Alley Cat Allies (ACA) [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

3 Aug

There are 38 reviews (it’s a small organization) and the company score was 1.6 out of 5 stars.  Only 13% of people that have been employed with ACA would recommend the job.

I have copied and pasted excerpts, and sometimes all of, the employee reviews for ACA as is.  If you have a Glassdoor login, you can see for yourself the way this information is conveyed by me is truthful and accurate to what is posted on this public job board.

https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Alley-Cat-Allies-Reviews-E848138.htm

From most helpful votes to least: 

a).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 3 years

Feb 27, 2016 –  in Bethesda, MD

Pros

– Office cats live on the 6th floor and you can bring your dog in if you work on the 5th floor

– Good insurance benefits

– Free bagels every Friday

Cons

– Constant turnover and low morale. Less than a handful of employees have been here longer than 2 years

– Lack of upper management. Just a slew of temps, entry level, and mid-level employees with several vacant Director positions and no real HR

– Almost every employee reports directly to the President and/or COO creating huge delays on urgent work

– There is no strategic vision, just constant day-to-day micromanaging

– President and COO. . .are frequently emotionally abusive to employees. 

Advice to Management

My advice to management would be to actually read and truly absorb what all of the 1 star reviews are saying. This many people can’t be wrong. ACA has lost dozens of amazing employees because the President and COO refuse to listen and change. It’s a toxic environment that is bound to self destruct. There is no hope.

39 people found this review helpful

b).

1.0★★★★★

Nov 8, 2017 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Salaries and benefits are good, but job security is non-existent.

Cons

Alley Cat Allies is an unethical, unprofessional and deeply unkind organization. Contributions are misused and employees are mistreated, disrespected and emotionally abused. Direct Mail expenses, Development team and donor management costs mean that very little money raised goes to help cats.

The office is located in the most expensive zip code in the country.

But the unethical and possible illegal behavior is not as bad the way that staff are treated. Humiliation is the #1 management tool.

Advice to Management

Fire Charelene Pedrolie. Dismiss Becky Robinson. Board members should should be ashamed of how they have abandoned their fiduciary responsibility.

39 people found this review helpful

c).

1.0★★★★★

Current Employee, more than 3 years

Horrible place to work.

Feb 22, 2016 – Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD

Cons

The leadership doesn’t lead. They reign through cruelty and spite. . . It is a dysfunctional and toxic workplace. The founder has serious mental health issues demonstrated by major ups and downs, erratic behaviour, insecurity and micromanagement. She is quick to put down others and fails to accept responsibility for her mistakes. Employees are scared of retribution and thus can’t make a move without approval from Becky. Thus they can’t truly do their jobs.

Advice to Management

The founder and president, Becky Robinson, needs to step down. She is a detriment to the organization, incapable of leading or inspiring, with dismal people skills. If she really cared about cats and the organization she created, she would do what’s best for both and hand over the reign to a competent leader. Her ego is unfortunately bigger than her abilities. Also Charlene Pedrolie should be removed. 

38 people found this review helpful

d).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee

Perhaps the worst animal welfare organization to work for in the country

Nov 26, 2015 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

The original mission (protecting the welfare of cats) is noble.

Cons

There are two issues – (1) the ineffectiveness of the organization as a whole and its failure to achieve even the smallest of goals in recent years and (2) the cruelty with which the president and founder (Becky Robinson) and her second in command (Charlene Pedrolie) treat employees.

To the first point, Alley Cat Allies has tremendous wealth (upwards of $7 million) yet made no positive impact for cats. Look at the claims made in fundraising emails and try to match it to actual victories. You simply can’t. The successes don’t exist, instead the organization helps a few individual cats (through relocation, adoption, covering spay/neuter costs) every week. 

most money is spent on fundraising. 

The board has been notified of these issues yet chooses to do nothing. Potential donors should carefully consider whether Alley Cat Allies merits their donations.

