Eric joined the Gifford team in July of 2013. He spent his childhood on a farm and is no stranger to the needs and care of livestock: ranging from horses and cows to pigs and chickens. His family pets included dogs, cats, fish and rabbits, so it is of no surprise he sought out the Gifford Cat Shelter to be his second home. Eric moved to the greater Boston area from Augusta, GA. He graduated from Augusta Technical College and majored in Machine Tool Technology in conjunction with attending the College of Augusta State University with a major in Music Education. Music remains a large part of Eric’s life: attending concerts, collecting memorabilia and performing live music. His instrument of choice is the electric guitar, but is also well versed in the trumpet, drums, bass, & piano. He shares his home with his girlfriend, two ferrets named Tobi & Francisco and a Gifford alumni, Solomon.
Garvan, at 47, is in a “career transition.” Born in Dublin, Ireland, he became a chef in his 20s, but gave up because it never fulfilled his creative side. Moving to Boston changed his life. As an uneducated Irishman, he was, like some of the lucky cats he works with now, adopted by an American girl, who persuaded him to go to college and get his B.A. in English Literature and his Masters in Education. In Maryland he taught high school English for 9 years. Then, 2013, he and his wife moved back to Boston. He has taught film and ESL at Tufts University and is pursuing an M.F.A in creative writing and pedagogy at Pine Manor College. A lover of reading and writing, he has been lucky enough to have seen his fiction and non-fiction printed in a number of small publications. He loves working with Eric, Mara, and the rest of the crew, and already feels a part of the family. He balances his life with regular yoga classes, copious amounts of coffee, big bags of sour cream and onion chips, two wonderful cats, great friends and family, a constant stream of books, some private time for writing, and an exceptional wife who puts up with his shenanigans and numerous “career transitions.”
MARA WALTON – Shelter Attendant
Mara has had cats her entire life, which is why she was initially drawn to Gifford as a volunteer. Two years and one masters degree later, she lives with two dogs and one cat, Baloo. As any cat parent can attest, Mara spends much of her free time cleaning up litter that is tracked outside the box, telling Baloo it isn’t dinner time yet then giving in, and retrieving toy mice from under the couch. But it’s all worth it!
Danna has been enjoying life with cats and dogs since she was 7 years old, when she developed a childhood dream to be a vet. However, life took her in a different direction. In 2015, Danna left a 20-year career in Information Technology to rekindle her dreams and surround herself with cats and dogs again. The pursuit of her dream led her to volunteer at Gifford, and later become a staff member.
Danna shares her life with her husband and her rescue dog Stav. The common belief is that Stav is a collie mixed with a lion and a squirrel.
Members of the Board
If you wish to contact the Ellen M. Gifford Cat Shelter Board of Directors, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail: Ellen M. Gifford Cat Shelter, c/o Board of Directors, 30 Undine Rd., Brighton, MA 02135.
LISA SACCHETTI – President
Lisa always had an undying passion for all animals, especially cats. Shortly after discovering the Gifford Cat Shelter she fell in love with their work and joined as a volunteer on Saturday mornings in 1999. She spent her first years at Gifford scooping, cleaning and socializing cats. It wasn’t long before Lisa’s business experience and entrepreneurial spirit was recognized and in 2005 voted to serve on the Board of Directors and elected Board President.
Lisa grew up in Cape Cod with five cats and now resides in Brookline. More recently, Lisa has owned and operated a successful international search firm focused on building sales leadership and teams for growth directed education technology companies located in Newton for the last 17 years.Sacchetti earned her M.S. in Human Resource Management from Northeastern and her B.A. in Psychology from Catholic University in addition to her academic focus on Entrepreneurship from the Olin School at Babson College.
Lisa was blessed to spend the last decade of her life with Tappan and Mr. Shakes, 2 rescued cats that recently passed away. Lisa still hears the pitter patter of furry feet throughout her home as an active Gifford Shelter foster parent and spends as much time as she can with her dog friend, Cooper.
Ann Gurka brings 20 years of shelter volunteer experience to the role of Shelter Operations Specialist. She worked as a volunteer animal caregiver at both MSPCA and the Alliance for Animals Cat Adoption Center prior to joining the Gifford community in 2004. After a year as a morning shift volunteer, she was invited to join the Gifford Board of Directors and served as Vice-president for seven years. Ann then took a few years off from the board while remaining an active volunteer. In 2015, she returned to the Board in the role of Shelter Operations Specialist. Ann’s major interests have always been animal welfare and shelter standards – improving the quality of care given to shelter animals and advocating for their well-being. She is excited to be turning her attention to these areas in her current board position.
In her years at Gifford, Ann has familiarized herself with national standards for animal sheltering, as well as state regulations for shelters. She has successfully obtained a number of grants to help pay for both the replacement of the old brick shelter building and veterinary care for the cats. She has participated in many fundraising events and coordinated the annual Silent Auction for a number of years. Her work at Gifford has always been fueled by the cats – seeing them transition from the hardships of being a stray to the safety and love of the shelter to happy permanent homes is her biggest reward.
Ann’s has a master’s degree in nursing and has both practiced and taught in the areas of critical care and cardiology. She currently does administrative work for her husband’s allergy practice. Her healthcare background has given her detailed knowledge of infection control and disease management, which she utilizes in working to keep the Gifford cats healthy.
Ann also has a strong love for nature and wildlife and has been a birder for many years. She trained as a volunteer naturalist for Mass Audubon, where she teaches Introduction to Birdwatching classes. She enjoys both national and international birding trips as well as spending time in nature locally at places like the Parker River NWR on Plum Island.
Dinneen oversees the marketing and communications for the shelter. With an MBA and over 25 years of experience in marketing, public relations, and communications her expertise greatly benefits the shelter
Dinneen’s love of cats began as a child, when she found a stray cat in her neighborhood that her family took in. Over the years, she continued to adopt pets and they were always considered members of the family. A few years ago Dinneen began volunteering at Gifford and has been involved in many aspects of the shelter.
Dinneen’s other experience in animal welfare include being a Volunteer District Leader for The Humane Society of the United States, where she serves as an ambassador working at the forefront to help advance animal protection in Massachusetts and across the country.
Dinneen has three cats, all rescues, including a Gifford alum.
DAVID SPECTOR — Treasurer
David Spector serves as Treasurer of the board. In this capacity, he works with the board to oversee the financial affairs of Gifford as well as to participate in other board matters. He has more than thirty years of banking and finance experience and is currently an executive with a large financial institution. He also brings ample non-profit experience to the role, having served on other boards and completing training to provide consulting to non-profit organizations.
David and his family have been involved in Gifford for many years and he has been volunteering weekly in the shelter since early 2017. Part of a family of animal lovers, the Spectors have 2 dogs and 2 adopted cats.
Dr. Jake Tedaldi has been treating Gifford cats since 2004. Dr. Tedaldi is a 1980 graduate of Harvard University and a 1990 graduate of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. He is certified to treat all animals. He is one of the few vets who will come to your home, driving to your doorstep in order to help with whatever ails your pet. Dr. Tedaldi also has surgical and medical privileges at a local animal hospital, allowing him to help with most cases that require such facilities. He has been seen on local and national television. He has a unique ability to treat scared and feral cats, and treats both the animals and the person in a gentle, calming demeanor. He joined the Gifford board in 2015 and we will benefit from his perspective and expertise.