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2021 Shelter Behavior & Enrichment Conference

Speaker Bios


Ken Ramirez, Executive VP and CTO of Karen Pryor Clicker Training 

is a prominent leader in the animal training industry. As Executive Vice-President and Chief Training Officer of Karen Pryor Clicker Training he oversees the vision, development and implementation of training education programs for the organization. This role aligns with Ken's philosophy of bringing positive reinforcement training to all corners of the animal training world. 

Ken previously served as the Executive Vice-President of animal care and animal training at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, where he developed and supervised animal care and animal health programs, staff training and development as well as public presentation programs for the entire animal collection of more than 32,000 animals. He worked at Shedd for nearly 26 years.


Dr. Erika Feuerbacher, PhD, BCBA-D, CAAB, CPDT-KA is an Assistant Professor in Companion Animal Behavior & Welfare at Virginia Tech. Erika's research focuses on domestic dog behavior, welfare, and learning/training. She explores fundamental learning processes in dogs and how those translate into the most effective and humane training techniques. Erika evaluates interventions for improving shelter dog welfare, by evaluating the effects on behavioral and physiological measures of stress. She also investigates human-dog dynamics and how to improve the human-dog relationship. While some of her research focuses on basic learning processes, her research always has a view towards the applied dimension and how we can help companion animals and their caregivers. Current research includes the effects of single- and pair-housing on the shelter dog stress, effects of brief sleepovers on shelter dog stress, detecting the honeymoon period in adopted dogs, and how reinforcer delivery affects reinforcer efficacy.


Kelley Bollen, MS, CABC works with animal welfare organizations to educate staff and volunteers about all things behavior to improve the quality of life for cats and dogs in shelters.


Kelley has a Master's Degree in Animal Behavior, is a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant (CABC) and a professional member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).


Kelley is a nationally recognized expert in the field of shelter behavioral care and has worked with animal shelters for the last 20 years.


Dr. Mikel Maria Delgado, PhD, CAAB is a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, where her research explores the behavior of cats in multi-cat households and the health and development of orphaned neonatal kittens. Mikel is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), and has worked professionally with cats for almost twenty years. She got her start in the Cat Behavior Program of the San Francisco SPCA, and co-founded her cat behavior consulting partnership, Feline Minds in 2008. She offers consultations for cat guardians and rescue organizations to prevent and solve behavior problems, and regularly speaks to a public audience including at the San Diego Natural History Museum, Cat Camp, and the Feline Science Symposium. 
She is co-author of the 2017 trade book “Total Cat Mojo,” and frequently engages with the press, including interviews by the BBC, Science Friday, the Washington Post, National Geographic, the Atlantic, and Newsweek. She has published her research in several academic journals, including the Journal of Comparative Psychology, Psychological Bulletin, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, and Anthrozoos.
Mikel lives in Sacramento with her boyfriend and their three rescue cats. You can learn more at

Mara Velez, Ivy and Nala-3.jpg

Mara Velez, MA, CPDT-KA is the Executive Director of the Shelter Playgroup Alliance and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. Mara was formerly a behavior and training consultant at Contra Costa Animal Services where she collaboratively designed, developed, and implemented behavior program structures, including a robust volunteer training program, revised behavior evaluation, canine enrichment and playgroup guidelines. Mara holds both a bachelors and master’s degree in psychology and completed all of the course work for a doctorate in education.


In addition to completing KPA, LLA, and several other animal behavior and training-related programs, Mara continually develops her skills and knowledge of canines by attending seminars and reading science-based canine literature. To date, she has completed over 2,000 hours of continuing education.


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