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Meet the staff

Rachel McCrystal – Executive Director

Rachel came to Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in 2014 as the organization’s first Development Director. She led the campaign to move the Sanctuary to its new location in 2015 and has mentored and managed all of the external relations for the organization. Prior to that, Rachel served in senior leadership positions at Best Friends Animal Society and the Pennsylvania SPCA. Her move into the role of Executive Director in April of 2017 cements a decade long career in service to animal rights and rescue.

Before her nonprofit career, Rachel was a journalist and a ballroom dancer. She volunteers with many rescue and vegan groups, including doing humane education alongside her adored rescued pit bull, Mazzy.

Jeff Lydon – Managing Director

Jeff comes to Woodstock Farm Sanctuary with more than 20 years of senior management experience, previously serving as the Executive Director of Farm Sanctuary, VegFund Inc., and Tompkins SPCA. He served as the Interim Executive Director of the Sanctuary for a year and a half before taking on the role of Managing Director in April of 2017, managing all Sanctuary operations and continuing his career in animal rights leadership.

Jeff is a certified leadership coach and consultant and holds a master’s degree in education with a concentration in humane education. He has published regularly on animal advocacy and other social justice issues and frequently presents at related conferences. Jeff lives with his wife, children, cats, and dogs, and enjoys playing the drums in his spare time.

Hervé Breuil – Shelter Director

A long-time animal lover, Hervé has been fighting for animal rights both in France and the United States for many years. Before moving to New York to join our team as an animal caregiver, he was the Campaign Manager for the French animal rights organization L214, which now he sits on the board of. He has lived in a number of places in both countries and when he hasn’t been employed in the animal advocacy field, he has used his bi-lingual talents for work – teaching English in France and French in the United States in both public and private schools. Hervé has also used his teaching experience to lead tours as a Humane Educator at the Sanctuary on the weekends.

Since joining Woodstock Sanctuary in 2012, Hervé has developed a deep bond with our rescued residents. His love for animals is fulfilled by the hands-on time he spends tending to our residents, observing and understanding their behavior, researching and working with vets and prosthetists to create and implement the best care and treatment protocols, and overseeing our team of caregivers.

Purvi Natarajan – Accounting and HR Manager

purvi-staffPurvi joined the Woodstock family in July 2015 as the Accounting and Human Resources Manager. She studied at the University of Albany and has more than 15 years of experience working as a CPA with companies like American Express, Goldman Sachs, and Tishman Speyer Properties. Purvi also lived in Europe for three years where she learned to speak French, adding to her language repertoire which includes Gujrati (an Indian dialect) and English. She came back stateside to spend more time with her family and now resides in Kingston, NY.

 

 

 

Susan Mannella – Administrative Manager

suemA week before Thanksgiving 2012, Susan went to the Albany VegFest where she intended to learn about the health and environmental benefits of going vegetarian. While there, she ended up attending a lecture where her eyes were opened to the horrors of factory farming and the wondrous individuality of animals of every species (not just canines like her beloved dog, Zoey Belle). She was instantly transformed.

Six months later, Susan experienced another talk about veganism and felt intensely motivated to begin making a difference in the lives of farmed animals. While perusing the Sanctuary website for volunteer opportunities, Susan stumbled across the Administrative Assistant position. Her previous experience in the field made Susan the perfect fit for the job, and she has become an indispensable member of the Sanctuary family.

Susan is constantly busy with all the administrative details that keep Woodstock Sanctuary running and we’d be lost without her. She lives locally with Zoey and her two rescued cats, Zephyr and Mischief.

Jess Davis – Programs Manager

jdd-clydeJess has a background working in and for environment and social-justice focused nonprofit organizations, including PhillyCarShare in Philadelphia and Housing Works in NYC. She has always had a passion for working with animals and has volunteered at the Animal Refuge Kansai in Osaka, Japan all the way to the Wild Bird Fund in NYC.

She went vegan back in 2004 when she was studying at Temple University — hers was a cerebral journey from vegetarianism to veganism through reading many of the hallmark animal-rights works by authors such as Carol J. Adams, and listening to the Vegan Freaks podcast with Bob & Jenna Torres.

