Our Amazing Staff

Ellen Simmonds

Executive Director

Ellen joined PAWS in 2017 and is responsible for all financial matters and general office management. She comes to us from a non-profit where she loved working with the children. She has experience in office operations, financial management, grant writing and strategic planning.


Ellen enjoys tennis, golf, reading, and annoying her family by practicing her language skills on unsuspecting foreign visitors. She also annoys staff by profusely thanking anyone and everyone who visits PAWS.


Phone: (203) 750-9572 x 106  |  Email: ellen.simmonds@pawsct.org

Barrie Sesmer

Feline Coordinator

Barrie Joined PAWS in January 2022 following 16 months as a PAWS volunteer on both the cat and dog sides. She has many years of experience fostering, transporting, socializing, and adopting out both cats and dogs.


When not a PAWS she can be found at home with her husband, 4 cats, 1 dog, and frequent fosters, all rescues! Her 3 non-furbabies have left the nest.

Phone: (203) 750-9572 x102  |  Email: cats@pawsct.org

Alexa Montegari

Dog Adoption Coordinator

Alexa joined PAWS in 2022 from her prior position as a veterinary technician in New Jersey. She has 2 dogs and 3 cats. Her passion has always been working with animals, but she knew once she took in her first rescue, Sonny, that she wanted to work at an animal shelter. Sonny showed Alexa how amazing a bond between a dog and a human can be with the right fit… and her other dog Hartt quickly did the same. She’s a matchmaker, matching humans with their soul dog(s).

Alexa likes spending her free time with her family in New Jersey and her boyfriend in Connecticut. She likes to run, do yoga, and hike with her pups. When at home, she can be found hiking, and asking her boyfriend to adopt more animals.


Phone: (203) 750-9572 x 109  |  Email: dogs@pawsct.org

Tori Haave

Medical Coordinator


Tori joined PAWS in 2016 as an animal care attendant and has now worked her way up to being our Medical Coordinator. She is a die hard animal lover, adopting a PAWS cat, dog, and even a PAWS turtle. She has spent the last few years learning from previous PAWS vet techs, veterinarians, and even spent some time working at a local veterinary hospital to further her skills. She takes pride in the fact that she loves all of our animals as much as she loves her own.


When not at PAWS, you can find her at home booking yet another trip to Disney World, or slaving away to her kitty, who is the king of the house.  

Phone: (203) 750-9572 x110  |   Email: vettech@pawsct.org

Lisa DiDonato

Volunteer Coordinator

Lisa has worked at PAWS as the Volunteer Coordinator for the past 12 years. She feels extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to combine her love for animals with her skills as a Masters level Social Worker. From the moment she assisted her mother, when she was setting up an Animal Assisted Therapy Program, Lisa knew she wanted to work with animals and people. Lisa believes she was always meant to be in a place where people and animals are intertwined in a deep respect for each other. She has found that in her work at PAWS, and is reminded of that, as each animal leaves the doors at PAWS with their new owners for their second chance at a better life.


Lisa keeps very busy at home as well with her husband, two sons, and three dogs which includes one she is currently fostering (all rescued from PAWS).


Phone: (203)750-9572 x103  |  Email: lisad@pawsct.org