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Meet the staff

Rachel McCrystal – Executive Director

Rachel has been at Woodstock Sanctuary for five years, first as the Development Director and as the Executive Director since 2017. She led the campaign to move the Sanctuary to its new location in 2015. Rachel has volunteered for and worked at various animal rights, conservation, and sheltering organizations over the last 15 years with a focus on development, marketing, campaigns, and strategic planning. She’s most proud of the team and collaborative environment at Woodstock Sanctuary.

Before her nonprofit career, Rachel was a journalist and ballroom dancer. She lives near the Sanctuary with her partner John and several companion animals. You are most likely to find her in the sheep pasture.

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.

Kirstie Kimball – Development Director

Kirstie has spent her life fundraising for political campaigns, advocacy efforts, animal rescue, and universal health care. She has lived around the United States, believing that travel is the best way to understand your country. She is passionate about the intersections between social justice movements and has dedicated herself to building a better world. She has been vegan since 2014 and believes veganism is the funnest (and most delicious!!) boycott you can be a part of. Kirstie came to Woodstock Farm Sanctuary because she believes the work of tying veganism to other social justice movements is vital, culture changing work. She hopes to see slaughter abolished in her lifetime and actively works to this goal.

As a fundraiser, she believes when we unite around a cause, we can topple even the most challenging problems facing our society and build enough power to create change. When not at the Sanctuary, Kirstie obsessively reads, bakes, snuggles her dogs, and door knocks for causes she believes in. For donation opportunities (or just really good vegan quiche recipes), you can email her at kirstie@woodstocksanctuary.org.

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 – Education Manager

suemA week before Thanksgiving 2012, Susan went to the Albany VegFest where they intended to attend a lecture about the myths of soy.  As a lactose-intolerant individual (read as: not a baby cow) who was also an avid rugby player, they were consuming large amounts of soy-based proteins and being inundated with conflicting information about the plant’s effects on human health. (Spoiler alert: soy is perfectly safe to eat). While at the VegFest, they ended up also attending a lecture where their eyes were opened to the horrors of factory farming, including its devastating effects on the environment and the wondrous individuality and sentience of animals of every species (not just our beloved dogs and cats). They were instantly transformed, and have thrived on a plant-based diet ever since.  Susan joined the Sanctuary family in 2013 and has grown with the Sanctuary over the years.  As the Education Manager, they are doing what many thought to be impossible: using their Philosophy degree in their career. They also enjoy sarcasm and we probably shouldn’t have let them write their own bio.

Jess Davis – Programs Manager

Jess 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!

Lizz DeFeo – Marketing & Communications Manager

Before working at Woodstock Sanctuary, Lizz spent eight years in New York City completing her degree in International Trade and Marketing and kicking off her career. Starting with the food and beverage industry, Lizz dabbled in various areas including assisting fashion stylists in photoshoots, organizing model casting and runway production for NYFW, developing marketing content for wallpaper designers and lighting brands, and possibly her quirkiest job: being in production for Charles Schulz’s Peanuts — yes, as in Snoopy! Throughout the variety of her work, one thing remained a constant: her veganism. Lizz has been vegan for 10 years and believes it was one of the best decision’s of her life. As Woodstock’s Marketing & Communications Manager, one of the many parts of Lizz’s job is social media — she loves to watch the nonprofit’s advocacy grow and make such an impact on so many lives every day. The best part of it? Having the staff dance in Boomerang videos — anything for the likes, right? For all press and media inquiries, you can contact Lizz at lizz@woodstocksanctuary.org.

 

Aubrey Fitzpatrick – Grants & Data Associate

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, traveling, and cuddling turkeys.

Leigh Goldstein – Hospitality Coordinator

Leigh has been vegan for eight years and is so excited to align her passion for the animal rights movement with her professional skillset. With 12 years of experience in hospitality, nonprofit work, and small business development, Leigh believes strongly in the Sanctuary’s mission to connect the AR movement to other social justice movements in a holistic way. Working to strengthen and unite justice reforms across all movements is what drives her.

