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 a marketing and events consultant to tech companies.  When not figuring out ways to promote her client software companies, Dyana is managing and growing Max’s Helping Paws Foundation as a labor of love. She 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.   When not caring for pet patients, Dr. Fradkin’s favorite activity was quiet time with his wife and senior rescue dog Maxwell.  After 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 has been serving on the board of Door to Hope, a non-profit organization, for the last 17 years and is a past president. Paula has been part of a large community for the last 32 years that is committed to sober living. Paula has experience on a steering committee that organized a very large event filling the Monterey Conference Center. She has been a real estate professional having spent time flipping residential properties and then as a real estate agent. Paula has also earned a nursing degree. She is passionate about animals and is a long-time contributor to the SPCA. 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, the doggie love of her life Corky and friends. 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 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. Married to Dennis Smith, a retired banker for 27 years, they moved to 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 co-chair of the C.V. Women’s Club Foundation’s scholarship committee and a board member. 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.


Strategic Advisers

Dr. Greg Marsolais
With Dr. Marsolais at the helm, Pet Specialists of Monterey was the first practice to partner with Max’s. Dr. Marsolais’ guidance and generosity 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.
Rob Shore
Rob is the CEO of shorespeak, L.L.C. and Wholesaler Masterminds®. He brings over 40 years of financial services industry sales and senior leadership expertise to his current entrepreneurial endeavor. He assists Max’s Helping Paws by utilizing his extensive background in digital marketing. 

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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