Pillows for Paws

Board of directors

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Jen Halpern, Founder, President & CEO

In the  11th grade, Jen's mom took both her children to see "Live Aid" which was  a charity event given by musicians to raise money for hunger relief in  Africa.  Jen was so inspired by their selflessness to come together as a  like-minded community for a cause, that she decided she wanted to do the same back at home.  Her vision was to join High School students in  NYC for a cause and run it completely by kids without any adult  supervision.  Jen formed a big street fair for The Make A Wish  Foundation which grants children with cancer a wish come true.  She  coordinated and managed the students of 25 independent schools in NYC to  participate in this huge and complex venture.   This was the beginning  of her experience with learning managerial and organization skills which ultimately took her into a career in film and TV production.  Jen  received a Bachelor of Science degree in Film from Boston University and after years of working as a producer, she became a Casting Director. 

Jen never stopped giving throughout the years, and her love for animals  started to take center stage again.  While she was looking for volunteer  options to help animals in some way, she found the Cage Comforter program on Animal Care Center of NYC's website.  Her reaction to the skill requirement was  "I don't know how to sew, but I can make this happen!  And indeed she did!  

She took all her previous experience and created a group that met monthly to make beds for shelter cats and dogs.  As the dedicated volunteer base grew in  number, so did ideas and creativity.   The group began making toys for cats, dogs, and rabbits too.   

Jen feels so honored and privileged to be part of this wonderful community of loving and compassionate people who have chosen to expand and support this effort.  Jen's aim is to help our furry friends in need at  the shelters - and her big goal is to spread the word to adopt never shop and find all our furry friends FOREVER homes.

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Jo Duer, Treasurer

Jo started her  career in the financial industry working as a portfolio assistant at  Milbank Winthrop & Co.; a boutique investment firm in New York  City.  Later as an account manager at CheckFree Investments Services; a leading provider of investment management services to financial institutions, she was able to use her knowledge and skills to provide  guidance and support to many investment firms by analyzing their needs  and recommending the appropriate solutions.
In 1995, while still  employed in the financial industry, Jo helped her husband establish  Avalon Restaurant Renovations, Inc. and discovered she had a passion for  business and wanted to help other entrepreneurs with their start-ups.  A  year later, in 1996, she began her own business; OutSource  Bookkeeping.  As Jo learned working in “Corporate America,” sound financial systems are the backbone of all successful businesses.  Jo  lives with her husband, 2 children and their rescue dog, Nova.

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simina calin. director of sewing and crafts

Simina has been involved with animal welfare since she joined her high school's Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals club as a freshman. She has volunteered for several animal rescue organizations in New York City, mostly providing cat and dog care. She currently serves as a mentor in the kitten nursery at the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in SoHo. She began her career as a foster parent in 2009 when she took in a nursing mother cat and her kittens through the NYC ACC's foster program. Since then she has opened her home to numerous animals including adults cats, kittens, dogs, rats, and rabbits. In 2012, Simina learned about Pillows for Paws through a post on the ACC's Facebook page and saw the perfect opportunity to combine her love of all things craft with her love of all things animal. She joined the group as a bed sewer and is now the active Director of Sewing and Crafts. She is in charge of programming and design for the unique, high quality Pillows for Paws beds and toys volunteers make. Her favorite things about the group is coming together with like-minded people to see how everyone's unique skills can help to bring comfort and love to New York's neediest animals. Simina lives in Manhattan with her three rescue cats, Theresa, Bob, and Sandy.

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Lindsay Freda, Secretary

As a current  volunteer, foster and former employee of Animal Care Centers of NYC,  Lindsay brings a boots on the ground perspective to Pillows for Paws.   As a member of the board of PFP,  she serves as a liaison to the  AC&C shelter staff and offers feedback that helps PFP better provide comfort and enrichment items that meet the needs of the animals in the  shelter. She also puts her Columbia MBA to good use by contributing  marketing and business development ideas including encouraging the group  to bring their handmade products to the public for sale.  She is  thrilled to be working with the PFP team whose hard work, creativity,  and loving commitment to caring for the City's homeless and abandoned  animals is  a tremendous inspiration. It is Lindsay's dream for all the  shelter animals to receive the love and proper care they deserve on  their way to finding forever homes.  She currently lives with her  husband, Dan, two tabby cats, Linus and Snoopy and a tuxedo cat named  Jerry, who was a foster and now has been officially adopted from  AC&C.  She cannot thank them enough for the endless joy and  unfailing love they provide.