Leadership

Board of Directors

Headshot of Professor Rubin.

 

Jessica Rubin, Board Chair

Jessica Rubin is a law professor at UConn Law School and is the Director of UConn's Legal Practice program. Professor Rubin teaches Animal Law – a field in which she is a widely recognized expert.  Professor Rubin was instrumental in creating Desmond’s Law, which allows Connecticut courts to appoint advocates – law students under supervision - in animal cruelty cases.  She supervises students and appears in court to advocate for justice in cases of animal cruelty. 

Professor Rubin teaches a course in U.S. common law analysis and writing for international students pursuing their LL.M. degrees. She enjoys teaching international students at UConn and abroad.  During the summers of 2013 and 2014, Rubin traveled to Bilgi University in Istanbul, where she taught United States law and legal writing for the Open Society Foundation, and in 2016, she taught in Seoul, South Korea.

A member of the Connecticut and New York Bars and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Professor Rubin’s main areas of legal and scholarly interest include: practical skills instruction, with a focus on business transactional lawyering; writing and research instruction; and animal law, a subject about which she organized in partnership with the Connecticut Bar Association a recent on-campus symposium entitled, “Animal Cruelty: Legal Challenges and Potential Solutions.” She is a graduate of Cornell University and Cornell Law School.
 
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Henry Petrofsky, Treasurer

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 currently the 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.

 

Debbie Robinson, Secretary

Since childhood Debbie has had a great love for animals and is pleased to be on the Board of Directors of Connecticut Votes for Animals, an amazing organization of compassionate, passionate and accomplished volunteers who work tirelessly for the humane treatment and legal protection of animals.  As a Board Member, Debbie is excited to be part of the coalition determined to make a difference in the welfare of animals by working with Connecticut State legislators and the legal system in advocating for strong protection laws.  Debbie has volunteered at several animal rescue organizations and supports 26 different animal charities.  She finds homeless dogs especially hard to resist and has adopted quite a few along the way with a completely full house of 7 rescue dogs, including 2 deaf, 1 blind and a 3-legged dog at one point.  Currently Debbie lives with her 3 rescue dogs and husband Jeff in Guilford where she works as a realtor at Pearce Real Estate.  Debbie holds a BA in Psychology and English Literature from State University College at Brockport and studied for her masters at Western Illinois University.

 

Andrea Dobras, Director

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.  

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 introduction of a bill to the senate floor and a one-year moratorium of 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 New Haven with her partner and her family of rescue animals which currently include 2 cats, 2 birds and one-eyed beta fish. 

 
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Susan Linker, Director

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, Susan 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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Jennifer Wynn, Director

Jennifer has volunteered for Connecticut Votes for Animals since 2014, and joined the board in 2016, previously serving as President and Treasurer. She has a lifelong passion for animals, and has been involved in companion animal rescue over the last decade. Jennifer fosters dogs, has testified at the State Capitol in favor of pro-animal legislation, serves on the Host Committee of Farm Sanctuary, and supports multiple animal-related organizations.

Jennifer has previously served on non-profit boards, and has over a decade of management and analytics experience in the corporate world. She earned her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at The University of Tulsa and is a senior manager for a large Financial Services company.
Residing in Farmington, she enjoys volunteering for animal-related causes, in addition to volunteering with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), yoga, spending time with her adopted canine companions, and cooking delicious plant-based meals with her husband.

 

Jo-Anne Basile, Executive Director 

 Jo-Anne Basile is CVA’s first Executive Director, a  position created during CVA's 10th Anniversary year and a change that reflects the continued growth of the organization which is  dedicated to bringing about laws to ensure long-term positive change for animals throughout Connecticut.

Jo-Anne was CVA's lobbyist at the State Capitol from 2014-2017 working with CVA members and legislators to successfully bring Desmond’s Law and Private Shelter Rules, among other bills, into Connecticut’s laws protecting animals. Jo-Anne comes to CVA with a strong legislative resume having served as a Legislative Aid and Director for three members of the US Congress and Vice President and lobbyist for a premier national telecommunications association in the Washington D.C.  Jo-Anne and her three senior dogs live in Guilford. 

Legislative Advisor to the Board

Former State Representative Diana Urban


Advisory Council

  • Elizabeth Abbe
  • Mark Bailey
  • Ruth Cutrone
  • Kasia Dienwebel
  • Shirley Dominguez
  • Joe Grabarz
  • Krysia Kaminski
  • Karen Laski
  • Kathleen Sullivan
  • Kathy Throckmorton
  • Marlene Wilhelm