Annwn is name stemming from Welsh mythology. Annwn is "essentially a world of delights and eternal youth where disease was absent and food was ever-abundant" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annwn) We chose the name because we want to create a place where animals can find a safe haven of love, care, and all the yummy food they could ever need! Annwn is also often associated with the Fairy Realm (https://britishfairies.wordpress.com/tag/annwn/) Having three daughters who love all thing fairy, we thought the name was fitting.
Annwn Animal Sanctuary is a nonprofit corporation founded in 2021 by husband and wife team, James and Grace Danks. Seeing the need for an energetic, animal-centered nonprofit in the area, we formed our rescue organization to provide needed solutions. We've consistently grown since then, all thanks to the helping hands of this amazing community! We bring to the table a passion for animals, a background in education, strong business acumen, and personal contributions to the business; both in time and financial contribution.
Annwn Animal Sanctuary knows that our strength lies not only in the words we stand by, but most importantly through the actions of our initiatives. From our personal rescue work, we realized that we could share our experience with the community to create better lives for animals, and that is why we ultimately decided to launch Annwn Animal Sanctuary.
Annwn Animal Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 nonprofit located in Wake County, North Carolina. We are 100% community funded. Our mission is giving back through life-changing experiences for animals. We focus on creating better lives for small and exotic animals of all kinds. Our members and volunteers provide the momentum that helps us affect change as a nonprofit. Through rescue, rehab, rehoming, and education, we provide services that make a long-lasting difference. Annwn Animal Sanctuary is founded on several core principles that drive all we do:
Annwn Animal Sanctuary wants to spread our message of hope and compassion for all animals. We believe that a single action can make a difference in the community, and that collective action can greatly impact the world. Through advocacy and outreach activities, our team works tirelessly each day to contribute their part to the greater good.
President / Director
Annwn Animal Sanctuary founded in 2020 by husband-and-wife team, James and Grace Danks. Grace brings a passion for animals, a background in education, strong business acumen, and personal contributions to the business. Grace has a strong background in management and company development with an MBA in Entrepreneurial Business Management, MA in Educational Psychology, and a BA in Lifespan Development Psychology.
From a very young age, Grace was introduced to animals by her parents and grandparents who instilled a love of animal rescue. By being able to interact with many animals at a young age, Grace developed a passion for helping animals in need. To instill that love of learning with animals in other youth, Annwn Animal Sanctuary was born with the mission to rescue, rehab, rehome, and educate.
Grace adores frogs and spends many nights herping in the woods around their home with their three children. Enjoying the native trees and wildlife of North Carolina is a favorite pastime. It's always an adventure when you're out exploring in the woods!
Vice President / General Manager
James is passionate about community involvement and holds a MA in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and a BA in Emergency Management. As the co-founder of Annwn Animal Sanctuary, James has been involved with animals for many years through rehab efforts.
With a strong background in community management, James is passionate about ensuring the community is educated and prepared to take care of their fur-babies. James is most passionate about snakes and exotic animals and is excited to support the community through the growth of Annwn Animal Sanctuary. Through community partnership, Annwn can thrive and provide a beacon of hope for all the animals in need.
A favorite family activity has been completing the NC State Parks Passport Challenge. By visiting every start park in NC, a multitude of habitats were visited with a remarkable variety of wildlife.With three school ages children, James wants to create a better world for his children and it starts by educating those that will create the future. James and family have recently started the NC State Park Challenge for a second time and look forward to even more travel and exploration.
Board Chair of Social Networking / Sanctuary Coordinator
Liz first started working as the Sanctuary Coordinator at Anwnn Animal Sanctuary in May 2021. In addition to her primary job functions, Liz is fulfilling her passion for animal welfare by being part of the daily animal care and sanctuary development programs. Since joining the Board of Directors, Liz has worked to improve the standing and recognition of Annwn Animal Sanctuary among potential adopters and the local community by increasing the sanctuary's presence on social media and through business networking.
Driven by her lifelong passion for animal care, Liz is committed to helping animals that come from difficult circumstances. It may be more difficult to gain their trust or help them heal, but Liz loves to be part of the team that gives these animals a second chance of love and a forever home.
Liz is a graduate of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s degree, and continues her studies at Wake Tech College in Raleigh. She has over four years of corporate management and customer service experience and is a loving pet mom to two dogs, three cats, and three snakes. Liz lives in Durham and likes to spend her free time hiking with friends and her dogs, updating her snake husbandry, taking photos of her cats, and spending time with family.
Board Chair of Education
Hello! I’m Justine and I am the Board Chair of Education here at Annwn Animal Sanctuary! My husband and I work for The American Wildlife Refuge, Animal Edventures Peace Park and several other rescues and sanctuaries in the RDU area. I’ve been a teacher for over 14 years and on the weekends run a children’s party entertainment business, Fairytale Dreamer. We are also licensed wildlife rehabbers and are always here if you have wildlife that needs help!
My mother was my inspiration to get involved with animals as she always wanted to be an ornithologist before she became bedridden and then recently passed away. Children and animals bring me and my family so much joy and I’m so thankful to have a way to give back to them in this amazing community.
Lori Kurimsky is proud to serve as the Board Secretary of Annwn Animal Sanctuary. She has over twenty years of administrative experience working primarily with C-Level executives in corporate environments. Over the years, she has dabbled in running a variety of small businesses herself: interior design, real estate, and a retail business selling everything from home décor to women’s apparel and gift items. Half a life ago, Lori was a semi-professional dancer (ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, etc) performing in and around the Washington DC area – usually at black-tie affairs.
While Lori’s dance shoes have long been packed away, she now enjoys singing in the shower, in her car, and at an occasional karaoke night with friends. Her repertoire includes everything from Alanis Morrissette and Pink to Carrie Underwood and (her favorite) Brandi Carlile. Winston was Lori’s first fur-baby. He passed away many moons ago but she still thinks about him and misses him every day. Her recent involvement with Annwn Animal Sanctuary has her wondering if it might be time to invite a new fur-baby (or two) into her world.
Board Chair of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Medicine Committee
Received his Bachelor of Science degree from West Virginia University and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from St. Georges University in January of 2012. Following graduation, he performed a 16 month anesthesia internship with Louisiana State University School of Veterinary where he anesthetized companion animals, horses, farm animals, and exotic species. Upon completion, he entered a one year small animal rotating internship with Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas. Dr. Smith was then accepted for a 3 year anesthesia and analgesia residency at the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following graduation, he spent one year as the medical director and anesthesiologist for a local MRI company and is currently working toward board certification. Dr. Smith’s primary focus is to make his patients as comfortable as possible both before and following their procedures. When not attending to his patients or continuing his education, he enjoys spending time with his wife and 2 young children, outdoor activities, and the occasional video game.
Graphic Designer / Social Media
Charlie is one of the worlds only legally blind graphic designers. He spent the last 10 years working with The Blind Tiger in Greensboro as well as a ton of bands across many genres. Creating everything from logo design, album artwork, merchandise designs and much more, Charlie has now joined the Annwn team! He specializes creative marketing plans for companies/bands to grow their audience and providing graphic design work for advertising. He is a big animal lover! he has two dogs, quite a few cats, and just adopted a completely blind kitten that was born without eyes.