Each month, in this limited-series feature, we will profile board directors and staff of Good Mews to give you insight into the people behind the scenes who make the strategic decisions and carry out our mission on a daily basis, all in the interest of saving the lives of homeless cats and helping our community.

member

member

SCOTT DENTON

 

Scott Denton has been at Good Mews for 12 years. Most of that time has been spent as a team member of the day care committee and disaster response but he has worked across other areas such fundraising, events, and kitty buddy. Most recently, Scott has headed up our maintenance committee and joined the board in 2019.

Of his current position at Good Mews he says, “I like helping and rescuing animals. I’m a very hands-on person normally, but my role as a director on the board allows me to help with things like long term goal setting, fund raising, budgeting, and helping Good Mews function from a top level perspective. I am still very involved with my Daily Care shifts and events as well.

Recently, Scott attended a 10-week nonprofit board governance and leadership development program offered by United Way in an effort to help the board continue along with its goal of transitioning to a board of governance, which will set Good Mews up for long-term sustainability.

Professionally, Scott is a Mac whiz with his own Mac-based consulting business. He also has experience in art direction, photography, and graphic design.

Scott’s favorite thing about cats? Purrs, of course! “It’s so calming to be petting a cat when they are purring next to you or even on your lap. The best is when you get a strong purring kitty sitting on your chest while reclining. It’s almost like a massage.”

community cat program coordinator

community cat program coordinator

SUE BLACK

 

Although Sue has been a staff member since only 2020, her volunteer time with Good Mews dates back over a decade. She served on our daily care team with her daughter, Riley, for 14 years and also spent time a s kitty buddy. 

Sue’s position was created shortly after the community cat program was implemented in 2020. She is integral to our program and has a heart for it like none other. You can find her on a daily basis trapping, transporting, and caring for cats all over Cobb County from the Good Mews transport van. 

Of her work as the community cat program coordinator, she says, is “Being able to trap a Mom that has had 3 litters of kittens or a young adolescent cat that is ready to stop the cycle is so rewarding to me! I work with [many different members of the community] to make sure all the cats are TNR’d.”

In dealing with the community, she states, “Communication is the key. – when they let us know of a new mom with kittens or a random newcomer to the community, it allows us to get them trapped. Then, there aren’t any new kittens. It stabilizes the cat population and improves the cats heath.  It also stops the behaviors and stresses with mating such as yowling, fighting, and spraying. The cats win and so do the residents.”

Sue has been part of the team that has enabled the sterilization of more than 1300 community cats so far in 2021. Her efforts are invaluable! 

Her favorite thing about cats? “Even though we pick them, they choose us.”

Cats make Sue smile and we’re pretty sure that she makes them smile, too.

resident and foster care supervisor

resident and foster care supervisor

HEATHER HART

 

Heather Hart has been a bright smile at Good Mews since 2017, when she moved from Arizona to become a feline care technician (FCT). Having worked as a vet assistant before, she thought she’d like to give this cat-only thing a go and she hasn’t looked back! 

Heather currently serves as the resident and foster care supervisor, having worked her way up from lead FCT and foster coordinator in 2021. She’s attentive, reliable, and always willing to help out where needed. When asked what she loves most about her position, she says, “There are several things I love most about my position. One of them includes being able to care and help heal sick kitties! When a sick or injured cat comes to us it is rewarding to see them thrive here at the shelter after they have received exceptional care from our team. Another thing I love most is being able to send cats to foster because I know that allows us to take more into the shelter and therefore save more lives! Our volunteers do and mean so much to Good Mews and help us achieve our goals in saving cats.

She has certainly gotten close to particular cats during her time here. Late GM resident Basia left a lasting impression on her heart, Basia crossed the rainbow bridge in January 2020 but Heather still honors her with her urn placed on her desk at work. Recently, Heather opened her heart to two lucky Good Mews kittens, who she was thrilled to make her own. 

Her favorite thing about cats is their voices and meows. “Each one is different and fits with their personalities. Also, I find it funny how cats like to sit on anything that has warmth to it like on your head while you are sleeping!”

Past Profiles

secretary

secretary

MICHELLE KIRKHAM

 

Michelle has been with Good Mews for 15 years. She began small with steam cleaning cat trees and loved it so much that she moved on to working with other committees such as daily care, kitty buddy, and adoptions. She assumed the role of co-chair of the adoptions team in 2009 and works diligently to lead the team of counselors which find good homes for approximately 500 cats per year now!

Michelle has been on the board of directors since 2009 and secretary since 2018. In her role as secretary, Michelle does a great job of keeping up with all official records for the organization. Her attention to detail and organizational skills suit help make her great in her current roles.

When asked what she loves most about Good Mews, she points toward the dedications of the staff and volunteers, saying, “We have volunteers that have been with us for many years, and that just tells me that they really care about the organization and the cats. Our staff and volunteers go above and beyond to make GM what it is.” She is also quick to add, “… another thing I love most about GM is the CATS!”

