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Meet the Staff

Christi Metropole, Founder and Executive Director of Stray Cat Alliance Christi Metropole, Founder and Executive Director of Stray Cat Alliance
 When Christi Metropole encountered a stray and needy kitten in 1999, she was appalled to learn that little to no resources existed to help her, her cat, and thousands like them. As a result, she founded Stray Cat Alliance and soon, feral and free-roaming cats had found a formidable ally. Under Christi’s unwavering leadership, hundreds of volunteers and scores of donors have since united to provide education, human power and skills to Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) thousands of cats who need help. Under her astute direction, Stray Cat Alliance’s dedicated network helps ensure a safer, healthier quality of life for feral, stray, homeless or community cats—often misunderstood and targeted—that wouldn’t otherwise survive and flourish.

Christi is acknowledged as the influential and candid voice for those cats. She is the “go to” source on the subject, whose opinion is sought by other humane proponents needing sound advice. She is frequently requested as a speaker on critical issues related to cat care and protection, laws regarding humane treatment and human health-related concerns. Her experience as a teacher with Los Angeles Unified School District and as a realtor with Keller Williams Realty Brentwood has honed integral skills that help strategically steer the course and further development of Stray Cat Alliance.

Tammy Benesch, Adoption Coordinator Tammy Benesch, Adoption Coordinator
Tammy Benesch has been a lover of all things "animal" her whole life. While working over 15 years in the grocery industry, Tammy volunteered part-time at Stray Cat Alliance (SCA). She was so inspired that she left the grocery business and started her own pet business, "Tammy's Tailwaggers". Tammy has been the SCA Adoption Coordinator for the past 5 years and loves her involvement with the animals and people at SCA.

Avarie Shevin, Director of Operations Avarie Shevin, Director of Operations

Avarie Shevin was raised in an animal-loving household, fascinated by family and friends who were constantly rescuing birds and finding homes for lost dogs. 

With 10 years as an entertainment publicist working with recording artists and event planning, and another 8 years working in an entertainment-related accounting firm under her belt, Avarie was pretty much ready for anything. One day she met some people from an animal rescue at a table outside a health food store and that ignited her longstanding work in animal rescue. She began volunteering and found her calling working with animals.  But this 'dog person' didn't know what she was in for when a woman in her apartment building elevator asked if she wanted a cat that she was about to take to the shelter.  Sight unseen, Avarie ordered her to bring her the cat - and Max became the first cat of many that she would rescue or call her own. A few years later she was referred to Stray Cat Alliance (“SCA”) to teach her how to trap, neuter and return. Failing at the "return" part, Avarie worked to tame feral kittens, and decided a couple untameables were just purrfect and kept them for her own.   

This experience opened Avarie's eyes to what was going on in the cat world and she became very involved with SCA trapping, working fundraisers, fostering, bottle feeding - whatever was needed.  She then became busy with a successful new career in landscape design, but she continued to help animals on her own and occasionally with SCA.  After working a few Stray Cat Club events, Avarie missed being a part SCA’s important life-saving work and was eager to get more involved. She sees her current role as SCA’s Administrative Coordinator as a way to merge her desire to help animals with her work life and career.

Donna Tonyan, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator Donna Tonyan, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator

Donna has loved animals her whole life. She took in her first feral at age 10 and did everything she could to get her to be her indoor pet. She even documented any small progress in her journal. The cat never made the transition to living indoors, but they were bonded for life.

After moving to Los Angeles and seeing all the stray cats in need, Donna started volunteering for Stray Cat Alliance. She has had many adventures trapping, finding missing cats, and transporting sick animals to the vet. When offered an opportunity to work with SCA on a larger scale she jumped at the chance so she could make an even bigger contribution to the cats. Donna is very excited about her journey with SCA and working with the volunteers to save the cats...one stray at a time.

Gina Lynn, Hotline Gina Lynn, Hotline
Gina Lynn has been an advocate, activist and rescuer of animals all her life, committed to reducing and ending as much suffering as possible. A dedicated TNR-er, she is responsible for the sterilization of countless stray and feral cats and manages a colony in the apartment complex where she lives. Her beloved furry family, all rescued of course, includes several special needs cases and her feline soulmate, Jasper, who Gina rescued as a feral kitten with his sister (passed away in fall 2009) from underneath a building being fumigated 19 years ago. Gina's ultimate dream is to open a sanctuary for animals retired from labs, with lots of feral cats running around as well!

Masako Maxwell, Web Developer Masako Maxwell, Web Developer
Masako Maxwell has been a vegan and animal rights activist for over a decade. She works with several different animal related organizations with the mission to make the world a better place for animals. She is very grateful that now she gets to work with Stray Cat Alliance as it is an outstanding cat rescue group run by an amazing staff. Her love for cats was born when she lived in Los Gatos (means The Cats in Spanish). Now she is in LA learning to become a T/N/R expert, but her profession is as a web-based application programmer. Masako is in charge of SCA's website.