Tema brings more than 30 years to the teaching industry, with a Master’s degree in Education, a Bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing and an Equestrian degree training horses.  Recently she became one of 2500 in the world Certified Professionals in Learning and Performance (CPLP’s), for the Association for Talent Development (ATD) formerly, the Association for Training & Development (ASTD).

She has been teaching horse and rider for more than 30 years, training dogs for 20 years and owns Training Alternatives - providing training services for all types of adults, children and animals.

When Tema isn’t at her full-time job, you will find her volunteering for Front Street Animal Shelter teaching the dog programs, being an adoption counselor and doing anything else she can to save lives. With her passion for both animals and children, she wanted to contribute to Pawsitive Impact’s mission and joined as an active Board of Directors.

At home, she is the proud owner of three dogs, two cats and foster animals. She supports her identical twin daughters who are actively pursuing their careers in photography and acting.

She is proud to be part of such a great organization and its success – “Uplifting the lives of animals, children and adults through animal-human interaction.”

Jenny Anderson


"I recently graduated from Sac State with a BA in communication studies (public relations). During the process of earning my degree I decided I wanted to put it to use by helping the people and animals in my community. I am currently an intern at the Front Street Animal Shelter and foster both cats and dogs. I joined the Pawsitive Impact team in 2018 and look forward to helping the organization grow and touch as many lives as we can!"

With a family full of public servants, it is no surprise that our Secretary, Jennifer, loves to volunteer. When she learned that Pawsitive Impact served two of her favorite causes, at-risk youth and dogs, she had to step in and serve. A Registered Nurse by day, she works so her Front Street Alumni dog Dexter can have a better life. Aside from doting on her dog, Jenny enjoys spending time with her family, camping, banjo playing, gardening, and volunteering for Breast Cancer causes.

Ronnie Heaton

Executive Director and Dog Trainer

Phyllis has been with Front Street Animal Shelter, for many years, as a volunteer, Advanced Dog Handler, and dog foster. You may have seen her at the Petco on Arden, where Front Street has their adoption center. Phyllis has volunteered and been an adoption counselor, at the shelter's annex since it opened, three years ago. She signed up to be a dog handler for Pawsitive Impact, and also joined the Board of Directors, as our Treasurer, after hearing Amanda's plea for help, to keep the program going, after the former President needed to resign.

Haley Waugh

Marketing / Public Relations

Phyllis Montero


Ron has volunteered at animal shelters for over 10 years, learning about specific dog breeds and behavior traits, of those breeds. Ron became passionate about dog training after learning about the cycle of unwanted and lost pets finding their way to the shelters, due to owner neglect and undesired behavior issues. Realizing that fewer dogs would end up in the shelter, if more pet owners had the basic obedience training necessary, to make their dogs livable at home, Ron enrolled in dog training classes and has continued his education for the past six years, while educating both pet owners and dogs, with basic training skills. In 2015, Ron learned about the Pawsitive Impact ALPHA program, understanding the significant benefits of paring at-risk youth with at-risk shelter dogs, Ron knew he wanted to be a part of the valuable program. Ron’s dedication to the ALPHA program is clear, he assisted the organization’s head trainer Pam Frances-Tuss, to get the program sustained, coordinated with the program founder Amanda Banks to expand the ALPHA program, continues to participate in the roll of dog trainer, and served as Vice President, on the Board of Directors, before being appointed to the position of Executive Director.

Karen Flores

Social Media

Amanda Banks


Karen became a Front Street volunteer, dog handler and dog foster in June 2016, after losing her senior bulldog, earlier in the year. She wasn't ready to get another dog, but wanted to give back, and try her hand at fostering. She took her first foster dog home, in September 2016, had many memorable experiencing before falling in love and foster failing with her eighth foster, Jean Luc Picard. When Amanda came to speak at the shelter, and asked for help to keep the P.I. going, she joined the board as the social media chair and has been a P.I. dog handler since February 2017.  When she's not volunteering for Front Street, Pawsitive Impact, she enjoys working out, hiking, spending time with friends and family, and has recently joined another NPO, that helps raise money and awareness for the FSAS dog foster program. Karen works as the It Coordinator and Trainer for the Lewis Brisbois law firm.

Amanda has been a public educator in Sacramento for over 10 years. She received both her bachelor's degree and teaching credential from California State University, Sacramento. As a teacher, she witnessed the challenges and struggles that many urban students face.  The most rewarding part of her job as an educator was mentoring at-risk students and providing them guidance through their daily hardships.

Amanda and her husband, Keith, share their home with their shelter rescued cats and a dog.  Their husky-mix, Talia, actually helped inspire Amanda to create the ALPHA program. Talia had been wandering the streets of Sacramento and one day managed to walk into Amanda's classroom full of 6th graders.  The dog was underfed, and had some medical issues as a result of fending for herself.  Despite these issues, this beautiful dog immediately warmed up to Amanda's students and walked around the classroom showing everyone affection.  The students, even the toughest kids in the class, were extremely compassionate and showed true concern for the dog's well being.  Amanda noticed a connection between her students and the dog. She had never seen some of these students exhibit such empathy before. After many unsuccessful attempts to find the owner of the dog, Amanda and her husband decided to make the husky a permanent member of their family and named her Talia. Her students were thrilled to know that the dog had a permanent and happy home.

Amanda had dreamed for years, of combining her passion for helping at-risk youth and love of animals, and that finally became a reality with Pawsitive Impact.  

Tema Abend

Vice President 

Pam Francis-Tuss

Dog Trainer

Pam Francis-Tuss is a certified dog trainer with extensive experience under her belt, and more importantly, an undying passion for our 4-legged best pals. The Sacramento, CA-based professional is the entrepreneur behind Obedient Pups.  Pam also works for The Front Street Animal Shelter coordinating the Behavioral Modification Team and the Behavioral Evaluation Team. She is also the instructor for all the Dog Handling Classes. Pam trains volunteers on how to train their dogs so that they become more adoptable.

Pam spent 32 years working in the medical field and when she finally retired she started doing what made her the happiest…working with dogs. Pam has always had a dog in her life and can’t imagine life without one (or two). ​ Pam has been married for 30 years and has one awesome grown son. She currently has two dogs, her son’s dog Cooper (a 8 year Old English Sheepdog/Boxer mix) and Maddy (a 4 year old mini pit mix). Both are Pam’s best friends and her true loves. ​

Pam believes in respecting owners and their beloved pets: this is why she supports the association for Force-free professionals and values reward-based training strategies and positive reinforcement techniques that have a great impact on the psyche of your dog and lasting good behaviors. The best thing about reward-based dog training is that it can be adapted for any behavior and any breed. But understand that the reward doesn’t have to always be food. It can be praise, a toy or just going outside to play. With a good understanding of how your dog is motivated you can do almost anything from basic training to agility training.