Leigh’s goal is to not only help create a comfy, beautiful space for people to fall in love with farmed animals, but to make plant-based food very accessible and familiar as The Gray Barn’s Hospitality Coordinator.

Outside of The Gray Barn, Leigh is working toward a friendship with Dolly the llama and bonding with the other residents. She loves spending time with Atlas, her 2-year old rescued Dutch Shepherd, and she enjoys making jewelry and taking full advantage of the outdoor life in the Hudson Valley.

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.

Daniel Howard – Animal Caregiver

After college Dan spent two years working in the field of 3-D animation until he decided he no longer wanted to sit in front of a computer for the rest of his life, so he joined a volunteer farming organization, working on farms in Spain, Vermont, and Oregon. The last farm was a farm where Dan saw how cruel raising animals for meat (even so-called free range and organic meat) really was.

Subsequently, Dan went back to school, and back to the East Coast, to receive his license in veterinary technology, volunteer in animal shelters, and work in a veterinary clinic. Though he found working at a veterinary hospital fascinating, he was lucky enough to discover his dream job not ten minutes from his home at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.

Outside the Sanctuary, Dan is usually at home with his wife Jamie and his cats Wren, Harper, and Khaleesi or outside in the garden with his chickens Hera, Artemis, Persephone, and Iris.

Scott Cuthell – Animal Caregiver

Before coming to Woodstock Sanctuary, Scott helped run a small legal education business that kept him on a phone and in front of a computer all day. Looking to spend more time enjoying the outdoors and hoping to pursue something he was more passionate about, he applied to be a Caregiving Intern at Woodstock. From his first day as an intern he knew he’d found the right place, and after spending time with the rescued residents one-on-one he made the decision to finally go fully vegan.

At the end of his internship he was thrilled to join the staff as a full-time Animal Caregiver, and now gets to spend his days working with all the incredible residents, while enjoying the Sanctuary’s beautiful natural surroundings. When he’s not busy with his caregiving responsibilities Scott can usually be found hanging with the goats and sheep, or sitting on top of a fence giving Mikey the cow some back rubs. Outside of work Scott enjoys listening to podcasts and records while experimenting with new additions to his repertoire of vegan recipes.

Lauren Lapierre – Animal Caregiver

Lauren grew up in Western MA always having a deep love for animals but not sure what to do with that passion. In college as a vegetarian, Lauren went vegan on Thanksgiving Day of her junior year after joining a vegan club and learning the truth about dairy and eggs. In the summer of 2014, Lauren did a caregiving internship at Woodstock Sanctuary which she considers a life-changing experience. She fell completely in love with caring for farmed animals and felt that finally, her passion and purpose came together. After Lauren finished school with a degree in Public Health, she went on to work at another sanctuary in a managing caregiving role for two years. Lauren spent some time traveling after that, making her way back to work at Woodstock Sanctuary, where she could not be happier to be. When not caregiving for the animals of Woodstock, Lauren enjoys spending time with her cat Meeko, trail running, and hiking.

Lindsay Mikus – Animal Caregiver

Lindsay has always had a passion for working with animals. After earning a BS in biology she worked various “odd jobs” until finally deciding to take the leap and attend veterinary school. She spent several years in companion animal private practice, but wanted a career more in line with her personal convictions. Woodstock Farm Sanctuary was the place that inspired her to choose vegan in October 2015 after over a decade of a vegetarian lifestyle; what better place to move forward?

When not at the farm Lindsay is with her children, Avery and Julian, and keeps involved in activism attending Save Movement events whenever possible. She loves traveling and has spent time living in the Caribbean and the UK. Lindsay enjoys nothing more than being out in nature, road trips and dancing (poorly). She also has a keen interest in holistic medicine, wellness care, nutrition, alternative therapies and hopes to implement more of this for the residents at the sanctuary.

 

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.