Sammie’s Friends in Nevada County has new shelter director, financial officer |

Sammie’s Friends in Nevada County has new shelter director, financial officer

The office for the shelter director of Sammie’s Friends has undergone a dramatic change.

Other parts of the McCourtney Road animal shelter have seen change as well. New paint adorns some of the walls.

There are new faces as well.

“I’ve been painting,” said Lizette Taylor, financial director for Sammie’s Friends. “We’re putting on a new look.”

“She’s also the interior director,” joked Cheryl Wicks, cofounder of Sammie’s Friends.

Taylor and Lorie Hennessey, shelter director, are new additions. Taylor’s first day was Sept. 1. Hennessey started Jan. 2.

Both are stepping into positions originally filled by Wicks and Curt Romander, the other shelter cofounder. The hires mean Wicks and Romander can begin stepping away from the day-to-day duties they’ve shouldered for years.

In fact, that process already has begun. But it doesn’t mean the pair is completely removed from Sammie’s Friends. The veterinarian program, spay and neuter program and nonprofit duties still loom large.

“But we feel like we’ve chopped our job in half,” Wicks said. “It makes a huge difference.”

New hires

Taylor has worked with Sammie’s Friends for about six years, stepping into a larger role about four months ago.

She started working with Sammie’s Nifty Thrifty Shop, a job that evolved into tracking finances and animals for the shelter.

“We literally track every single financial transaction for each one,” Taylor said.

She also tracks which shots the animals receive and donations given to Sammie’s Friends.

Then there’s the management software.

The shelter currently uses commercial management software at a cost of around $15,000 a year. Taylor has developed her own software that costs about $48 a month. It’s also usable by volunteers whose duties require them to access it.

“We’re very close to the point where we’ll present this to the county,” Romander said.

Hennessey joined Sammie’s Friends after working for 14 years in the nonprofit sector. However, her work was outside Nevada County and she wanted something local.

Then the director position opened at the animal shelter.

“I promptly sent in my resume to see if there was a match,” Hennessey said. “I have a strong interest in animals.”

Hennessey has spent her first few days on the job learning. She’s watching the volunteers’ daily routines, seeing adoptions and abandonments occur.

She’s also started writing policies. One of her first — employees and volunteers bringing their own pets to work.

“We’re heading off what could be a problem,” Wicks said.


The county and Sammie’s Friends clashed early last year over the animal shelter’s contract. At one point it appeared Placer County could take over aspects of the local shelter’s operations.

The tension eased when the sheriff said he’d focus contract negotiations on Sammie’s Friends only. Both sides agreed to a new contract days before the old one expired.

The county had been providing Sammie’s Friends with $382,000 a year. Shelter advocates said they needed more. The shelter proposed $743,000 and settled for $714,000.

The county under the contract provided $85,000 for a shelter director and $65,000 for a financial officer.

“They’re like two angels that fell out of the sky,” Wicks said of Taylor and Hennessey.

Noting her recent start date, Hennessey said one of her first tasks includes meeting with county officials to ensure they’re seeking the same goals.

“We just need to make sure we’re all on the same page,” Hennessey said.

The shelter also has long-term visions. Wicks said she’s curious about one shelter for the entire county. Romander said new, larger buildings are needed for Sammie’s Friends.

Hennessey said she’s examining aspects of the shelter that need updating or revising. She’s visited shelters in Placer County and Truckee to learn different, and perhaps better, ways to run a shelter.

Romander said he wants to ensure Sammie’s Friends implements its vision — to provide a safe and caring place for neglected, abandoned and abused animals; to care and rehabilitate animals; and to have those animals adopted into loving homes.

“That’s so important to us,” Romander said. “That’s what makes the thing work.”

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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