Douglas Spiker, DVM
Co-Founder & President
Dr. Doug Spiker is a co-founder and President of Essentials PetCare. Our team knows him as our Intrepid Mastermind – the creator of our movement to expand veterinary care. Dr. Spiker is a small animal veterinarian, who realized the significant need for making basic pet care both affordable and accessible to all families after practicing for several years as a co-owner of a walk-in veterinary hospital. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he moved at a young age and grew up in New Port Richey, Florida. Dr. Spiker earned his doctorate from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Florida State University. He describes one of his greatest joys as “watching the organization grow from a concept into a mission-oriented company full of talented individuals”.
- Favorite book? In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette. I found this book equal parts humbling and inspiring.
- Hobbies? Swimming, watching The Simpsons episodes on endless repeat, finding ways to insert my favorite Simpsons quotes into my everyday life.
- Personal motto? “Bite off more than you can chew and then chew like hell.” – Peter Brock
Christine Battista, MS
Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer
Christine Battista is a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Essentials PetCare, a.k.a. The Maestro. Her professional experience includes marketing, merchandising and product development, working with small organizations, non-profits, and national retailers as well. Christine comes from an entrepreneurial family, and was born and raised in Port Richey, Florida. She earned her master’s degree in Consumer Affairs from Auburn University, and double-majored in Merchandising and Apparel Design, earning her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. She takes pride in ensuring that our team’s efforts always remain true to our mission, in serving as an advocate on behalf of pet parents and encouraging consumer transparency and education to enhance the lives of people and their beloved pets.
- Best concert ever attended? Madonna: Rebel Heart tour – Brooklyn, NY
- Skills or talents that most people don’t know about? Ballroom dancing, sewing and patternmaking.
- Personal motto? “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau
Co-Founder & Executive Chairman
Bruce Newman is a co-founder of Essentials PetCare and serves as our Executive Chairman, i.e. the Navigator. Bruce’s background includes 30 years of entrepreneur experience in developing and financing businesses in the area of B2B software, technology solutions for big box retailers, and investment banking. Bruce grew up with his six brothers and sisters on Long Island in New York where he started his first business at the age of 21. Bruce enjoys working with determined people who have a shared vision of building an organization that can have meaningful impact.
- If you were a superhero, which one would you be? Batman of course, beginning from when I was 7.
- Skills or talents that most people don’t know about? “I’m pretty good at riding a unicycle, although it’s been a few years. Good to have in my back pocket if I ever decide to join the circus!”
- Personal motto? “Always do the right thing.”
Candace R. Bacon, MA
Director of Talent Development
Candace R. Bacon is the Director of Talent Development, a.k.a. the Journey Empress. She is a trained employee relations professional with a focus on development in well-branded companies and international organizations with proven results in improved retention and employee satisfaction. A native Floridian, she grew up on the west coast of Florida. She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of South Florida and a master’s degree in Foreign Policy and International Economics from Johns Hopkins University – School of Advanced International Studies. Her greatest joy comes from helping others achieve their potential.
- If you could travel to one place, where would it be? “Antarctica, so I will have been to all seven continents.”
- Personal motto? “Don’t ever let anyone else tell you what you can or cannot do.”
- Best concert ever attended? Prince Musicology Live 2004ever Tour & The Jacksons Triumph Tour (and still can’t answer who’s better: Prince or Michael Jackson…both are music gods!)”
Stephen Godwin, JD, MA
Director of Talent Operations
Steve Godwin is our Director of Talent Operations, or as we refer to him behind his back, “Ditto.” Steve has over twenty years of human resources experience and service as counsel to senior management. Prior to joining Essentials PetCare, he called Tallahassee home, serving as legal counsel to several Florida executive branch agencies and most recently as Director of House Administration for the Florida House of Representatives. He received a Juris Doctor degree, a master’s degree in Public Administration, and a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs & Political Science from Florida State University. Steve says he enjoys working for a company like Essentials PetCare that “offers a team management approach to performance and productivity, which provides a fun, exciting, and challenging work environment, and for which my contribution is meaningful to me, my employer and the public.”
- If you were a superhero, which one would you be? “Run Away From Danger Man”
- Personal motto? “Quondo Omni Flunkus Moritati”
- If you could travel to one place, where would it be? “19.3947 N, 154.9291 W.”
Brittany Clines is our Program Manager, a.k.a. the Schedule Driver. She is an experienced project manager with a background in corporate real estate and healthcare. Her specialty is expediting construction schedules while value engineering to maintain the budget. She’s passionate about building the relationships necessary to maintain a nationwide network of trusted partners. Communication, creative solutioning, and process implementation are her strong suits. She grew up in Southwest Missouri, where she lived until moving to Florida in 2013. The thing she loves most is seeing months of planning and hard work result in a clinic that will benefit the community and clients’ lives.
- If you were a superhero, which one would you be? “The Controller. I can’t fight the urge to put order to disorganization, that’s why I’m in project management. If I didn’t have a healthy outlet at work, no one could put up with me.”
- Favorite book? “Catch 22 by Joseph Heller and East of Eden by John Steinbeck—I’ll never pick just one!”
- Hobbies? “Running around with my two pups, taking advantage of the endless outdoor activities in Florida, collecting more books than I’ll ever be able to finish, and reading.”
Jill Lopez, DVM, MBA
Director of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships
Dr. Jill Lopez is our Director of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships − the Essentials PetCare Storyteller. She is an award-winning veterinary marketing professional who has worked with Fortune 500 companies, not-for-profit humane organizations, and global pet product manufacturers. She is a West Virginia native who now calls New Jersey her home. Dr. Lopez received her doctorate from the College Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee University, her MBA from Drexel University, and her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from West Virginia University. She is most passionate about educating pet owners about how to keep their pets healthy.
- Cats or dogs? “I love them both−I can’t pick!”
- Favorite way to spend your day off? “Hiking/camping with my family. We live in New Jersey, and despite what you see on TV (Sopranos, Real Housewives of New Jersey) it is truly the Garden State. There are lots of very beautiful parks in the area.”
- Hobbies? “Bringing my daughter to her hobbies and being a Tiger Mom.”
Marketing & Communications Specialist
Marie Umholtz is our Marketing and Communications Specialist, a.k.a. the Media Whisperer. She has a background in professional writing and digital media. She grew up in Florida and received a bachelor’s degree in English with minors in art and multimedia management at Saint Leo University. She has a passion for helping people discover the best opportunities in pet care and educating clients, so they can make the best decisions for their pets.
- Hobbies? “I love art—both studying and creating it—in my spare time. I especially love drawing, painting, and sculpting.”
- Skills or talents that most people don’t know about? “I was able to ace a biology lab practical once thanks to watching SpongeBob.”
- If you could travel to one place, where would it be? “If it’s a real place, I’d love to visit Italy. If it could be anywhere, I’m going to Narnia.”