Meet The Humans

Kathy Stevens

Kathy Stevens

Founder and Director

Kathy Stevens, Founder, Director and Board Member of CAS, spent her childhood on a Virginia horse farm. Kathy moved to Boston for graduate school, and after a decade of teaching high school English, she was asked to head a charter school. Instead, one year later, she opened Catskill Animal Sanctuary, one of the country's leading havens for farm animals and a center for raising public awareness of their sentience and their suffering. She is the author of two critically and popularly-acclaimed books, Where the Blind Horse Sings and Animal Camp, a blogger on farm animal issues for the Huffington Post, and a frequent contributor to books and articles on farm animals, vegan living, and related issues. Kathy is an avid reader, loves to hike, swim, and bike, and spends rare quiet time with her close friends.

Linda Soper-Kolton

Linda Soper-Kolton

Director of Compassionate Cuisine

Linda spent many years working in management, communications and marketing when she decided to finally follow her passion for food and enroll in culinary school. She graduated from the chef's training program at Manhattan's Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition where she studied health-supportive cooking, nutrition and counseling. After opening her own vegan cafe, she added cooking classes and private health counseling. Following a desire to inspire even more people to explore veganism as a way to improve their overall wellness and support a more compassionate world, Linda joined CAS as a seasonal instructor and chef and now is the Director of Compassionate Cuisine where she is focused on growing our culinary program, developing and teaching more classes and exploring new ways to get the message out that eating a vegan diet is delicious and simple! Chef Linda lives in Connecticut with her husband, 13-year-old son, two elderly pugs and cat. When not at CAS, she can be found in the kitchen or with her nose in a cookbook.

Julie Barone

Julie Barone

Director of Business and Donor Relations

Julie was born and raised in Ulster County, New York, and holds degrees in Mathematics, Interactive Multi-Media Technology, and Nutrition. She has been with CAS since 2003 and her formal training serves her well, as she manages business operations, human resources, donor outreach, and fundraising. When she's not on the farm, Julie enjoys organic vegetable gardening and cooking.

Elana Kirshenbaum

Elana Kirshenbaum

Director of Programs & Communications

Elana grew up in Rhode Island and has always felt a deep kinship with all living beings. She was a young teen when she began to connect her daily choices to the suffering of animals and started her journey toward cruelty free living. As a long time vegan, Elana served as the co-founder and president of RIVA (Rhode Island Vegan Awareness) and ran a small, private rabbit sanctuary for ten years before relocating to New York. She has an extensive background in teaching, program development, and volunteer management. Elana believes passionately in the power of education to inspire lasting social change, has studied with the Institute for Humane Education and taught humane education programs to youth about living compassionately towards all beings and the earth. She is mom to three beautiful felines, loves to be out in nature kayaking, hiking, and swimming, and relishes vegan cuisine in all its many colors and flavors.

Michelle Alvarez

Michelle Alvarez

Outreach Manager

Born and raised in New York City, Michelle joined the staff in 2009, after volunteering for over a year. Her responsibilities include conducting outreach to raise CAS's visibility, planning special events, cultivating high level donors, and managing the volunteer and internship program. Prior to CAS, Michelle spent over a decade as a public interest lawyer, with a focus on environmental justice litigation and policy. When she's not at the sanctuary, Michelle can be found in New York City with her partner and their three rescued cats, where she obsessively practices samurai sword fighting and kickboxing. She also enjoys off-road mountain biking and white water rafting.

Kathy Keefe

Kathy Keefe

Director of Sanctuary Operations

A small business owner/manager for many years, Kathy joined the CAS crew part-time in 2006. She has served in many different volunteer and staff roles since then, and we are thrilled to have her join us full-time! As Farm Manager, Kathy oversees the daily care of all of our animals and manages barn staff and volunteers. Kathy lives in Catskill with her beloved dogs, ducks, and cats. In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, watching movies, gardening, and talking to her favorite person: her 22 year old daughter.

Erica Ritter

Erica Ritter

Tour Guide and Homestead Manager

Erica was born in Catskill and raised in Athens. After completing her B.S. in Environmental Forest Biology - Wildlife Science from SUNY in Syracuse, NY, she completed two 6-week internships at The Wildcat Sanctuary in Minnesota and at The Cape Wildlife Center in Massachusetts. She worked at a zoo and veterinary hospital before relocating back to New York where she worked at two animal rescue organizations, Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary and AnimalKind. In 2013, we welcomed Erica to CAS as a tour guide and she has now expanded her role to become the Homestead co-manager. In her spare time, Erica enjoys live music, reading, hiking, crocheting, and creating Rambo and Little Critter bags for sale at CAS through her High In Fiber craft business. After years of living vegetarian, she became vegan and is about to celebrate her three year VEGANniversary!

Jenn Mackey

Jenn Mackey

Animal Care Coordinator

Born and raised between Woodstock and Saugerties, Jenn loves the Hudson Valley. She has a background in veterinary tech and is responsible for the healthcare of all the animals at CAS. Jenn has a horse farm in Saugerties where she does boarding, training, and lessons. She lives happily with her wonderful son William, husband Russ, and lots of furry friends. Jenn loves spending time with her family, her wonderful horse Beauty, and her potbelly pig Ceasar.

Russ Mackey

Russ Mackey

Animal Care Staff

Born and raised in New Paltz, Russ managed retail stores before discovering his true love: animals. He now lives surrounded by many of them on his farm in Saugerties where his family includes his wife, step son, horses, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, and amphibians. Russ is responsible for animal feed routes, cleaning shelter areas, and assisting with animal health care. In his spare time he can be found on the golf course or in the bowling alley.

Erin Murphy

Erin Murphy

Animal Care Staff

Originally from Fishkill, Erin migrated to Ulster County where she earned her M.S. in Elementary Education. Erin is responsible for animal feed routes, cleaning shelters, and animal care at CAS. She resides in Kingston with her husband Tim, dog, cats, bearded dragon, and ball python. In her spare time, Erin enjoys taking trail rides with her equine soulmate, Honey, gardening, practicing archery, crafting, and reading.