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Admissions Coordinators play an important role in SAFE Haven’s lifesaving efforts and Laura Pancoast Smith is bringing her love of cats to her work! As a communications major with over 10 years of experience at Triangle nonprofits, including Triangle Land Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and NC Transplant Athletes, she’s using her strategic planning, prioritizing, organizing, and people skills to balance admission priorities of the shelter with saving cat lives to help them thrive.

Get to know Lisa:

Why did you choose SAFE Haven to work at? 
I have loved, volunteered, and supported SHFC for over 20 years. I know what a fantastic organization it is! The growth, passion, and dedication to the mission are impressive.

What are you looking forward to as a new employee of SAFE Haven?
I’d love to become a foster for a cat with special medical needs. I’m also looking forward to having the cutest, sweetest, most sassy, and overall purrfect coworkers imaginable!

What do you love about cats?
Nothing grounds me or makes me more grateful for the present moment than a sweet, cuddly cat dousing me in purrs. My first spoken word was actually, “dat,” which was said while pointing to a cat.

Do you have any pets?
Always! Mr. Kitty is my giant (16-lb.) solid gray love bug! He came to me as an FIV+ foster I inherited when my housemate needed long-term medical care, and he came with what I lovingly refer to as “anger issues.” He was triggered to bite/attack by hand movements, and I have a lot of scars to show for it! Not only was I in love with him, but I was convinced that if he were to go to another home, his biting/attacking may lead to him being euthanized. Mr Kitty’s manners have improved immensely, and I’m usually able to (safely) redirect his bursts of anger. I always forgive him though, and have accepted his violence as part of his personality. Also the sweetest cat, he gives head butts, insists on daily pick-me-up kitty hugs, talks to me in a high-pitched Emperor penguin sound, and even lets the dog wrestle with him.

Serena is my belly-rub craving, bossy, sweet, and cuddly 20-lb terrier mix/muttigree. My philosophy: why get a DNA test when it’s infinitely more fun to speculate?

More about Lisa:
I’m originally from MI and have lived in the Triangle for 25 years. In 2014, I received a double lung transplant due to cystic fibrosis, and in 2022, I received a kidney from my amazing brother. Working part-time allows me the satisfaction of doing important nonprofit work while also leaving time to care for my health and wellbeing.

I have always been passionate about animals and the environment. Cat rescue work allows me to have a positive impact on animal lives close to home. Outside work, I enjoy sharing time with my partner, Mohammad, reading/listening to books, watching films, doing yoga, light hiking, and playing in my yard.