Emily Sprong, Executive Director
Emily got an early start in animal welfare: her first volunteer and employment experiences were with vets, kennels, and feral cat organizations. After studying wildlife biology in graduate school and working for wildlife-focused non-profits for many years, the opportunity to apply for the ED position at SAFe crossed her path at just the right time: “It feels like I’ve come full circle and I’m very happy to have returned to my roots.” Emily appreciates the respect and compassion the SAFe Rescue community demonstrates, and her favorite moments are when people and kitties find the perfect match: “I love when someone comes into the rescue and our adoption counselors find them just the right fit. Their ability to listen and connect with both people and cats and to help adopters through transition challenges, makes me very proud of the work we do. (I’m also a sucker for torties).” Not surprisingly, Emily’s fur-family includes a tortie named Tiger Lily, as well as a dog named Zarby. When she’s not at the rescue, you can find Emily spending time with her husband and two daughters, hiking, attending the theater, and driving back and forth between the girls’ practice and rehearsals, of course!
Nichole Abbey, Event and Donor Care Coordinator
As the rescue’s go-to staff member for all things event-related, Nichole unites her love of animals with her passion for creating great experiences for guests. “I’m excited to create and execute events to educate and inform the community of the great work we’re doing. Plus, I hope to bring in more donors and volunteers to help continue saving as many kitties as we can!” When she’s not busy event planning, Nichole enjoys reading, walking around the city to discover new places, and playing video games with her cat Blanche snuggled next to her.
Kelsi Eldredge, Retail and Customer Service Lead
Kelsi has loved animals for as long as she can remember, but it was a recent tragedy that awakened her calling to animal welfare as a career: “When the Camp Fire wiped out my hometown of Paradise, California in 2018, I saw so many humans and their fuzzy family members displaced by the fire. I did everything I could do to help them, from fundraising and passing out gift cards, to crocheting dog sweaters and blankets, to sending animal supplies. Once I started, I had finally found my calling and knew I needed to continue.” Kelsi carries her passion to protect and advocate for animals into every aspect of her role, and she finds that watching shy and scared kitties learn to trust is especially rewarding. Due to allergies in her household, Kelsi can’t have kitties at home, so she cherishes the time she spends with them at work. Her best furry friend is a very cat-like senior Pomeranian named Bruno. (And she hopes to adopt a pair of rats soon!) When she’s not busy at the rescue, Kelsi enjoys hanging out with Bruno and tending to her collection of over 100 houseplants. She also enjoys drawing, painting, making crafts, and volunteering.
Becky Forsberg, Volunteer Manager
Becky joined the rescue as an opportunity to marry two of her favorite things: working with volunteers and animals. Becky especially enjoys getting to work with people who are passionate about their activities: “Volunteers give their free time to help organizations and causes that have personal value to them, so they come with their passion ready-made… And it’s easy and satisfying to get swept up along with them!” Becky shares her home with an accomplished feline popcorn thief named Bowie. (While she’s certain that Bowie is part poltergeist, she hasn’t run the DNA test to confirm yet.) When Bowie isn’t engaging his passion for mischief, he keeps Becky company during one of her favorite hobbies, reading, but he has to live vicariously while she enjoys her other favorite pastime: attending concerts and the theater.
Sarah Hefferan, Cat Care Lead & Veterinary Assistant
Sarah—a 3rd year veterinary student at WSU—has a special place in her heart for cats, and she plans to enter shelter medicine after graduation. That made a summer job at SAFe Rescue the PURR-fect fit! Sarah especially enjoys learning about the individual personality of each kitty, as well as helping special needs cats find their way into loving homes. Sarah shares her life with Storm, a deaf 3-year-old gray tabby she rescued from the streets as a feral kitten. When she’s not working, studying, and spending time with Storm, you can find Sarah practicing her two favorite hobbies: photography and graphic design!
