny Wilson, both expert dog trainers. During her 10 years managing an RSPCA shelter, Sylvia would observe and analyze the behavior and communication methods of the hundreds of dogs that came into the shelter. Saddened that so many dogs were abandoned or euthanized for behavioral issues, Sylvia knew these problems stemmed from a lack of consistent leadership. She also knew that she could help resolve them. Thus the Bark Busters method was born. This highly effective method is based on unique, natural, dog-friendly training techniques, as described in Sylvia and Danny’s numerous books including Training Dogs the Aussie Way, a practical guide for dog owners.”

Click here for Sylvia’s Member Profile
Click here to find out more about Bark Busters

Rising Star Finalists


Yvonne DiVita, BlogPaws | Pet 360

CEO & Co-Founder

From her LinkedIn Page: “I’m a leader in the Social Media space that serves pets and women in business. As a Social Media Professional, I have worked with small companies and large brands, to help them further their success with Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. The most important part of all of this is writing – which is where I shine.  Currently, I am hard at work on BlogPaws, the online community and social media educational conference for pet bloggers and pet brands. In our day to day support of pets and their people, we facilitate good conversation, support brand messaging, and help shelters and rescues the world over.”

Click here for Yvonne’s Member Profile
Click here for more about BlogPaws

Dorothy Hunter, Paw’s Natural Pet Emporium

CEO & Founder

From their website: “Paws Natural Pet Emporium has been your go-to pet store since its opening in 2008 by animal enthusiast Dorothy Hunter.
We understand the importance of a family’s pets’ well-being. Pets are members of your family. Our main goal is to provide our customers with great products at a reasonable price within a clean and friendly atmosphere. We pride ourselves on guaranteeing the best quality foods and products that any pet owner would approve of. Our only goal at Paw’s Natural Pet Emporium is to leave the customer, and pet, 100% satisfied.”

Click here for Dorothy’s Member Profile
Click here to learn more about Paws Natural Pet Emporium


Janine Kahn, Dogster & Catster


From their website: “Janine Kahn is the founding editor and former editor-in-chief of Dogster and Catster Magazines. She currently operates as the Executive Editorial Director for I-5 Publishing, Dogster’s new parent company, and oversees the content for all its online titles. She has several pompous-sounding awards from her days at the weeklies in a box in her storage unit, but Janine thinks it’s way more impressive that she has her dog tattooed on her skin in four different locations. Janine hates that she had braces on when the video below was shot but thinks you should see it anyway, vanity be damned.”

Click here for Janine’s Member Profile
Click here for more in Dogster or Catster

WINNER: Amber Kirsten-Smit, Furlocity


Amber co-founded Furlocity, a San Diego based start-up Technology Company with 9 employees. Furlocity, Inc. is a website that helps pet parents find and book trusted pet care services online. Aside from a proud pet-mom and entrepreneur,  Amber is a passionate Talent Acquisition and Business Development Professional with a proven track-record of success. She loves animals, PAWsitive people, leadership, innovation, knowledge, business, giving back & fun!

Check out Amber’s Member Profile here


Amy Swartz, Epic Natural Supplements


From their website: “Epic Pet Health is the maker of natural dog and cat supplements that restore comfort and provide affordable, long term health maintenance.

Our odorless and tasteless supplements are made from diluted vitamins and minerals in alkaline water with added electrolytes. The supplements are safe and effective for a better quality of life in dogs and cats of all breeds and sizes.”

Click here for Amy’s Member Profile
Click here for more about Epic Pet Health Natural Supplements

Solopreneur Finalists


WINNER: Robin Bennett, Robin Bennett


From her website:  “I’m Robin Bennett, and I’m a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA).  I am also an author and a consultant for pet care facilities on the subjects of dog daycare, training and off-leash dog play.  In my 20 years in the pet care industry, I’ve become an advocate of safe interactions between dogs and people and between dogs and other dogs.

I write about dog parks, dog daycares, off leash dog play, dog training, the pet care industry and business practices, and, on occasion, stuff that doesn’t fit neatly into any of those categories.”

Click here for Robyn’s Member Profile
Click here to learn more about Robyn’s Business

Jenn Fadal, The Pack Mom & Wag

Media Expert & Pet Store Owner

From her LinkedIn page: “My name is Jenn Fadal (a.k.a. The Pack Mom) and I have three kids: my dogs Abe and Chico and my pet loving toddler, Sebastian. I created Pack Mom with one goal: to save you time, give you useful information and help you become the best pet parent you can be.
Seven and a half years ago, I decided to cut my leash and leave corporate life behind. Without a look back, I took an unbridled leap into the pet world and opened a natural pet market. Since that day in 2005, I have had the education of a lifetime!
Over my years of working with pet parents, manufacturers, veterinarians, rescue groups and so many other brilliant people in the pet world I have learned a remarkable amount about caring for pet.”

Click here for Jenn’s Member Profile
Click here for more information on The Pack Mom


Denise Fleck, Sunny-Dog Ink


From their website: “Denise is the author of Quickfind Books’ Pet Care Series (www.quickfindbooks.com) and penned the Pet First-Aid section for Animal Behavioral College’s text books for groomers, dog trainers and veterinary technicians. Her second children’s book, “Pet First Aid 4 Kids,” a joint project with Rescue Critters®, was released March 2014 and Fleck hopes it will help kids help their best friends and share their knowledge with the adults in their lives. Over the past decade, you could find stories written by Fleck in publications including Dog Fancy, Cat Fancy, Dogs USA, Raw Instincts, Dog Sport, Dog Days in LA, Natural Dog and The Pet Press.”

Click here for Denise’s Member Profile
Click here for more on Sunny-Dog Ink

Lisa Hegland, Manly Pet


From her LinkedIn page: “Where equestrian and companion animal products originate from a sensible point of view”
I develop & brand innovative products of quality and value for pets and their people by using cowboy ingenuity with a european flair. Manage our brands Manly Pet®, Manly Dog®, Manly Cat®, Manly™, S R™ and Canine Cadence®. Manly Pet LLC. Manly Pet® LLC only sell wholesale. Manly Pet LLC assist in the development through production of private label products for clinician’s, trainer’s and companies in the equine and companion animal industry. Feel free to contact me to see how I can assist you.
From my perspective “Behind every horse are two dogs and three cats”.


Lorie Huston, Cat Writer’s Association

It is with a heavy heart that we mention that Solopreneur Finalist Lorie Huston unfortunately passed away on September 29th, 2014. Lorie was an active member of the pet community as President of the Cat Writer’s Association and is a cherished WIPIN soul. Please take the opportunity to learn more about Lorie and her legacy with this beautiful farewell on CatWriters.com