Management (Robinson and Pedrolie) have created an environment so hostile and demeaning that it borders on the Kafkaesque. Management . . .screams at employees for inconsequential issues (like using a black pen instead of blue). One particularly distressing habit that the president has is to speak to employees as though they are mentally disabled (very slowly, enunciating each syllable). Clearly, this is an insensitive and offensive way to speak to anyone (regardless of their mental acuity) but it’s particularly humiliating when done to you in front of large groups of people.

38 people found this review helpful

e).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 1 year

Apr 29, 2016 – Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

Pros

Alley Cat Allies pays (most of) their staff more than the majority of animal welfare organizations.

Monthly healthcare premiums covered at 100% for staff.

Colleagues are great (exceptions exist).

Cons

Just read all of the other reviews (minus an obvious outlier…).

There is also a ENORMOUS amount of money wasted on things ranging from daily operational costs all the way to the refusal to give grant funds to worthy groups despite the amount spent on marketing.

Advice to Management

Get a Board of Directors that actually provides oversight to senior management instead of “yessing” everything and taking glossy slideshows as fact.

Find a President who can run an organization effectively.

And get an HR Department. The lack of this department is truly offensive.

37 people found this review helpful

f)

1.0★★★★★

Run

Nov 18, 2015 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

If there was a strategic plan in place and if the organization actually followed its mission to save cat’s lives then this would be an amazing place to work.

Cons

Unfortunately, there is no strategic plan, campaigns and programs are never implemented yet the halfway achieved campaigns and programs are used for fundraising purposes. There is a lack of trust by senior leadership and no one stays long enough!

There is no HR department. No accountability for senior staff- the rules do not apply to them. 

37 people found this review helpful

g).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 3 years

As BAD as They Say

Sep 3, 2018 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Excellent benefits. Mostly awesome employees/coworkers.

Cons

At the time of this writing, 18 out of 26 reviews of Alley Cat Allies are one-star (only 4 five-star reviews that are obviously written by management or someone else hired to polish the turd that is this organization’s reputation). Common threads that run through these reviews are:

  • Ineffective leadership
  • Board inaction to the above
  • No strategic vision
  • Donations are misused, and successes exaggerated
  • High turnover
  • Unethical, cruel, abusive, erratic behavior by the president and the COO
  • Dysfunctional, toxic environment
  • Micromanaging and demeaning leadership style

I’m here to tell you that this is all true and waiting for you when you accept employment at Alley Cat Allies. This organization could do great things but will NEVER live up to its potential because of its useless leadership that controls its employees through fear and humiliation instead of inspiring and empowering them.

The pervasiveness of the injury and indignity suffered by employees of this organization speak through these reviews.

Heed my warning and the warning of others! This place is a dumpster fire. Enter at your own risk… I did (believing it couldn’t be THAT BAD, ignoring reviews and verbal notice of the impending nightmare) and I certainly paid the price. My friends and family were relieved when I was free of this place and could “begin healing.”

Advice to Management

What can be said that hasn’t already? Leadership needs a complete overhaul.

36 people found this review helpful

h). 

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Negative reviews are ALL TRUE. Positive ones are FAKE. CEO has personality of Donald Trump

Feb 5, 2019 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Great benefits. That’s how they justify abusing you and creating a CLIMATE OF FEAR. I was afraid to leave because of the benefits but everyone eventually sees their mental health is more important. And it takes a long time to recover emotionally. Like years.

Cons

This sounds like a dystopian book. Or a better comparison is the Trump administration. BECKY ROBINSON acts like Donald Trump. She is angry, irrational, PSYCHOTIC and keeps the organization from accomplishing pretty much anything because she is focused on all the wrong things. Mostly LAWSUITS from other former employees and her EGO and ILLEGAL stuff she is doing with at least one other organization, using Alley Cat Allies donors money. And the COO Charlene Pedroile shuffles behind her quietly MANIPULATING. Whatever she has reported on the books or however she has managed to have a good audit is something she has manipulated. Which one is worse? Why do they do any of this? I honestly think they enjoy hurting people. Every inch of the negative reviews are true. Can’t get that across enough.

