Our Board of Directors
Sheri Speede, DVM – Founder, Executive Director of Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue – President
Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Sheri began practicing veterinary medicine in 1985. She moved to Portland, OR in 1988 and became partner in a successful local practice. She served as president of the Portland Veterinary Medical Association and co-founded the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon, a non-profit organization dedicated to humanely reducing the population of feral cats through spaying and neutering. She sold her interest in the veterinary practice in 1995 so she could commit her time to animal activism. As Northwest Director of the non-profit organization In Defense of Animals (IDA) from 1995 to 1998, Dr. Speede advocated for companion animals, as well as victims of biomedical research, factory farms and circuses. In addition, she was able to provide veterinary care to animals in sanctuaries, including primates in Cameroon, Africa. In 1999, with a mission to care for rescued chimpanzee orphans and to ensure that endangered great apes survive in their natural habitats, Sheri founded Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon’s Mbargue Forest. That same year she and colleagues established In Defense of Animals-Africa (IDA-Africa) as a program of IDA. More recently, Sheri and other current Board members established Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue as a tax-exempt non-profit organization in the United States.
Crystal Schneider, LPC, CADC I – Secretary
Crystal is a licensed mental health and alcohol and drug therapist in Oregon and has been practicing in the Portland area. She has volunteered at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon. Crystal has also been volunteering locally with IDA-Africa and Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue since 2009, working on fundraising and development. She is an avid animal lover who volunteers at various animal fundraisers and participates in animal rights events. She also enjoys traveling, reading, spending time with family and friends, and being outdoors every chance, she gets in beautiful, but rainy Portland, Oregon where she has lived since 2001.
Lauren Edwardson, Attorney
Lauren is currently a product manager in Portland, Oregon and the newest member of Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue’s board. In college, Lauren studied bonobo behavior at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and wrote her senior thesis on the conservation of bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After attending law school at Georgetown University Law Center, Lauren volunteered at Jane Goodall’s Chimpanzee Eden in South Africa, then returned to Washington, DC to practice law as an environmental attorney. However, she couldn’t shake her passion for primates, and she has traveled to Africa several times to see free-living chimpanzees and mountain gorillas. Lauren began helping Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center apply for grants when she moved to Portland in 2012, and she enjoys helping out with the annual fundraising events.
Pamela Hokanson, BS (Finance), MBA
Pam is a Buffalo, New York native and Group Vice President of M&T Bank and President of Buffalo Promise Neighborhood. She has traveled extensively in Africa and Asia, visiting remote areas to observe the great apes studied by Anthropologist, Dr. Louis Leakey’s ‘Trimates’. Her lifelong love of Africa and its animals brought her there the first time, but it was the spirit of the people she met that kept bringing her back. She enjoys sharing her experiences and knowledge in the conservation and preservation of our natural world as a Docent of the Buffalo Zoo for 20 years.
“It is a privilege and an honor to be part of Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue and the critical on-the-ground initiatives of caring for orphaned chimpanzees, environmental studies and habitat protection, and partnering with local communities to increase economic development and preserve the environment.”
Rieva Holbrook, Ph.D. (Anthropology)
Rieva has been interested in great ape behavior and conservation since having the opportunity to visit with Jane Goodall in 1972, and learning firsthand how quickly long-held beliefs about man’s uniqueness were crumbling. Although an anthropologist, she remained deeply interested in great ape behavior and the revolution that is taking place in how our nearest relatives are studied and understood. By the 1990’s, while it had become clear that the great ape family was our own, it also had become clear that humans were waging war on their nearest relatives. Ransacking their habitat, slaughtering them, enslaving them and imprisoning them. A handful of heroes are on the frontlines of this battle and have dedicated their lives to fighting the tidal wave of destruction. Rieva strongly supports Dr. Sheri Speede as one of the heroes and Sanaga-Yong as a sanctuary for victims of that war. But rearguard action is needed as well, and she considers herself fortunate to be able to help.
Kerri Jackson, DVM
Kerri is currently a practicing veterinarian in Sherwood Oregon. She became actively involved with the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center after visiting the facility in 2006. She realized firsthand the broad impact the program has, not only on the welfare and health of the entire chimp population in Cameroon, but also the positive effects on economic growth, stability and education to the surrounding community.
Brian Jolly, Attorney
Brian is involved with multiple non-profits in the Portland, Oregon area. His non-profit work has included assisting organizations that benefit underserved youth, and wildlife conservation. Brian assisted Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue with its legal formation and application for tax-exempt status and is excited to stay involved with the organization as a member of its Board. Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue’s mission and its staff made such an impression on Brian that he wanted to remain involved with and support their critical work.
Susan Labhard, MSN, RN
Susan has worked in the field of pediatrics since 1977. She uses positive and creative approaches to assist youth with child-onset conditions to maximize their potential and improve quality of life. Susan is a seasoned Int’l presenter and has published several articles on transition topics. In 2014, Labhard retired as CAPT, Nurse Corps, USNR, after 30 years of service. Her other passions are humane treatment of all animals, wildlife conservation, and travel. Susan is also a long-time volunteer at the Oregon Humane Society. After meeting Dr. Speede in 1997, she was extremely impressed with Sheri’s “promise“ to five captive chimpanzees in Cameroon–to get those chimps back into a safe place in the jungle where they belong. In 1999, Susan was fortunate enough to meet three of these chimpanzees and became a life-long supporter of Sheri’s mission. Susan has been involved with IDA-Africa’s Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue’s annual benefits for many years and became an active Board Member in 2016. She spends her free time with husband Michael, two important rescue dogs, and visiting her mother in MD.
Allison is a former commercial photographer with 7 years as a Contributing Photographer for People Magazine and 6 years on the faculty of The Rocky Mountain School of Photography. In recent years, she has served as a long-term volunteer with Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue in Cameroon, Orangutan Foundation International in Borneo, and WWF in the D.R. Congo. She collaborates with a number of NGOs on the development of enrichment programs, care for disabled animals, and delivery of conservation education programs. She is devoted to the survival of wild populations of great apes and the welfare of all captive apes worldwide. www.allisonleachprojects.com.