Meet the Pet Paradise Family
At Pet Paradise, we’ve created a new kind of pet care experience — one where our four-legged guests receive our undivided attention, complete care, and beloved behind-the-ear scratches at every opportunity. And whether we work from behind a desk or make tails wag in the play yard, each team member makes Pet Paradise special for pets. Come meet the team!
Executive Leadership Team
Fernando’s involvement with Pet Paradise began in 2004 when he led L&L Capital Partners (a private equity group) to invest in the company. He subsequently joined the Board of Directors in 2005 and helped refine the company’s growth strategy by focusing on new development and acquisition opportunities. In 2007, he joined the team as Chief Operating Officer and later became President and CEO in 2016. Since joining the company in 2005, Fernando has played a key role in accelerating the growth of Pet Paradise from three pet resorts with 45 employees in northeast Florida to more than 1700 employees across 11 states and more than 50 resorts in operation or under development.
Prior to joining Pet Paradise, Fernando spent seven years in Private Equity working with FondElec Group and L&L Capital Partners, two CT based Private Equity firms. Prior to his work in private equity, he worked for BellSouth International in Atlanta where he focused on BellSouth’s operations in Central and South America. Prior to BellSouth, Fernando ran several family-owned businesses in Costa Rica.
Fernando serves on several Boards including Community Hospice of Northeast Florida (one of Florida’s largest Hospice organizations) of which he serves as chairman. He is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Bolles School, a private college preparatory school in Jacksonville, Florida. Fernando serves on the Board of Advisors at Jacksonville University’s Public Policy Institute and is the President of The Acosta-Rua Family Foundation, a family foundation serving the sick and poor primarily in developing countries. In 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Acosta-Rua to the Jacksonville Aviation Authority board where he currently serves as a Board Director.
Fernando received his Bachelor of Science from University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, and his MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Fernando and his wife, Brooke, reside in Jacksonville and have three children, one dog (Tica) and one cat (Bright Eyes). Fernando enjoys the outdoors, NFL and college football and attending music festivals and concerts.
Kevin English was born in Pensacola and grew up in the small town of Gulf Breeze in the Florida panhandle. After graduating from Gulf Breeze High School in 1987, Kevin attended the University of Florida, where he received a B.S. in Accounting. In the fall of 1992, Kevin moved to Jacksonville, Florida and started his professional career with Deloitte and Touche LLP as a Certified Public Accountant. After four years with Deloitte and Touche, Kevin joined PSS World Medical, Inc. During his 17 years with PSS World Medical, Kevin held several senior management positions, including his last position on the executive management team as the Chief Sourcing Officer. Following his departure from PSS, Kevin joined One Call Care Management as its Chief Financial Officer.
Kevin has been involved with several community and charitable organizations in Northeast Florida, including The Players Championship. Kevin has volunteered with The Players Championship PGA Tour golf event for eight years. His current role is first vice chairman and Kevin is in line to become the tournament Chairman in 2017.
Kevin and his wife, Debbie, live in Ponte Vedra and have three children – Morgan, Brooke and JP.
Bill Joel joined Pet Paradise as General Counsel in 2008, after representing the Company as outside counsel for several years. He is responsible for overseeing all legal affairs of Pet Paradise. Bill also serves as the Corporate Secretary for the various Pet Paradise corporate entities.
Prior to joining Pet Paradise, Bill was a shareholder/partner in multiple local and regional law firms, where his practice areas included commercial real estate (transactions, financing, development, leasing, lending and litigation), commercial lending, business transactions and commercial litigation. He also spent four years as in-house real estate counsel for a Fortune 250 grocery chain.
Bill’s professional honors and activities include serving as President of the Board of Governors of the Jacksonville Bar Association, President of the Board of Governors of the Young Lawyers Section of the Jacksonville Bar Association, and as a volunteer attorney for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc. He also holds or has held board leadership positions with several civic and charitable organizations, including Youth Crisis Center, The American Heart Association (Northeast Florida Chapter), Young Life, Washington & Lee University Alumni Association (Jacksonville Chapter), Willing Hands and The Bolles School Alumni Board.
Bill received a Bachelor of Arts degree in American History, magna cum laude, from Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. He received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Florida College of Law in Gainesville, Florida.
Bill and his wife, Kim, live in the Avondale neighborhood of Jacksonville. They have two grown sons, two adorable grandsons and two three-legged rescue cats. They recently lost their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Pepper, whom they miss very much.