Advice to Management

Leave. Maybe the organization could be saved with competent leaders. But they will never leave unless they are forced out. No one has figured out how to do that yet. If you are a journalist help expose them and get them out.

35 people found this review helpful

i)

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Please Don’t Work Here

Jan 21, 2016 –  in Bethesda, MD

Cons

Horrible, horrible toxic work environment. The management is absolutely dreadful. 

Charlene pedrolie has absolutely NO idea how to deal with people in a respectful way…  She berates her staff for the most insignificant reasons, taking advantage of them, belittling them and demotivating them.. . Most people quit if they haven’t already been unreasonably threatened to leave by Charlene. She has also demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge about animal care and animal rights – she is clearly all about the business aspect but can’t even prove to be an effective businesswoman. People do not last long as there is a high turnover rate. 

35 people found this review helpful

j).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Sep 11, 2015 – Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD

Pros

There were a fair amount of catered lunches and meetings, that’s about it.

Cons

– Management is dysfunctional in almost all areas except they excel in fostering an extremely toxic work environment.

– Employees are bad-mouthed by management in-front of other employees.

– Management lacks the ability to make decisions and changes course on major projects on almost a weekly basis.

– The turn-over rate is extremely high and directly affects the organizations ability to accomplish their mission.

– Resources are spent more on development (raising money) than mission goals.

– Administrative costs are high for an organization of this size.

Advice to Management

If you truly care about the organization and the ability to “Save Cats Lives” then let the skilled employees you hire do their jobs.

35 people found this review helpful

k)

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee

Would not recommend working here

May 30, 2015 – Manager in Bethesda, MD

Pros

ACA has a very toxic work environment and I would not recommend working there. The major pro is that the mission is wonderful, and employees are dedicated to supporting that mission.

Cons

Toxic work environment– leadership does not trust employees and thinks that employees are not smart or capable. Leadership gossips about employees with other employees regularly. Programs and initiatives are launched then abandoned as leadership loses focus and decides to do other things.

Advice to Management

New management is simply the only way the culture will change for more cats will be helped. This is not likely to happen.

35 people found this review helpful

l).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Read about Alley Cat Allies in the Chronicle of Philanthropy to learn it all…

Mar 29, 2019 – Assistant in Bethesda, MD

Pros

Good health insurance. Good job if you want to gather research for a book about toxic workplaces.

Cons

Google reporter Marc Gunther’s article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy and then go to his website to read his blog posts about Alley Cat Allies and Becky Robinson. That sums up this organization. Dysfunctional and corrupt. Wasting donor dollars. Screaming at employees. Firing people who dare speak up. 

Advice to Management

Stop using donor dollars to fund lawsuits against former employees and consultants. Just shut the place down. Its not like we’re helping cats anyway.

34 people found this review helpful

m).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee

Unethical, High Turnover, Machiavellian Culture

Jan 15, 2017 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Benefits higher than other non profits.

Cons

Lack of professionalism in management. Management unethical, deceitful and plays employee and rescue group favoritism. Employs cruel, heartless actions against others. Although the salary and company benefits are much higher than other non profits I realized that those benefits and salaries are paid for by the donating public which means that money isn’t supporting the cause. Too much money spent on seeking donations and those donations aren’t funding the cause.

Advice to Management

Resign and replace.Read the other negative former employee reviews. 

34 people found this review helpful

n).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee

Very unhealthy work place!

Sep 30, 2015 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

The Cause of helping and saving feral cats is wonderful, and the company is truly making a difference for them. Everyone there is an animal lover. Overall, the staff members are very nice and work well with each other.

Cons

Executive managers micromanage at the NANO level and change processes and procedures constantly; this creates delays, unnecessary extra work, and more stress for staff. They yell, bully, and degrade staff and vendors, alike, in front of others. The extremely low morale level is rated at a 1, in my opinion. There is a revolving door with incoming and outgoing of employees, as the turnover rate is so high. 

