About us

We provide a financial lifeline for responsible pet owners with a pet in a health crisis.

Tax ID # 81-2990529. We are a 501(c)(3). Donations are 100% Tax Deductible.

Maximillian was 14 when he passed on May 27, 2016. I had the great luck to be chosen by him when he was 5 weeks old, as he left his litter to climb into my arms to fall asleep. Max brought me to life and was incredibly intelligent, playful, loving, and we spent nearly every day together for those 14+ years. In the Summer of 2016, while intensely grieving the loss, my husband and I found comfort in knowing we did everything medically possible to try to save Max’s life, though ultimately the war was lost. What we realized was just how important it was to know that no stone was left unturned, and we imagined the guilt and heartbreak for those who might have to allow their pets to suffer, or may need to euthanize or surrender them because of financial circumstances. Wanting to do something meaningful, and honor Max’s memory in a way that would help us heal while helping others, Max’s Helping Paws was born.

What we do





2018 Gala Video



Trigger the ESA

Board of Directors

Dyana Klein (President)
Dyana Klein is Co Founder of Maxs Helping Paws and most notably was Max’s mom.  With a degree with Marketing, and a background owning a successful dog daycare, training and boarding facility in Sunnyvale, California, Dyana is no stranger to pet-related initiatives. Dyana currently resides in Carmel Valley, CA with her husband and co-founder, Dr. Jonathan Fradkin.

Dr. Jonathan Fradkin (Secretary)
Dr. Fradkin is a Board Certified Veterinary Internist at Pet Specialists of Monterey.  Dr. Fradkin grew up in New Mexico and trained at Colorado State and Texas A&M Universities and served in the Army Veterinary Corps for 15 years.  After the Army, Dr. Fradkin entered private specialty practice in Texas before moving to California and joining Pet Specialists of Monterey.   WAfter losing Max, and Chestnut, Dr. Fradkin continues to enjoy time with his family and building this foundation in Max’s (and now Chestnut’s) honor. Dr. Fradkin currently resides in Carmel Valley, CA.

Sylvana Stratton (Treasurer)

Sylvana moved to the Monterey area in 1984 after living in many places as a military family member to include the Pacific Northwest, the South, and New England in the US and in Germany and Saudi Arabia. She is an avid dog rescuer especially all kinds of retrievers having rescued and successfully rehomed many, many hundreds of retrievers.  She has served on a diverse group of non profit boards with leadership roles in most; Leadership Monterey Peninsula, Monterey County Economic Development, Natividad Hospital Foundation, Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue, Visiting Nurses Foundation, Carmel by the Sea Rotary among others for over 30 years. Her professional experience is in the areas of finance and compliance.  She is the dog mom to Magnum, Justin, Abby and Bentley.

Emma Sanchez
Ms. Sanchez is a native of the Monterey Bay area and trained at Cabrillo College and Colorado State University.  She is a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager for the Pet Specialists of Monterey.  She enjoys the challenges of practice management as well as working with the clients, staff and veterinarians.   In her free time she enjoys time with her family and friends, watching football, cooking, swimming, and writing poetry. Emma resides in Boulder Creek, CA.

Paula Black
Paula is a native of the Monterey Peninsula having been born and raised in Pacific Grove. She served on the board of Door to Hope, a non-profit organization, for 17 years and is a past president. Paula has a nursing degree and is passionate about animals, A long-time contributor to the animal and homeless causes alike, Paula also currently supports and volunteers for Gathering for Women, a nonprofit dedicated to providing supportive resources in a caring environment to the homeless women of the Monterey Peninsula. Paula enjoys spending time with her wife, Laura and friends, and spending time remembering the doggie love of her life, Corky. She currently resides in Monterey, CA.

Carlotta Mellon
Carlotta Herman Mellon’s career spans academia, government, and the private and non-profit sectors. She taught at California State University at Los Angeles, San Diego State University, and Pomona College from 1970 – 1974. She served as Appointments Secretary for Governor Jerry Brown from 1975-1981. In 2002, Carlotta became Executive Director of the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts. In 2007, she was appointed Executive Director of the San Bernardino Symphony. Carlotta was a Member of the Board of Directors of the California Historical Society for eight years and served as President from 2009 – 2011. A lover of animals, she recently retired from the Board of Directors of the SPCA for Monterey County. Currently Carlotta also is involved with both Max’s Helping Paws Foundation and Golden Oldies, a senior cat rescue organization.

