Meet the Executive and Managerial Staff

To reach a member of our staff, please address an email to the individual you would like to contact and submit to :

Executive Director
Gordon G. Willard

As our Executive Director, Gordon oversees the operation of the entire organization through his executive team, and when necessary, with hands on involvement. He is responsible for putting board approved initiatives into action and advancing the strategic plan and long term goals of our 137 year old organization. Gordon earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science from Cornell University and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Johns Hopkins University. People have often asked Gordon why he works to help animals rather than people. His response: “Suffering is suffering and so I choose to end it for our fellow animal travelers.”

Gordon is an active person who enjoys playing hockey, golf and throwing trees (Scottish Games). He also is an avid woodworker and plays the tuba. Gordon and his wife Val have a long history of rescue pet adoption.  

Chief Financial Officer
Carla Francalangia, CPA 

Carla is responsible for overseeing all financial aspects of the organization including the endowment, annual budget, accounts payable, accounts receivable and much more. CHS’ IT program also falls under Carla’s purview. Carla comes to CHS with a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Accounting and also an MBA from Babson College. Carla is a Certified Public Accountant. She was inspired to seek a position at CHS because of her deep love for her old dog Max, a German shepherd who she adopted from a friend. She was motivated to, “do what she could to help pets in need at one of the oldest animal welfare organizations in the country.”

Carla’s interests include travel both here and abroad. One of her most exciting trips was an African safari. When she’s not crunching numbers, Carla enjoys spending time with family and her newest four-legged rescue, Lupa, a white German shepherd.

Director of Development
Barbara Naugle, MS 

In her role as Director of Development, Barbara organizes and builds CT Humane’s capacity to raise funds, develops relationships with those who wish to help animals, and teaches us all the benefits of fundraising in order to maintain and grow our programs. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Eastern University and a Master’s in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy from Bay Path University. Barbara loves both cats and dogs and is “thrilled to be part of a team which connects for long lasting and meaningful relationships."

Barbara is an avid quilter and knitter, and a very amateur artist, and a baker. She enjoys all these activities in her spare time. Her family is completed by husband Chuck, daughter Sadie and their dog Penny.

Director of Operations
Theresa Geary

As the Director of Operations, Theresa is responsible for directing and overseeing the daily operations in all three of the adoption centers and the Fox Memorial Clinic. This includes animal care, pet intake, adoptions, medical care, behavioral care and facilities maintenance. Theresa earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Connecticut in Animal Science. Theresa has always had a connection to animals. As she progressed in her career, her empathy for homeless pets grew as they don’t have as many advocates as owned pets. She also developed a great deal of compassion for people who were either severing a bond with a pet or starting a bond; “both are important as they leave a lasting impact on the person and the pet.”

When Theresa is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and walking her dogs. Theresa shares her life with her three pets, a miniature poodle mix named Beatrice, a wire-haired Dachshund named Rascal and her Guinea pig, Mr. Pirate.

Director of Human Resources
Jennifer Adams, SHRM-SCP, SPHR 

As the Director of Human Resources, Jennifer is responsible for overseeing all aspects of employee relations, benefits, and payroll practices and procedures.  She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Jewish Near Eastern Studies from Washington University is St. Louis, MO.  Jennifer loves “helping employees realize their potential and seeing them grow and evolve in our organization."

Jennifer’s hobbies and interests include reading, cooking and learning about wine. She shares her life with her husband and two rescue dogs.

Assistant Director of Operations
Allyson Simerlein

As the Assistant Director of Operations, Allyson is responsible for assisting with directing and overseeing the daily operations of all three adoption centers and the Fox Memorial Clinic. Allyson comes to us with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Foundations of Animal Behavior from Franklin & Marshall College and over 13 years of animal shelter experience. Allyson knew she wanted to work with animals since she was a child and has experience in many animal related fields including wildlife conservation, birds of prey, and veterinary hospitals, but her passion is in animal rescue. It is not only her calling but gives her “the opportunity to have positive, profound and lasting effects on the lives of animals and people every day.”

Allyson shares her life with her husband, children and her beagle, Rocky (aka Rock, Rock-Man, Beagy, Bug, Buggy, Bugster, Buddy). In her leisure time, Allyson enjoys spending time with her family, jogging, embroidering anything and everything, and serving as an officer on the board for her sorority, Kappa Beta Gamma.  

Assistant Director of Development
Kerry Garofano, MS, CFRE

Kerry is part of the development team, responsible for grant writing as well as building individual, corporate, and foundation relationships along the Connecticut coastline. Kerry’s desire to work with animals developed early on when a neighbor struggling with too many pets lost her home. Her experience has shown her firsthand that there are many pathways to the animal welfare field, and her role is sharing the stories of how CT Humane works each and every day to save pets’ lives and engaging donors in becoming a part of this legacy. Kerry earned her Bachelors of Science in Biology at Union College, followed by a Masters in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts Veterinary School. She has since earned her Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential.

