Board of Directors


Melissa Houser, President

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.


Heidi Gibson, Vice President

Heidi has served on the Special Pals board since 2017. Heidi also serves as our volunteer coordinator, helping groups from NCL, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, area high schoolers, and corporate service organizations do great work at Special Pals.

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Jessica Mollon, Secretary

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.


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.


Lindsay Bechtel, Director

Lindsay Bechtel joined the Special Pals Board of Directors in February of 2018.

Lindsay has a strong marketing background working for a full-service agency serving the oil and gas industry for almost a decade. She specializes in developing integrated marketing plans and event coordination to help companies raise awareness and maximize exposure to build their brands.

Growing up in a house full of animals including dogs, cats, and chickens, Lindsay has a strong passion for animals. She loves volunteering at Special Pals to help socialize the dogs and cats to get them ready for their ‘fur’ever homes.

Originally from Yorba Linda, California, Lindsay earned a volleyball scholarship at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where she pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing. Upon graduation, Lindsay was selected as the 2011 Outstanding Graduate of Marketing and Hospitality. In her free time, Lindsay is involved in the Business Marketers Association, loves to travel, and enjoys coaching competitive volleyball for a local club.

Lindsay currently lives in Katy with her husband Brian and rescue cat named Atlas.