Advice to Management

Stop your condescension with staff and vendors. Paying their salaries and vendors’ businesses does not entitle you to treat people like you own them. Be more thoughtful and tactful, and please stop the micromanagement; allow staff to have some level of autonomy.

34 people found this review helpful

o).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 1 year

If it looks like a duck & quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

Mar 1, 2019 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

* Salary levels

* Constantly being around cats

* Bethesda is a nice neighborhood

Cons

Becky Robinson is truly a pioneer in the TNR field. But these days she’s an afterthought. All the big names in animal rescue leave her out of their planning & events. Why? She simply can’t play nice with others and is batguano crazy. Then, she sealed her fate by hiring Charlene Pedrolie to basically take over the entire operation. Charlene is controlling and heartless. She is intimidated by strong women & will take you down whatever way she’s able. Napoleon complex times a thousand.

Between Becky’s erratic behavior & Charlene’s over the top need to control everything, the work environment is extremely toxic. . .  I doubt the PTSD will ever dissipate. And I’m far from alone! The hiring cannot keep up with the firings & resignations.

Raising money is the #1 focus and with each $5 check from a cat-loving senior citizen is another lawsuit from aggrieved employees or vendors (See Putsche v. ACA). Or, another trip for Becky to far away lands like Hawaii or Australia. She often has a videographer accompany her to capture heart-tugging moments in order to raise more money.

For years, I watched other people berated, treated like trash, and then summarily tossed aside. I thought it would never happen to me, until it did. And my life will never be the same. That isn’t drama, it’s just the awful truth.

Advice to Management

Management = Becky & Charlene who will never take responsibility & forever point the finger at others. So, giving them advice is a waste of time.

For the current employees: the longer you stay, the more complicit you become.

34 people found this review helpful

l).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Read about Alley Cat Allies in the Chronicle of Philanthropy to learn it all…

Mar 29, 2019 – Assistant in Bethesda, MD

Pros

Good health insurance. Good job if you want to gather research for a book about toxic workplaces.

Cons

Google reporter Marc Gunther’s article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy and then go to his website to read his blog posts about Alley Cat Allies and Becky Robinson. That sums up this organization. Dysfunctional and corrupt. Wasting donor dollars. Screaming at employees. Firing people who dare speak up. 

Advice to Management

Stop using donor dollars to fund lawsuits against former employees and consultants. Just shut the place down. Its not like we’re helping cats anyway.

34 people found this review helpful

m).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee

Unethical, High Turnover, Machiavellian Culture

Jan 15, 2017 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Benefits higher than other non profits.

Cons

Lack of professionalism in management. Management unethical, deceitful and plays employee and rescue group favoritism. Employs cruel, heartless actions against others. Although the salary and company benefits are much higher than other non profits I realized that those benefits and salaries are paid for by the donating public which means that money isn’t supporting the cause. Too much money spent on seeking donations and those donations aren’t funding the cause.

Advice to Management

Resign and replace.Read the other negative former employee reviews. 

34 people found this review helpful

n).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee

Very unhealthy work place!

Sep 30, 2015 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

The Cause of helping and saving feral cats is wonderful, and the company is truly making a difference for them. Everyone there is an animal lover. Overall, the staff members are very nice and work well with each other.

Cons

Executive managers micromanage at the NANO level and change processes and procedures constantly; this creates delays, unnecessary extra work, and more stress for staff. They yell, bully, and degrade staff and vendors, alike, in front of others. The extremely low morale level is rated at a 1, in my opinion. There is a revolving door with incoming and outgoing of employees, as the turnover rate is so high. 

Advice to Management

Stop your condescension with staff and vendors. Paying their salaries and vendors’ businesses does not entitle you to treat people like you own them. Be more thoughtful and tactful, and please stop the micromanagement; allow staff to have some level of autonomy.