Claudia Sáenz Amlie joined Pet Paradise as its Chief People Officer in 2020. In this role, she leads Pet Paradise’s human resources organization which supports our most important asset – our people who care for our clients and their pets.
Claudia built her knowledge and expertise in building high-performing and engaging work environments by having overseen human resources functions in several different industries over the past 20 years. Immediately prior to joining Pet Paradise, she served as chief human resources officer for Acosta Inc., a sales and marketing agency for consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers, where she supported more than 25,000 employees in over 100 offices across North America. Prior to that, she was executive vice president and chief human resources officer at EverBank Financial Corp., now known as TIAA Bank, with retail and commercial banking and lending operations throughout the country. She also led the human resources department and served as chief compliance officer and deputy general counsel to Lighthouse Investment Partners, LLC, a hedge fund investment manager with offices in Palm Beach Gardens, New York, Chicago, London and Hong Kong.
Earlier in her career, Claudia was executive vice president and chief administrative officer for a North American paper products sales and manufacturing company, where she was chief legal officer and led the company’s human resources and investor relations divisions. She also worked as an associate with the law firms Edwards & Angell, LLP; Foley & Lardner LLP; and Stearns, Weaver, Miller et al., P.A.
Claudia is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and received her law degree from The University of Florida College of Law. She served as secretary and member of the Board of Trustees of Episcopal School of Jacksonville for eight years and is currently on the board of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.
Claudia grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. She and her husband and two children reside in Ponte Vedra Beach with their dog Mocha, a Tibetan Terrier/Poodle mix.
Dr. Jaime Pickett joined Pet Paradise in 2017 as Chief Veterinary Officer to work with a strong team that is similarly committed to establishing pet wellness as a priority. She completed her pre-medical studies at the Johns Hopkins University and earned a doctoral degree at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. She also holds a Masters of Business Administration and currently serves on the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Admissions Committee.
An entrepreneur at heart, Dr. Pickett has owned and operated several successful veterinary hospitals and franchises. She is committed to providing quality and innovative health care for pets in a convenient environment for busy pet parents.
When Dr. Pickett is not taking care of pets, she enjoys traveling with her family, flying, and continuing her lifelong love of sports through weight training and running with her dog, Jack.
Lisa Tarr oversees all aspects of the company's marketing efforts, including digital innovation, brand marketing, advertising, social responsibility, and customer relationship strategies. She is passionate about elevating marketing into an engine that drives thought leadership and demand generation, directly impacting the company's growth. Lisa has led the company's marketing strategy since 2009, growing and shaping the brand from seven locations to almost 50 open or under development in nine states.
Before joining Pet Paradise in 2009, Lisa was the Public Relations Director at the Houston Humane Society. During her time at the Houston Humane Society, Lisa was responsible for the marketing and communication efforts around fundraising, brand awareness, and communications. Prior to her work in the nonprofit space, Lisa's experience included building and shaping brands in the entertainment and hospitality, corporate and business, nonprofit, urban planning, and commercial and residential real estate industries as an Account Executive at Elmore Public Relations, a Houston-based PR firm.
In 2018, Lisa was named one of Jacksonville Business Journal's Top 40 under 40 business professionals for her accomplishments. Recipients of this award are Jacksonville leaders who continue to shape the local business community and the holistic improvement of life in the North Florida region. In 2019, she was named one of the Most Influential Women in Jacksonville by Jacksonville Business Journal for her strong record of innovation and outstanding performance in her field.
Lisa graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a minor in Business Administration from St. Edward's University in Austin, TX, and is a graduate of the Kellogg Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) program in 2019. Lisa and her husband, Jeff, are residents of Saint Augustine Beach and have two children Liam and June and two rescue puppies, Maci and Moose. Outside of work, Lisa enjoys spending time with her family gardening, paddle boarding, and recharging weekly in the local Hot Yoga Studio.
Brian Franco has over 27 years of experience in the A/E/C industry and will apply his experience in leading Pet Paradise’s new real estate development efforts and overseeing existing resort improvements and maintenance. Over his career, Brian has worked with a wide range of clients serving their design and construction needs in a wide range of roles including project management, project and business development and marketing services. Brian graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Vocational Education and from University of North Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management. Brian is past chairman of the 2015 PLAYERS Championship and has served on other non-profit boards including Ronald McDonald House, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Northeast Florida, Boys & Girls Club and Community Connections (presently).
