In 2009, Paula Ficara and Steve Wastell discovered a place that would change the course of their lives forever; a young wolfdog rescue just getting its start in Los Angeles County. With a lifelong love of wildlife, particularly wolves, they found themselves volunteering as much time as possible to the growth and development of the small rescue, eventually leaving their former careers behind to become full-time staff members. In 2014, with their true passion being realized and a strong desire to fulfill their mission, Paula and Steve created Apex Protection Project. Over the past eight years, they’ve helped rescue and rehabilitate over 75 wolves and wolfdogs, developed educational events and programs, and have been active advocates for captive-bred wolves and wolfdogs, as well as wolves in the wild. The goal of Apex Protection Project is to continue the quest of protecting wolves and wolfdogs through educational experiences, rescue, and advocacy with the dream of living in a world where the wolf and all species are highly valued, protected and respected for the balance they bring to the ecosystem and for the gifts they offer to humanity.

Paula and Steve with their wolfdog Taboo, their first rescue.



Kelly McCall has been working as a Producer and Project Manager for over 20 years. She has worked in nearly every aspect of film and television production as well as commercials, videos, web content and has also produced simulator content for The Department of Defense. Along with her logistical expertise and long term strategic thinking, Kelly also brings her communication skills and professionalism to every job or project regardless of scope and size. She has been a long term activist for Human & Animal rights. And along with marches in Washington and at Standing Rock, she has a vast history with wildlife and animal care. After a year as a guide at The San Diego Zoo, she decided she would rather work helping to rehabilitate wildlife. She spent several years as a full time volunteer at The California Wildlife Center in Malibu caring for every kind of animal and bird as well as marking, rescuing and transporting seals and seal lions.


Originally from Canada, Kim is a passionate animal and wildlife advocate. A longtime volunteer at the California Wildlife Center whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and release local wildlife, Kim has worked with all sorts of wildlife from hummingbirds to squirrels and baby Elephant Seals and is now very proud to be a part of the Apex Team. She is a classically trained actor, and has appeared in Mad Men (AMC), The Thing (Universal Pictures), On The Road and has lent her voice to characters in the Dreamworks animated feature Mr. Peabody and Sherman as well as the video game series Deus Ex. Kim lives in Malibu with her family and her mini pack of wolf wannabes.



PATHH facilitator at Boulder Crest Retreat for Military & Veteran Wellness,
Clinical Director and Co-founder at BIG Heart Ranch, Malibu

Before becoming a therapist, Suzi managed professional theater companies in Boston, directed live theater, wrote several feature film scripts that were produced and directed a short film. In 2003, Suzi earned her Master’s degree in Clinical and Community Psychology at Antioch University and became certified in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Suzi created her own EAP program called Horse Inspired Growth and Healing (HIGH) and Horse Inspired Psychotherapy (HIP), an experiential horse program that increases personal insight, inspires emotional and spiritual healing and encourages behavior change. In 2006, Suzi co-founded BIG Heart Ranch,, in Malibu, California that provides HIGH and HIP services to children, families, veterans and treatment centers healing from trauma and mental health issues. Since January 2007, Suzi has been providing horse related activities to Native American youth through her program called Red Horse Nation,, a division of Lifesavers, Inc. RHN provides Native American Horse Inspired Growth and Healing (NAHIGH) and Psychotherapy (NAHIP) services to Native American youth and families with the support from traditional Native principles, practitioners and culture as well as sound clinical practices.  As Vice President of Lifesavers, Inc., ( America’s largest wild horse rescue, Suzi and the Lifesavers staff help veterans, suffering from trauma and PTSD, heal through their Wild Horse Warrior Journey where veterans are taught to gentle wild horses. Suzi also works as a therapeutic facilitator for Boulder Crest Retreat’s Warrior PATHH and for other veteran and military family programs such as Gold Star Families and the EOD Warrior Foundation.


