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Staff & Leadership

Our Staff


Karen Aseltine

Feline Medical and Behavior Manager

Karen Aseltine

Novice Master Chef
Specializing In Cuisine Featuring The Finest Cat Hairs

In addition to providing daily loving care for the cats at the Sanctuary, Karen also helps promote our cats for adoption and organizes the medical records and animal care data for all the Sanctuary cats. Karen is a Certified Cat Behavior Counselor and serves as our resident “kitty psychologist”.

Best Things in Life: bicycles, scented candles, gummy bears, warm summer nights
Could Easily Live Without: snow days, paper cuts, family members who complain about my cooking.


Lucas Brozyna

Sanctuary Canine and Feline Caregiver

Lucas Brozyna

Canine/Feline Night Life Specialist

By day, Lucas provides daily care of the dogs at the Sanctuary. By night he becomes our evening concierge when most folks go home. He welcomes the “Tuck-In” shift of volunteers who spend the evenings at the Sanctuary and lends a helping hand to make sure that all goes well with the animals during the evening and until the morning shift arrives.

Best things in life: spending time outdoors, bike rides, and disc golf.

Could easily live without: bad drivers, cold weather, and poor grammar.

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Mark Heinrich

Finance Director

Mark Heinrich

General Manager for all great sports; Hockey, Baseball, Tennis

Mark is responsible for all things financial, with a dose of electronic process improvement. Working with talented animal lovers Mark makes training a part of the Our Companions culture!

Best things in life:
Family and friends at Lake Sunapee, NH. Anything outside. Any sporting event: anywhere – anytime!

Could easily live without: Commercials and taxes.

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Briana Keating

Sanctuary Feline Caregiver

Briana Keating

Cat Wannabe

Briana works hard every day cleaning, feeding, caring for, and of course loving, the cats in our care, in her efforts to someday become a cat herself.

Best Things in Life: fries, autumn, concerts, stephen king, ben & jerrys, and road trips 

Could Easily Live Without: bugs, football, needles, chocolate, country music, and traffic 


Krystal Makowski

Canine Medical and Behavior Manager

Krystal Makowski

Famous Decorator for the Furry and Captain of Canine Cuteness

Krystal specializes in overseeing the medical care and behavioral needs of all the dogs at the Sanctuary. When she’s not fixing minor boo-boo’s or coordinating with veterinarians to provide extensive treatment and therapies, she’s developing training plans to make for the most polite pooches. Krystal is our make-you-feel better, in mind and body, staffer at the Sanctuary.

Best Things in Life: All things sparkly, Photography, Mac and Cheese, shopping

Could Easily Live Without: Hitting my funny bone -the irony is too much

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Stephanie Montemerlo

Director of Programs

Stephanie Montemerlo

Can Solve Anything With A Spreadsheet & A Cat In Her Lap

Stephanie is responsible for the oversight and development of all of Our Companions' rescue, adoption and educational programs, yet still finds time to perfectly coordinate her purple and pink attire.

Best Things in Life:  Family, home, pasta, reading, traveling and animals of course!

Could Easily Live Without: Snow and cold weather

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Lindsey Pellino

Feline Volunteer Manager

Lindsey Pellino

Professional Cat Lady

Lindsey, as our top cat-to-person translator, manages, trains, and oversees the volunteers who give all our feline guests much needed TLC.

Best Things in Life: bike rides, hot sauce, lipstick, reading on a hammock

Could Easily Live Without: mosquitos, cold weather, my own clumsiness

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Ashley White

Sanctuary Canine Caregiver

Ashley White

Sanctuary Dogaholic

Ashley loves a challenge, and is always up to help the most troubled dog blossom into a perfect pup. Her work with the dogs, as well as keeping the cottages in tip top shape, is essential in making the sanctuary a success.

Best Things in Life: Dogs, My husband and son, Summer days, hiking, books, tea, milk chocolate, my heating pad

Could Easily Live Without: Spiders, winter, TV, having to cook or go grocery shopping

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Heather Wildman

Adoption Program and Social Media Manager

Heather Wildman

Media Mutt Marketer

Heather manages OC’s adoption program which includes inquiries, adoption cases, and promotional materials. She also handles OC’s social media accounts and media outlets to showcase our adoptable animals looking for their special someone!