Speaking of cats, Michelle says she loves everything about them, from their different personalities and independence to their ability to ignore humans and not feel guilty or embarrassed about it. When it comes to her favorite physical “cattribute,” she says that would be paws, particularly tiny ones.

surgical technician

surgical technician

JEN JEWAH

 

Jen has been a part of Good Mews since 2020 but has been involved in animal welfare since high school and earned her degree in wildlife biology in 2001 from UGA.

Jen is an integral part of our surgical team, helping with surgeries as well as taking care of “back end” needs such as making sure that the surgical suite remains properly stocked with all the supplies to take care of the thousands of kitties who come through our surgical suite on a yearly basis.

Of Good Mews, she states, “I love that Good Mews is a big family. The people here truly care for one another and the cats. I have never felt so welcomed into a place of work where everyone works as a team and is always willing to lend a hand.” She also considers working with cats itself a perk because on bad days, “…you can just go sit in the kitten room and you can’t help but smile.”

Jen loves how cats like to snuggle. Whether she’s watching TV or going to sleep, she loves that they are ready to share her blanket. She admits that she probably takes more pictures of sleeping cats than anything else.

surgical technician

surgical technician

STEPHANIE VARGAS

 

Stephanie joined Good Mews in late 2019, as we were embarking upon our community cat program. With her surgical experience, she was a natural choice as a surgical technician, helping to meet our spay and neuter goals to serve our community. 

In her role, Stephanie not only assists with surgery but she also handles many administrative tasks such as scheduling and assuring all paperwork is in proper order. On days which spay and neuter surgeries are not taking place, she assists with dental procedures and resident care.  

Stephanie thinks the quality of medical care provided to our residents is what makes Good Mews different. Not every shelter or rescue is able to provide the continuity of care which comes with having a veterinarian on staff and she is grateful to the generous support from donors and volunteers which enable that. 

Her favorite thing about cats? She says, “Other than their dynamic personalities, I sure love a sideways kitten pounce. Nothing can make me automatically smile, no matter my mood. Heck, I’m smiling now!” 

vice president

vice president

ELIZABETH FINCH

 

Elizabeth has been with Good Mews since 2015. After taking early retirement from the corporate world, she repositioned her focus toward full-time volunteer work, settling in as a board member and chair of marketing and communications.

With a wide breadth of experience in management, small and large business, human resources, and marketing, she has found her biggest contributions to Good Mews to be in growth leadership and marketing/communications. She notes that she feels her accomplishments at Good Mews are more worthy than any of those she attained in her corporate career.

While Elizabeth’s favorite part of being involved with Good Mews is the cat cuddles, what she enjoys most about her position as a leader are her measurable contributions to the growth of the organization and their value to the metro community. She led the board and the organization in the development and implementation of our community cat program in 2020, which has since sterilized and vaccinated more than 2500 community cats. She has a deep appreciation for the organization’s rich history and for the leaders such as founder, Gloria Skeen-Cornell and Past-President, Joan Peterson, who paved the way for what Good Mews has become and shepherded the organization through some very difficult times.

In her role as chair of marketing and communications, she loves that she is able to bring value to the organization in the way of keeping the public informed through multiple analog as well as digital channels, generating revenue, and contributing to the business needs. Some consider these duties a bit dry when there are furry cats and kittens to be loved on but Elizabeth enjoys the flexibility afforded and she sneaks in kitty hugs and kisses as much as possible!

When asked what is her favorite thing about cats, Elizabeth says, “…their honesty. A cat will always let you know where you stand with them and I highly respect that. They only manipulate when treats or second breakfast is at stake and the purr of a cat is one of the most comforting sounds in the world.”

Elizabeth lives in the metro area with her husband, Jay, and their three spoiled rotten cats.

shelter veterinarian

shelter veterinarian

Dr. Judy Johnson

 

Dr. Judy Johnson began her journey with Good Mews in 2017 as a volunteer, providing occasional veterinary services at the shelter. She was working in emergency medicine and had the unfortunate opportunity at times to see Good Mews residents who were brought into the local emergency clinic.

When Judy chose to transition from emergency medicine a couple of years later, her natural move was to shelter medicine and Good Mews couldn’t be happier to have her. She provides us with a consistent and constant level of care which was not previously possible and both our residents and the organization benefit from this. When asked what she loves most about her job, she notes, “I have never felt more valued as a team member. I love that I am able to treat all of our residents as individuals, with decisions being made based on what is best for each cat.”

Dr. Johnson’s passion and commitment to not only our cats but the mission of Good Mews is evident. She attained specialized training in dental procedures and now regularly performs dentals on resident cats on Thursdays, in addition to offering low-cost dentals to other area rescues. This prevents Good Mews from having to send very few cats offsite now for such procedures and also helps our fellow rescue partners maintain their own tight budgets.