Connie Hong-Smith
Born in San Francisco, Connie graduated from San Francisco State University with a a BA in education specializing in food/nutrition along with a California Life Time Teaching Credential. After spending nearly a decade as a high school teacher in Hayward and Las Vegas, Connie changed careers in 1980 and became a Mortgage Broker. Connie has been the owner of The Mortgage Connection since 1986. Connie moved with her husband Dennis to the Carmel Valley from the Blackhawk/Danville community in 1998.Connie is extremely active in the non-profit sector and enjoys volunteering. She has served as a board member and a chair for the fund raising committee for both non-profits. Currently she is the Vice President of the C.V. Women’s Club. Connie currently has 4 rescued cats and recently rescued a dog from AFRP of Pacific Grove. Rocco, her Bichon Frise was a pet therapy dog for 10 years at Chomp’s Westland House visiting cancer and rehab patients.

Dina Ruiz
Dina Ruiz has enjoyed a long and varied career in broadcast and print media. She is the former weeknight anchor at KSBW-TV in Salinas. Ruiz now spends her time behind the camera, writing features and a regular column for Carmel Magazine and Coastal Canine Magazine. Dina has a thirty-year history of service as president and/or a member of non-profit boards including The California Museum, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Greater Bay Area, and now Max’s Helping Paws. She is the yoga teacher at the Boys and Girls Club of Monterey County and obtained her masters degree in Creative Writing from San Jose State University in 2020. Dina is “mom” to four dogs and one stray cat who adopted her family in 2019. She plays golf and loves to walk her dogs in her spare time.


Strategic Advisors

Dr. Greg Marsolais
Dr. Marsolais, former owner of Pet Specialists of Monterey, was the very first member of the MHP Board in 2016. Dr. Marsolais is now medical director for Blue Pearl. Dr. Marsolais’ guidance and generosity both as strategic advisor, and now board member, has been an integral part of Max’s growth. This organization would not be where it is now without Dr. Marsolais’ support and continued partnership
Anita Gryska
Anita is CEO & Best Practices Consultant for the Gryska Group. Anita brings tremendous growth strategy and operational optimization expertise to Max’s. She helped start-ups and F100 organizations in healthcare and technology alike to build efficiencies and scale. Much of Anita’s limited time is spent doing everything for her dogs, Annie Grace and Devon.
Beth Ward
Beth Ward has been in the insurance and risk management industry for thirty years. She started her career in risk management at Bechtel. She is currently a Senior Principal at EPIC. Prior to joining EPIC, she worked for a national insurance brokerage firm; she was the Real Estate Practice Leader for the Western Region. At EPIC, she continues her work in risk management and insurance for large contractors and real estate developers. A Bay Area native, Beth is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and has a MBA from Golden Gate University. Beth and her husband are awaiting the right opportunity and timing to adopt a special fur baby, or two. They recently loss their beloved Koakitty. While the event was truly devastating, they are fortunate to have been able to provide the care, treatment and comfort to Koa until her passing. In Koa’s honor, Beth is motivated and passionate about the mission of Max’s Helping Paws.

Executive Director


Assistant Director


Medical Review Director


Dyana Klein Alexis Geers Dr. Jonathan Fradkin 


Dyana Klein is by day a tech marketing consultant living in Carmel Valley. Every other minute of the day, Dyana uses her business and marketing experience to manage, fundraise and volunteer for Max’s Helping Paws Foundation as a labor of love. She was Max’s mom. With a degree with Marketing, and experience owning a successful dog daycare and boarding facility in Sunnyvale, California, Dyana is no stranger to pet-related causes.



Coming from the Midwest area of Illinois, Alexis has been in California for the past 8 years working in the nonprofit sector for a multiple nonprofits. having roles within UCSC and the YMCA such as Director of Development and Marketing Manager.Her love of pets stems from early childhood when there was always a dog or cat around, with her most recent beloved pet, Hobbes, having passed away after 14.5 years in 2019.



If you ask Dr. Fradkin his favorite part about being a veterinarian, he will tell you, “It’s like detective work. Putting together clues (symptoms) and evidence (lab data and imaging) to solve a case.” Dr. Fradkin enjoys being able to do what he loves, and help people and their pets at the same time. Dr. Fradkin and his wife, Dyana founded Max’s Helping Paws Foundation,  in honor of their beloved pet, Maximillian.

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