Meet our Staff

Kerry Feilmeier- Executive Director

Originally from Utica, South Dakota, Kerry first began working with Heartland in September, 2011 and has been employed by nonprofit agencies since 2007. Kerry is a graduate of the University of South Dakota with a major in marketing, journalism, and English. In her spare time, Kerry enjoys helping on the family farm, fostering, live music and travel.

You can email Kerry at

Kaitlyn Thomas- Assistant Director

Kaitlyn grew up in Nebraska but has called the Yankton area a home since May of 2020. She graduated from Morningside University with a major in mass communication and nonprofit management. Her nonprofit experience includes many years with Boys & Girls Club in both Sioux City and Yankton. Alongside her husband, she welcomed her first baby in the Summer 2021 and their tiny family is smitten now living in their new home in Irene.

You can email Kaitlyn at

Abi Benson - Operations Director

Abi has called Yankton home since 2013, moving with her family from Nebraska. Her husband, Brian, and children Willa and Finn love the lake life accommodations of living in Yankton. Previously, Abi was an elementary teacher. Her role at HHS will put her smack back into the community, overseeing community programming for HHS and assisting with volunteer relations. 

You can email Abi at 

Dana Merrigan- Intake Coordinator

Dana and her family live in rural Vermillion where they farm. Before Heartland Humane Society, Dana worked as a veterinary technician alongside a team of veterinarians at Cedar County Veterinary Care.

You can email Dana at

Janette Kaddatz - Adoption Coordinator

Janette’s passion for animals began as a child growing up in North Dakota with pets and spending every summer on her grandparent’s farm. She dreamed of vet school but chose a different path and pursued a degree in family science and psychology. She is one of the founding volunteers of Heartland Humane Society and decided to become involved with the organization because of her passion for working with animals and the desire to be involved with placing unwanted animals into new, loving, forever homes. 

You can email Janette at

Keisha Vandiver - Animal Care Assistant

Keisha, her husband, and their three young kiddos reside in Yankton. Keisha has a heart for all species of animals and enjoys taking the time to care for dogs and cats behind the scenes until they are ready for adoption.