34 people found this review helpful

o).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 1 year

If it looks like a duck & quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

Mar 1, 2019 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

* Salary levels

* Constantly being around cats

* Bethesda is a nice neighborhood

Cons

Becky Robinson is truly a pioneer in the TNR field. But these days she’s an afterthought. All the big names in animal rescue leave her out of their planning & events. Why? She simply can’t play nice with others and is batguano crazy. Then, she sealed her fate by hiring Charlene Pedrolie to basically take over the entire operation. Charlene is controlling and heartless. She is intimidated by strong women & will take you down whatever way she’s able. Napoleon complex times a thousand.

Between Becky’s erratic behavior & Charlene’s over the top need to control everything, the work environment is extremely toxic. . .  I doubt the PTSD will ever dissipate. And I’m far from alone! The hiring cannot keep up with the firings & resignations.

Raising money is the #1 focus and with each $5 check from a cat-loving senior citizen is another lawsuit from aggrieved employees or vendors (See Putsche v. ACA). Or, another trip for Becky to far away lands like Hawaii or Australia. She often has a videographer accompany her to capture heart-tugging moments in order to raise more money.

For years, I watched other people berated, treated like trash, and then summarily tossed aside. I thought it would never happen to me, until it did. And my life will never be the same. That isn’t drama, it’s just the awful truth.

Advice to Management

Management = Becky & Charlene who will never take responsibility & forever point the finger at others. So, giving them advice is a waste of time.

For the current employees: the longer you stay, the more complicit you become.

34 people found this review helpful

p)

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Worst job ever – I needed therapy

Oct 3, 2017 –  

Pros

Great mission, decent pay, cats in office, good health insurance, some colleagues were nice. Office was clean and modern.

Cons

Continual verbal and emotional abuse, harassment, gaslighting, and micromanagement from emotionally unstable boss caused serious mental distress and inability to do job properly.

Several employees sought therapy locally on our lunch breaks because of Becky. Nothing can ever be done to her liking; she has severe mood swings and sometimes violent outbursts; she micromanages everyone to the point where you cannot get your job done; she picks favorites and others are her “whipping boy”. 

Advice to Management

CEO needs psychiatric medication and therapy. She shouldn’t be in a position of managing others.

32 people found this review helpful

q).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 1 year

Atrocious workplace culture, inept leadership

Feb 23, 2016 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Cats in the office.

Company pays 100% of health insurance premium.

Free donuts on Friday.

Intelligent, compassionate coworkers at middle-management levels and below.

Cons

Organizational leadership and workplace culture are actively harmful to productivity and morale, borderline abusive. Morale across the company is low, and the organization suffers from constant employee turnover. The president and the COO are ineffective leaders with poor people and leadership skills. Their condescension, verbal abuse and aggression toward employees creates a toxic work environment. Alley Cat Allies is a case study in micromanagement. The president oversees every project, mandating her personal approval on everything. This is an enormous drag on productivity, and projects pile up on each other and are approved long after their deadline. Most employees are extremely competent and effective in their field, and are successful in spite of upper management, not because of it.

Projects are often forgotten. Successes are exaggerated or minor, given the stated national scope of the organization. Upward mobility is almost nonexistent, and salaries only increase in an attempt to stop turnover.

Employees have to pay for parking in downtown Bethesda themselves, which is very expensive; you can shave about $7 per day off your daily take-home pay before you even walk through the door. Any food that is not vegan or vegetarian is prohibited in the office, which is not a problem if you’re vegetarian but is frustrating if you’re not.

Advice to Management

The CEO and COO are unfit to guide the organization and should both step down. Drastic changes in leadership are necessary but unlikely. Providing employees with occasional perks like free luncheons or guided meditation are not replacements for increasing salaries and transforming the workplace into a positive, supportive environment.

31 people found this review helpful

r).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Immature, Defective, Malignant Management

Dec 29, 2018 – Administrative in Baltimore, MD

Pros

They spend a lot of money on salaries and benefits (not to the cats).