Jess was thrilled to join the staff of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in the summer of 2015 and combine her nonprofit background with her enduring belief in the inherent worth and dignity of both human and non-human beings. She is constantly amazed at the ever-increasing variety of artisanal vegan cheeses!

Alexandra Shea – Development Associate

From the age of eight, Alexandra knew she wanted to dedicate her life to advocating for animals. Her professional career began in Nairobi, Kenya, where she interned for Kenya Wildlife Service working with orphaned African wildlife. After receiving her degree in environmental studies, Alexandra sought out a career that would allow her to combine her love of animals and the drive to inspire activism for them. Believing in the mission of sanctuaries wholeheartedly, she was so excited to join the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary staff in 2017.

Alexandra has held a lifelong connection to animals, learning about different species, volunteering for rescues, and protesting circuses when given the opportunity. She is passionate about the synthesis of natural science and animal rights and hopes to earn her doctorate in animal psychology to advocate for the rescue and ethical conservation of animals everywhere.

Outside of work, you can find Alexandra reading about elephants, running a trail, or watching The Office all over again.

Aubrey Fitzpatrick – Database and Office Administrator

Aubrey began her journey as an animal activist at 9 years old, when she made the decision to go vegetarian. While studying for her dual bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology, she was an active member of Animal Rights Association. While surrounded by other animal lovers, Aubrey learned about the suffering inherent to all forms of animal agriculture and knew she had to go vegan.

After graduating from college, Aubrey spent a year volunteering through AmeriCorps NCCC, where she took every opportunity to help out every horse sanctuary, no-kill animal shelter, and wildlife rehabilitation center she could find. When the program came to an end, she knew an internship at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary would be the perfect way to continue advocating for animals. She is so excited to now work here full-time!

Aubrey is also pursing her Masters of Public Administration, to help her build a career advocating for animal rights in the nonprofit sector. In her free time, you can find her reading, travelling, and cuddling turkeys.

 

Stephanie Nardi-Cyrus – Animal Caregiver

Stephanie has preferred non-human animals since a young age. She made the connection between diet and animal welfare at 14 years old, when she became a vegetarian. At 19, after a talk at a college animals rights club, she was happily converted to veganism. Since that time, she has become a Registered Dietitian, and more recently, a Licensed Veterinary Technician, all to further the cause of taking animals off our plates and putting them into our hearts.

Stephanie is a Connecticut native, now living in the Hudson Valley with her husband, Nate, rescue dogs, Bear and Salem, and an elderly cat named June. She dabbles in yoga, feminism, and environmentalism, but can often just be found reading a book in the grass.

Andie Springirth – Animal Caregiver, Humane Educator

Andie has a background teaching English as a Second Language to immigrants, refugees, and foreign government personnel. Her love of languages and language-related issues inspired her to move to NYC to pursue her master’s degree studying linguistic anthropology and social justice activism.

She has always had a passion for working with nonhuman animals, volunteering for various rescue groups and animal advocacy organizations over the years, and went vegan in 2015 after learning about the exploitation involved in modern agricultural practices. She was overjoyed to join the Woodstock team in 2017, where she gets to teach others about farmed animal issues and introduce so many people to our animal ambassadors.

When she’s not speaking, reading, or writing about social justice issues, Andie is managing two feral cat colonies in the Bronx, where she resides with her husband and four rescue kitties: Harry, Lloyd, Miss Tilli, and Herman.

Lila Weisbrot – Animal Caregiver

From a very young age, Lila has been passionate about animal advocacy. She made the connection between diet and animal welfare early on and became a vegetarian at just 9 years old.

Lila is a licensed veterinary technician and did her graduate studies in Animal Behavior and Conservation at Hunter College before joining the Woodstock Sanctuary caregiving team in 2014. Her previous work focused on companion animal advocacy but she always had a passion for farmed animals. She was thrilled to find a place where she could work with these species and help to give them a voice.