Alison with pack Alpha Taboo
Alison with Apex Alpha Taboo


Alison channels her creative energy as a Film & TV music supervisor in the entertainment industry and also represents the music catalogs of The Rolling Stones and James Brown. She has also combined her passion for animal advocacy with music supervision in her work on the documentaries MEDICINE OF THE WOLF directed by Julia Huffman (featuring renown National Geographic Photographer Jim Brandenburg, Jane Goodall, and Apex Co-Founders Paula Ficara and Steve Wastell) and HOW I BECAME AN ELEPHANT directed by Tim Gorski (LOLITA: SLAVE TO ENTERTAINMENT). Alison has volunteered with various animal rescue and advocacy organizations including Wildlife Waystation and was a board member, writer, and volunteer at Bunny World Foundation. Apex Protection Project blends Alison’s dream of working with wolves with her dedication to animal advocacy work, rescue, education, and protection of the species. She lives in Los Angeles with her 3 rescue dogs and 2 rescue rabbits.
Caroline with “lap wolf” Riggs


Caroline Wolf works as a freelance American Sign Language interpreter in Los Angeles and is a recent graduate from Cal State University, Northridge. Keeping with her namesake, she was raised to love and revere wolves. At a young age, Caroline received her first introduction to wolves with a pet wolfdog named Shayna who taught her the sweet and loving nature of wolfdogs. Working in animal rescue and rehabilitation for over six years, Caroline was drawn to Apex Protection Project, which has allowed her to continue in combining her passions for both working with animals as well as her love of wolves. In the near future, she plans on returning to Cal State Northridge to earn a masters degree in public administration in the non-profit sector to further benefit the organizations she serves, like Apex Protection Project. Caroline was born and raised in Sherman Oaks, California but has relocated to the Antelope Valley. She was introduced to directors Steve Wastell and Paula Ficara almost three years ago and was eager to support their efforts in creating a wolf and wolfdog rescue from its initial concept. Now, Caroline spends most of her days at Apex which has become her “home away from home” working closely with the pack, training the volunteer team, and acting as official “wolf-sitter”.

Chelsea with Taboo


Bio coming soon.








Cole and Apex Beta Kona


Cole grew up with wolfdogs and has developed a deep respect and appreciation for them. For this reason Cole is committed to working with and supporting Apex Protection Project as they are dedicated to protecting these amazing animals and to educating the public in a manner which will improve the lives of all wolves and wolfdogs.

Cole has worked in several fields including television, radio, customer service, and the restaurant industry. Additionally, Cole was the administrator for a home for disabled individuals, and served as the President of the town council where he resided for two years.

Cole has a twin brother who is Deaf and who afforded him access to both the Deaf community and to American Sign Language from birth. He has worked as a sign language Interpreter for over six years in a variety of settings and for a variety of individuals including presidential candidates. Additionally, Cole is a faculty member at California State University Northridge and is the Department Chair of World Languages and Philosophy at Antelope Valley College. Cole holds a Master’s degree in Humanities, a Baccalaureate degree in Deaf Studies, and four Associates of Arts degrees spanning several disciplines.

Currently, Cole is working on publishing research which examines both the influence of audism (an ideological construct which humanizes hearing people and their perceived associated characteristics while simultaneously oppressing and dehumanizing Deaf people and their perceived associated characteristics) on the identity development of hearing people and the process by which a hearing person replaces an audist, hearing-centric world view as their primary filter with a filter which allows for the development of an identity that rejects audism.

Denéa and Thor share a snuggle


Bio coming soon.










Drew Gilliam
Drew with Loki as a pup


Drew has always had a fascination with wolves. When her mother Gina began volunteering at Apex, Drew was not to be left out! Drew is Apex’s youngest volunteer at 15 years old but her respect and love of wolves, experience with her personally rescued dogs at home, willingness to learn, and passion make her a valuable part of the Apex Team. Drew continues to hone her skills in caring for the pack, handling the Apex wolfdog ambassadors at events, and helping to educate the public about the beauty and importance of wolves.