Dina's previous background has been in Business and Inventory Management. She has been with the Pet Paradise team since 2009 and is currently based in Charlotte, NC. She enjoys building teamwork among associates. She appreciates all her associates and consistently thanks them for their hard work and dedication. She jumps in to assist with any duty in order to accomplish necessary tasks. Dina's family includes her husband, Scott, and her Labradoodle, Cayman and Havanese, Maya.
Ben Cunningham joined Pet Paradise in 2020 as VP of Veterinary Operations to help lead our growing veterinary team in its’ commitment to delivering the highest quality of care and wellness. Ben is passionate about developing great teams and striving for continuous improvement.
Before joining Pet Paradise, Ben spent 6+ years in the healthcare environment, working in management roles in the kidney care/dialysis industry. Prior to this, Ben spent over 9 years as a Marine Corps officer, where he held numerous different positions in duty stations across the country and during several overseas deployments.
Ben completed his undergraduate studies at Florida State University and received his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Florida.
Ben lives in Jacksonville, FL with his wife, Jeanne, and son, Will, along with their Boston Terrier and two rescue Chihuahuas - Squiggy, Sasha, and Diablo. Outside of work, Ben enjoys running/fitness and spending time with his family outdoors.
Jason has over 20 years of experience in operations, beginning his career in food safety and store management at Albertsons and Meijer in the Midwest, and then serving in several director and senior director roles at Walmart for over six years. While at Walmart, he supported 400 Walmart Supercenters in China, managing industrial engineers and leveraging his retail knowledge and process improvement skills to deliver high functioning teams and streamlined services. He subsequently served as the Senior Director of Complex Stores in California, managing 16 stores and a team of over 3,000 employees, while developing a divisional training academy for store managers. He received Walmart’s Market Manager of the Year and Supercenter of the Year awards. Most recently, he served as Vice President of Operations in the West Coast for Clear, a secure biometric identity company serving industries to include airport, airlines, rental cars and sports venues. At Clear, he was responsible for over 40% of the company’s revenues and helped lead the company to an initial public offering.
Jason is a graduate of Portland State University and has an MBA in Leadership and Ethics with John Brown University in Arkansas. He also earned his Six Sigma Black Belt Certification in 2008. He has an energetic Boxer named Jameson and well-loved horse named Apollo. He resides in Bentonville, Arkansas with his wife and children.
Board of Directors
Fernando’s involvement with Pet Paradise began in 2004 when he led an investment group to invest in the company. He subsequently joined the Board of Directors in 2005 and helped refine the company’s growth strategy by focusing on new development and acquisitions. In 2007, he joined the team as Chief Operating Officer. Since joining the company in 2005, Fernando has played a key role in accelerating the growth of Pet Paradise from three pet resorts with 45 employees in northeast Florida to more than 1000 employees across nine states and almost 50 resorts in operation or under development.
Prior to joining Pet Paradise, Fernando spent seven years in Private Equity working with FondElec Group and L&L Capital Partners, two CT based Private Equity firms. Prior to his work in private equity, he worked for BellSouth International in Atlanta where he focused on BellSouth’s operations in Central and South America. Prior to BellSouth, Fernando ran several family-owned businesses in Costa Rica. Fernando serves on several Boards including Community Hospice of Northeast Florida (one of Florida’s largest Hospice organizations) of which he serves as chairman. He is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Bolles School, a private college preparatory school in Jacksonville, Florida. Fernando serves on the Board of Advisors at Jacksonville University’s Public Policy Institute and is the President of The Acosta-Rua Family Foundation, a family foundation serving the sick and poor primarily in developing countries.
Fernando received his Bachelor of Science from University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, and his Masters in Business Administration from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Fernando and his wife, Brooke, reside in Jacksonville and have three children, two dogs and three cats. Fernando enjoys the outdoors, NFL and college football and attending music festivals and concerts.
Tanny Crane, President and CEO of Crane Group, joined the family business in 1987 and was named to her current role in 2003. As President and CEO, she provides the company with overall strategic direction and leadership development.
Upon joining Crane Plastics in 1987, Tanny became the Director of Personnel. In 1992, she became the Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and in 1996, she was named President of Crane Plastics. Prior to joining Crane Plastics, Tanny worked for five years in product management at Quaker Oats in Chicago, with her final position as Product Manager of Cap’n Crunch Cereals. Prior to Quaker Oats, Tanny worked as National Sales Manager for AT&T in Chicago.