When not on the farm, Lila enjoys hiking, rowing, and exploring the rich vegan cuisine of the Hudson Valley. She lives with her husband, Ryan, and two goofy cats.

Diana Martins – Animal Caregiver

As a licensed veterinary technician, Diana knew she wanted to work with animals for the rest of her life, but to also be an advocate for them. Diana started in 2018 as an intern at the Sanctuary, and shortly after, she was hired as a full time animal caregiver.

Although she loved working in a hospital setting with small animals, Diana’s lifetime goal was to end up at a sanctuary where she could take care of the animals that were effected by the food industries.

Diana lives in a tiny house in Highland with her 2 cats. She enjoys listening to music, reading, writing, and art. When she’s not at the Sanctuary, you can find her out in nature, trying every vegan friendly restaurant out there, and practicing yoga.

Brooke Burbee – Animal Caregiver

After spending the last 11 years in NYC working as one of the city’s top stylists, Brooke decided to make the move upstate in order to dedicate her life to caring for and advocating for animals.

The journey started in 2015 while volunteering at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, where she met Elvis and was told about his rescue story.  He was just a baby, destined to become veal, and thankfully saved from the dairy industry. It was on that day she decided to go vegan.  She was and continues to be inspired everyday by the animals’ resilience and ability to accept love after the horrors they had endured at the hands of humans.

In her free time, you will probably find her hanging out in the cow pasture with Elvis and the rest of the herd.  Sometimes her rescue pup, George, will even make an appearance, most likely barking at the fence line.

Casandra Fitzpatrick – Animal Caregiver

Casandra grew up in Long Island, NY, but even from a young age, she knew she wanted to live on a farm one day. After realizing that her moral beliefs weren’t aligning with her actions, her strong love for animals drove her to go vegan at age 17.

A year later, Casandra followed her dream and moved upstate to start interning at the Sanctuary. As soon as she got there, she instantly fell in love with the animals and the incredible community that had been built there. This is when she realized that working with animals and advocating for their rights is something she wants to do for the rest of her life. She started working towards earning her Veterinary Technician license, which she is still in the process of, and then applied for a caregiver job at the farm!

When she isn’t working or doing school work, Casandra can be found jamming on the guitar, writing stories, testing vegan dessert recipes or blasting music while driving around aimlessly in the mountains.

Sarah Kennedy – Humane Educator

Combining her passions for animal rights and education, Sarah joined the Woodstock humane education team in 2018. During the week, Sarah studies and teaches animal rights rhetorics and place/tourism rhetorics as a Ph.D. student, but she spends her weekends showing Woodstock Sanctuary’s visitors how to hug a turkey.

Sarah transitioned to veganism in 2017 from long-time vegetarianism after adopting her two incredible cats and reading more about animal rights with the goal of becoming a better advocate for companion animal rescue and welfare. Recognizing all animals, including dairy cows and egg-laying chickens, are individuals who deserve to live out their natural lives in the comfort afforded to the feline loves of her life, Possum and Soren, Sarah became a vegan and activist for farmed animals as well.

Sarah, Possum, and Soren live in Troy, NY, where they are currently collaborating on her dissertation and blinking slowly at each other.

Lauren Jones – Humane Educator

From an early age, Lauren knew she had a very strong connection with nonhuman animals, and at 15 years of age became vegetarian after forming a close bond with a pair of chickens.

Always passionate for making this a better world for nonhuman animals, Lauren, a practicing podiatrist, went back to college in 2003 and earned a BS in Veterinary Technology, working part time as a Licensed Veterinary Technician in an equine practice for several years.

In 2009, after a visit to Woodstock Farm Sanctuary,  Lauren made the decision to embrace veganism and follow her heart, volunteering as a Humane Educator at a local animal shelter/sanctuary. With the strong desire to learn, she again returned to school in 2016, and is presently pursuing a graduate certificate degree in Humane Education through the Institute for Humane Education.

Lauren began working as a Humane Educator at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary for the 2018 season. For her, being a part of the awesome work being done here, is truly a dream come true.