Board of Directors and Staff

The Board of Directors and shelter staff of the Santa Cruz SPCA are an extraordinary team of well-qualified leaders who are commited to excellent animal care and welfare. 


Hedy Nochimson

Hedy Nochimson joined the Board in April 2016.  A lifelong animal lover, she became a SCSPCA volunteer in 2012, in the spirit of giving back and in gratitude for all the wonderful animal companions that had shared her life.  With a special fondness for felines, Hedy has been very involved in the welfare of SCSPCA cats. Not being able to resist the other residents of the shelter, she has also fostered and adopted a little Maltese/Poodle now known as George. After working for 20 years as a software engineer in the high-tech industry, Hedy retired and began a second career as a chef, opening her own business and becoming an active member of the growing food scene in Santa Cruz. Besides cultivating her passion for food and family, Hedy enjoys travel, home design, and sports activities.

Vice President

Deb Walt

Deb Walt rejoined the board in January 2023, after previously serving eight years, from 2013-2021.  During her past tenure, she served as board president for three years, as well as co-lead on the new shelter construction project.  As an active shelter volunteer for 20+ years, Deb has served in a variety of leadership and hands-on roles at several regional shelters, including Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) and Pets in Need.  While at HSSV, Deb was four-time co-chair of The Fur Ball — the annual black-tie fundraising gala — and also served as dog socializer, mentor, writer, event volunteer, and member of numerous task forces and committees.   

Deb brings 25+ years of experience in marketing and communications to the SPCA.  She has managed comprehensive programs for many major national consumer brands, as well as numerous biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.  Her background includes PR agencies in New York and Silicon Valley, and she also led the marketing communications team at Stanford University Hospital.  Deb shares her life with an exuberant Husky mix and a tuxedo cat.  In addition to her passion for animals, Deb’s enthusiasms include theatre, skiing, and haunting bookstores.  


Linda Powers

Linda Powers joined the Board in October 2021.  She has been a Kitty Parent most of her adult life.  When her precious Roscoe died in 2009, she first looked to the cats at the SCSPCA for feline companionship.  The mention of a planned new facility, where the cats would have daylight and fresh air, had her hooked.  Linda and her husband Bob have been contributors to making this dream a reality, and she looks forward to helping the dedicated SPCA staff realize the full potential of this wonderful place.  Linda and Bob worked as a 2-person bubble of cat socializers during the pandemic.  Their new passion is fostering cats who have special needs — including a year with the infamous Pluto — or cats who simply are not thriving in the shelter environment.  Linda’s educational and career background is in mathematics and physics, having spent over 25 years as a theoretical researcher in Inertial Confinement Fusion.  Since retirement she has more time to dedicate to travel, fitness, piano, and creating stained glass “masterpieces.” 


Nina Mar Burnette

Nina believes that people who love and respect animals will be better stewards of the planet, and be kinder human beings in general. Given the opportunity as a child, she always chose to cat-sit or dog-sit versus babysit. Nina joined the board of directors in April 2017, and brings an extensive financial and tax background. She earned her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her LL.M., Taxation from New York University. Nina recently retired from a career with Apple, Inc. as Senior Director, International Tax & Senior Tax Counsel. In addition to their daughters, and many animal companions throughout the years, Nina and her husband have raised three golden retrievers.


Malcolm Bramwell

Malcolm Bramwell, who joined the board in February 2021, has always been interested in animals and photography. However, this was not a career he was able to adopt professionally. For over thirty years, Malcolm was involved in the analytical instrument business, serving as Vice President, West Coast Operation, Bruker BioSpin Corp., focusing on the amazing development of (NMR) nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Shortly after retiring, Malcolm and his wife adopted a wonderful tabby kitty from Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV). He sent them a couple photos of their new kitty with a note stating how wonderful she was. Marketing staff asked if he would be willing to volunteer and photograph shelter cats and kittens for the HSSV website, newsletters, calendar, and other collateral. Thus began his volunteer life in 2008. Malcolm has also participated in the HSSV Volunteer Advisory Committee, aimed at enhancing collaboration between volunteers and staff.

During his 10+ years as a volunteer, Malcolm has thoroughly enjoyed the interaction (mainly with cats, but dogs too), and the photographic opportunities offered. Cats, of course, are not the most cooperative of photographic models, but he feels that patience is worth the end result. Malcolm has also photographed felines for Town Cats and The Dancing Cat in San Jose, and conducted photography classes at the latter. He also enjoys reading, with a glass of wine, and a cat on his lap.


Moira Gagen

Moira Gagen began her service on the Board in May 2013, and acted as Board President from 2018 through 2020. She has volunteered at the SCSPCA for the past 18 years and at the county shelter for three years before that. A dedicated animal welfare advocate, Moira has two dogs of her own as well as serial fosters. Now retired, Moira worked in Corporate Training, and has consulted all over Silicon Valley. She has taught at both UC Santa Cruz and Stanford and spent most of her corporate career at Apple Computer. In what little time is left over, Moira is an avid mystery reader, enthusiastic tennis fan and Scrabble nut.


