Hand in Paw Staff

At Hand in Paw, each staff member is dedicated to and passionate about our mission. They each play a pivotal role in bringing Animal-Assisted Therapy to North Central Alabama.



Liz Wilson

Associate Director

Liz Wilson joined the Hand in Paw team as Programs Director in 2008 and was promoted to Associate Director in 2012. She is a native of Brewton, Alabama and alumna of Birmingham-Southern College. Liz has worked in nonprofit human services agencies for the past fifteen years and is a 2012 graduate of the Alabama Association of Nonprofits Executive Leadership Institute. She and her husband John love spending time with their young sons, Lee and Harry, and their old pug, James.

liz@handinpaw.org Telephone: 205.322.5144, ext. 157


Beth Franklin

Founder/ Expansion Coordinator

Beth, who holds a M.A. in Counseling from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit development and executive leadership. In 2016, after seven years of serving mental health nonprofits and the UAB School of Nursing, Beth returned to Hand in Paw to support expansion of innovative programs and the volunteers who serve in these programs. She has received the International Delta Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award, The BBJ’s Top Women award, the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association’s Layperson of the Year, and many other honors. She shares her home with her poodle Emma and her Shih tzu Promise, a retired therapy dog.

beth@handinpaw.org Telephone: 205.322.5144, ext. 102


Paige Staylor

Director of Marketing & Community Relations

Paige Staylor, the Director of Marketing & Community Relations, has been with Hand in Paw since May of 2010. Paige plans and secures media, marketing, and community relations efforts that support the organization’s mission. She also is responsible for social media and fundraising efforts as well as planning fundraising events. Paige holds a B.S. in Marketing Management and a concentration in Special Events from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), where she graduated with honors in 2009. She and her husband, Christian, are from Virginia Beach, VA and relocated to Birmingham in 2010. They share their home with Penny, a chocolate lab.

paige@handinpaw.org Telephone: 205.322.5144, ext. 153



Emily Cheatwood

Program Director


Emily joined the Hand in Paw team in 2013 as an intern and now serves as the organization's Program Director. She is from Pinson, Alabama and graduated from the University of Montevallo in August 2013 with a B.S. in Family and Consumer Science with a concentration in Child and Family Studies. She is excited about this new opportunity to work for Hand in Paw, because it involves both of her passions, helping people and animals. Emily enjoys spending her spare time playing with her cat, Curtis, and Golden Retreiver, Lola.

Emily@handinpaw.org Telephone: 205.322.5144, ext. 156


Julia-Rae Hanson

Volunteer Director

Julia-Rae, and her Therapy Dog, Larry, joined the Hand in Paw team in August 2015. She started as an intern, and now serves as the organization's Project Coordinator. Julia-Rae is from Mobile, AL and graduated from the University of Alabama in August 2015 with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies and a concentration in Communicative Disorders. Julia-Rae has a passion and interest in the research and benefits behind alternative forms of therapy such as music, art, and animal-assisted therapy. She and Larry love Hand in Paw and have been a Therapy Team since August of 2016!

juliarae@handinpaw.org Telephone: 205.322.5144, ext. 161


Lisa McNair

Executive Assistant

Lisa McNair, a native of Birmingham, has been a part of the Hand in Paw family since 2000 where she served on the Board of Directors.  She rolled off the board and joined the staff as Executive Assistant in January of 2006 when she left her family business.  She has a passion for photography and her three dogs, Zeus, Apollo and Banjo. 

lisa@handinpaw.org Telephone: 205.322.5144, ext. 152


Carol Speed

Administrative Volunteer

Carol became an office volunteer in 2001 after retiring from a career in office management.  She has assisted in many areas and events for Hand in Paw and is now assisting the Records Manager two days a week.  She enjoys bringing her dog Nikki to work, often called the in-house Therapy Dog.  Carol loves all animals and enjoys meeting the volunteers when they drop by the office. 

carol@handinpaw.org Telephone: 205.322.5144, ext. 154