Judy can often be found taking a medical foster into her own home when it needs more care than what staff and volunteers can provide. She treats and loves each cat as one of her own and her dedication is unwavering.

Dr. Johnson’s favorite thing about cats is that “…each one talks to you in their own language and their little meows and chirps and ways of vocalizing are all different from each other.”

spay/neuter veterinarian

spay/neuter veterinarian

Dr. Melissa Braver

 

Dr. Melissa Braver graduated with her veterinary degree in 2006 and spent ten years working in emergency and general practice. She found her true calling in high quality, high volume spay and neuter in 2016 and has performed approximately 10,000 spay and neuter surgeries, with at least 3,000 of those being at Good Mews!

Melissa is not only integral to the community cat program at Good Mews as the surgical veterinarian performing the sterilization surgeries for all the cats who come through this program. She also sterilizes all of the Good Mews resident cats to ready them for adoption as well as those for other rescues, to offer them a viable low-cost option.

Melissa had been working with Good Mews on a less frequent basis before the inception of the community cat program. As of January 2020 when the program was launched, she left her previous full-time position to work at Good Mews three days per week. This offers her the ability to enjoy hiking and spending time with family and friends. She loves working at Good Mews because “…everyone treats everyone else (both human and feline) like family! We work as a team to achieve a common goal of doing good for the cats and we are all there to support each other outside of work.”

Good Mews is so fortunate to have Dr. Braver as part of the team. Her skills and talent in her area of specialty are not easily found. She brings with her to the job a high level of care for not only her feline patients but also her co-workers and the organization.

Melissa’s favorite thing about cats is headbutts. She describes it as a pat on the back from an old friend. Of her own polydactyl Good Mews alum, lowercase g (who couldn’t love that great Montel Jordan reference?!), she says, “Unfortunately, my own cat will not give me headbutts but I will settle for his ‘high seven.’”

president

president

LORI TRAHAN

 

Lori Trahan has been a Good Mews volunteer for 20 years and currently serves as the president of the board of directors. She has seen many changes at Good Mews throughout two decades, the biggest being our move into our current facility.

What Lori loves most about her position on the board is helping to plot the direction of the organization and having an opportunity to plan for the next 20+ years. She also has a particular passion for disaster operations and enjoys deployments which help animals in crisis situations, such as hoarding or natural disasters. Lori serves as the chair of our disaster committee, keeping the team aware of potentially impending needs and educational opportunities in the area of disaster response.

When asked what she thinks makes Good Mews different, she says it’s, “…the passion every volunteer shows for the cats…and shows them the same amount of care and compassion they show the cats in their own homes. I’ve never seen that level of care in any other organization.”

One of her favorite moments to be a part of the Good Mews family was the day Good Mews made the move from our location on Sandtown to Johnson Ferry. She recalls the “cat train” shuttling cats from the old location to the new and, “…for three hours, all these cars drove back and forth, picking up and dropping off cats, catching and crating residents, and then helping them settle in with familiar faces when they arrived.”

Lori lives in Villa Rica with her own self-proclaimed “zoo” of cats and works at Kennesaw State University. Her favorite thing about cats is that they bring their people “presents.” Her cat, Toby, has two catnip cookies he enjoys bringing her and is her only cat who does this. “If I don’t praise him enough (usually because I‘m sleeping), he will also bring me his mustache or chicken and waffle toys. I end up with a bed full of gifts from Toby because I had the nerve to sleep through the first couple of presents. It makes me feel like he’s thanking me for loving him so much.”

director of operations

director of operations

KENDRA LEDLOW

 

Kendra Ledlow started out as a volunteer with Good Mews in 2016, medicating shelter residents. In 2017, she was hired as a feline care technician, then later promoted to the position of shelter manager. In 2020, the board advanced her to the position of director of operations as part of a strategic initiative to transition the board from an operational board to one of governance, to put Good Mews on a healthy path for future growth.

She is responsible for supervising the entire current staff, managing both employees as well as many volunteers and committee chairs on numerous committees which directly impact on-site shelter operations. Her duties include everything from working with our shelter veterinarian to determine the proper medical course of action for our residents and communicating that to staff and volunteers involved with their direct care to coordinating “rescue pulls” at metro municipal shelters in effort to save as many lives as possible.

Kendra is passionate about Good Mews and often even steps outside her official role to help with fundraising. She can also nearly always be found with her own bundle of foster kittens throughout kitten season.

Kendra’s favorite thing about Good Mews is the way each cat is treated as an individual and best efforts are made to accommodate the needs of every resident, whether those be medical, behavioral, or otherwise.

When asked what is her favorite thing about cats, Kendra says she admires “…their ability to love unconditionally…it’s an honor to be a recipient of love from hundreds of cats each year.”

Kendra lives in Acworth with Justin, her supportive husband of four years, and their two dogs and five cats.