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ABOUT US

CT Votes for Animals is a state-wide, grass roots animal advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of CT’s animals by championing legislative changes in the CT General Assembly.   CVA effects policy change by mobilizing animal supporters in legislative districts throughout CT.

Image by Eric Han

Mission

Connecticut Votes for Animals:

  • Advocates pro-animal policies;

  • Educates the public regarding  animal protection issues;

  • Rallies an engaged public to support passage of animal-friendly laws and the defeat of proposals harmful to animals;

  • Safeguards the interests of animals by making their well-being a priority for our elected leaders.

 

​Connecticut Votes for Animals is a not-for-profit 501(c)(4) organization.

Leadership

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Susan Linker

Susan Biella-Linker founded Our Companions Animal Rescue, a nonprofit organization in 2002. Susan also serves as Connecticut’s representative on the Humane Society of the United States’ Companion Animal Advisory Council and is a Trustee of the John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation.

Susan is the past Vice President of Connecticut Votes for Animals and the former President of the Animal Welfare Federation of Connecticut, a partnership of no-kill animal welfare organizations. Prior to establishing Our Companions, she worked in various capacities in the field of animal welfare including an eight year career with the Connecticut Humane Society and its subsidiary, Fox Memorial Clinic.  ​Susan also spent some time outside the animal welfare field where she pursued financial development experience with the American Red Cross fundraising team. 

Susan lives with her husband Mitchell who serves as Our Companions’ Development Committee Chair, her rescued dog Darla and too many cats to mention and not sound crazy.

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Susan Linker, Board Chair

Henry Petrofsky

After a long management career in professional accounting, Henry decided to utilize his background for the benefit of the field that he is truly passionate about, which is promoting humane animal welfare programs and policies. He is the former finance director for Our Companions Animal Rescue and is also one of the original founding members of Connecticut Votes for Animals. “I’ve always wanted to do whatever I could to improve the welfare of the general animal population including domestic, wildlife and farm animals, and CVA is the perfect vehicle to help achieve meaningful progress in this area.”

 

Since its founding in 2008 Henry has worked with CVA on a long list of legislative initiatives which have greatly benefited the animals and he would like to continue building on this legacy and help establish Connecticut as being a progressive minded state with regard to the humane treatment of its animal population.

Henry is currently the treasurer for CVA and he also assists with “tabling” and promoting CVA at various events. Henry resides in Berlin, Ct with his wife Ruth and 5 cats.

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Henry Petrofsky, Treasurer

Andrea Dobras

Andrea has been active in animal welfare since 2006, when she joined Our Companions Animal Rescue during the early stages of the organization’s development.  Working mainly with feline adoptions, rehoming, hoarding cases, and behavioral issues, she also served as secretary on the Board of Directors for three full terms.  In 2007, she received the ING Volunteer Excellence Award and in 2016, an official citation from the General Assembly for her service to the organization.

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More recently, Andrea has been active in her community, establishing a grassroots effort to end the waterfowl hunting on the Quinnipiac River in New Haven.  She worked tirelessly with the local residents and politicians to build momentum on this long-term problem, resulting in the official ban of waterfowl hunting in the area.  This campaign sparked her interest in politics, allowing her to combine this new-found passion with her love of animals.

Andrea is the Executive Director of the New England Resident Service Coordinators, a 501c3 organization that specializes in bringing education and training to housing professionals.  She lives in East Haven with her partner and her family of rescue animals which currently include 2 cats and a White Capped Pionus parrot.   

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Andrea Dobras, Secretary

Andrea Kerin

Fiercely dedicated to protecting wildlife and the environment, Andrea Kerin brings decades of non-profit philanthropy experience to the CVA board. Her admirable professional background includes director of leadership giving from the CT Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound and development positions at the CT Audubon Society and Save the Children.

Andrea’s recent retirement from her job is allowing her more time to devote to the many issues she cares about. This past year she has been involved in developing a local ordinance for Fairfield regarding shelter requirements for outside dogs. The proposal offers a stricter approach than the recently passed state law in providing adequate shelter for any dogs left outside.

Andrea and her husband Chris Kerin, already a friend of CVA, are generous donors to a number of animal and environmental causes. They are the proud “parents” of two rescue mini-Australian shepherds.

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Andrea Kerin, Director

Ilene Lefland
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Ilene always knew that when life allowed, she would channel her energies to pursuits that improve the lives of animals; she just didn’t know it would be as a member of the CVA Board! Starting out as a volunteer in 2019, Ilene jumped right in, becoming actively involved in the organization and then joining the board.


With a unique blend of strategic communications experience and political savvy, Ilene brings a distinctive perspective to the CVA Board. In addition to serving as press secretary for political campaigns and the CT General Assembly, she developed public education and awareness campaigns across multiple industries during her tenure as a marketing communications agency executive. She was also instrumental in advocacy efforts leading to passage of CT’s law – the first in the nation – protecting women’s reproductive rights. Early in her career, Ilene covered the State Capitol as a journalist. She is still a news junkie at heart and enjoys a good public policy debate.


A life-long animal lover, Ilene lives in North Haven with her husband and two cats – both of whom were less than cooperative in posing for a photo!