Erika Kelly
Erika smothered in the puppies who have all been adopted into loving homes


Erika Kelly works as a financial adviser and lives with her husband Joseph, along with two dogs and cat in Palmdale, CA.  She started volunteering with dog rescues in her hometown in Indiana, where she quickly fell in love with helping animals in need (and along the way adopted the family dog, Potato, after saving him from being euthanized). Erika recently rescued a pregnant pit bull who was abandoned and left to roam the desert. This little mama had nine puppies! She has been volunteering with Apex since August of 2015 and loves hanging out with “the pack.”  Erika loves training and hiking with the wolves, and is always fascinated with all of the things wolves can teach humans.






Gina Gilliam-01
Gina with pack wildling Merlin


As a little girl, Gina always wanted to do something or be a part of something that would involve her spirituality, her native culture, and of course animals. After moving to Acton, CA two years ago, she had the opportunity to learn about wolves and wolfdogs by volunteering at local rescues. This inspired Gina to make the ultimate decision to go back to school in mid-life to study animal behavior. Gina is also a rescuer herself, currently having two rescued Pit Bulls at home and always having had rescued animals. Wolves have always been a passion, and today she has the honor of being able to help educate others on the importance of these majestic animals.


Jan and Sarge go for a walk


Bio coming soon.








Jolié and Sarge


Southern California born and raised, Jolie has been an ASL interpreter in the K-12 school system for over 25 years. It’s Jolie’s passion to facilitate communication to help her students understand and succeed. As a child her family raised a wolfdog but “Banjo” chose Jolie and her father as his own. They shared this bond for years and never forgot their beloved boy. After Jolie’s father passed, she sought out that bond again eventually finding Apex Protection Project where she dialed into that energy and hasn’t looked back. Being a part of Apex lets her connect and honor her Dad and Banjo’s spirits as well as allowing her to be a servant to this wonderful community. “It takes a village…” She truly loves taking part in Apex’s growth and development. Snuggles and kisses from the pack ain’t too bad either!


Lindsay and Thor at a school presentation


The appreciation of nature and adventure became deeply ingrained during Lindsay Carron’s childhood in Wisconsin, and it remains the inspiration behind her work today. Lindsay received a B.F.A. in Studio Art from Pepperdine and continued on global adventures after graduating. In Mexico and Kenya she painted murals, created portraits, and lead art workshops. On the West Coast, Lindsay led two summers of creative activism workshops for youth with Creative Visions Foundation.
Lindsay’s artwork found a home in the wilderness as she focused her attention on a beloved species – the wolf. Partnering with California Wolf Center, she educated and raised funds with her art. She contributed illustrations to the documentary Medicine of the Wolf, and currently volunteers with Apex Protection Project working hands on with wolf dogs and educating about wild wolves. Also focusing on the oceans, she painted murals on storm drains about urban runoff and protecting coastal ecosystems with the City of Malibu. Most recently, Lindsay painted a two-story mural about the Salish Sea orcas at The Whale Museum on San Juan Island. In Alaska, Carron has found a strong resonance for the purpose of her work. Brought up to Juneau by Adventure Flow to lead painting excursions, she fell in love with the rugged wild land. Her artwork was exhibited in a solo show at Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, and she illustrated three children’s books with Native Organization Sealaska Heritage. As an artist in residence with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lindsay created artwork based on her experiences with the Gwich’in in Arctic Village and in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Lindsay lives and works between Los Angeles, California and Juneau, Alaska.


Mary Ludwig
Mary getting smooches from Kona


Mary has over fifteen years of experience in fundraising and development, including many years as a manager of public and private grants. She obtained a B.A. in English literature with minors in political science and theater arts from the State University of New York at Albany. Working in the non-profit sector, Mary’s writing and fundraising covers many social and environmental issues, including homelessness, domestic violence and teen dating violence, anti-bias and bullying, senior services, environmental preservation and animal rescue. She also raises funds for arts education, mental health programs and assistance for people with disabilities. In her free time, Mary studies dance, photography, painting, healing arts, and animal communication.


Michael and Riggs share a moment


Bio coming soon.