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.
Deb Walt joined the Board in October 2013, served as Board President from 2016 through 2017, and is beginning a new term in 2021. An active shelter volunteer for 19 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 directed the marketing communications team at Stanford University Hospital. Deb generally has a house full of senior cats and dogs. In addition to her passion for animals, Deb’s enthusiasms include theatre, ballet, skiing, and haunting bookstores.
(Past Board President)
Moira Gagen has served on the Board since May 2013, acting as Board President from 2018 through 2020. She has volunteered at the SCSPCA for the past 12 years and at the county shelter for eight years before that. A dedicated animal welfare advocate, Moira has two dogs and a cat of her own as well as the occasional foster. Now retired, Moira worked in Corporate Training, specializing in Train-the-Trainer and Train-the-Designer programs 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, amateur thespian, and Scrabble nut.
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.
Sheri Billings has served on the Board since February 2011. She is a CPA and owner/principal of the Summit Accountancy Group, Inc., in Soquel, specializing in income taxes and business valuations. A fancier of all things feline, Sheri shares her home with two rescue cats, Buddy and Bentley. Her hobbies include fly fishing.
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.
Alison "Ali" Talley
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 is thrilled to join the Santa Cruz SPCA team and looks forward to leading the organization into the future, including the SPCA's new purpose built forever home (expected Spring, 2020)!
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.
Manager of Humane Education & Volunteer Programs
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.
Volunteer & Humane Education Coordinator
Maria joined our team in February 2020. During the regular school year, she visits schools to present about the Humane treatment of all living things, and responsible pet ownership. She also helps run our Camps and after school programs, which gives students an opportunity to meet and interact with shelter animals.
When she is not working in Humane Education, she helps with the training of volunteers, and supports our Volunteer Manager. She enjoys pairing Foster families to animals needing a temporary home, and she loves meeting all of our amazing volunteers.
Through her work, she hopes to inspire tomorrows future animal advocates, and meet other animal lovers!
Maria lives with two cats of her own.
In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her family's dogs, camping, and creating jewelry from sea glass.
Maria has a B.S. in Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Davis.
Lynn has managed the SCSPCA’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.
Programs & Admin Assistant
Elisa joined our team in 2020 after making a career switch from the wine industry, trading in wine-stained hands for fur-covered clothes and has never looked back! Having adopted her beloved family dog, Bailey, from the SCSPCA in 2010, Elisa is thrilled to begin her nonprofit career at an organization that has impacted her own life. As our Programs and Admin Assistant, she finds herself with "paws" in all areas of our organization from donation management to graphic design.
Behavior & Training Specialist
Petra Woosley, CPDT-KA
Adoptions & Client Care Coordinator
Additionally, Liz volunteers at other shelters in the Monterey Bay and interns for HeartsSpeak; a nonprofit organization that provides animal shelters and rescues the training and resources needed to promote and market their adoptable animals. Liz also holds a certificate from the Karen Pryor Dog Training Academy for completing the Shelter Training and Enrichment course. With a passion for animal behavior and Bully-breed dogs, Liz loves making a difference in the lives of homeless animals!
Adoptions & Client Service Associate
Sarah arrived at the Santa Cruz SPCA after relocating from New York City in the summer of 2014. A lifelong animal advocate and confirmed “Cat Person,” Sarah facilitates adoptions and client relations at the shelter. In addition, she assists with donor communications and PR for the organization, utilizing her love of creative writing and editing. While not at the SCSPCA, Sarah teaches chair yoga classes as well as sings, plays mandolin, and performs theatre throughout Santa Cruz.
Adoptions & Client Service Associate
JoAnna made the transition from long-time volunteer to Adoption Counselor and Client Service staff in 2019. She self-identifies as a “dog person” and loves being around lots of them. 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.
Her Chihuahua, ChaCha was adopted from the SPCA in 2010, and she recently adopted Chewy.
For over 20 years, JoAnna worked for the Dickens Project at UCSC, and still serves as President of their Friends group. In 2018, her short play, “Christmas with Dickens” was performed at local libraries, and her short stories have been read on the radio.
Animal Care Supervisor
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
Animal Care Coordinator
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.
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