Meet Our

Board of Directors

Stephanie Boldt, B.A., A.S., RVT, EMT

Stephanie Boldt is a Registered Veterinary Technician in the Emergency and Critical Care Department at SAGE Redwood City. This is a second career for Stephanie – she spent 17 years as an International Lead flight attendant for United Airlines, where she oversaw a large inflight staff and was the primary liaison between the cockpit crew, flight attendants and as many as 400 passengers.

Her path to veterinary medicine began after she got a Weimaraner puppy named Beaureguard in 2007 after she herself faced a serious illness. He helped her realize the true therapy animals can give. Working in the Emergency department as an RVT, she sees the emotional and financial toll it can take on families and has always wanted to be of more service. She brings her unique skill set to SAGE every day, where she guides pets and their people through these emergent situations.

Stephanie earned her Associate of Science degree in Veterinary Technology at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. She received her Bachelor in Humanities, with a specialization in German and French linguistics and a minor in Criminology from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, OR. 

Sarah Cohen, ORSCC, L.C.S.W., P.P.S.C.

Sarah Cohen leads Sarah Cohen & Associates in Berkeley and San Leandro, CA, and provides executive coaching and organizational consulting to non-profits, organizations and business. Sarah is a licensed clinical social worker and a coach with 25+ years of experience working in organizational development and as a clinician. Sarah was the founding board president of Hopalong Animal and served as the organizations first Executive Director where she brought the organization through two mergers; raised 1.5 million dollars to transition the organization to a staffed program and built a bequest program to ensure the long-term viability of the program which is in it  its 26th year.  She received the Jefferson’s Award for Animal Emergency Response work during Hurricane Katrina and a commendation from the Senate. 

Sarah specializes in non-profit and inter-agency collaboration and coaches Boards, Community Leaders, Executives and teams to increase effectiveness, efficiency and to improve community responsiveness and quality of services in the animal and public health/mental health communities.  She is trained in Disaster Response for large and small animals and deploys throughout the country with Red Rover during disasters and to assist with animal hoarding cases.

 Sarah earned her Master of Social Work from UC Berkeley and has served as a lecturer/faculty member there, as well as an instructor/lecturer at UC Davis Extension.

Susan Carsen

As head of Carsen Consulting, Susan Carsen leads a group of associates providing nonprofit management and fundraising counsel, serving clients in health care, culture and the arts, education and human services.  With more than 30 years of fundraising and public relations experience, starting at Stanford University Medical Center, she previously worked at a start-up science museum, a major community foundation and then launched the San Francisco offices of two national consulting firms before opening her own firm.

Susan has served on a number of volunteer boards and committees over the years and is delighted to be able to bring experience developed in her professional career as well as from her various volunteer engagements to help with establishing the vital objectives of SAGE Compassion for Animals.  A lifelong animal lover, Susan has had cats, dogs, horses and donkeys and currently shares her office with a working dog and her computer keyboard with a tuxedo cat.  

Susan is a graduate of UC Davis

Renée Fernandez-Lipp, M.B.A., CEM, LEED AP, GGP

Renée Fernandez-Lipp is a sustainability professional with more than 25 years of experience supporting programs that promote the efficient use and generation of energy, water conservation and waste diversion. She has experience in both the public and private sectors. Renée currently leads power generation public safety and emergency response programs at Pacific Gas & Electric. 

Renee has served on a number of non-profit boards and local government commissions. In her free time, she enjoys travelling and working with animals.  She volunteers with the local shelter and several bay area animal rescues.

Renée earned her Master of Business Administration at Golden Gate University and her Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering at CSU, Long Beach.  She holds a certificate in Green Building and Renewable Energy from UC Davis and is a USGBC LEED Accredited Professional.

Stephanie Garcia Gonzalez, RVT

Stephanie Garcia Gonzalez is a Registered Veterinary Technician, who has worked for multiple specialty departments at SAGE Redwood City, including Neurology, Internal Medicine, and Surgery. Stephanie wears multiple hats, both at SAGE, and in life. She also assists a local real estate agent with administrative duties and social media marketing and prepares promotional materials. Prior to joining SAGE, Stephanie worked as a Practice Manager for another Bay Area veterinary clinic. She has long wanted to work with a non profit. Stephanie knows first hand the mounting costs of animal care can be prohibitive. Stephanie’s career in veterinary medicine began when her own dog became ill, and she struggled financially as a young adult to provide appropriate medical care.


Stephanie is looking next to earn her Master of Business Administration. She is excited to use her knowledge in the business world and experience in the animal field to help the pets and people who need it most. Stephanie earned her Bachelor in Business Management at Cal State East Bay.

