Our Crew

Stefanie Heath-Higgins

Founder and Director

Crew Credo

“After working in an animal shelter, I quickly learned the plight of the pit bull. Not only was there a negative and incorrect perception of pit bull type dogs, they were the first to be euthanized. That’s when I realized I had to be their voice, and when the idea for Cuse Pit Crew was formed. I believe that a preventative approach through education and advocacy is the best way to speak for pit bulls.”

  • Leads Cuse Pit Crew in fulfilling their mission through education and advocacy
  • Fosters relationships with national and regional animal organizations
  • Spokesperson for media and public relations
  • Initiates and outlines new programs to further the Cuse Pit Crew mission

Aaron Santangelo

Outreach Director

Crew Credo

“Dogs have always held a special place in my heart as I have been around all breeds my entire life and can say with complete certainty I have never seen a breed more misunderstood than the Pit Bull. I decided it was time to do something about it and after meeting the Cuse Pit Crew I knew I found the right group and foundation to do just that. I look forward to what we will accomplish.”

  • Collaborates with community leaders on programs that benefit people and pit bulls
  • Connects community members with programming and resources
  • Initiates and manages partnerships that further the Cuse Pit Crew mission

Emily Doucet

Volunteer Director

Crew Credo

“I volunteered in animal shelters for 13 years, and was frustrated by the large number of bully type breed dogs coming in – and the small amount getting adopted out. My goal is twofold: I want to keep more dogs in their homes through education, and to help more shelter dogs find forever homes through enrichment and promotion.”

  • Leads volunteer orientations
  • Coordinates volunteers to staff events & fundraisers
  • Shares Cuse Pit Crew’s mission at community events
  • Photographs and creates Dog of the Week posters to promote adoptions



Caitlin Simmons


Crew Credo

“I got involved with Cuse Pit Crew after realizing I was constantly defending pit bull type dogs. When walking our pit bull mixes, neighbors would make comments and question whether they were ‘nice.’ My goal is to help educate people about the wonderful pit bull while strengthening the human-animal bond through compassion, positive training, and love.”

  • Documents, manages, and runs all board meetings
  • Director of the Crew to You: Dog Training Program
  • Monitors board activities, reports back to group

Lindsay Ott Wilcox

Marketing Director

Crew Credo

“Thousands of years ago, humans tamed the wild wolf to create the domestic dog we know and love today. We formed the human-canine bond; it’s our responsibility to protect it. While dogs remain faithful companions, irresponsible people have broken the bond through dog fighting, abuse, and neglect. My goal is to reconnect people with dogs in a positive, mutually beneficial way.”

  • Manages all marketing and communications
  • Launches targeted campaigns to promote Cuse Pit Crew’s mission
  • Ensures brand and mission are represented in the community
  • Facilitates public relations effort

Alexa Lynch

Event Planning Co-Director

Crew Credo

“I am a part of Cuse Pit Crew because there is nothing like a pit bull smile. I would like to see more of them in our community! I am proud to be part of a group that advocates for this resilient breed. I strongly believe that by spreading awareness and owner responsibility, everyone can see how lovable these dogs are!”

  • Conceptualize new events and fundraisers
  • Coordinate with vendors, local companies, and non-profits for events
  • Manage and grow annual events

Siggy Brzostowski


Crew Credo

“After nearly 15 years in animal rescue, I’ve developed a two-part goal: to help as many animals as possible get their second chance, and to provide educational tools so pet owners can strengthen the bond with their animal. I believe these goals go hand in hand. The more pet owners we can support with educational resources, the less likely their pets will end up in a shelter in the first place.”

  • Ensures Cuse Pit Crew’s financial viability through fundraising and merchandising
  • Provides accounting oversight and management
  • Interfaces with local shelters in role as a Shelter Team Leader
  • Establishes community relationships

Natalie Martin

Business Coordinator

Crew Credo

“I didn’t hesitate to make Rufio a part of our family. He was a pit bull found abandoned and alone, yet he wouldn’t stop wagging his tail. That’s the true pit bull, the one I want everyone in Syracuse to know about: they’re resilient, forgiving, and loving even when people have let them down.”

  • Maintains all business records
  • Manages merchandise, supplies, and all inventory

Lauren Cirulli

Corporate Outreach / Fundraising Coordinator

Crew Credo

“Growing up my family always adopted animals, so early on I experienced the powerful bond people form with pets. I got involved in Cuse Pit Crew to make a difference. Each one of us has the power to change not just our community, but the world to make it a better place for both humans and animals.”

  • Identifies and executes fundraising opportunities
  • Interfaces with local, regional, and national companies
  • Manages fundraising endeavors in collaboration with events team

Nastasha Faust

Shelter Liaison

Crew Credo

“I had never been around a pit bull type dog until I started dating my boyfriend. I quickly fell in love with his dog Tank’s personality and we became “best friends.” Once I started taking Tank places, I saw firsthand the discrimination that dogs like him face and it saddened me. I  joined Cuse Pit Crew determined to help make a difference in the lives of these misunderstood dogs.”

  • Launches enrichment programs to help shelter dogs waiting for their forever homes
  • Coordinates and communicates with shelters and rescues to help increase adoptions
  • Provides positive reinforcement training and socialization to shelter dogs awaiting adoption
  • Promotes specific shelter dogs through social media