Cons

Management is backbiting, immature, personality disordered and can not change. The only way this organization will survive is for people to 1) Boycott working here and 2) Stop donating to this abusive, self serving, cruel management. They do nothing for the cats, border on the illegal, certainly unethical practices. 

Advice to Management

Please remove yourselves and step down to allow competent, mature and ethical people to run the show.

28 people found this review helpful

u).

3.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 1 year

Reviews speak for themselves

May 14, 2020 – Development Assistant 

Cons

Management is just…rife with scandals, and CEO is pretty much a crazy person.

16 people found this review helpful

v).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 3 years

Dishonesty and paranoia in abundance

Sep 5, 2020 – Manager in Bethesda, MD

Pros

None. You work hard to earn your vacation days then they wont let you to take then because of a million reasons!

Cons

Never got reimbursed for any of my sick or vacation days accumulated. Had to get a lawyer and ACA would rather pay thousands to legal fees then do whats right. 

Advice to Management

Learn how to operate a company the honest way. Stop acting like your busy working foe cats. . .

15 people found this review helpful

w).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 1 year

I would call this place a joke, but that would be ignoring the real damage they do

Jan 19, 2021 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Benefits and pay, but that’s it

Cons

-Leadership: The founder is prime example of founder’s syndrome. She has too much control over the organization she founded, even though it has grown beyond her ability to manage. She micromanages everything, to the point of nothing getting done. That would be bad enough, but even worse is that she was horrible to employees. At best she’s rude, snapping at people and making them bend to her every whim, acting like we had nothing better to do than serve her, instead of doing our real jobs. At worst, she’s emotionally abusive and makes employees cry.

There’s no HR department, so there is nowhere for people to go with these problems. There’s also no board oversight for questionable management and financial practices.

-High employee turnover

Advice to Management

Leave and let competent people run the organization. Maybe it could actually do some good for cats.

8 people found this review helpful

x).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 3 years

Checking in

Jun 21, 2021 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

I left the organization before getting fired years ago – my first review is posted here already. (PS Most people at ACA get fired, and for no good reason). I sometimes check back in here at Glassdoor to see how things are going, if anything at ACA has changed. Sort of like checking an ex’s social media. I see that nothing has changed.

Cons

The same cruel leadership and ineffective management is reflected in these reviews. Just a note to job seekers…I have thought about this organization, and my negative, scary, sad, stressful experiences there, many times. Truly. Many times. I probably needed therapy.

2 people found this review helpful

y)

5.0★★★★★

Current Employee, more than 1 year

MANAGER

May 3, 2016 – Manager 

Pros

Great benefits, passionate about mission, flexibility, get to be involved in high level strategic discussions that at all of my other jobs I didn’t get to be part of, great staff and great leadership. Becky, Charlene and Rebekah provide good strategic decisions and they care about the employees. I have learned a lot from them and appreciate their dedication and genuine concern for animals. If you don’t work hard and don’t care about the mission, you wont do well here. They don’t put up with slackers.

Cons

I have a long commute so I wished I lived closer to the office.

2 people found this review helpful

z).

5.0★★★★★

Current Employee, more than 1 year

Mission focused, great team, huge impact in movement

Jan 20, 2017 – Program Manager in Bethesda, MD

Pros

Love working here, we are very focused on having huge impact to stop killing of cats. For such a small team, we have had tremendous across the country in saving cats and changing laws. I am so proud of our work and my team members. I now think of them as some of my best friends. I love the dedication and passion of the executive team. They work late nights and almost every weekend.

Cons

its hard when we cant save every cat, although we try. The metro commute has been bad because of the metro work. –

Advice to Management

please consider more remote work options

Be the first to find this review helpful

As you can see, the majority of the reviews are abysmal.  Common complaints were no long-term plans that support the mission, the president and COO foster a toxic workplace environment through micromanaging, verbal abuse, and sketchy practices, and a high turnover rate.  The last reviews, with the fewest “helpful’ votes have an entirely different tone.

That was a lot to get through so next time I’ll give more sources about how ACA is a poorly-run and corrupt organization.

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