The Acatemy's

 Spring Symposium


Expand your life-saving  network with new friends. 


2 days of cat-centric sessions from our community's experts


130,000 ft² of pet vendors and exhibits, right across the parking lot


Celebrate the hustle at the

St. Catrick's Day afterparty


Each registration includes:

  • An oversized swag bag (compliments of Cats Rule), stuffed with goodies designed to help keep cats in homes and make your job easier*

  • One drink ticket for the St. Catrick's Day afterparty, compliments of Zoetis*

  • A discount code for 50% off one weekend pass to the Super Pet Expo

  • Full access to all sessions

  • Discounts at nearby restaurants

  • Access to a discounted group rate at the Holiday Inn

  • More perks TBA!

*Saturday & weekend passes only

Copy of Symposium Registration Schedule.


Sessions are subject to change. 

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Happy Hour @ hotel bar




Saturday 3.16.19

Programming for cat rescuers, shelters, & groups of every size.
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Julia Grosz

Hustler in Chief of Cat Hustler
I Love you, Now Get Out of My House: 
A Foster's Guide to Creative Eviction

Every cat is one great Facebook post away from adoption. Learn how to navigate this fickle platform with proven strategies, tips on nuance, and introduction to creative methods that turn your readers' "aww"s into action.  

You'll learn about algorithms, how to proactively connect with your audience, effective post structure, how to choose more impactful words and writing style, how to write about cats with medical issues, and more. 

  • Facebook - White Circle
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Erin Robinson & Lauren Lipsey

Humane Rescue Alliance
Blue Collar Cats: Creating an Innovative
and Modern Working Cats Program
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In this session, we will dive into the Humane Rescue Alliance’s Blue Collar Cat program's success and how you can replicate it by tailoring the program to your specific community. We will discuss the importance of approaching the creation and launch of an innovative program from both the animal welfare and business perspectives. These approaches are crucial for creating appropriate marketing to gain public buy-in. This session will help you implement a working cats program within your organization!

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Teri Thorsteinsen

Cornish Rex Breeder, Veterinary Professional, Celebrity Cat Parent
5 things Cat Breeders Wish Rescuers Knew 

The Controversy of Cat Breeders From A Breeder’s Perspective

Creative Fundraising for Pet Rescues

From Pet Fashion Shows to Dog Weddings to Holiday Photo Shoots, there are many ways beyond bake sales to utilize unique ways to raise funds for your rescue! This Speed-Talk will provide you with some ideas to work with!

  • Facebook - White Circle
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Rosemarie Crawford

National Kitten Coalition
High-quality, Cost-effective Kitten Care

This workshop offers solutions to the most common obstacles organizations face when trying to start or expand programs and procedures to care for kittens. Attendees will learn about cost-saving tips that can be applied to every day care for kittens (also applicable to cats), ways to raise funds and increase donations to provide kittens with necessary food and supplies, medical treatment options for a variety of budgets and what staff and volunteers can do to prevent or minimize illnesses thereby reducing medical costs and increasing adoptions.

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Deb Cobb

Catography: Strategies and Techniques
for Beautiful Cat Portraits

With a focus on smartphone photography, Deb shares strategies and techniques to empower cat hustlers of all skill levels to take the portraits that send cats home. 

This session features hands-on learning with a live model. 

Siobhan Young

Communications and Social Media Manager, Fredericksburg SPCA

Jen Boger

Pokeypotpie’s Playschool for Wayward Kittens
How to Use Instagram to Educate, Advocate, and Find Forever Homes
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This crash course in Catstagram will teach you basic and advanced information on how to build a large and engaged Instagram audience. Harness the power of social media to advance your rescue, shelter, or foster goals.


You'll also learn how to use strategic social media planning on Instagram Stories to highlight life-saving programs..

  • Facebook - White Circle
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Dalia Salah

Director of Community Advancement and Communications, 
Fredericksburg SPCA
Keeping Families Together One Bowl at a Time

This workshop offers tips on creating a high-volume, low-barrier pet pantry program that will enhance the human-cat bond for at-risk families in your community. Learn about introducing an inclusive pet pantry program to your team and community, establishing life-saving collaboration partners, and maximizing limited resources.

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Dr. Leslie Sinn, DVM 

Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB)
Fear Free: What is it and how to implement it

This session will cover the origin and philosophy behind the Fear Free movement and discuss ways to implement Fear Free in your veterinary clinic, foster home, rescue or shelter in order to provide the greatest benefit to the cats in your care.

By addressing fear, stress and anxiety, cat rescuers help cats better tolerate transitions, decrease the incidence of disease, improve animal welfare and increase adoptability.

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Joanna Fortin

Senior Manager of Community Programs, Animal Welfare League of Alexandria
Are You Ready for CATastrophe? 

Disasters can affect anyone. Preparing to care for your family, pets, and foster animals during and after an emergency is vital before the disaster hits. This session will offer participants a brief introduction to and overview of emergency planning and response for animal shelters, rescue groups, and foster parents. It will cover common emergencies to prepare for, information on creating an emergency plan for shelters and foster homes, and agencies and organizations that can help with the process. We will also touch on the concept of Community Animal Response Teams and how you can join or create a team within your community. Participants will receive a “Go Bag” with a list of recommended items to have prepared for pets and fosters in the event of an emergency.

