Print Gary DeGeronimo named director
Written by Trista Steers MacVittie   
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 00:00

Adopt-For-Life Center for Animals announcement it hired a new executive director came on the heels of the resignation of Sierra Neblina.

Adopt-For-Life Center for Animals Executive Director Gary DeGeronimoNow, former Executive Director Neblina and new Executive Director Gary DeGeronimo will work together for two weeks to bring DeGeronimo up to speed before Neblina moves on to her next project.

The shelter, formally named the Verde Valley Humane Society, made Neblina’s resignation public Jan. 9. On Friday, Jan. 20, Adopt-For-Life announced DeGeronimo as its new director.

Neblina said in an interview immediately following her resignation the shelter had a new director in mind when she decided to leave, and the community would understand why she stepped aside when the shelter made the announcement.

“He had a terrific résumé,” Adopt-For-Life Board of Directors President Kyla Allen said, and “amazing credentials.”

DeGeronimo has worked with animals since 1980 and served as shelter manager at three shelters. He is an animal behavior therapist and works with the Hairy Angel Foundation, which provides dogs to autistic children.

DeGeronimo most recently worked at the Humane Society of Sedona as shelter manager but left Dec. 3.

“It was time for me to move on,” DeGeronimo said. He worked in Sedona during its campaign to raise money to built its new shelter, and saw it through the process of moving into its new home and expanding services, including educational classes and a mobile adoption program.

Longtime animal professional Gary DEGERONIMO shares a laugh with Dolly, a homeless dog currently living at the Adopt-For-Life Center for Animals, on Tuesday, Jan. 24. DeGeronimo takes over as the Cottonwood shelter’s executive director on Saturday, Jan. 28. DeGeronimo said he hopes to shape the beleaguered organization — formerly known as the Verde Valley Humane Society — into the good quality shelter Cottonwood deserves.DeGeronimo plans to bring the same approach to the Cottonwood shelter.

“I love to watch a shelter grow and develop,” he said.

Part of the planned growth includes strengthening the shelter’s connection with the community.

Neblina laid the groundwork, DeGeronimo said, and he intends to move the shelter “up a couple of notches.”

“Now, it’s time to bring the community to the shelter,” he said. “We’re going to look to the community for support and give back to the community as we grow.”

DeGeronimo will bring more focus to shelter operations, Allen said, and repair its reputation with the community.

“I think he is going to take us to the next level,” Allen said. The shelter has a history of conflict to overcome, and DeGeronimo will get it past that.

Neblina served as the executive director for six months following the resignation of Cyndi Costello. Neblina is leaving to pursue work in her field of UFOlogy. She started as a volunteer at the shelter, served on the board and then became the director.