Shelley Lawson, Development and Communications Director
Shelley, who works to build community awareness and support for SAFe Rescue’s programs, treasures the opportunity to connect with cats and the people who love them: “Even on the hardest, busiest days, I know I have a chance to make a difference for animals, and that makes it all worthwhile.” Shelley and her husband share their house with a crew of senior cats (including former SAFe kitty Jacob), a hyperactive dog, and a rotating cast of foster cats… Meanwhile, a flock of chickens and a school of pond fish call their yard home. When she’s not busy advocating for the kitties, Shelley’s passion is international volunteering. She has helped build homes for families in need on three different continents so far and is hoping to take her work boots to a fourth continent soon.
Omi McGrew, Cat Care Lead
For Omi, helping kitties is a family project! She got her start volunteering alongside her son, became a dedicated cat care volunteer, and then joined the staff as a Cat Care Lead. Omi has three kitties at home: Meat Pie, Kraken, and Crow. Crow—who was displaced by wildfires in California and spent time here recovering from a skin infection—stole Omi’s heart while she was volunteering in the rescue’s Isolation Room. When she’s not busy with the kitties, you can find Omi hiking and attending concerts.
Amy Mills, Operations Manager
Amy’s SAFe Rescue roots run deep: she originally adopted in 1999, began to foster in 2009, became more involved over the years, then started as a full time in employee in 2015. Amy, who manages the rescue’s operations, finds it especially rewarding to help people learn about cats and to help cats find the purrfect home. She has a soft spot for big, scruffy, tom cats who blossom into fantastic pets, and her group of kitties at home includes Trinket, a SAFe Rescue foster triumph.
Jordyn Nolz, Cat Care Lead: Isolation Room
Jordyn spends her time at the rescue caring for the cats and kittens in the Isolation Room. These felines are receiving treatment for a skin infection called ringworm. Jordyn gives the “Kitty Cadets” here in the Iso room (lovingly dubbed “Ringworm Academy”) the very best care. It’s always a good day when one of the kitties “graduates” and gets the green light for adoption. Jordyn’s family includes, Jet, a SAFe Rescue alumnus.
Erika Olson, Veterinary Assistant
Tending to the medical needs of kitties is both a career and a passion for Erika! When she’s not here at SAFe Rescue helping homeless kitties, you might find her working at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital or studying for her Veterinary Technician license. Erika takes her compassion for cats home with her: “I really like the special needs kitties! I have two blind cats of my own, and it is amazing what they are able to do.” While Erika’s drive to help animals keeps her busy, she also treasures the quiet moments with her feline friends Manny, Brutus, and Ducky—who are all foster triumphs—and Jazzy.
Anna Sernau, Foster Coordinator
Anna brings a wide variety of experience with animals to her role as Foster Coordinator, including work in shelters, wildlife rehabilitation centers, dog training and grooming facilities, and even a zoo! Anna’s connection to animals runs deep: “I love the joy animals bring, just by being nearby. They are so honestly and unabashedly themselves, it is very refreshing. They give us so much, and we are lucky for the chance to return the favor.” Seeing how “less adoptable” kitties can transform with time and patience is especially rewarding for Anna, and she appreciates the chance to have a direct impact on kitties’ lives. When she’s not busy saving felines, Anna enjoys reading, board games, improv, and exploring Seattle and the great outdoors. Anna’s best furry friend is a 3-year-old black cat named Pippin, adopted from the shelter she worked at in college. Sociable, affectionate Pippin is definitely one of Anna’s favorite “people”!
Sarah Theriault, Adoption Center Manager
When Sarah was only 7 years old, she read a book called Koko’s Kitten—and the rest is history! Her love of animals and her drive to help them has stayed with her throughout her life. Sarah finds Adoption Counseling especially rewarding on two different levels: first of all, there’s “the instant satisfaction of meeting people with big hearts who are opening their homes to adoption.” On a broader level, there’s also “the long-term satisfaction of being a part of a team that is actively working on decreasing the homeless cat population and improving feline welfare.” When she’s not busy helping adopters find the perfect kitty, Sarah enjoys adventures with her dog Clay, watching movies, and trying new recipes. (She’s especially talented at baking sweet treats!)