top of page

Meet Our Board of Directors

(and their special companions). . .

Rhonda L. Minardi

Living Grace Canine Ranch is a testament to the power of one individual's compassion and dedication to their community. In the Christmas week of ’19, Rhonda Minardi, a professional woman recently relocated to Central Texas, was struck by the lack of resources for the aging population and their pets, particularly senior dogs. She was moved by the sight of hundreds of these old dogs, abandoned and alone in shelters with little hope of adoption or survival. Unbeknownst to her at the time, Texas State Department/Public Health statistics revealed that 64% of dogs do not survive a shelter experience. This heartbreaking reality spurred her into action, leading her to purchase five acres of land in Bertram.


Determined to create a new outcome for adoption-disadvantaged Texas senior dogs and despite COVID-19 impacting nonprofit fundraising gatherings, Minardi’s vision resonated with Texas pet parents and attracted nationwide media attention.


Since its inception, Living Grace Canine Ranch (LGCR) has been a beacon of hope for senior dogs in Texas. In its first year, LGCR opened its sanctuary doors to twenty-five senior dogs, reaching its care giving capacity almost immediately. Today, the ‘Ranch’ is a thriving home to over one hundred old dogs, each with unique medical, physical, and age-related behavioral challenges.


The organization has also spearheaded the creation of a Central Texas pet resource coalition and a joint effort with Meals on Wheels to increase the quality of senior citizen life through canine companionship, furthering its positive impact on the community.


As founder, chairwoman, and executive director, Rhonda summarizes Living Grace Canine Ranch’s overwhelming success as “Love, compassion, and purpose. Only by God's grace has LGCR become possible. This is truly living grace.”




Blaze - Siberian Husky - 7 Years




Rescued at 6 Months


Rescued at 1.5 Years

Melissa Miller


Melissa Miller is V.P. of Communications and Content at Alaffia. She previously led Sundial Brands/Unilever’s public relations for its portfolio of brands in the U.S. and international markets. Additionally, she has agency executive experience in CPG and corporate communications, as well as a film and television script development background. Melissa was an adjunct professor at Fordham University in the Communications Department and at School of Visual Arts in the Film & Television Department. Melissa and her husband, Ray, advocate for the welfare of animals and banning animal testing in the U.S. and abroad in countries still doing testing. Melissa has also led sponsorships and initiatives for animal shelters and organizations at posts she’s previously held.


Jennifer Friday-Jones

Jennifer began her career in the banking and tech industry, gaining unparalleled experience in the culture and social responsibility space and establishing herself as a respected leader in engaging customers & employees via technology. 

She served as Employee Engagement Strategist at Dell Inc, Freescale Semiconductor and Sr. Manager for Culture at Q2. Currently working as a Co-Founder for SoshWallet Inc, Jennifer is widely known for her creativity, authenticity, and people expertise. While her career has taken her worldwide, Jennifer is proud to call Austin, Texas, home.



Passion for Community Charities

Outside of work, she recharges herself by volunteering her time to help smaller charities with their social media and fundraising strategies while moving all processes forward with the help of technology. She serves as an advisory board member of the nonpareil Institute of Austin which focuses on young adults with autism and an avid volunteer to SOS Cat Rescue where she created their website and automated all of their intake and forms.

At home, she and her husband, Bryan, are pet parents to Tucker (13 yr. old Australian Shepherd Mix), Tarantino (10 yr old Siamese), Bridget & Grace Jones (5 yr. old German Shorthaired Pointers “the twins”),  BoDerek (3 yr. old Turkish Angora Mix) & ChuckNorris (3 yr. old Flamepoint). Life is busy in the Jones’ house.

From large-scale event planning to donor-driven engagement, Jenn’s time, talents, and leadership skills are aimed at LGCR’s core mission of saving, serving, and valuing the lives of adoption-disadvantaged senior dogs.

