Together, founders Stephanie Downs and Dr. Kellie Heckman have over 20 years of experience working with nonprofits that benefit animals. Their combined skills are an ideal match for the task FiXiT is undertaking. Kellie is an experienced researcher, a skill that will be useful for examining cat and dog population dynamics and identifying ideal messaging. Stephanie is an experienced marketer, and will put our research into action.

Stephanie Downs
Stephanie Downs is an entrepreneur offering a broad range of strategic and tactical experience, including extensive work in internet marketing. She has developed and managed marketing programs for large national corporations, helping them strengthen or establish positioning, increase awareness and ultimately increase sales and revenue. In 1999, she founded MarKomm Consulting as a full service marketing consulting firm, which quickly evolved to a focus on internet marketing. To complement her consulting business, in 2000 she founded ConferZone, an objective e-conferencing resource that provides comprehensive industry analysis, market data, and guidance to organizations.

Downs also brings over a decade of animal welfare experience to the foundation. She was a board member at the Table Mountain Animal shelter and ran their major annual fundraiser. She participated in spay/neuter clinics with Animal Planet and is Certified Member of the Red Star Rescue Team for the American Humane Association. In 2007, Downs put her business knowledge to good use. While still running her marketing firm, she worked full time for PETA’s Corporate Affairs team bridging the gap between animal rights and the business community. She was on staff for only 12 months when she was asked to lead the department as the Director of Corporate Affairs. Although no longer on staff, she continues to work pro-bono on crucial negotiations.

Downs graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Illinois State University.

Dr. Kellie Heckman
Dr. Heckman brings her background in research science to FiXiT Foundation. Her experience in science includes the use of genetic tools to examine the evolutionary relationships and the examination of natural populations in a variety of animal groups. During her PhD research at Northwestern University, she examined the evolutionary history of mouse lemur species, the world’s smallest primates. At Yale University, her postdoctoral research focused on the population biology of North American freshwater and Mediterranean fish species.

Heckman also provides nearly a decade of animal welfare experience. She was a member of the executive committee of the Friends of the New Haven Animal Shelter and performed additional duties for the organization during her 7 year tenure, including volunteer orientation, fundraising, and feline socialization. In addition, Heckman was also involved with trap-neuter-release efforts in New Haven, CT. Heckman would then use her research background in PETA’s Corporate Affairs Department, supporting the animal welfare movement with hard science.

Dr. Heckman received her Bachelor of Science in population biology from Purdue University and doctorate in evolutionary biology from Northwestern University.


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