Heaven on Earth Board 2019-07-16T11:33:50+00:00

Heaven on Earth Board

Ritchie Geisel

Board Chair
Executive Director

Ritchie was the only member of his Stanford Business School class who had his eye (and heart) on the nonprofit sector. A graduate of Princeton University, he has served in executive and fundraising capacities in the education, human services and animal welfare fields, including 27 years as CEO of several nonprofit organizations. Ritchie previously served as the Heaven on Earth board chair from 2004 to April 2017, and is currently both Board Chair and Executive Director, having retired from Bienvenidos Children’s Center in 2016. He and his wife, Pamela, are parents to five rescue cats: Abby, and Heaven on Earth alums Fiyero, Ruby, Dilly, and Sassy.

Susie Yoo

Vice Chair

Susie and her gentle rescued pit bull, Apple, live in Los Angeles where Susie is a lawyer for Universal films. Apple opened Susie’s eyes to the millions of sweet and loving cats and dogs in this country that are put down every year and ever since, Susie has been involved with animal rescue and advocacy.  Susie firmly believes in the power of the human/animal bond to change the lives of both and if you don’t believe her, she says just spend half an hour at Perry’s Place!

Jennifer Parsignault


By day an Audit Manager for a union trust fund, Jennifer is also an artist and singer/songwriter with several independent albums to her credit. She grew up with cats and horses and ultimately found her way to the rescue community through a colony of feral cats in her neighborhood and never turned back. Jennifer, who is still recognized with gratitude by local ferals, has served on the Heaven on Earth board since 2006 and lives in the San Fernando Valley with her husband, Bob Wynne, and rescue cats Bailey and Heaven on Earth alum Christopher, along with an ever-changing census of fosters.

John Gregory


In the world of animal lovers, John says he’s aligned himself with the feline folks, having come to appreciate cats’ curious, independent and mysterious natures and uncanny ability to make their agenda everyone’s agenda. John is retired from Sony Pictures Entertainment, where he worked in finance, and was introduced to Heaven on Earth in 2010 during a project to relocate a dozen feral cats from the studio lot to temporary safe harbor at Heaven on Earth’s sanctuary. He and his wife, Kathy, live in Westchester with their four rescue cats Rocko, ZZ, Tuxy and Tiny. John joined the Heaven on Earth board in 2011.

Erendira Cronkhite

Eri started rescuing dogs, cats, and any other animal that came her way when she was just 19 years old. In 2000, she founded Heaven on Earth, with a focus on helping cats in need that other rescue groups were unable or unwilling to take on. In 2013, Eri stepped back from Heaven on Earth to focus on her human family, including four incredible children — two of whom were adopted from Los Angeles County. Eri’s family also includes Taco, a mastiff mix, and Kati, an all-white cat rescued by Eri’s youngest child. Eri is a partner at a boutique bookkeeping firm, Summit Accounting Solutions, in West Los Angeles. She was re-elected to the Board in 2019.

Colleen Friend

Colleen Friend was adopted by a neighborhood cat named Whiskey 20 years ago and he taught her how to care for felines. She came to Heaven on Earth to develop a plan for her current cats once she leaves the planet, and to experience an animal care organization that is professionally run. Colleen is very enthusiastic about working under Heaven on Earth’s current leadership. By day, Colleen directs the Child Abuse and Family Violence Institute at California State University Los Angeles and chairs the California Social Work Hall of Distinction. She hopes to be part of the team that will soon offer bereavement services at Heaven on Earth. She believes that animals come into our lives to teach us something. When the student is ready, the teacher arrives.

Melissa Godlash

Melissa’s interest in animals began while growing up on a farm in rural Texas and followed her to the East Coast, where she interned at various animal rescue organizations while a student at Boston University. Now working in the financial services industry, she has happily found her after-hours niche as a volunteer for Heaven on Earth, whose board she joined in 2010. Melissa also has served on the event committees for Heaven on Earth’s last three fundraising galas. She and her husband, Fred, live in the San Fernando Valley with their spoiled rescue kitties Felix and Lady, a Heaven on Earth alum.

