Feral Cat Project Leadership
JASON THOMPSON | Executive Director
Jason joined Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project in July, 2014. He has dedicated the past 11 years of his professional career to animal welfare, most notably specializing in feline shelter and rescue work.
To complete his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Central Michigan University, Jason moved to the Pacific Northwest to intern with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, where he was assigned to the agency’s Western Pond Turtle Restoration Project, working daily in the Columbia River Gorge.
After completing his internship, Jason remained in the Northwest, working for the Willamette Humane Society as Cattery Lead and held the position of veterinary technician at the Seattle Humane Society.
In 2006, he transitioned to Shelter Manager of MEOW Cat Rescue, where he worked for eight years. He found his passion working with cats and discovered a unique ability to help those cats that are dealing with behavior issues.
Jason is a co-founder and the current chair of the Washington Shelter Operations Group, which meets monthly and facilitates regular communication and collaboration between animal welfare groups.
Jason is excited about and committed to FCSNP’s mission of saving lives through spay and neuter. He has worked closely with FCSNP for many years while with MEOW and looks forward to the opportunity to guide FCSNP’s future.
In his spare time, he and his fiancée, Lauren, can be found with their two black cats, Dora and Penélope, both rescued from shelters in Washington.
DR. MERRISS WATERS | Medical Director
Dr. Waters received her veterinary degree with honors from the University of California at Davis. She completed an internship at PetCare, a specialty hospital in CA, and continued working there as an ER/ICU vet for a year after her internship. She fell in love with the Pacific Northwest on her many outdoors pursuits in the area and moved up from CA to work at Seattle Veterinary Specialists in 2009.
Her flexible ER/ICU schedule allowed her to volunteer her time at multiple non-profits including Compassion Without Borders, Sonoma Humane, NOAH, Animal Balance, and Coalition Humane. She has remained in Seattle since 2009, except for a stint in CA working for the wonderful Spay Neuter Project Los Angeles. After leaving SVS, she pursued her dream and moved into animal welfare full time at Seattle Humane where she most recently held the title of Lead Veterinarian and Head of the WSU Student Program.
Dr. Waters is currently pursuing her Masters in Shelter Medicine through the University of Florida Maddie’s Fund program. She sits on the board of directors for Animal Balance, a non-profit promoting humane sterilization of dogs and cats internationally. Her true passions include animals, teaching, learning, mountain biking, backpacking, snow boarding, yoga, and cooking. Her most recent achievement is becoming Zeuterin certified. Currently, Dr. Waters lives in Seattle with her husband and two shelter dogs.
DR. JENNIFER BUCHANAN | Lead Veterinarian
Jennifer Mills Buchanan grew up on a cattle ranch in southern Oregon near Klamath Falls. Her love of animals is deeply rooted in her upbringing in a close-knit rural community. Active in 4-H and FFA throughout her childhood, her vocation was apparent to everyone but her until she decided to take a veterinary assistant job during high school. After that experience, she was hooked. She pursued a B.S. in Health Sciences at Oregon Institute of Technology before heading to Corvallis, Oregon to become a veterinarian.
Dr. Buchanan graduated from Oregon State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010 and jumped into shelter medicine with both feet! She began as a staff veterinarian at the Seattle Humane Society (SHS) of Bellevue/King County after graduation working with cats, dogs and pocket pets. While with SHS, Dr. Buchanan worked to improve the quality of care of pets both in the shelter and in foster (including fostering numerous pets herself).
During her 5 years at SHS, Jennifer pursued additional training in high volume/high quality spay and neuter surgical techniques enabling her to alter as many cats as possible to help reduce the homeless pet population. Her interest and dedication to community cat care and TNR emerged from her close interactions with local caregivers and owners needing resources for the cats in their care. Since coming to FCSNP as the lead veterinarian in October 2015, Dr. Buchanan has embraced the philosophy of high quality TNR and hopes to continue learning and teaching through our mentorship program.
Outside of the hospital, Dr. Buchanan enjoys raising her two small children on her hobby farm and hopes to learn how to brew her own beer in 2016. Her hobbies include hiking, bicycling, reading, writing and martial arts. She is also working on her application for the Masters degree program in Shelter Medicine through the University of Florida.
EMILY SCOFIELD | Clinic Manager
Emily Scofield began her work in veterinary medicine as an undergraduate. She worked with a large animal veterinarian for approximately 2.5 years, mostly working on hobby farms (e.g., pet goats, horses, llamas, miniatures) and with dairy cows. Although Emily very much enjoyed her work in large animal medicine, she learned that many animals in the world were underrepresented and under-served and she wanted to do something about it. Emily decided to dedicate herself to helping create a more compassionate and humane world for all animals and went on to pursue this passion.
