Board of Directors


Joycelyn Urech, President

Joycelyn Urech was elected to serve as one of the Board of Directors of Special Pals in 2012.  She brings to the board 19 years of experience as an attorney and serves as the legal counsel to several local nonprofit organizations.  Joycelyn’s professional experience includes working with small businesses and nonprofits in the areas of business law and property law.

In her free time, Joycelyn enjoys riding her bike and belongs to a cycling club.  She is also the proud owner of two rescue animals; one cat and one dog. Both are incredibly spoiled and loved.  Joycelyn has been known to rescue animals that have gotten lost and has been successful in finding their owners.

Supporting Special Pals and its mission is a priority in her life and she excited about the future of the organization.


Melissa Houser, Director

Melissa Houser joined the Special Pals Board of Directors in October 2013. A long-time supporter of animal rescue organizations, Melissa is excited to work directly with Special Pals to help bring awareness to the community of all of the wonderful things Special Pals does for homeless, abandoned and neglected animals.

After almost a decade of fundraising, marketing, and special event production for nonprofit organizations in the Houston area, Melissa founded Positive Force Consulting in March 2010. Through her work, she assists small to medium nonprofits fulfill their missions to make a positive difference in the lives of those they serve.

A 2001 graduate of Texas A&M University, Melissa has called Katy home since 2002. In her spare time, she enjoys watching Aggie Football spending time with her husband, two sons, two dogs and cat.

Melanie Pavlik, Director

Melanie was elected to the Special Pals Board of Directors in January 2016.  She has been a volunteer with Special Pals since 2010 and has enjoyed helping us out with accounting, marketing, and taking care of the animals.  Melanie enjoys volunteering with Special Pals because it is a no-kill shelter - one of only two in the Houston area - and the largest, continuing to grow and to save more dogs and cats.

Melanie's professional experiences include management, sales, and business administration.  She works with different industries, including K-12 education, software, CPG, and oil and gas companies.  Melanie has completed several professional and life coaching certifications and uses her coaching skills with businesses.  When not volunteering at Special Pals, Melanie enjoys working in the garden.

Melanie has been a long-time resident in the West Houston and Katy areas, where she resides with her husband and two large rescue dogs.

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Jessica Mollon, Director

Raised in Katy, Texas, Jessica Mollon became a Special Pals Board member in 2015.

Jessica graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2010 with a degree in Psychology; after graduating Magna Cum Laude, Jessica went on to pursue her Masters in Education-School Counseling.

During her tenure at Sam Houston, Jessica began volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and has always been active in the animal community. Jessica’s passion for helping others and her selfless commitment to helping those around her led her to Special Pals.

Having had animals since childhood, Jessica has always held a special place in her heart for helping those that cannot speak for themselves; looking to become an advocate for those voiceless animals and in pursuing her passion, Jessica accepted the position at Special Pals.

Jessica currently lives in Katy with her husband Jarad, their daughter Naomi, stepdaughter Kailynn, and five pups; 4 of whom have found their ‘fur’ever home with her and her family. She continues to be an active part of the efforts to place homeless animals in loving homes.


Paloma Sierra, Director

Paloma recently joined the Special Pals Board of Directors in 2015. Growing up, she switched between dreams of being a veterinarian and a teacher almost daily. While her teaching dreams ended up being the pursuit of her career, Special Pals has been a wonderful way to incorporate both passions. Paloma loves animals and is a "dog mom" to two fur-babies named Zoey and Ruby - although, she does love all animals!  Some of her childhood pets included various fish, hermit crabs, a Guinea pig, parakeets, lizards, and even MICE! 

Paloma received her Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State University in 2013. During her time at Texas State she was an active member of Delta Zeta (Iota Alpha). DZ has strong philanthropy ties to the speech and hearing impaired cause. Paloma and her sisters worked alongside The Painted Turtle Camp and The Starkey Hearing Foundation to provide awareness and support for their  causes. 

Currently, Paloma teaches 2nd grade in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. Paloma loves to read and write, so naturally she is a reading and writing teacher. She loves when children leave her class wanting to pick up a book instead of an X-Box controller. Paloma's 43 kiddos definitely keep her on her toes!

Paloma is also the Co-Owner of an online boutique called P.S. I Love You. She started this with her teaching partner/best friend in November 2015. P.S. I Love You sells high quality clothing, handmade jewelry (made by Paloma's momma!), unique gifts, and also has a philanthropic twist. Periodically, the boutique features a new philanthropy on their website to raise awareness and hopefully donations. 

Paloma's love for volunteering also keeps her very active with The Junior League of Houston. She has just completed her Provisional year where she spent a lot of time at Texas Children's Hospital. She will begin her first active year as a Head Active in the Junior League's Tea Room. 

Reading is Paloma's favorite hobby. She is the type to read while she blow dries her hair and eats breakfast. Paloma also enjoys crafting, decorating, Texas country music, dancing, being in the sun, and spending time with her family. 


Ralph Staudenmayer, Ph.D., Director

Ralph Staudenmayer was elected to the Special Pals Board of Directors in 2013. He grew up in California but has called Houston home since 1980. Now retired, Ralph spent more than 25 years directing engineering projects in the hard metals and oil field industries.

Ralph joined the Special Pals Board of Directors because of his concern for abandoned and mistreated animals in our community. He firmly believes that Special Pals will become one of Houston’s top animal rescue and adoption facilities and is proud to be a part of the organization.

Ralph is an active Rotarian and lives with his wife and three rescue animals, a dog and two cats.