Paul Jacques

Paul currently serves as Director of Operations for DSI Luxury Technology, providing luxury Home Theater and Automation services. Previously, Paul spent 17 years at the American Film Institute as Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Infrastructure. Paul received his BA from the University of Southern California and his MBA from the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management. He is an active musician, playing several times a month in local clubs. A longtime Angelino, Paul lives in the Mt. Washington area of Los Angeles with his wife and their menagerie of rescued dogs (Agnes, Chet and Finster) and cats (Mable, Gladys, Vivian and Rutiger.)

Suzanne Lofland

Originally from Alabama, Suzanne fell into animal rescue several years ago when a malnourished pregnant cat emerged from a dumpster one afternoon near her apartment. Unable to look the other way, she took Sheeba in and it was through seeking homes for Sheeba’s six kittens that Suzanne and her wife, Leandra, realized a shared passion for helping cats. As facilities director at Heaven on Earth, whose board she joined in 2011, Suzanne combines a love of cat rescue with her hobbies of home repair and generally “making things work.” She lives in Van Nuys with Leandra, Sheeba, Mr. Bo (Sheeba’s son) and various fosters as the need (often) arises.

Lisa Medwid

A lifelong animal lover, Lisa combined this passion with her work in the film industry by creating a grassroots group to successfully manage the feral colony living on a motion picture studio lot, achieving zero population growth through the humane practice of TNR (trap/neuter/return). Along the way, she discovered Heaven on Earth and joined the board in 2012. When not trapping, rescuing and/or fostering cats (and the not-so-occasional dog), she pursues a varied career that has included everything from legit stage manager to voiceover actress to goat shepherdess. (Really.) Lisa lives in Los Angeles in a home full of happy former strays.

Maral Mofrad

Maral started as an “independent rescue” at age 7 when she took in the first stray cat she came across- black cat with white socks- on a beautiful summer day and named him “Zoghali”. She soon turned her parents’ home into a sanctuary for stray cats. After moving to the US, she became a pit bull advocate working with high-kill shelters in LA before crossing paths with Joyce Newman, founder of Ziggy & Friends Cat Rescue. Working in entertainment advertising during the day, Maral serves as president of Ziggy & Friends and board member of Heaven on Earth by night. She is a proud rescue mama to a pit bull and 4 cats: a tuxedo, a Siamese, a polydactyl and a very grumpy gray tabby!

Gaby Perez

Gaby has loved animals since she was a child and is passionate about helping them. She realized the importance of animal rescue and animal advocacy years ago, which has empowered her to make various lifestyle changes. She made a career change from Audit to Resource Management to have a better work life balance that would allow her to commit more time to helping those who need it the most. She began rescuing animals from city shelters to find them foster or permanent homes, and has volunteered with several rescue organizations. Gaby now focuses on bringing awareness to the public about the importance of spaying and neutering cats and dogs.

Eli Pessar

Since completing his studies at UCLA and Harvard, Eli has been dedicated to serving his community. Professionally, he does so by helping Early Childhood educators increase their quality of care. Outside of work, he strives to ensure that all children and adults have the opportunity to experience the joy of having a pet as a family member. Eli believes animals lead us away from a life of self-indulgence to one centered around love and care. He plans to utilize his organizational development and nonprofit management specialties to help Heaven on Earth increase its impact in Southern California.

Seema Pessar

Seema has always loved animals.  Her dedication to and understanding of animal rescue efforts first began when she adopted an orphaned elephant in high school through a wildlife fund.  Since then, Seema has been able to increase her impact on vulnerable populations, specifically by activating her research and program evaluation skills. Seema joins Heaven on Earth, not only as an animal lover, but as a health policy analyst, who offers guidance on data analysis and evaluation as a means of improving our approach to cat rescue.

Robin Wohlford

Robin’s interest in cats began in the early 70’s when her godfather taught by example—leaving food in allies, trapping and transporting for spay and neuter while the 7-year-old Robin watched. Fast forward to today, as Robin now drives all over the Valley in support of area cats, spending most Saturdays working adoption events and every day caring for her own feline houseful. She has fostered for Heaven on Earth since 2004 and is a registered foster parent for Los Angeles Animal Services, specializing in bottle feeding and weaning litters of kittens. Robin makes her living as a controller and brings that skill set to the Heaven on Earth board, which she joined in 2012.