George Kougios, MBA, CPA

George Kougios works in SAGE’s Veterinary Center’s Finance department as Controller, managing its ourgeneral accounting, reporting, accounts receivable, and accounts payable teams. Prior to joining SAGE, he worked in industries that included insurance and technology.George earned his Master of Business Administration in Finance at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, and his Bachelor in Business Administration from CSU Sacramento.  He is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in California.

Lissa Richardson, DVM, DACVS

Dr. Lissa Richardson is a specialist in small animal surgery at SAGE Concord and enjoys all aspects of surgery, including soft tissue and orthopedics. Dr. Richardson has a long history of being involved in the community and regularly gives presentations on first aid to police dog handlers (Cover Your Canine)and members of the public. She also enjoys speaking to students of all ages about veterinary medicine.

Dr. Richardson earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Colorado State University. She completed a rotating internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. Following two years of private practice, Dr. Richardson returned to the Animal Medical Center to complete her residency in surgery. She moved two cats and a dog across the country to be an instructor at the University of California at Davis Veterinary Teaching Hospital for 2 years. She then entered private and soon became a partner in Veterinary Surgical Associates in the East Bay of San Francisco. VSA grew to become Sage and in 26 years, grew from a 4 surgeon practice to a  multi specialty and emergency practice in 3 states with over 70 doctors and 500 staff.  Dr. Richardson completed the years long rigorous training, prerequisites and final testing to become a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1996. She is very excited to be part of SC4A and work to help people and their pets in need.

Katrina Warburton

Katrina Warburton has spent more than 15 years in business, marketing, sales operations and program/project management roles at Consumer and Enterprise SaaS software companies. Currently at VMware, she serves as the Head of Marketing Operations. Prior to VMware, she worked at Adobe, McAfee and Intel in a variety of executive operations roles.

Katrina earned her Bachelor of Commerce degree from Monash University in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

A lifelong animal lover and owner, she’s thrilled to join the board of Sage Compassion for Animals and apply her professional experience to a cause she’s passionate about.


Vanessa Wensing, DVM

Dr. Vanessa Wensing provides end of life veterinary care. Her company, Heaven from Home, provides in-home euthanasia services to the Tri-Valley and East Bay. Dr. Wensing is a 1996 graduate of Colorado State University School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.  Prior to moving to California in 1999, she worked as a general practice veterinarian in Colorado and Texas.

Dr. Wensing is a member of the Contra Costa County Veterinary Medical Association (CCVMA), the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and has served on the CCVMA Board, the CVMA  House of Delegates, and the CVMA Animal Welfare Committee. Dr. Wensing has volunteered with Fix Our Ferals in Oakland, Tri-Valley Fix Our Ferals, and Snips in Martinez. In her free time she enjoys hiking and mountain biking in the East Bay Parks with her husband.

Meet Our

Executive Director

Julie Smith, DVM, DAVCS, CCRT, MBA

Julie started as an Associate Surgeon for then Veterinary Surgical Associates in August 1997. Through the years, she was instrumental in the direction and growth of the organization to include the merger of the practices formerly known as VSA, VMS (Veterinary Medical Specialists) and TVAEC (Tri-Valley Animal Emergency Center) to become the single organization known today as SAGE Veterinary Centers.

Julie became a Managing Partner for SAGE Veterinary Centers in 2010. She served as our Medical Director from 2013 to 2018. She was responsible for recruiting and hiring highly skilled veterinary specialists to join the SAGE team and has always been an advocate for continual learning and training opportunities.  Externally, she leads and organizes the annual SAGE Symposium, the largest private continuing education event in the Bay Area to support more than 900 primary veterinarians and their staff.  In 2018, she was named a Chief Strategy Officer for SAGE Veterinary Centers.  As a highly respected member of the veterinary community, Julie works directly with SAGE Partners and the executive and leadership teams to chart the course of growth across their state-of-the-art veterinary hospitals.

 She also serves as the Treasurer for the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), and Past President of the Veterinary Specialist Awareness and Outreach Project (Collaborative Care Coalition). In 2017 Dr. Smith was recognized for the impact she has made within the veterinary services industry and received the annual Silicon Valley Business Journal – Women of Influence Award. Dr. Smith is one of nine veterinarians across the country on the AVMA’s Veterinary Economic Strategy Committee (VESC), where she assists in advising the AVMA Board the scope of economic issues effecting veterinary medicine, and currently holds the At-large designation. 

 In 2019 Julie began work to form SAGE Compassion for Animals.  She was able to bring together a stellar Board of Directors from the Bay Area community that bring a wealth of experience and diversity that has done a tremendous job of getting the non-profit up and running during trying times of COVID-19.  She is excited to be serving as Executive Director, helping get the work done as outlined and directed by the Board in support of the Mission, Vision, and Values of SAGE Compassion for Animals.