We are thrilled that Corinne Lamata has stepped into the role of Board President at Cat Town. Corinne has two decades of fundraising and marketing experience, including leadership roles at numerous animal welfare and educational institutions. Today we’re sharing what inspires her to be an advocate for animals as Cat Town’s newest Board President.
Cat Town: Why did you decide to join the Cat Town Board of Directors?
Corinne Lamata: Everybody follows their authentic calling; mine is to help the most vulnerable in our society. Animals are certainly in that group. One of the ongoing challenges for animal welfare communities around the country is unnecessary euthanasia of companion animals. Every day, many thousands of people nationwide work to prevent it—Cat Town is a strategic leader in pursuit of that goal.
CT: What is it that you think makes Cat Town a leader in furthering animal welfare?
CL: Ann Dunn saw a problem no one was addressing, developed a plan to correct it, and followed through. That’s the approach that everyone at Cat Town takes. The staff and volunteers are smart, totally committed, and make a measurable difference in preventing needless euthanasia. This organization has so much momentum—I’m hoping to help strengthen that momentum as Board President.
CT: Have you always worked to help animals?
CL: No, but falling into the field has been one of my greatest joys. I started my career in marketing for Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and when I left I discovered I could get paid to help animals. It was heaven! I managed Berkeley Humane’s volunteers before leaving to advance my career in higher education as a fundraiser for UCSF and then Stanford Medicine. But I couldn’t stay out of animal welfare for long—I returned to helping animals at the San Francisco SPCA. When I came back to Berkeley Humane as Executive Director, I stayed as long as I could before leaving to support my father during end of life care for my stepmother, and then through his own health crisis. Now, I’m fortunate to serve on the boards of Fix Our Ferals and Cat Town to keep me planted in the world of animal welfare that I love.
CT: When did you first know you loved animals?
CL: Three films I saw when I was very young had profound influence on me. When I was about four, I saw The Wizard of Oz. When Miss Gulch told Auntie Em she was going to have Toto destroyed, I knew it sounded very bad and unfair. I saw King Kong when I was about the same age. People had kidnapped this incredible ape from the jungle and made a spectacle of him for their entertainment—and when his wild nature surfaced, they shot him. I could not believe how cruel and unjust that was. When I was nine I saw Born Free, about a couple living in Kenya who struggled to keep a lioness they’d raised from a cub from living a life in confinement. So from the time I was quite young, I had firm beliefs about how animals should be treated.
CT: Have you always had a soft spot for cats?
CL: Oh yes. My family had a cat, Toby, when I was very small. In my 20’s I met a beautiful long-haired tortie at a lunchtime mobile adoption event at the Ferry Plaza in San Francisco. She reached out to me from her cage. We had such a connection that I went back later that day to adopt her. I named her Millie. Through the years I’ve also cared for Sadie, Bubba, Butch, and Buster—all lovely feline friends. Butch is a big adorable red cat who is still with me—I adopted Mama, a huge beautiful tortie, in 2013 to help keep him company. Mama suffers no fools, but I think I’m finally on her A List. For years she’d smack me if I petted her without permission. Now she sits on my lap, gazes up at me, and lets me hug and kiss her. She’s an exquisite wonder.
CT: Is there anything else you’d like people to know?
CL: I’ve been on Cat Town’s Board of Directors for two years. In that time the organization has had so many wonderful achievements. Cat Town does serious and impactful work, but is also a really fun place to visit. That’s quite an accomplishment. If you haven’t been, please come and see for yourself!
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