Mara Velez, Executive Director, MA, CPDT-KA
Mara Velez is the Executive Director of the Shelter Playgroup Alliance and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. Prior to co-founding the Shelter Playgroup Alliance, Mara was a behavior and training consultant for several years at Contra Costa Animal Services (CCASD), an open-admission county shelter. At CCASD she collaboratively designed, developed, and implemented behavior program structures, including a robust volunteer training program, the behavior evaluation, and the canine enrichment and playgroup guidelines.
In addition to working with canines, Mara enjoys training other species because it expands her training and observation skills. She has worked with cats, rabbits, wolves, foxes, guinea pigs, coyotes, buffalo, donkeys, goats, alpacas, chickens, parrots, corvids and other birds, and a fish.
Mara holds both a bachelors and masters degree in psychology and completed all of the course work for a doctorate in education. She also completed University of the Pacific Animal Shelter Management Program and the Summer Shelter Institute. Mara has also completed 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 1,400 hours of continuing education.