Board of Directors

John Boone, PHD. – Chair

John began volunteering at the SPCA of Northern Nevada in 2000, first by walking dogs, and then by fostering and as part of the PetSmart adoption team. He joined the Board of Directors in 2001, and served as Board Chair from 2002 – 2008. Over the years, he has adopted 13 SPCA adoption center dogs and cats (mostly special needs), fostered several hundred puppies, kittens, and mothers, and helped bring Maddie’s Fund support to Reno/Sparks. John is a wildlife biologist with the Great Basin Bird Observatory, where he and his colleagues conduct applied research, monitoring, and conservation planning projects in Nevada and throughout much of the western United States. In addition to his wildlife work and his work with the SPCA, he serves as Vice-Chair of the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs, which facilitates the development of effective non-surgical tools for pet sterilization and contraception. He also serves as a consultant for Humane Society International, Humane Society of the United States, and several other international, national, and regional animal welfare organizations, providing expertise in population measurement and analysis for humane programs designed to help street dogs and feral cats around the world.


Brooke Walker – Vice-Chair

Brooke and her husband, Craig, raised their 2 children (along with a myriad of pets) here in Northern Nevada beginning in 1986. Brooke has practiced as a family nurse practitioner for more than 3 decades. She helped develop and grow two mission clinics, which are now part of Community Health Alliance (CHA), where she still practices. Her passion to serve those who are marginalized is the reason she first volunteered at the SPCA of Northern Nevada, when we were located on 4th street. She’s been an ardent dog-walker, volunteer committee leader and board secretary.  Brooke grew up adopting dogs and cats from California SPCAs, and now she and Craig care for senior dogs in their home. This past year she’s been obsessed with our thrift store and helping to make multiple improvements. When she’s not at the SPCA, she enjoys gardening, any physical activity outside, and time with family and friends.

Fernando Leal – Treasurer

Fernando Leal is the developer and managing partner of the Renaissance Downtown Reno Hotel and CEO of Sierra Wellness Connection.  His 30+ year career as an entrepreneur started in Chicago redeveloping downtown properties.  He moved to Reno on a full time basis in 2006 and believes it to be one of the greatest communities anyone could live in.  His projects in Reno include the Montage Residences, Commrow (now Whitney Peak) and numerous housing projects in the Midtown neighborhood.  
His passion for animals led him to implement a “people friendly” (of course your pets are welcome) policy in his properties.  He is a married father of three young adults and two rescued dogs, Ocho a pit bull mix and Riley a Shepard mix.  


Piper Stremmel – Secretary

Piper grew up in Reno and, as an only child, spent her time growing up surrounded by dogs.  She and her husband, Chris, adopted their first dog together five years ago and recently adopted their second dog.  They hope to continue adopting and eventually start serving as foster parents.  Piper is thrilled to have recently joined the Board in 2017 and is looking forward to continuing all of the hard work put forward by previous Board members, SPCA employees and volunteers.


Mel Minarik – Board Member

Mel Minarik has lived in the Reno Tahoe area since 1999, prior to that, Visalia CA and prior to that Chicago.  She grew up  the “Snooper1” and “Snooper 2” dachshunds and then moved onto to larger dogs as she got older.  Her interest in helper dogs spiked when her yellow lab, Donner, served as a therapy dog at her Rehab Hospital when she was the Vice-President of a large health care system from 1982-98.   She was inspired by the power that dogs had for helping patients heal.

She has been on the faculty at University of Nevada Reno since 2000, focusing on health sciences and integrative medicine, and now has three standard poodles, one of them, Taffy, was a re-homed dog from Idaho.  She and her partner, Sandy, adore their dogs (also Hazel and Lucy) as they are their family.  Mel’s interest in the SPCA includes nonprofit governance, and is fascinated by the importance of enrichment activities such as reading to the dogs and cats.



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