Thus began her career in sheltering, at a small and wonderful shelter called the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire. Though the organization had modest financial resources, the small staff and large outstanding volunteer work force provided the animals there with the highest levels of respect, care and placement available. Animal Rescue League’s Outreach Department (1.5 staff members) worked year-round to find a solution for the feral cat population in New Hampshire. It was in this capacity that Emily learned the power of the volunteer and that feral cats were one of the most vulnerable and misunderstood populations of all domestic animals.
Since moving back to the Pacific Northwest, Emily has been employed as the Lead Unlicensed Technician at Seattle Humane Society (SHS). There, she manages the volunteer team in Veterinary Services as well as leads 4th year veterinary students through their two-week surgery and shelter medicine rotation. As a member of the SHS leadership team, Emily worked hard to develop the surgical and medicine programs, continuing to strive for the best possible practices for the animals we serve. Emily is deeply passionate about high-volume, high-quality spay neuter resources and volunteer program development.
In her spare time, Emily and her family enjoy hiking, gardening, woodworking and renovating her old house. She also volunteers internationally to help homeless pets worldwide with organizations dedicated to providing HQHVSN services. Emily and her husband share their home with two adopted dogs, Scarlet and Dede, and one very special cat, Lightning. They also regularly host foster kittens needing special medical attention or socialization.
ERIN KELLY | Licensed Clinic Technician
Erin Kelly, LVT, started working as our full time feline anesthetist in September 2015. She had volunteered at FCSNP and was a relief tech here in years past. She has also volunteered her time overseas for high-volume spay and neuter via Animal Balance and has always had a heart for homelessness prevention. Erin has also been a volunteer creek steward and K-12 tutor for King County, a tack and lead for Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center and a general caregiver at Pasado's Safe Haven.
Erin began her over 15yr career in veterinary medicine doing kennel and assistant work part time in high school. She dove into full time work shortly thereafter as the Medical Director/Criticalist's Assistant at the Veterinary Specialty Center in Lynnwood. After four years in this position her path brought her to Animal Critical Care and Emergency Services where she was an ICU shift lead and responsible for quality control of the in-house laboratory. During this time she passed the Veterinary Technician’s National Exam (VTNE) and developed special interests in internal medicine and blood banking. In 2007, Erin joined Seattle Veterinary Specialists (SVS) in Kirkland and founded and managed their in-house blood bank. She spent 2 more years in the ER before committing to internal medicine where she fostered her special interest in auto-immune disorders and transfusion medicine. Before leaving her SVS team of over 7 years Erin was responsible for the creation, development and implementation of the technician-training program at SVS.
Erin comes to our non-profit with wide eyed optimism for our mission and reverence for the tireless work of the TNR professionals and clinic volunteers. She is excited to provide exceptional care for each cat that comes through our doors and learn new ways to provide essential care for cats and their people.
RITA LAFUZE | Clinic Technician
For many years, Rita LaFuze has rescued homeless cats, many with kittens that eventually were homed. Rita began her career in the veterinary medical world in the 1990’s at a private feline practice in Edmonds. Her keen perception of cat behavior and her deep compassion for all living things led her to become highly trained as a veterinary assistant.
Rita not only has experience with robust pet cats, but also worked many hours caring for intensively ill cats from all types of disease: cancer, renal failure, poisoning, infections. Her knowledge base is broad, yet her compassion never wanes. Each cat’s life is valuable and deserves the best care in her hands. FCSNP was lucky to add Rita to our team in 2006.
Board of Directors
DR. SANDY WILLIS | President
Dr. Sandy Willis completed her veterinary degree at the University of California, Davis. She received additional training in small animal internal medicine at the University of Minnesota as an intern and at the University of Saskatchewan as a resident. She consults with veterinarians across the Pacific Northwest on all aspects of medicine in dogs and cats as a board certified small animal internist with Phoenix Central Lab in Mukilteo. Phoenix Central Lab is one of the few privately owned veterinary labs in the United States. Dr. Willis also gives seminars and wetlabs on diagnostic testing to veterinary staff and speaks at major veterinary meetings on how to communicate diagnostic testing and complicated medical problems to pet owners. She is passionate about supporting the bond that people have with their pets through a partnership with the family veterinarian and specialist when needed.
Dr. Willis is past president of the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association, current chair of their annual conference and serves as the Washington State representative to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). She recently joined the board of the Puget Sound Veterinary Medical Association to help sustain an association that works to bring veterinarians together for education and camaraderie and to provide a resource to the public.
