Volunteer Spotlight: Charlotte Cathro

Charlotte Cathro says members of Dakin’s Board of Directors tend to be more involved with their organization than those on other nonprofit boards. She is living proof of that. When her pregnant foster dog, Audrey, was approaching delivery, the Dakin board president spent a week sleeping on the floor with the Catahoula in a birthing enclosure that Charlotte had built from plans she found online. “I didn’t trust the webcam,” she says. “I didn’t want to miss anything.”

In the pre-dawn hours of Dec. 2, with Charlotte as midwife, Audrey gave birth to nine puppies. Four hours later number 10 was born. The litter—all of whom are named for former Saturday Night Live cast members—became instant celebrities on Facebook and have even done two Puppy Pop-Up fundraisers for Dakin, events which sold out as soon as they were announced.

When the Cathros moved back to the area in 2012, Charlotte had already been serving on a board in the Boston area and enjoyed the experience, so she looked up nonprofit boards in the Pioneer Valley. A lifelong animal lover, she liked what she saw about Dakin. After meeting with then-executive director, Leslie Harris, followed by the Nominating Committee, she felt Dakin was the perfect match. “And CPAs are always in demand for nonprofit boards,” she adds. The board quickly put her accounting skills to work as treasurer, eventually electing her president. She served on search committees for both the executive director and finance/administrative positions and is currently on the strategic planning committee. She has fostered 31 animals but is quick to point out that Audrey and her pups account for 11 of those. She adds that the advice and support she gets from Dakin staff and other volunteers has been wonderful.

In addition to having her own accounting practice, Charlotte teaches accounting at Elms College. She is on the events committee for Look Park, and the newly-formed Child Birth Center committee at Cooley Dickinson Hospital tasked with the renovation of that facility.

Charlotte lives in Florence with her husband, Patrick; their sons Oliver, 7, and Graham, 3 ½; Delilah, their18-year-old blind basset hound; Boogie, a10-year-old chihuahua who has had serious back surgery; Keebler, a tuxedo cat from a litter that appeared in their Eastern Massachusetts yard when she and Patrick arrived home from their honeymoon; and Graff, a snowshoe cat who is a “foster failure.” Another foster failure, Bill Murray, Audrey’s tenth pup-come-lately is joining the Cathro household. “We knew we would keep one,” she says. “We just had to wait for him to choose us.” She said it was Bill Murray’s eye contact that let the family know he was the one.

Asked what her vision is for the future of Dakin, this energetic leader focuses on making Dakin even more involved in the community. “We’ve done a really great job at being a shelter, and a spay/neuter clinic,” she says, praising staff and volunteers for their unparalleled commitment and dedication. “We need to identify the other needs that are out there and ask ‘This is what we do. How can we best help you?’” She is looking forward to that challenge.

Many thanks to Marianne Gambaro who contributed this story.

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