Ilene Lefland, Director

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Anne Foley
Anne is a retired social worker with more than thirty years of experience as a Connecticut state government policymaker including developing administrative and legislative policy and overseeing state agency implementation of policies, programs, and initiatives in the areas of health and human services.  Anne has been an adjunct lecturer at the University of Connecticut School of Social work for over thirty years teaching social welfare policy analysis, political advocacy, program evaluation, macro practice, research, and human behavior in the social environment.  She is currently a member of the board of directors of Chrysalis Center, a gubernatorial appointee to the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund board, and co-chair of the Homemakers and Companions Task Force.  Anne lives in West Hartford with her spouse Tom, dog Maurice, and cat Johnny.

Anne Foley, Director

Virginia Maxwell

A lifelong animal lover, Virginia brings 28 years of forensic science experience to combatting the maltreatment of animals. Formerly a forensic scientist at the State of Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory, she is now a Professor in the Forensic Science Department at the University of New Haven. Her research focus involves different ways of using Forensic Science in animal cruelty investigation with current projects including environmental degradation of physical evidence, analyzing crime data to predict animal fighting locations, dog fighting, and cruelty in animal “sports”. In conjunction with Attorney Jessica Rubin, she has established a formal collaboration between the University of Connecticut School of Law and the University of New Haven for the investigation of animal cruelty.  This collaboration is to provide support to animal control officers, first responders and attorneys, and others involved in investigations, as well as humane education and additional research initiatives. Having grown up around farms in the United Kingdom, she is interested in the lives of farmed animals. With the cooperation of a local dairy farm, she has been able to help three cows retire to sanctuaries: Pippi and the Princess to Farm Sanctuary, and Allie to JP Farm Animal Sanctuary. The photo shows Princess as her yellow ear tags were removed shortly before leaving for Farm Sanctuary.  She lives in Hebron with her family, a rescue dog, and two cats.

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Virginia Maxwell, Director

Nancy Waterman

Animal rights and welfare, social justice and reform, and conservation top the list of causes nearest and dearest to Nancy Waterman, the newest member of CVA’s growing Board of Directors. A resident of Middletown, Nancy has held various leadership roles at CT nonprofits specializing in finance and accounting. She also brings to CVA a wealth of experience in nonprofit technology, human resources, government grant management, grant budgets, and audits, as well as overall business operations. Earlier in her career, Nancy founded a technology support firm, serving small businesses across Connecticut.

 

Besides giving back to the community, Nancy enjoys traveling with her husband, spending time with her granddaughters, and anything to do with animals. With more personal time in the last year, she has discovered a passion for crocheting, accompanied by a love affair with yarn.

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Nancy Waterman, Director

Collette Griffen

CVA’s Board of Directors is welcoming another new member: Colette Griffin of Newtown is filling the ninth seat on the board of directors. A partner with Strunk Dodge Aiken Zovas, Colette is a board certified Workers' Compensation Specialist. However, animal welfare and advocacy are at the heart of all she does.

While attending law school, Colette founded New Leash On Life, an organization committed to the welfare and advocacy of companion animals. The group worked with the City of Bridgeport to institute improvements to the municipal shelter and fostered and placed countless dogs and cats. It also took on a hoarding case involving more than 200 cats and dogs. For that work she received an award from the Dept of Agriculture.

A founding member and past chair of the Animal Law section of the CT Bar Assoc., Colette is currently a Court Advocate in animal cruelty cases under Desmond’s Law, representing animals involved in instances of neglect and abuse. She also conducts seminars on issues regarding animal abuse and the link to violence.

Colette’s four dogs, which she calls “the pack” keep her on her toes!

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Colette Griffin, Director

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Jim Lombella

Growing up on a small family dairy farm in western MA, Jim’s love for animals was instilled early in life and his compassion for creatures large and small endures. Through high school he was a dog groomer and later opened a pet supply store and dog grooming facility, partnering with local shelters and rescue organizations for adoption days and providing education on animal nutrition, grooming, and training. After a 14-year career as president of multiple CT State Colleges, public service and giving back to the community has become part of who Jim is.  As the president of CVA, he is able to continue giving back by working to improve the lives of animals through legislation, advocacy, and community education. Jim’s family reflects his long-time work with rescues; it includes three rescue cats and a rescue puppy, Khali, who stole his heart as a foster and found her forever home.

Dr. James Lombella, President/CEO

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Linda Pleva

Linda Pleva, who is also vice president of Desmond’s Army, is CVA’s community engagement and communications coordinator, helping to expand CVA’s base with programs including legislative webinars and workshops throughout the state. She also works with the Communications Team developing messaging on our digital platforms.

Linda Pleva, Community Engagement and Communications Coordinator

Advisory Council

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  • Mark Bailey

  • Kenneth Bernhard

  • John Capasso

  • Ruth Cutrone

  • Joe Grabarz

  • Adria Henderson

  • Joe LaMotta

  • Karen Laski

  • Kathleen Sullivan

  • Marlene Wilhelm

Legislative Advisor to the Board

  • Former State Representative Diana Urban

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