Best Things in Life: Mountain adventures, purple hair dye, Indian food, sunbathing with some furry friends, front row at a concert, and laughing until your stomach hurts.

Could Easily Live Without: Stubbing your toe and the feeling of having something stuck in your teeth.

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Edie Bonneville

Helpline Program Assistant

Edie Bonneville

Connoisseur of Organization,  Time Management Expert and Lover of Furry Things

Edie is an important cog in the Animal Helpline machine. She works with our dedicated team of Helpline volunteers to respond to calls for assistance and manage cases while always flashing a mega-watt smile that brightens everyone's day.

Best things in life:   Family, big smiles, nature and all its miracles, books, a good belly laugh and the unconditional love of animals

Could easily live without:  TV, bills, traffic jams and lima beans


Caroline Gaetano

Director of Community Programs

Caroline Gaetano

Happiest In The WoodsWoman

When not in the woods, Caroline manages our Animal Helpline, rehoming cases, “Sterile Feral” TNR program, veterinary assistance programs and other community programs.


Best Things in Life: Fresh mountain air, hiking with dogs, my vacuum cleaner and chocolate

Could Easily Live Without: Glitter, bananas and snakes


Paul Johnson

Office Manager

Paul Johnson

Carrier Of Heavy Things

Paul is our “Point man, Go-to-guy, Mr. Get’er Done”. He organizes the office operations and makes sure that all business runs smoothly at Our Companions.


Best Things in Life: Classical music, craft beer, cartoons

Could Easily Live Without: Sports


Susan B. Linker

Chief Executive Officer

Susan B. Linker

Rampant Typo Maker, Daydreamer, & The Next Food Network Star

Susan is responsible for the oversight of Our Companions Animal Rescue and meeting the organization’s financial and operational goals. Like all CEOs, Susan is the proud recipient of all the public adulation and complaints. Thankfully the awesome staff at OC makes her job very easy.


Best Things in Life: Soft cat fur, Summer, Home,

Could Easily Live Without: Country Music

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Beth Merow

Canine Volunteer Manager

Beth Merow

Dog-Human Interaction Coordinator

Beth supervises the canine volunteer program, including training, scheduling, and engaging volunteers.

Best Things in Life: Pets, all things nature and wildlife, repurposing stuff into other neater stuff, nerding out on popular science books, and true crime podcasts 

Could Easily Live Without: Poison ivy, sunburn, and mayonnaise 

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Deanna Nickels

Canine College Program Manager

Deanna Nickels

Coach of Canines, Clients, & Those Who Train Them

Deanna runs Our Companion’s Canine College program which provides exceptional dog training classes offered by Our Companions volunteer dog trainers. Deanna also oversees our Adopt-a-Shelter Program which provides dog behavior and training services to local Animal Control facilities in our fine state.

Best Things in Life: hot fudge sundaes, teaching dogs new tricks, sunshine, gardening, family and friends

Could Easily Live Without: snakes, cold weather and bad coffee 


Jon Phillips

Sanctuary Director

Jon Phillips

Doer, Fixer, Maker, Helper

When it comes to our beautiful Sanctuary in Ashford, CT, Jon is the Top Dog, the Head Cat, the Big Cheese! Or, more simply put, he is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Sanctuary, and all the people who make this lovely refuge possible for the animals we serve.


Best Things in Life: Watching TV on the couch with my wife and assorted furballs, all things musical

Could Easily Live Without: Reality TV

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Taylor Brown

Sanctuary Canine Caregiver

Taylor Brown

Canine Fun Coordinator

Whether play time, training time, walking time, or snuggle time, it’s always a good time for Taylor and her pooch pals.

Best things in life: my dog, fall, hiking, travel, pine trees.

Could easily live without: cold weather, paper cuts.


Sara Geriak

Sanctuary Feline Caregiver

Sara Geriak

Professional Cat Concierge

Sara is especially well trained (by the cats, of course) to provide personalized loving care including special activities and meaningful routines for all cats at the Sanctuary.

