Our Staff

Rena Mahajan

Rena Mahajan

Executive Director

Rena’s perfect day would consist of a delicious brunch, a trip to the climbing gym, and lots of cuddles with her three pets: Tigger the cat, Bowser the Yorkie, and Spike the Schipperke mix (a POOCH alum!).

When she’s not hanging out with her own animals or advocating for the youth and dogs at Project POOCH, she enjoys traveling, baking all kinds of desserts, and watching scary movies.

Rena loves Project POOCH because of the way it helps both dogs and humans heal from past traumas together.

Megan Kriz

Megan Kriz

Operations Manager and Volunteer Coordinator

If there were one meme to summarize Megan, it would be the “Drink Coffee, Pet Dogs” meme. While there is much more to Megan than just coffee and dogs, they are certainly some of her favorites and she is so happy to work at POOCH and bring her furbaby, Leia, to work with her every day.

She loves the opportunities that POOCH provides for the youth to experience and build healthy relationships with animals and humans. Her own dog has changed so much of her life that she has no problem believing in the life-changing magic of the human-animal bond.

When not working in the Project POOCH Outreach Office you can find Megan laughing with her spouse, Mason, or watching dog videos.

Makai Brusa

Makai Brusa

Kennel Staff (employed by OYA)

Makai has been working with the youth and dogs at the kennel for 25 years. In addition to mentoring the youth and going to county shelters to select dogs for the program, Makai enjoys spending time outdoors. Some of his favorite activities include skiing, hiking, and climbing.

He loves bringing his sweet dog Taz (a POOCH alum!) along with him wherever he goes, whether it’s on a hike through the mountains or a long walk along the river or beach.

He’s also a full-time dad who enjoys spending time with his sons.

Board of Directors

Fred Carter

Fred Carter

Board President

Fred has been dedicating his time and energy to Project POOCH for 26 years in addition to serving as a CPA.

When he’s not leading the Project POOCH board meetings (with a Diet Coke in hand) or preparing taxes, he enjoys spending time with his family.

Although he doesn’t have any pets of his own currently, he loves that the youth and dogs at Project POOCH bring out the best in one another and help each other grow.

Joanie Joyce

Joanie Joyce

Board Secretary

Joanie was born in Guam but now splits her time between two of the most beautiful states – Oregon and Hawaii.

In addition to serving as the board secretary at Project POOCH, Joanie volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for CASA and GAL.

Although she doesn’t have any furry sidekicks of her own, she is the auntie to many adorable dogs and enjoys seeing the powerful connections made between dogs and people. She is also a chocolate and beer enthusiast.

Tracy Sampson

Tracy Sampson

Board Member

When she’s not helping rescue dogs and youth at Project POOCH, Tracy can be found in a ballet class or on a backpacking adventure. Years ago, she even climbed Oregon’s beloved Mount Hood.

Often accompanying her on her adventures is her dog Fenway, an adorable Labrador Retriever/Doberman mix, who she adopted from Project POOCH!

Tracy is forever grateful for Project POOCH for bringing her soulmate Fenway into her life.

Michele Mannix

Michele Mannix

Board Member

Before settling down in Portland, Michele lived in New York, San Francisco, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.

In addition to traveling with her family and hanging out with her sweet boy Blazer (a POOCH alum!), Michele enjoys eating at the Portland food carts and jogging. She also keeps busy by teaching college students about addiction and mental health.

Her favorite thing about Project POOCH is witnessing the connection between the dogs and their trainers, and the positive changes that occur as a result.

Kevin Schrouder

Kevin Schrouder

Board Member

When Kevin’s not helping out at Project POOCH or working at TCC Verizon, he enjoys spending time with his wife and his adorable baby girl.

He also has two sweet fur babies – Doyle the Dachshund and Spots the Cattle Dog Mix. Spots is a Project POOCH alum, and although he is deaf, he is the happiest and goodest boy ever!

Kevin is grateful that Project POOCH helps underdogs like Spots find their forever homes.

Mike Paulsen

Mike Paulsen

Board Member

After spending nearly two decades implementing integrated marketing campaigns and retail design strategies for Nike, Columbia Sportswear, and other for-profit companies, Mike was inspired by the opportunity to make a difference by forging nonprofit community partnerships and attended the Portland State University’s Institute of Nonprofit Management.

Since then, he has worked at several nonprofits developing and overseeing signature fundraising campaigns.

Living in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, Mike shares three acres with four sheep, two rescue dogs, two rescue cats, two cockatiels, several rainbow fish, a turtle, and his partner, Dan.

Maiya Martin Burbank

Maiya Martin Burbank

Board Member

Maiya is the mother to several amazing animals, including Mr. Fitz, who she describes as “a pure delight in dog form that is a mix of breeds known only to his mother” and Thelma, Henrietta, and Leticia who are chickens.

In addition to serving on the board at Project POOCH, she spends her time advocating for older adult and senior visibility in government, medical, and social policy. When she has some downtime, she can be found cheering on the Buffalo Bills, quilting, reading, or watching The Mandalorian again.

Her favorite thing about Project POOCH is the way it gives both humans and animals opportunities in life that might not otherwise be available.