Executive Director
Alison "Ali" Talley

Meet Ali!

Ali joined the SCSPCA team in November, 2018. Ali has spent over 25-years working in and with animal shelters; she has been working with companion animals since 1991! Ali has held leadership roles at the East Bay SPCA, at the Humane Educational Society in Chattanooga, TN, and she spent more than 10-years at Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV).

During her time at HSSV, Ali was a key leader on their Operations Team where she focused on animal behavior and training, but also played cross-functional roles across the organization. Ali feels very fortunate to have been with the organization during their Capital Campaign and to have been a part of the team that moved the operation from their traditional shelter to the state of the art Animal Community Center. Prior to her work at HSSV, Ali received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the UC Davis Animal Science Department where her studies were focused on companion animal welfare and animal shelters.

Ali's four-legged family currently includes three cats and one dog, all of whom are--of course--former shelter animals. In her free time, she enjoys photography, road-trips, live music, gardening and spending quality time with her family. Ali looks forward to leading the organization into the future, including the SPCA's new purpose built forever home!

Shelter Manager
Mandi Hart

Meet Mandi!

Mandi has been a part of the SCSPCA team since 2009. With over 20 years of experience working in the animal care industry, she brings an extensive knowledge base related to animal care, medicine, behavior, and training. Along with shelter management, Mandi coordinates many of the organization’s marketing campaigns, social media presence, community engagement, and programming efforts. During her time with the SCSPCA, she has also taken an active role in animal welfare legislation, attending the Humane Society of the United States’ Lobby Day in 2012, and testifying at a Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting to help pass SB 1221, a bill banning the use of hounds for bear and bobcat hunting.

Born and raised in Santa Cruz, Mandi has lived a life that revolves around animals. She took pride in caring for her childhood dogs, cats, horses, goats, chickens, and rabbits, and currently enjoys riding her horse Biggs and walking her dog Sage. Mandi has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism with an emphasis in PR from California State University at Northridge.

Development Manager
Pete Cooper

Meet Pete!

Pete joined the team in 2022, bringing with him around twenty years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Originally from New Zealand, Pete has worked in a variety of advocacy / campaigning roles, with groups such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the Environmental Investigation Agency, in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

Pete moved to the US in 2020 and enjoys exploring Santa Cruz's forests and beaches with his two rescue dogs.

Manager of HE & Volunteering
Brenna Ewing

Meet Brenna!

Brenna has lived in Santa Cruz and worked in animal care, placement, and education at local shelters for more than 20 years. She joined SCSPCA in May of 2006 as the humane educator because she believes education is the most effective way to make a difference for animals and promote a humanely progressive society. Brenna enjoys teaching children and adults compassion and respect for all living things. Her humane education programs teach that even the smallest actions can have big effects, and that responsible choices can improve the lives of animals – both domestic and wild –as well as the people of our community. During the school year, Brenna spends much of her time in classrooms and other education settings, presenting fun, informative, and interactive material to both adolescents and adults. She also directs the SCSPCA Summer and Winter Kids’ Camp and a series of youth volunteer programs.

Brenna lives with an SCSPCA-adopted pug mix named Poe and a rescued blue and gold macaw named Loki. Brenna has a B.A. in marine biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Our Talented Staff

Lynn Brisson

Meet Lynn!

Lynn first joined the team in 2005 and has managed the shelter’s accounting needs since 2011. A CPA by profession, she works primarily with local non-profits and enjoys her time at the shelter, where she can pair her accounting skills with her love for animals, on any given day gaining a “lap assistant” or a “keyboard helper.” She enjoys playing soccer, reading, and doing jigsaw puzzles.

Client Care Coordinator
JoAnna Rottke

Meet JoAnna!

 JoAnna made the transition from long-time volunteer to Client Care staff in 2019. She self-identifies as a “dog person” and loves being around lots of them, including her four at home, all adopted from the SPCA. Her fantasy is to have a large sled team made up of Chihuahuas. When she did Agility trials with her Cattle Dog, Tallulah, she loved spending the weekend with hundreds of excited, happy dogs and their owners.

For over 20 years, JoAnna worked for the Dickens Project at UCSC. In 2018, her short play, “Christmas with Dickens” was performed at local libraries, and her short stories have been read on the radio.

Development Coordinator
Madeline Bollengier

Meet Maddy!

Maddy joined the Santa Cruz SPCA Team in as an Animal Care Coordinator in 2021, after graduating from California State University Monterey Bay with a Bachelors of the Arts Degree in Communication with a concentration in Creative Writing and Social Action.

