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Heart + Paw Introduces New Leadership Team to Support Rapid Growth


Press release: Heart + Paw

Heart + Paw, one of the fastest growing veterinary care, grooming, and dog daycare center groups in the country, recently announced key appointments to its leadership team to support its accelerating growth. Julia Geffner is appointed chief marketing officer; Andrew DeFino, former vice president of development, is promoted to chief growth officer; and Dr. Mary Peacock, DVM, one of Heart + Paw’s earliest employees, is promoted to vice president of operations. In these new roles, Geffner, DeFino and Peacock will lead and change the face of pet care through Heart + Paw centers and partner hospitals. Geffner and DeFino will report directly to Heart + Paw CEO Dave Lasus, and Peacock will report to Dr. George Melillo, CVO and co-founder.

In 2021, Heart + Paw grew from 10 to 23 locations, covering nine states from Tennessee to Rhode Island, with nine current locations in the Philadelphia region, where Heart + Paw is based. The company anticipates nearly doubling locations by the end of 2022. 

“The tremendous growth we experienced in 2021 set the stage for expanding the leadership team to execute our 2022 plans,” said David Lasus, CEO of Heart + Paw. “Heart + Paw is the only pet care company that is both building branded multi-service de novo locations as well as acquiring and optimizing partner veterinary hospitals deeply rooted within their communities. We are pleased to have a CMO of Julia’s caliber join the team, and with the promotions of both Andrew and Mary, we are well-positioned to continue innovating and leading the immersive pet care experience.” 

Julia Geffner, as Heart + Paws first-ever CMO, will focus on elevating the Heart + Paw branded experience, enhancing marketing capabilities and digital presence and partnering with the pet care centers to drive local community-level engagement. Geffner comes to Heart + Paw with extensive experience in the pet care industry, having served as CMO for Best Friends Pet Care. Previously she led marketing and customer experience teams for world-class brands including Wyndham Worldwide, Starwood Hotels and Barnes & Noble.

“Our pets are our family members. We understand each pet and pet parent’s needs are unique and require care that goes above and beyond the rest,” said Geffner. “I’m excited to continue my work in the pet care industry and make a positive impact on Heart + Paw’s growth.”

Andrew DeFino, as Heart + Paw’s CGO, will lead acquisitions, partnerships, de novo development and strategic growth initiatives. DeFino joined Heart + Paw in 2018 as vice president of business development, combining his strategic and financial business expertise with his passion for empowering small businesses owners. Prior to joining Heart + Paw, DeFino worked at Veterinary Practice Partners (VPP) as the director of partnership development and as a mutual fund manager at BlackRock and Kalmar Investments.

Dr. Mary Peacock is a graduate of the Royal Veterinary College and has more than a decade of experience in veterinary medicine, first as a doctor in general practice and emergency medicine, then as a leader with extensive multi-unit management and operational experience. She is passionate about team development, community involvement, and continuing education for her team to be able to utilize the most current practices and procedures in veterinary medicine. Previously the senior director of operations, Dr. Peacock will be leading operations for all Heart + Paw branded and partner centers, focused on creating a positive environment for all team members to thrive, while delivering the best quality care.

Central to Heart + Paw’s mission is the dedicated team of veterinarians and team members who maintain the highest quality of care for Heart + Paw’s patients, led by Dr. George Melillo. Dr. Melillo is often described as the “heart” of Heart + Paw – committed to the health, wealth and mental well-being of those that serve this community. “Heart + Paw was founded in order to deliver low-stress veterinary care to those in need. We treat pets and pet parents like family, in a way that no one else does,” said Dr. Melillo. 

Heart + Paw recently implemented a Doctor Rewards Program as part of a key initiative to address critical industry-wide issues in veterinary medicine including the need for higher wages, bolstering tenured longevity and providing tools aimed at addressing compassion fatigue. With its rapid growth, there are currently a number of open veterinary and non-veterinary positions available at Heart + Paw locations, with some locations offering sign-on bonuses, depending on the role. 

Founded in 2018, Heart + Paw is now one of the fastest growing veterinary care, grooming, and dog daycare center groups in the country, with a mission to become partners in pet parenthood, helping four-legged family members to live a longer, healthier and happier life while also addressing the health, wealth and mental well-being of those that serve this community. Heart + Paw’s state-of-the art clinics and its network of partner practices treat pets with a low-stress approach while providing the very best care, incorporating myriad advanced technologies, top-of-the-line amenities, equipment selected based on years of practice and research, and a fresh philosophy for pets, pet parents and the veterinarian teams. In the last year, Heart + Paw saw explosive growth, and rapidly expanded from 10 to 23 locations, under the leadership of co-founder and chief veterinary officer Dr. George Melillo, and chief executive officer Dave Lasus. In 2022, Heart + Paw expects to nearly double locations. 

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