Bug squasher by day, dog rescuer by night, Val is a superhero to both humans and four-legged friends alike. Here’s a quick look at one of our female Firespringers rockin’ it like a boss in a typically male-dominated field—and her soft spot for helping animals who need a little extra TLC.

What’s your favorite part of your job as a software engineering manager?

I love the feeling of solving a problem. In software, you will have bugs you have to track down and fix. Some are more challenging than others—and getting to the bottom of some of those obscure or edge case conditions to locate the source of the issue is very rewarding.

So, how about when you’re not squashing bugs—where does your heart take you?

I am a volunteer for Lincoln Animal Ambassadors. When I joined Firespring eight years ago, I was excited for the opportunity to become a regular volunteer through Firespring’s volunteer program (i.e., providing team members one paid day per month to volunteer).

When I started thinking of how to use that time, I knew I wanted to do something to benefit dogs. I had previously volunteered for Hearts United for Animals, a no-kill animal shelter, but the drive to Auburn made continuing to volunteer difficult. I heard of Lincoln Animal Ambassadors through their booth at the “I Love My Dog” Expo, and their mission to address the root causes of animal homelessness aligned with my desire to improve animal welfare.

There is a large population of homeless pets. Rescue groups and shelters try to create better outcomes for these animals, but they are often just treating the symptoms rather than attacking the sources of the problems. Lincoln Animal Ambassadors helps keep pets with their families and out of shelters by providing temporary assistance to help families feed their pets through their Pet Food Bank and reduces unplanned or unwanted litters by offering a spay/neuter assistance program.

That’s amazing! How do you help support their cause?

I design and manage email marketing campaigns for them. My time is spent promoting fundraising events, sharing organization and program updates and providing pet care tips to our email subscribers.

Was there anything in particular that drew you to this specific org?

Lincoln Animal Ambassadors’ mission of addressing animal homelessness is definitely what drew me to the organization. Growing up, we took in stray cats and dogs. I loved having pets in the family. After living with dogs for most of my life, at this point I can’t imagine not having them as part of the family. As a result of my experiences, helping animals and being an advocate for them is extremely important to me.

Outside of work and volunteering, what are you passionate about?

Doing good in our community. Obviously I have a deep passion and love of animals, but there are many other ways and opportunities to support our community. I am also a regular volunteer for the Friendship Home and the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life. I feel like it’s important to take action to help others because I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to help.

I’m also a big sports fan. I love watching Husker football and volleyball. I enjoy playing volleyball on a few recreational teams. My love for animals includes horses, and I go horseback riding several times a week.

How about your family—can you tell us a bit about them (including any furry family members)?

My partner, Jackson, and I have three rescue dogs: Moose (Boston Terrier mix), Buckley (Boston Terrier) and Oliver (Chihuahua mix). And I also have a horse that is boarded near Lincoln.

At Firespring, we’re proud to call Lincoln Animal Ambassadors a partner and client. If you’d like to learn more about their mission as well as volunteer opportunities, visit their website.