Our Team

ERIC ROYAL – Shelter Manager 

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.

gavingGARVAN GILTINAN – Shelter Attendant

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.”

IMG_8930MARA WALTON – Shelter Attendant

Mara graduated from Clark University in May, 2015 with a degree in environment conservation and biology. Although originally from Carlisle, MA, she spends much of her time in Cambridge with her boyfriend and his two dogs. Despite what his dogs believe, cats have always been Mara’s favorite! She has had cats her entire life, which is why she was initially drawn to Gifford as a volunteer. Prior to Gifford, she volunteered at a small exotic animal sanctuary/zoo/shelter and worked with many different types of animals there. As animal welfare is her passion, Mara is looking to get her Master’s degree in animals and public policy and to continue working with animals in her career.

Staff Member Danna BaidaDANNA BAIDA – Administration and Marketing

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: giffordcats@giffordcatshelter.org or by mail: Ellen M. Gifford Cat Shelter, c/o Board of Directors, 30 Undine Rd., Brighton, MA 02135.


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.

DR. RACHEL GELLER – Vice President

Dr. Rachel S. Geller, Ed.D. is the vice president of the Gifford Cat Shelter. Previously, she served on the Board of Directors for three years, and prior to that was involved with the shelter as an ardent supporter. Rachel is also on the Board of Directors of the Marcus Maurice Foundation,  which provides care and comfort for homeless and abused cats.

Rachel is a Certified Humane Education Specialist through the Humane Society of the United States, and is a member of the Academy of Prosocial Learning. In addition, she is a contributing author/editor of the publication, “B’nai Mitzvot: An Ark Project.”  The Ark Project workbook implements a service-learning project focused on animal welfare for students preparing for their bar/bat mitzvahs. Rachel is also part of the Faith Outreach team of the HSUS.

She participated as a panelist in HSUS’s Cat Behavior and Retention Course and serves as a cat behavior counselor for Gifford as well as the community. Rachel also created and led a nationwide webinar for the Association of Professional Educators (of which she is a member) entitled Activities For Inclusion. This webinar taught:

  • The benefits of including special need students as volunteers
  • How to prepare staff/site before bringing special needs students on campus
  • Activities that would be appropriate for special needs students
  • How to provide specific lesson plans
  • How to support them with the appropriate accommodations

Rachel is very involved in advocacy issues and caring for the vulnerable – whether this involves animals or people. She authored a state law, “An Act Protecting Nursing Home Residents”, which was signed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick in 2010. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate honored Rachel with special Citations for “improving the lives of countless Massachusetts seniors.”Currently, she is working on legislation to protect the elderly from financial exploitation. To view Sally’s Law Victory video click here. In addition, Rachel is the chairperson of the Marketing and Communications Committee at Congregation Mishkan Tefila.

An avid sports enthusiast, Rachel enjoys running, golfing and attending Red Sox games. She has run – and finished! – 11 Boston Marathons. For ten Boston Marathons, Rachel ran for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute as a fundraiser and raised over $30,000 for cancer research. She has also played in charity golf tournaments and has won trophies for “Longest Drive” and “Closest to the Pin.”

For twenty years, Rachel was the Behavioral Specialist in the Waltham Public Schools. She has two Maine Coon cats, to whom she is unhealthily attached. Both of her cats were not only shelter rescue cats, but were ferals. Rachel spent hours every day domesticating them for three months, and has been richly rewarded with two of the most affectionate and loving cats!


Christine K. Quinby was appointed Treasurer of the Gifford Animal Shelter in 2012. As a Board Director, she is part of the team that develops and implements the shelter’s overall goals and mission. Christine is also responsible for directing the shelter’s financial management, maintaining required reporting and regulatory compliance, overseeing the investment portfolio and partnering with program staff in development of grant proposals. She has an extensive background in financial management, most recently as Chief Financial Officer at a major Boston law firm.  Her focus has been on improving financial and operating procedures while adhering to sound financial accounting principles.

After more than 20 years in the financial management arena, Christine left in 2011 to study garden and landscape design under the internationally-known, award-winning British designers Robin Templar Williams and Moira Farnham. Through their program, she learned the principles of exceptional design for both private homes and public gardens.  She is now a Certified Landscape Designer and the principal designer and founder of Into the Garden Landscape Design, located in Natick, MA.

In March of 2013, her team designed and created a show garden for the New England Flower Show. The design won multiple awards including the New England Association of Professional Landscape Designers Award and the Landscape Design Council of the Garden Club Federation of MA, Inc. Award.

Christine earned her bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University, her master’s degree from Catholic University and her Design Certificate from the Garden Design School UK. She is a member of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, the New England Wildflower Society and the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.

On a personal level, Christine has volunteered and donated to a variety of causes including the New England Home for Little Wanderers, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Cradles to Crayons, the Greater Boston Food Bank, Rosie’s Place and the Pine Street Inn. She has one adopted cat named Hugo and is happily in the process of adopting her newest cat, Ursula, from the Gifford Shelter.

AnneGurkaANN GURKA – Director, Shelter Operations Specialist

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.

DSC03426 (1) copyDINNEEN GRABLY – Director, Volunteer Liaison

Dinneen spearheads Gifford’s largest asset – its volunteers.  She acts as a liaison between the Gifford Volunteer community and the Board of Directors, and ensures the volunteers are properly trained, engaged, appreciated and listened to.

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.

Then a few years ago, Dinneen and her husband found a stray black cat, which they took into their home.  This inspired Dinneen to help other stray cats in the Boston area and she found Gifford Cat Shelter.  She began volunteering at Gifford and has been involved in many aspects of the shelter and its operations.   Dinneen has been “in the trenches” at the shelter and understands first-hand the roles and duties of Gifford volunteers.

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.

In her professional experience, spanning more than 25 years, Dinneen has excelled in helping companies and organizations expand, grow, and create change.  She is currently a communications coach and trainer helping managers, CEOs and executives become comfortable, confident and effective speakers.

In addition, Dinneen lived and worked abroad for over 5 years, she holds an MBA and has extensive experience in business management, marketing, international relations and business development.

jaketedaldiDr. JAKE TEDALDI – Director, Veterinary Medicine

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.


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