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Leadership Team and Board


Melissa Penn – Managing Director

My journey with Sydney Dogs & Cats Home started more than 24 years ago as a committed supporter and volunteer.  From working directly with the animals in our care to helping secure our forever home, this organisation has certainly fueled my passion for animal welfare!  I’ve served as the Vice President of our Board to work on the governance of our organisation, and in early 2022, I was subsequently appointed as Managing Director.

For me, it’s more than just a job though. I’ve fostered and adopted dogs and cats over the past two decades and I’ve seen firsthand the love a shelter animal can bring.

Over the span of 30 years, I’ve gathered extensive experience in Operations and General Management, Project and Change Management, and Leadership & Governance in senior leadership positions across various sectors, such as Business Management, Direct Marketing, Finance and Mental Health. This experience fuels my deep commitment to ensuring the well-being of our staff, volunteers and foster carers as we all work together to look after animals in need. I also currently serve as the President of Companion Animal Network Australia (CANA).

My diverse background has also equipped me with skills to help navigate complex business operations, lead transformative projects, and facilitate effective change management, that is helping to secure the future of Sydney Dogs & Cats Home.

Dr Laura Taylor – Head of Animal Care

As Head of Animal Care at Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, my dedication to animal welfare drives every aspect of my work. Since graduating as a veterinarian in 2012, my goal has been to merge medical expertise with a passion for animal welfare and behaviour.  

Shelter medicine holds a special place in my heart. It’s not just about providing veterinary care; it’s about understanding the intricate world of animal behaviour within a shelter environment. My vision revolves around transforming shelters into proactive hubs, focusing on prevention through initiatives like desexing and community education.  

I am passionate about addressing the root causes of animal homelessness and believe that community support and education are paramount in the solution to this, coupled with preventative measures such as microchipping and desexing. 

With a strong foundation in Veterinary science and dedication to advancing shelter medicine, my team and I aim to improve the lives of animals at Sydney Dogs & Cats Home. My mission is to spark change and advocate for a world where every single animal is treated with the care and empathy they rightfully deserve

Karen Kalpage – Head of Fundraising and Marketing

As a passionate fundraising and marketing specialist with 25 years’ experience in not-for-profit, corporate and agency, I am committed to bringing pets and people together. Having a rescue dog for 14 years now, who’s a much-loved member of our family, I’ve seen the benefits a rescue animal has on family life. 

I’ve worked with some of the biggest global charities in aid and development, conservation and healthcare, running large and complex fundraising, advocacy and marketing campaigns, to grow relationships, revenue, reputation, and to advocate for change. I’m passionate about understanding and engaging with our supporters and partners. They are key to our sustainable future.

I’m also experienced and passionate about taking a strategic approach, creating efficient processes, capturing robust data to aid decision making and identifying ways to improve.  

At Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, my team and I are excited to support the organisation’s growth and connection with the community so we can help even more animals in need.  


Our volunteer Board is democratically elected by our Membership and provides strategic direction, governance and oversight to Sydney Dogs & Cats Home.

Joanne Bermingham – President

I have been a volunteer at Sydney Dogs & Cats Home for almost five years and have really enjoyed spending time with our animals, staff and volunteers. I received my first volunteer induction in early 2019 at the old Carlton site and I’ve seen how the organisation has transitioned through uncertain times, going from strength to strength. Most recently, my involvement has expanded to become President of the Board. 

I am currently Director in an Advisory firm that helps businesses improve performance, manage risk, and achieve stability and growth. My corporate career spans more than 25 years in the ANZ and international market, including assignments in the USA and China. I have worked in corporate leadership and consulting roles in the field of supply chain, logistics, continuous improvement, operations and manufacturing management.  

Over the past five years, I’ve actively supported the Sydney Dogs & Cats Home vision and mission. I am dedicated to volunteering hands-on in the dog kennels, relishing time spent with our animals and the people who care for them. I am eager to raise awareness and continue educating the community about the invaluable service our team at Sydney Dogs & Cats Home provides.  

