Our Team

Board of Directors

  • John Piper – President
  • Emil Tomasi – Vice President
  • Lenore Maskara – Secretary
  • Cheryl Rykowski – Treasurer
  • Sheryl Bates – Director
  • Lisa Cahill – Director
  • Dan Carter – Director
  • Lauren Crespo – Director
  • William Jasper – Director
  • John Madaus – Director
  • Rob Schweitzer – Director
  • Cheryl Rykowski – Treasurer

Advisory Council

  • Lisa Cahill
  • Tom Reynolds
  • Cheryl Rykowski
  • Rob Schweitzer

Administrative Staff

  • Judy Slason – Operations Director
  • Barbara Hastings – Development Director
  • Denise Musser – Event Director
  • Christopher Kwong
  • Leslie Roe
  • Denise Musser – Event Director


  • Laura Rustigan – Supervisor
  • Nancy Jones
  • Dr. Cary Brenner
  • Gina Riccio
  • Dr. Shannon James
  • Nancy Jones


  • Gina Amenta – Supervisor
  • Mark Gianni
  • Greyson Nackid
  • Samantha Watson


  • Amy Watson – Supervisor
  • Aaron Miller
  • Nancy Jackson
  • Gina Riccio


  • Chris Souppa

Read Bios About Key Staff Leadership

Operations Director

Judy Slason

With more than a 20-year career in the non-profit world, Judy’s extensive experience includes operations, budget preparation and   oversight, customer service and outreach, programs development and implementation, volunteer management, efficiency improvement, organizational planning and board relations. She is sure to provide DAWS with remarkable guidance and even greater performance as we strive to rescue and rehome dogs and cats.

Judy’s most recent role was as Community Services Director for the Town of Southbury, CT where she was responsible for operations of the department’s four divisions.  Highlights of her work included the successful consolidation of three separate municipal departments into one and the implementation of new financial protocols.

Prior to working with the Town of Southbury, she served for three years as In-Home Care Program Manager for Lutheran Social Services of New England.

Prior roles also include CEO/President of Pikes Peak Family Connections, Inc. in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Executive Director of Pikes Peak Area Crime Stoppers; and Executive Director and President of the Legal Aid Foundation of Colorado and the Colorado Lawyer Trust Account Foundation (COLTAF).

Judy graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Colorado with a BA in Psychology and was selected as Colorado Scholar. She also attended the Center for Creative Leadership; Non-profit Executive Leadership Program.

Judy is a life-long animal lover and currently shares her home with a cat named Cash and a dog named Sandy; she also has 6 hens (Trouble, Trouble Too, Rhody, Fuzzy Butt, Copper and Flyer).  Judy resides in Woodbury with her husband, Kevin.

Judy’s role at DAWS will be focused on our core business of rescuing and rehoming dogs and cats.  She will have ultimate oversight for all staff and volunteers in the operational departments including the Dog, Cat and Foster Programs; the Volunteer Program, the Cattery, Kennel and Clinic, Maintenance, Community Outreach and Administration.


Dr. Cary Brenner

Dr. Brenner is the primary veterinarian of the Clinic at Danbury Animal Welfare Society.  He began providing veterinary services for the animals at DAWS over 15 years ago, before there was a working clinic at the shelter.  Dr. Brenner provides compassionate care to the animals at DAWS, delivering high-quality veterinary services that exceed the standards of “shelter medicine.”

Dr. Brenner earned a BS degree in Zoology from the University of Rhode Island.  He earned his Veterinary degree (DVM) from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982. Dr. Brenner has been practicing in Connecticut since 1983, working in many veterinary hospitals in the Danbury area.  In addition to his work at DAWS, Dr. Brenner performs diagnostic ultrasound studies in various veterinary practices as an employee of Veterinary Multi-imaging, LLC (VMI).

Dr. Brenner was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY.  He has been a Danbury resident since 1988 where at home he enjoys spending time with his wife, 5 daughters, and his 2 dogs and 3 cats.