President — Maria Flores Blackburn
Maria is a Certified Public Accountant with prior experience in Public Accounting Tax. She is currently a Sr. Financial Analyst at Southern Company and completed her MBA at Reinhardt University in 2022.
Maria and her husband, Ben, are high school sweethearts, and they have two adorable furr-babies, Rousey and Luna (Luna is a former PNCA kitty!). They enjoy working on home projects, their garden, cooking, and spending time with family. They are super excited to be expecting Baby Boy Blackburn in September 2022!
Maria has watched Purr Nation since the creation of the organization and has been so impressed with the dedication and love poured into the organization by the Board, Staff, Volunteers, and the community. Last year, Maria heard about the opportunity to join the board, and she immediately jumped on the idea. Maria has experience on other nonprofit boards and knew this was the right fit for her to bring her knowledge of nonprofits to give back to a cause that means alot to her.
Maria adds, “I am a big believer that we are filling a need in this community that would otherwise go unfilled if we were not an organization. We are doing great things as an organization, and I cannot wait to see where the organization goes from here. I am excited to continue to meet more volunteers and help the organization in any way I can”.
Vice President — Rory Hekking, DVM
PNCA got to know Dr. Hekking while he was working at Etowah Veterinary Hospital. His passion for animals was clear and our kitties always felt safe and loved during their visits. Dr. Hekking is now working at Averill Animal Hospital since April 2022 and enjoys being closer to his home where he has more time with his wife and 3 children. He and his wife moved to Georgia 8 years ago looking for the warmer weather. They have fallen in love with Georgia and have slowly convinced their family members to join them here! As a family, the Hekking family enjoys going on hikes and fishing at nearby ponds and streams.
We asked Dr. Hekking what drew him to PNCA and he said, “I had been seeing patients from Purr Nation for several years, and was always impressed with the level of care all the kitties received. I had worked with several other rescues but had never seen one that was so caring. When the opportunity to join the Board was presented, I jumped at the chance to be involved with such a great organization! Since joining the board I have continued to be impressed with everyone I interact with. No matter what we are discussing, it is clear that the priority at all times is to do what is best for the cats in our care. I am so excited for all the wonderful things PNCA will do moving forward!”
Vice President — Tyler Watkins
Tyler Watkins graduated in 2017 from John Marshall Law School. Licensed to practice in Georgia and Florida, his practice is primarily focused on civil litigation and his firm has represented both individuals and corporations in a variety of personal and business disputes.
A cat dad by circumstance, Tyler adopted a rescue kitten in 2018 that has since refused to leave his side—literally. Tyler connected to Purr Nation Cat Alliance’s mission through the power of the human-cat bond and strives to utilize his attention to detail and problem-solving skills to help the organization expand its mission and leadership into the community.
In the once in a lifetime opportunity he isn’t working, Tyler enjoys running, working out, reading, traveling, and enjoying different libations.
Treasurer — Carrie Hughes
Carrie holds two undergraduate degrees in Anthropology at University of South Florida and Chemistry at The University of Tampa. She also received her Doctor of Optometry degree from Southern College of Optometry in 2013. Carrie is currently licensed to practice medical optometry in the state of Georgia and works part time providing the utmost eye care to the local and surrounding communities.
Throughout her life, Carrie has always been passionate about animals, especially cats. In fact, growing up, she dedicated a lot of her time to local rescues and shelters as well as babysitting her neighbor’s pets. When Carrie moved to Roswell with her husband and fur children in 2017, she started volunteering with Refuge Rescue Cats in early 2018 which later became Purr Nation Cat Alliance in 2018. Her love for Purr Nation’s mission led her to become a member of the Board of Directors in early 2020.
Beyond Optometry and cats, Carrie also enjoys spending time with her friends and family, baking sweets, surviving crossfit workouts, creating artwork masterpieces, and reading vampire novels.
Secretary — Camille Godwin
Camille Godwin graduated in 1992 from the Florida State University College of Law. Licensed to practice in nine states, she primarily represents clients throughout the southeast in litigation and appellate matters involving elder abuse and neglect, corporate malfeasance, and civil rights.
If she had free time, Camille would like to spend it on beaches or in mountains with books and refreshing beverages. Unfortunately, she is owned by a harsh brood of taskmaster felines who do not understand the concepts of personal time or space and who will only allow her out of their sight to go to work and earn coins for their upkeep. She kind of likes it that way, allegedly.
Member — Sarah O’Shea
Sarah is a practicing hospital pharmacist, graduating with her PharmD from Mercer University in 2015. She has always been an animal lover and advocate, growing up with pets her whole life. As an avid kickboxer, Sarah learned about Purr Nation at a charity event hosted by her gym and began volunteering shortly after; first by cleaning cages at Petsmart, then transitioning to her roles as an active foster and Adoption Coordinator. Sarah also helped create PNCA’s intake team – a group of volunteers and staff that work together to determine how PNCA can help rescue the countless cats/kittens needing our help.
Sarah brings a grounded perspective to the board through her significant involvement with PNCA’s daily operational programs. Sarah believes that teamwork is the key to saving more lives and encourages a cross-functional business model to achieve PNCA’s mission.
Sarah lives in Acworth with her husband and her six fur-babies, half of which were former PNCA fosters! When not working, she enjoys traveling, photography, fitness, and outdoor activities.