Esther (at right in image) put her community-organizing skills to work by founding Animal Rights Hawaii in the early 1980’s. Faced with a myriad of animal issues, the ultimate decision was to focus on companion animal problems, specifically the surplus of cats and dogs – since prevention of unwanted litters was not on the public radar in the 1980’s; at the time over twelve million animals were being euthanized annually for lack of homes.
Over the years, Marian’s Dream founded programs which were later taken on by other organizations such as the Focus on Animals film and video center, now run by the National Humane Education Society. In 1990, she began SPAY/USA as a program of Marian’s Dream. Since then, SPAY/USA helped hundreds of thousands of people looking for low-cost, high-quality spay/neuter options. SPAY/USA is now a program of N.S.A.L.
Esther has assisted with the start-up of hundreds of affordable spay and neuter programs and clinics, both fixed-site and mobile throughout the United States. Thanks to the SPAY/USA model and willingness to share and empower other groups, similar programs have started in other countries as well.
For her work, Esther Mechler won the prestigious Geraldine R. Dodge Award for Humane Ethics in Action in 1995, Outstanding Women of Connecticut in 2003 and the Bates College Alumni Community Service Award in 2014.
Since her childhood, Joan Herdegen has been interested in animal welfare, and has adopted her companion animals from rescue groups and shelters. A systems analyst by profession, Joan and her artist husband Dick retired to Maine in 1999. She appreciates, understands and supports the role of system change as it pertains to animal advocacy. She is particularly interested in the role of prevention of animal suffering, and being proactive instead of reactive to issues.
Elaine Fougere comes to us with an MBA and over twenty years’ experience in IT working in insurance, investments, distribution, logistics, merchandising, replenishment systems, forecasting and planning, customer relationship management and business intelligence/analysis. She is a team player passionate about enabling projects – and peers – to succeed. Elaine combines her interest in technology with an equally strong interest in the outdoors, nature and animals.
A lifetime of saving animals and no regrets for Helen Banks. As a child, she saved wounded or sick dogs, birds, deer, rabbits, turtles – and any other creature. These rescued animals were kept in the “animal hospital” in the basement of the family home; a vet came by for regular visits. Later in life, she raised funds with Esther Mechler for local animal charities and rescued horses from slaughterhouses in Connecticut. Next came saving over 11,000 greyhounds from southwest Florida racetracks. Currently in her 80s, Helen is active in the trap-neuter-release of feral cats. A board member of Marian’s Dream since 2009, Helen continues to contribute to the welfare and well-being of animals.
Len is an attorney and a philosopher. He spent the first 25 years of his career as a lawyer, primarily with Time Warner in New York City. He then returned to graduate school and earned a Ph.D. in philosophy. He has taught at several universities, and is now teaching at Brooklyn College and Pace University. All his life he has had an intellectual and emotional attachment to animals, and is very happy to be associated with Marian’s Dream in its work on improving the plight of companion animals.
If Don Litwin was asked ‘what do you DO?,’ he would say ‘handle hard problems most people do not want any part of.’ This is challenging and rewarding to him. Don has been on many non -profit Boards of Directors, including a few terms as Board President. This work included a women and children’s homeless shelter, a rehabilitation center for people with addiction problems, and many years (over 25) of involvement including being a member of the board of directors, most recently adviser to the Executive Director, for the Long Island Crisis Center.
Jody has been involved in animal protection as a freelancer until she joined a rescue organization in 1995 and became a strong advocate for pediatric spay neuter. She moved to Protectors of Animals, Inc in 2000 and became president in 2001. Her program is a model in Connecticut. Since that time all cats and dogs have been S/N prior to adoption; pediatric s/n was not a common practice back then in CT. In 2010 the Hope Spay Clinic was launched by POA acting as fiscal sponsor. The clinic is still in operation, now under different management. POA has become home to SPAY CT, and is becoming active in the United Spay Alliance