Meet the CACDA Board of Directors

Melanie Sobel (President).  Melanie has been the General Manager of the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter for five years. Previously, she was the Director of Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission, Director of the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter and Director of Program Services and Public Relations for City of Chicago Animal Care and Control. She has a BA from the University of Illinois in History and a MA in Public Administration from DePaul University. Ms. Sobel has been a member of the Chicago Public Schools Character Education Advisory Council, Co-Chair of the Chicago Dog Advisory Work Group’s Animal Abuse Prevention and Court Advocacy Committee, and a Professional Advisor at DePaul University. She has served as a Board member on the Illinois Animal Welfare Federation, Texas Federation of Humane Societies and the Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies.

Eric Anderson, DVM (Vice President).  Eric Anderson is a graduate of the School of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University.   After years of working in private practice, Eric switched gears to become the Animal Services Manager for the County of San Luis Obispo.  As part of the CACDA Board, Eric looks forward to creating collaborative and cooperative relationships and assisting with issues and challenges facing California’s animal care and control community.

Cindy Burnham (Secretary).  Cindy has a B.S. in Environmental Science with minors in appropriate technology and environmental ethics from Humboldt State University as well as a Masters in Community Leadership from Duquesne University (HSUS partnership program).  Cindy started in the animal welfare world in 2000 for Monterey County Animal Services, where she worked for almost 7 years as their Education/Volunteer Coordinator, overseeing a variety of areas including the volunteer program, community education and outreach, public relations, fundraising and in-house operational programs.  In 2007, she moved just down the street to the City of Salinas Animal Services as the Animal Services Manager. In 2015, she was promoted to the position of Police Services Administrator within the Salinas Police Department while continuing her role of Animal Services Manager.

Veronica Fincher (Treasurer).  Veronica graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and is currently attending the University of La Verne Master’s program.  Since 2011, Veronica has held the Director of Animal Services position for the City of Rancho Cucamonga.  She looks forward to using her experience on the CACDA board in both nonprofit and municipal shelters to help bring agencies together to collaborate on challenges within their region.

Henry Brzezinski.  Henry is the Chief of El Dorado County Animal Services (Western Slope and South Lake Tahoe).  His passion for animal welfare has led to a 33 year career. He started his journey in South Carolina as a Humane Investigator after attending pharmacy school.  He eventually became the Executive Director of a 100+ year old Humane Society with multiple contracts for local government animal services programs and also oversaw a high volume reduced-cost spay-neuter clinic.  During his time in the South as a lobbyist he drafted and attained passage of 22 state animal welfare laws.  Brzezinski was also a Field Investigator for the HSUS, Mid-Atlantic Regional office and was involved in the first felony cockfighting bust in Pennsylvania. He has been recognized as an expert witness in several states. One of his many interests is researching and applying California animal laws.

Vicky Fletcher.  Vicky is the Business Services Manager at Yolo County Animal Services.  She started as an Animal Services Officer in 1986.  In 1990 she was promoted to Supervising Animal Services Officer.  In 1991 she was reclassified as Chief Animal Services Officer.  In 1998 she was reclassified to Business Services Manager as well as retaining the title of Chief Officer for purposes of enforcing County Code.  Vicky has received many honors for her dedication to her work and the County. She is a founding member and board member of the Yolo County Sheriff’s Posse, a non-profit volunteer organization which provides support to the Sheriff’s Office and is dedicated to search and rescue and community outreach. 

Tara Diller.  Tara, is a self-described "data junkie" and a fierce animal advocate. She has a strong passion for changing the face of municipal shelters. Tara has worked as a Best Practice Consultant for Animal Shelters and firmly believes in innovative sheltering practices such as Community Cats, also known as Trap Neuter Return (TNR), shelter playgroups, pit bull education, shelter enrichments, bringing the shelter to the community, transparency and creating unlikely community partnerships. She is a proud mom to a student at UC Davis studying to be a Clinical Psychologist and is a Student Assistant at the UC Davis MIND institute to studying Autism. During her free time, Tara enjoys studying industry best practices, reading good books and spending time with her husband and dogs.

Phillip Zimmerman.  Phillip has been the Animal Services Manager for the City of Stockton Animal Shelter since January 1, 2015.  Before that, he worked as a 9-1-1 Police Telecommunicator Supervisor for the City of Stockton.  He has a B.A. from California State University Stanislaus in Social Science, with concentrations in Sociology, Psychology, and Communications.   Phillip has a strong desire to continue changing the public’s perception of municipal open-admission animal shelters and help garner support from the communities they serve.  

 Diana Barrett.  Diana has been in the Animal Welfare Industry for over 27 years.   She was the first female animal control officer for the Oakland Police Department Animal Services Division, where she honed in her “people skills”, perfected her animal handling skills and learned to be a vet tech.  Currently, she is the Animal Services Manager for the Sutter Animal Services Authority.  Diana makes her home in Northern California and enjoy spending time with her family on her 5 acre ranchette complete with sheep and goats, three failed foster cats and a chi – weenie named “Skeeter”. 

Gina Knepp.  Gina is the Animal Care Services Manager for the Front Street Animal Shelter -City of Sacramento. Relatively new to the animal industry, she transformed what was once the worst performing shelter in town, to one of incredible lifesaving. Through the development of creative and zany programs, Front Street was rebranded and has flourished under her leadership. Community partnerships and relationships with Sacramento’s residents and businesses have resulted in making Front Street a household name. Serving the city limits of Sacramento, with an animal intake of 12,000 critters per year, the State’s Capitol shelter is now a vibrant hub of activity, energy and success. Gina’s motto in life is: try anything once, twice it if feels good, the third time it’s policy! Gina is married, has a lovely daughter, 3 dogs and 1 cat. Her background includes 311 and 911 management.