Kerry lives in Mystic with her husband Eric, dog Bailey (a CHS alum), and cats Coco and Junior. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the outdoors, competing in road races, and traveling.

Volunteer Manager
Melissa Zaluski  

Melissa is in charge of overseeing the volunteer program including recruiting, training, recognition efforts and more. She also assists with the coordination of independent service projects.  Melissa received a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Creative Writing from Colby College and has been certified in volunteer administration by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration. Melissa has been passionate about helping homeless animals since she was a child. At a young age, she held fundraisers and collections to benefit animal welfare groups. 

Melissa enjoys kayaking, hiking, reading and gardening. Melissa’s family is completed by husband Greg, cats Everest and Chuck, and dog Pepper…all CT Humane alumni.  

Marketing and Communications Manager
Susan Wollschlager

Susan joined the CHS team as the marketing and communications manager in September 2016, bringing a volunteer background in animal rescue and professional experience in news reporting and communications. Through her role at CHS, she shares the stories of pets in need and how others can make a difference, gives a (hopefully entertaining) voice to the critters on social media, and is getting closer to being an official cat lady. She graduated from Bucknell University in 2009 with a BSBA in management and double major in creative writing. Her lifelong love for animals led her to rescue cats as a youngster with help from her mom and, later, start the Animal Rescue Club at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull. At Bucknell, she served as president of the Students Helping Animals club, working with a cat shelter, a dog rescue, a horse rescue and a wildlife sanctuary.

She resides on the shoreline with her husband Mike and her cat Autumn and enjoys cooking, getting outside and spending time in Vermont.   

Development Manager
Priscilla Clark, MA, CFRE

As part of the Development team, Priscilla works with donors and corporations on partnerships and events. Priscilla has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Albertus Magnus College and a Master of Arts degree in Communications from Rhode Island College. Priscilla has always loved pets. When she saw all the hard work that goes into animal rescue after adopting two homeless cats in 1998, she became involved with the rescue group as a volunteer.

When Priscilla isn’t busy planning events, she enjoys hiking, visiting museums and volunteering for other causes close to her heart. Priscilla and her family enjoy the companionship of CHS alum, Simon the cat.

Community Outreach Manager
Elizabeth Merow

Elizabeth (Beth) is responsible for developing engaging educational and outreach programs that promote the vision and mission of the Connecticut Humane Society. Primary responsibilities include creating and delivering specialized training for animal welfare professionals, developing student and family humane education programming, and working with community partners to deliver community pet wellness and vaccine clinics. Beth has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Rhode Island and two Master’s Degrees; one from UConn in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and another from the University of Tulsa in Biological Sciences. A love of pets and wild animals from an early age led Beth to focus on a career in animal science. The best part of her job is the ability to make a positive and quick change in the lives of pets simply by sharing experiences, information, and resources in the community.

Beth’s hobbies include kayaking, camping, wildlife photography, reading and creatively repurposing stuff. She enjoys life with her husband Cory and three rescued pets, Henry, Artie, and cat Grrtie.

IT Manager
Anthony De Felice

Anthony’s primary responsibilities are managing all of the technology associated with running the Connecticut Humane Society and the Fox Memorial Clinic. This includes supporting all servers, computers, printers and the telephone system. He received certification in Computer Networking Technology from the Porter and Chester Institute in Rocky Hill. Anthony has always loved pets. In addition to working for CHS, He and his wife volunteer their time with PRONE (Pug Rescue of New England). They help with transports and temporary foster care for adoptable pugs.

Anthony enjoys technology so much that it is part of his private life as well. He is constantly learning about and testing new technology. When not in front of a computer, he spends his time boating and exploring the waterways of New England and Long Island Sound. Anthony also enjoys cooking and spending time with his family; completed by wife Lee and a Himalayan kitty named Mr. Miyagi. 

Assistant District Manager, Newington
Elizabeth Clavette  

Elizabeth has been with CT Humane for 20 years. In Newington, she proactively manages the daily animal care and other essential functions of the Pet Wellness and Adoption Center operation.  Prior to joining the Connecticut Humane Society, Elizabeth attended the Technical School of Animal Husbandry in Poland and had many years of experience with farm animals and as a zoo keeper. She has been an animal lover all her life and now takes pride in “helping unwanted pets, providing them with proper care and treatment and placing them in their forever homes.” In addition to her daily work with CHS, Elizabeth provides foster care for underage puppies.

Elizabeth enjoys gardening, dancing, reading and spending time with family and friends. Her family is completed by boyfriend Stan, and children, Jessica and Daniel.