Dr. Willis joined the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project as Board President in 2009 at the invitation of founder Dr. Christine Wilford. The two have remained friends and colleagues over the years. Dr. Willis has been honored and delighted to serve an organization that focuses on the cats and the people who care for them. She is proud of the work both board and staff members—old and new—have accomplished and all of the dedicated work volunteers have contributed to grow the organization.
For Dr. Willis, leadership means empowering other people to rise to their potential and getting out of their way to let them shine. Dr. Willis has been owned by cats all of her life. Currently, she serves as staff for Lilly the Himalayan, Giselle the Oriental Longhair and Micki and Fii, recently adopted young kitties by way of MEOW Cat Rescue. They were both free roaming and altered by the FCNSP. Dr. Willis’ hobbies include swimming and cycling, the arts, wine appreciation and reading, the latter two hobbies preferably enjoyed with one of her aforementioned cats.
VICKI FARRETTA | Vice President
Vicki has worked in management for Swedish Edmonds Hospital for the past 5 years. She started her career as an Animal Health Technician where she worked in several emergency veterinary hospitals as well as a small animal clinic. She then went to work at Cats Exclusive Veterinary Hospital where she truly learned the ins and outs of feline healthcare and became forever dedicated to cats.
In 1998, Vicki joined the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project as a volunteer and has since contributed her time and skills in different aspects of the clinic. She has worked in the different stations of the clinic, including anesthesia, surgical prep, check-in and recovery. Vicki became a board member in 2010 to offer her voice on behalf of the trappers in the area.
In 2001, she turned to TNVR as her primary focus after seeing a small ball of fluff sitting curbside within 3 feet from traffic! She asked for a mentor to help her learn the ropes and has brought many cats into the clinic since. Vicki believes in the ‘one cat at a time’ mission and is committed to improving the lives of free roaming cats.
Vicki currently lives amongst her feral born cats, two of which were her first foster kittens, now 17. She learned quickly that keeping them ALL was not going to work and determined that she would only add those cats in need of Veterinary care. Each has a personality unlike the rest and that’s what she finds so fascinating in this world of felines.
Vicki was instrumental in helping to form the group Community Cat Coalition of WA, a grassroots effort that has pulled together many aspects of trapping and rescue to enrich the lives of cats in the state, by members helping one another to create many more opportunities for trappers and foster parents for cats.
In the past year, Vicki has co-managed a growing Facebook group that teaches TNVR, rescue and advocacy of community cats worldwide. She finds it very interesting to see how many resources there are in WA State as compared to many other areas around the country. Vicki enjoys helping to lend solutions to the problems many people face in their dedication to helping cats everywhere.
KAREN BROTHERS | Treasurer
Karen moved to Washington when she was nine years old, so she considers the Pacific Northwest her home. Her love of animals was instilled at an early age and she has had pets all of her life. Currently, she and her husband are staff/guardians to a cat family of 8 - all rescues and indoor felines.
She received her bachelor’s degree in Accounting with honors from Seattle University and she passed the CPA exam in May of 2000.
Having always worked in the private sector, Karen has in-depth experience across all areas of corporate accounting. She is honored and thrilled to be part of the FCSNP family. She is looking forward to contributing her expertise and experience in furthering Feral Cat Spay and Neuter Project’s goals by refining processes and accounting procedures. Karen is eager to help in any way she can to further the mission of saving the lives of cats by reducing the number of litters.
She is currently working full time as an Accounting Manager and, in addition, is the President of Four Paws Lifeline a non-profit 501(c) (3) which began in February 2015.
LINDSEY SOFFES | Secretary
Lindsey is the Volunteer & Staff Supervisor at MEOW Cat Rescue. Prior to this, she worked as the Operations Analyst for Seattle Humane, as the Director of Community Engagement and an animal cruelty investigator for a farmed and companion animal sanctuary, and as a civil rights attorney.
Lindsey has been a TNR advocate and facilitator since 2012 and it was this work that brought her to the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project, where she has also volunteered with both administrative and clinical tasks. Working to improve the welfare and protect the well-being of feral cats, as well as socializing those not yet committed to a feral life, remains one of her favorite and most fulfilling undertakings.
Lindsey shares her home with her rescued "pit bulls" and foster cats and dreams of a vegan world in which all sentient beings enjoy equal moral consideration.
- Christine Wilford, DVM
- Daniel Smith, Attorney, Millar & Smith, PLLC
- J.A. Woodfield, DVM, ACVIM, Northwest Cardiology
- Janet Fagan, Artist
- Jeri A Hastava, Technical Advisor, Leap of Faith Web Design
- Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, College of Veterinary Medicine,
- University of Florida
- Rick Hall
- Virginia Dalton, Seattle Animal Control
- Jennifer Hillman, Director, Western Region, HSUS
- Lea Lucky, Manager, Animal Relocation, ASPCA