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

Ellen Emerson

Feline Coordinator

Ellen joined PAWS in 2016 and is a self-titled crazy cat lady. She has volunteered, fostered, trapped & returned and worked with cats for more than 20 years. She looks forward to the challenge of finding wonderful homes for all the PAWS kitties, even the hard to place and "less-adoptable".


Ellen never turns away a bottle baby kitten and loves helping to socialize shy and scared cats. When not at the shelter, Ellen is busy sharing cats on Facebook, putting off her house cleaning, and being bossed around by her own cat crew.

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

Lisa Barnett

Canine Coordinator

Lisa joined PAWS in 2016, after working many years as an advocate for the elderly and disabled. She feels she can put her experience giving voice to the voiceless to use at PAWS and is very fortunate to be able to help PAWS’ dogs with their new beginnings. 


She has immersed herself in animal rescue over the last several years, working for animal control and rescue, as well as volunteering.  Lisa additionally has experience with fostering and training.  When not at PAWS, she enjoys hiking and travel with her daughter and her dog.


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

Matthew Berg

Vet Tech / Assistant Feline Coordinator


Matthew Berg joined Paws as a volunteer 9 years ago. In 2009, Matt became the Assistant Feline Coordinator and in 2011 added Veterinary Technician to his title. Matt works closely with the veterinarian that comes to Paws weekly as well as our partner vets. He manages all medical issues and maintains the medical records for all the shelter animals.


In addition, he can tell you about the background of any of the shelter’s cats. Matt can often be found walking through the hallways with a grumpy expression and mumbling under his breath; but he's as cuddly as the cats he works with. Matt lives with his partner and Paws alum Izzy and Zucca.


Phone: (203) 750-9572 x110  |   Email: matt@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 

PAWS has been helping animals in need since 1962. Our dedicated staff and volunteers provide shelter, medical attention, and love to the dogs and cats in our care. We work hard to find the right pet for your home and the right home for every pet. Challenge accepted! We rescued and placed for more than 900 cats and dogs last year!

504 Main Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851  |  203-750-9572  |  Send Email