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The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA Board hires Sue Friedman as Interim Executive Director

Friedman replaces Angie Gunter, who was removed amid an internal investigation

Friedman will serve in the interim position while a larger search is conducted to find a permanent replacement.
Friedman will serve in the interim position while a larger search is conducted to find a permanent replacement.

The Charlottesville-Albemarle Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has hired shelter volunteer Sue Friedman to serve as interim executive director after Angie Gunter was placed on administrative leave for improper care of the animals and employee mistreatment. Friedman will serve in the interim position with goals to improve their practices regarding animal welfare as well as increase staff resources, while a larger search is conducted to find a permanent replacement. 

Concerns were originally brought forth against Gunter in January by CASPCA Concerns, a group of former volunteers and employees for the CASPCA. Throughout the spring, the group continued to make reports of animals being kept in confined spaces and not receiving proper medical attention. The group also said employees and volunteers worked in a toxic environment. The CASPCA is a division of the SPCA and is a no kill shelter for dogs, cats and small animals. 

“The SPCA is a jewel,” said Friedman. “It is a critically important resource and service for the community, city, and county… animals in our society deserve humans to be the best they can be.” 

Though she has no former experience in animal welfare, Friedman said her non-profit experiences — including the former executive director of the Jefferson School Foundation and the former president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association of Central and Western Virginia — give her the knowledge and skills required to run a non-profit organization, such as the CASPCA. She discussed a desire to learn more about animal welfare and to utilize field experts in the workplace. 

Prior to her selection, Friedman was a donor to the CASPCA. After hearing of the recent allegations of animal abuse and managerial inadequacy from Gunter, Friedman offered to step in and help their non-profit management. Friedman was retired before accepting this position, and even though her position is paid, she said she knew her non-profit experience would be of use.

“I decided that I would be honored to join this team to make sure we repair what needs to be repaired, we enhance what needs to be enhanced and that we arrive at a place that is not only as good as, but is actually better than, we used to be, because our animals in our community deserve no less,” Friedman said. 

CASPCA Concerns provided a list of recommendations for the CASPCA to address the issues at hand, crediting Gunter as the issues’ cause. Some solutions provided included replacing the executive director as well as improving their animal care efforts.

Regarding animal treatment, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services looked into the reported problems in February. However, no evidence of animal mistreatment was found, according to NBC29’s interview with Friedman. 

Friedman said she plans to evaluate operations at the shelter and ensure the shelter’s procedures and policies are best practices. 

“The focus of the organization is to provide quality, research-based and evidence-based animal care to all animals that come to us,” Friedman said. 

Friedman said she intends to improve management and employee promotions with a hope to allow and cherish professional growth within the organization, including providing opportunities for employees to acquire larger roles and responsibilities over time. 

She also said communication, both internally and externally, will be examined, as well as the Board of Directors and their responsibilities.

“We're going to be engaging resources, training and opportunities for our board to grow as we grow the staff as well,” Friedman said.

Because of the emotional aspect of working in animal welfare, Friedman said is working to provide resources for emotional support.

Sarah Lloyd, former volunteer coordinator, volunteer and member of CASPCA Concerns, was asked to leave the CASPCA and halt her volunteer activities under Gunter — she did not provide details. Lloyd said she approves of CASPCA’s decision to hire Friedman, and she mentioned Friedman’s experience and accomplishments in the nonprofit sector. 

Lloyd said a national search for executive director is hoped for and that an experienced individual is needed to fill the role. Lloyd said she hopes to be welcomed back to the CASPCA, along other previously dismissed volunteers, upon Friedman beginning her work at the shelter.

Alumna Farise Cravens, Class of 2023 alumna and CASPCA volunteer, said she is optimistic about the new hire. 

“I’m glad that there has been a new hire, and that the pleas to replace the previous CEO have been taken seriously,” Cravens said. 

Friedman said any former employees and volunteers are welcome to contact her at She said she welcomes all individuals in support of their mission and vision.


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