Tucker 13 yrs
Tarantino 10 yrs
Bridget & Grace (twins) 5 yrs

BoDerek 3 yrs

Chuck Norris 3 yrs

Michael Beecher

A retired CPA of thirty-four years in the Austin area, working primarily in federal taxation. Upon retirement, Mike moved to Georgetown with wife of 31 years (Lana). With the Beecher children now adults, Lana & Mike consider their family to include seniors Maggie & General. 


“We believe that all dogs deserve a good home and unconditional love. Learning of LGCR, we felt called to serve as volunteers, affectionately known as Ranch Buddies.”  


In addition to being a Board Member, Mike continues his volunteer work as the organization’s Treasurer.

Cindy Barton

After 30 years of owning a construction and real estate business in the Carolinas, Cindy and her husband, Chris, felt the call to leave it all behind to work for Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian disaster relief organization. The Ministry was rebuilding homes in Texas for those impacted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

After reading an article about Living Grace in her local community newsletter in the summer of 2021, Cindy immediately went online and signed up for the very next volunteer orientation. Cindy’s leadership is widely performed at the Bertram sanctuary; from cuddling and walking dogs to cleaning, organizing, maintenance, and other construction-related projects. Cindy is not afraid to get her hands dirty if it advances the mission of Living Grace and contributes to the residents’ life quality.


She and Chris are also Forever Fosters to Jacob, a Yorkshire Terrier, who was rehomed to Living Grace from a kill shelter in Dallas. Jacob bonded to Cindy almost immediately after coming to the Ranch and believes he is supposed to go everywhere with her. Cindy calls Jacob the “Unofficial Ambassador” for Living Grace because wherever they go, people stop to talk to Jacob, which is Cindy’s opportunity to tell them about the Ranch and recruit more volunteers and donors. Whenever you see Cindy, often, Jacob is certainly close by.

Yvette Plasencia

Yvette began her career as a Software Developer and certified Project Management Professional. Years of experience leading large projects developed invaluable critical thinking and leadership. Yvette’s professional career with Oracle focuses on customer satisfaction and success.

Yvette has a soft spot for all animals but considers herself a dog lover. She and her husband have rescued several dogs from shelters and bad situations. Despite thinking three was the family number, a little injured Heeler catapulted into their hearts.

Noticing a social media post that an injured dog was on the side of the road and not allowing people to help without biting, Yvette and her husband grabbed gloves and blankets and then rushed to the scene, intending to take the dog to an emergency vet. Within hours, Yvette set up a Go Fund Me page and raised money for veterinarian care. Today, Freya’s happy-ever-after story continues as a cherished Plasencia family member.

Yvette’s corporate leadership skills, combined with her passion and love for animals contribute to LGCR’s mission fulfillment of saving, serving, and valuing adoption-disadvantaged Texas senior dogs.

Freya, Bulleit, Diesel, Ares.jpg

     Freya                      Bulleit                   Diesel                                        Ares


Operational Leadership


Mette Lundsgaard, Resident Database Mgr./Medical

Mette is a 3M retiree and has called Texas home for 17 years.  She has volunteered at Jeremiah Program in east Austin since 2015 and joined the volunteer ranks at LGCR in December 2020, just before the opening. 


Mette and her BFF Minnie (13-year-old Border Collie/Lab) will manage the resident database on ShelterLuv.


Sandra Paice, Secretary

The Girls.jpg

The Girl's

Retiring after three decades as Administrative Assistant to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Director, Sandra pursues her life passions of health and canine welfare.


Sandra and Todd currently live in Killeen, where Sandra teaches Yoga, Trauma Sensitive Yoga, and Meditation and fosters dogs whenever needed.  Sandra had three boxer girls; Gidget, Gracie, and Zona (all rescues), but has lost all three in the past two years!  However, as an 8-year member of Dogs on Deployment, the Paice house has been a revolving door of dogs since moving to Killeen!!  Their corner lot house has become known as “Dog Central” in the neighborhood - if a dog is lost, check at the Paice’s!

bottom of page