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Lisa Stemcosky

Certified Cat Behavior Consultant
Solutions Not Surrenders

Using behavior counselling to reduce surrenders.


Inga Fricke

Adopters Welcome

Saving lives though implementation of inclusive adoption policies. Formal session description TBA. 

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Ellen Carozza, LVT

The Critical Feline Neonate Assessment and Treatment; Learning how to identify the problems and treating with confidence!

This is an advanced lecture for the veterinary technician to learn how to expand their skills in nursing care and for the foster family to identify problems before their kittens are beyond treatment when brought in for care. Attendees will learn how to identify the signs of the "so called fading kitten syndrome,"why it doesn't exist and how you can make yourself a stronger advocate for your neonate kitten knowing treatment options DO exist!

  • Facebook - White Circle
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Gina Lynch

Northern Virginia Coalition for Animals
Building a Coalition

 Learn about statewide legislative initiatives and join a strong coalition of animal advocates that will help educate, inform and prepare members to take on the challenge to improve the lives of all animals. 

Amelia Monroe

Volunteer & Humane Education Coordinator, Loudoun County Animal Services
Volunteer, Loudoun County Animal Services

Sharon Dugo

Scaredy Cats No More: Creating Courageous Kitties

Shelters are difficult environments for animals and people alike. For cats, used to consistency and quiet, they can be especially stressful. Advanced Cat Magic is a case study of Loudoun County Animal Services’ Scaredy Cat Program. Started in March of 2018, the Scaredy Cat Program has trained volunteers in fear free concepts in order to help those cats that need a little bit more. This program looks at the goals, successes and discoveries of this budding volunteer program.

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Teresa Villatoro

Training and Feline Behavior Counselor, Animal Welfare League of Arlington
Feline Enrichment and Training:
The benefits and how to establish a program

This lecture will focus on how to apply behavior therapy and environmental enrichment not only to decrease stress and fear experienced by cats in shelters but also give them the skills to promote adoption. As well as the many uses for behavior modification and enrichment not only in shelters but in foster homes and in homes to help increase pet retention.

Sunday 3.17.19

Programming for TNRers and community cat lovers
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Kathleen O'Malley

Director of TNR Education at the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and Colony Care

This hands-on, multimedia workshop teaches the basics of best-practices TNR and colony care. Whether you're new to TNR or you're an old pro wishing to teach a version of our workshop tailored to your community, come on in!

In this workshop, you will:

  • Learn about feral cats, their history and behavior

  • Learn the steps of humane trapping and pre- and post-spay/neuter surgery care with the help of video and live demonstrations

  • Practice using a box trap and divider for trapping and in-trap care

  • Learn the basics of caring for a cat colony

  • Learn how to build good relationships with neighbors throughout the TNR process and how to help the cats be good neighbors

TNR instructor for the NYC Feral Cat Initiative

Anja Krause

The Cat Rescuers

A Documentary
Screening & Introduction to
On-Demand Program for Rescues

Synopsis: An estimated 500,000 feral and abandoned cats prowl the streets, backyards and alleys of New York City, desperate for food and shelter.  Meet Sassee, Claire, Tara and Stu, four passionate volunteers in Brooklyn who have come to their rescue because the city can’t. Against great odds, and sometimes at great sacrifice to themselves, they are making a difference.

TCR will be sharing their on-demand screening program, which is designed to help TNR and rescue groups raise awareness in their communities while raising funds.  

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Danielle Bays

Community Cats Program Manager at HSUS
Curiosity & the Cat: using data to improve impact

TNR as a tool for humanely managing free-roaming cat populations is quickly becoming standard practice in communities across the country. How, when and where we wield that tool can make a big difference in the impact we have on cat populations, both in and out of the shelter. This session will explore various ways to use your own data to boost your effectiveness and demonstrate your impact. We'll also look at recent research on cat population dynamics and the latest trends in "cat counting" including options to employ citizen science for our feline friends.

How to Win Feathered-friends and Influence Bird People

Most people care about both cats and wildlife and want to protect all animals from harm. And most people who care for community cats would like to see a day when there are no unowned cats living outdoor who need our help. Not only would this be good for the cats, but good for wildlife too. So why is there so much animosity between cat advocates and bird advocates?


In this talk we’ll separate the fact from the propaganda, looking at data, case studies and collaborations that transcend the conflict to affect real change. We’ll also look at what those of you on the front lines for cats can do to help bring accord to this unproductive debate, including strategies to navigate debates and tips for wildlife-friendly colonies.

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Timothy Saffell

President of Prince Georges Feral Friends, SPCA
How Your Business Model Can Supercharge or Sabotage Your TNR Program - No MBA Required!

The structure of your organization matters! Explore the pros and cons of two common business models and the impact they have on your group’s goals. We’ll discuss implementation, sustainability, growth, scaling, resources, getting the community involved, and more.

  • Facebook - White Circle


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4335 Chantilly Shopping Center, Chantilly, VA 20151

Holiday Inn - Chantilly 

(703) 815-6060

The Holiday Inn - Chantilly is

  • 5 minutes off Exit 53B on Rt. 66, 20 minutes off the Capitol Beltway/495

  • 10 minutes from Dulles International Airport - hotel shuttle available

  • 15-20 minutes by car from the Whiele-Reston East Metro Station on the Silver Line

Need a roommate?

Post to the Facebook event page to connect with other attendees.