Maddy moved into a Development Coordinator role and an Adoptions and Client Care Coordinator role hybrid in 2022. Maddy's favorite part about her job is getting to know all the animals that come into our care and being able to give them a voice and tell their stories to the community. During her free time, she loves hiking and camping with her Alaskan Malamute pup, Willie, as well as cuddling up with her cat, Leona, and reading a good book.

Humane Education Coordinator
Alison Shearman

Meet Alison!

Alison initially joined the Santa Cruz SPCA as a Humane Education volunteer, working with our PAWS program. Now in the Humane Education Coordinator role, Alison blends her love of animals with her thirty years of experience as an elementary school teacher. She is passionate about teaching and believes in relevance, depth and rigor in education, with programming that is differentiated and encourages critical thinking. Alison has also been a Choir Master, music teacher, and Gifted and Talented Education specialist. 

An animal lover for her entire life, Alison has had twelve cats and five dogs. Many of the cats were feral and then tamed; nearly all her dogs were rescues. Her current dog is a black and white toy fox terrier. Alison spends her time on beaches photographing pelicans, saving wildlife, exploring the beauty of California, gardening, painting, drawing and spending time with her family. Alison also loves good food, the theater and the symphony.



Client Care Supervisor
Nicole Fischer

Meet Nicole!

 Nicole joined the Santa Cruz SPCA Team as an Adoptions and Client Care Coordinator in 2021. Originally from Vancouver Island in Canada, she grew up riding and training horses. Nicole has lived in Santa Cruz for the last 9 years and feels incredibly lucky to call such a beautiful place home.

Nicole moved into the new role of Adoptions and Client Care Lead at the end of 2022. Aside from spending time with the animals, her favorite part about her job is getting to know potential adopters and community members so as to match them with the perfect four-legged family member. To put it simply: taking the pets, taking the people, and putting them together! During her free time, she loves sharing a good meal with close friends, searching for vintage clothing and books, and taking walks with her SCSPCA Alumni cat, Walt—on leash of course!

Animal Care Supervisor
Ana Cortez

Meet Ana!

 Ana has been an important part of the SCSPCA’s animal care team since 2012. She works incredibly hard to ensure the health and well-being of each animal that comes through our doors, and she carefully maintains a high level of care throughout their stay. Ana also assists with volunteer orientation and training as well as the management of in-kind donations. When she’s not working hard for the animals, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, and watching movies.

Animal Care Coordinator
Luisa Cortez

Meet Luisa!

 Luisa joined the SCSPCA facilities team in 2015. With a natural desire to clean and organize, Luisa dives into her sanitation duties with vigor. She enjoys creating an environment conducive to the health and happiness of all the shelter guests, and she meticulously delivers just that. In her free time, Luisa enjoys socializing with friends, crocheting, and baking.

Animal Care Coordinator
Teresa Vasquez

Meet Teresa!

 Teresa joined the team in 2018, initially in a hybrid Facilities and Animal Care position, before moving into her current role as an Animal Care Cooridnator.

Teresa has a background in hospitality. She loves the outdoors, taking road trips, listening to music and being around loved ones. Teresa is a very proud mother of two young adults.

Animal Care Coordinator
Jenna Freshour

Meet Jenna!

 Jenna joined the SPCA team in 2022 after working as a restaurant and production cook for over a decade. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota as well as an associate degree in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management from Cabrillo College.

Jenna’s favorite part of her role at the SPCA is learning about the complexities of animal behavior. She particularly enjoys strategizing with coworkers and volunteers about how best to train the shelter dogs and then going home to her own dog Winnie who thinks all commands are 100% optional.

Animal Care Coordinator
Rhiannon Benson

Meet Rhiannon!

 Rhiannon joined the Santa Cruz SPCA Animal Care Team in 2022. After obtaining a Bachelor’s of Science in Zoology from San Francisco State University she eventually made her way back to her hometown of Santa Cruz. She has spent the last few years working with animals, from dogs to harbor seals, and it gives her great joy to be able to do so.

Rhiannon loves getting to know each and every one of the cats and dogs that come through the shelter, through her care she hopes to help make their stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. When she is not at work she enjoys hiking and camping, going out to try new foods, and snuggling up with a good book and her cat Adrian.

Shelter Location

2601 Chanticleer Ave.

Santa Cruz, CA 95065

(P) 831-465-5000 (F) 831-479-8530


Hours of Operation

Mon & Tues - CLOSED

Animal Browsing Wed to Sun 11am - 5pm

*PET FOOD PANTRY - Fridays 4:00pm - 6:00pm

The Santa Cruz SPCA is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of animals. We receive no government funding, and depend solely on financial support from our friends. Our organization is not affiliated with any other SPCA or Humane Society.

Tax ID: 94-6171565

© 2017 Santa Cruz SPCA