District Manager, Waterford
Brandon Guy  

Brandon oversees all aspects of shelter operation including animal placement and surrender practices, and cleaning and maintenance functions. He resolves issues impacting the staff and clients. He also works to create and maintain relationships with local businesses, residents and other rescue groups and agencies.  Brandon studied Exercise Science at Southern Connecticut State University.  His love and appreciation of animals has grown since he has been with CT Humane. At first he enjoyed his career because pets are cute, nice and always there for you. Now he “takes pride in being their voice and working to make sure that they have the best chance at success in their new home.”

Brandon enjoys golf, going to the beach, kayaking, bicycling, snowboarding, playing and watching sports. (Go Yankees and Broncos!) His family includes his wife Jen, son Tyler, two dogs Bronx and Bernie, and a cat named Reggie.  

Assistant District Manager, Waterford
Denise McNichol

Denise has a long history with CHS beginning as an administrative assistant, a position she held for 27 years before earning her promotion to Assistant District Manager. She took on the Foster Care Coordinator responsibilities for Waterford 18 years ago. In addition to retaining her administrative and foster care duties, Denise is now in charge of the entire district volunteer program and also oversees shelter activities when the District Manager is not on site. Denise studied liberal arts at UConn and computer technology at the former Thames Valley Regional Technical College. Denise has seen CHS go through many changes over the years and is always encouraged to see the impact that the organization has on pet-overpopulation and adoption. She is proud, “to be a part of an association that strives to help those who can’t help themselves and is always looking to the future of animal care.”

Denise’s favorite hobby is cooking followed closely by sports. She is an enthusiast with an interest in many things, but especially baseball to football. Denise shares her life with husband Jim, son Peyton and her three cats, Miles, BooBoo and Tid Bit.

District Manager, Westport
Bliss Kern

Bliss is responsible for managing all aspects of the Westport Shelter. Her responsibilities include pet intake, pet adoption, coordinating the medical care of the animals with the veterinary staff and overseeing the behavioral program. Bliss earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz in French and British Literature. She went on to earn an MA/ABD in Eighteenth Century British Literature from Rutgers University. Like so many people Bliss comes to animal welfare work because of her relationship with her first adopted dog, Phineas Manfred. When it was time to get a friend for Phineas, Bliss visited another shelter to adopt and was reminded of the vital role animal welfare plays in the community. She began to volunteer walking dogs and, “thus began my journey from academic life to the world of animal welfare".

When Bliss isn’t busy making sure that her shelter is running smoothly, she enjoys watching BBC Television series, reading contemporary fiction and hiking with her dogs. She is lucky to be one of a family pack that includes husband Jonathan, dogs Phineas, Bertram, Asta, and Timber and kitties named Belinda and Arlo, both CHS alums.

Assistant District Manager, Westport
Valeria Caceres-Gil

Valeria is responsible for assisting the District Manager in all areas of operation with a particular focus on the Westport medical department. Valeria has a degree in Business Administration from the Instituto BIOS in Uruguay and a Veterinary Assistant certification from NCC. She knew her call was to work with animals very early in life when she used to take old clothes to make beds for homeless street animals in her native Montevideo. Throughout her adolescent and college years she volunteered for small animal rescues and continued giving back when she moved to the United States. She has over 5 years of professional experience at general practice and specialty animal hospitals.

Valeria fills her leisure time with hiking, kayaking, working out, snowmobiling and “everything” outdoors. She shares her life with an active, happy tri-pawd Staffie named NIki and a fun loving, playful cat named Blaze.

Practice Manager, Fox Memorial Clinic
Connie Mercer 

Connie is an avid sports enthusiast who was an All-Star athlete in two sports while attending Windsor High School.  She went on to attend Mitchell College where she obtained an Associate’s Degree in Athletic Training/Physical Education. During her college career she was an All-New England Hall of Famer in two sports. Upon graduation, she began coaching and eventually found herself in the restaurant business where she quickly reached management status. Connie joined the Fox Memorial Clinic team several years ago because she was seeking a career change in an area where she could help others. As practice manager, Connie is responsible for all aspects of the clinic including: administration, personnel, inventory management, animal welfare and care, medical protocols, customer service and giving lots of love to the four-legged patients.

When she is not running the busy clinic, Connie enjoys spending time with her husband Bob, golfing, cooking, walking and playing with her Yorkshire terrier, Divot (a CHS adoptee). Connie also volunteers for several charities and continues to be extremely serious about sports!

Meet the Executive and Managerial Staff

Connecticut Humane Society

701 Russell Road, Newington, CT 06111
800-452-0114 | FAX 860-665-1478 
The Connecticut Humane Society is a 501(c)(3)
non-profit organization. EIN: 06-0667605
Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society

Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society