Joan Baer - Co-Founder

Joan Baer is one of the co-founders of Creature Comfort Pet Therapy. She began her business career in IT, working for IBM and Silverline Building Products Corp, but later turned to raising her family and volunteering in many areas, including 13 years on the Board of Gill St. Bernard's School in Gladstone, NJ.  Along with her husband, Sandy, she raised 10 puppies for Canine Companions for Independence (service dogs for people with disabilities other than sight).  In 2002, Joan began doing pet therapy visits with her Golden Retriever, Cooper. A few years later, she began work running a pet therapy program for another organization. Today Joan is certified for pet therapy with her Golden Retriever, Sweet P.  Joan also loves to hike with her dog. 


Mary Beth Cooney - Executive Director

Mary Beth is a seasoned administrator with more than 25 years of experience in non-profit management, event planning, volunteer facilitation, and fundraising. She has always been interested in holistic healing and is an active volunteer herself for her local Rotary Club. With her skills and experience, Mary Beth is carrying on the excellent work begun by our co-founders, Annie Murphy and Joan Baer, and furthering the growth of Creature Comfort Pet Therapy.  Mary Beth is certified for pet therapy with Coby, her family Shih Tzu.  Her favorite activities include hiking, biking, gardening and walking Coby and his mom, Maggie.

Mary Jean Barnes - Development Director

Mary Jean has 20 years of experience practicing law and began her full-time non-profit work running an organization that promotes the economic empowerment of women. Her world was furever changed in 2008 when she and her husband, Mike, adopted a 5-year-old black lab named Anya who taught them about the important things in life, including slowing down and finding the joy in simple things. In June 2018, Anya passed away and serves as the inspiration for Mary Jean’s work with CCPT. Mary Jean is happy to be spreading the word about the benefits of pet therapy and encouraging pet owners to share their pet’s love with others. In her spare time she likes to read, bike and treasure hunt at antique markets.

Karen Clark - Evaluation Coordinator, Team Manager

Before starting a family, Karen worked on large-scale web application projects as a Project Manager. Once the family started to grow, Karen left the corporate world to follow her passion and began working part-time in animal-related fields. Karen has worked as a Veterinary Technician, owned a pet sitting/dog training business and is currently raising a service dog prospect for Canine Companions for Independence. Her detail oriented nature and experience working with animals makes her a perfect fit for Creature Comfort as the Evaluations Coordinator and Team Manager. Karen has a Great Dane certified for pet therapy and mostly visits hospitals, nursing homes and facilities for special needs. Karen loves getting out on visits or anything related to the outdoors with her family.

Nancy Fernandez - Scheduling Coordinator, Facilities Manager

Nancy became a Certified Pet Therapy team with Creature Comfort in October of 2014 with her dog Daisy.  In January of 2015 she answered the call for a part-time volunteer position as Scheduling Coordinator to give the 2 co-founders, Annie Murphy and Joan Baer, more time to keep up with the rapidly growing organization that they started.  Nancy is currently taking on the role of onboarding new facilities as well as, continuing to keep up the scheduling calendar.

Sue Heffernan - Business & IT Manager

Sue started her career as a CPA in public and private accounting, but her interest in technology projects led her back to school for an MS in Information Systems.  Switching to IT Project Management, she focused on improving processes, making operations more efficient, and satisfying the client’s needs.  Her diverse skills, matched with her belief in balancing automation with personal connection, makes her highly qualified to act as Business & IT Manager for Creature Comfort. In her free time, Sue has volunteered as a Public Library Board member and led two Cub Scout Dens. She adopted a lab mix, Hershey, who has been an integral part of her family, bringing comfort, companionship, and calmness to energetic kids. She loves to hike, bike, read, and walk with Hershey.