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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

IMG_4683Jeff 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.

Katherine Keefe – Shelter Director

kathBorn and raised in rural Massachusetts, Kathy is one of nine children and has always had an affinity for animals and the woods. After meeting an amazing cow, her eyes were opened to the suffering of other beings and she became vegetarian at 14 years old.

After living in California, where Kathy cared for stray cats and any other creature that crossed her path, she moved back to the Northeast and settled in Woodstock, New York. When she started volunteering at a local sanctuary and fell in love with a draft horse named Ted, she knew she had found her one true purpose in life — to save and care for as many animals as possible. Kathy immediately went vegan and spent years volunteering and working as Farm Manager at Catskill Animal Sanctuary.

She now works as Shelter Director at the Sanctuary, where she manages the team of Caregivers and ensures all animal residents are provided with top-of-the-line medical care and treatment. In her free time, Kathy can be found reading a good book or hiking in the Catskill Mountains.

purvi-staffPurvi Natarajan – Accounting and HR Manager

Purvi 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 – Office 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 Gary Francione and 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!

Andie Springirth – 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.

Chrissy Pawlak – Development Manager

Prior to joining Woodstock in 2015, Chrissy spent the first few years of her career in Finance and Consulting. She grew up loving all animals, so learning the truth behind the animal agriculture industry was a sobering shock that left Chrissy feeling increasingly unfulfilled in her corporate job. Knowing there is so much work to be done on behalf of animals, particularly farmed animals, she left the business world and to pursue a career doing just that. She’d been following Woodstock Farm Sanctuary for a few years, so a leading farmed animal sanctuary with an amazing team of passionate advocates that was also close to home was naturally the perfect fit.

Outside of work, loves to cook delicious vegan food for friends and family and opening their eyes to the ease and benefits of living a compassionate lifestyle.

Ashley Nester – Marketing & Communications Manager

Ashley
Before joining the Woodstock family, Ashley held marketing positions in the publishing and higher education fields. Although great jobs, she continuously found herself feeling uninspired in her work. Growing up an animal-lover, she realized that she needed to work towards something she was passionate about, something that gave her purpose. That’s when she quit the corporate world to work at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary and pursue her true career path — making a difference in the lives of animals. She joined the team in 2016 and brings with her expertise in advertising, marketing, and public relations.

In her free time, Ashley volunteers with therapy dogs and enjoys being outdoors with her rescue pup, Taurus.

Eric – Development AssistantEric & Clyde hat

Eric joined the Woodstock Sanctuary team in April of 2016. He previously worked as software developer in San Francisco and near Seattle and is looking forward to using those skills for animal advocacy and other ethical causes. He is amazed by the rescued animals’ resilience and willingness to trust in the sanctuary caregivers, staff, and visitors alike, given the often brutal conditions from which they were rescued. Their ability to live in the moment has been an inspiration to Eric and is something he is striving to implement in his own life.

Dawnell Kilbourne – Animal Caregiver

dawnell-maybeDawnell came to us with experience working for an animal refuge, as well as part-time in the library system for 20 years. She relocated all the way from Yellow Springs, Ohio to work at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. If you visit, you’ll recognize her as the tiny lady in the cap faithfully followed around by her dog, Maisy. All of the animals seem to appreciate her quiet grace and, if you take a moment to watch her with them, you can feel the love going both ways.

On top of her job, Dawnell is an artist and sculpts and paints. She also enjoys exploring the area on her motorcycle.

Hervé Breuil – Animal Caregiver

herve-staffOriginally from France, Hervé moved to the Woodstock area to work at the Sanctuary as a Caregiver.  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.

A long-time animal lover, Hervé has been fighting for animal rights both in France and the United States for many years. Notably, he was the Campaign Director for L214 in France.  He now uses that know-how and spreads the word about the Sanctuary, veganism and animal rights. The depth of Herve’s love for animals is fulfilled both by the hands-on time he spends tending to the residents of Woodstock, and by the time he spends away from the farm, educating the public about the plight of farmed animals everywhere.

Gabriella Desantis – Animal Caregiver

GabriellaGabriella has loved animals from a young age and was inspired to go vegetarian at just 15 years old. While watching a television show about the treatment of marine life across seas, she realized that treating animals with kindness and compassion shouldn’t be dependent on one’s culture or viewpoint. She went vegetarian that evening, and just a short two years later went vegan after learning about the dairy and egg industries.

In addition to being a full-time caregiver at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, Gabriella regularly campaigns in NYC and other cities as an activist with various animal rights groups. She continues to be an effective advocate and hopes to continue changing the way people view animals raised for food.

She loves a good slice of vegan pizza and always has her two dog companions, Aiden and Junior, by her side.

Todd Friedman – Animal Caregiver

ToddTodd has worked various jobs, everything from a snowboard instructor in Aspen to an owner of bagel shops in Connecticut and New York. It wasn’t until he moved back to his hometown in Northern New Jersey to open his own printing company that he heard of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary and realized his one true passion—animals.

Todd began volunteering regularly at the Sanctuary in 2014. After managing his print shop all week, he would make the trip from New Jersey to spend every weekend with the animals. Shortly afterwards, he went vegan.

When offered a Caregiver position, Todd sold his printing business without hesitation to pursue the job he truly loves. He now resides in High Falls with his two dogs, Floyd and Lyle, and can often be found in the pig barn giving Andy lots of kisses.

Laura Angerman – Animal Caregiver

After earning her bachelor’s degree in fine arts, Laura came to intern at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in 2016 and found her dream job. She has always held a strong commitment and desire to work with animals, but things really clicked for her when she discovered what a farm sanctuary was.

In her free time, Laura enjoys drawing and painting her animal friends from the Sanctuary, as well as spending time caring for her own animal friends, Ingrid the parrot and Bernie the bunny. She also enjoys trying new vegan restaurants and generally orders at least two desserts…because who says you have to make a choice?

Laura has a special connection with birds and hopes to someday start a sanctuary of her own for abandoned and neglected companion parrots.

Sanctuary Sustainer 2017