Tanny serves on several boards including Huntington Bancshares, Inc., Columbus Partnership, Fisher College of Business Advisory Board, Ohio Business Roundtable, The Ohio State University Foundation, and OhioHealth. Additionally, she serves as Board Chair for I Know I Can, the Reeb Avenue Center, and the Early Childhood Education Council of Future Ready Columbus. Tanny has previously served as Board Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and as Board and Campaign Chair of United Way of Central Ohio and Action for Children.
Tanny received her Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Finance from The Ohio State University, and earned her Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University.
Mike Crane joined Crane Group in 1989 as general counsel and was named to his current role in 2007. As President, Mike manages Crane Group’s operating business units.
Previously, Mike served as President of Crane Performance Siding. Prior to joining Crane, he practiced corporate law in Columbus with the law firms of Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur and Schottenstein, Zox and Dunn (now Ice Miller).
Mike is an active corporate volunteer, currently serving on the board of directors of White Castle System, Inc., and on the Campaign Leadership Committee for Franklin Park Conservatory. He previously served on the boards of the Columbus Academy, Capital University, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, and the US Bank Advisory Board (Columbus), and is a past board President of The Buckeye Ranch.
Mike received his Bachelor of Arts in Government from Harvard College, and his Juris Doctor from the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University.
Andy Hackett joined Crane Group in 2002 and has been President of Crane Investment Company since 2014. He and his team are responsible for managing all of the Crane Group private equity, real estate, and marketable securities assets. In addition, Andy and his team are responsible for sourcing new platform businesses for Crane Group.
From 1995 to 1998, Andy worked for the law firm of Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur, where he concentrated on the acquisitions of public and private companies and securities law matters. Immediately prior to joining Crane Group, he worked for the Business Affairs and Corporate Development Group at America Online Inc., where he worked on a variety of acquisition, joint venture, licensing, and interactive marketing deals.
Andy currently serves on the board of directors of Sensit Technologies and Salon Lofts. He is also on the advisory board for Clearview Capital (Fund II and Fund III) and Rockbridge Capital (Fund IV and Fund VI). Additionally, he serves on the board of directors for the Columbus State Foundation.
Andy received his Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame, and his Juris Doctor from Notre Dame Law School.
Chad Utrup joined Crane in 2013 as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and is responsible for overseeing the finance, treasury, accounting, tax, and information technology services of Crane Group.
Chad has more than 18 years of experience in various financial management and leadership roles, and has deep knowledge in the areas of investor relations, information technology, human resources, and operations. Prior to joining Crane Group, Chad worked at Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG) from 1998 to 2013, and served as Chief Financial Officer beginning in 2003. While at CVG, Chad helped lead the company’s initial public offering and participated in the negotiation, due diligence, financing, or integration of all of their acquisitions and joint ventures. Before CVG, he worked in various financial roles at Electronic Data Systems.
Chad currently serves on the boards of Screen Machine Industries and Contractors Incorporated, and previously served on the board of Roadrunner Transportation Systems, Inc. and as its Audit Committee Chairman from 2010 to 2015. In 2011, he was selected as “CFO of the Year” by Business First in the “Corporate” category and was also the recipient of the Business First “Transaction of the Year” award in 2011 for his accomplishments in financial restructuring following the economic recession.
Chad received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.
Gary Chartrand, Executive Chairman of Acosta Sales and Marketing, joined Acosta in 1983 as a Business Manager and subsequently was promoted to Vice President, Regional Vice President of Florida, President, and in 1996, President/Chief Executive Officer. Acosta Sales and Marketing Company, Inc., based in Jacksonville, FL with more than 17,000 employees company wide, is one of North America's largest sales and marketing agencies serving the $700 billion supermarket industry. Gary is a winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Award, and was named to the Supermarket News Power 50 list from 2003 to 2009. He is responsible for quadrupling the company's geographic coverage, transforming Acosta into a leading full-service sales and marketing company in the U.S. and Canada. Gary is the author of the recently released management book, Unreasonable Leadership.
Dan Rice has served as President and CEO of Mayport Venture Partners, LLC since its founding in 2000. Prior to assuming this position, Mr. Rice was a partner in one of America's premier law firms, McGuireWoods LLP. Before joining McGuireWoods, Mr. Rice was the Chief Administrative Partner at Mahoney Adams & Criser, P.A., a law firm which ultimately consolidated its practice with McGuireWoods. Mr. Rice received a BS in Financial Management from Clemson University in 1984 and both his MBA and JD degrees from the University of Florida in 1987. He is active in various philanthropic endeavors, including service on several not-for-profit boards of directors.