About Us


As friends in the animal welfare community with similar ideas for promoting adoption and education, the founding members of CARMAA, Inc., Eve Salimbene, April Minech, Becky DiLucia, Lilian Akin, and Holly Gumbeski came together with one goal — form a cooperative effort in which multiple animal groups could come together to educate the public and promote animal adoption.

Dismissing politics and competition, celebrating diversity and a common goal, and focusing on finding unique ways for shelters and rescue organizations to support each other, CARMAA was formed to celebrate one common unified cause in the animal community — finding homeless pets their forever homes.

Our Mission Statement

To promote the welfare of companion animals through adoption-driven events and education.

Our Vision

CARMAA — Coalition to Adopt, Rehome and Match Abandoned Animals — a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, works to reduce the number of homeless animals by supporting adoption, spay/neuter programs and hosting events for educating both the shelter community and the public on animal welfare issues. CARMAA’s goal is to serve as an umbrella organization supporting a collective community of compassionate people, advocating every day for homeless animals.

Focusing on finding unique ways for shelters and rescue organizations to support each other, CARMAA celebrates a unified cause in the animal community — finding homeless pets their forever homes. CARMAA believes everyone can take part in making a difference, and that people are willing to do the right thing, once they know what it is. Be a part of the solution.

Our Board Members

Eve Salimbene, President

After confronting the horror and deception of the commercial breeding business in 1992 when searching for a West Highland Terrier puppy, Eve was awakened to her true calling of rehabilitating and promoting shelter and rescue animals for adoption. After retirement from her legal administrator career in 2002, Eve has volunteered at various animal shelters and works with English Bulldog Rescue in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, transporting abandoned English Bulldogs from shelters in Western Pennsylvania. Her true love, however, lies with the terrier breeds, especially those with behavioral and handling issues. An animal lover since childhood, Eve has shared her home with everything from snakes and lizards to raccoons and ferrets, and even an abandoned prairie dog. Currently, she and her husband Nick reside with four rescued dogs and one very patient cat.

April Minech, Vice President

An artist and interior designer, April’s true passion was volunteering with several animal shelters, as well as Boston Terrier and French Bulldog rescue groups. As she became more involved with abandoned and abused dogs, she discovered the need for behavioral rehabilitation through training. She became interested in positive reinforcement methods of dog training while working with the large and difficult-to-handle shelter dogs and backward puppy mill rescues. Recognizing that both the shyest and strongest of dogs needed the same gentle approach, April sought a non-forceful way to work with them and a method of training that they would both enjoy. This inspired her to travel around the country for the past 10 years studying accomplished animal behaviorists and develop training methods that worked on the most problematic of dogs. April shares her home with four behaviorally challenged rescued dogs, several foster dogs, a ball python, and an understanding husband.

Becky DiLucia, Secretary

Becky grew up surrounded by animals including dogs, cats, birds, and fish. She currently works as a paralegal, but satisfies her life-long love of animals and desire to help them by volunteering at Animal Friends and for the Best Friends Network in her free time. A volunteer since 2002, she has a soft spot in her heart for elderly animals abandoned by owners who can’t or won’t care for them any longer. Becky has worked with a variety of shelter dogs and takes great joy in seeing them adopted into good homes. She has also taught puppy classes to the public and is a proponent of positive reinforcement training techniques. Working with the committed group of women who comprise CARMAA’s Board to form this organization has been an extremely rewarding experience for her. Becky and her very supportive husband, Michael Melnick, share their home with two dogs – Little Bear and JR – both of whom were adopted as seniors.

Lilian Akin

Lilian is both a licensed attorney and certified pet dog trainer (CPDT-KA). She has been volunteering in Pittsburgh shelters and greyhound rescue since 1991. She got her start training dogs by working with shelter dogs at Animal Friends under the guidance of volunteer trainers. She later interned with local behavior counselors and began teaching public classes in 1996. She has attended multiple APDT Conferences, multiple Clicker Expos, the annual conference for the Animal Behavior Management Alliance, as well as participated in a week long Instructor Training Course through Dogs of Course along with several other conferences with nationally recognized speakers. This education has led to enlightenment in the use of positive reinforcement to train and treat behavioral difficulties in dogs. She is primarily a clicker trainer who uses positive reinforcement while eschewing punishment based methods as well as tools. She has been certified and in business for herself since 2004 doing in home and behavioral consultations while working for Animal Friends as their Animal Behavior Modification Specialist and teaching classes for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society as well as volunteering for Going Home Greyhounds. She shares her home with three rescued dogs and five rescued cats.

Holly Gumbeski

After a childhood spent with many dogs, cats, and rabbits, Holly knew from the start that the animal-human bond was something she wanted to foster throughout her life. She began volunteering at Animal Friends in 2003 and soon became part of their Dog Behavior Team. From there, her connection to the plight of shelter animals in our area took off and she began to explore better ways to help animals endure shelter life and find permanent homes. Holly has attended national conferences for the APDT, Animal Behavior Management Alliance, Humane Society of the United States and many specialty training courses. She also continues her training education through online workshops and constant reading. Still, nothing compares to the day-to-day training Holly has received from working with abandoned, neglected, and unwanted dogs. Holly owns her own graphic design business and lives with a very shy Border Collie mix.