The Feline Refuge Board of Directors
Mary Lou Cronin – Chairperson and Treasurer
Mary Lou received her BA in Spanish from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, PA, spending her junior year at the University of Madrid. She then spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Niger, Africa. After returning home, she earned an MIA from Columbia University with a specialization in International Finance. She then began her banking career on Wall Street, attaining the position of Vice President, and working at several banks in their international, middle market, and private banking divisions. She has worked at Citibank, Chase and HSBC USA, responsible for portfolios of over $100 million.
Mary Lou’s real passion has always been animals. While living and working in NYC, she was the Treasurer of a non-profit organization that rescued cats and kittens from the streets. Mary Lou fostered many of the rescued cats and was responsible for adoptions; the group averaged 300 rescues per year.
Deciding to focus on her love of animals, Mary Lou retired from the corporate life in 2006 and moved to Kanab, UT to work as a Cat Caregiver at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. She retired in 2009, and is very active in the local volunteer community. She is also a co-founder of Community Cat Food Assistance Program (CCFAP), an organization that provides cat food for feral colonies in Southern Utah.
Mary Lou has served as Treasurer on the Boards of several non-profit animal rescue organizations. She also served as the Treasurer of her NYC co-op, overseeing a budget of $2 million. She is currently the Treasurer of The Friends of the Kanab Library, and is responsible for the finances of CCFAP.
Mary Lou shares her home with several rescued cats, and a rescued puppy mill dog.
Michelle Warfle – CEO/President and Secretary
Michelle earned a B.S. Aerospace Engineering from St. Louis University. Ms. Warfle spent over 20 years working as a contractor for the United States Department of Defense. She began as an engineer and worked her way up to Technical Director. During this time, she provided technical, personnel, and management oversight of contracts in excess of $20M, to include budget development and implementation.
Prior to her current work for The Feline Refuge, Michelle worked for Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) from December 2007 until October 2016. For approximately the last seven years, she was the manager of the cat department. In this capacity, she was responsible for a staff of 39 caregivers and team leaders, 500+ cats, and an operating budget of $1M+. The cats under her care included cats infected with the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) or the feline leukemia virus (FeLV).
She shares her home with her feline hiking partner, Earl, a rescued cat from Texas.
Susan Richardson – Director
After graduating from UCLA, she began working at an ad agency in Los Angeles and was later transferred to San Francisco to help open a new office. Deciding to take time off, she chose to study French and travel around Europe. While there, she was hired by the European headquarters of an American company. She worked as a pan-European Advertising and Promotion Supervisor responsible for promoting a variety of products into 6 divergent industries. She was responsible for planning and producing literature, advertisements, exhibitions and even sponsoring a car at Le Mans. She also wrote the first European corporate brochure.
After many years she was obliged to return to the US on family business. It was then that cats became a large part of her life. The first cat she rescued was FIV+ which is when she learned about the misinformation that was often being given to the public about FIV. This cat made friends with her other cats and lived with no FIV-related illnesses until he passed away at 21. Suze studied for certification and became a Reiki practitioner, both hands on and distant. She used this with numerous cats she cared for during her years as a volunteer at a sanctuary. Naturally she uses this with her own family of cats which have ranged from healthy, disabled and hospice. One of her current cats is severely brain damaged and mostly blind. But he lives in a welcoming home and has already lived much longer than expected.
Deborah Whorley – Director
Deb grew up in southern Indiana and discovered her love of animals at an early age. She attended Purdue University majoring in Biology, Animal Science, and graduating with an AAS degree in Veterinary Technology. Later, Deb returned to school at Adrian College to finish her BS in Biology and interned at Henry Ford Hospital School of Medical Technology.
She worked in hospital and private labs in Michigan and Indiana for 13.5 years. Then she realized a high school dream of working for Eli Lilly and Company, supporting labs, ECGs, imaging, genomics, and data management for phase 1-4 human clinical trials in Neuroscience, Diabetes, and Oncology, as well as building and maintaining two websites as the primary web developer for her department.
During this time, Deb volunteered for two years as a transporter for multiple regional animal transport coordinators, moving dogs and cats in and around the Midwest. She went on to volunteer at Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, taking photos of dogs and creating profiles to post on PetFinder and later assisting with evaluation of dogs to determine adoptability.
In 2013, Deb moved to Kanab as a teleworker for Eli Lilly and began volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary at Dogtown and later Cat World. While volunteering, the FeLV+ cats of CalMar house captured her heart and she eventually adopted three FeLV+ and one FeLV discordant cat from Best Friends.
Deb retired in May of 2017 and joined The Feline Refuge Board of Directors in April of 2018.
Deb currently shares her home with two rescued dogs and eight rescued cats including four FeLV+ and one FeLV discordant.