I look forward to contributing to the future growth and successes of Sydney Dogs & Cats Home.  

Rebecca Swinfield – Vice President

As the CEO of Solentive, a digital strategy and software consultancy, I am a hands-on leader overseeing strategy to operations. With over 20 years of diverse business experience in leadership, customer experience, change management, risk management, marketing, sales, HR & People; I’m dedicated to applying mindfulness and compassion in business, fostering collaborative cultures and executing visionary strategies.

My experience in people leadership, strategic planning and running large scale projects has helped Sydney Dogs and Cats Home to re-define our Strategic Vision, manage critical risks and key projects and work in partnership with the Senior Leadership Team to execute our current business plans.

I have been an active board member for the last two years as well as a reception volunteer and foster carer for the past five years. I am grateful to work alongside the amazing team at Sydney Dogs & Cats Home and help to support the tireless work in finding the right home for animals in need.

As we work towards our future goals, I really look forward to helping Sydney Dogs & Cats Home grow, helping even more lost and abandoned animals find their forever home.

Michael Glendinning – Treasurer

As a Chartered Accountant with 35+ years of experience in professional practice and industry, I specialise in guiding start-ups and turnarounds with a clear vision but limited resources. My passion is in translating strategic decisions into economic realities, focusing on strategy, commercial decision-making and problem solving. My background spans media, entertainment, and construction, and my strength is to help businesses achieve their goals while mitigating risks.  

When I initially joined Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, I was impressed with the passion and enthusiasm for the tasks ahead from all areas of the Home. I am incredibly honoured to be the Treasurer of Sydney Dogs & Cats Home. I am passionate about pets, currently having a beautiful 14-year-old Labrador.  

I look forward to using my expertise to support Sydney Dogs & Cats Home through the next exciting phase of building the new shelter in Kurnell.

Sandrina Postorino – Board Member

I discovered Sydney Dogs & Cats Home in 2004, while seeking volunteering opportunities for my team at Westpac. We spent the day walking dogs, helping with admin tasks, and looking after and playing with cats in their enclosure.  

Even back then, I was so impressed with how much Sydney Dogs & Cats Home was achieving with very little funding, and how passionate and enthusiastic all the volunteers and staff were, fully dedicated to helping animals in need. Witnessing this dedication, I became a member, then a donor and eventually a foster parent. Now, after almost two decades of involvement, I aim to support the board during the crucial phase of constructing the new shelter in Kurnell.  

My career background includes corporate strategy roles at firms like Boston Consulting Group, Westpac, TABCORP, and Macquarie Group. Currently I’m Managing Director of Crissan Property Pty Ltd, a property investment and development company in NSW and QLD. Additionally, I serve on Not- For-Profit boards like Take 3 for the Sea, the Conflict Island Conservation Initiative, and the Rona Ellis Foundation.  

I’m excited about the future of Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, particularly the development at Kurnell, and I’m eager to contribute my skills and experience to help the Home achieve their vision of a sustainable future.

Amanda Stokes – Board Member

I have a long-term relationship and love for Sydney Dogs & Cats Home when in April 2012, I was appointed as the Home’s Fundraising & Marketing Manager. During my eight years as an employee of Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, I worked alongside an incredible team of staff and volunteers to successfully deliver projects which remains one of my proudest achievements.  

I currently hold the position of Senior Manager Partnerships, Events & Customer Experience at Sydney Airport. My career spans 15 years in the not-for-profit sector, holding senior fundraising and event positions. I enjoy strategic planning as well as communicating those plans effectively to achieve the organisation’s goals and budgets. I also thrive on building and maintaining successful relationships and partnerships. 

My passion and advocacy for Sydney Dogs & Cats Home continues. I was a foster carer and I’m currently a Member, adopter (x3), volunteer, donor and Board Member. 

 I look forward to supporting staff as we continue to develop a strong strategic direction and a sustainable financial position, to support the build of Kurnell and beyond. 

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