Best Things in Life: My dog Sam, Autumn, books, music, strawberries

Could Easily Live Without: Spiders, and tuition expenses


Marie Joyner

Canine Operations Director

Marie Joyner

Was A Dog In A Past Life

Marie oversees “all things canine” at both the Ashford Sanctuary and our Valerie Friedman Program Center.


Best Things in Life: In the woods with the dogs, The Maine Cabin, Hound Hugs

Could Easily Live Without: Social Media

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Bree Lowrey

Canine Behavior Assistant & Sanctuary Canine and Feline Caregiver

Bree Lowrey

"Dog Nerd" and "Cat Observer"

Whether at her sanctuary night shift, reading books, or on the go working with our Adopt-a-Shelter dogs, Bree is always searching to learn more about dogs. Working in various programs at Our Companions, she strives to help dogs and dog owners succeed. 

Best things in life: woods, trees, rocks, mountains, music, food, and dogs.

Could easily live without: technology and crowded places.

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Mary Moffitt

Sanctuary Canine Caregiver

Mary Moffitt

Dog Snuggler

In addition to feeding, cleaning, walking, playing and delivering the dog specific treatment plans for each dog at the Sanctuary, Mary’s specialty is hugs, kisses, snuggling and all things that make the dogs feel warm and gooey inside like fresh baked cookies!

Best Things in Life: Unconditional love!
Could Easily Live Without: Anxiety, stress and tons of shepherd hair

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Laurie Noriega

Sanctuary Feline Caregiver

Laurie Noriega

Personal Assistant to The Sanctuary V.I.C.s (Very Important Cats)

Laurie is ever at the beck and call of the sanctuary cats. Whatever the need, whatever the job, nothing is too good for our special kitties.

Best Things in Life: Family, all animals, swimming, Oregon Ducks, camping, sunshine and roller coasters

Could Easily Live Without:  Spiders and insects that bite


Jennifer Strong

Sanctuary Canine Caregiver

Jennifer Strong

Dog's Best Friend

Jennifer works at the Sanctuary’s Canine Cottages providing loving care, exercise, nutritious food and downright spoiling every single dog at the sanctuary. She is also our unofficial Canine Defense Legal Counsel advocating and defending all dog behavior (naughty and nice). Torn up doggie bed? Your fault not Buster's- case closed!


Best Things in Life: Disney World, Halloween, The Drive-in Movies (yes they still exist!), Dogs (of course), Spending time with my husband and our fur kids, Christmas movies!

Could Easily Live Without: Snakes and Spiders


It is our pleasure to welcome our Board of Directors. While this diverse group of individuals offers a myriad of skills and expertise, they share a common bond: a deep commitment to the mission of Our Companions Domestic Animal Sanctuary. We look forward to many accomplishments through the dedication of our new leadership.


Maria das Neves - Board Chair
Risa Davidson, M.S. - Secretary
Maneesh Shanbhag, CFA - Treasurer


Pat Foley - West Hartford, CT
Valerie Friedman - Washington Depot, CT
Frank Gaetano, CPA (Licensed in MA, CT, NY, and NJ) - Grafton, MA
Marie Joyner - Union, CT
Mitchell H. Linker - Bloomfield, CT
Susan B. Linker - Bloomfield, CT
George Trumbull - West Simsbury
Kim Zimmermann - Farmington, CT
Adam Zweifler, Esq. - West Hartford, CT


Janet Bailey - Farmington, CT
Colleen Bridgeman - Willington, CT
Jessica Beganski - West Hartford, CT
Jennifer Coffey - West Hartford, CT
Sharon Flannery-West Hartford, CT
Diana Garfield, Esq. – Acton, MA
Linda Hatten - Farmington, CT
Lisa Holzwarth - Weston, CT
Leigh Ann Kissner, CPA - West Hartford, CT
Anne Llewellyn - Enfield, CT
Kerri Mansberg - Ashford, CT
Lauren Mascola, D.V.M. - West Hartford, CT
Joleen Nevers – Storrs, CT
Barbara Ruben - Middletown, CT
Damon Scott - Essex, CT
Chris Shivery - Avon, CT
Kathy Sullivan - Bloomfield, CT
Jamila Viandier - Stafford Springs, CT
James Wakim - Old Saybrook, CT